This Day In History: 12/15

Saturday, December 15, 2001

I know I said there wouldn't be any updates for a while, but with so many people still visiting on a daily basis, I feel compelled to say something for my loyal readership. I left Tallahassee at 5:30 on Wednesday morning and was stuck in pea-soup fog until Savannah, Georgia or so. The trip, though long, was fairly uneventful for the most part, and I made it to Blacksburg around 4 PM (about 730 miles). I did have a close call on I-77 outside of Columbia though. The fog had lifted by this point, and up ahead, I could see a 12-foot metal ladder stretched perpendicularly across a lane of traffic. I quickly changed lanes, but the dumbass driver of a semi in front of me decided to hit the ladder head on at about eighty miles an hour, causing it to explode across four lanes of traffic in a storm of shrapnel. Cars in every lane swerved madly, but luckily there were no accidents. I ran over several sizable chunks of ladder myself but survived without any flat tires or scratches.

Later, in the scenic foothills of southern Virginia, I hit a five mile stretch of fog, where visibility was literally about seven feet in front of the car. It was just me and several commercial truckers (of the standard aggressive Virginian trucker mold), and it was quite surreal to have landmarks like bridges suddenly appearing overhead without prior warning. Six hundred and eighty-miles into the trip, and just thirty miles from Blacksburg, Virginia's finest deputy sheriff awarded me a speeding ticket, which can luckily be of the pay-by-mail variety. Of course, after giving me the ticket, he made small talk about my major and college.

Life in Blacksburg is about the same as it was when I left. The bowling alleys are a little posher, the roads are a little more confused, and everyone's still taking forever to graduate. I got called out of page-turning retirement to assist in a rendition of Handel's Messiah tonight, so I'll be donning a borrowed tux and too-large dress shoes for the occasion. Tomorrow morning (bright and early as always), I'll be heading back up to Northern Virginia and giving my old roommate and cat a ride home for the holidays.

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Sunday, December 15, 2002

C:\VIRGINIA>

I've been home since late Friday night but still haven't gotten around to getting an Internet connection on my computer. Rather than install the bulky free adware service my parents use, I'll probably just stay net-less, and upload sparse updates from one of the family computers.

I left Tallahassee early Thursday and arrived in Blacksburg that afternoon. Construction on the 460 bypass is finally complete, and the road drives an S around Christiansburg and Blacksburg, with the real 460 slicing through the center to form a figure 8. Tech hasn't changed much beyond the new buildings that always pop up on the outskirts. The Music Department is in bad shape from all the budget cuts, and they've been forced to retire several professors and leave their positions unfilled. Pretty soon a Music degree at Tech will be completely self-study. The Marching Virginians were also gearing up to head for San Francisco, but only 100 of the full 330. Dave McKee was hard at work rewriting all the drills (including the ubiquitous state of Virginia) for 1/3 of a band, and supposedly drum majors will be forced to march when they aren't conducting.

Beyond school folks, I also had the chance to catch up with some old friends (although there aren't many around anymore) and visit other folks around campus. I finished the trip Friday afternoon and got home arond 9 PM after a brief stop in Chantilly. Since then, I've been busy cleaning out my file cabinet and getting situated in my room, which gets a little more filled with random paraphernalia every time I visit.

This evening I'm treating some friends to a showing of Les Miserables at the National Theater in DC, so we'll be braving to cold to take the Metro into the city in a few hours.

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Monday, December 15, 2003

This is the side of a board game box I bought for a friend as a Christmas gift. Score another brilliance point for the advertising industry.

Work continued this weekend on Auricle. I was able to incorporate much of my earlier work from the PRIMA project which was designed to recognize patterns in music but was never completed. With a few minor rewrites, I was able to extract the enharmonic functionality, and I now have a playable onscreen keyboard which can be assigned any ordering of pitches (where the order adds up to a single octave, like major and minor scales, modes, and Neapolitan and pentatonic scales). Playing a note on the keyboard will also spit it the proper enharmonic spelling based on that pitch ordering.

