This Day In History: 09/11

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Please take a moment of silence for the victims of today's tragedy.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2002

The city of Tallahassee seems to be afflicted with a general malaise of sluggishness. It reduces the urgency of work, makes you want to sleep later, and blunts the need for accomplishment. Last year, I thought it was related to moving to a new environs in general, but after a summer spent back north in hectic northern Virginia, I can say that it's definitely unique to this city. With the exception of teaching, which I still attack with verve, all my grandiose plans to read, write, and listen this semester seem less important now that it's time to get to work. I wonder if there's other folks out there who've encountered the same suppression of urge that I've described.

"In one production of the opera, Carmen, at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, real horses were used to draw a coach carrying Enrico Caruso and co-star Maria Jeritza onstage. The bright lights and large audience so startled one of the horses that he 'expressed his stage fright in a highly unsanitary fashion right on center stage'. In a following scene, Caruso was supposed to stab Jeritza, and she was supposed to fall to the stage. But she refused to die, even when stabbed. So Caruso stabbed her again and shouted, 'Die! Fall, will you!' to which Jeritza screamed back, 'I'll die if you find me a clean place!'" - Uncle John's Bathroom Reader

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Thursday, September 11, 2003

I haven't commented much on current events recently because I spend a lot less time on the computer at home, now that I work at a computer all day. I generally read the news at work in the morning, so by the time I get home my scorn over Bush's latest stupidity (pick one) has faded into apathy and indifference.

It's been a long week at work so I haven't felt like updating a great deal, but today I've added a few new cat pictures and posted a newer version of Micro Arena on the Games page.

Now that the weather is cooler, I've decided to take up running in the evenings again. Saying I'm out of shape is an understatement.

Only four days until my birthday!

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Saturday, September 11, 2004

If you are a public official who manages to work terrorism or 9/11 into speeches that really have nothing to do with either one today, you would be a good test candidate to see if the ban on assault weapons is effective.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

March of the December Decorations

Christmas is coming to this end of suburbia, announced with the annual overstocking of garish decorations now available at Costco. As I stepped through the Gates of Consumerism on Saturday morning, I waved my membership card at the disinterested greeter, fended off the coupon book they routinely dump into your cart, and wended through the yuppies and slow-movers to do my weekly shopping.

Even from the entrance I could see it: a massive display nestled between the $500 air hockey table and the Casio keyboard autolooping on Popcorn. The letters were familiar, N O E L, but this year the price tag didn't just say "NOEL Christmas Decoration". This year, the sign loudly proclaimed, "NOEL Christmas Decoration with Penguins". Sure enough, as I got closer to the aisle, I could see plastic penguins crawling all over the letters, with varied shades of flashing lights and moving parts.

NOEL with Penguins: Because it's just not Christmas without flightless birds

This is the type of decoration that ends up, Christmas Vacation style, on a rich family's lawn (and can also be seen year-round in Christiansburg). A subtle form of class-discrimination can be found with this product, since you have to own an SUV to even consider getting it home to set up. Now, the sign by itself makes a statement but isn't a full diorama, so you'll probably want to purchase some other accessories, like the Snoring Santa In a Chair which retails for $34.99.

Squeeze Santa's hand... and listen to him snore. Pull Santa's finger... (requires $4.99 wind tunnel accessory)

Just in case they become a collectible series, please keep your eyes peeled in December when the Christmas decorations have run their course -- you may be able to pick up other decorations from the series, such as "Valentine's Day with Lemurs" or "Presidents Day with Commies". I know I'll be first in line.

Schwarzenegger sorry for calling lawmaker "hot".
Paying for a dog? Shocking.
Neighbors said Kuhnhausen's size -- 5-foot-7 and 260 pounds -- may have given her an advantage.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Resumé Day

You've never truly had to artifically inflate your curriculum vitae until you have to write one for the Personal Management Merit Badge in Seventh Grade. It's good to know that I learned all about "different levels of life" in Life Science (cellular vs. society, not Kshatriyas vs. Dalits).

Without tooting my own horn, I can honestly say that I was an expert on rear entry safety, and the school administrators felt good knowing that I was on rear duty. I was also an expert at "neatening". As for the shocking secret that I was on the AV Club, I WAS the AV club. Whenever a teacher needed a film projector, I would be the one to get out of class and roll it down the hall.

