This Day In History: 11/23

Friday, November 23, 2001

I worked from 11 AM to midnight today, stopping only briefly for a pot full of Ramen noodles at lunchtime and some chicken for dinner, and the result is a pedagogy presentation that even a retarded chimp could enjoy (providing, of course, that the chimp had some basic freshman theory background, or the high school equivalence of it). I still have to do the second section on innovative exercises but that should only take another hour tomorrow. There have been one to two presentations per class since the beginning of October. The problem with being the last one is that there's a massive precedent to be compared to. As a result, I'm taking the extra time to ensure that my own is at least as good as the best one so far. The bonus of having extra time to prepare is moot, since no uses the extra time anyhow.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with some friends on why this News page is so highly sanitized of names and local current events. In the past, I've kept pretty much the same policy. I don't want someone to "discover" that they're being mentioned on the Internet and have a panic attack. I also know that some people simply would prefer not to have their daily affairs mentioned without permission, and it's easier to not mention them at all rather than get permission. However, I'll try to drop a few relevant names now and then to keep people happy.

My Thanksgiving was excellent. Yesterday afternoon, Mark, Mike, Kathy, and I went to Keely & Scott's house on the edge of town where we met up with Jim, and a variety of conductor-folk whose names I don't know. After the "Composer Assembly Line" technique of preparing a punchbowl full of mashed potatos, Keely took us on a tour of the house and introduced use to the two dogs, Laney and Gus, and the two cats, Charlie Parker and Nico. After Pictionary and watching Brad on Friends, most people went home. Mark, Mike, Kathy, Keely, Scott, and I played more games until around eleven in the evening. Then, I came home and read e-mail from Paige, Beth, Nikki, and Shannon.

And this evening, I started reading a book by Janny.

"Anything played wrong twice in a row is the beginning of an arrangement." - Frank Zappa

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Saturday, November 23, 2002

We had an impromptu practice of the theory department basketball team this morning which was a barrel o' fun for everyone involved. For all the lazy assclowns that didn't roll out of bed into the brisk weather, the next practice is on December 7.

I finally got around to adding my latest battle report to the Writings page.

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Sunday, November 23, 2003

I've added a minor feature that will allow you to get to any page in the Zone directly -- useful if you found an interesting article and want to link it. The method involves adding two strings to the end of the URL, one for the section of the Zone and one for the page's ID. The ID is either the name of the HTML file or the ID of the generated content (on the Games page for example, every Doom map has its own ID but not its own HTML file). You can find any file's ID by moving your mouse over it in the Menu and looking at your status bar. Here are some examples:

[This method no longer works. Links have been removed.]

I haven't yet figured out the best way to do this with the Photos, Music, Words, and Art page because they have sub menu pages, but those sections should be available by direct link sometime this week.

This means that I can now feature old pages when I have nothing new to report .

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

If I don't learn anything else at work, I know that basura means 'trash'. That's what we have to write on anything not in the wastebasket, or else no one will collect it at the end of the day.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wednesday Fragments

what the heck

  • If you missed yesterday's explanation, I'm doing my Fragments column on Wednesday this week so I can take a mini-sabbatical from updates over the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm like Bill Watterson, except my cartoons suck and I don't have worldwide name recognition. Based on which days the holidays are going to fall on, this will be the last vacation from updates I'll be taking this year.

  • If you aren't visiting this page with Firefox, you're missing the dancing turkey-llama in the upper left corner. Here's a video clip that will show you how much richer your life could be: (249KB WMV). If you don't care about turkey-llamas (which taste a lot like turduckens), here's a clip of my cats playing the tail game (731KB WMV).

  • The XBOX 360 was released yesterday, with a bunch of stupid clowns camping outside overnight to pay $400 for a console system that will be obsolete in a year. I'm guessing the "360" is a marketing gimmick that says "XBOX: Right back where you started" but maybe that's why I'm not an ad executive. I'll just wait another three years and get the next Nintendo console out of the Walmart bargain bin. I'm a low-maintenance console gamer -- just give me a Zelda and some bizarre Mario-themed activities (Mario Blitz 2006 or maybe Mario Curling) and I'm set for another five years.