My plan for the afternoon is a trip to Costco to pick up wrapping paper and two new pairs of glasses. In Virginia, there's a law that prevents optometry prescriptions from being used after one year (even if your eyes have no changes), so I ordered two stylish new pairs a scant four days before expiry.

Rumsfield calls Saddam a coward for not fighting overwhelming forces with his pistol and Yellow Cab
An alternate view of the Saddam capture outpouring
NASA blames shuttle crash on Microsoft PowerPoint

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Musical Musings

The temperature was near 10 degrees with gusty winds, since this morning was an appetizer for the wintry mix we're supposed to get later today. So it was with great reluctance that I woke up at 7:30 AM instead of 5:30 AM and cranked the heat up to a toasty 73 degrees. Now you are at work, and I'm not. LOL!

Actually, I had already planned on taking today off, because by the end of yesterday I was already one hour over my quota for the pay period, and I don't believe in overtime unless it's for something extraordinary (see also, December 2004 where I worked 80-hour weeks for about two months). After a leisurely morning of English muffins, blankets, and cats, I'm now ready to sit down to write today's update.

I haven't practiced my trumpet in a couple weeks, because the amount of effort I put into maintaining some minimal level of proficiency does not balance out the satisfaction I get out of playing. Going back to the "List of Crap I Will Never Get Around To Do" I wrote in July, I decided to start composing again. To get back into this, I've been listening to everything I ever wrote in hopes of some inspiration.

The problem with composing is that I was great at coming up with ideas before I got to the composer academy but was not so good at bringing those ideas to maturity. Now, I have enough craft to develop ideas, but I tend to second-guess all the new ideas I come up with, as a direct result of years of learning in an environment of bubble-boy composers who automatically dismiss anything remotely tonal or derivative as shallow.

I also went through my folder of collected germs, where I used to transcribe fragments and melodies as they came to me (The benefit of having a tiny apartment is that your keyboard is right next to your bed so you can record your ideas when you wake up in the middle of the night). I found a few pretty ones that I'd like to use someday in an appropriately crowd-pleasing venue: (515KB MP3). The last one on the MP3 was in my "Dreamt Melodies" folder and I can't even remember doing it.

Since I'm having trouble coming up with worthwhile new ideas, I've decided to tiptoe back into composing by reworking the string quartet which I wrote at FSU in 2001 and which I now hate. I think the third movement (2MB MP3) came out well because it covers two areas which I do reasonably well: tying everything together for a nice conclusion, and creating interesting rhythms. Rhythm is the backbone of interesting music -- don't let those crazy musicologists tell you that it's harmony or repetition or any other nonsense.

The entire third movement was spun out of a minute-long section from my debacle of a first movement (547KB MP3) which could be run through a grapefruit strainer and cut down by two or three minutes, doing all of the listening world a favour. The rest of this movement says to me now, "This is my first serious piece written for a serious ensemble at a serious music institute (!) so I'd better write it so I get taken seriously. Seriously? Seriously!". The second movement has a neat melody, but otherwise says, "I spent all day playing Super Smash Brothers at Mike's apartment, but I'd better write a couple more notes on the page for next week's lesson". By the time I wrote the third movement, I'd gotten over any preconceptions about school and other composers and just wrote whatever was fun to do.

Luckily I still like my Master's Thesis though. There's not a note about it I would change.

Tyce Honer, 4, said he forgot he had put Louis the 10-pound cat in a refrigerator in the family's barn to keep it safe.
Stay away from your local mini golf course, or maybe we meant Tappahanock
Playmates Arrested After Flight

tagged as random, music | permalink | 4 comments

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Fragments

propogating my madcap descent into irrelevance

♣ I write this on Thursday night, having just returned from a high stakes poker game at work in which I came in 21 of 24. For those readers who spent the majority of early algebra class staring at that one girl who seemed to hit puberty eight months before anyone else, this is equivalent to 7 out of 8, which is actually slightly better than I do in home games. In those games, I am quite familiar with the term "dead last".

