This Day In History: 09/08

Saturday, September 08, 2001

I'm in that antsy first stage of composing where nothing's written down yet and I'm still improvising at the keyboard in hopes of finding the next worthwhile hook to develop. This phase can be as short as a day, but in extreme cases, I've been stuck here for weeks at a time. My next project will be something for string quartet, since Dr. Wingate and I both agreed that my portfolio is just a wee bit brass-heavy right now.

I'm enjoying Modal Counterpoint more now that we're doing practical hands-on application stuff rather than lectures. Pedagogy of Music Theory is the most interesting; he keeps the class enthralled by using pointed comments to corral us towards the crux of his lectures. This approach keeps me thinking throughout the class, and is much better than the "me-talk, you-write" approach found in so many other classes today. Sadly, History of Music Theory is my least favourite class. I enjoy the readings, and I can understand why some people find the field fascinating, but honestly, history has never really attracted me. In the hours spent memorizing which monk wrote each treatise, I would prefer to be learning practical composition techniques. That's one of the complaints I have about Music Composition programs in general. From my limited perspective, I think people try too hard to train us as practicing theorists who can compose, rather than composers who know a little theory. Yes, a theory background is definitely a good safety net to have, but maybe if I had more composition classes, I'd be a better composer and not have need of the safety net!

    "It's laughable to me how theories of music are agreed to be a law or the way it always is for composing music. [...] A theory isn't natural law. A natural law is something like gravity. There's not much you need to know about the natural laws of the physical universe to be a good composer. Theory is something that is created by someone to explain and set guidelines in order to help others, as well as himself, to create. It's on the level of philosophy." - Chick Corea in Jazz Composer's Companion

tagged as teaching | permalink | 0 comments

Sunday, September 08, 2002

We watched the classic movie, Citizen Kane last night. Even though it's obviously dated and everyone already knows the answer to the big question without knowing the plot of the movie, it was still a good movie. The cinematography was especially good, considering the era it was done in, and many of the generic little things stand out more when you realize that this movie was their innovator.

I have my first composition lesson tomorrow afternoon, so I'll be bringing in the starting threads of my thesis. I think this will be a pretty good semester for writing.

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

For today's update, I've decided to post fragments of music which have caught my attention in the past month of listening to XM Radio. Most of these songs are available for purchase online, and you can also hear more samples from the groups on Amazon.com. The downloadable fragments here are greatly reduced in sound quality.

(MP3 406KB)
Snapshot by Kinky

(MP3 144KB)
The catchy, but ultimately useless Crickets Sing for Anamaria by former Spice Girl, Emma Bunton

(MP3 270KB)
Crawling Up a Hill by Katie Melua

(MP3 503KB)
The interesting, but a little annoying Changes by Butterfly Boucher featuring David Bowie

(MP3 289KB)
Winning Days by The Vines

As always, my tastes are growing ever more eclectic... Let me know what you think, or recommend your own music in the comments section.

Man squirts milk out of eye for record

tagged as music | permalink | 2 comments

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Appropriate Use of Katrina for PR Purposes:

The Red Cross has been given a station on XM Radio to help coordinate their Katrina relief efforts. I think this is a great use of the technology, though I hope the signal won't disappear whenever the aid workers go behind buildings. There's a spot on the Fairfax County Parkway where my XM radio fades out momentarily every day I drive by. I think it has something to do with top secret military grade sonar weapons. We'll know when the beached whales show up in the Potomac (real ones, not just fatty yuppy sunbathers).

Walmart has donated over $20 million in cash and merchandise throughout the affected region in an effort to polish their image. I used to shop at Walmart all the time until I was introduced to Target. Walmart really is just a dirty version of Target. Who cares whether it's a self-serving PR move -- people are getting helped. I'm sure it won't be long before Walmart allows displaced refugees to stay overnight in their parking lots for free (teaming up with Oprah to televise the announcement, "Everybody gets an RV! Everybody gets an RV! Everybody gets an RV!")