  • They have designed the XBOX to also play music, display photos and show DVDs. Is that really something anybody wants? I thought the whole purpose of a component-based entertainment center was that you could pick and choose your VCR and your DVD player and then mix and match all the parts for optimum performance. I don't want my toaster to also grate cheese, and I don't want to watch TV on my nonexistant cell phone.

  • I finished watching the second season of Arrested Development last week, which was good but not quite as good as the original. Now that the show is all but cancelled, I wonder if they'll release the incomplete third season on DVD. Probably so, since TV producers love to sell abbreviated shows for full price (see also, "The Last Episode of Friends, $9.99 on DVD"). By the way, if you like Friends, you can now buy all ten seasons for a mere $200. It's too bad I already own the first nine seasons, because that little bundle would save me about $5 total, and I am all about the big savings. Alternately, I could just watch it on TV as it airs, but the whole Monday night schedule throws me off. I haven't watched TV habitually on Monday since Boston Public went off the air (synonymous with "moved to Friday").

  • Now that Arrested Development is done, I'm watching the 3rd and 4th seasons of Alias. The third season isn't as horrible as I remember, yet. Then again, I haven't gotten to that diarrhea of the plot that afflicted it in the last half of the season. I stopped watching Alias on TV now, because I figure it'll be just as fun to pick it up on DVD next year and experience it without commercials. I still watch Lost though, and still have no sympathy for the actress playing Ana-Lucia. I can't decide whether she's a horrible actress, the director told her to make the character completely one dimensional, or the part itself is horrible and she's doing the best that she can.

  • If you're a LOST fan, check out the winning lotto numbers from the Irish Lotto on Saturday the 19th:. So close...

  • We went to see Squid and the Whale on Friday, which was an interesting indie film. It had some funny moments and some real moments, but it was one of those movies that just ends. The last scene was probably deeply symbolic, but if you're going to make a movie, you should at least tie up some loose ends for the satisfaction of the viewers, art bedamned. It's like the last scene in Lost in Translation where Bill Murray whispered something unknown in Scarlett's ear, or every other scene in Alias where someone gets handed a piece of paper with incriminating evidence on it and then they sack the writer before he can pursue that plotline. We want to know!

  • I also rewatched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Anna last Thursday. It was still good, but much better on the big screen.

  • I never quite understood what the Key Club did in high school. They're billed as a service organization, but all it really was was a bunch of rich kids who had meetings after school. Why are they key? Someone enlighten me. When I was in high school, I joined all the clubs that required no actual work or payment of dues. As soon as I had to do something, I was out the door. I wasn't even in the Music Honor Society because there were dues.

  • When Thanksgiving rolls around, you're always supposed to devote a post to the things you're thankful for. Posts like those are generally tryptophan to visitors and Kryptonite to ratings, so I will compress it into a single inimitable fragment. In 2005, I am thankful for: having a job that I greatly enjoy which pays enough for me to comfortably fill my secondary role of sitting at home in a perfect house doing absolutely nothing, parents who are always close by for support, two superb felines who idolize me every time I feed them, having Anna as a best friend, finally getting Anna married off to some slow-proposing scalawag off the street, having readers that make daily writing worthwhile, remeeting and spending time with Kim, having a free hot chocolate machine in the lunch room at work when it's cold and rainy outside, having friends that I can lose touch with for years and still have a good time inviting them over for dinner, having hobbies like watching movies and playing games that can be done on low-key nights with friends and require only a modicum of effort to be enjoyable, lighting good-smelling candles in the house and then playing with the butane lighter to fulfill pyromaniacal urges.

  • I'll probably think of more, but that's enough sentimentality for today. Have a good long weekend!

  • Radish recovering after murder attempt
    Man sues ABC over gay Wife Swap
    Whitey must die

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    Friday, November 23, 2007

    Friday Fragments

    Sterling's longest running Friday-themed column

    ♠ The final "Month of Thanksgiving Dinners" dinner took place last night, and immediately afterwards, my fridge was packed with two gallons of cheddar cheese soup, a pound of stuffing and gravy, a pound of mashed potatoes, five buttermilk biscuits, two pounds of leftover turkey, two bacon-wrapped scallops, three pounds of tomato-roasted lamb, two pounds of cooked ham, a small leprechaun named Hal, five cinnamon pears, a quarter of a homemade chocolate pie, two uponened packs of bacon, and fourteen Miller Lites (as you can tell, I've been working hard on those, having originally started with thirty-six).