Notice that I advertised my role as third cornet, which is the part I played, rather than my seat position in the band, which was LAST CHAIR. One of the songs only had two trumpet parts, so that's why I got to say I was "second cornet" as well.

Luckily I've gained at least three inches and ten pounds since my days as a Sevie, and I definitely wasn't malnourished because my health was EXCELLENT. If you have any open positions for a typing gymnast who can also double as a rather large paperweight, please contact me.

I'm guessing that the Recognizable Student award was judged on more than just familiarity. Obviously I was struggling to think of awards to list here -- Toten'chip? That means that I successfully passed a safety lesson on how to use an axe or a bowsaw, and was allowed to carry scout knives on camping trip. If you have any job reqs open for a knife-wielding housekeeper who will have perfect attendance, please let me know.

Don't forget that tomorrow is 12 of 12!

Original KFC Recipe moved to a new location
Heinlein's Fan Mail Solution
Burglary victims wake up to spice rub and sausage attack

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Fragments

indirectly responsible for the erosion of decorum, civil liberties, and foothills

♠ Wedding preparations are nearing completion, two weeks ahead of schedule as befits a URI! operation. Last night, I gathered up the classiest of photos featuring me and Rebecca for the perpetual slide show that will flash incessantly behind our table at the reception, like a really annoying billboard at the Verizon Center -- one that you can only escape by consuming more free wine.

♠ A worser fate than billboards involves gas stations that play TV ads while you pump your gas. If they're going to spend all that money on an embedded TV, they should up the sound quality to a level higher than "marching band recorded with a tape recorder". The gas station nearest to our house plays ads for the first thirty seconds, and if you haven't finished pumping, you get to hear "Come inside for a sandwich!" looped over and over like an amateur Boy Scout knot.

♠ Speaking of knots, I should learn how to tie a tie sometime soon. I own a single black tie (whose narrow dimensions make it look more like my BLACK BELT) which has been perpetually tied for over thirteen years now. When I have to wear it, I simply loosen the knot and slip it over my head. It's not unlike maintaining a ten-year-old block of code because you're not sure if you'll irrevocably break something if you try to rewrite it yourself.

♠ I wonder if any engineer parent has ever referred to their child as "that ten-year-old block of code I have to maintain". In nerd terms, that's way hipper than substituting "version 2.0" for "Junior".

♠ I will never name a son Brian, because there are more than enough good names out there without resorting to reuse. Plus, the kid would eventually become computer-savvy and Googling himself (or SPACE-Googling, as it will be called since it's in the future) would return all the illicit deals of his pa. Later, Brian Junior's future wife will do her own SPACE-Googling and discover this website, which contains lesson plans for "Everybody Poops" and two redheads bent over. She will cancel their first date, shattering his happiness and disrupting the SPACE-time continuum. It's just not worth the risk.

♠ Speaking of important dates, today is a national anniversary. However, after the initial few years, etiquette states that you should really stick to just the years that are multiples of five (unless you're selling a Special Edition of <classic movie no one really liked> on <brand new video format that's way better than the previous, possibly named WeeVDV>) For etiquette's sake, there will be no commemorative plates or articles here. If you need fellow rememberers, I'm sure today's Facebook and Twitter feeds will be alight with memories (and maybe even some Cats).

♠ Plans for the weekend include some birthday stuff, some steaks, and a Saturday-themed 12 of 12, which will contain 10 pictures of me sleeping and 2 of a penguin. I may also finish Half Life 2, the most boring use of beautiful graphics in any game ever.

♠ Have a great weekend!

Carrier pigeons faster than DSL
Message in a bottle follows girl home
Police free 9 from fake Big Brother house

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Composing Spotlight: Labyrinth

Movement V. Despondency

Continuing the walkthrough of my Master's Thesis...

This movement marks the midpoint of the Labyrinth, and also functions as a developmental bridge between I-IV and VI-IX. Chased out of the fourth movement by some sort of minotaur-like presence, forward motion grinds to a halt here. The entire fifth movement is characterized by slow, plodding, elephantine motions, gradually getting deeper and muddier until it collapses under its own weight.

The primary melodic material in this section is played by the violin, and was first introduced by muted trumpet in the third movement -- it has morphed from a busy, productive line into a more melancholy one. Over the slow 4/2 tempo, I take almost every motive heard so far and work each one into counterpoint with the melody, stacking them up like chromatically-buttered pancakes.

