This Day In History: 11/28

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Yesterday and today were beautiful days -- sunny, high seventies, and low humidity. It's a bit perverse to be wearing shorts at the end of November, but I could definitely get used to it.

We managed to secure a block of ten tickets for the Gator Bowl so it looks like I'll be spending New Year's in Florida. My vacation's turning out to be much busier than I expected it would be. After driving back to Virginia on the 12th, I'll spend a few days here and there before taking a road trip to Westminster College in New Jersey and New England Conservatory in Boston. A friend of mine is looking into vocal pedagogy graduate programs, and we figured now was as good a time as ever to start visiting. Following that trip, I'll have about a week to loaf around at home and study for the listening exam, before driving back down to Florida for the Bowl. Once the Bowl is finished (with Tech winning, no doubt), I'll only have five more days before the spring semester starts, so I'll probably just head on back to scenic Tallahassee from Jacksonville. I'm hoping I'll have time to finish the first movement of my string quartet before break so I can devote the time at home to editing and proofing. I never write anything worth keeping over short breaks in foreign venues -- It must be the water.

Rumour has it that there's going to be a last-minute adjustment in the teaching roster of grad students in theory/composition, and one of us non-teaching types might end up with an eartraining class next semester. Even though I'm obviously the most useless assistant right now (I can't exactly proctor a lab that doesn't exist yet), I hope they find someone a little more qualified to take the class. I would love to teach a fundamentals or basic theory class because I think I'd do an excellent job with it. I had great success as an undergrad doing theory tutoring and think I do a pretty good job of teaching in general. An eartraining class bothers me because my piano skills definitely leave a lot to be desired, and I haven't done four voice work, progressions, or sight-reading in about four years now. If I do end up with this duty though, I'll just suck it up and do some hardcore piano work over the break.

Oh, yesterday I wrote the bibliography for my history paper.

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Thursday, November 28, 2002

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Friday, November 28, 2003

I just finished Refactoring by Martin Fowler. Although it has a hefty $50 price tag, it's chock full of useful, practical information, and I would rate it as a must-have like Joshua Bloch's Effective Java. It's also easier to read as a non-reference book than the standard Design Patterns by the Gang of Four. If you're a programmer by day, this is definitely a book that should be on your shelf.

Speaking of computer books, I read The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactics for an Imperfect World by Chris Duncan a month ago, but never got all the way to the end. Though it had some good information on working in real-world business environments, the tone of the book was oppressively bleak and the author used the same tired joke every fourth page.

Next on my reading list is Practical Java by Peter Haggar which just arrived today along with a batch of Christmas presents.

Don't deep fry your turkey.

tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ho ho ho (get it?) and welcome to the Holiday Edition of the URI! Zone. Here is my weekend wrap-up in nine thousand words or less (most likely less):

Wednesday
Left work at noon to sign for a "signature required" UPS delivery expecting it to arrive around 3 PM, only to discover that the assclown now runs my neighbourhood at noon. Missed the delivery by 14 minutes. Also noted that said assclown decided to take Friday off, so the 2nd Delivery would not be until the following Monday. Cleaned out the office and threw away two bags full of useless papers and manuals. Watched LOST which is starting to return to the first season's levels of goodness. Decided that Ana-Lucia is actually a good character but Michelle Rodriguez is just trying way too hard to make her hardcore. Thought that Rodriguez would be much more palatable if she'd just get that goofy look off her face. Good episode overall, now that there's forward motion in the timeline. Still think that Mr. Echo is the most interesting character on the show right now -- want more Locke-Echo interaction. Looked out the window and saw snow and peed in my pants. Took a picture. Of the snow.

Thursday
Went to work in a quiet office with only Justin Spradlin on the fifth floor. Slipped into the abandoned HR offices and adjusted my salary by a few decimal places. Went home and gave the cats extra helpings of their turkey dinner, A.K.A. the usual crappy food. For Thanksgiving, crashed a family dinner with a family that was not my own, and had prime rib and salmon. Then went to see Yours, Mine & Ours, a patently inoffensive family movie that was pretty funny. Had a great time overall. Drove back from Alexandria in the rapidly frigidizing weather, passing an accident on the Toll Road where a minivan apparently stopped in the middle lane and caused a chain reaction. Went back to work for a couple hours to do some time-sensitive work and appear hardworking, then went the rest of the way home around 9:30.

