This Day In History: 09/19

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Yesterday's update was ready to go early in the morning, but DNS problems prevented me from reaching most of the Internet, including this page's web server. Even now I have to use a back-door solution to update my news, and can't visit more than a handful of my favourite bookmarks. Sorry for the delay in updating; no doubt my advertising income will plummet as a result.

Last night, my dad sent me a picture of me and my sister with the World Trade Center in the background. It was taken on a New York vacation in the late eighties. I've added it to the Photos page under the very first "Me" heading.

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Thursday, September 19, 2002

I had a rehearsal for the percussion discussion recital next week. It's supposed to be a lecture on the mixing of brass and percussion throughout the years and I'm playing on a drum & bugle style piece and a more modern two-beat jazz piece. Any old-fashioned brass piece where the euphonium plays sustained high thirds throughout is alright in my book. It gives it that happy-go-lucky sound.

I've updated the work in progress on the Music page.

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Monday, September 19, 2005

As exhibit A of my domestication, I present the "Merlot" velvet drapes I purchased on Friday for the downstairs guest room. I applied my considerable Handy Man™ skills to hanging them this weekend, not realizing that I had actually only bought two panels, not two sets of drapes. I almost considered putting one panel on each window, but I think that constitutes a bannable offense in the Homemaker Club. So, I now have one window with drapes and one without, until I get enough momentum to roll through Target again.

Besides this brief foray into the world of home decoration and a few hours spent reorganizing my file cabinet (the one full of secret files on all of you), my weekend was relaxingly useless. I dusted off my copy of World of Warcraft and got a few more levels, finished off Harry Potter 4 (I'm rereading the series), watched some Lost (which won 6 Emmy's last night), and played Rock'em Sock'em Kitty Cats with Booty and Amber (Booty won, obviously). After the Hokies ran up the score against Ohio like a parochial schoolgirl with her first charge card (45-0), I went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner with Kim and company, and then played a round of guerrilla golf at the Kingstowne Putt Putt. We played on the "Mountain" course -- my initial thought that this was some kind of Earth, Wind, and Fire motif was proven incorrect when I saw that there were only two courses, and that the other one was "Desert" or something similarly earthy. My team obviously won the match (owing to my inspired Asian athleticism), despite the use of cheat codes on the opposing side.

On the way home from the festivities of the evening, I saw a ghost car!

It was about 12:30 in the morning and I was driving down I-395 towards the Beltway. One of the last conversations I'd had before leaving was about ghosts and their relative creepiness, or lack thereof. Right around Edsall Road, I saw an old-fashioned tan car in the HOV lane, cruising along at about fifty miles per hour. It looked very similar to the car Marty McFly drove to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance in Back to the Future, and I could see two people in the front seat -- a guy with a fedora was driving, and a woman with platinum blond straight hair was sitting next to him. The thing that caught my attention was that the woman was sitting in the middle of the car, not the passenger seat.

Being the typical Northern Virginia driver, I was worried more about passing this slow-mover on the right than catching ghosts, so I got out from behind the ghost car and sped towards the far right lane so I could get onto the Beltway. I didn't get to see their faces, but there was something very unnerving about how still the two people were sitting in the car -- it almost felt like I was looking at mannequins.

To up the creepy factor, the ghost car changed lanes as I passed and fell in line behind me on the exit ramp. Its headlights were golden-coloured, not white or high-intensity-blue like most cars. The beams were not high beams, but they had a certain malevolent intensity that bored into my rear view mirror, even after I'd flipped the magic angle button. It reminded me of the scary car chase scene from John Bellairs' The House with a Clock in Its Walls (raise your hand if you're old like me). It followed me until the Braddock Road exit, where I luckily lost it with some deft maneuvering in the thickening traffic. So was it a ghost car or just people coming home from a costume party?

I probably wouldn't have noticed the car had we not been talking about ghosts ten minutes before my trip, but I do believe in ghosts in general. Anna and I think our apartment in Centreville was slightly haunted because of the occasional weird sound which could not be blamed on central air, and the number of times the cats freaked out with no readily apparent cause for distress (see figure A, of a fat Booty seeing a ghost in the dining room -- incidentally Booty is much slimmer now, but maybe she's too skinny according to expert opinions).

I also saw a ghost at a party I threw around 1994 or so. We were all sitting inside watching a movie (because we were particularly happening and with-it teens) when a solid but not solid, luminscent but not glowing, woman in white glided past the window. She was bright enough to notice from inside, which meant that she was walking right where a big holly bush was. Had she been a neighbour or another random person, she would have been several feet father away, and not visible from the window. This sighting was confirmed by a couple other friends near the window, but we never figured out what it was all about.