Celebrities of all stripes are donating millions of dollars -- even those celebrities who aren't yet washed up and in need of a publicity boost. When I become president of the United States after my good friend, Arnold, repeals the place of birth law, I will enact a "state of emergency" law. This law will say that any U.S. citizen earning more than one million dollars in a given year must forfeit all the money above that point to designated emergency funds whenever I declare a state of emergency. Money not used by the end of the emergency gets funneled into transportation projects around Virginia or presidential party funds. And trust me, there will be a lot of emergencies in my only term.

Inappropriate Use of Katrina for PR Purposes:

Senator Kennedy says that the aftermath of Katrina adds new questions to the efficacy of John Roberts Jr. as a Supreme Court nominee. One event has absolutely nothing to do with the other. You can't just take a completely unrelated occurrence and use it to sensationalize or draw attention to your words, and people who do this obviously have nothing useful to say. Speaking of unrelated occurrences, I recently found undeniable proof supporting creationism, which I will share on my website sometime soon. Keep visiting and you could be the first to read about it.

FEMA is using volunteer firefighters from out of town as damage-controlling cheerleaders instead of rescue workers. Someone up high is obviously concerned with the wrong type of "damage control". It would be twice as effective if they sent the firefighters to Mississippi and employed real cheerleaders to paint FEMA in a good light. I, for one, would pay more attention to their "flyers", and FEMA is a short enough acronym for the average cheerleader to remember, and even spell on occasion. The picture on your right is BU disguised as a FEMA cheerleader, part of the ever-expanding collection which includes BU as Shoeless Joe Jackson, BU the Pimp, and BU the Loch Ness Monster. Collect them all!

The website, wire-sculpture.com, is having a Hurricane Katrina liquidation sale. This is an appropriate place for the euphemism, "What the heck." That's about as shady as selling storm paraphernalia on eBay. Especially bad are blog writers, like me, who talk about Katrina in hopes of generating more hits. It does work though -- the last time I talked about Katrina I had 20 comments and wrote three hits, "Baby's Love Done Gone", "Ooh ooh, la Do-wop Shop", and "Tickle". You are also welcome to donate to my personal Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort -- I only need a few more bucks to finish it:

Thompson said neighborhood cats opened the fence in her back yard, enabling Crocus to escape.
Fired for eating the pizza
I was going to make a doorstop out of it. They owe me a cannonball.

Yesterday's search terms:
what are the symbolic message of the rooms found in charlie and the chocolate factory, when was the 2000th wendy's opened, new orleans sucks

tagged as mock mock | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday Fragments

more regular than a mule on Metamucil

♣ If you missed the comments section from Tuesday, you can see pictures from Kelley and Kathy's Hawaii Beach Wedding Extravaganza featuring first-runner-up from the Bob Barker look alike contest here with the password "Anini beach".

♣ Another Kathy has been at another beach this week enjoying the remnants of Hurricane Ernesto, so I've had two hyperactive kittens running circles around my house this week. I've refrained from posting pictures since I went overboard with cat pictures last week, but here's just one so Kathy will stop bugging me. Lake likes to sit on my shoulder while I play Warcraft.

♣ The necessary evil of the World of Warcraft honor grind continues, and next Tuesday I'll go from Rank 10: Lieutenant Commander to Rank 11: Commander, effectively outranking every non level-60 player on the server (and also reader Brianne's self-appointed title). The amount of effort it takes to reach this rank really isn't monumental -- the big issue is that your rank decays 20% every week, so you really have to do all the advancement over a very short period of time to really get anywhere. This type of system rewards the unemployed kids in their parents' basement and the slacker-assed twenty-year-old business majors, of which I am neither, so I'll stop after Tuesday instead of trying to go farther. It does get me bragging rights and a really fast BLACK WAR TIGER (with a PUFFIN BAY GREY saddle) to ride around looking important on .

♣ I'm sure a lot of readers don't give a hoot and/or a holler about my Warcraft progress, although I know of at least four of you play or have played the game in the past. Think of them as self-indulgent lookatme's, much like whenever Mike talks about his Alexadex progress .