    ♠ With the dinner over and the temperature having dropped twenty degrees overnight, it's now time to seal off the basement behind blast doors for the winter. Shutting down the room drops the basement temperature to around 58 in the winter, saving at least twenty bucks a month -- perfect for the installation payment option on all those prostitutes.

    ♠ The prostitutes aren't for me of course -- they're a Christmas present for Kelley.

    ♠ Once the mailman arrives today, I'll be 100% done with all of my Christmas shopping. This is helped by the fact that my sister and her husband aren't coming up this year, so we've agreed to delay our presents until next year. I can never figure out what to get them so they always get gift cards and video games.

    ♠ Speaking of video games, I recently beat Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass on the DS. It was surprisingly good and gets a 90 - 10% split on the fun-to-annoyance Zelda scale. I'll probably do a full review next week. In between work these days, I'm also enjoying Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii -- the first 3D Mario game that doesn't just make me want to feed my console to a hungry goat.

    ♠ November has been crunch month at work, which as not as cool as it sounds, since no one actual gets to gorge on Crunch bars. However, this month has been a lot easier than the crunch period LAST year when I was regularly working 60 to 80 hours a week. Plus, someone finally realized that it's good for morale if the crunch time is in November rather than the December holidays. Because of crunch time, I've been typing on the computer enough to not want to be typing anything witty when the time comes to write an update here (If I could have done a Museday every day this month, I would have, but that's a hint of weak sauce). Once December arrives, I'll have plenty more time to write more interesting updates -- December is always fun anyhow, since I can do "best of the year" posts, have contests, and make fun of the Reuters Pictures of the Year.

    ♠ There are no birthdays coming up in the near term which, if we extrapolate, means that no one's parents were making babies nine months ago. Since that date would have been 2/22, it's obviously that everyone's parents were too busy getting drunk to get nasty.

    ♠ Have a great weekend!

    Jellyfish vs. Salmon
    The biggest turkey wins
    Man takes his beer upsets out on the goats

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    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Weekend Wrap-up

    My web host is experiencing technical difficulties right now, so site speed may be a little slow for awhile. Because even the admin console is slow, today's update will be short (like me) and sweet (like Doobie).

    I spent most of the weekend working, but managed to get out of the house Saturday night to experience the first weekend of Tysons Mall traffic jams. We had a quick dinner at Chipotle, and then went to Brian & Paige's place for the first meeting of a monthly Beer Club. Everyone brought a beer that, for any reason, reminded them of Thanksgiving and we sampled them in turn.

    On Sunday, we finished Burn Notice: Season Two, moved the exercise bike up into the living room so I can pretend that I might work out this winter, and I played a few levels of New Super Mario Brothers Wii, which is pure old-school fun so far, although Mario's Italian accent gets a little more racist with each outing.

    What did you do this weekend?

    IBM makes a computer significantly smarter than a cat
    Take your kids to see the fake polar bears
    Facebook photos lead to cancellation of benefits

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    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Almost Newsday Tuesday

    The triumphant return of Newsday was going to cover West Potomac's recent decision to let cheaters retake tests, following closely on the heels of the decision to more closely emulate child sports (where everyone gets a paper plate award and no one is special) by replacing F's with Incompletes on report cards. However, I was robbed of this material by the principal's decision to reverse both policies. Once again common sense gets in the way of humour.

    I'm not surprised at the reports of inexorably increasing levels of cheating in schools. Many of the average students I've gone to school with or taught over the years couldn't think their way out of a mime's box, and Internet searches from desperate musicians trying to cheat their way through MacGamut or Practica Musica for basic ear-training assignments continues to be the number one way that new visitors reach this site.

    If I ever have enough contiguous free time, my goal is to open up an Internet content mill filled with all sorts of incorrect, yet correctly cited, research, which I can then observe as it propogates through student papers. Then, far in the future when there are flux capacitors, my incorrect research will be the germinating seed of some history textbook in Texas.

    Official misspeaks, seeks more sex stories
    Parental food nagging may lead to fussy eaters
    Debt collectors use Facebook to embarass

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    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Memory Day: Snapshots

    As previously discussed, I was not good at wheeled sports, so it's only fitting that my best round of roller skating would take place on the grass in the backyard (and I'd still be holding on to my sister).