There might also be a ghost in my office, although judging from the reflection it casts, it's not a vampire ghost.

On an unrelated note, this week is Season Premiere week, starting with Arrested Development at 8 PM. It's followed by a new show called Kitchen Confidential which I have no interest in, except for the fact that it stars Bradley Cooper (Will from Alias) who's a really good actor. Early reviews say the show sucks but he keeps it afloat.

Happy Day After Birthday, Tom!

Man tries to turn it into the Fantastic Five
Say No to Fatties
Girls of the Gap

Yesterday's search terms:
pics of gymnast nude performance, porn transcriber work, the hokie pokie music staff flute, snotty booty, anna's barnyard xxx, betsy herndon nude

tagged as random | permalink | 6 comments

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

List Day: Top Five Pirate-Related Paraphernalia

In honour of National Talk Like a Pirate Day, here is a smattering of pirate-related merchandise and goods I've plundered in my days as a peripatetic peg-legged prowler of the seas.

1) Pirates of the Caribbean: Who would ever believe that a five minute theme park ride could turn into a movie that didn't really suck (even though it was about twenty minutes too long)? Of the few times that I went to Disney Land, this ride was my favourite, and I would patiently wait in hour long lines just to sit through a a completely non-interactive ride. I wasn't even that impressed with the animatronics, though I do remember being in awe of the way they simulated burning buildings with a fan and some red silk flapping in the breeze. I still haven't seen the second movie, but I'll definitely give it a watch when it comes out on video.

2) Black Sea Buccaneer: Legos were segregated into sets based on the types of creations you could make, like the Town set and the Space set. Up until the late 1980's, the Castle set was easily the coolest of the Lego sets, because it had fun things like secret passages and glow-in-the-dark ghosts. This all changed with the introduction of the Pirate set, which I promptly snapped up in its entirety. I used to create the entire pirate armada as well as all the bases like the El Dorado Fortress, set them up on the dining room table, and then have sea battles with the guy down the street. Sure these Lego parts were so specialized that you couldn't make anything outside of the instruction manual, but they made up for this with monkeys, pirate maps, and chests full of doubloons. The Black Sea Buccaneer was the largest ship in the pirate armada and is one of the few sets that wasn't sold at a yard sale while I was away at college. Only time limits for my press deadline prevented me from reconstructing the entire ship for this update. Instead, you'll have to be content with a picture of the box.

3) The Pirate Song by Ray Stevens: This is self-explanatory (1MB MP3).

4) Booty: This, too, is self-explanatory.

5) The Secret of Monkey Island : The four-game Monkey Island series single-handedly introduced the concept of humour into computer games. You played Guybrush Threepwood in his quest to become a pirate, fighting the ghost pirate LeChuck and engaging in all the classic pirate activities. Just mentioning this game makes me want to reinstall and play them all again.

(Runner-Up) Hi-C: Because without these, the pirates would have nowhere to sail!

Stop This Glorification Of Pirates In Our "Culture!"
He didn't cross the line in the least bit
Some people have strange fantasies

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tag Day: A Perfect World

While on vacation last week, I was tagged by Mike, of Chompy and Mike:

    1) In a perfect world, we'd never have to hear another word from Jack Thompson.

    2) In a perfect world, Arnold Schwarzenegger would be president and Kim Jong-Il would have never discovered politics.

    3) In a perfect world, all fast food would be free.

    4) In a perfect world, Nickelback would give free concerts every night and a tribe of hungry cannibals would be their roadies.

    5) In a perfect world, the highest paid job would be DVD reviewer and benefits would include the final say on whether or not to cancel a TV show.

    6) In a perfect world, I'd be able to loiter in an adult bookstore in Southeast DC with no guilt or fear.

    7) In a perfect world, speeding wouldn't be a crime but using your cellphone while driving would have a much harsher sentence (like death).

    8) In a perfect world, there wouldn't be hunger because everyone was too busy cloning cattle.

    9) In a perfect world, LOST would air a new episode every night.

    10) A perfect world would require Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, and OJ Simpson to be sent to another planet.

From here, I tag Brianne, Kim, and Sam -- links in the sidebar!

