This Day In History: 12/05

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

For some reason I find the hypothesis on the left extremely funny. It was taken from an article at TheSpark.com

I took the listening exam this afternoon and did pretty well. I definitely had at least seventeen works correctly identified, and depending on how many of my educated guesses were right, I could ostensibly have up to twenty-three right in the end. I only needed fourteen to pass for the Masters' level, but since I'm technically in the Doctoral program anyhow, I was hoping to get twenty-one out of the way and have one less thing to worry about in the future. I think we learn the results on Friday.

The new music concerts came off fairly well. There was a large audience, mainly because time is running out for undergrads to get their recital credits. The concerts themselves were long, but there were definitely some high points.

This week, I had contact with FGM, the company I do computer programming for every summer. Hopefully I'll be able to head back north for another go-round next summer. The job itself is great, and also leaves me plenty of time to compose in the evenings (since by choice I tend to work from 5:30 AM to 1:30 PM to beat the D.C. traffic). It's nice to have a position so diametrically opposed to what I normally do that's still enjoyable.

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Thursday, December 05, 2002

I finally got around to a much needed haircut this morning.

Thesis composition is going slower than expected, though now it's a matter of knowing what needs to be expressed and not knowing how best to put it to paper, rather than having a dearth of ideas. My major obstacles are placement, timing, and order right now -- I know what materials I'll be using for the last four movements.

The problem with composition is that, unlike other fields, you can't step away for a while to resolve a lingering problem. In another field, the time away can subconsciously bring about a result, but in composition you've got to keep plugging away without break or else you'll just distance yourself further away from the solution. The blind alleys and wrong passages you write are necessary to getting the right answer. If only it could be like a brain teaser, where you go away and think about it for a few days, then suddenly come up with the perfect solution.

Triplets fooled Russian prison system

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Friday, December 05, 2003

It snowed here last night, leaving about three inches of snow on the ground, and then switched over to sleet sometime after midnight, so everything is getting iced over. I took a quick trip around my parking lot before deciding to stay at home and work from here. The conditions aren't necessarily horrible, but it's enough to keep brakes on the edge and I don't want to put up with the Route 28'ers who go the same high speed in every weather condition.

Florida Mike has an online journal now, replete with fish. You can read it by following this link .

One funny new kitty video today:

Kitty Kombat (WMV 7MB)

Also, do a Google search for "miserable failure" and click the "I'm feeling lucky" button.

Marcus was in trouble for using a word so bad that it couldn't be repeated over the phone. GAY
Homeless dog learns to open car doors
Man sorry for eating man

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Monday Morning Football

  • VT ended up losing to FSU, 22 - 27. The funniest part of the game came in the fourth quarter when Vick ran a touchdown in (bring it to a five-point game), spiked theball in celebration, twisted his ankle in the celebration, got a flag for said celebration, and then hobbled through a failed two-point conversion. Classic.

  • My favourite player on our team is Clowney, solely because his name is Clowney. He complained a lot during Saturday's game, and someone should tell him, "You were being an assclowney!"

  • The USC-UCLA game bled out of its time slot into the VT-FSU game's slot on Saturday, but ABC proudly aired it to the bitter end, even though USC was ahead by over fifty points. Games like that must be painful for announcers -- there's really not much you can say positively about the losing team other than "It doesn't look like they're going to give up easily!". Plus, no one is watching anyhow, since the fans have all left to beat the traffic and the people at home are catching reruns of America's Funniest Videos.

  • I don't understand why TV stations create those little segments where the football players get to talk. Obviously many of them have troubles forming complete sentences -- at the very least they should find the ones with a whit of eloquence for a national broadcast.

  • Marcus Vick's first car was a Cadillac Escalade. What the heck. My first car was a 1991 Dodge Spirit that eventually had two flat tires, two broken belts, and a destructionated transmission. His segment, "Fun Facts about Marcus Vick", was immediately followed by a commercial for that car.