♣ Most of my losses can be attributed to the level that I play the games at -- I don't consider all the intangibles of poker when playing a hand, like which cards have already been seen, whether I have an 88.88 chance of getting card X, or what the rule books say you should do when you open with a pair. I'll play with a modicum of strategy, but not as zealously as most players. It's the same with chess -- I'm never thinking fourteen moves ahead, and if I make a good move, chances are solid that I didn't realize how good it was until the other player nods magnamoniously and explains in depth what the Latin name for that gambit is.

♣ On a note of self-aggrandizement to counter my lack of poker skills, my game Augmented Fourth somehow made it's way onto a list of Suggested Works of Modern Interactive Fiction . Had I not licensed the game as freeware I would no doubt be a multi-millionaire by now.

♣ I've changed my mind about how I would spend my hypothetical millions. Instead of retiring to a private island somewhere, I would continue to live where I live, but without a job. Being independently wealthy but not spending it on retarded stuff would mean a permanent life without responsibility, which I would then use to do all the things I never have time to do. I could read a book every day, learn a foreign language, and play every single video game that I ever bought but never got around to beating.

♣ As you get older, the ratio of games you actually win to games you just play for a while shifts dramatically. There were games from my childhood that I knew inside and out -- I could probably recite the hint books from memory or find all the secrets as a reflex. I think the last game I actually beat was Warcraft III in 2003 and Fire Emblem in 2005, and I have a whole slew of console games at varying stages of success. It would be fun to have the time to go back and beat them all, except for the ones that suck.

♣ This weekend I am working. How about you? Is all your Christmas shopping done yet? Mine is!

♣ Have a good one! Enjoy the end of your semester if you are one of those educational clowns.

World's tallest man saves choking dolphins
Tatooine is actually Tunisia
The game actually is pacifist because players lose "spirit points" every time they gun down nonbelievers rather than convert them.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Twelve 12 of 12s

The final post of the 12 of 12 series is a highlight reel with the best picture from each month to prove just how exciting your life is not.


January: Ella is "SO BIG"!

February: Ham and mayonnaise sandwiches on potato bread are the lunch of champions.

March: A drink for every occasion.

April: Pierre the French Poodle has some squid tapas in Barcelona.

May: Composing for kitties.

June: Heavy thunderstorms rock the world.

July: Catsitting.

August: The Tuesday Special, which has since gone up in price.

September: Traffic forever in every direction.

October: Happy Birthday Unicorn Mike!

November: Teaching Booty how to drink and drive.

December: I need to include more cat pictures. Cats and food are definitive in 12 of 12.
Actor slashes his own neck with knife
Kentucky Fried Chicken trio photographed turning sink into hot tub
Pajama police fight a daytime love of nightwear

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 3 comments

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Twelve 12 of 12s

The final post of the 12 of 12 series is a highlight reel with the best picture from each month to show how you've blossomed into a beautiful songbird over the course of the year.

January: Velveeta Shells and Cheese for dinner.
February: Mike tempts Booty with steaks.

March: Velveeta Shells and Cheese for dinner.

April: Unicorns on a plane.

May: Sick on the couch with kitties.

June: NOT Velveeta Shells and Cheese for dinner.

July: Some dogs like eating grass.

August: Some cats like eating "special" grass.

September: Grocery shopping for a thirtieth birthday.

October: Handstands on the Hawaiian beach.

November: Leftovers are best served all mixed together.

December: Don't lick that!
Octopus snatches coconut and runs
eBay holiday panhandling
Tesco withdraws card about gingers

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

List Day: 2010 in Twelves

Top 12 Songs First Heard in 2010

With the increase in garbage music on my XM Radio directly correlating to my decrease in usage and subsequent cancellation, I figured that it would probably be difficult to come up with 12 new songs. Thankfully, Pandora and the fact that some of my favourite artists put out more than just a catchy single filled in that gap.

