This Day In History: 08/28

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

$831,000.

That's the size of the approved grant for the new electro-acoustical music studio, which was submitted last year by the previous director of electro-acoustical music. No doubt, it played a big role in convincing Dr. Wingate to set up camp here and leave his position in Turkey. As of yesterday, Dr. Wingate and the music department suddenly found that the grant no longer exists. Excuses and "I thought you knew"'s from the dean are abundant, but regardless of blame or lack thereof, the new studio has reverted to the no-budget wishlist item it was in the past. Of course, I can't presume to know the whole story, but if I were in Dr. Wingate's shoes, I'd feel pretty miffed right about now.

He was also informed that if he resubmitted the former professor's grant proposal before the deadline in two weeks, it might get re-approved sometime next year. It's sickeningly comforting to find that the potent mix of human nature and bureaucracy produces the same results no matter what state you're in. For now, everything's in a holding pattern until Dr. Wingate can figure out how to proceed.

History of Music Theory and 16th Century Counterpoint were both straightforward classes with roughly sixteen grad students each. The first is a heavy-duty reading class while the second will involve more writing and analysis. The eighty-four dollars I spent on one of the books breaks the old record of forty-nine dollars for most money spent on a music textbook. The books were only sold at Beethoven & Co, which is on the northern outskirts of town. Though out of my way, it was definitely a friendly place to shop. While one owner rang up my purchase and engaged in light banter, the other owner gave me a knowledgeable synopsis of each book in my bag and a brief description of my classes and the professors teaching them.

I had a thought about sprinklers I was going to write, but this news bit is long enough for today.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Cell phones have oozed into the campus society to the point where about seven in ten girls walking to or from school are talking on them at any given time. These days it's almost like people are afraid to be alone with their thoughts... and a few of them are probably afraid that if they didn't have a cell phone they'd notice that there's not much going on upstairs.

I still enjoy not being "on call" every minute of the day. E-mail and land lines are quick enough for my needs, and if it's important enough to require me immediately, it's important enough for the caller to come find me in person. The day I get a cell phone will probably signal the end of the world as we know it. I can't wait until students start getting those "tooth-phones" inserted to help them on tricky exams.

We had our first annual departmental meeting today, where all the faculty and grad students in the Theory and Composition departments sat around a table and met each other. Now that that boring bit of bureaucracy is out of the way, I have high hopes for a semester of wild women and cowboy adventures.

What not to do with lemon juice

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Thursday, August 28, 2003

A couple big storms passed through here this week, but we've been among the fortunate ones who still have power. Apparently, Pepco is struggling to get everyone back up in Montgomery County -- good thing I quit my internship there four years ago!

I've posted a few new cat pictures so you can see how big Booty is getting. She turned ten months old on August 25, and I've had her for almost six months now.

The first season of Alias comes out on DVD in five days. I'm sure you're all just as excited as I am.

Perfect Pitch in a can
This doesn't happen in computer jobs
Batman strikes again

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Monday, August 28, 2006

My rare case of pneumociatic triclociglucosis lingered throughout the weekend, effectively nullifying any productive plans I'd made. There's only so many times you can clean your house or mow your drought-afflicted lawn, so I spent most of the time on Friday and Saturday sleeping, playing games, and watching Prison Break (which was great, but had a rather crappy ending which set up the forthcoming season -- why can't shows just end?) On Sunday I went to work for most of the day, catching up on parts of my job that are more effectively done onsite than from home. By yesterday evening, most of my cold had gone away so hopefully this week won't just be a wash.

One side effect of being sick is that my normally deep, seductive voice is now twice as deep and 4.8 times as seductive. I didn't notice this until Friday night when I was ordering a pizza and the order taker tried to give me her phone number (I politely declined because it was already on the Pizza Hut magnet with the coupons). In an effort to take full advantage of this Barry White condition while it lasts, I'll be releasing a CD of sexy hook-up music which thematically revolves around my illness. It will feature such hits as "After the Lump Has Gone", "Esophageal Healing", "(Once, Twice) Three Times Daily", and "If You Don't Blow Me By Now (You Will Never Never Never Blow Me)" sung from the perspective of a runny nose. Look for it in Target soon!