Friday
Got up at 5:30 AM to go on a Thanksgiving Hike at Old Rag Mountain with the Spellerbergs. Hiked all the way to the phone, cancelled, and went back to bed after discovering that the temperature was below freezing. Woke up at 7 AM and played Warcraft for a few hours. Cleaned and reorganized more of the house, and then drove over to Anna's house. Made cookies and brought wine so they would have some vittles when they got back from the hike. Rescued Sydney from the closet where she was trapped all day because she's a retard and goes into closets and hides. Went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner and had Mild Buffalo Chicken Fingers with non-spiced fries and mushrooms (this is obviously a new and varied meal for me), then came back to Anna's and watched Kung Fu Hustle. Decided it was cute for people who like kung fu movies. Decided that I am not one of those people. Drove home and slept.

Saturday
Woke up at 7 AM for errands. Went to Best Buy and got a third XM hub, so I can now listen to XM holiday songs in my office, in the basement, in my car, and in the living room. Visitors beware. Went to Petsmart and got a new cat toy which the cats don't really care about, and some vittles. Went to Target and got wrapping paper for all the gifts you guys are getting and some Christmas lights. Went to Costco for some groceries and also picked up The Broker by John Grisham. Came home and put up lights. Happy to have the only house on the block with blue lights. It is special (get it?). Had some hooligans over in the evening for the Virginia Tech - North Carolina game which Tech handily won 30-3 despite having the most boring first quarter in the history of first quarters. Went to bed and finished The Broker which was a pretty average Grisham book -- a page-turner involving some lawyers that's worth reading when there's nothing better.

Sunday
Slept in until 9 (!), read the paper over a breakfast of leftover ham from one of my holiday dinners, and then raked the back forty. Did not have a forty during this activity. Watched some Alias, and then rearranged my office, because the holidays always infect me with the rearranging bug. Wrote this update and had a Totino's pizza for lunch. The End.

But one of the gun's prongs accidentally hit Miljour's genitals and got stuck
Maryland XBOX shoppers reinforce their state's reputation
Those who cannot do, teach

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Stop the Brasses

Raiders of the Lost Ark falls squarely into the camp of "late-70s movies that are now too annoying to watch". This subset of movies is often characterized by trying to be more epic than they really are, midday showings on TBS or AMC, handguns that sound like cannons, bad grainy Technicolor with earth tones, or random appearances of a young Robert Redford. A few years and sensibilities later, it would have squeaked into the "goofy 80s movie that's loveable because it's so 80s", but it's held back by the teeming masses of random foreign plotless extras, a heroine that can't act, and strings of scenes that don't really make much sense when put together. The most saliently annoying feature though is the John Williams soundtrack.

The soundtrack in this movie (and its sequel) are the cinematic equivalent of the loud office worker that plants himself in your office and won't let you get anything done. It's always on, always yapping, and has a palette notable for its complete avoidance of silence. It seems like Dr. Jones can't do a thing without this Greek chorus of three motives and a brass fanfare chiming in the background. The way that Marion's Theme injects itself into every single scene she's in is subtle like Pop Rocks, and tells the audience, "LISTEN THIS IS MARIONS THEME LEARN2MOTIVE". Couldn't he think up a nice little variation the second time through? Add an eighth note here and there? Even playing the damn thing upside down would have been a refreshing change of pace.

One might argue that film composers are already frazzled by having to write so much music in a short period that the reuse is inevitable. The solution? Not every single minute of the movie requires notes under it! Silence is music too, and having scenes where the visuals and dialogue can live on their own strengths are crucial. The first time a student composer writes a sonata for [insert random instrument he plays] and piano, the piano part usually goes from start to finish without any breaks. For a sonata to truly be balanced and aesthetically pleasing though, the two parts need to have a dialogue with each other, bouncing back and forth, sometimes intertwining and other times accompanying. The soundtrack to Raiders of the Lost Ark could aptly be titled, Sonata for John Williams and John Williams.