  1. Amy MacDonald - This Pretty Face:
    The lyrics of this song are pretty trite, but the descending chromatics in the introduction grabbed me as something I would have written myself in my undergrad days. The rest of the song is catchy, although Amy's overuse of makeup in the music video seems unnecessarily ironic.

  2. Feist - Mushaboom:
    There's nothing amazing about this song, but it's cute and infectious.

  3. Dirt Poor Robins - Love Again:
    This was one of those random songs that popped up on Pandora, which I never would have found on my own.

  4. Mark Ronson - L.S.F.:
    Mark Ronson specializes in funkier versions of well-known songs, and this Kasabian song is more of a funky augmentation than a total rewrite. I do wish he'd hire some better trumpet players though.

  5. Mika - Good Gone Girl:
    I felt like most of Mika's second CD was "more of the same with less intensity", but this song stood out.

  6. Wallis Bird - Traveling Bird:
    It's easy to make a rhythmically catchy song in 3/4 time, but that doesn't diminish my enjoyment. Somehow, this song hasn't appeared on the poor man's jukebox that is Youtube, so I've posted a low quality MP3 of the intro.

  7. Gomez - See the World:
    I like this singer's timbre, as long as he remains two points mellower than Chad Kroeger. In fact, just imagining a Nickelback cover of this song makes me wretch.

  8. Hoosiers - Glorious:
    This song is the high dramatic point in the Hoosier's second CD, and will doubtlessly close numerous concerts in the future. In fact, many of the songs (this one included) seem like they would also work as a duet with Mika -- especially the one with the lyrics "I like everybody but not everybody likes me" which could have been ghostwritten by that clown.

  9. Gomez - Tear Your Love Apart:
    I have a soft spot for songs that could double as psycho clown music.

  10. Plan B - She Said:
    I listened to this song far too much this year, because I like the dichotomy of swing versus straight that switches back and forth throughout the song. Plus, British rappers are funny.

  11. Wallis Bird - To My Bones:
    This is an irrevocably cheery song, and the video is pretty neat as well. Try it out as a pick-me-up.

  12. Hoosiers - Live By the Ocean:
    Besides the classy metric ambiguity in the first bar, this song has a lot of appeal. The tritones in the melody irritated me for the first few days, but then I started liking it in spite of myself. There's also a little psycho clown thrown in for good measure.

Chinese archaeologists unearth old soup
The top 50 Gawker passwords
Online flirting: it's all about lip service

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

List Day: 2011 in Twelves

Top 12 Songs First Heard in 2011

Over a year after my cancellation of XM Radio, I'm still doing just fine at discovering new music via Pandora (sanely muted of ads with AdBlock Plus), although they continue to insist that Jack Johnson is a "Chick That Sings". Here are this year's picks for songs that caught my attention. Let me know if you discover something that pleases you!

  1. Koop - Koop Island Blues:
    I really like the haunting mix of instruments on this track, and was pleased to find that the rest of this album was just as quirky.

  2. Zox - Little More Time:
    This is just a pleasant upbeat little ditty. Unfortunately, the encompassing album is not as good as this song.

  3. Mark Ronson and the Business Intl - Bike Song:
    (skip ahead 40 seconds for the actual song) Honestly, this is not that great of a song, so I have no idea why it's so incredibly catchy.

  4. Karmin - Look at Me Now:
    This is a rare case of the cover being better than the original -- it's amazing what a little melody and harmony can do for music. Karmin has become well-deservedly famous since I first learned of them on YouTube.

  5. Dirt Poor Robins - Masquerade:
    I really like how this song is both heavy and bouncy at the same time, not unlike an Austin native on a hill.

  6. Lenka - The Show:
    Lenka is my "A Fine Frenzy" of 2011. She does "whimsical" very well, and it requires active effort to be down while listening to any one of her CDs.