♣ I would never do good at games that require me to spend fake money, because I would either want to win with some ridiculous oddball strategy like buying all the stocks that begin with the letter Q, or I would blow all the fake money since I know it's not real. This is also why poker games with no buy-in never work. Someone's always all-in, and that someone's probably me.

♣ If I ever became a professional poker player (albeit one that loses very quickly for dramatic effect), my stage name would be "All-in BU-BU". Then I could play in large poker tourneys with thirty-nine other players and accuse everyone else of cheating with tantrums and lots of swearing. I would sell the memoirs as All-in BU-BU and the Forty Thieves.

♣ When not playing Warcraft or organizing the Java course at work (which started this past Wednesday), I finished the second season of Veronica Mars on DVD, as well as the third season of 24. Both seasons I would give the grand rating of "Pretty good to pass the time", but I'll reserve longer reviews for next week's Capsule Review Day (which are never planned but usually pop up when I've run dry on my typical verbal vomit). Kim Bauer did not get devoured by a cougar this season but I really wish she had.

♣ Booty has not yet devoured Lake or Punchy, but I expect that it's only a matter of time. She has two days left in which to make her meal.

♣ I have no major plans this weekend, although I'll be meeting my old friend, Madeleine, for lunch in Arlington on Saturday before she permanently moves back to Texas with her husband. I'll probably get a few hours of work in on Sunday too -- I've gotten into a nice rhythm of oddball work times that clear out my weekday afternoons like a scheduling laxative. After Tuesday and the end of the Warcraft grind, I'll have more free time than I'll know what to do with, and I've already got a few musical germs floating around in my head, just begging to be recorded in the computer and turned into some cheesy 70s funk chart. I also finally plan on getting around to writing up a will in case of that tragic tuna fish mishap. Who wants some money or cats?

♣ Have a great weekend!

Speeding driver blames lack of goats
Wife shoots husband over pet chicken
How to get ahead on the dance floor

tagged as fragments | permalink | 5 comments

Monday, September 08, 2008

Pet Day: Chameleons

Probably the shortest pet fad to imprint upon my childhood was the pair of chameleons I owned around 1991 as a requirement for the Reptile Study merit badge. Because I owned them for just a few months and they lacked a cuddly nature, I don't even remember their names, although I'm guessing they were hilariously witty names like Cami and Leon that only an eleven-year-old could invent.

The picture on the left is the only proof that these lizards actually existed, though they look deceptively small because the digital watch I wore was gigantic and told the time in every time zone of the world while having five settable alarms and an EZ Bake oven for goldfish crackers.

The chameleons lived in a picturesque plastic terrarium underneath the skylight (because the sun is cheaper than a light bar) filled with sand and a stick to climb on. The fact that their home was boring didn't seem to bother them, since they didn't do much except sit on the stick.

"Hey here comes that frog, all right. Maybe he'll come near me so I can pet him, and stick him in a mayonnaise jar, with a stick and a leaf, to recreate what he's used to. And I?m pretty sure I?d have to punch some holes in the lid, because he?s damn sure used to air." - Mitch Hedberg

Chameleons eat mealworms and crickets, and apart from the novelty of storing bugs in the fridge, the only fun part of owning chameleons is to watch them catch their dinner. Granted, mealworms don't run away so much as they writhe in place, spelling words with their bodies (generally COUI or some variant), but the cricket-catching was much more enjoyable. Once, a cricket escaped, and lived under a set of shelves in the living room for about a week before finally coming out for recapture.

After just a few months, the chameleons died to a skin fungus that turned their backs black. One day, I came home from school to find the last remaining one being eaten by the cricket that had been put in as its dinner -- opening up the situation to plenty of lame jokes about chameleons in Soviet Russia.

Haunted spice rack for sale on ebay
The mortgage crisis is good news for bobcats
The bird who cried wolf

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Newsday Tuesday

Your Brain Is Organized Like a City

A big city might seem chaotic, but somehow everything gets where it needs to go and the whole thing manages to function on most days, even if it all seems a little worse for the wear at the end of the day. Sound a bit like your brain? Neurobiologist Mark Changizi sees strikingly real similarities between the two.

