This Day In History: 10/24

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Next weekend, I'm flying up to Blacksburg to see the "retirement" recital of one of my undergrad composition professors, Dr. Jon Polifrone. It'll be good to be back in town for a few days; the weather is the only thing I don't miss about the place. I miss hanging out with the usual suspects, exercising at night without fear, weekend practicing in the empty Recital Salon, and the bacon at Schultz. I don't miss the Computer Science department, but there really isn't any reason to. I kinda miss the Marching Virginians, but I still think that a sixth season of it would just piss me off.

I miss my cat too. That cat is a "hoot".

There was a master class with Ellen Taafe Zwilich this afternoon and a few of my contemporaries played recordings of their works. I still feel like I'm in a "traditional harmonies" minority.

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Thursday, October 24, 2002

I've had some recurring network problems recently, so it looks like it's time for the first clean sweep of the new computer. If I disappear for an extended period of time this weekend don't fret, for I shall return. Windows XP, though fairly crash-proof and much easier to rollback, doesn't seem like the kind of operating system that allows complete restarts with any ease.

There's new research out now that suggests that high quantities of sodium and MSG can lead to blindness. Looks like I'm screwed.

I've posted my latest battle report on the Writings page, if you haven't already gotten around to seeing it.

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Friday, October 24, 2003

I've been using Mozilla Firebird 0.7 as a web browser this past week and it's definitely the best web browser out there. It's free and renders even the most bloatedly-coded web pages quickly. Plus it has features like tabbed browsing (which you'll never be able to stop using once you start), loading links in the background, and built-in popup stoppers that actually work. You can even right-click on an ad and order Mozilla to never display images from that site anymore. Give it a try -- you won't be disappointed, especially if you use Internet Explorer . I'm so happy with Firebird that I'm considering switching e-mail clients from the age-old Eudora to Mozilla Thunderbird.

We're planning on doing the Historic Leesburg Ghost Tour tonight to better recognize the Halloween spirit. Give a whistle if you want to come along.

It's cold out.

Woman mistakenly sits in suvbathing zone.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Last Thursday night, we went to see the movie, Serenity, the big-screen adaptation of the cancelled TV series, Firefly. As a fan of the show, I thought the movie was pretty much perfect -- bringing most of the abruptly-ended storylines to a satisfying close. It didn't make the normal big-screen mistake of trying to overdo the story with a big budget (see The X-Files for a good example of bad excesses), and really was just a new episode in the continuing storyline.

This movie is best seen if you've watched the TV show (and there's only half a season's worth of episodes so it's easy to play catch up). Though the first few minutes do a good job of introducing all the characters, their relationships, and the conflicts, you will not get your money's worth if you aren't already emotionally invested in the characters. However, even people who have never watched the series will still be able to enjoy a solid space adventure movie. Overall, I loved the twists of the plot and the way it tied everything from the TV series together. Go watch it and support quality storytelling, because there's something wrong with a world where the DOOM movie is #1 in its opening week.

After the movie ended, we stayed through the entire credits sequence so Anna could see if they would play the theme song. At the bitter end, theyplayed the accompaniment, but without the vocals. Anna would not be a Karaoke star for our amusement, so we left without hearing the lyrics.

Speaking of a band of fugitives flying through space with a psychic, here's what I did with my weekend. On Saturday, I finished painting the guest room a light blue (which is not nearly as vibrant and jarring as the illustration would suggest), so all I need to do now is lay the carpet and install the moulding. Then, I will be able to house twice as many drunken wenches when I host bacchanals and bat mitzvahs at my home.

After painting with my peculiar panoply of pastels, I went to the lovely wedding of Nikki and Rod at a church just outside Quantico in Triangle, Virginia. Nikki is yet one more old college friend who has paired up and do-si-do'ed into the married afterlife. It's always fun to go to the wedding of a music major because they place so much emphasis on getting good quality music. No trumpets, this time around, but voices and oboes a-plenty. I also saw many folks from Virginia Tech, divided into three categories: people I knew by name (maybe 3), people I could recognize but not attach a name to (most of them), and people who could recognize me but I'd never seen before in my life (the rest of them). Who will be next to jump on the marriage bandwagon? Kelley Corbett?

