This Day In History: 10/22

Monday, October 22, 2001

I probably did just fine on the history of music theory test this morning. Again, it's not that it's a horrible class; it's just that too much time is spent on minutia, to the detriment of the big picture. My composition professor likened music theory history to a long, dark tunnel. You start at one end with a dim lantern that allows you to see a little bit of what's written on the walls. You can spend a long time staring at one part of the wall, but if you don't keep moving, you'll never get to the end. Also, it's going to take more than one trip through to figure out all the connections. In my current class, it's like we have to study, memorize, and spit-polish tiny portions of the wall. Then again, maybe I just have less of a tolerance for it, not being a dedicated music theorist like some in the class.

My string quartet work is coming along nicely. I think I'm about halfway done now.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2002

There really needs to be a minimum competency exam to pass before you're allowed to practice outside, especially if you're a trumpet player. I highly doubt that Kent Kennan intended his Sonata to be played with all the high notes cracked and a semitone flat.

How you practice if you're a Methodist: Get it? METHodist. "LOLZ".

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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

My trip to Tech this past weekend was fun. I got to see all the usual suspects, and chatted it up in the Music Department where things are actually picking up, despite the past years' budget cuts. They've moved out of the College of Arts and Sciences to the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, and apparently the dean there is gung-ho about hiring new professors and resurrecting the Schultz Performing Arts Building project. On Saturday, we went out to the New River for a while and scaled a mountain.

I got home to two fat cats. Booty had eaten all of Kitty's weight-watching food (probably within twenty minutes of my departure) and in retaliation, Kitty searched high and low until she found the shelf where Booty's fatty kitten food was. After jumping four feet up to the shelf, she ate it all. I came home to Kitty sitting on the shelf waiting for more food.

Since then, I've hidden Booty's food on a smaller, higher up shelf, and closed the closet where the food used to be. Now Kitty sits in front of the closet meowing all day and trying to get the door open.

Also, Booty opened the screen door and came in off the porch last week on her own volition. She will be a year old on Saturday.

Muppet Xylophonist
I need to move into a house before this becomes me.
Broadcasters don't understand that most TV sucks.

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Friday, October 22, 2004

I almost drove over a skunk in the company parking lot this morning. He was probably raising a stink about something.

The fan in the men's bathroom at work today was broken, so the whole place smelled like Fruit Loops (because that's what the cleaning agent smells like). As the day progressed though, it was more like Fruit Poops. "LOL!"

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Empty Day

I got back from Blacksburg too late to write an update so check back tomorrow!

Helicopter crew spied on sunbather
Woman wants horse as service animal
Man claims leprechaun let him in

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Memory Day: Dinnertime

When I was growing up, my parents had a staggered workday schedule. My dad would be on the 6:10 bus to the Pentagon Metro station and at his desk by 7 AM, which got him home in just enough time to catch the tail end of Duck Tales (though he never took advantage of this scheduling perk). My mom followed a more traditional rush hour timetable, where she drank coffee and watched the fake-smiled anchors on Good Morning, America!. As a result, she generally left the house around 7:30, and didn't get home until 7 PM or later.

Since my dad was the primary caretaker in the evenings, the responsibility for feeding us was his and his alone. Weeknight dinners could be classified into various phylums and classes, but originated from two major food kingdoms: Foods You Cook in the Microwave, and Foods You Boil in a Pot. In those six or seven years before we could be trusted to make our own dinners, we saw boiled hot dogs, fried chicken, fish sticks with tartar sauce, TV dinners, and more boiled hot dogs, coupled with some frozen vegetables boiled in a pot.

The best nights for me were fried chicken nights, and the worst were the weeks when chicken hot dogs were on sale. Boiled hot dogs of any kind are barely edible, but the taste of a chicken hot dog (which probably had 0.01% chicken anyhow) was palpably noxious ("It tastes like FEET!")

It was always a relief to survive to Saturday without contracting any sort of avian flu from the chickendogs, because Saturday night was delivery/restaurant night. It was here that I got hooked on Pizza Hut Pan-style pizza and wonton soup while watching all sorts of rated-R grown-up movies with the family. When the Erol's video store ran out of worthwhile movies, we'd take trips to the Chesapeake Bay Seafood House, or Shakey's (a middle-class man's Shoney's), or the local Chinese eatery under the bowling alley by Hammond, which served the shrimp chips that stuck to your tongue and flaming ice cream.

To prove that the nuclear family was still alive and well, Sunday night was always Family Dinner night, where the mom figure dutifully cooked a three-course meal, the dad figure painstakingly picked out a CD of tuba music to listen to, and the kids complained about the lack of edibility or taste in whatever was made (unless it was spaghetti). At the end of the meal, we would sit back and talk about the previous week and then have a round of "Good Things, Bad Things".

