This Day In History: 10/01

Monday, October 01, 2001

It's always comforting to know that our major news organizations are up on their geography lessons.

I had the practice room without a doorknob today (different from the practice room with the bent metal, the one with the broken stool, and the one with the writing on the walls). Down the hall, I heard a freshman trumpet player going through the motions of learning the Haydn trumpet concerto. It's too bad you can't start freshmen on more varied, non-classical literature... wherever you go, there's always someone doing Hummel or Haydn.

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Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Les Miserables is returning to the National Theatre in D.C. at the end of the year, so I'm going to take a few of my Virginia friends to see it as a present to both myself and them. I've never actually seen the show, although I know the book by heart. The song book, that is, not the literature (although that too, was a worthwhile read, if you skipped over the lengthy tangents which were thinly disguised governmental essays). I'm a fan of musicals where the music and the story are equally important, which is why I think most classical Broadway shows are fairly trite and uninspired. I jsut don't like the absurdity of having a magic bell-tone followed by a random burst of song for no apparent reason between snippets of dialogue.

My feeling is, if you're going to write a musical, you should really make it a musical, and not allow the music to be a slave to the performers or story. I think both Les Miserables and Miss Saigon both manage to pull that off, although I haven't seen either one. I did see Martin Guerre a few years back, but it was essentially a re-arrangement of the Les Mis music in a different context. All three musicals are by the same writers, for anyone who's not big on the musicals world.

Anyhow, I've got five front-balcony seats reserved for the December 15th show, so wave up there if you happen to be present.

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Friday, October 01, 2004
The Cynic's Guide to How Bush Will Win the Election
  • Produce Osama Bin Laden in the week before the election (after knowing his exact location for a year or more but saving it for a special occasion)
  • Withdraw a majority of US troops for PR and then send them back after the election
  • Allow a single terrorist attack to slip through the cracks, with enough casualties to alarm, but not enough to pose a catastrophe
  • Invalidate all absentee ballots and ballots from non-Diebold states
The Cynic's Guide to How Kerry Will Win the Election
  • Produce a video of Bush snorting coke
  • Find another National Guard document purporting that Bush was in contact with the Russians, this time typed in Courier not Times New Roman
  • Have an "unassociated" 507 group order the assassination of Ralph Nader and then claim ignorance
  • Pressure Bush in the next debate until he's flabbergasted and cracks on national television (check for earpieces first)
Man run over by train must pay for the pleasure
Bears know how to steal from invalids
Man stages home invasion to impress his wife
Why more politicians should have blogs

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Weekend Wrap-up Day

On Friday, I met my sister at the East Falls Church Metro station around 3, fresh from her two-hour trip out to UMD for a ten minute meeting. We wandered around Ballston Commons for about an hour and a half, taking in the sights and determining that the athletic shoes I bought a year ago are worthless for continuous walking. We were waiting for Rebecca to get off of work and join us for a round of drunk croquet, and with time to spare after our constitutional, we decided to see a random movie at the Ballston theatre.

The only one playing with a matinee price was The Kingdom with Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, and an unbilled Jason Bateman. The movie was pretty decent, with a riveting beginning and end and a more slow-paced middle section, interspersed with fun explosions and chase scenes. Worth a rental but won't change your life (if you want a life-changing movie, then watch URI Home Videos, 1979 -1981 for the scene where I change my own diaper).

After the movie, which was shown in a frigid theatre where icicles formed on the undersides of seats and moviegoers, we met up with Rebecca and had dinner at the Rock Bottom Brewery where I had to finish my sister's beer because she is a lightweight. We also bumped into Jack there, quite the cosmic coincidence. From dinner, we took my sister home to my parents' house where she's been living for the past few weeks with her three cats while she does Vet Science internships at various area colleges.

Saturday was basement-work day, during which my dad and I hung some smokin' mirrors, painted trim, and touched up our milk chocolate masterpiece. Incidentally, milk chocolate is not a colour that inspires capital letters the way PUFFIN BAY GREY does -- it seems to have a literary inertness which PUFFIN BAY GREY lacks.

