This Day In History: 11/21

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

I miss conducting. Last spring, I rehearsed and conducted a brass ensemble and chamber ensemble for several pieces on my senior recital. Although the logistics of rehearsals were always a pain in the ass, the actual process of performing and improving music with a group of interested musicians was definitely worthwhile. I wish I'd gotten a video recording of the recital so I could improve my conducting style, but in the midst of all the other things going on, I forgot.

The Nintendo GameCube came out this past weekend. Hopefully N64 prices will drop as a result... Nintendo of America has been price-fixing in the US for years now, and as recently as last month, N64 games from two years ago were still selling at fifty to sixty dollars apiece.

Since the music library is closing for the long weekend, I've stocked up with sixteen scores and song cycles, three theory textbooks, and two books for my music history paper.

It's time for four days of musical hibernation, baby.

"You've got an ouchy situation - in which case, I circled the mistake and wrote 'ouch'." - Dr. Bachelder, on really bad part-writing mistakes

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Thursday, November 21, 2002

Tech threw the WVU game last night with an interception right at the end of the fourth quarter, losing 21-18. It looks like a big bowl isn't going to be in the team's future; they'll probably get shipped off to the Music City Bowl again in Nashville, Tennessee.

I actually had a student come in for office hours today. It's amazing how much information you can get through with a class size of 1 rather than 32.

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Friday, November 21, 2003

This is what I did tonight. There's also a few new URI! Pictures and Cat Pictures on the Photos page.

Get Neutered, It Didn't Hurt Clay Aiken
Teacher suspended after nauseating experiment
A man and a pay phone were rushed to a hospital...and other jokes.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Based on the results of your quiz, you are a:

    Half-Assed Packrat

You save anything and everything that might have sentimental value eighty years from now, from plague-infected stuffed animals to wedding seating cards. Your computer is a veritable treasure trove of useless artifacts like this mockup of the state-of-the-art Lotus Notes intranet page you designed for Pepco at $5.50 an hour, or an MP3 of Blue Ribbon Brass cussing out Kelley Corbett when he slept through yet another recital hearing. You have 180 MB of Cat Movies alone, because you figure that fifty years from now you'll want to remember the time you put a sticky dot on Booty (3MB WMV).

Despite your hostile takeover of the Library of Congress, your collections are still incomplete and poorly organized. You devote entire weekends to sorting, pruning, and resorting your collections of intellectual junk, but then refuse to file any new bits after the sorting is done, because it's too much work to shift around the old stuff to make room for the new stuff. As the months pass, the unsorted portions outnumber the sorted portions and engulf them like a chubby Texan with a cheeseburger. Eventually, it's easier to leave everything unsorted, which means you can never find anything, which means you never look at your collections anymore.

Your pacqueroital tendencies are helped and hindered by the loss of data that always accompanies a reinstall of Windows XP, like the one you did on Saturday to rectify a Warcraft issue. You are too lazy to back up your work more than once every six months, and you are gullible enough to believe that the Windows installer can format a single OS partition while leaving all your data partitions untouched, even though you know it only has a 25% success rate. However, when you lose all the work you've done since July, you don't really care, because at the end of the day, you understand that none of it really matters anyhow. You are more concerned with the fact that it takes about a day and a half to reload all the programs you use.

So now you reload your archive of junk that you will never need, like the Diablo 2 save-game file for your frost-sorceress from 1998, or the birthday card you sent to Paige in 2003 using the Spaghettios font. You look at all the gaps in dates from previous hard drive crashes and wonder why you keep all that garbage around when it's not even complete anymore. You resolve that if you're going to save stuff, you're going to save it the right way. Starting next year.

P.S. You also like long walks on the beach and Ms. Right is just around the corner. Optimism is no longer just a fortune cookie.

Bush thwarted by locked door
Parents blame Warcraft for child's inability to understand gravity
Russian MPs have issued a final threat to TV stations to scale back on violent shows like The Simpsons if they want to avoid censorship.

