This Day In History: 12/23

Sunday, December 23, 2001

When you order multiple items from amazon.com, you have the option to ship each item as soon as available (at extra expense), or to wait until everyone is ready and send it all in one package. You'd think that the extra cost would be justified because your stuff arrives sooner, but in reality, amazon.com will ship items out as soon as they're available, regardless of whether you ask them to do so. I've always wondered how many people actually pay the additional charge.

Since I got home, I've been playing Return to Castle Wolftenstein, the latest first-person shooter from id software. It's a remake of the classic Wolf 3D from the days before Doom and Quake, and it's really good so far. The graphics are on par with other recent hits like Max Payne and I'm not hindered by a computer that's too far behind the current technological envelope. Speaking of games, I never did finish Planescape: Torment which I started back in September. It was an intriguing story, but eventually I just lost interest in caring about how it turned out. I left my N64 at school, but when there, I was playing the second Zelda game, Majora's Mask. I really didn't get enough time to get into it between all the schooling of last semester, but it seemed like a good game. Like all Nintendo games, the fun and interesting parts barely outweigh the design issues that just piss you off, but to a much lesser extent than its prequel.

tagged as games | permalink | 0 comments

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

This is a picture of me on the Governor, from a physical fitness poster in the late 80s. I could have sworn that it was already on this site, but I guess I overlooked it.

Yesterday's search terms:

    lesbian sado-masochism safety manual, dotted note, law stare mayor paris, Which of the 13 original colonies were religiously influenced?, roscoe white marksmanship, elizabeth Bishop one art analysis, William Faulkner's A Light in August, eighteenth century Pomfret plantations, taiwan pepsi generation, deluge leonardo da vinci, Chester Alan Arthur god, adrienne rich storm warnings, analysis of storm warnings adrienne rich, analysis storm warnings adrienne, storm warning adirenne rich, Analysis on Storm Warnings by Adrienne Rich, metaphorical meaning storm warnings adrienne rich

It looks like some high school English teacher has assigned students to analyze the poem, Storm Warnings by Adrienne Rich, and they're plagiarizing with the best of them. As a site owner in the new millenium, I suppose I have some ethical impetus to removing my old work. Of course, it's more fun to see voracious kids accept my crappy essays as gospel and not tell them which ones got less than stellar grades when they were fresh.

When you burn down a boathouse, make sure the President's boat isn't in it
Court rules in favour of Eminem because "black girls r dum" is not racism

permalink | 3 comments

Friday, December 23, 2005

Fri-hohoho-day Fragments

  • There's a Mariott Springhill Suites in Herndon next to the Fairfax County Parkway, but the sign is busted, so all you can see from the road is "cHill Suites". That, in my opinion, is a much better place to stay.

  • I don't think I've ever heard a single remix I've liked by Mylo. It takes zero talent to loop a one-bar vamp for four minutes, and even less to think you are being artistic by doing so.

  • I was roused from my slumbering party last night by incessant rapping around 11:15 PM. It wasn't Eminem making a housecall, but two Loudoun County policemen knocking on my neighbour's door and shining flashlights in the windows. Eventually they moved around behind the house and went in the patio door, although I don't know if they jimmied in or someone unlocked the door for them. After several minutes of flashlight-searching in the basement (during which time some lights finally came on upstairs), they left the house the way they came and returned to their squad cars. What could it have been? A drug deal? An immigration raid? The occupants may only speak Spanish, but there's only two of them living in the house. Fairfax County has more overflowing houses any day of the week. The mystery thickens like the layer of fat on a tin of leftover boiled chicken.

  • Why does biweekly mean every two weeks instead of twice a week? And why are the hot/cold dials in a car called Climate Control when the only way your car can control the climate is by driving farther south?

  • People are starting to post their "2005 in Review" posts, so I'd better jump on the bandwagon next week so I can remain topical. Maybe I'll devote the entire week to such a thing, so I don't have to come out with original topics, like "What's in my Bellybutton?"

  • I recently received an e-mail from Sony saying "We have reactivated your Everquest account for 21 free days. Please come back and play." I played Everquest when it first came out, back around 1998 or so and canceled the account mere months later. That was a different era, when online gaming meant hogging the phone line, and it was perfectly acceptable to play an online RPG for three months and only get to level 18. I had a Bard named Squiggy, and all I did was "kite" wisps so I could sell some expensive loot whose name I don't recall. The day before I closed that account because the game was excessively dull, I stripped him naked and gave away all my gear to other people in the realm. Now, I play Warcraft and have a Priest named Plinky. As you can see, my names are as cool as ever.