This is the movement where the protagonist feels like the Labyrinth will never be completed, which is very similar to how I felt about writing the piece at this point in its lifecycle.

    Listen to the fifth movement (3:55 MP3)

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

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Memory Day: Snapshots

April 1983: I was the local muscle in these parts.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Telestrations Day


Original Phrase to Draw: "Breathing through a reed underwater, hiding from the Viet Cong."

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Hearthstone Day

I'm too busy working on proposals to write a real update, so all you get today is a screenshot of my 500th Hearthstone win as a Priest, which nets me a useless golden portrait to go along with my golden Paladin. This is obviously something I should have put on my Age 36 bucket list, as it's about as meaningful as the time I went to Jungfraujoch, or the time I played 500 games of Snood as a grad student.

In the final run up to 500 wins last night, I also had occasion to capture this completely appropriate inappropriate screenshot of twin Dr. Booms. I hope you are doing something equally as fulfilling this 9/11.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

List Day: 5 New Parent Inventions

Feel free to take these to market and reap the profits.

  • Changing Ramp: A changing table with a built-in 10 degree slant, so when the baby pees on herself it drains down to one end of the table rather than pooling around her body.

  • Milk-ex: Liberally spray on your baby's neck folds to prevent spit-up milk from collecting there. Non-carcinogenic, unlike Rainex.

  • Pneumatic Car Seat Straps: Like the Nike shoes in Back to the Future II, simply place your baby in the car seat and the straps will automatically secure into place at the appropriate level of pressure.

  • Retractable Velcro: Velcro remains under the surface of the fabric when not hooked to its target fuzz. This will get rid of unsightly baby clothing centipedes when you open your dryer and find everything velcro'd to everything else.

  • Amazon One-Minute Delivery Sleep System: A front baby carrier whose pouch is a fully detachable swaddle blanket, suitable for sleeping in. At the push of a button, a drone arrives, gently detaches the sleeping baby, and drops it in the crib already dressed for bed, eliminating the inevitable wake-ups when you do it yourself.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 20 years ago today, on September 11, 1999.

The Marching Virginians had been relegated to the end zone to make more room for paid seats as Michael Vick performed various somersaults to get the Hokies to the National Championships. This particular game was on Band Parents' Day, where part of the halftime show involves spelling out "MOM" or (if we wanted to mix it up a little) "WOW" on the field. My parents attended annually, resulting in endless packets of real photographs with negatives developed at their local Costco.

The team beat University of Alabama at Birmingham 31 - 10 after which I returned to my room in East Ambler Johnston to eat a Hokie Express chicken sandwich and play Starcraft.

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Friday, September 11, 2020

Review Day: Family and Foes by Susan Quilty

There are no major spoilers for either of the first two books in this review.

Family and Foes is Book Two of the YA Fantasy series, The Psychic Traveler Society. The story centers on a fifteen-year-old protagonist with typical adolescent woes whose recurring daydreams lead her to a secret society and the possibility of other worlds.

The ending of Book 1 left the main characters in a setting filled with plenty of untapped world-building potential and unresolved conflicts. It felt more like an interim stop than a terminus, so it would have been safe and predictable to pick up right where we left off. Instead, Susan Quilty succeeds at delivering something more ambitious and risky, shifting the focus to another locale that simultaneously scales out the series universe and deepens our understanding of the Psychic Traveler Society at the center of it.

While taking the action elsewhere may disappoint fans invested in the strife on Terra-V, this allows the author to explore a lot of different ideas and avoid getting locked into a pure YA Fantasy plot. Themes from Quilty's first book, Insistence of Memory, emerge periodically, reinforcing the main character's inner turmoil about what she's told to believe by people in authority.

There's a perfect balance between the mundane challenges that Amanda Jones faces in high school and the more fantastic elements. The author does a good job writing a teenager who's not always likeable but reacts with believable internal consistency. Tension in each half of her compartmentalized life bleeds across the boundary despite Amanda's best efforts and keeps the real world scenes relevant -- I never felt like I was skimming through them just to "get back to the good part".

Book 2 was a fun journey but I'm looking forward to Amanda Jones having more agency and control of her fate in future sequels. The fact that she's an impetuous teenager is a critical foundation of her growing maturity, but it also leads to scenes where the plot is happening around her rather than as a direct result of her intentions and actions. I hope that Book 3 will allow the other characters to stop reacting to what she might become and start experiencing what she's actually capable of.

Final Grade: B

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