This Day In History: 12/08

Saturday, December 08, 2001

I've written a solid six pages of my history paper, so I should be able to finish it off this evening. I've also found a little time to compose and practice so it's been a pretty productive day so far. I think I'll play an excerpt from the Arutunian concerto and a Bosquet etude for my audition on Monday.

Even though I still think the trumpet is one of the most versatile instruments out there, sometimes I wish I had picked an instrument where basic tone quality doesn't suffer after just a few days of neglect. When a pianist takes a week off, their reflexes may be a little rusty, but any particular note still sounds pretty good.

I got my latest power bill today. Seven dollar "stormwater tax", my ass.

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Sunday, December 08, 2002

I wrote about a minute and a half of keepable material this weekend, so I should finish my sixth movement tomorrow or Tuesday. On the downside, I've been working on this section so closely that the blasted motive is stuck in my head. Ostensibly I'd like to get a good chunk of the seventh movement done before I leave since it will only be about half a minute long. I'll post another MP3 of the work in progress on Wednesday.

My long term goals are to finish the eighth movement the weekend before Christmas and the ninth movement before New Years'. That will give me the month of January to edit the score with an aim for a late February defense. If things go accordingly, I'll be done with my Masters' by Spring Break. So keep me on task if I'm not composing.

We had another basketball practice yesterday, and it looks like the games will be a fun diversion from my normal state of non-exercise. I do wish we had some say in the name though; Diminished Five sounds like we're horribly crippled, either mentally or physically.

tagged as music | permalink | 0 comments

Monday, December 08, 2003

I picked up a copy of the Alias soundtrack around Thanksgiving time, and it's easily on par with any decent movie score. The soundtrack contains only the original music composed by Michael Giacchino (who also wrote music for the Medal of Honor video game series) and none of the licensed popular tunes. I mentioned it previously on November 10 and you can hear samples of his Alias work here .

If anything on this site having to do with Alias makes you scoff, you should look into the John Rutter Requiem which I recently rediscovered . Rutter has written a large body of choral music that's especially prevalent in college choir circles, and this Requiem was his first uncommissioned work. I think it does a good job of being both serious and accessible.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

World of Warcraft is pretty and decent so far, but not worlds above the last MMORPG I played, Everquest. It will probably improve once I catch up in levels to the people I know and can play cooperatively with them. I've got a Level 11 Tauren Druid on the Blackrock server.

The eleventh episode of Lost is on tonight. This is the midpoint of the season, and apparently ends on some big cliffhanger that will carry us through the holidays to January 5, when the next new show will precede the 2 hour premiere of Alias.

Hockey league shaken by mom's shakin'

tagged as games | permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Vote for your favourite in the left sidebar. Voting ends Monday morning!

In other news, we're supposed to get 3 to 6 inches of snow and sleet by noon tomorrow. This is a meteorological synonym for "Work at Home".

Home Makeover goes to Virginia Tech
It is not yet known whether alcohol was involved.
Classical music makes you feel like a yuppy

Yesterday's search terms:
no bake cheesecake powerpoint, who are the principal composer in tonal expansion, iran claims success in its attacks on iran

tagged as contests | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Fragments

six parts ADD to one part vermouth

♣ Wii straps are breaking all over the world, causing untold damage as controllers go flying across the room . "...our understanding right now is that even beyond our expectations people are becoming more and more excited playing with the Wii." said the president of the company. The creator of Super Mario Brothers chimed in with, "We are looking into the situation to see if there are additional methods to encourage people to kind of calm down so they would never throw away the controller itself".

♣ A first step wouldn't probably be telling people do not let go of the controller! I suppose that the followup would be to have the controller complete a circuit with your hand, and if you lose contact with it, your house explodes from the C4 secretly shipped inside the Wii case.

♣ C4 seems to be the bomb material of choice for television shows these days. The only time I've seen any good old-fashioned TNT recently was on LOST.

♣ My dad likes things to blow up spectacularly in TV shows. This is probably the main reason he likes 24 despite the cougars.

♣ I myself have not watched 24 in a couple months now, and am still somewhere towards the beginning of the 4th season. I haven't tuned into XM Radio in a few weeks now either.