  • Today, my dad is making is annual batch of Christmas cookies from three genera: stop n' go, peanut butter, and sugar. The problem with Christmas is that it's distinctly lacking in any chocolate-based cookies (fudge is not a cookie). When I have big family Christmases someday, there will be nothing but Soft-Batch-style chocolate chip cookies as far as The Eye can see. And The Eye will be a Fantastic-Four-style superhero with super-vision, so you can damn well bet that he'll see pretty far. It's clobberin' time.

  • I did go to work today, but I'll be taking off at noon for some movie madness. Tomorrow morning, I'll be heading out to my parent's house where I'll spend the weekend with my massive extended family of 4 and then return home on Sunday night. I'd stay longer but I'm working on Monday and my kids would get lonely and probably eat each other.

  • Merry Christmas, you filthy animals. Tune in on Sunday for a very special episode of The URI! Zone.

  • Dog frozen to railroad tracks
    A Milwaukee firefighter was tricked by three other firefighters into performing a lewd act while on duty
    When your guinea pig is cold or has low self-esteem

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 4 comments

    Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    Museday Tuesday Wrap-up

    Afire (1:48 MP3)

    This short piece is an extended version of the Museday fragment written on March 4, 2008.

    The piece is written for saxophones, violas, and trombones (also known as "the neglected instruments"), as well as various percussion instruments and drum machine effects). I wrote it over the course of two weeks, generally spending about an hour a day on it.

    The original fragment can be heard here. Merry Christmas!

    Suspicious wife demands to smell husband's genitals
    Mice responsible for cat deaths in shelter
    Michigan bans being annoying in public
    How would you rate Afire?

    4 stars! (3 votes, 50.0%)


    3 stars (2 votes, 33.3%)


    2 stars (1 vote, 16.7%)


    1 star (0 votes, 0.0%)

    0 stars (0 votes, 0.0%)

    tagged as museday | permalink | 2 comments

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    Hawaii Honeymoon Part V

    For the final segment of Cool Places I Visited While You Spent the Month of October Working, I'll be talking about hikes. I'm always been a fan of hiking (of the "go up a mountain with a water bottle and then go home and eat dinner" variety, and not the "BOIL YOUR WATER AND CHECK FOR SCORPIONS IN YOUR UNDERPANTS variety, or even the "Dulles Toll Road Fare" variety), and Kauai is eminently hikable with surprisingly diverse scenery for an island only 18 miles across.

    Kuilau Ridge: After our 2008 trip to Europe, on which I was forced to hobble around London like a hunchback, we played it safe with our first hike. We traveled inland from our condo to the Kuilau Ridge Trail, a constantly elevating but easy three-mile hike into the jungle. Thankful for bug spray and munching on cheap sandwiches made from cheaper Safeway bread, we made it to the summit to find the view completely blocked by clouds. These clouds pursued us back down the mountain in the form of a monsoon, completely soaking us through our protective rain gear and vividly illustrating the reason behind every guidebook's admonition to "bring old shoes".

    Pihea Trail: Our second hike started with a fifty minute drive up the side of Waimea Canyon, until we were 4000 feet above sea level and accompanied by no one but chickens. The terrain of this hike was a series of mud and lava-rock scrambles like the picture on the right, and looked fake enough to resemble some Hawaiian's take on some sort of Adventure World theme park. After peaking at another foggy summit, the trail descended into the Alaka'i Swamp, a chilly, squishy locale despite the presence of wooden boardwalks over every OTHER mudhole. It started to rain towards the midpoint, so we ended up hiking just four miles before returning to the lower elevations and sunny beaches.

    Kalalau Trail: This trail is eleven miles long, and actually requires a permit since it involves camping, but we took the day-tripper approach of hiking four miles in and four miles back out (just in time to devour prime rib at the Hukilau Lounge that night). The weather was much warmer on this coast, but since the trail followed the serpentine coast, each plunge into the humid jungle was rewarded with a coastal lookout point complete with free sea breezes.

    The second half of the hike was characterized by giant bamboo stands, fallen guavas that exploded satisfyingly when you landed on them, and very poorly-marked trails over stream crossings. We bonded in solidarity with two other couples traveling in the same direction -- coincidentally, one couple, Mark and Natalie, were from my hometown of Alexandria and had gotten married the weekend after us. (In another "small world" happenstance, the pair we took our helicopter tour with had gone to UVa).