  7. The Fratellis - Chelsea Dagger:
    I still haven't found a good follow-up act to The Darkness, which disbanded in 2006, but this is a group in a similar, less bombastic vein. While researching this post, I just learned that The Darkness is reforming, so maybe they'll be their own replacements.

  8. Just Jack - Doctor Doctor:
    British rappers are a staple in my listening repertoire.

  9. Bitter:Sweet - The Mating Game:
    It was a toss-up between this song and "Dirty Laundry", and the plaintive minor sixths edged this one up.

  10. Mark Ronson and the Business Intl - The Night Last Night:
    Three-part harmony is such a rarity in pop music that this song was a breath of fresh air when I first heard it.

  11. Lenka - Bring Me Down:
    Less sugar and more psycho clown music puts this squarely into my +1 pile: this is the type of arrangement I would have written myself.

  12. Just Jack - Astronaut:
    This is a great, well-constructed song, coherently mixing a bunch of genres and styles together. I got the album containing this song LAST Christmas, and have yet to tire of it.

Previous Picks: 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekend Wrap-up

Following a leisurely night of burgers at The Counter and trolling for Christmas lights in Herndon, Saturday morning was actually quite productive. We did our final raking of the year and then put up our assorted Christmas decorations.

In the afternoon, we headed to DC, by way of my inaugural ride on the Silver Line. We met up with Marc and toured the annual Christmas tree exhibit on the South Lawn. Th exhibit was much worse this year, thanks to Google, who applied their historical prowess at messing up things that people had already gotten comfortable with.

Instead of quirkily decorated trees from each of the 50 states, the trees were covered in nets of LED lights, supposedly coded into different flashing patterns by millions of girls from all over the country. Since half of the trees had the exact same pattern, one can only assume that most of those coding efforts didn't compile correctly (or alternately, that the girls collectively tried but failed to emblazon the trees with flashing penis shapes for giggles' sake).

In the evening, we went to the second annual Sausageween party at Annie's, a pastiche of all of the different fourth quarter holidays rolled into one with extra sausage. We took the Silver Line home, safely falling asleep since our stop was the last stop, and then fell into bed at 2:22 AM.

Nothing happened on Sunday.

How was your weekend?

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Twelve 12 of 12s

January: Making shrimp alfredo.
February: Burgers and Booty.
March: Introducing Sydney.
April: Teaching about THE CLOUD.
May: Grey cat cloning.
June: Old shed demolition.
July: Bachelor grilling while Rebecca hikes.
August: Planning a D&D adventure.
September: Beers at Hopkins Ordinary.
October: Final mow and new shed.
November: Visiting my parents.
December: FSU, 14 years later.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Twelve 12 of 12s

a recap of 12 of 12 posts from 2017

January: Working from home with Booty.
February: Dinner at Singh Thai on Lake Anne.
March: Alice tries out the Oculus Rift.
April: First one in the new office space gets to choose the best desk location.
May: When did this happen?
June: Nurturing our new fig tree.
July: Feeding Maia at 6 days old.
August: Learning all about ring birds and ring worms.
September: Conceptually grasping the concept of grasping.
October: Maia's daily nature walks.
November: Bath time.
December: Merry Christmas!

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Twelve 12 of 12s

a recap of 12 of 12 posts from 2021

January: Eating a banana like a monkey while carrying a swaddled baby bunny.
February: Reading the book where Pete the Cat learns that his mom is not qualified to be a licensed substitute teacher because she cannot read the signs outside of any classroom explaining what subject is taught there.
March: Things are growing everywhere!
April: We made a nature trail.
May: Two-week checkup.
June: Enjoying my pancakes.
July: Recreating classic works of art.
August: At the beach with the Smiths.
September: Vigorous photobomb.
October: Loving the bouncy chair.
November: Glasses lover.
December: No girls allowed.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 4 comments

 

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