♣ The station I listen to most frequently was put on temporary hiatus until December 26 as a cost-cutting effort. In it's place is a duplicate of one of their six Christmas stations. Now I like Christmas music as much as (or even more than) the next guy, but eventually you just want a little bad Turkish techno music to pass the time. I thought the whole point of satellite radio was so that you could choose what you wanted to listen to.

♣ XM is also closing up some of their less popular stations, replacing them with canned playlists of the same styles of music (without the DJing and station personalities). These lucky stations also get ads which pretty much mean that I refuse to listen to them. If you're going to make a radio ad, at least make it interesting and not something that would be more at home on WETA in the 1980s.

♣ Before I started Kindergarten, I had an all-day babysitter. From about nine in the morning until noon, she would shut me in the kids' room with the TV on to either WETA or PBS and tell me to be quiet until lunch time. One day I got tired of watching infomercials and reruns of The 700 Club and changed the channel. The babysitter got angry and turned the TV off.

♣ This weekend I have tenative plans of Poker with Kathy and Chris amidst the morass of overtime at work. I've been practicing my all-in technique, so hopefully I'll be able to execute it multiple times throughout the night. I also need to do some grocery shopping since the leftovers from the Month of Holiday Dinners have finally run out. Finally, I'll probably rent a few movies since I'll be too lazy to drive anywhere after work.

♣ Have a great weekend!

Prison's too hard
Best Buy steals my work ethic
Peace meeting ends in axe fight

tagged as fragments | permalink | 4 comments

Monday, December 08, 2008

Weird Search Day

or "how I stumbled upon the URI! Zone"

Those strange Google searches just keep on pouring in. Here's the latest batch and my attempts at fulfillment.


  • clothing optional sterling va
    I think I'll include this clause in all future party invitations I send out (at least, for the women invitees).

  • rideable hippo
    Experienced hippo riders can make due with just a saddle. If your hippo has an unusually voracious appetite, and you anticipate that your trip might take you past a field full of large white marbles, I would recommend using a bridle as well so you don't get thrown off during a sudden lunge.

  • prostitute's slang for "want a date?"
    My experience with prostitutes is limited, but wouldn't this just be "want a date?"

  • chicken nugget that looks like a penis
    I think we'll all be okay if I don't create a picture for this one.

  • looking for a idea of how to fix up my childs science project backboard
    Pro Tip: If you cut out pieces of construction paper and offset the text down and to the right, you will give the backboard a stunning 3D look without needing expensive 3D glasses! However, more importantly than a nice backboard, make sure that you give your child some talking points to memorize, since you probably did the project yourself.

  • my cat occasionally coughs and makes a long,screeching sound.why?
    Your cat may need new brakes. Consult with your local mechanic.

  • auto-tune efx sucks

  • chompy string quartet
    To the best of my knowledge, Chompy has never written a string quartet, although she occasionally employs double stops while pooping.

  • "how to hang chili peppers"
    Your best bet would be to wait until the band tours Alabama, and then assemble a homophobic lynch mob which disagrees with their oft nude demeanors.

  • "will tippon" "walmart"
    On the next episode of Alias, Will Tippon's source leads him to the dangerous knowledge that Target is actually an undercover extension of Walmart, a known moneymaking entity of SD-6. This causes a panic among shoppers who prefer Target "because it seems more high class".

  • everybody poops lesson plans
    It would seem to me that if a child has not yet mastered pooping by the time they reach the structured education of public schools, there are probably bigger problems to worry about. I would start the lesson by pointing out the unacceptable receptacles for poop, such as your cubbyhole, your pants, the class bunny's cage, and little Jenny's lunchbox. Save the advanced advice like why you shouldn't strain too hard and how diet affects your poop for the second grade.

  • Lesson Plans Kindergarten "Do your ears hang low?"
    It's good to know that the URI! Zone is slowly becoming the definitive source for elementary school lesson plans. This was not in the repertoire of songs I learned in kindergarten, since we were more concerned with Sneaky Snake or whether the bus would pass its Virginia Safety Inspection. I actually didn't learn this song until Boy Scouts, where we replaced ears with male genitalia.