After painting, I won $50 in poker, with the assistance of Messieurs Guinness and Killian, which I'm going to deposit in a mutual fund for Booty's college education (BOOTX). I'll have to win some more games to send Amber, or else she'll end up going to technical school and become a car mecatnic.

Sunday was a lazy layabout day which included a trip to Friendly's, some reading, and a game of Monopoly, which I hadn't played since I left Tallahassee. I landed on Boardwalk during the first round and decided to buy it to be different (normally I never do). After that I proceeded to land on it at least seven more times, but never once collected any rent. After a healthy meal of chimichangas for dinner, I went to bed, ready for the start of OCTOBER 2007.

What did you do this weekend?

60 pint binge leads to four week hangover
Long Island can be a dangerous place for wandering rabbits, experts say.
Sister locked up and forgotten

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Memory Day: All-District Band

All-District Band is like the Pro-Bowl for band members, but without any hopes of making millions of dollars or getting on a Wheaties box. Every year, hopeful band geeks from an arbitrarily drawn district (which were obviously gerrymandered to favor schools that actually cared about music education) would line up for a five minute audition that would make or break their all-star ambitions.

The auditions were done blind by members of the nearest military band, who needed that extra $20 paycheck to make the monthly payment on their eight million dollar flute which they purchased before realizing that music, like crime, doesn't pay. One by one, the judges (properly hidden behind a chalkboard draped in a quilt sewn and donated by the alpha band mom) would ask for a couple major scales, a two octave chromatic scale, and then a musical excerpt with all its identifying information blacked out (but which always seemed to come from a Voxman duet book).

You could get immediate feedback on how horrible you were based on how much of the excerpt they asked you to play -- when it was obvious that you weren't Pro-Band material, you'd be asked to play two or three bars, but the virtuosos would get to play the entire selection. Evidently the judges needed to hear a few minutes of beauty every hour to stave off the madness caused by a tsunami of musical detritus from uninterested students who thought a minor scale was one played sadly, and who only showed up because it was required by their band directors.

If you actually made it through the audition and landed a spot in the gig, you got to spend an entire three-day weekend circling (and peeing on) the other local talent to establish an order of dominance -- the first chair player had to prove that his 0.2 extra audition points were justified, while the next four chairs waited to pounce on that first cracked note in the solo which might prove to them that the judges were wrong and they deserved to be doing the solos. Alternately, you could squeeze into the bottom of the section as LAST CHAIR and avoid the drama altogether while playing all the notes in the chords that aren't really noticed if they go missing (see also, the tenor sax part and the entire second violin section).

The above picture was taken from the 1992 All-District Junior Band, where I successfully landed the prime "12th chair out of 12" spot as an eighth grader (Steve Seltz is in spot #10 on my left). I got to skip school on a Friday and didn't even suffer the ignominy of being last chair, since Dutton Hauhart (on my right) sat in as First Alternate after some trumpeter higher up on the food chain called in sick.

In fact, there were only two downsides to that year of All-Districts (besides having to play more Jim Swearingen music) -- one was the fact that every guest conductor seemed to have some sort of woodwind background and insisted on picking songs where the trumpets slept for ninety-two bars and then played a half note. Had I wanted this experience, I would have joined an orchestra.

The other downside was the concert uniform. Rather than the obvious idea of wearing black and white, we were told to show up in our school's band uniform. Coming from a school whose mascot was the F.C. Hammond Admirals, I was the sole band member to show up dressed as some macabre parody of a sailor, as if the cast of Today's Special had picked out a navy prop from the It's A Small World ride and brought it to life.

This choice of wardrobe did not impress the ladies.

Woman wearing a cow suit is arrested
Pirates die strangely after taking Iranian ship
Lost dog finds way home via travel agency

tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Review Day

There are no spoilers in this review.

Everybody by Ingrid Michaelson:
Though there may have been some catchy tunes on her second CD, Be OK, the horrible rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" killed any interest I had in listening to it. This is her third CD, and it's definitely on par with Girls and Boys although no one song jumps out at me as a favourite. A few towards the middle are annoying repetitive though. You can listen to samples here.