The other annoying aspect of the soundtrack is his annotation of tiny actions with orchestral gestures -- someone tossing a pebble in the air shouldn't require the piccolo player to play a little flutter every single time, and the fat guy doesn't always need to walk with tuba footprints. Once is cute, twice is expected, and more than that is like giving subtitles to the subtitles.

Kurt Weill used to say that audiences didn't want 'Would you like a cup of coffee?' set to music, and, too often in the modern musical, composers fall into the trap of setting conversational inconsequentialities to their biggest themes. In [Andrew Lloyd Webber's] Aspects of Love, not only is 'Would you like a cup of coffee?' set to music, but so also are request for armangac, brandy, a glass of House white and any number of other beverages: there are more drinks ordered in the libretto than during the [intermission]. -- Edward Behr

Are you tone deaf?
What kind of CIA agent are you?
Undead arrested for simulating weapons of mass destruction

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Media Day

I don't have as many pictures to upload this month, either because the number of social events I attended was drastically reduced by my raging halitosis, or because I was just tired of dragging a camera around everywhere I went.


People never believe me when I say that Amber is a lap cat.

Booty, on the other hand, prefers to sit behind me on the chair, and gradually stretch out until she's taken over.

At one of the dinners, we used Scrabble as a turkey timer. I kept getting crappy letters like these. O RELENT.

The three gay football players in the sixth season of Scrubs apparently went to my high school.

It's my cat in a box.

Another ancient band picture I discovered last week. I am in eighth grade and wearing a dickie.

Movies

Ella dances to Super Mario Galaxy (2MB WMV)
Amber plays with herself (3MB WMV)

More Photos

See more pictures of Ella
See more Thanksgiving pictures
See more Cat pictures

Judge jails 46 for ringing phone
Colostomy reversal botched
Poultry fat spill causes stinky mess

tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

The youngest of the five Spellerberg girls is now married, ending the family's virtual monopoly on weddings. More pictures are posted on Facebook, and better quality pictures will be posted on Picasa for End-of-the-Month Media day this week!

Police charge man over suitcase of cash left in cafe
UK burglar abuses "dumb" victim in apology letter

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stuff In My Drawers Day: Mail Edition

Sixteen years ago today, I was a freshman in college and heavily into online chatroom roleplaying. I frequented the "Inn of the Weary Traveler" on the Webchat Broadcasting System. A competing chatroom that got more publicity was "Glenshadow's Tavern", and this guy, _R_, was not a fan. In the email, he is proposing that the characters in IWT "travel" to the tavern and "kill" Jase, figuring that Jase is so invested in his character that he would refuse to die, thus being labeled a "zippy" by all of the serious roleplayers. I remember a time when my emails were dependent on *insert action or acronym here* for comprehension. Now, I can't even try to put asterisks in an email without cringing.

Ten years ago today, I was corresponding with an Aussie named Rachel, who I met while writing Warcraft 3 battle reports as ~CattleBruiser~. Two years later, we would still be in touch and she would go on to annoy Beavis in the comments section of the URI! Zone. I have not heard from her since 2010.

Nine years ago today, I had already spent five months bickering with Bank of America to recover $700 from the account I closed when I moved out of Florida. They chose to send the check to my old address and then gave me the runaround for another year (telling me that they could only talk to me through Online Banking, which could only be used with an open account). Life lessons learned: Manually empty the account out before closing it, and Bank of America can go blow themselves.

Eight years ago today, I heard from someone in my IWT days from out of the blue (IWT had died five years earlier). Although I barely remembered him at all, it was nice to know that he had gone on to being a functional member of society. More recently, I heard back from another friend who now works as a pharmacist, has two kids, and sells Apaloosa horses in Texas.

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Tahksgreving!

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Friday, November 28, 2014

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2014 album.

  • Events
    • Mike (of Mike and Ghost Chompy) came to visit on 11/6. Had a celebratory dinner at Jackson's that night.

