This Day In History: 11/16

Friday, November 16, 2001

This advertisement was in my mailbox when I got home today (layout modified for space purposes). Ignoring, for a moment, the highly amusing description of the PS2, my favourite part is the price and APR in bold letters at the bottom. This ad actually came partnered with one for a way to borrow over $100 "in just one hour!". It's nice to see that people with poor math skills still have a valued position in society. Without them, scam artists everywhere would go bankrupt.

Yes, there's a positive spin for everything...

"Consider the following subtraction problem which I will put up here:

 342
-173
Now, remember how we used to do that. 3 from 2 is 9, carry the 1, and if you're under thirty-five or went to a private school, you'd say 7 from 3 is 6, but if you're over thirty-five and went to a public school, you'd say 8 from 4 is 6. Then carry the 1, so we have 169. But in the new approach, as you know, the important thing is to understand what you're doing, rather than to get the right answer." - Tom Lehrer, New Math

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Saturday, November 16, 2002

I took my string quartet to an Eppes Quartet session on Thursday night for criticisms and feedback, and got to hear several sections of it live. It gave me some useful ideas on how to make it notationally easier and sections that might be a little too demanding.

Now that comps exams are over, I need to get back on track with thesis writing. I need to start throwing out less music and refining more of it.

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Sunday, November 16, 2003

There's some new cat pictures up on the Photos page. Beyond that, it's been a pretty slow weekend. I did some work today so I can take fewer hours off for Thanksgiving.

Tragic end for remote control donkeys
Taxi driver glued to wheel in stick-up

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

What this site is missing is more cat videos.

Bag & Rope (770KB WMV)
Linebacker Cat (379KB WMV)
Super Cat (392KB)
Super Cat Part II (1.5MB WMV)
Croc Attack (382KB WMV)
Croc Attack (542KB WMV)
Thank you people for watching that day and not running over me
News story tip: When you run out of things to report, end with half a page of quotes.
He smelled so bad it was difficult to investigate him
Hardee's introduces 1,420-calorie burger

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Extended List Day: 36 Memories from Primary Education, Part II of III

Fifth Grade

13) I had Mr. Ferris in fifth grade, and once had to write a 250-word punishment for talking when I wasn't supposed to. That was the only one I ever got, even though he handed them out like candy. I had Language Arts and Science with Mrs. Nicholson. In science class, we had footprint-shaped plastic terrariums where we grew seeds and farmed aphids. My terrarium always ended up moldy and dead. Mrs. Nicholson's class was a split class of fith graders and sixth graders from the Talented and Gifted program, which meant she pretty much ignored one half of the class while teaching the other. I developed a crush on a pretty sixth grader who liked playing computer games. How hot is that?

14) I started playing the cornet/trumpet in fifth grade and continued to do after-school gymnastics in the gymnasium / auditorium that constantly smelled like feet. That's what you get when you have a hundred kids exercising barefoot in a carpeted room. I could barely do 1 pull-up, but I was in the one-hundredth percentile on the sit-and-reach. Sit-and-reach was my bitch. That was the result of all the gymnastics with rugrats like Shawna Johnson and Jennie Dennis.

15) One weekend, I was invited to Eli Whitney's birthday party about six blocks away. My dad didn't want to drive the car for that small of a distance, so he gave me a ride on his bike with me squished in the kiddie seat I'd outgrown a couple years beforehand. Kids laughed at me when I rolled up. Actually the kid's name was Eli Soto, but having a friend named Eli Whitney would have been much cooler. This is so far in the past that I can change details as necessary for a better narrative flow.

Sixth Grade

16) Sixth grade was the highest grade in primary school so I was at the top of the food chain in Mrs. Turner's class. I was a patrol guard, and the principal, Dr. Garrett personally put me in charge of the Kindergarten wing doors. This meant I arrived at homeroom five minutes late and left class five minutes early every day. I got to know all the youngsters and their parents. There was one kid named Eric Wales whose artwork always looked like some sixth grade ringer had dropped his papers in the Kindergarten pile . When people say "My first grader could have painted that" I always think of him. One of my most eye-opening memories was when I visited the middle school after I graduated from high school and saw all the snot-nosed youngsters as middle-schoolers. I looked at my 6th grade yearbook to do research for this entry, and saw a surprising number of future T.C. Williams juvenile delinquents who went to my elementary school. Among the names T.C. readers might recognize: Liz Fuller, Jennie Dennis, Andrea Frazao, Nonsom Ofulue, Marija Ugrinich, Emily Beatty, Greg (who asked me to remove his name), and David Lipnick. The funnest part of this research was placing those innocent third grade faces with the misanthropes some of them became in high school.