For me, the worst part of colds isn't the sore throat, or even the random organic expulsions from various facial orifices. The worst part is when your ears are pressurized and you can't pop them no matter how hard you try. Sometimes you'll get lucky and relieve the pressure in one ear using the old "plug your nose and blow" airplane method, and then you have to make a choice: live with partial relief, or take the risk and try to clear the other one too. It's a dangerous lottery -- the odds are quite high that you'll not only fail to clear the other ear, but also end up screwing up the fixed one and fall back to square one.

Happy Birthday Gretchen Mourer and Wythe Newberry!

Cows moo with an accent
Man drops his iPod in the toilet and becomes a terrorist
Maynard Ferguson passes away

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Museday Tuesday

in which I have thirty minutes to write a thirty second song

Dinkiest: (adj.) the smallest, the least important, or the worst quality

My Composition (0:30 MP3)
Old Musedays:
Sidelong
Moodily
Obnoxiously
Obsessively
Spikiest
Leggier
Carsick

I initially envisioned this title as referring to one of those old-fashioned music boxes that play by rotating a spiked metal roll against many metal pins. That, plus the fact that I had just gone to Anna's "Saintly Dingaling" handbell concert on Sunday inspired me to use just a single sound for all the parts. As this progressed, it started getting out of hand, and away from the concept of dinky. Thankfully, my thirty minutes ran out before I made a full-fledged transformation into Steve Reich.

Happy Birthday to Wythe, Corey, and Gretchen!

Australian teenager cracks $84-million Internet porn filter in 30 minutes
Braunstein said he saw a man grab the child and say, "This is why I don't take you anywhere," before disappearing.
Charges dropped against beach flashers

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Food Day

Restaurants I've Patronized in the Past Week

  • Los Tios: A Mexican restaurant in Del Ray. Had the best seafood burrito I've ever tasted (even in Spain), for only eleven dollars.
  • Applebee's: A trio of mini bacon burgers with a side of crispy fries.
  • Popeyes: The Tuesday Special.
  • Golden King: Chinese delivery of chicken and broccoli, shrimp lo mein, and wonton soup.
  • Longhorn Steakhouse: Sauteed mushrooms, a baked potato with bacon bits and sour cream, and a 12 ounce block of cow with a little too much seasoning on it.

Regular Meals Eaten in College

  • A carry-out box of scrambled eggs and all-you-can-eat bacon for breakfast from Schultz Express.
  • A chicken patty sandwich with fries from Dietrick Express.
  • Fettucini alfredo and nachos with cheese from Schultz.
  • Philly cheesesteak with fries from Owens. I never quite understood how you could make a cheeseteak with chicken. Peppers sucked too -- mushrooms and onions for life.
  • Chicken sandwich with waffle fries from Chick-fila in Hokie Grill. I seem to have eaten a lot of fries in my youth. And bacon.

Favourite Meals Made at Home

  • Velveeta Shells & Cheese
  • Totino's Classic Pepperoni Pizza for You
  • Progresso New England Clam Chowder
  • Tyson's Honey Barbeque Wings

Worst Places to Eat

  • The Olive Garden: How can this overpriced restaurant have a four page menu and nothing to eat?
  • Lord Moon of the Mall Pub in London: Bland food and expensive pints, especially the Coors Light.
  • Buffalo Wing Factory in Sterling: We ordered carryout wings here once and got dried, desiccated husks of muscle and skin that would be more at home in an embalming workshop.
Bartering sex for stuff
Everybody fakes it in the Olympics
Cat survives being walled in for 7 weeks

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Friday, August 28, 2009

End-of-the-Month Media Day

There really aren't enough new pictures to warrant a media day this month, but I'm in the midst of a middle school band website project and didn't have the energy to concoct a Fragments column today. Besides, you can really only have one creative outlet at any given time, or all of them will suffer (see also, Alias season 3, when JJ went off to do Mission Impossible 3).


See Maryrose Baptism photos
See new Cat photos

Girls are primed to fear spiders
Dutch bid to thwart young sailor
Police combat crime by lonely elderly

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Composing Spotlight: Labyrinth

Movement III. Perplexity

The dogged determination of the second movement dead-ends into a more static, murky feeling, with the barline intentionally blurred through the repetition of a major thirds motive by vibraphone and flutes, first together, and then gradually spacing apart. The motion in this movement is supposed to be less purposeful.