Yesterday's search terms:
pee lovers.com, paige poythress, i want to go to the discotheque, ever eaten a penguin

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How I Spent My Thanksgiving Vacation

Described by EAT Magazine as an "effervescent nectar of the gods", Cheddar Cheese Soup made a successful comeback at dinner on Sunday night. I experimented by using one half less of an onion which made the soup more runny, and less filling, which was a good thing since you could eat more without getting full. This was an intentional experiment and in no way related to the fact that half of the onion fell in the trash can during chopping hour.

People came and people ate. This week's main course was a ten pound spiral-sliced ham. There are now enough leftovers in my fridge to feed a small army of attack-trained gerbils, which will come in handy on the day I want to kill one of my neighbours very very slowly. You can see the entire racial spectrum at this multicultural dinner. From left to right: a whitey, an Italian, an Italian with a tan, an American pretending to be a Spaniard hiding in the back, an Asian, a Puerto Rican, and another whitey. Not pictured: the black guy who couldn't make it this weekend.

The next day I showed my houseguest the beauty of living in a yuppy mecca in the wilderness of Loudoun County, where you can buy horse gear at the local Petsmart and be no more than five miles from any major chain. We poked around a few of the cloesr malls to see what the Wii situation was like, and of course it was sold out everywhere (and had been since stores opened the day before). Playstation 3 seemed to be the more desired console, since stores actually posted signs out front advertising their lack of inventory.

We then consumed lots of leftovers, watched a whirlwind of TV shows on DVD that might not air in Spain, saw the movie The Departed which was good but fell apart a bit towards the end, and ate chicken fingers at Ruby Tuesday. After dinner, she wrapped a bunch of Christmas presents the fake-out way (bags with tissue paper on top) and we played some games.

Today, I'm cleaning up the house from all the crazy kegstands of Thanksgiving Dinner and will probably do some work this evening.

The End

Driver beats fines with physics knowledge
Constable needs a taser class
Kramer channels the spirit of Mel Gibson

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Doobie Day

Word on the street states that Doobie got married in Tuscon a week and a half ago. The actual sequence of events involved Paige wanting to know what Jason Chrisley was up to these days, after which we visited his Facebook page and noticed a message from Shac. Since I don't have any pictures of Doobie's wife (or husband) and tubas don't come on gift registries, I'll cheaply devote today's web update to Doobie, the music/math major from Richmond, VA.

While at Virginia Tech, Doobie was a member of the Blue Ribbon Brass quintet. Blue Ribbon is a beer. He also played tuba on my fifth-year recital, but only had one solo.

Hear Doobie play the tuba (290KB MP3)

Doobie was also a founding member of Delta Mu, the non-service music fraternity which was cool until they bought Greek letter shirts, and much of his wisdom has been preserved for posterity.

"If you ain't following, you ain't leading." - Doobie
"Don't think of it as circular logic, think about it as linear with crossed out answers. Linear logic is white out." - Doobie
"Val Kilmer is sweet!" - Doobie

If www.googlism.com were to learn about Doobie, it might reveal some of the following, taken directly from the meeting minutes of the fraternity.

Doobie is anti-Dutch.
Crouse can kiss Doobie's ass in Miami.
Doobie dwells in uncomprehension.
Once, Doobie watched a cartoon with the Harlem Globetrotters as inanimate objects.
Doobie drinks beer with his left hand. He is mostly left-handed.
Doobie is like the lighthouse. "Come to the shore!"
Doobie dated Elayne. Next is Carly and Carly's mom. Doobie can't handle the father.
On Tuesday night, people are either sleeping or pissin' Doobie off.
Doobie does not want to be dismembered via words.
Liz wants honeymoon in Australia. Doobie wants to "go down under."
Doobie is five minutes long.
Doobie has a 72 game win streak on FreeCell.

Congratulations to the newly married pair! Stay tuned for exclusive news of a future Doobie Jr.

The dog might be appropriately characterized as now being anatomically correct
Kitten adopted by pet rabbit
Squirrels attempt test run of terror wave

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Fragments

the numerator in division by zero

♠ The price of the Tuesday Special at Popeyes has gone up fifty cents, but this added expense comes with flexibility: it is now the "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday" Special, which means that I could have cheap chicken three days a week if I really wanted to, although eating the equivalent of a whole chicken every week is a little sickening. It would definitely need to be alternated with Shells and Cheese every other day or I would honk.