17) I went to Patrol Camp in the summertime which was pretty stupid. One kid in our cabin pooped in the communal showers and our cabin-resident took him out on to the docks to talk to him in private. We all thought he was going to get thrown into the bay. Our cabin also did this talent show where we lip-synched some song with the lyrics "Heyo, rasta rasta, Heyo, reggae reggae". I was the fake bass player.

18) My best friend in sixth grade was Daniel Bethancourt, who moved out West the following year because his dad was a pastor. He had a birthday slumber party once where he got an air rifle, and we spent the whole night shooting holes through potted plant leaves inside the house. During recess, all the boys would pick and throw wilted dandelion buds at all the girls (organized mainly by me). We called this the War of the Weeds, and it lasted about four weeks. I also had a lucky rock that I used to play hopskotch with until one fateful throw when it shattered.

Seventh Grade

19) I moved to Hammond Junior High after sixth grade and was again at school with my sister, who was two years ahead of me. I was the only trumpet player in a band of about 32, and everyone was constantly in awe of how good I was and how small and cute I was. This turned me into an annoying, insufferably arrogant prick for the remainder of junior high. I couldn't hit G until halfway through the year, which was unfortunate since the solo in Somewhere Out There from An American Tail featured this note prominently.

20) Once in Mrs. Landrum's social studies class, she asked for volunteers to get the projector. Since I was a teacher's pet I volunteered and everyone laughed, so I went and got it anyhow. It probably weighed more than me and didn't come on a cart. I would also bring granola bars to math class for everyone to eat.

21) Remember that girl I had a crush on in fifth grade? This was the year I stalked followed her around endlessly, embarassing her and myself for the ages. I still wince every time I think of the stupid love-struck things I did. I also thought my sister's friend, Jon Kula, was the coolest guy ever because he was a 6-foot tall ninth grader that drew really cool pictures and played sax, so I latched onto him nonstop as well. If you look up the definition of "ankle-biter", my seventh-grade alter-ego is probably prominently displayed.

Eighth Grade

22) Eighth grade was not a very memorable year. I was suddenly able to do millions of pull-ups in the Physical Fitness Test, and also entered the awkward acne years, a year later than everyone else in my class. I walked to school every morning with Aaron Ulm, taking the shortcut past the burnt-out derelict house full of Playboys in the woods (I never personally went in, but other kids tried and were always shoo'ed off by our friend's mom who lived next door and must have spent the entire day spying on the house).

23) I started Crew in eighth grade because I was tired of everyone telling me I'd be a good coxswain. I coxed the senior 4, a boat full of misfits that never won anything. It was the coxswain's job to bring a gas tank to the coach's launch back then, and a full gas tank generally weighed about forty pounds (whereas I weighed about 80) causing plenty of spillage. I remember once during warm-ups in the boat bay when I discreetly and politely asked Coach Baroody if I could go upstairs and wash up, because "the gasoline was burning my legs". I didn't really like Crew yet. Especially all the running.

24) They had staggered lunch periods in eighth grade, and I didn't have a period with any of my friends. Rather than sit in the cafeteria and have to share a table with a bunch of random people who didn't speak English, I finagled my way into the band room and ate there every day (since I was the band director's golden child). I read more books in eighth grade than any other year to date.

    A slightly tipsy Mr. Randall announces at a concert that I will drop music to be a gynecologist (121KB MP3)
    BU plays the solo in A Chorus Line (381KB MP3)

To Be Continued Tomorrow...

Scientists have devised a computer program that listens to a song, then predicts how humans will react to it.
One way ticket, please.
Rugby fan explains why he chopped off his balls

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Super BU

If you were involved in a macabre industrial accident involving a smuggled load of uranium isotopes in a U-Haul and a tanker truck full of Tequiza, and you woke up the next morning with an incredible superhero power, what would it be? How would it be kryptonitically tempered to be just mildly outrageous instead of shamaistically imbalanced?

I wouldn't want the usual choices of flying or superhuman strength -- though fun, they seem somewhat useless in daily life, and I bet the novelty would wear off pretty quickly. Instead, I would have the ability to stop time for everyone and everything around me. Walking down the street and someone happens to throw a baby off a balcony? No sweat -- just stop time when the baby's near the ground, grab it, and start time up again. I could stop time to take a nap in the middle of work or play pranks on people by swiping their pants. I'd never have to worry about deadlines again, since a last-minute effort would take as long as I wanted it to take.