Final Grade: B

Resistance by Muse:
It's been three years since Muse's last CD, and in that time they've gotten less heavy rock and more electronica. There are a few great tracks on this CD, especially "Uprising", "Resistance", and "I Belong to You", but despite a few great builds, there are never moments of absolute explosion like "Knights of Cydonia" or "Hysteria". Other songs seem a little pointless, like "United States of Eurasia", and the highly-touted symphony at the end which seems too much like a movie soundtrack writer imitating Muse rather than a serious Muse work. I like the CD more on progressive listens, just like I did with Black Holes and Revelations. You can listen to samples here.

Final Grade: B+

Bomb in a Birdcage by A Fine Frenzy:
A Fine Frenzy's first CD, One Cell In the Sea got a very mixed response from me, with the near-perfect songs like "You Picked Me" and "Rangers" dragged down by aurally irritating songs like "Think Of You". However, her sophomore effort is uniformly good, with a mix of more upbeat styles and catchy hooks, blending Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor into a unique sound. The only stumble is track #10, Stood Up, which is the musical equivalent of seasickness -- a little less echo would have been nice. I have a feeling that this CD will continue to grow on me as I listen to it, just like KT Tunstall's Hold On did. You can listen to samples here.

Final Grade: B+

Half Life 2: Episode 2:
There's nothing insanely new in this episode of gameplay -- you run across the countryside and through some mines, occasionally getting bored by long noninteractive sequences that they refuse to call cutscenes, but involve you jumping around on a twelve-minute elevator ride trying to shoot the sidekick that insists on narrating your predicament. At least this time there's a couple new monsters, and you don't spend the game in a parking garage.

Final Grade: B-

Shocking mulatto apple
American Police Force Corporation Takes Over Small Town Police Force and Prisoner-Less Jail
It's time to abolish Switzerland

tagged as reviews | permalink | 4 comments

Friday, October 01, 2010

First Anniversary Weekend


Happy Anniversary to my delightful wife! On Sunday the 3rd, we get to eat some more of Anna's mom's delicious cake.

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Monday, October 01, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up

I spent the entire weekend moping around with a sore throat and low-grade fever, which is not unlike a fever that went to public school. Meanwhile, my sister had her second son on Friday. Nephew #2 is named William Aubrey Binder. The "Aubrey" is after my maternal grandfather, and the "Binder" is for the school supply of the same name. Congratulations!

Babies everywhere!

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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Auricle Day

To date, I've put in about 44 hours planning out Auricle, and have a pretty decent vision of where I want to go with it. It's easy to come up with course topics -- the difficult part is how they are presented, right?

I've decided to split exercises into three types:

  • See: Standard online quiz format with visual questions and visual answers, such as "Select the P5 out of the 4 displayed chords", completely divorced from any piano keyboard visualization.
  • Hear: Classic aural skills questions with audio questions and visual answers, such as "Identify this interval", again without keyboard.
  • Play: A mix of hear/see questions, but employing an onscreen piano keyboard for answers.

I'm not a music theorist, but when I played one on TV, I noticed that students who were already fluent at piano often did worse at music fundamentals, because the piano had become a crutch. While keyboard skills are important (especially for visualizing chords), students need to have the theoretical knowledge apart from the keyboard as well.

I originally brainstormed a set of three See, Hear, and Play skill trees (like World of Warcraft) for the exercises, but that took things too far into the "isolation of skills" direction, which is equally as useless as any given "Comprehensive Musicianship" approach. That idea eventually morphed into the world map shown below, where the three types of exercises are comingled:

(I plan to add various types of dictation and part-writing after the Sea of Symbols, but don't want to bite off more than I can chew quite yet).

Each circle on the map is an exercise. Clicking on a circle will take the student to a page with exercise instructions and score sheets of how other students have done. Each exercise will have three options:

  • Cram Sheet: A quick review of basics and common shortcuts that might help someone out, not intended to be a replacement for a textbook / instructor.
  • Practice: A recorded, but ungraded exercise run.
  • Challenge: A recorded, graded exercise run. Success at challenges will have three levels:
    • Bronze: Student understands the concept (80% right, no time limits)
    • Silver: Student fully understands the concept (92% right, no time limits)
    • Gold: Student has reflexively mastered the concept (100% right, with very brief time limits on each question)

Students need at least a Bronze medal on each exercise to proceed to the next exercise, and at least a Silver medal on each required exercise to go to the next island. There are also optional activities for things that no one cares about (like modes or the pentatonic scale) that allow students to earn Badges for extra credit and Internet bragging points. Perhaps Badges will have prizes like secret coupon codes from promotioncode.org.

