This Day In History: 10/29

Monday, October 29, 2001

100% on my History of Music Theory exam. Not bad for a weekend's work. Right now, I'm catching up on my composition and tying up loose ends before my weekend trip to Blacksburg.

"'Cadential' isn't the most common word in student conversation. The most common word is 'like'. Isn't it fun sitting at the table with a younger brother or sister and having no idea what they're saying? It took me a while to figure out the word 'bad'." - professor, on defining theory terms for students

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Tuesday, October 29, 2002

I'm halfway through the fifth section of my thesis work, having skipped over the fourth for now. I wasn't sure how I wanted to get into or out of the fourth section, so hopefully doing the fifth in its entirety will give me some ideas. Of course, what also might happen is that I'll discover the fourth movement to be redundant and end up losing a bunch of music. The pitfalls of composing...

There was an interesting news report on the e-mail that Saddam Hussein gets written by a reporter who guessed the username and password and gained access to the account. Even though it wasn't so difficult, it's still technically hacking. Should news organizations be allowed to use information gained this way in public?

The e-mails sent to press@uruklink.net were obtained earlier this month by first clicking on a link labeled "Check your e-mail in Uruk" on the homepage of Iraq's state-controlled ISP, Uruklink.net, then guessing the login name and password -- both of which were the same five-letter word.

"1,2,3,4,5. That's amazing I've got the same combination on my luggage!" - President Skroob

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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I've been devoting the whole of my evenings to preparing www.urizone.net for a grand opening on November 1. My original plans to make everything XHTML were abandoned as it's far more trouble than it's worth, especially now that this site contains over four hundred standalone HTML files to sort through. The new Zone will open with the most common sections cleaned up, and I'll convert the other sections on a page by page basis afterwards. My forum and News comments work is on schedule as well, and the Online Polls should come soon after.

Digital TV to become standard
Bomb alert over farting dog
Why some people should not be allowed to do home improvement
Cyber women test what's real

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Friday, October 29, 2004

I got home around 1 after a Directors' Lunch today, but then whiled away the time by cleaning, working from home, and playing some Frenzy. Then I went out to the Reston Town Center with some work folks and now it's 11:26 PM, which is far too late to consider composing a true update.

L of a mistake
2004's scariest Halloween costumes

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Party Media Day

On Friday night, twenty-eight lucky finalists from the reality show, Who wants to go to a Halloween party? braved the rainstorms and descended upon Sterling for a night of pool, drinks, and babies dressed up like animals.


Anna spent all week baking, and provided witches' fingers, kitty litter cake, and troll liver squares. Erin brought drunken hobo eyeballs, which (depending on where the alcohol pooled in the jello) were either 0 proof or 190 proof. I provided the more traditional foods like pigs in a blanket (60 devoured in under 30 minutes), really really really scary potato chips, and various dips.

Because my jazzy posters don't really fit the theme of a Halloween party, I used Photoshop to paste skulls and scary faces over the likes of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Under the blacklight, we achieved a very cheap 3D-glasses effect.

My costume was "A Very Special Kwanzaa Box", which won first place in the Funniest Costume category and awarded me a $10 gift certificate to Target (graciously provided by the host of the party).

Anna came as Little Bo Peep, exploiting her child as a Sheep. Combined with Ben as the Big Bad Wolfman, the family won the $25 Best Overall award. Ben also got the Scariest award.

The Blankenships arrived as a family of cowboys, bringing the capacity of "plaid" in the room to near critical levels (see also, the Wolfman and the Construction Worker).

Whenever the party got really boring, I spiced it up by stealing the Sheep and carrying it around the room.

Among many other costumes, we saw an assortment of gangsters, a kendo master, a vampire, Idontknow (the third baseman), a hockey player, a girl and her teddy bear, Sailor Moon, Hermione, and the Lion and the Witch (with a Wardrobe) (Most Creative category winner). Anna's parents also gate-crashed the party in complete ape costumes with boobies and we had five weenies without costumes.

Besides the costume contest, massive amounts of food, and trying to convince Ben that no, we did not need another drink, there were healthy rounds of pool going on at all times.

Later, the Vampire challenged the White Witch to a game of beer pong for a case of Turkish Delight.

Innovative approaches to abstinence
If you're in a crowded area, where you're in close proximity to other people, make sure they're flame retardant
FEMA Meets the Press, Which Happens to Be . . . FEMA

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Memory Day: Al's Magic Shop

On snow days and the occasional summer holiday in my youth, I would accompany one of my parents to work, because government coworkers are much cheaper babysitters than the real thing. Every trip had its traditions, like getting to punch the Bus Transfer button in the Metro station, and pulling the bus cord when we finally arrived back home.