♠ When I stepped off the elevator this morning at work, the entire lobby was cloaked in the sickly smell of vomit, putting a whole new spin on being sick of work. It's also possible that a stomach flu is going around and someone didn't make it to the bathroom in time. FGM: Government Contractors OF DISEASE.

♠Speaking of food and vomit, someone discovered my website by Googling "does all chef boyardee cans contain rat fesces?". Disregarding the misspelling, the grammar, and the misrepresentation of Google as AskJeeves, it is left as an exercise for the reader to determine the answer to this question.

♠ Google essentially nullified my existence the other day when GMail determined that my place of residence does not actually exist and suggested that I live in DC instead. While I appreciate their attempts to convert me into an urbanite, I'm suspicious that one day we'll wake up to find our borders redrawn to encompass the Republic of Google, and everyone will accept that it's true because Google Maps says so.

♠ I guess I could do a little better than Sterling, though, since it took them six days to repave a one-mile section of Church Road. They milled the old asphalt off in a day, and paved it in thirds over the last two days. For those three days in the middle, they did absolutely nothing other than to watch the soccer moms holding up traffic at 4 miles per hour (worried that they might spin out on the rough unfinished road, and confused by the lack of a yellow stripe down the middle).

♠ Plans for this weekend include a poker game at Mike's in Glover Park on Saturday. Since they'll be using lame Florida rules, I'll be adding my own special earmark to the rulebook -- any time Chompy is sitting on your lap when hands are revealed, you can use her as a wildcard. On Sunday, I'll be hosting Thanksgiving Dinner #2, now with ham!

♠ Have a good weekend!

Rapper gets 20 years after writing about shooting
Spider flees to outer space
Helping an injured butterfly go south

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Monday, November 21, 2011

List Day: Coaches' Poll of Delicious Breakfast Foods

  1. bacon
  2. sausage links
  3. hash browns
  4. buttermilk biscuits
  5. waffles
  6. French toast
  7. eggs over easy
  8. English muffins
  9. bagels
  10. pancakes
  11. omelettes
  12. home fries
  13. sausage patties
  14. scrambled eggs
  15. toast
  16. cereal
  17. doughnuts
  18. Pop-Tarts
  19. McGriddle
  20. oatmeal

Had this been the BCS Standings for Delicious Breakfast Foods, the McGriddle would be ranked #1, since no one important actually eats those.

Dirty Texting Banned By Pakistan Telecom Authority
Giant mound of tires in South Carolina visible from space

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Memory Day: Wii U (and sometimes, Why?)

Growing up, our household was always a Nintendo household. We had a NES (two years after everyone else in the neighborhood did), followed by a Super NES, and I can still remember the innocent years when I thought a game was good because "Nintendo Power gave it a 5 out of 5!!".

My sister and I had matching Game Boys, which we used to play games that no one had ever heard of (like Dedalus Opus) until the "monochrome bars of death" covered up too much of the screen to be playable. We never owned any of the systems from Sega, Sony or Microsoft, and that embargo continues today for no particular good reason.

The Nintendo love decreased in college and beyond: I bought an N64 when I lived with Rosie and Anna, followed by a GameCube at Florida State (where every day was 2 hours of composing followed by 22 hours of nothing to do) but they were bargain bin purchases long after the hype had faded. I never had a GBA, but I did get a DS Lite and enjoyed it greatly, apart from that retarded Dogs game full of starving puppies. WAY TO MAKE ME FEEL GUILTY FOR NOT PLAYING, NINTENDO. Plus, "blowing on the mic" will always be creepy. I never bought a 3DS because I don't need to pay someone to give myself a migraine.

I had never really planned on buying a Wii, but ended up snatching one up in a pre-Christmas fire sale in December 2006. In the pre-Rebecca years, I was working about 80 hours a week, and spent way too much on a bundle consisting of a Wii, 2 fun games, and 4 games that no one should ever have to play, in order to justify the money I was earning in overtime.