  • Woman's disability payments stoped because of large breasts
    Garden gnomes banned from cemetary
    Disguised Mother Woos Juror in Bid to Free Son

    tagged as website, searches | permalink | 5 comments

    Tuesday, December 08, 2009

    List Day: 2009 in Twelves

    Top 12 Songs First Heard in 2009

    It was actually more difficult than expected to come up with a list of just twelve songs this year, and it took several days to pare down the 3 or 4 runner-ups. I usually combine this list with the list of favourite website posts, but thought it'd be more interesting if I talked a little about my choices.

    1. Plenty of Paper - Eisley
      As a band, I still think that Eisley suffers from slightly weak singing voices and too much singing in their arrangements, but when you just listen to one song apart the others, these problems aren't as glaring. This is the first song of theirs I heard, and I still like it more than anything I heard later.

    2. The Fear - Lily Allen
      Lily Allen's second CD wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped, but this single grew on me after repeated listenings.

    3. The Day I Died - Just Jack
      This song still hasn't come out on an album, so I only hear it on the radio. I like the upbeat outlook of the lyrics wrapped around the foreshadowed death.

    4. Barrowland Ballroom - Amy MacDonald
      Besides the cute Irish accent, I just like the toe-tapping barn-burning stylings of this song.

    5. Seperate and Ever Deadly - The Last Shadow Puppets
      Despite the published typo in their title, I like this song for its use of "sequitors" and the way they practically spit out the word "crumbs" at the end of the chorus.

    6. Can't Behave - Courtney Jaye
      I first discovered Courtney Jaye back in April or so, and her album is probably the closest I can get to country music while still enjoying myself. Unfortunately, I also heard this song twice in the same hour while shopping at JC Penneys in September.

    7. Cookie Jar - Gym Class Heroes
      The cookies are a metaphor for women, and that makes this song awesome.

    8. I Belong To You - Muse
      This song doesn't rock quite as hard as others on Muse's new album, but it's quirky and catchy, and the insertion of an aria from Samson and Delilah actually works pretty well (the Chopin they appended to The United States of Eurasia just feels superfluous, as does most of that song, actually). Apparently, a remix of this song was in New Moon, but I don't hold that against it.

    9. Killer - The Hoosiers
      I think this entire album is pretty great (Goodbye Mr. A. was on last year's list), but this song manages to capture the garish, quirky quality of the entire album. Autotune makes an appearance here, but the effect is subtle and definitely not graffiti'd in by a T-Pain wannabe.

    10. Hello Bonjour - Michael Franti
      This is just a generally catchy song which I stumbled upon while trying to download a different Franti song for Rebecca.

    11. Sweet About Me - Gabriella Cilmi
      Much like the bosom of a leper, this song is infectiously bouncy, and I'm still floored by the youth of the singer contrasted against the maturity of her voice. She's been dubbed an Amy Winehouse without the drugs, and it seems to fit.

    12. You Picked Me - A Fine Frenzy
      This is easily my favourite song of the year, and probably ranks highly on the "short list of all-time favourites" that I've never actually taken the time to compile. I can listen to this ad nauseum and it always gives a lift to my day.

    Man uses remote to control his bionic bottom
    Cowlicks are actually destructive forces
    Scantily-clad David decked out as St. Nick

    tagged as lists | permalink | 2 comments

    Wednesday, December 08, 2010

    Stuff In My Drawers Day: Classic Movies

    August 2007

    October 2008

    March 2008

    January 2009
    Unabomber land for sale
    GPS watching over baby Jesus
    Hooky detectives track corporate Ferris Buellers

    tagged as media | permalink | 3 comments

    Thursday, December 08, 2011

    Review Day: Kindle Fire

    I am not the primary Fire user in our household -- my main job is to abuse the free Amazon Prime trial by watching old episodes of ALF -- but I thought I would give a few impressions as part of that small demographic of people who are tech-savvy but see no point in a tablet over a laptop (and first bought a cell phone in September 2010).

    The first thing to note is that this isn't a true tablet, so much as a portal into the Amazon universe of content. Every review out there that tries to compare it to an iPad is missing the point: the Fire does a few things very well at a very low sales price, but can't compete with a true tablet in any sense. Think of it as a Kindle with bonus features, not a dumbed down iPad and you're on the right track.