    881 pound tuna seized by feds
    Record-setting veggie-oil truck tops 155 mph

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    Friday, November 23, 2012

    Day Off

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    Monday, November 23, 2015

    Weekend Wrap-up

    This Saturday, we had the Ahlbin clan over for an early Thanksgiving dinner of ham, stuffing, butternut squash, pasta salad, rolls, and gravy. Afterwards, we played Hearthstone (Rebecca lost to Anna in spite of, or maybe because of, extra help from the kids). We also played Clue, made interesting by the extra Candlestick printed in the card deck.

    On Sunday, I crafted boring Excel charts tracking cost difference between service offerings and then ate tons of leftover ham.

    How was your weekend?

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    Wednesday, November 23, 2016

    Data Day: FGM Stats

    I kept rigorous logs of the hours I worked while full-time, right down to the specific time I started each day (between 5:30 and 6:30 AM throughout the years). From the data, here's how many hours I worked overtime or used as paid time off over the past 13 years:

    Among the highlights that I remember:

    • When I was hired full-time after grad school, there was no work to do for the first few weeks, so I spent the days learning how to create Warcraft 3 custom maps. I then spent 4 months doing a project with the Vignette Content Management System which was ultimately scrapped because it was an inappropriate abomination for the intended use case.

    • I used to play poker, soccer, and basketball with FGMers, but I was bad at everything but poker, and didn't want to be in the office at 5 PM on a Friday to play poker. I organized many intern events back when I was rich and single and looking for love.

    • Over the years, I taught two separate courses in Java, gave three lunchtime seminars (How to Read Music, History of Western Music, and History of Jazz), and taught a course in AWS. I also joined the FGM Volleyball team for a single season before being beaten by the traffic on the Fairfax County Parkway. Never join a volleyball team that practices and plays 45 minutes from the office.

    • My office mates included Richard Albright, Noah Klemm, Eric Fox, Tammy Hale, Marquis Parker, Gary Monroe, Carla Rogers, Jack Wilmer, Tim Suh, and Tina Hsu. I've mainly had a single office for the past six years.

    • The Metadata Registry crashed during Larry's wedding, and I went straight to the office from there to sit on the phone with the government system administrators all night long. With no progress by 5 AM, I tried restarting the web server and that fixed the issue. All in all, I spent about 7 nights in the office.

    • When I first moved to Sterling in 2004, I briefly had a 2 mile commute to work. Two days later, the office moved to Reston where it's been ever since. The hardest part of getting a new job may be turning off the muscle memory to drive to Reston.

    • I spent a year working in data standards where my primary coup was getting two warring ontologists to agree on a compromise definition of the term, "Physical Entity": An entity that is part of physical reality, such as a physical object, an environment, a geographic feature, or a region of physical reality. This had stalled talks for several months before I arrived to add the italicized text.

    • The farthest I ever had to travel for work was Virginia Beach. The places I went most often beyond Reston were Fort Meade, Bailey's Crossroad, and MITRE.

    Final Grade: I would give my tenure a solid A-

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    Thursday, November 23, 2017

    Thanksgiving Day

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    Monday, November 23, 2020

    Thanksgiving Week

    I'll be taking the week off from updating this site so we can celebrate all of the holidays at the same time. Updates will resume next Monday, the 30th.

    I hope you all have fun, safe plans for the holiday!

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    Wednesday, November 23, 2022

    Time-lapsed Blogography Day: Twenty Seven Years Ago Today

    Twenty-seven years ago today, on November 23, 1995, I was a senior in high school and it was Thanksgiving Day. I spent most of the day trying to get the newly-released Windows 95 installed on our family computer because Disc 2 had some random corrupted sectors. Staring at the computer screen all day gave me a migraine headache.

    When not battling the Windows installer, I was practicing the high range on my trumpet and hitting solid high E-flats. The Es were nonexistent and I had the long-range plan of hitting high G by the end of the school year. Ultimately, I never practiced consistently enough to have a solid high G.

    Later in the afternoon, I walked up the street to feed a chihuahua named Rusty while his owners were out of town. I used to bring him back to my house but he'd just pee all over the carpet and bark nonstop.

    I didn't write anything about dinner itself, so I presume it was a nuclear family affair (Ellen was home from UVa) with a much-too-large turkey, stuffing full of raisins, spiced pears, rolls, and sweet potatoes.

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