Yesterday was Day 1 of 5 in Auricle Hacking week, but I did not wear a Zuckerberg hoodie. I did, however, write the part that takes a description of Basics Bayou in XML converts to Java, and then renders in a JSP.

I'm hoping to have the very first exercise released next week for some early feedback. If any pedagogic friends have suggestions for the ordering or method of exercises, I'm all auricles!

tagged as music, teaching, programming | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken 20 years ago, at my 15th Birthday Party. From left to right, you can see Jack, Ben, Kwan, Ada, me, and my love of primary colours. On the table in front of me are bound copies of my recently finished murder mystery, Maverin, free for all of my guests. It was never published, which was a shame, as it probably could have triggered a pre-Internet movie craze like Twilight.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Knick, Season One:
This Cinemax show about a surgeon at the turn of the century never really grabbed me. Maybe I'm too millenial to find period costumes interesting or maybe Clive Owen has all of the stage presence of a beige wall, but I gave up after 3 episodes.

Final Grade: Not Graded

Shift, Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey:
The middle book of the Wool trilogy is very good, but may not satisfy all readers. It acts as a prequel to the first, providing plenty of intriguing backstory but never advancing the story significantly. The characters weren't as interesting as Book One, but it did get me excited to read the final book.

Final Grade: B+

What We Do In the Shadows:
This mockumentary about vampires living in the modern world is very funny without being overbearing. It probably would have been more successfully as a series of Youtube shorts, but it's only about 80 minutes long so it doesn't outstay its welcome.

Final Grade: B+

Heroes of the Storm:
I never played Defense of the Ancients or League of Legends, based on their reputations for being full of angry assholes, so I initially ignored Blizzard's entry into the genre when it first came out. In HotS, you pick a character from the Blizzard game worlds (Diablo, Warcraft, and Starcraft) and then fight against another team to demolish their base, with the aid of auto-pathing cannon fodder armies. The game is successful in many ways: the style and gameplay take me back to the Warcraft III days, and the community is generally pretty friendly. On the other hand, the UI is so streamlined so as not to scare new players that it feels slightly crippling -- information and statistics should be easily available in this type of game, even if some players don't ever look at them. Games generally last 10 - 20 minutes which is great for gamers on the go, but doesn't really give me reason to invest in getting any better. Overall, this is a decent (and FREE) game to mix into the rotation of casual gaming habits like Hearthstone, but not one that I would ever end up playing as much as a Diablo or a Starcraft.

Final Grade: B-

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Monday, October 01, 2018

Weekend Wrap-up

On Friday evening, we went shopping for bifold closet doors to replace the set that's been wobbly and broken for nearly two years. Later, we enjoyed the first cool evening of the year by grilling burgers with Tammy on the back porch. Even the mosquitoes were reasonably calm.

On Saturday morning, we met up with Jonathan, Michelle (previously of Reston), and Stu at the Lake Anne Farmer's Market. Michelle and Stu were in town for a wedding, having moved to Berkeley last summer. Rebecca and Maia ate nitro ice cream and then we all had brunch at Cafe Monmartre. In the evening, we had dinner on the patio at Chuy's and then let Maia enjoy the "greens" at Cascades Overlook.

On Sunday, I mowed the portion of the lawn that wasn't the consistency of jello, and did some optimization of storage spaces in the house. In the evening, Michelle stayed with us to be close to Dulles for her return flight and we had a little gathering of her old yoga friends.

How was your weekend?

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Friday, October 01, 2021

Twelfth Anniversary Day

As anniversaries pass, and senility robs us of our wedding memories, we'll always have the photographic evidence to fall back on.

Other posts in this series: 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022

tagged as media | permalink | 2 comments

 

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