Another tradition when I accompanied my dad was a trip to Al's Magic Shop, a longtime DC business that finally closed in 2004. This store was jam-packed with retracting knives, sleight-of-hand tricks, and an owner (Al) who was always willing to show off the latest tricks to wide-eyed seven-year-olds. His presentation was flawless, and though I could never pull off the tricks quite like he could, I'd always leave the store with a new magic trick to bore my parents with.

I kept these tricks in a box under the house which went missing about three years ago, so I presumed that perhaps a disappearing trick hat had swallowed the box from the inside and sent it into a Bermuda Triangle of magic.

The real story is more boring. I employ a technique known as "dual-boxing" when I clean: when I have two boxes, and the larger one is empty, I put the other box inside of it to save space. The magic tricks were safe inside a larger dehumidifier box, and I rediscovered them while setting up for the Halloween party last week.

Besides the collection of gag goods like Snakes In a Can, toy hatchets, and handcuffs, here are some of the other tricks you might find in my magical stash:


This colouring book is pristine when you flip through it, but after applying a few imaginary crayons to the cover, you flip through it again and everything's coloured in. You can then use your imaginary eraser to remove the colours, but if you erase too much, the pages become blank!

These ropes were used in various tricks where they all ended up the same size or knots magically disappeared. Pretty much the only trick I could do with them was to tie them all together and whip my sister with them.


These two boxes are labelled "Steel Tube and Balls" and "Cups and Balls". They required slightly less manual dexterity than the ropes, and I was an expert at making my balls disappear.

These swizzle sticks are meant to be flipped back and forth so the audience can see that the plastic gem settings are identical on each side. With a little trickery, you can then make the gem settings move to different places on the sticks. I was horrible at this trick, so I pried out a fake gem and had it set in an engagement ring -- don't reveal the magician's secrets!

There are so many trick decks quarantined in this box, it's a wonder that some of the cards didn't escape into my poker decks. One of the cards even has a partial straight printed on it, so you look like you have a full hand when you really only have a couple cards -- probably handy in Asshole. The other deck seems to have a few too many Eight of Diamonds.

One of my favourite tricks, because it required even less skill than blogging, was the pencil slicer. You passed a plastic pencil around the audience, stuck it in this zig zag box and sliced it into three pieces. Afterwards, you could magically heal the pencil!

Giant spider eats a large bird
Reluctant groom sets fire to hotel
Wearing red may boost your sex appeal
What's the best part about magic?

Bunnies (2 votes, 40.0%)


Coloured Kerchiefs (0 votes, 0.0%)

Disappearing Balls (1 vote, 20.0%)


David Blaine (2 votes, 40.0%)


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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

Lessons to Be Learned by Gabriella Cilmi:
I picked up this CD on the strength of the single, "Sweet About Me". This is another case of a young singer (17) with a far more polished voice than you would ever expect, similiar to Joss Stone. Her songs are a mix of pop and blues, with a nice balance of ballads to hooks. The main complaint I have is that it's only 36 minutes long -- I can hold my breath for longer than that. You can listen to samples here.

Final Grade: B

How I Met Your Mother, Season Four:
While researching this review, I realized that I never reviewed season three -- somehow in my world of intricate lists and comprehensive clutter, a product slipped through the cracks. So, season three gets a B+, since it was as good as season two and better than season one. With that out of the way, the fourth season is a struggle with an extra -uggle. Despite a few really stand-out episodes (like "The Three Day Rule"), the writers spend too much time dancing around who "Your Mother" is and employing the tired writing device of starting at the end of a story and wasting a whole episode on flashbacks up to where the half-hour began. Before, it was obvious that "Your Mother" was just a backdrop to tell funny stories against. In this season, it's mentioned so often and with so little resolution that it's just annoying.

Final Grade: C+

The Associate by John Grisham:
I picked this book up to read on the plane to Hawaii, and then promptly read it in an evening during wedding week. It's a typical lawyer story in standard Grisham style (before he went all I'm-a-serious-writer-of-literature for a couple years back when), and as such, it works as a throwaway novel. There's more resolution in it than The Partner and it's not as horrible as Testament. Of his more recent books, I'd still recommend The Brethren as his best.