  • The commercial where the lady drinks a Dr. Pepper and everyone starts singing the M'nah M'nah song is kind of cute, but they did not need to show it in every commercial break. Around the third or fourth replay, you start to notice details like the fact that none of the background actors are lip-synching the same syllables. The commercials during LOST are worse though, since many of them repeat within the same commercial break. I'm waiting with bated breath for the day of embedded commercials, when Jack wanders up to Kate on day 108 on the island, says "Not going anywhere for awhile?" and hands her a Snickers bar from the hatch.

  • Because today's update is short, I'm adding an audience participation aspect -- make up a funny caption to go with this picture. The winner will receive an all-expense-paid trip to my house, or a picture of a pencil with their name on it:

    A grandma who knows how to have fun
    A grandma who knows how to have fun
    A grandma who knows how to have fun

    Yesterday's search terms:
    jumping over buildings eminem mpeg, japanese schoolboy wearing shorts, the legend of zelda ocarina of time porn, manly pointer

    tagged as contests | permalink | 10 comments

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    Software Engineer does what? Part II

    Defects and Enhancements:
    No engineer is perfect, and eventually a defect will be logged against the system. This might come from a user in the field using an operational version of the system, or a tester in-house getting things ready to ship. Honestly, most defects occur as the result of a user using the system in unexpected ways or fat finger typos in the code -- very few defects can ever be traced back to engineer incompetence because it's surprisingly hard to just get a solution completely wrong (engineer incompetence only makes things run very very slowly). This makes fixing the bug very easy, but the tough part is tracking down the location of the bug in the first place. Defect fixing is a fun stage for people who like to make lists and check things off as they complete them, since you get to play detective and doctor on many very small problems, keeping things fresh.

    Putting Out Fires:
    Occasionally something goes critically wrong, and the live system explodes or nuclear deterrents from Russia are mistakenly launched. When the problem is too urgent to go through the usually "write it down and fix it in the next version" approach, engineers drop everything else and do what they can to save the day. Sometimes it's not so much that the issues is major -- it's that the people who care about the issue are major (or Majors), since political clout has an unerring ability to expedite the tiniest of issues. On putting-out-fire day I can often be found on-site in Bailey's Crossroad sitting in a refrigerated lab giving directions to system administrators since I don't have the authority to touch the computers myself. This turns my 14 mile commute into a 60 mile commute, but given the current rate of federal gas-perdiem these days, I generally turn a profit when I calculate my expense report.

    Giving Demos:
    Sometimes people just won't accept that the product you're developing is the greatest invention since the toaster oven (even sliced bread would be useless without it!). On those days the least socially-awkward engineers get to put on a suit and present a demonstration to the customer, who often drag a couple tech guys along to make sure you're not just playing tech-word Bingo during the demo. The tech guys often feel the need to earn their keep, so they'll toss out a question or two, generally hitting about a 40% relevancy rate.

    So that is the job of a software engineer in a nutshell. There's enough challenging creative tasks mixed in with the mundane to keep us from getting bored. Though it would be nice if we could cycle through the various phases one after the other, the reality is never so cut and dried. At any given time, you're supporting one or two live products in the field, developing a new version back home, and putting out one or two fires a week. The lines between phases blur to the point where you really need to have a multitasking personality to ever get anything done. Yesterday in the eight hours I was physically in the office, I did three hours of development, three hours of debugging, an hour of requirements and design, and another hour just helping fellow engineers out. Then I came home and did another few hours of documentation and design. Luckily there were no fires, and I haven't had to go down to Bailey's Crossroad since, oh, last Thursday.

    Happy Birthday Ben Seggerson!

    Bizarre deep sea creatures of New Zealand
    Rap away your ticket
    Road spraying releases spirits

    tagged as programming | permalink | 3 comments

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Memory Day: Junior High Gym Class

  • In junior high gym, we had to purchase and wear ugly blue uniforms with white enamel labels, where we were supposed to write our name in permanent marker. There were a surprisingly high number of gym uniform thefts which, to me, is about as logical as stealing bowling shoes or used dentist bibs. There was also a washer and dryer in a locked cage in the locker room where your gym teacher could wash a uniform if your family was too poor to wash it yourself.