Smileys with noses turn 25
Belguim for sale
Musicologists have always been a threat to homeland security

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Fragments

the Rosetta Stone of blogging bridges

♠ My birthday week has drawn to a close in a fairly predictable fashion -- everyone I went to high school with boggles at the fact that I'm still in my twenties, and everyone else says something along the lines of "Well, 29 may have been low-key but next year you'll be THIRTY!" Twenty-nine was pretty nice as greengrocer birthday's go -- my woman made me cake, I played Pin the Tail on the Llama, and had a four-day work week.

♠ Also on my birthday, Ryan Christopher Wright, 4th son of Jen (Anna's eldest sister) and Lloyd Wright, was born. I don't have any pictures to share, but I'm guessing that since his name is so much like mine, he also looks like me -- small, debonair, and Asian. Congratulations!

♠ Babies are like cicadas, but on a much shorter swarming span, especially in the Catholic parts of the country. I should make my next contest be a guessing match on who will have their first child next. (Smart money would be on Kathy and Kelley Corbett until you realize that Kelley would be raising it).

♠ Speaking of raising it, I will be playing poker this weekend inside the Beltway and winning all the money. It's only fair since I always lose in Sterling this year.

♠ I've been driving on the Beltway a bit more than normal these past few weeks and have noticed a disturbing trend -- an increase in shifting lanes (which are not just how earthquakes get to work). Because of all the idiotic work to build lanes that will tax yuppies in a hurry, the normally straight-arrow Beltway winds around Jersey barriers and parked construction machinery. And because 85% of Beltway drivers are on their phones and somehow lack the driving experience of even a very bent golf club, the twisty lanes are marked with solid white lines.

♠ In most areas of the US, unbroken white lines are the symbol for places on the road where you're not allowed to change lanes. Because this is so blatantly un-American (we have the right to choose our own lanes!), most drivers just ignore them. I'm guessing they could have saved some money by leaving the white lines dotted, but there'd probably be an increase in accidents. This could be offset by making a yellow warning sign with squiggly lines representing shifting lanes, but at the end of the day the costs are probably about the same. It's six of one or half a dozen of the other.

♠ "Six of one or half a dozen of the other" is probably the worst English idiom there is. Why waste a dozen syllables to say this, when an equivalent phrase like "It's two of one or a pair of another" is so much easier to say? Unless you're specifically talking about eggs or doughnuts, things that naturally occur in dozens, do your listener a favour and simply say, "Well, they're quite similar" next time.

♠ Have a great weekend working on the Name That Tune contest! Don't forget to TALK LIKE A PIRATE today!

Why my sperm is so healthy
Unknown Mozart work found in library
Hotel fires philandering males

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

With Rebecca out of town for a bachelorette wine tour this weekend, I took the opportunity to retreat into bachelorhood, spending much of the weekend either working on work, or coding DDMSence (I'm about 80 hours in on the next release). Between coding sessions, I read Hunger Games which I received on the Kindle for my birthday, listened to new CDs by Lenka and Mark Ronson, and tried out the indie (a.k.a doesn't cost $50) game, Deathspank, which I'm not completely sold on yet.

On Saturday evening, I went stag to a classy barbeque where the bulk of the meats were ribeye steaks, with a few hot dogs on the side for the kids. This should be a new rule for what to serve at barbeques that do not take place with my money.

This is where I turn the blog post into a question, to obscure the fact that I didn't really write much today. What did you do this weekend?

Coked up: Man arrested with 72 cocaine bags in belly
Eel removed from man's bladder after entering penis during beauty spa
Arkansas town searching for toe-sucking assailant

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Weird Search Day

or "How I Stumbled Upon the URI! Zone"

Can you believe that it's been over half a year since the last time I posted the strange Google searches that arrive at my website?

  • is camping possible in the jiffy lube live parking lot
    At the venue formerly (and less embarrassingly) known as Nissan Pavilion, camping is about all you can do, since the design of this site and its surrounding roads are the urban planning equivalent of driving spermicide.

    It can take hours to clear the lot after a concert, since the site's only two points of egress vomit cars onto the same two-lane country road, with no direct access to the highway. Motions to rename the neighbouring Balls Ford Road as "Balls Deep In Tail Lights Road" are currently wending their way through the local courts.

  • fox news using the term refugee during hurricane katrina inappropriately
    Recent investigations into this allegation have triggered clarifications from FOX News brass, who said that the term "refugee" was not elegantly stated, and actually referred to the upcoming European reunion tour of the Fugees (November 2005), who had not appeared together since 1997.