On Sunday, I went to a rehearsal in Maryland for Mikado, and played 2nd Cornet on a part that irritatingly rotated transpositions between A and Bb after each song.

Happy Day-After-Birthday to Jason Mirick, who turned like 50 yesterday, and Happy Birthday Beza Lemma who turns 27 today!

The nut-cracking gorillas
Scientists released the Norway rat on the island to find out why rats are so difficult to eradicate.
Meese decapitate moose statue

tagged as reviews, day-to-day | permalink | 6 comments

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Newsday Tuesday

BBC admits to bias

Senior figures admitted that the BBC is guilty of promoting Left-wing views and an anti-Christian sentiment. They also said that as an organisation it was disproportionately over-represented by gays and ethnic minorities. It was also suggested that the Beeb is guilty of political correctness, the overt promotion of multiculturalism and of being anti-American and against the countryside.

However, the summit on impartiality failed to find conclusive evidence that the BBC clubbed baby seals, took your lunch money, or voted Independent in the 2000 Presidential election. When asked which other news organizations might hold some sort of bias, chairman Michael Grade said, "We think something fishy is lurking under the bonnet at FOX News. They're up to their wellies in right-wing spirit."

Be Loyal, Kind and Don't Steal Movies

Boy Scouts in the Los Angeles area will now be able to earn a merit patch for learning about the evils of downloading pirated movies and music. Unlike a merit badge, an activity patch is not required to advance in the Scouts. Instead, they are awarded for various recreational and educational activities, such as conservation or volunteering at a food bank.

Even though it's not a full-fledged merit badge, this will probably be one of the most boring Scout activities in the history of Scout activities. You can trust my expert opinion because I earned the Farm Mechanics merit badge. It's good to see that Scouts are learning about topical issues for the 21st century -- downloading is bad, as are gay people, athiests, and anyone who doesn't know all the words to "Do Your Ears Hang Low?".

I'm still amazed by the fact that the industry believes that movie downloading is so prevalent. The size and quality of the downloads means that it's almost always worth taking five minutes to rent at a video store or order on Netflix. College students are probably the only segment of the population that downloads and watches movies regularly -- I bet The Evils of Internet Pirating will be part of every university's core curriculum by 2010.

Turret Vision in Del Ray

"I think Del Ray is all about people and their front porches. That's why we loved it," Carroll said. "I felt if we let him do this, if we all just walked straight into our living rooms, besides having architectural ramifications, it would have cultural ramifications for the community. It would have taken away what makes Del Ray Del Ray."

This lady blocked the expansion on one of those tiny Del Ray bungalows with the ridiculous anthropologic reasoning above, that sounds more like a really bad entrance essay on a college application than a legitimate quality of life issue. Now, I think McMansions are just as ugly as the next guy, but there's a line between preserving the neighbourhood and sticking your nose in other people's business. This was an addition on an existing lot, not two lots razed and rebuilt à la gaudy, and it was on a 1000 square foot house holding a family of five that couldn't afford to move to a larger place. Carroll didn't even live on the same street as the modified house (she lived behind it), and she doesn't live there anymore, but continues to protest it from Connecticut. I'm glad the owner of the house decided to hang a turret off the back of house as a big "F U" to all the neighbours.

Is it just me or is that turret making the house sink?

Happy Birthday Beza!

It's only indecent if it's a man
Bigger horns mean smaller balls
Police are still trying to figure out who to charge

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blacksburg Travelogue

part I of II

We left northern Virginia around 10:30 on Friday, after a leisurely breakfast of bacon and eggs. I-81 surprised me, because for the first time I can recall, there were no state troopers along the entire stretch from I-66 to Christiansburg. I reflexively slowed down at every cubbyhole near Staunton just to be safe, but for this one trip, the only hazards to worry about were the reckless truckers and land piranhas. Throughout the drive, we listened to XM (mixed with random CDs when south-facing mountains were too high to get reception), and learned The Salmon Dance, among other classy tunes. Lunch was a chicken ranch sub at a Subway in Salem.