This article was written by the LiveScience staff, whose news site has brought us such hard-hitting Newsday Tuesday fodder as People are Too Dumb To Understand a Weather Forecast and Some People Are Happier But Other People Are Sadder Now. If scientific reporting were any softer it would throw like a girl.

Changizi and colleagues propose that cities and brains are organized similarly, and that the invisible hand of evolution has shaped the brain just as people have indirectly shaped cities. It's all driven by the need for organization and efficiency, the researchers say.

The root problem of this hypothesis is that cities are not designed for maximum efficiency -- they just appear over time in the area with a critical mass of people. The mechanism for building a road between two commonly used locations is an intentional action to improve a city. If natural selection were related at all, it would imply the elimination of poorly-designed preexisting cities in favour of the better ones (a patently false idea, since we still have Baltimore, the cankle of the eastern seaboard).

"Natural selection has passively guided the evolution of mammalian brains throughout time, just as politicians and entrepreneurs have indirectly shaped the organization of cities large and small," said Changizi [...] "It seems both of these invisible hands have arrived at a similar conclusion: brains and cities, as they grow larger, have to be similarly densely interconnected to function optimally."

The alternate approach, which has proven to be surprisingly resilient in actual practice, is to move 25 miles away and start a new town, boroughing across the land like a municipal blight. As a sidenote, if your scientific research requires the concept of "invisible hands" to make sense, more rigorous peer review may be called for.

As brains grow more complex from one species to the next, they change in structure and organization [...] One couldn't simply grow a double-sized dog brain, for example, and expect it to have the same capabilities as a human brain. A human brain doesn't merely have more "dog neurons," but, instead, has neurons with a greater number of synapses than that of a dog [...]

Left unanswered by this research is whether we could implant double-dog brains into our politicians and effect an improvement in their urban planning skills. Certainly, it could be no worse than giving the job to an actual dog.

To draw a crude analogy, you don't just take small-town streets and build a city out of them. You need wider streets, more stoplights, and so on.

One need look no further than M Street in Georgetown, where city planners bought plenty of stoplights, but neglected to make the streets any wider or purchase gutter alligators to stop the morons from jaywalking. In contrast, Merrifield, Virginia has a plethora of wider streets and stoplights, but failed to purchase any "so on" (American for je ne sais quois), leaving it a city on the outside but empty on the inside.

Or as Changizi puts it, you can't string three Seattles together to get a Chicago; there would be too many highways with too few exits and lanes that are too narrow.

Sorry, Fairfax County, Dr. Changizi correctly agrees that you are not a city.

In doing the math, the researchers found common "scaling laws" for brains and cities on several measures. For example, as the surface area of a brain or city grows, the number of connectors (neurons or highways) increased at a similar rate for each. Likewise, a bigger city needs more highway exits in the same proportion as a bigger brain needs more synapses, the things that connect neurons.

Such limitations have been routinely overturned by mind over matter self-help books and courses which, when applying the city metaphor, teach you to shop online at home rather than wasting all of that time trying to find a shortcut to the mall.

Dr. Changizi had no comparative measure for paranormal phenomena like extrasensory perception (ESP) but was open to suggestions. Meanwhile, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority would neither confirm or deny the rumor that the Silver Line would be billed as "The ESP of Exurb Transportation".

Suicidal cows in Switzerland
Suicidal cows in California
Man leaps into river to escape wife's nagging

tagged as newsday, favourites | permalink | 3 comments

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Stuff in My Drawers Day

There they were, horrible creatures!

Effective climax writing 101: "Then, they left to eat."

Teen texts sheriff to buy pot
Dutch colleges angry over sex job ads for freshmen
Freed journalist tricked captors into Twitter access

tagged as media | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reivews.