  • I used to get into near-fights with a tall black kid named Dan who always said, "Get out of my face before I steal you". I was scrappy back then, and a gym teacher always intervened before it came to fisticuffs or suspensions.

  • Our junior high was a converted high school, so the locker rooms had those old-fashioned showers where everyone stands around a single post with multiple spigots in the middle of the floor. Since no one wanted to get up close and personal with other peoples' junk, no one ever showered. People would sometimes take a crap back there though. Then we'd all have to sit around listening to the "why showers are not for pooping" speech instead of playing games.

  • I always had gym early in the morning, which I'm sure the afternoon teachers always loved. Take twenty kids who have just run a mile without showering and pack them into those cramped welded desks with the bar on one side (so you don't fall out) and see how long it takes for the odour to permanently permeate your classroom.

  • My ninth grade gym teacher was single and pregnant, and may have been dating an associate principal who wasn't her baby's daddy. This was also year where the Health portion of the class was introductory sexual education, and it was either highly inspired or ridiculously stupid to have her teach us about how condoms prevent pregnancies. She also taught us that "boys have trouble peeing when they have an erection".

  • When she got too big to walk up and down the stairs, we spent lots of time in the classroom. We watched the entire Candyman movie over three days once. It was definitely gym-related though; it taught me that when you're in the ghetto you should run very fast.

  • In ninth grade, the gym teacher in charge of the Physical Fitness Test showed us how things work in the real world. During the mile-run, any student who "looked like they were really trying when they crossed the finish line" was marked down as having run it in 7:46. Coincidentally, 7:47 was the bottom limit to qualify for an award. Our ninth grade class must have looked pretty impressive to the National Fitness Council.

  • Every year in June, we got a half-day and spent the afternoon on a school-wide Track and Field event. I never ran in it, but I lived up to the spirit of the event by avoiding the perimeter hall monitors and running home with Aaron Ulm. As you can see from this picture, the main lesson they taught us about the tug-of-war was who to pick as your anchor and where to put the wimpy kids.

  • Rather than take the required gym class in high school, I took "summer gym", an intensive six week program where we spent three hours in the morning playing sports and three hours in the afternoon watching really bad driver's education videos under the watchful eye of Mr. Boone, played with pizzazz by Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans. The real Mr. Boone was just as inspiring -- he would storm into the classroom, yell, "shut up and watch this", and then go back to his office. Occasionally, he'd sneak back in and give detention to anyone sleeping or goofing off.
  • Share your own gym experiences in the Comments section!

    Happy Birthday Layla Lewis and Ben Seggerson!

    Rich US dog in hiding after death threats
    Fly on MILF airlines
    Thieves Steal 17 Tons of Christmas Ham

    tagged as memories | permalink | 4 comments

    Friday, December 05, 2008

    Friday Fragments

    keeping you emotionally, if not physically, warm today

    ♠ In all the hubbub of the Month of Thanksgivings, I forgot to mention that Paige, Male-Paige, and Mini-Paige came to visit me while in town from Houston last week. I didn't get a chance to take any pictures, so I just stole one off of her blog. To celebrate their return from Spain and the baby in a proper fashion, I heated up some leftover ham from Thanksgiving #2 and served it with all the fixin's.

    ♠ Ham was the meal of choice for the middle dinner to break up the neverending parade of tasteless turkeys. Maybe next year I'll nix turkey completely and come up with a more tasty Thanksgiving tradition. Wouldn't the Pilgrims have eaten buffalo wings if they could make them? As a Hokie, should I even be eating turkey anyhow?

    ♠ Speaking of Hokies, you know that technology has finally caught up to real life when Dave McKee cancels Marching Virginians practice via the Status Update feature of Facebook. In my day we actually had to send out a really slow mass-email to achieve the same effect.