To balance out my super power, I would age twice as fast while time was stopped. If I abused the power too much, or used it to catch up on the ROOTS miniseries, I'd eventually turn into a senile old man while everyone around me aged normally. I suppose I'd have to have a superhero name as well, like Freeze Frame or Time Bandit.

Audience participation time: What would your superhero power be? What would be your weakness?

Single pixel cameras on the way
Little girl tries to steal Legos with a knife
Girly men are funnier

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Gone Fishin'

I'm on vacation and Paige is in town! Updates will resume next Tuesday -- there WILL be updates throughout the normal Thanksgiving holiday.

Santas are instead instructed to say 'ha ha ha'
Breaking in to make a deposit
Men more romantic than women

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up


Booty would like some ham.

Man arrested for dialing 911 and asking for sex
Facebook status update and IHOP, an unbeatable alibi
Deer loses fight with a lawn ornament

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Museday Voteday

Today's update was going to be a Museday, but then I realized that I've already written 20 excerpts this year, far more than any other year since I started in 2007. Rather than thin the competition like an absence of cornstarch in a batch of homemade eggdrop soup, I decided that I would put the existing 20 up for voting today, which will also give me a little extra time to work on the finale.

The usual drill will apply: during the month of December, I'll extend one of these works to a full-length piece about two minutes long. Vote for the one I should extend using the Poll in the right sidebar and I'll post the extended work on December 21. Any snippet with the double-thumbs-up icon next to it is eligible for your vote (these are the ones that seem to have potential for expansion, and are not necessarily the best of the bunch). If you're new here, you can get the idea of what happens by listening to the 2008 expansion, which is still my favourite. Even if the only instrument you know how to play is the radio, give a listen to the potential excerpts and vote for the one that charms you the most!

For added artistry, I have described each snippet with exactly seven words, which probably describe the excerpt more appropriately than the words that triggered their creation.

Motile: It is fugal, if not a fugue.

Bushwhacking: The fourth Indiana Jones really did suck.

Saturnine: Leonard Bernstein becomes the Sesame Street composer.

Pusillanimous: Red Rover is harder with rabid chickens.

Corrugated: Right at home in Origin's Savage Empire.

Sylvan: Link just learned to fly with leaves.

Mussiest: Never play drinking games with a walrus.

Indefatigable: Listening to Steve Reich that day.

Commodious: Let's go to a JMU Jazz Concert!

Elegiac: Grandpa sits at home alone all day.

Malarial: All the pit bulls have gone Nazi.

Invidious: Six cups of espresso and some ADD.

Fusty: As if Frowzy really needed a sequel.

Acerbic: In this DOOM level, monsters have soul.

Flinty: Chromaticism and gnomes don't mix very well.

Lissome: Blue Ribbon Brass at the Renn. Faire.

Meretricious: Spiccato and overdriven guitars: a winning combination

Vermillion: This song wouldn't improve Super Mario Sunshine.

Mendacious: Theme for the grandson of Largo LaGrande.

Captious: Capture the Flag is funner with muskets.

You can also go back and listen to Musedays from 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Volcano evacuees demand chamber of love
Alabama offers a sex-toy drive-thru
Beer lubricated the rise of civilization
Which Museday excerpt deserves a full composition?

Bushwhacking (2 votes, 33.3%)


Saturnine (0 votes, 0.0%)

Pusillanimous (0 votes, 0.0%)

Indefatigable (1 vote, 16.7%)


Malarial (0 votes, 0.0%)

Mendacious (3 votes, 50.0%)


tagged as museday | permalink | 5 comments

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quick Tips Day

With the modern American's schedule packed tighter than a boneless sardine run through a FoodSaver, the savvy time manager needs to know when the warning labels on products truly point to dangerous situations and when they're just tacked on to avoid frivolous lawsuits. Here are a couple tips to help maximize your productivity.

Tip #1: Preempt common cold conditions with a squirt of lotion
That first morning you wake up with an unusually dry throat can be filled with dread, as you realize that a full-fledged cold is only hours away. No one has time for humidifiers and an endless swarm of cherry lozenges, but it is a little-known secret that Lubriderm is perfect for combating a dry throat (the throat is just skin, but on the inside!) Just squirt a fat dollop into your mouth and swallow. Plus, it's non-comedogenic, which either means that it won't clog your pores, or it's not very good at stand-up comedy.