    Nounou Mountain Trail: By this point, we were hiking pros and tackled this short three-mile hike with ease. I tried hiking both in sandals and barefoot (which was much more comfortable and less prickly than I would have expected). At the top, after a few near-deaths on the narrow spine of the mountain summit, we got a panoramic view of the island and climbed into what must have been The Sleeping Giant's nostril.

    The thing I really liked about hiking in Kauai was the lack of hazards other than mosquitoes. You never had to worry about stumbling into a spider web or brushing past a stand of poison ivy, and this made it easy to plunge blindly into the jungle the way we did on our last hike to the Secret Lava Pools. The hike itself was brief, less than half a mile, but it crossed a small stream where the clouds of mosquitoes were so thick, they looked like gnat swarms. The pools themselves were worth this adventure, but the presence of several other hikers at the location made us realize that there was a path with a much lower wilderness quotient. It involved walking along a beach and hopping on a rock or two, then climbing a ladder bolted into the side of the cliff face.

    All in all, we probably hiked and walked over 24 miles of trails and beaches in Kauai, and on the final day, I tossed my sneakers into the trash. I hate mildew.

    The End

    The blizzard seen from space
    Bacon Cups
    Man dressed as animal killed during animal hunt

    tagged as travel | permalink | 3 comments

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Toy Story 3:
    I always preferred the Toy Story franchise to the Shrek franchise, and number 3 doesn't disappoint. It hits all the right notes, blending the humourous with the touching, even if the giant zombie baby doll is too creepy for redemption. The only problem was with our local Blockbuster (if five miles away can still be called local) who decided to rent a disc containing none of the special features. Netflix Instant is probably soon to be in our future.

    Final Grade: A

    Iron Man 2:
    This movie was pretty forgettable, in spite of the incredible make-up job that makes Terrence Howard look like Don Cheadle. The one-liners and Downey Jr. magic are still there, but once the movie devolves into a bunch of robots fighting each other and the actors themselves are replaced by special effects, it gets pretty tedious. I greatly preferred the first movie.

    Final Grade: C+

    Dragon Quest XI:
    I always expect that I'll like JRPGs more than I actually do, and to be honest, this one is pretty good for what it is -- catchy music, good translations, and a fun feel. Its downfall comes in the form of unchangeable text speed, something that should be a given in ANY video game in 2010. Although the base default is pretty zippy, there's still too much time spent waiting since Dragon Quest, by its nature, is a very grindy game with lots of battles and merchandising. The menu system is old-school, so selling a piece of thread takes you through menus for "Buy / Sell?", "Which Character?", "Which Item?", "I can pay X, is this good?", "Would you like to sell again?". This is more tedious than watching robots fight.

    Final Grade: B-

    Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton:
    Back when Rachel was a regular reader, she'd occasionally plug the blog of Wil Wheaton, former child actor in Stand By Me and Star Trek: The Next Generation. This book is a collection of blog posts over the last ten years coupled with a retrospective memoir of his transformation from "former child actor" to general mayhem maker. Although I don't care a whit for anything related to Star Trek, I found this book to be an enjoyable read, and easy to relate to, enough so that I now link to his blog from the Bloglog so I can read it live and uncut. The only negative comment I have relates to the Kindle edition rather than the content itself: the Kindle version makes no delineation between where a blog post ends and his "post-thought commentary" begins, not even a line break, so I spent a few sentences of each chapter confused as to what exactly I was reading.

    Final Grade: A-

    8-year-olds published in peer-reviewed journal
    Google sued for showing underwear in Street View
    Gabor's prince mistakes glue for eye drops

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Boy's chimney designed with Santa in mind
    2011's worst tech failures

    permalink | 2 comments

    Tuesday, December 23, 2014

    Composing Spotlight: Badinage

    I wrote Badinage in the Fall of 1999, inadvertently making it the last piece in my repertoire to be considered "Contemporary 20th Century" music. It was originally performed by Allen Bachelder and Jim Bryant on my 5th Year Recital, and then again by me and Rob Kelley down at Florida State.

    With the looming Christmas holiday and my recent interest in trumpet endurance practice sessions (currently up to 12 minutes per day), I thought it'd be fun to do an amateur recording session of this piece. I'm no Kelley Corbett but I still remember which buttons to press.

    I recorded this over two days in my home studio (the office with the door closed), using the Roland SC-8850 for the accompaniment and Adobe Audition for the mixing. Enjoy!