    ♠ There are now 222 photos of me on Facebook, which is probably equal to Volume I of XC from my childhood albums. After high school, I was rarely in any pictures since I was usually the one taking them (and this will also help to set the stage for my eventual disappearance into a yellow ops division of the CIA).

    ♠ My plans for the weekend are actually quite relaxing. Other than an Indian Food Night at Shakir's where I will bring something less spicy and safer for the poophole than Indian Food, I'll probably be staying in for most of the weekend, catching up on my pleasure reading, my Wiki work, and my News posts. December is easily the most structured month of my website updates, since you can expect such yearly features as the Top Twelve, the Pictures of the Year, and the Museday Finale to make an appearance.

    ♠ Have a great weekend! Don't forget tovote for your favourite Museday excerpt by tonight!

    Jesus chocolate found tasteless
    Nine-year-old's dating guide wows singles
    Man subdues attacker with candy cane

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 2 comments

    Monday, December 05, 2011

    Stuff In My Drawers Day

    Typical ICQ conversations with Doobie:

        ICQ History Log For:    
                5895156  Doobie
    --------------------------------------
    Doobie     5/3/00   10:01 PM thyah?
    Uri!       5/4/00   2:16 PM  Chrisley Sunday, yes or no?
    Doobie     5/4/00   9:52 PM  who is going that i'll be able to ride
                                      with.... / when are they coming back?
    Uri!       5/4/00   9:52 PM  we'll find rides for everyone; and we're all
                                      coming back that evening; no overnight
    Doobie     5/4/00   9:53 PM  oh, hell.. then yeah... count me in hyah
    Uri!       5/4/00   9:54 PM  on the list
    Doobie     5/4/00   9:55 PM  ace
    
    Doobie     5/5/00   9:35 PM  thyah. drink. ala here. yes?
    
    Uri!       5/7/00   11:23 AM My room 5 til 1pm?
    Doobie     5/7/00   11:57 AM ok
    Uri!       5/7/00   11:57 AM "key"
    Doobie     5/7/00   12:39 PM hey, steaks are gonna be lunch, right?
    Uri!       5/7/00   12:39 PM yup
    Doobie     5/7/00   12:39 PM cool, just makin sure i shouldn't eat hyah
    Uri!       5/7/00   12:39 PM $3
    Doobie     5/7/00   12:40 PM i'm gonna hit the atm before i get to your room
    Uri!       5/7/00   12:40 PM ok
    
    Doobie     5/8/00   9:30 AM  new pictures up? new password?
    Uri!       5/8/00   10:42 AM done
    Doobie     5/8/00   10:42 AM ace
    Doobie     5/8/00   10:47 AM hmm, i need more of me.. otherwise though.. nice job
    Uri!       5/8/00   10:48 AM well the first one is wallpaper size
    Doobie     5/8/00   10:48 AM yeah, it's pretty ace too i'd say.  me and the bitches/hos... npmo
    Uri!       5/8/00   10:48 AM which ones are hos and which ones are the bitches... don't answer that
    Doobie     5/8/00   10:48 AM haha.. no idea.. maybe i'm the only one.. 


    Florida teen detained for purse design
    Do nice guys finish last?

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    Wednesday, December 05, 2012

    Time-Lapsed Blogography Day

    On December 5, 1994, I passed out this Christmas poem to my inner circle of high school friends. (To get the full experience, you'll just have to imagine it as an Inkjet printout with Print Shop clip art of a Christmas wreath because I no longer have the hard copy).

    On December 5, 1995, I finished composing Neckbone and showed it to my band director. It would go on to become a regular part of the lineup for future high school jazz gigs.

    On December 5, 1999, I played a trumpet fanfare with Kelley, Shac, and Stephanie at an Early Music Ensemble concert, which involved us performing antiphonally from various perches in the Recital Salon and then fleeing from the two hours of sackbut music that followed. I also drove Liz to the commuter lot to pick up her car, because I used to be a nice guy.