Final Grade: C+

State of Play:
I watched this movie on the plane BACK from Hawaii, enjoying the novelty where every passenger had a personal screen upon which they could SELECT from a list of recently released movies and song albums. The plot is dense, but easy to follow, and is marred by a late-game twist, but it kept me entertained for two hours, even if it's implausible to think of Rachel McAdams as a "blogger". It was also fun to see all the actual shots of DC involved -- rather than going the normal route of pasting the Washington Monument in the background, they actually filmed in identifiable areas like Rosslyn, Ben's Chili Bowl, and a Metro station.

Final Grade: B-

Man gets six months for La-Z-Boy DWI
Permanent marker is not a valid disguise
Church rejects Halloween-themed wedding

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Friday, October 29, 2010

End-of-the-Month Media Day


Fifty-nine new pictures have been added to the Life, 2010 album! You can always rely on quantity over quality in the URI! Zone.

Pope vs. Stephen Hawking, round 1
Vending machines sell miniature art in boxes
New monkey found in Myanmar near China dam project

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Media Day

Pictures from the Halloween Party have been added to the Life, 2012 album. The newest twist on the party pastiche was a game of chance where you popped a balloon and either won an Amazon.com gift card, or were put under an unfortunate curse for some duration of the party.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Auricle Day

I'm about 60 hours into Auricle now, and still in the stage where I'm writing infrastructure rather than anything actually musical. I have the progression mechanism set up, so students can earn medals and travel the map, with their progress automatically spit out to an activity feed that will motivate other students to do better.

Next up, I'll be writing the code that does the actual quizzing -- randomly generating a set of questions and responses, recording the amount of time it takes to answer a question, and saving discrete metrics like the types of question a student seems to get wrong most often. The initial batch of exercises will be traditional question/answer exercises, with the aural and keyboard exercises to follow later on.

The first exercise to be implemented will be nearly brain-dead, but will prove that all the parts are working. In Notation, students will identify time signatures, clefs, note durations, rest durations, accidentals, and articulations. Questions can randomly pose a graphic so the student can select the textual name, or a question can start with the text and have the student pick the graphic.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Washington Travelogue, Part II of IV

Rain on the third morning in Seattle was a gentle tease, not unlike an interrupted cadence after a dominant pedal that fades out on the Top 40s Classical Music station before it can resolve to tonic. After huevos rancheros for breakfast, we walked back downtown and took Bill Spiedel's Underground Tour -- a lightweight historical tour of Seattle told from the tunnels beneath the city with extra emphasis on brothels, toilets, and puns. The tour was based around his history book (a typical self-published affair with overuse of ellipses, sentence fragments, and exclamation points), and provided a nice, succinct overview of Seattle's progression without the boring minutia. In a nutshell, they built too close to the water, pooped everywhere, and then took the opportunity to rebuild everything one level higher after a large fire.

From there, we toured a small, free gallery filled with modern art for sale in the thousands, an artisanal glassblower's shop where they were making Christmas ornaments, and the Grand Central Bakery for a chance to warm up with hippie sandwiches. We then walked to the Monorail station by way of the Seattle Public Library, an impressive homage to literacy in spite of the overbearing signs warning against being homeless whilst in a bathroom stall. The Monorail only had two stops and barely travelled half a mile, but it was quick, cheap, and worth the shoe leather.

My favourite part of the Seattle leg was the EMP Museum (Experience Music Project). At the time of our visit, it housed exhibits on Fantasy Worlds, Sci-Fi Icons, Horror Movies, Jimi Hendrix, the Evolution of the Guitar, Nirvana, and the History of Music Videos. Each exhibit balanced interest and interactivity well, without being too comprehensive (unlike The Spy Museum). We had reserved about 3 hours for this, but ended up wishing for another hour or so when they shooed everyone out at closing time (of course, the gift shop remained open for another hour).

In the evening, I caught up on my online coursework while Rebecca took advantage of a local yoga class. The rain finally hit in earnest this evening, with a downpour just as we went out to Pike Street for dinner. We had a warm, dry dinner at Bimbo's Cantina, a college-esque Mexican restaurant with bland, cheap food. Afterwards, I was bowled over on the sidewalk by a mumbling man clutching a bundle of blankets, and then defended by a trio of drunk, indignant stoners.

On Tuesday, we finally left Seattle and visited Anna's sister, Emily, south of Tacoma. With my knowledge of alien abductions, I was able to simply wave my ID to get on base, although Rebecca's driver's license was scrutinized heavily. We stayed for a couple hours, catching up on old times and older children, and then drove out to scenic Highway 101 for our trip up the Olympic Peninsula (a word which I always initially spell with too many Ns).