Tip #2: Save time and prevent wrinkles by ironing in your shirt
You can spend hours trying to iron out the wrinkles in your dress shirt on an every day ironing board, but it's really a one-size-fits-all affair. The shape of an average ironing board is nothing like the shape of your shirt, so you'll waste time and energy shifting the shirt around every few seconds. A more logical person would realize that your torso is generally the perfect mold for the shape of your shirt. Simply put on your shirt first, and you can iron it with one hand while brushing your teeth or having a bowl of cereal with the other hand. The natural fit of your body will result in the most visible parts of the shirt looking the sharpest (your bulging pecs) while not wasting any time on the parts that no one will see anyhow, like the tails that get tucked into your pants.

Woman dies from 15-year-old gunshot wound
Mario's raccoon suit enrages PETA

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Training Day: Hadoop for Laymen

I've spent this past week in a company-provided training course, which has had a few decent nuggets of information (and free lunches) to balance out the otherwise slow pace of the course and the need to drive to Tysons Corner during rush hour. There are also people in the class from some of our "sister companies" that remind me of the CS majors from my undergrad: eager to showcase their knowledge, catch the instructor in a fallacy, or drive the discussion off a tangential cliff of irrelevant details. I learn best on my own, so I would usually read ahead in the slides, do the exercises, and then tune out the rest of the day on Reddit or doing my day job.

The material that we learned is based on the concept of MapReduce, which is how Google scales their infrastructure to query and analyze gigantic data sets. So you can avoid a three thousand dollar training course, here's how it works:

MapReduce is a way of solving problems in a distributed manner. Rather than buying a few incredibly expensive supercomputers to handle petabytes of data, you buy tons of crappy consumer computers, split the data across them all, and then break down the big job into smaller jobs that each crappy computer can handle. You assume that some of the crappy computers will break down or take too long and cover your ass by assigning the same work to multiple computers, and using the one that finishes first. This is kind of how outsourcing to foreign countries works as well.

Hadoop is the part that takes care of all the grunt work: mapping a job onto the computers, reducing their results into one master result, and handling failures, job scheduling, and data replication. With all of that out of the way, you can focus on coding the job itself, but it requires a slightly different mindset to think in MapReduce terms. You don't really see benefits of this until your data sets are larger than you could possibly imagine (e.g. analyzing the number of clicks your stupid high school friends have made in Farmville, or searching through your ridiculous collection of porn). A common example is to get a word count of the complete works of Shakespeare. You could do this by maintaining a master tally and walk through his works, word by word. Or, you could give a couple sentences to each computer and consolidate their results in the end.

Hadoop is supported by an "ecosystem" of related tools, including Hive, Pig, Sqoop, Flume, and Oozie, because it takes an embarassing name to get any money in Silicon Valley. And of course, the company offering the training just happens to sell support for their own version of Hadoop, as well as a certification exam which is probably worthless in the long run, but will allow me to show "career growth" on my next performance review.

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up

Much of the weekend was taken up with proposal work, but we did manage to get away for the afternoon on Saturday and take a hike up to Raven Rocks on the West Virginia border. The weather was a little brisk, and the denuded trees gave us the benefit of great vistas throughout the hike, at the expense of ankle chaos in the slippery leaves all over the trail.

We stopped in Purcellville to try out a couple new breweries. The first, Adroit Theory, was a nanobrewery that had a rapidly rotating inventory of beers you drink like an adult rather than a college student. We had heard that their beers were "weird", but found them to be pretty good across the board.

After those samples, we went to Belly Love Brewery down the road for a shared flight and some pork belly tacos. The beers were good, and more normal fare, while the tacos were forgettable and overcharred. We closed out the evening at an ice cream shop across the street, which featured the warmest and coziest table area of any ice cream shop, making it the perfect place to warm up while eating cold stuff.

How was your weekend?

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Memory Day: 1987

At the age of 7 going on 8, I finished out the school year in Mrs. Hutt's third grade class and matriculated up to my favourite year of primary school. I was still a child free of obligations or regular activities, since it would be another year before I started things like band or Cub Scouts.

I don't really remember much about the summer between 3rd and 4th grade, but it was probably spent with my grandparents in Michigan taking the occasional piano lesson, getting scratched by their surly cat, Cody, and painting cheap clay sculptures that always broke after a couple days.

In the fall, I joined Mrs. Sharkey's class, yet another teacher who lived across the street from the school (these teachers were an oddity for the fact that you knew they had a life outside of the building an didn't just plug in to the nearest robot closet to recharge). She was one of 3 fourth grade teachers, including Mr. Hazzard and Mr. Cmiel, who split the duties of teaching different subjects. In the morning, the Talented and Gifted students would go to Mrs. Marmarino for language arts. We spent several weeks creating snake-themed dioramas for an imaginary town called Snakeville. My contribution to one group project was the "Snake-ifieds" section of the snake newpaper, full of hissing puns and snake want ads. I also wrote a children's story called The Orge Family about a bunch of clumsy kids that lived in a castle.