The rules for "Good Things, Bad Things" are simple: each family member nominates a highlight from the past week and also a low point. After nominations, the family votes (hands are sufficient and more secure than electronic ballots).

This tradition evolved over time into "Just Good Things", because while I was sweeping the Good Things category ("Brian got second place in the Science Fair!"), my sister was dominating the Bad Things category ("Ellen got detention and an arrest record!").

What were your family dinners like?

Iranians eat world's largest sandwich before it can be measured
More reasons to choose paper ballots
Fundraising pitch gives alumni the blahs
Who made your dinners as a kid?

Mom (9 votes, 81.8%)


Pops (1 vote, 9.1%)


McDonald's (1 vote, 9.1%)


I was a latchkey kid and made my own. (0 votes, 0.0%)

tagged as memories | permalink | 9 comments

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hanalei Bay at Sunset

"Best Of Hawaii" will likely continue for the rest of the week while I get my act together. Updates that utilize more of the English language will resume next week.

In addition, I am now using the jQuery LazyLoad plugin, which doesn't load images until they are scrolled into view on your monitor. This should make the News archives load a little bit faster and cut down on the bandwidth of loading an entire month's worth of pictures for someone interested in a single post. Please let me know if you like this feature, are indifferent, or find it to be a distraction.

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

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sleuth Day Answers

Here are the answers to my Sleuth Day challenge.

  1. Why is there a crescent-shaped space in my goatee where hairs will not grow?
    In seventh grade, I was running through the bleachers during gym class and somehow managed to fall on my chin. I was completely uninjured with the exception of a chin gash that bled profusely but didn't hurt at all. I know I've written about this here before, but I can't seem to find the entry. I really need to implement AND/OR searches for this website.

  2. How did I first get involved in computer programming?
    After playing Zork I in the first grade, I started writing my own computer games. However, since I knew nothing about programming, "writing a game" meant "typing a game transcript into an early version of WordPerfect". When I showed the sample output of the game to my parents, they set me up with BASIC and I started writing real games, some of which I still have the hintbooks I created on the dot-matrix printer for.

  3. How did a movement from Sibelius' fifth symphony end up in our wedding?
    I chose the third movement of this symphony for the "sitting around waiting for things to start" music because it is the most pleasant piece of music I know.

  4. Other than Muse, what is the only other mainstream rock concert I have attended?
    In 2003, I attended the Aerosmith / KISS concert, in my first and last trip to the Nissan Pavilion.

School opens lockers to advertising
Student becomes new police chief in Mexican town
Mich. couple's kids born on 8/8/8, 9/9/9, 10/10/10

tagged as random | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up

The town of Winchester and I recently got a divorce, so we are splitting custody of Rebecca for the rest of the year: I get her on the weekends, and she goes to her physical therapy clinic in Winch-town for the other five days. This was the first weekend back, so we engaged in mostly American pastimes, such as eating dinner at Red Robin, or eating dinner at Maggiano's, or sitting on the couch watching TV (Chuck, as recommended by Paige) with Booty.

We also started combining the bit parts of our Halloween costumes together to make sure we're prepared. I have a few simple rules for costume selection: It can't be so bulky that I don't fit anywhere, hands and mouth must be clear for devouring food and beverages, and it should be easy to use the bathroom. These rules also apply to my daily ensemble since I dress myself.

What are you going to be for Halloween?

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Composing Spotlight: Theme from Dragons' Destiny

Dragons' Destiny is the name of a never-completed browser-based role-playing game I started creating in my freshman year of college. Written in Javascript long before jQuery and other Javascript frameworks were more than coding sperm, the game engine was so complex that it required a cutting edge version of Netscape Navigator (3.0 Gold) to run.

Because designing games is often more fun than implementing them, this particular game was never more than 10% complete. The art and game files are long gone now, and all that remains of the project are a few pages of handwritten notes and some musical themes.

Here is the MIDI theme that played on the title screen of the game:

Listen to the Theme (1:19, MP3)

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Seattle Day

Visiting Emily on our way to the Olympic Peninsula.

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

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

New in Town by John Mulaney:
We listened to this story-driven stand-up session on the road trip to Blacksburg a couple weeks back. His delivery is on point, which makes some of the stories funnier than they should be. The album was worth a listen, but not quite as good as The Top Part.

Final Grade: B

Law & Disorder by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker:
Most of John Douglas' recent true crime books have been pretty forgettable. This one breaks the pattern by being an examination of the flaws of death penalty implementation backed by crime stories, which gives the narrative some overarching direction. A few new cases, such as the West Memphis Three and the Amanda Knox case, are covered in depth -- this helps reduce the feeling of stale fixation caused by citing JonBenet Ramsey in every new book.