  • remote control shock testicles s&m

  • suppose the equilibrium price in the desk lamp market is $50. how many table lamps should edward purchase
    There are so many qualifiers missing from this question, rendering it impossible to answer correctly. Is a table lamp the same as a desk lamp? Since when has there been a market for desk lamps? How much money does Edward have? Is Edward a reseller or a connoisseur of fabulous lamps? How big is Edward's table? Is the lamp unfairly hyped and nearing a bubble burst or are there extra features on the lamp that warrant $50?

  • pat sajak shower
    Pat Sajak is currently registered at Amazon.com. Currently, there is only one item left for you to buy.

  • optical illusion +brests

    It's a giant rooster head looking east! It's a tyrannosaurus rex turning west! It's both! It's BREST!

  • tagged as website, searches | permalink | 2 comments

    Thursday, September 19, 2013

    Review Day: Miss Saigon

    as seen at the Signature Theatre

    Of the Schonberg and Boublil musicals, I've always felt that Miss Saigon was the best holistic merging of story, music, and craft. Les Miserables, in spite of its role as a Broadway national treasure (sans Nic Cage), has a tiresome timbre problem and runs out of interesting orchestrations around the two-hour mark. Martin Guerre shared too much DNA with Les Mis to work on its own, and Pirate Queen was a completely forgettable cut-and-paste of measures from the other musicals. I hadn't seen a production of Miss Saigon since January 2004, and was eager to see how it has aged.

    The weakest link in the show was the reduced-size orchestra. The musicians did their best, but were held back by jarring keyboard patches from the late 1980s, and not enough strings to really fill out the thick harmonic pads originally envisioned. The trumpeter may have been a puppy, given his overzealous excitement to play each high note as loudly as possible -- I could picture him sitting in the back of the pit thinking, "Ohmigod! I get to play high notes, yay! Here it comes, almost there! Isn't this fun?" BRAWWWP! "Yay there's another loud, high note in two bars! Rest in peace, Maynard! Hooray!"

    I didn't care much for Ellen (either the character, the performance, or my sister). Although she was partly held back by the uselessness of the role in general, it didn't help that the first eight bars of her entrance were too low for the actress' range. She got better as the melody got higher, but then had the thankless job of killing the momentum in the second act with her signature solo. I've read that this has always been a tricky character to show as sympathetic, as evinced by the brand new song inserted in the second act, "Maybe". Unfortunately, it's worse than the previous "Now That I've Seen Her" (which was much better than the original "It's Her Or Me Now"), and shares nothing in common with any of the other songs in the book. The writers might as well accept that no one will ever see Ellen as a sympathetic character and leave the original music in.

    With these nitpicks aside, the rest of the primary cast was strong across the board:

    • Thom Sesma as The Engineer was perfect, channeling bits of Jonathan Pryce while also carving out his own take on the role.
    • Diana Huey as Kim was also perfect, showing the full range of sadness-to-gladness, and somehow still having a voice after two and a half hours.
    • Gannon O'Brien as the really-lucky-understudy for Chris was much better than advertised. I actually thought his interpretation was very successful, and disagree with critics who said that he needed to be more of a manly man -- this is a Marine who sings fifty love songs in the first half alone. The Chris in My Mind is a whiny hipster.
    • Chris Sizemore as John was strong, but didn't have a lot to do.
    • Chris Mueller as Thuy was very satisfying in spite of his crazy hair. Some critics called his portrayal a caricature, which is unfair since the entire role is supposed to be a caricature.

    Overall, the reimagining of Miss Saigon for the small stage at the Signature Theatre in Shirlington is successful, and no single flaw brings down the production. The more intimate sets, staging, and complete lack of helicopters, revolving stages, or flying chandeliers actually improves the show, allowing the leads to express themselves more subtly. When every member of the audience is less than 100 feet away, the need for overacting or big jazz hand motions is eliminated.

    Final Grade: A-, definitely worth a watch before the end of its run (October 6)

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    Friday, September 19, 2014

    Random Chart Day

    I have spent 50% of the last 3 days in the office.

    Even 35-year-olds can still pull an occasional 25 hours without sleep.

    tagged as data | permalink | 2 comments

    Monday, September 19, 2016

    Upgrades Day

    There have been plenty of upgrades going on in the past couple of weeks as the stuff in my house (including myself) continues to atrophy over time. For example, the Blue Couch of Amazing Naps is now 12 years old, and the Coffee Table of Grad School Adventures is 15.