At two points in the movement, the muted trumpet attempts to reinstill a steady beat (bringing back the determination) with a melody derived from the major thirds motive, but each attempt to do so results in the wrong meter and ultimate stagnates back to the vibraphone. After the first attempt, the tonal center is where it started, but the second attempt leads to an unexpected new key.

From here, the alto sax melody restores some semblance of a beat, more "dripping water" than "driving", which subtly shifts meter and brings us to the fourth movement.

Labyrinth is the first, and only, piece which employs extramusical effects, specifically in this movement. I always felt like plucking on piano strings through the cover or burning a violin to get a crackling sound were cheap gimmicks, and my music is cheap enough without needing any gimmicks. However, to perfect the feeling of this movement, I had low brass players breathing through their horns without playing, or making "tut tut" footstep noises beneath the melodies. This movement also uses its fair share of pitch bends and glissandos, devices I generally ignored because it took too long to make the computer imitate them. Looking backwards on this movement with nine years of perspective, it's chock full of "the types of things I wouldn't normally write", which probably gave it some much needed freshness.

When this piece was reviewed by my thesis defense board, Professor Clendenning asked why the trumpet lines were always harder than the rest of the ensemble, pointing specifically to the end of the excerpt shown above. I replied that my experience as a trumpet player gave me confidence that the lines were fairly straightforward for any good trumpeter. Professor Spencer added that even a bad trumpet player would be cocky enough to give them his best shot and think he had done them justice.

    Listen to the third movement (2:42 MP3)

Jump to Movement: I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stuff in My Drawers Day: Mail Edition

From: Michelle Cao
Subject: hello long lost friend of mine!
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996

well, mr. uri it's been a long time since we've even talked together, hasn't it? how do you like tech so far? i'm sure you're making a lot of new friends with that sparkling personality of yours. how has the first week of classes been? i'm so tired from my classes that, as you can see, i can't even bother to use the shift key. anyway, hope you're having a good time and let's try to keep in touch this time, brianna.

love always,
michelle

Remember back in freshman year of college when you actually worked hard to keep in touch with all of your high school friends? So charming.

From: BU
Subject: MUT1001: Friday Lesson
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2002

Hi Julie,

On Friday, we'll be reviewing and doing drills in note identification. If you read Chapter One (all three pages!), you might even get a little ahead of the game. We'll also talk about a few mnemonic devices to help people memorize the order of letter names (such as FACE and Every Good Boy...).

I don't know how strong your note ID skills are, but you should try to become fluent in the quiz range as soon as possible (2 ledger lines below and above the staff for each of the four clefs). By fluent, I mean able to recognize and name pitches on any line or space at sight, without having to think hard.

This may sound like a lot, but don't get overwhelmed! I will have an "open-door" email policy this year. Feel free to contact me anytime if you need help, think the class is moving too fast or slow, have suggestions to improve the class, or just need to talk. Monday is a holiday, but I'll be available if you need any help before the next class on Wednesday.

I tried way too hard to be a good teacher to these little music fundamentalists, especially when they were already planning to miss a class during the FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL. That is not an optimal strategy for passing when you've already failed the entrance exam and are in a remedial music class as a music major.

From: Joseph
Subject: RE: Site rollback (www.urizone.net)
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005

Dear Brian,

I transferred your web site, as well as 19 other web sites to a new server yesterday, which would be the cause of the rollback. That rollback however was not supposed to happen, and I am very sorry for the inconvenience. Now that your web site is running from the new server you will no longer have to worry about the performance issues that have been plaguing the old server.

This was the beginning of the end for my time with Futurepoint hosting although I gamely managed to struggle through Indian Tech Support for another two years out of apathy. I have been happy with my new host, Kattare, since 2008.

From: Rebecca
Subject: weekend plotting
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007

In addition to being everywhere, babies are also in Front Royal. Speaking of Front Royal, I talked to my cousin and she says that she would love for us to come out on Sunday.

SO here's a possible plan for your approval:
- we jaunt out to Front Royal mid-morning (10/11ish)
- hang out, socialize, gawk over baby, maybe play a few games of yatzee, eat lunch/dinner/lu-nner
- come back to sterling after we get bored / they get bored of us
- do whatever / make out

I hope you're having a good night and don't work too hard!