    • Had a Retro Steak and Poker Night on 11/7, following an All-Hearthstone Afternoon.

    • Went on a wine-tasting road trip for Annie's birthday on 11/8. Rebecca took her inaugural Silver Line ride.

    • Played DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS for the first time on 11/14.

    • Went to a child's birthday party in Hagerstown on 11/15, followed by a non-child's brewery that night.

    • Had early Thanksgiving with the Cranes and Wilmers on 11/22.

    • Met up with the briefly-in-town Gillises at Morton's on 11/26.

    • Had real Thanksgiving with Rebecca's parents on 11/27.

    • Planning to attend a Link Family Reunion on 11/29.

  • Projects
    • Started an online course in Cryptography, self-described as "more practical than theoretical", on 11/10.

    • Dropped same class on 11/11 after the first 90 minute lecture was a single mathematical proof.

    • Worked on a proposal about service-oriented architectures.

    • Released DDMSence v2.4.0 on 11/20.

    • Finished my other online course in Software Security on 11/24.

  • Consumerism
    • Finished watching Person of Interest, Season Three, and started Homeland, Season Three.

    • Played Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Hearthstone, and re-dabbled a bit in World of Warcraft over my Thanksgiving break.

    • Listened to nothing particularly new or exciting this month.

November's Final Grade: B

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Silicon Valley, Season Two:
Silicon Valley continues to charm in its second season, hitting the sweet spot between funny and absurd.

Final Grade: B+

Fundamentals of Caring: (TV-MA)
This Netflix Original stars Paul Rudd as a depressed everyman starting a new job in home care. While it does hit the emotionally manipulative story points in a paint-by-numbers way, it's a low-key, funny affair that will be most enjoyed by people who are already Paul Rudd fans. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B-

Homeland, Season Four:
New life is somehow found in this season of Homeland, as the writers are finally able to toss some plot baggage to the curb (like Brody's teenage daughter). The story is constantly grim but full of good twists. It builds nicely, although the last episode is tonally out of place with the rest of the season. The main negative feeling I had was that this is a show where no one ever wins, so this is a pretty grim slog if you're already tired of the unchanging personality of the main character, Carrie.

Final Grade: B

Lovesick, Season Two:
Formerly called Scrotal Recall and renamed for broader viewership, this is a great series that effectively balances emotion and hilarity across a story that's told through well-orchestrated flashbacks and present day progression. The characters are well-formed and worth rooting for. This is the show that How I Met Your Mother should have been. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Stuff in My Drawers Day: Christmas List

This is my joint birthday/Christmas wish list from 1990. Because of my September birthday and horribly delayed video game development cycles, half of the things I'd ask for for my birthday wouldn't actually come out in time. I hedged my bets by making my list a living document and adding/removing on the fly.

  • I didn't like Castlevania 3 much once I had it -- it was too hard to jump and I always fell down to the bottom of vertical game levels.

  • Hero's Quest 2 (later Quest for Glory to avoid trademark issues with the classic board game) was a great game featuring an impenetrable maze in the first town as a form of copy protection. (I did not win the contest to get a free copy).

  • King's Quest 5 was horrible, full of tiny, glimmering items to pick up that you couldn't go back to get when you needed them 8 hours later. Also, it featured a talking owl named Cedric who mainly just said, "If you're going in there, I'm waiting out here."

  • I definitely wanted an AdLib sound card for that great tinny MIDI music.

  • Gordon Korman remains my favourite tween author, although I stopped reading anything he wrote after about 2001.

  • I did get a bugle, and played it less than 100 times over its lifespan.

  • Clearly, my dad added Fake dog turd and BO Juice to my list.

  • I actually had that golf puzzle framed and hanging in my bedroom for many years. It currently sits in the downstairs basement with all of the other remnants of my childhood bedroom that were collapsed to make room for Maia's nursery.

tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

Monday, November 28, 2022

Counting Day

Ian is in a counting spree these days, and kind of sort of got to 20 when counting the metal rivets on a fancy chair.

Here, he is doing a census:

tagged as offspring | permalink | 1 comment

 

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