Around 11, we would go to Mr. Hazzard's class to learn about Virginia history. I would eat the snack out of my lunch to stave off the hunger, usually a fudge brownie or cheap Oreo knock-offs, because lunch wasn't until 1 PM. After lunch, we'd have science or family life with Mr. Cmiel. I got straight As across the board and my report card blurb says, "A fine citizen, an A-one student, and a wonderful personality makes Brian 'a teacher's delight'. Outstanding, delightful, and creative!"

My best friend in 4th grade was James, and our primary activity was to build things out of Legos (mainly the town-themed sets). I also continued playing PC games, mainly those published by Infocom and Sierra Online, likes King's Quest, Space Quest, and Police Quest. I would take the hint book maps to school and let my friends play the games with their imagination at the lunch tables, and then go home at night and write really bad text adventure games in the BASIC programming language.

My favourite book series was the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander and my favourite movie was Back to the Future. I did not yet listen to music, so I only knew about things my parents listened to, like the Broadway cast recording of Phantom of the Opera.

Other posts in this series: 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1990 - 1991 | 1991 - 1992 | 1992 - 1993

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, November 16, 2018

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Bodyguard, Season One:
This show is like a British version of Homeland, Season One (before that show spun out into tedium). In just 6 hour-long episodes, it maintains a strong intensity and uneasiness that resolves in a satisfying, logical conclusion. Its success rests on the ability to depict realistic characters that don't just exposition-monologue their feelings for the audience -- everyone seems like a threat at various points in the show, but the resolution is weighted towards character motivations rather than cheap plot obfuscation devices (unlike Westworld, Season One's vague timeline approach to storytelling). Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A

Wax by KT Tunstall:
The follow-up to the similarly designed KIN album, this is a pleasant collection of rock charts. None have gotten stuck in my head yet, but I'm not disappointed by the album.

Final Grade: B

ASUS RT-AC68U:
I haven't had much luck with routers this year. After using the rock-solid Linksys EA7500 for several years, it died in May's lightning storm. I bought the exact same router as a replacement and it somehow managed to slow all of Internet speeds to 1 MB down / 5 MB up. It wasn't until last month that I finally got around to finding the root cause. This time, I replaced it with the ASUS router which kicked speeds back up to 70 MB down / 5 MB up with minimal configuration. The router's UI is really nice and offers good visualizations of all devices on the network and options for bandwidth prioritization. Still going strong a month later!

Final Grade: B+

Killing Eve, Season One:
This BBC show offers a fresh spin on the tired spy genre (it felt more like less muted version of Amazon's The Patriot, whose second season was just released and sits in my queue). The cat-and-mouse between assassin and intelligence service takes a backseat to quirky characters. This is one of those shows that can quickly switch from dark violence to absurd humour while still retaining its watchability. I didn't care for the conclusion much, but it sets up the next season passably.

Final Grade: B+

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Monday, November 16, 2020

Quarantine Data Day

Today is Day 249 of our quarantine. We get groceries from Giant pickup and the outdoor farmer's market in Sterling, supplemented with early morning runs to Safeway for fresh bagels and hard-to-find Coke Zero. We don't eat out quite as much as the early days of quarantine, maybe once or twice a week now.

Maia spends two hours per week in her community center class with 2-3 other masked students. Depending on whether Virginia implodes in the coming weeks, we're thinking about expanding that up to six hours in December so Rebecca can be "off" for a little more each week.

Rebecca has started working again sporadically. The past few weeks have been a couple evenings a week seeing a few patients in an empty gym, but her upcoming schedule looks to be filling up more thoroughly.

I'm still doing 30 hours per week from home and have only gassed up my car about 4 times since the beginning. Other than grocery runs, trips to the park with Maia, and last week's doctor odyssey, I'm essentially a permanent fixture in our house.

Our work team for Puzzle Boat 7 is winding down now -- we're at 126 puzzles solved out of 145 today and should be fully wrapped up just in time for Advent of Code next month. Nothing interesting has come out on TV in a while, which is affecting my exercise durations, although I did just discover Cosmo Sheldrake to listen to. His music really gives me an undergraduate composition major vibe that I'm liking.

How is your year proceeding?

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Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Maia's 12 of 12

Maia's perspective on life (pictures taken between October 2022 and November 2022)

"Do you want to see my nightlight change color?"

Post-Dinnner Antics

"Can I show you this candle?"

Other posts in this series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

 

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