    The Fire is sturdily built, with enough heft that you don't feel the urge to treat it daintily. It's easy to hold with one hand in landscape oriention, but you'll probably tire quickly if you hold it like the lady (or man with lady hands) in the photo. The interface is intuitive enough, although I find it hard to type without the tactile sensation of keys, and often end up in unexpected places after I accidentally touch the screen in the wrong spot -- I can't tell if this is specific to the Fire, or I just suck at touch-screens in general. As a contrasting data point, I am awesome at programming our touch-screen thermostat.

    The device is primarily set up to get books, movies, and TV shows, although there is a heavily-curated set of Android apps available for it as well. I haven't really looked closely at the apps because the Fire does enough as-is (especially reading PDF, DOC, and PPT files or checking GMail), and anything that CAN'T be done directly usually works fine in the bundled web browser. I don't notice much of a speed increase with Amazon Silk browsing technology, but it's plenty fast for a WiFi device and there's no noticeable buffering of streaming video. The lack of 3G network means that you have to plan ahead if you want to read or watch things in a plane or on the road (with a toad), but it's fine if you do most of your browsing at home or Starbucks.

    After playing around with the Fire and watching Rebecca use it, I think the target audience would include recreational users who just want to read a blog from the couch, or keep all of their lecture notes in one easily accessible location, especially a user who is already plugged into the Amazon infrastructure. If this describes you, you will find a lot to like here.

    My online purchases are generally split 90%-10% between Amazon and NewEgg, so for me, an Amazon-tailored device might make sense. However, I still don't really see the point of having a Fire of my own when I do most of my computing at home or in the office, and already own a laptop. My cell phone maxes out on the technology scale at "texting", so I am probably not the target market for Internet-enabled devices in a variety of middling sizes. In this demographic, I'm quite happy with my classic Kindle.

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

    Monday, December 08, 2014

    Weekend Wrap-up

    Our Christmas lights went up at the end of last week, even though they are now 9 years old with every 3rd bulb burnt out, and nowhere near as exuberant as the lights of our across-the-street neighbours. On Friday night with Rebecca and Amanda out at the Old Ox Brewery, I was at home with my Domino's Pizza and Vienna Lager, researching multithreaded contexts for the next release of DDMSence.

    Saturday was a lazy, relaxy day full of cats sleeping on teddy bears and winter naps. After a morning Costco run for 12 bagels (6 of which will go stale before I can eat them, but all of which are cheaper than 6 total bagels from Safeway), smelly cheese, a leg of lamb, and sundry goods, I leveled a Tauren Druid named Lebru to 26 and read the paper and a book on Java Concurrency. In the afternoon, we tried to play a few games of Setters of Catan, but Booty interrupted game #2 by chasing Amber across the board, and game #3 by belly flopping while playing with a bag tie. In the evening, we went over to the Cranes for a holiday open house, bearing gifts of basil chicken meatballs.

    On Sunday, we returned to the Ahlbin's in Manassas for Round Two of DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, this time with the kids observing and miming various actions like shooting bows. Although Rebecca's character was almost killed by a giant bugbear with a morningstar, the adventuring party managed to rescue a hostage and walk away with a small statuette shaped like a frog.

    How was your weekend?

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 3 comments

    Tuesday, December 08, 2015

    2015 Favourites: Top 10 Songs First Heard in 2015

    2015 was a great year in the "music that I enjoy" genre, which is the only important genre. In addition to multiple catchy singles, there were even a few solid albums proving that albums still have some relevance. Give a listen, and maybe you'll find something new to enjoy!

    1. B. Reith - Old School (2009):
      Nothing terribly special about this white rapper, but the song is a pleasantly blended orchestration of different styles.

    2. Whitton - Rare Bird (2011):
      I like the interesting timbres of Whitton's voice.

    3. Breakestra - Hiding (2008):
      Breakestra has done a nice job of recreating the spirit of funk, and this is a nice mellow song with understated horn parts to blast out the windows while driving through the suburbs of Fairfax County.

    4. Lab Rats - Devil's Train (2007):
      I wish there were more extended story-based hip-hop songs that remain as aurally interesting as this one throughout.