    From the liner notes: Badinage is an abstract work that started out as a series of major seventh chords. My last trumpet and piano work was deeply emotional and almost programmatic in nature, so this was my attempt at a song on the opposite end of the spectrum. I started writing it as a possible first movement to a Sonata, but eventually realized that it worked much better as a tightly cohesive single movement work. The word "badinage" is French and describes a playful banter. In this instance, both the trumpet and piano share the spotlight with equal importance.

    tagged as music | permalink | 2 comments

    Wednesday, December 23, 2015

    Memory Day: Snapshots

    This picture was taken at Christmas time in 1992. I was a freshman in junior high school and still getting used to my GIANT glasses. Not pictured is the creepy animatronic angel on top of the tree that would have been perfectly at home in one of those "every day is Christmas" homes.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, December 23, 2016
    Monday, December 23, 2019

    2019 Timeline

    A smattering of events from 2019

    January: B+
    • Enjoyed about 11 total inches of snow.
    • Went to a company party at MGM National Harbor.
    February: C+
    • Worked on a massive $950M proposal effort at work (which we won).
    • Had an Oscar party with no Oscars due to streaming restrictions.
    March: B+
    • Hosted Sara and Karl over their Spring Break.
    • Went to a bland Harpers Ferry rental house for a weekend.
    April: A
    • Got the roof replaced.
    • Rebecca got super in to puzzles.
    • Rebecca went on a whirlwind trip to Columbus for Elisa's wedding.
    • Easter with the Whitmer's in Taylorstown.
    • Got the roof replaced.
    May: B+
    • Enjoyed a staycation while Rebecca and Maia went to Oklahoma City for a week.
    • First and last barbeque of the year.
    • Got a lot of swag for my 15th work anniversary.
    June: B
    • Missed a trip to Rhode Island because of a 24-hour flu.
    • Spent the weekend on a sheep farm in Lovettsville.
    • Got the AWS Big Data - Specialty certification.
    July: B
    • 4th of July in Taylorstown.
    • Weekend in Richmond with the Edwardses and Mike & Annie.
    • Weekend in Mill Run, PA with Elisa and Sayak.
    August: B-
    • Many trips to Alexandria after my mom's hospital adventures.
    • Fredericksburg trip to visit the Ahlbins and Hickses.
    • Saw the Rhode Island nephews in Alexandria.
    September: A
    • Maia started "Just for 2s" class.
    • Turned 40 in Clifton with a poker party.
    • Another staycation while Rebecca and Maia went on a church retreat for the weekend.
    • Released the "Uri Tech Primer" at work.
    October: B+
    • Went to Montreal for our 10th wedding anniversary.
    • Joined a month-long "Puzzle Boat" at work.
    • Dressed as the Berenstain Bears for Halloween.
    November: B-
    • Early Thanksgiving with Maia's kid friends.
    • Hosted Sara and Karl again over Thanksgiving Break.
    • Thanksgiving in Taylorstown.
    • Got a new tree in our front yard.
    December: B
    • Participated in Advent of Code 2019.
    • Started planning for our new screen porch.

    How was the last year of this decade for you?

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 4 comments

    Wednesday, December 23, 2020

    2020 Timeline

    A smattering of events from 2020

    January: B
    • Just enough snow for a 3-foot snowman.
    • Tried to restart a monthly Poker Night (lasted two months).
    • Crazy company party at the MGM.
    February: B-
    • Maia got a spot in the Starfish preschool program (then dropped out for COVID).
    • Sealed in the mouse-infested crawlspace.
    • Got a new screen porch, just in time for quarantine.
    March: B-
    • Finished the Paravia Wiki.
    • Last times outside before quarantine on 3/12.
    • Lots of virtual games until everyone got Zoomed out.
    • Got away to Sperryville for a weekend.
    April: C
    • Released a 20th anniversary edition of Augmented Fourth.
    • Did a virtual painting date.
    May: B-
    • Lots of distance visits with the family.
    June: B
    • Got away to Lovettsville for a weekend.
    July: B-
    • 4th of July with the Smiths.
    • Segmented birthday parties for Maia's 3rd birthday.
    • Outer Banks with the Smiths.
    August: B
    • Released the Official Janny Wurts website.
    • Got into grocery pick-up.
    September: B
    • Turned 41 in a mountain cabin with the Smiths.
    • Move the office down to the basement.
    October: B+
    • 11th Anniversary at home.
    • Rebecca and Maia went back to OBX with the Edwardses.
    • Puzzle Boating with my work team.
    November: C
    • Annoying health concerns that still linger.
    • Maia went to the National Zoo.
    • Thanksgiving at home.
    December: B-
    • Participated in Advent of Code 2020.
    • Stayed home in the cold.

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

     

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