After dropping our junk at my sister's house (both she and her husband are out of the state for awhile), we made a beeline for the Virginia Tech Music Department, where I missed Dave McKee by 10 minutes and chatted with Shelby Cole, who mistakenly thought I was married. I also learned that Jay Crone is now the head of the department, John Husser's office is in the basement, Jimmy B has his own office, and the CAL/C lab is (still) always empty.

Next, I decided to give Rebecca the grand tour of the campus, and started by heading for the old quad to make fun of the Corp. We were met at the top of the stairs by Skippy himself, another music graduate of yore putting his degree to good use by doing computer-y things. I'm guessing that the chances of the two of us randomly meeting there was probably 1 in X where X is the total number of drinks consumed by all the Marching Virginians on every Game Day between 1987 and 2002 when they went "dry".

The next stop on the tour was the University Bookstore, by way of the Torgeson Hall archway and library. We marvelled at the exponential growth in Hokie-related gear, like Hokie Bird Hot Sauce and Childrens' VT Rocking Chairs (only $129) before escaping to the Drillfield.

The Memorial for the 4/16 shootings was very well-done and tasteful, 32 stone markers arrayed around a central point on the Drillfield. The town as a whole was plastered with way too many "We Will Prevail" banners for my tastes -- how are you supposed to move on and heal when you're surrounded by signs that try to convince you that you are unaffected by the past?

We walked to the Duck Pond next, where that massive swollen bladder of rain you see behind Burruss Hall finally decided to pee on us. After hiding under a tree for a few minutes, hoping that it would pass, we ended up sprinting to the nearest building, which turned out to be the Entymology building. We (paper) towelled off in the bathrooms and then waited out the rest of the storm by learning all about insects and plant pathology. We also found a picture of Kelley's wife, Kathy, on one of the bulletin boards, and a table containing an array of bugs in cups with photocopied signs all over the building pointing to BUG-IN-A-CUP, as if it were some major festive attraction.

When the rain abated and we had learned all there was to learn about the fascination field of soil erosion, we went to Becca's room in Lee Hall where we bumped into her parents who had travelled down for Parents' Weekend. The five of us went out for the dinner at Macado's where we had sandwiches and a Diablo Quesadilla, and I got a free Killian's from the waitress who was obviously smitten by gallant charm.

After dinner, we returned to campus, where Becca introduced us to her eight million friends. We then played a game of travel Scrabble on the floor of her dorm room while all the other girls on the hall spent three hours getting ready for sausage parties that they would probably only stay at for ten or fifteen minutes.

Because we would have to get up relatively early in the morning to molest cattle, Rebecca and I returned to Christiansburg somewhat early and ended the evening with an episode of LOST from the second season, since I have succeeded in getting her addicted to the show.

The next morning, we had a quick breakfast at Bollo's (coffee for Rebecca and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for both of us) and headed out to Kentland Farms, west of Foxridge.

To be continued...

Happy Birthday Beza Lemma!

Inmates saved prison
The worst mayor in America
All the uglies live in Philly

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Fragments

the crazy glue of Internet society

♠ I've read over 1300 pages of Java Certification texts in the past month, and am now ready to take the next test in the series identified by a jumble of too many letters (at 10 AM this morning). In order to pass, I have to get 49 out of 69 questions correct, which is an obscenely low 71%. Of course, it's only obscenely low until I fail with a 70.5%.

Live-Blogging Fragment: I got an 89% on the exam!

♠ Speaking of easy grading, there's a drive to dumb down the grading system afoot in Loudoun County. They want to lower the A threshold from 93 to 90 so everyone can be an equal-opportunity dumb smart kid. In my day, 94 was an A- and 95 was an A and I was still able to win the "free bowling" pass for being on the Honor Roll.