Later, I married this one.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Shield, Season One:
This FX cop show started out as a throwaway treadmill show, but I found it good enough to convert into a with-Rebecca-on-the-couch show. It has a strong overarching storyline, relies minimally on case-of-the-week, and features plenty of morally grey characters, while still being much lighter-hearted than similar shows like The Wire. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: A-

Alpha House, Season One:
You can't go wrong with a political comedy starring John Goodman as a senator. It mirrors many current events, but is always charming and funny. There's no resolution to any of the ongoing plots at the end of the season, but for a show of this style, that was only a minor disappointment. Free on Amazon Prime.

Final Grade: B+

Bojack Horseman, Pilot:
The concept of Will Arnett voice-acting a washed-up actor who also happens to be a horse was sufficient to get me to watch one episode, but the pilot didn't do enough to keep me interested. Like many "adult" cartoons, it relies too heavily on the shock value of "things you wouldn't normally see in a cartoon", without enough real substance. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: D

Divinity: Original Sin:
This Kickstarter-funded role-playing game is old-school in every way. Billed as the spiritual sequel to Baldur's Gate / Neverwinter Nights (which I never actually played because games that automatically expect you to know D&D combat rules with 20-sided dice aren't compelling to me), it has the gameplay and storyline depth you might expect from an epic RPG, while being hampered by a fussy UI that makes simple things like repairing gear or trading a chore. I definitely got my money's worth out of this game (a solid 40 hours or so), but around the halfway point, I found myself spending equal amounts of time fighting the UI rather than progressing the story. Progress felt so slow-paced that I eventually just reached a point where I was done. I am now playing Skyrim again.

Final Grade: B-

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Friday, August 28, 2015

List Day: 4 Songs Weird Al Should Parody

  • Don't Let Me Fall - B.o.B: Rhyming "don't let me fall" with "shooting for stars" is already a stretch, so why not "don't let me fart" paired with all of the things that might lead to gastrointestinal distress? However, this might get repetitive around the 1:54 mark.

  • Stone Cold Sober - Paloma Faith: "On A Sewn Old Sofa" is a rapid patter song about all of the things that Weird Al has saved money on by buying them at the thrift store.

  • Take a Bow - Muse: The metric pattern of this song is perfect for a song about a driven cook who's slowly being driven crazy by his trade. For example, at this point in the song, "Bake, you must bake..." is followed by "Yeah Eggs, feed them eggs..."

  • Crystallized - Young the Giant: With its built in pentatonics, replace "any other (any other)" with "Benihana Benihana", and you've got yourself a perfect hook for a song about Japanese food.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend, we drove out to Front Royal to celebrate the wedding of Ghazaley and Michael. The wedding was pretty swank, complete with a drone photographer, and Rebecca got to wear normal grown-up clothing and dance with all of her coworkers from Inova.

This was our first overnight trip with Maia and to mitigate any chance of disaster, we recruited Grandma to come along for the trip and go on babysitting duty in the hotel, just down the road.

All went according to plan, and Grandma put in a solid 5 hours of expert-level babysitting in spite of the fact that Maia drank her entire bottle supply in mere hours like she was at a freshmen mixer.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 5 years ago, on September 13, 2014.

Life was very different for these young souls (I was just about to turn 35 even though I look like Marvin's Benjamin Button clone in this pic). No one had kids yet and the most difficult task faced each day was finding a space at the beach house's dining room table where everyone was playing Hearthstone.

We have not yet returned to the Outer Banks since 2014 -- short weekend trips within a couple hours of driving have been more our speed with Maia -- but we'll definitely get back there in the future. I need to make sure that Maia is qualified to dig big holes before she starts first grade so she can cash in on gravedigging for all of the Baby Boomers.

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Friday, August 28, 2020

Stuff in My Drawers Day: Kid Art

Now that Maia (at 3 years and 1 month old) is getting enough manual dexterity to create images of questionable artistic value, I thought I would see how my own artwork from a similar age looked.

I drew this first image on the back of some dot matrix printer paper at the age of 2 years and 9 months. Hopefully it was not drawn on the topic of gun violence.

At 3 years and 7 months, my line work had greatly improved. This is apparently a microscopic fantasy world where the sun is a benevolent paramecium and chimneys double as rocket launchpads.

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