Final Grade: B

Luther, Season Three:
The final (4 episode) season of Luther is great, and proves that you don't need 22 episodes to build to an amazing conclusion. The final case exhibits shades of Black Mirror and the characters all get appropriate wrap-ups.

Final Grade: A-

The Sun Never Sets by The Herd:
This is a fun album of Australian hip-hop, notable for its old-school 74 minute running length. The songs are varied in style and clever in lyrics, and generally fun to listen to.

Final Grade: B+

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, October 22, 2018

Stuff in My Drawers Day: Trophies

The next casualty in my war on clutter is my cabinet full of high school and college era trophies. For posterity, they will be preserved in the digital ether for many years to come.

Here are my 9th, 10th, and 11th grade music trophies, including the Director's Award for Band, Outstanding Sophomore at Band Camp, Outstanding Musicianship, Section Leader, and Outstanding Contribution as a Junior.

Next up are my senior year band trophies from my time as the drum major. I actually got two Drum Major trophies, because the band director forgot that he already gave me one after Band Camp. In the middle is the John Philip Sousa Award.

I got the Most Valuable Athlete Award in my senior year as a crew coxswain, which legitimately pissed off all of the real athletes. This was also paired with the Benjamin G. Minor award -- if an award is ever named after me, I hope it's in a cooler category than "highest GPA".

I got Outstanding Rank Member in the Marching Virginians for four straight years even though I never talked to anyone during the first two years. People were impressed that I had all of the music and drill memorized, which is not hard at all if you play the same music every year and aren't drinking at all.

I briefly awarded all of my trophies to Maia for outstanding babyship before transferring them out to the trash bin.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, October 22, 2021

Review Day: Oculus Quest 2

The latest iteration of VR headsets, the Oculus Quest 2, is a muddle of compromises that is nevertheless worth it, due solely to its completely wireless gameplay.

Last year at this time, I was on the fence about VR -- my first generation Rift had developed a sound issue from a very common manufacturing problem and Facebook was charging 40% of the original price to get it fixed. They were also pairing headsets with Facebook accounts, which I still think is an awful idea. I finally decided to get the Quest 2 for my 42nd birthday because I wanted something new to do in the 15 minute gaps between childcare and I was sitting on too many bonuses from work.

The biggest improvement from the Rift to the Quest is that there are NO MORE WIRES (besides one for charging the unit when it's not in use). All of the wires and cameras you used to have to set up around your room to play are gone. Everything you need to do VR is shown in the picture below.

This is huge from a setup and comfort perspective -- you can now do VR wherever you'd like and are no longer tethered to a high-powered PC. The headset downloads games over Wi-Fi, which can also be used to cast to a TV for an audience with a $30 Chromecast. Once of the biggest problems I had with the Rift was getting the motivation to move my gaming PC to the bigger room each time and having to be careful of the cables so I didn't accidentally pull the PC off a table while playing. Now, I do a daily morning workout with Beat Saber before getting started with my day.

The limitations of wireless play are few -- graphics aren't quite as good because all processing is done in the headset, and there are weird delays in the TV casting that make showing off a rhythm game more challenging. You can purchase an $80 cable to continue playing your high-end VR games on your PC with this headset, but I haven't bothered -- the native games are good enough and not glaringly worse looking than before.

The headset is easier to put on and take off, or quickly adjust for other players. It's definitely more front-heavy, which affects games like Walkabout Minigolf where your head is looking down then to the side a lot. "VR Hair" still happens as well. Once new limitation is the adjustment of the lenses for your interpupillary distance (IPD). The Rift had a smooth slider with lots of available settings. The Quest only has 3, right around the bell curve of the average person's IPD. What this means for a person like me with an IPD just outside the fixed range is that the image can be sometimes feel out of focus. This is really only a problem when there's text to read on the screen though.

The controllers are a little bigger, which is better for tall people. For me, though, this is just more area to get slippery and sweaty. The controller has slid out of my hand during Beat Saber enough that I try to clutch them in a "claw" grip now. Tracking with the built-in cameras is definitely not as good as on the Rift. My Beat Saber precision has gone down and sometimes I'll miss blocks on the sides of my head that should have clearly been hit. And lastly, you will need a Facebook account to use the Quest. I don't like the idea in general, especially since an account suspension / ban on Facebook apparently prevents you from using the hardware.

The bottom line is that this is VR at a reasonable consumer price ($400, vs $800 for the Rift) and the absence of wires makes it really easy to just enjoy the experience without lots of setup. I would recommend the Quest 2 to anyone with a VR curiosity and money to burn. Game reviews to follow next week!

Final Grade: B+

tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 1 comment

 

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