♠ Free bowling used to be the ultimate reason to get good grades. There was a bowling alley right across the street from my junior high school, and having straight (green grocer) A's meant that you could get free shoe rentals and then bowl for 99 cents per round. This early association between bowling and academics eventually faded (I haven't bowled in two and a half years), although I still get hungry for personal pan pizzas after I read a book.

♠ I hated reading the Head First Java book, though, because it seemed to feel that 900 pages of bad jokes was a necessity for learning (and it turned out that the 300 page concise book I purchased was for an older version of the exam). I don't honestly need a cartoon of screen caps from kung fu movies to understand what the Decorator pattern is in software development.

♠ Decorations for this weekend's annual Halloween party have been in full swing, and even Ella has gotten into the spirit of the holiday by dressing as a "zombie kid with a duck head". Building on the decorations from last years' party, this expansive party will eventually cover two city blocks and take up to one and a half years to setup.

♠ This year's party will also feature a guest appearance from Vu (Winner - Best Costume Overall 2005) who has been hiding in San Francisco for the past three years, but happens to be in town this weekend. The only thing funnier than his costume was the look on his face when a drunk guy started hitting on him.

♠ Plans for the weekend include the aforementioned Halloween Party, as well as the obligatory clean-up session, where I throw out any burned or extinguisher-foam-covered furniture and replace all the broken window panes. We'll also be heading down to Centreville to learn some new poker games at Kathy & Chris' house.

♠ Saturday is also Anna's birthday, Booty's birthday, and Amber's birthday. Happy Birthday to all! These cats are 27, 6, and 4, respectively, and will be receiving a special variety bag of catnip in the mail.

♠ Have a great weekend!

Drinking and Voting
Blind Ohio marching band to be in the Rose Bowl
Lil' Smokey recovering well

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

This seems to have been a fairly pivotal weekend, one that will generate angular momentum for the ages. I spent Thursday in Columbia, Maryland, where I gave a successful briefing on DDMSence to the DoD Metadata Working Group, had a half rack of ribs at the local TGIFriday's and then worked a midnight to eight shift at Fort Meade supporting another team on their 24/7 exercise.

While I was offline, one of our reader family had a new daughter, and another got . This culminated in the weekend wedding of Emily and Brian, adding one more to the pool of married Brians in the world. Congratulations to all!

On Sunday, we slept in, resting and recuperating for the coming week which will try hard to top the previous one through the birth of triplets (Doobie?), the announcement of a presidential candidacy (Mike?), or the return of $3 lunch deals (Popeyes?).

I have two more midnight shifts this week, so I may need to flake on at least one daily update, but rest assured that I'll be thinking of YOU personally throughout the night if I do.

Feet that washed ashore identified
Marijuana-shaped candy alarms parents
Air Force UFO rules vanish after inquiry

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

12 of 12 Fallout

From the 12 of 12 archives, here are 11 occasions where I had Velveeta Shells and Cheese (a.k.a. 1200 calories in a pot) for lunch or dinner. This meal instantly became 50% healthier when I met Rebecca and she started eating half.

Fun Fact: I have not eaten Shells and Cheese at all since April 12, 2012. On the downside, this makes for one or two days a week where it's that much harder to come up with meal ideas.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? by Paloma Faith:
Paloma Faith is another singer like Christina Perri or Gabriella Cilmi with a unique, memorable voice that makes you stop and take notice the first time you hear it. This album is short and fun, but like Christina Perri or April Smith, the songs are better mixed into a broader shuffle because the timbre of her voice should be taken in small doses. One of my favourite songs on the album is Upside Down.

Final Grade: B

The Office, Season 9:
Seasons one, six, and seven were my least favourite seasons of this show, although I felt that it actually improved a great deal in season eight. The ninth season starts out with three of the worst episodes ever, but then course corrects and hits every single funny and poignant moment you would expect from a final season. I was very satisfied with the direction and resolution of this season, especially the decision to stop forcing Andy Bernard to be a weak impersonation of Michael Scott -- less Ed Helms is more in this case.