I mostly enjoyed the Wii in spite of its ridiculously long loading screens, but for every great game like Rayman Origins or Wario Ware, there were other games that forced you to use the motion controls for gimmick's sake when it clearly detracted from the game. You need to sneeze? Well Mario's going to spin jump off a cliff then!

This brings us to the release of the latest console, the awfully named "Wii U", which came out last Sunday. I get that the similar name is intended to grab all of the casual gamers who bought a Wii, but now we get to see an endless string of "titles ending in U" as a form a branding just slightly worse than the kind used on a cattle ranch. Hopefully, games on the Wii U will not get any sequels, because then it will always look like Bono is somehow involved.

Being a former Nintendo fan, I looked desperately for a good reason to throw some money at this console, but I'm just not very clear on the point. I must not be the only one, because a trip through Target yesterday showed 3 consoles sitting forlornly under glass like Nintendogs at a shelter fair.

On paper, the Wii U just takes all of the worst parts of the Wii and puts Carmex on them to make them "shinier and more noticeable". Besides HD, the big gimmick is an iPad-like controller for player one, so they can see something different than everyone else. Sure, being "IT" while everyone chases you in a game of tag sounds kind of fun, and it probably will be in a novelty party setting, but is that really worth $350 for a console plus $60 for each game? The only possible outcome is a series of awful games that maximize the novelty of using a different kind of controller while minimizing the fun factor.

I may yet buy a Wii U, because I am a yuppy living in Northern Virginia and am incapable of passing up a deal, but I will probably be dragged into it kicking and screaming (because the new controller will require you to kick and scream). The simple truth of the matter is that console gaming will never be as cost-effective as PC gaming, but as a gamer, I can be illogically tempted to play the latest Mario game.

Not Zelda though. I am through with Zelda.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon:
This standalone expansion pack is essentially a reskinning of Far Cry 3 with every single bad 80s action movie trope you can possibly cram in. It starts out funny but the humor starts to grate fairly quickly, and eventually you realize that you're just playing Far Cry 3 with different skins. Additionally, the first save point is unforgivably far into the game (probably about 45 minutes), which means you end up sitting through the extended introduction way too many times if you can't play for long periods of time.

Final Grade: C-

Stay Awhile and Listen: How Two Blizzards Unleashed Diablo and Forged a Video-Game Empire by David Craddock:
This Kindle book is based on exhaustive interviews around the original Diablo creators. The stories and quotes are individually engaging, but the whole is less impressive. Often, there are too many distracting asides and sidebar quotes to maintain a cohesive storyline. It's obvious that the story is clear to the author, but he tells it from so many different angles that it often feels like he's telling around the story. Still, this is probably a must-read for anyone who got lost in the original Diablo in 1996.

Final Grade: B

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson:
This coffee table book is an easy-to-read, engaging survey of all sorts of science topics, from the Big Bang to quarks. Although it is fun to read, it's surprisingly light on scientific insights. The author seems to feel that science itself isn't interesting enough on its own and must be spiced up with anecdotes of the involved scientists or unnecessary analogies.

Final Grade: C

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Friday, November 21, 2014
Monday, November 21, 2016

New Job Day

After almost 14 years of working full-time for FGM (later renamed Novetta), I have a new job as a senior software engineer for a tiny commercial startup. This will pull me back into the trenches a little bit, away from the ivory tower architecture and proposal writing that I've been mostly focused on over the past couple of years. My last day "in the building" is today, and I start the new job on Monday after Thanksgiving.

It's a little scary to leave stability and awesome benefits behind when your entire career identity is intertwined with a single company, especially for a risk-averse individual such as myself. However, I felt like this was better to do on my own volition now than at some unforseen point in the future for unforseen reasons. I'm looking forward to doing nonstop coding again and delivering software as a tangible end result that I can point at with pride (not unlike enjoying the lines on a freshly mowed lawn).

The new job is also a refreshing reminder that the core skills in my career apply to pretty much every sector out there and not just Defense and Intelligence. It will be nice to be out of the world of incessant acronyms, constantly expiring badges, and dreadful security training classes for a little while. As a safety net, my security clearance remains open for 2 years, so all will not be lost if things don't work out.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

12 of 12 Fallout

Here's what I looked like on November 12, every year for the past 12 years.

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