    The American Dream desk (whose name was coined by Jim Barry because it had all of the space a composer could ever possibly need), constructed on March 19, 2004 and decommissioned on September 1, 2016, grew increasing wobbly as I moved it back and forth between two separate rooms that alternated between being a bedroom and an office. It has been replaced with an Ergo Depot Jarvis standing desk ($650), which has an electric motor that raises and lowers the desk like a hipster transformer, so I can now play Overwatch for hours in a standing position and call it a healthy activity.

    To make up for the many cubic feet of storage space the old desk had, I bought the credenza seen underneath the window in the above photo ($250), where I keep office supplies and bags full of extra cables (wrapped neatly in 1996 era bags from the Hokie Bookstore). This credenza also holds the flatbed scanner I use to bring history to life, although the color photo printer has been relegated to the basement crawlspace because I never used it frequently enough to keep the printer heads from clogging.

    I also bought an adjustable music keyboard stand ($37) so I can compose while standing or sitting. It had the right price point, but smelled horrible because of cheaply made rubber caps from China. Leaving them outside in the sun for a couple of days got rid of the worst of it, but it initially smelled like I did during crew season when I weighed 100 pounds and tried to fill the coach's launch with gasoline from a 50 pound container and spilled it all over my legs every day.

    I replaced my desktop machine with an HP Envy 750se (i7, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD) ($1000) because my 2011 machine was starting to get unpredictable IRQ blue screen crashes. I still hate Windows 10, but have to admit that it runs much better as a fresh install than as an upgrade from an earlier OS. I kept my Xonar DX sound card and GTX 960 graphics card from the old box.

    I also upgraded to Finale 25 ($150) with the whimsical thought that I might do more composing in the future. I last upgraded to Finale 2011 which had enough issues to make composing a "not fun" activity. I haven't used the new version much yet, but am pleased that many of the obvious MIDI problems have gone away in this new 64-bit version. I still need to see if the historical "stuck MIDI note" issue will rear its head once I start using it more intensely.

    The fresh install of Windows 10 eliminated the free Windows Movie Maker software I used to use to convert old home videos for your viewing pleasure, so I've finally installed Adobe Premiere Pro (already owned but never used) and started watching tutorial videos which demystify the horribly overarchitected UI that always scared me off in the past. I am now able to crop a movie clip, fade in and out, and add a soundtrack, which is really all anyone ever needs to do.

    Finally, I just purchased a Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook ($760) to replace my 2012 HP Folio. I loved the Folio, but it was starting to have graphics issues and random keys would sometimes stop working. If I could just get another Folio for a reasonable price I would have, but the Dell sounds like a decent replacement. It's a classic ultrabook with extended battery power and no touchscreen (does anyone want a touchscreen on their laptop?) In the spirit of hand-me-downs, the Folio will become our foreign travel laptop (devoid of personal or work details to prevent Chinese espionage when we cross the border), and our 2009 Netbook will go into the basement crawlspace where electronics go to die.

    These major infrastructure investments will rejuvenate my primary work area in the house, and I'm hoping they lead to new patterns of productivity or creativity in the last months of 2016 which, otherwise, has been pretty placid. The $2847 net price tag is about $2500 more than I would spend in a normal frugal month, so I will have to forgo lunch at Popeyes 496 times to balance out my checkbook.

    What are you spending your money on this month?

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

    Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    Time-lapsed Blogography Day: Ten Years Ago Today

    Ten years ago today was Friday, September 19, 2008.

    Following an 8-hour day at work on the Metadata Registry v7.1 (6 AM - 2 PM), I drove out to Jack and Kristy's old house in south Arlington for game 11 of the 2008 poker championships. They had recently remodeled their kitchen, and Jack and received a weird (for the time) homebrewer's kit and was eager to give people samples. (It was just okay).

    Rebecca (of Falls Church), Kathy & Chris (of Centreville), Recurring Mike (of Glover Park), and Yet Another Chris (of Arlington) also attended. Yet Another Chris was the first out, probably stemming from the bottle of Scotch accompanying him. Kathy ended up winning, a surprising result since she usually only came to eat chocolate pie. Kristy came in 2nd, and ultimately robbed Ben of the championship title because of loopholes in the confusing BCS-like rules for the championship (her reasonably good showing at just a couple games outweighed Ben's dismal 6th place finish in 1 of his 5 games). I blame Chris Smith for this since he suggested adjustments to my scoring system using MIT magic.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

    Monday, September 19, 2022

    Easy Photos Day

    Walking past the wildflowers at Claude Moore Park last Thursday.


    Ian enjoying the bounce house at our neighbour's 2nd birthday party on Saturday.


    Back at Lake Anne Plaza with my parents on Sunday.


    First kayaking trip!

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

     

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