    5. Metric - Fortunes (2015):
      The album this song is on, Pagans in Vegas, continues to grow on me -- Metric successfully blends a necessary warmth into their electronica rock that keeps it from being too sterile. I like the pad that's injected during the chorus.

    6. Mika - Promiseland (2015):
      This song mixes the classic elements of Mika's repertoire into a catchy single.

    7. The Darkness - Mudslide (2015):
      I love this entire album (Last of Our Kind) as a fine example of "ridiculous rock". I especially love that this song is literally about a mudslide and features an off-interval homage to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in the middle.

    8. Elizabeth and the Catapult - Shoelaces (2014):
      This song is a good showcase of the lead singer's voice combined with a loose, driving beat. Elizabeth and the Catapult's recent music reminds me of KT Tunstall, before her music became too static and unmemorable.

    9. Muse - Reapers (2015):
      Drones completely redeemed Muse's previous disappointment, 2nd Law. "Reapers" is one of the best songs on the album, featuring an ABABCD through-composed form, crazy guitar licks, a great beat, and a laughably awful set of forgettable lyrics obsessed with world conspiracy theories.

    10. Hilltop Hoods - Cosby Sweater (2014):
      The consistency of this twenty-year-old Australian hip-hop group is impressive, and this is easily my favourite song of the year.

    Previous Picks: 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014

    tagged as lists, music | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, December 08, 2017

    Recipe Day: Fish Tacos

    Makes enough for 2 - 3 people, depending on how voracious your appetites are.


    • Marinade
      • 1/4 cup olive oil
      • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
      • 2 tablespoons lime juice
      • 2 teaspoons honey
      • 2 cloves minced garlic
      • 1 teaspoon Old Bay
      • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
      • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
      • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • White Sauce
      • 3 tablespoons whole yogurt
      • 2 tablespoons light mayo
      • 1 tablespoon lime juice
      • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
    • 1 pound of a boring fish you wouldn't normally eat, like tilapia.
    • 1 bag shredded cabbage
    • 6 stalks chopped green onions
    • 6 soft flour tortillas


    1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour into a freezer bag full of boring fish and express the air. Marinate for a couple hours, jostling occasionally.
    2. Combine all white sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
    3. Grill the newly exciting fish over high heat, 5 - 6 minutes per side. Remove from heat and slice into taco-sized chunks.
    4. Serve fish in a tortilla over a bed of cabbage and green onions, liberally coated with white sauce.

    tagged as recipes | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, December 08, 2021

    Advent of Code Day

    It's that time of year again!

    I feel like I started out much slower this year, owing to the fact that I'm now in my forties and near death. However, the cobwebs are slowly clearing from my brain and I'm managing to stay competitive each night at midnight.

    You can keep up with my daily progress on my company's competition leaderboard (which I also run). The best hour of coding I spent in 2021 was automating updates to the board so I wasn't sitting up at 2 AM waiting for the last stragglers to finish a coding puzzle.

    tagged as programming | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, December 08, 2023

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Lincoln Lawyer, Season Two:
    The second season of this show is so shallow that infants can swim in it unattended. The court case is marginally interesting but the characters are plot ciphers that constantly speak the clunkiest, cliche dialogue in every scene. May have been written by an AI. On Netflix.

    Final Grade: C-

    Barbie (PG-13):
    We liked this more than expected. It had a great visual style and was much more subversive and tongue-in-cheek than one might expect from a Mattel-blessed movie. Good performances and a nice balance of absurd and dramatic.

    Final Grade: B

    Le Pop by Katzenjammer:
    This Norwegian band has a fun, kitchsy sounds that mixed Gadjo, early Cardigans, and Dirt Poor Robins. I discovered it when Demon Kitty Rag started appearing on my Pandora stations -- unfortunately, the band broke up back in 2015 so I'm late to the party. Tea with Cinnamon is ony of my favourite tracks on this first album.

    Final Grade: A

    Bookshops and Bonedust by Travis Baldree:
    A prequel to the "cozy fantasy" book, Legends and Lattes, this book is a short, pleasant exploration of the protagonist's earliest days as an adventuring orc. It doesn't cover a lot of new, interesting ground but manages to recreate most of the low-stakes warmth as the first book.

    Final Grade: B-

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments


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