We stopped for lunch at the 101 Brewery, a modest roadhouse with surprisingly good burgers and beers for a place where you pay at the counter and the restroom is only for customers. It's definitely a good place to stop on any trip around the coast in spite of its poor sign kerning.

Lake Crescent Lodge is very much off the beaten trail, buried in the rain forest, and twenty miles from any semblance of a town. We arrived there in the late afternoon in moderate rain, and got a comfy, spartan room (no TVs or phones) looking directly onto the lake. Each room had a parking lot door and a lake door, which definitely complicated the posted Fire Emergency instructions: "In case of fire, exit via the front door, OR exit via the back door. Meet outside."

Although it was too late and drippy for serious hiking, we did the short Moments in Time Loop hike near the Lodge. The trees were weighed down with more green mosses than the set of Fraggle Rock, and we kept getting startled by black-tailed deer who would lurk just around the corner until we arrived.

That night, we ate in the informal warmth of the main lodge near the giant stone fireplace, where we had smoked salmon and clam chowder. With strains of 1930s four-beat jazz softly piped into the room and an Elysian stout in hand next to the Scrabble board, Rebecca remarked that we were like renegades lost out of time, braving the thunder and rain to enjoy the companionship of like-minded souls around the lake and its environs.

To be continued next Tuesday...

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Loudoun Election Cheat Sheet, Part III of III

Chairman, Board of Supervisors

Phyllis J. Randall (D) Charlie L. King (R) Thomas E. Bellanca (I) Scott K. York (I)
"Radically anti-illegal immigration"
No domestic violence charges
No domestic violence charges
Lost (by a margin of 30%) to York in 2011
No domestic violence charges
Washington post endorsement
Doesn't mind domestic violence charges
Doesn't know what a "one-sentence statement" is.

Sterling Supervisor

Koran T. Saines (D) Eugene A. Delgaudio (R)
Using his first name on campaign signs for the Muslim vote
Drunk driving arrests in 2003 and 2007
Not Eugene Delgaudio
Investigated for fundraising improprieties
Censured by his own Board and removed from all committees in 2013
Founder of "Public Advocate" which has been designated as a hate group for its anti-gay activism.

Really, Democratic party -- this is the best candidate you could come up with?

Member At-Large, School Board

Beth A. Huck Stephan A. Knoblock
2 kids in school
Minimal education-related work experience
2 graduated kids
Experience as teacher, district administrator, and music conductor.
Last name could be used in witty Stay-in-School ads (as Knowledge-Block, the Mortal Enemy of Learning).

Sterling School Board Member

Brenda Sheridan is the only person running.

Projects

$2,940,000 debt for fire and rescue apparatus?

Counter-proposal: How about we take our existing Disneyland-sized stations and sell them off for parts, then use the proceeds to build more numerous yet modest stations?

$150,995,000 debt for Dulles North schools?

Counter-proposal: How about we lease the endless miles of available strip mall storefront throughout the county and convert them into classrooms? The neighbouring Safeway is kind of like a cafeteria. Also, running in a parking lot for P.E. builds character.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Data Day: BU's Halloween Costumes

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Friday, October 29, 2021

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2021 album.

  • Events
    • Had a family dinner at Kalypso, Lake Anne on S 10/2.

    • Had an anniversary dinner at Ford's Fish Shack while a babysitter watched the kids on S 10/3.

    • Maia stayed with my parents for the weekend, F 10/8 - S 10/10.

    • Belated birthday dinner of ribs with my parents on S 10/10.

    • Family outing on the Loudoun Farm Tour on S 10/16. Kathy and Mallory came over for dinner and games.

    • Family dinner at Kalypso, Lake Anne on T 10/19.

    • First fire pit night on F 10/22.

    • Attended Ethan's 4th birthday on S 10/23.

    • Visited the Whitmers in Taylorstown on S 10/24.

    • Maia had a Halloween Parade at school on H 10/28.

    • Went out to Shannondale near Harpers Ferry for the weekend, H 10/28 - S 10/30.

    • Halloween as the Berenstain Bears on S 10/31.

  • Projects
    • Working on Puzzle Boat 8 with my work team.

  • Consumerism
    • Started playing Amazon's new MMO, New World.

    • Enjoyed season two of Lupin on Netflix.

    • No new music this month.

October's Final Grade: A-, fun!

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