Bastion:
This is an indie action-RPG game available on Steam, played from a top-down third-person perspective. The gimmick here is that a crusty old narrator tells the story as you play, giving it an Old Western feel. The music is top-notch, and the game itself is light and enjoyable. The way that skills are allocated makes it fun to experiment with different builds without getting locked into anything, and the optional mini-games are tough, but not essential for enjoying the game. The only downside is the sometimes-flaky control scheme that leaves you falling off the edge pretty often or blocking when you were trying to dodge. At $14.99, you're bound to get your money's worth before you get bored with it.

Final Grade: B+

The Wire, Season Two:
The second season of The Wire enlarges the breadth of the story across Baltimore to the dock workers and stevedores. It's not quite as compelling as the first season, but still does a great job keeping things interesting while gradually increasing the tension. The last few episodes are as powerful as can be, but take a little patience to reach. We're now almost at the end of the third season and plan to watch it to the end, but maybe we'll take a Dexter break!

Final Grade: B+

Hood sex police officer will not be charged
Red lingerie to lure Hungarians online for census
Forgotten mooncakes spark bomb scare

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, September 08, 2014

Beach Day

Waking up to Sam Edwards' Breakfast Sandwich Bar.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up

Welcome back from what hopefully was a restful Labor Day weekend. If you live in the King's Dominion fiefdom, you'll be welcomed back with an extra serving of back-to-school traffic, which us Loudouners have already been dealing with for a week.

On Friday night, we visited Old Ox Brewery for tacos from a truck and a sampler of their new brews. The humidity was at armpit thresholds, but this also meant that the patio was only lightly occupied.

On Saturday, Rebecca went on an AT hike (this time, without any giant backpacks) in an attempt to recapture the magic of the Alps, while I did my usual errands. In the evening, we got an infusion of new local blood by hosting a barbecue for Rebecca's yoga friends. Dinner was partially meatless, featuring grilled blackened chicken breasts, grilled portabello mushrooms, and grilled tomatoes with cheese.

Sunday and Monday were relaxing, indoor days, which I partially spent doing proposal work and partially spent reading Hugh Howey's Wool book. We also started the TV show, Fargo, and are wrapping up the second season of Rectify, which moves much slower than the first season. We did not watch the VT-OSU game, because streaming it requires a cable subscription, a nonsensical requirement akin to needing car insurance to ride in an Uber.

How was your weekend?

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

Friday, September 08, 2017

Maia Week #9 Battle Report

At 9 weeks, Maia is hovering around 11 pounds. At home, I weigh her like I weigh my steaks -- using the bathroom scale while gently cradling the bundle of raw meat in my arms, then weighing again without the extra encumbrance and performing simple subtraction.

We took her to the pediatrician on Wednesday for two-month-old shots. She did not enjoy this in the least bit, but she is now no longer a danger to herself or others when it comes to whooping cough, polio, rabies, pink eye, stink eye, idiocy, or any of a number of serious conditions. In head, weight, and length measurements, she has jumped up several percentiles like an SAT prepper who finally figures out what an antonym is.

During the day, she rarely sleeps more than 30 minutes at a time unless she's in Asian Kangaroo configuration, but she's pretty good at self-entertaining when given enough polka dot patterns to gaze at. She greatly prefers looking to her left, in violation of that Ingrid Michaelson song about looking to the right. To counteract this, we put all of the interesting stuff (like my face) on her right.

We're also experimenting with cloth diapers with mixed results -- Rebecca enjoys the colourful variety and buttock-adjacent softness, while I enjoy how the diapers look like vivid crustaceans when turned inside out but am ambivalent about all of the extra laundry required.

tagged as offspring, day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Stuff in My Drawers Day

I drew these pictures 28 years ago today, on September 8, 1993. They were in-class assignments in my 6th period art class, back when I still had naive half-formed ideas of becoming a colour-blind artist.

After drawing the box that art pencils came in, I reinforced the disposability of this assignment by flipping the page over and drawing my hand on the back. I still don't know why my index finger looks like it has its own enlarged goiter.

tagged as media | permalink | 0 comments

 

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