Final Grade: B+

Breaking Bad, Season 6:
This is alternately called Season 5 Part 2 or "The Final Season", depending on who's trying to make the most money through audience confusion, so I'll do my part to aid capitalism by calling it season 6. These final 8 episodes are a great ride without the sometimes-too-slow burn of previous seasons. It's akin to torching an acre of the rainforest after wasting a lot of time watching that stupid tropical tree grow from a seed. The plot still goes to the opposite extreme from reminding the audience of previous minute plot points (I would have liked a "Previously On" occasionally), but every single plot and resolution has grown organically from things introduced in the very first season.

Taking the series as a whole, I would definitely recommend a full watch, but you may want to be multitasking during a few arid sections of the middle seasons.

Final Grade: A-

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't by Jim Collins:
I read this for a germinating book club at work. It works backwards from historical data about company growth to distill observations about what it takes to become a great company and sustain it. The lessons are nice talking points, and the company sidebar stories are very interesting, although the book is held back by some of the company choices. For example, Fannie Mae and Circuit City were both hugely successful at the time of writing (2001), and we all know how they turned out in the aftermath. Despite that, this is a breezy read that never gets too scientifically pendantic about its conclusions.

Final Grade: B-

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Beach Day

Creating a Zen garden over a mysterious spring geyser on Kalaloch Beach, shortly before seeing a bald eagle.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Cabin Weekend

We had a three-day weekend at "Deer Haven" in Edinburg, Virginia, a cozy cabin (with essentials like WiFi) up a steep mountain road that would be impassable to my Honda Accord in the winter. During this trip, I saw 3 deer, hiked Duncan Knob, Woodstock Tower, worked on a puzzle, and made two fires.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Memory Day: 10 Years Ago Today

On Friday, October 24, 2008, we had the biggest of our memorable Halloween parties, featuring two Sarah Palins, three pirates, and Vu, in town briefly from San Francisco. 39 people showed up, a mix of all of Anna's friends that just had kids and Rebecca's friends that were still kids.

At the time of this party, Rebecca was working at Customink, so of course we gave out Hanes Beefy T-Shirts with the party logo as costume contest prizes. This was also the first year we experimented with putting cheap tablecloths down all over the basement which made cleaning up after Beer Pong a smashing success. Less of a smashing success was the majority remains of the 64 pack of cheap Miller Lite that always seemed to get left behind after Beer Pong ended.

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Monday, October 24, 2022

Ian Year 1.5 Battle Report

Ian is now a year and a half old, which means he's no longer eligible for an Amazon return. I haven't weighed him in ages but you can get a sense of how big he is in the picture below (BU for scale).

His speaking skills are coming together quite well. Among his understood and understandable words are: no, bus, wheel, mail, (ba)nana, peach, whoa!, and bye bye. He can also itemize objects and count up to three (sometimes four). He still says "da da" but he also calls all sorts of things besides me "da da", like this cow on a tractor in one of his books. He can mimic words you give him, like "yogurt" and "poop".

His understanding of songs seems to be better than Maia's at this age. When he starts to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep or Row, Row, Row Your Boat, he gets the rhythm right and the relative placement of pitches is at least on par with a remedial freshman sightsinging class.

Ian's favourite activity is to have you read a book to him while he sits in your lap. Afterwards, he'll continue getting new books to read for as long as you let him. He's also happy with a reset, reading the same book over and over while pointing out all locations where there's a wheel on the pages. Once, I asked him to find the wheels on a page that didn't have wheels and, like a reasonable machine learning algorithm, decided that the round flower with petals was as close as he was going to get.

He also likes to draw, so we have taped a roll of easel paper across a table for him to scribble with crayons. We considered putting it on the wall, but worried that it might teach him to draw on the walls in general.

He will take a single nap each day, ranging from 30 to 120 minutes in length, which usually makes him pretty cranky in the evenings. On the weekends, I still get him out of the crib around 6:15, although the changes in sunlight make it hard for us to do our morning neighbourhood trash walk before 7 AM.

When nothing else is going on, he'll be doing whatever Maia is doing. She treats him very well and he likes to copy her actions. When both of them are at the crayon table, the house gets oddly silent for several minutes!

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