    On December 5, 2001, I passed my FSU Listening Exam with a 23/28. 14 was passing for Masters kiddies and 21 was passing for serious Doctoral folks.

    On December 5, 2002, I got a haircut, but I can't remember anything about where I went for haircuts in Tallahassee. This is strange, because I remember all other barber shops from my youth quite clearly and used to go at least once a month. I also helped Kathy with her final project in a computer programming class. A LOT.

    On December 5, 2003, Mike (of Chompy and Mike) told me about his new blog.

    On December 5, 2008, we went to Indian Food Night at Shakir's apartment.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

    Thursday, December 05, 2013

    Review Day: Nintendo 3DS XL

    My 3DS XL purchase was more a whim than a need -- there were no good computer games on the market at the time, and the 3DS had reached the maturity level where there were a ton of good games available. Plus, there are only so many trips to Popeyes you can spend your massive amounts of disposable wealth on. Previously, my only reason not to buy it was the worry that it would give me migraines all day long. Thankfully, this worry has not materialized in the least.

    The 3DS is a surprisingly safe evolution of the DS Lite. Besides the 3D, nothing about it is disruptive technology. There's still a touch screen on the bottom with a stylus tucked away in a hidden sphincter. The circle movement key on the left feels comfortable and is responsive.

    3D is achieved by displaying two separate images to the left and right eye. No special glasses or super-concentration is needed to see the effect, so even people who can't see those gibberish 3D mind images will be able to enjoy it. The effect can be increased or turned off with a slider control, which also helps to support different viewing distances. When 3D is enabled, you get an immediate sense of depth that really helps with immersion. And so far, (unlike every other gimmick Nintendo has introduced, like motion controls), it has not been needlessly abused in any of the games I've played.

    I've been satisfied with all three starter games I picked up: Super Mario 3D Land, Fire Emblem: Awakening, and Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. (These games will get their own reviews on another day). I've been even more satisfied that the console isn't migraine-inducing, although every game tediously tells you to rest every 45 minutes or so. Battery power has been fine -- I've never gone more than about 5 hours without charging it, but it has never run out early.

    In fact, there are only a few minor nitpicks that detract from the experience:

    • The volume control is right underneath your left index finger leading to lots of accidental loudness. Also, the L and R shoulder buttons are a little far away if you have tiny hands.

    • The fact that it's a handheld console doesn't automatically make it a travel console. It's pretty easy to maintain a good viewing angle and distance while sitting on the couch, but would be harder on the go. I can play turn-based games on the treadmill easily, but not action games.

    Final Grade: A-

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, December 05, 2014

    World of Warcraft Day

    Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the day that I started playing World of Warcraft. Over those ten years, I actually had an active subscription for less than half the time, but in those periods, I was really into it. Here is a quick retrospective of my WoW experiences.

    • "I purchased World of Warcraft, the latest MMORPG yesterday. We'll see how much of a timesink it becomes..." - BU. My first character was a Tauren Druid named Cattleb, because "CattleBruiser" didn't fit in the name box. Initially, I thought it was a very pretty game, but not streets ahead of Everquest. What I enjoyed most was just wandering around and exploring.

    • By January 2005, I had gotten both Anna and Ben (as my housemates at the time) playing. We played three Night Elves, Plinky, Llehdoras, and Nedalya, and I would try to den-mother them from quest to quest while they persisted in running off the trails for herbs and minerals only to get ganked by the opposing faction.

    • By February 2005, I had become enamored with the Auction House, and spent nearly as much time buying and selling Enchanted Thorium Bars for profit as I did playing the actual game.

    • It took until May 2005 to reach the maximum level of 60 on my Tauren Druid, Atlee. I tried raiding but it was super boring.

    • In July 2005, the developers of WoW decided that "Maine Coon" was a swear word, and from then on, you could only buy Black Tabbies as pets. In September, many players were killed by a plague epidemic, which was later studied by real-world epidemiologists as a lesson in containment and outbreak.

    • In 2006, I was solely doing Battlegrounds, playing endless capture-the-flag matches with my guild, Team Turtle. I wrote a high-traffic Warsong Gulch Strategy Guide, and spent far too much of my life "grinding honor", which sounds more like something you do in the club. By now, even Kelley, Kathy, and Rosie were playing this game. Doobie played for about an hour.

    • The Burning Crusade expansion came out in January 2007, killing the Battlegrounds for a while (Death Knights everywhere). Burnt out on WoW and work, I cancelled my account and went outside, where I met Rebecca.

    • I reactivated in December 2007, after reading a blog post by Kim's friend, Sam, who said that the game had greatly improved. Our PvP Guild got so good that the other team would usually quit instead of facing us. To rectify this situation, we all leveled "evil" versions of our characters in the opposing faction so we could even out the teams on the fly. This particular WoW phase lasted about a year and a half before I cancelled again out of boredom.

    • I came back again in December 2010, solely to see how the new Cataclysm expansion had changed the old world maps. People like before-after scenarios, which is probably why Zelda's Light-Dark World conceits are so popular. This run was much shorter, as the Warsong Gulch bracket was nonexistent. I couldn't tell you a single thing about questing from 80-85, except that everything was phased, so you could never see other people running around you unless they were on the same quest. This made the world very empty. Also, Rebecca would start singing Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird" whenever my Druid was in Crow Form.

    • I turned on the game briefly during the initial days of Hearthstone in March 2014, but so much in the interface and skill trees had changed in the intervening 3 years that I got scared and quit.

    • Most recently, I resubscribed over Thanksgiving break, solely to have a brain-dead vacation distraction. A full review will be coming sometime later this month.

    • My favorite classes: Feral Druid for questing, Shadow Priest for PvP. Runner-up: Shamans and Paladins (both fun in PvP but boring to level). I never leveled any of the other classes above 40 as I would usually get bored somewhere between 15 and 32.

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    Monday, December 05, 2016

    List Day: 10 Facts About My Smartphone Usage

    I finally purchased a smartphone back in January 2016, but you wouldn't really know it based on the fact that it spends most hour sof the day on my desk at home, forgotten and sad. However, here are a few ways it has deeply impacted my life this year.

    1. I use it as a pleasant wake up alarm for power naps, but still use my beepy Timex watch to wake up in the morning.

    2. I have never used any mapping or GPS features in real-time. I still print maps.

    3. I can now read texts involving more than 1 person without dire warnings about Multimedia conversions and bandwidth restrictions.

    4. I joined Instagram because that's what you do with smartphones, but my feed is just other peoples' food and kids.

    5. There are currently only 7 people in my text message history: Rebecca, Kathy, Anna, LA Mike, my sister, my new boss, and my old neighbor who's having mail forwarding issues.

    6. I have to tediously track pictures from my smartphone and my classic camera when posting online, so I usually just skip taking any on the phone.

    7. My Washington Post print subscription is less valuable, because the print articles tend to come out two days after the online articles (sometimes with less click-baity titles).

    8. I have it while grilling, so I spend a lot less time speed reading classic elementary school books (like Beverly Cleary books) in the basement while waiting for the steaks to get done.

    9. I have a shared 1 GB data plan with Rebecca, and our combined average monthly usage is about 0.3 GB.

    10. I bring it to the bathroom, so it now takes me 6 months to reread an old Uncle John's Bathroom Reader rather than 1 month.

    tagged as lists | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, December 05, 2018

    Stuff in My Drawers Day

    I drew this picture in kindergarten, for Christmas 1984. My narration was transcribed by one of the teachers, Ms. Lovo.

    Clearly, I was an unreliable narrator. My dad and I never went out and chopped down a Christmas tree even once, and definitely not one with a star already on it. We got live trees with all the roots from a local lot and then planted them in the backyard after Christmas, where they died within months.

    Also, I'm pretty sure that bird is an airplane.

    tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

     

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