This Day In History: 12/31

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

I picked up the new paperback copy of John Grisham's King of Torts while stocking my monthly supply of work snacks at Costco yesterday. I'm not sure whether I liked it or not yet -- it wasn't his best but it wasn't his worst. The plot was a little meandering and the jacket blurb ended up being the setup for the storyline, rather than the storyline itself. Grisham still has a hard time giving any character believable motivations but he provides an entertaining few hours of reading.

Yesterday's search terms:

    loneliness khachaturian melody, notation sharp one bar, absolute music composers, Ethan Haimo, worst first lines, Liz Benyo, sea turtles reading comprehension, murders of kids in norfolk nebraska, how to figure out time signatures, sharps and flats on a staff, arban carnival of venice mp3, sonata for trumpet and piano by kennan, looney laws georgia, torch pitch, idiomatic rhythms, looney laws

Mattel loses nude Barbie battle
Jon Stewart in 2004
Retailer mails diamonds in junk mail
'Wilson' dies

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Friday, December 31, 2004

We watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last night, which was surprisingly good and original for a Jim Carrey movie, and lacking his trademark Robin-Williams-I-want-to-be-in-dramas overacting. The movie is interesting to follow and piece together, though you're going to hate it if movies like Memento gave you a headache.

Happy New Year!

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in Review, Part III of III

based on Reuter's Pictures of the Year

Old Pictures of the Year: 2005 | 2006 | 2007

Have a happy new year! Updates will resume next Monday.

Couple arrested in Wii brawl
Amateur crime fighters are surging in the US
Man in idling Zamboni faces OUI charge

tagged as media | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, December 31, 2009

End-of-the-Year Leftovers

based on Reuter's Pictures of the Year

Here are four provocative pictures that I just couldn't come up with captions for. See what you can come up with yourself while Rebecca and I go on a roadtrip for the next few days!

Daily updates will resume on Tuesday, January 5. Happy New Year!

Bad Moves thwart truck heist
World's fastest train halted by smoker
"Best Job" winner stung by dangerous jellyfish

tagged as media | permalink | 4 comments

Monday, December 31, 2012

End-of-the-Year Media Day

New pictures have been posted in the Life, 2012 album. I hope that you have been able to spend the last twelve days on a restful staycation like I have. Happy New Year!

tagged as media | permalink | 2 comments

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Wrap-up

  • F 12/20: Cleaned the house. Self-study in Hibernate and Spring. Started watching the final season of Burn Notice.

  • S 12/21: Created a map of the Herndon Christmas Lights contest winners' homes, and walked around a yuppy neighbourhood, thoroughly unimpressed. Returned to Juniper Street in Sterling for the real deal.

  • S 12/22: Met up with Annie and Marc at Dogfish Head in Seven Corners, and had a French Dip sandwich.

  • M 12/23: Took Rebecca's car in for its annual inspection.

  • T 12/24: Worked on Auricle. Went to evening services at Riverside Presby Church. Had slow cooker pork for dinner, which was horribly overcooked and drier than a silica gel zen garden.

  • W 12/25: Spent Christmas with Rebecca's dad and gave Rebecca a FitBit One. Had Christmas steaks for dinner.

  • H 12/26: Worked on Auricle. Finished the second season of Person of Interest. Made corned beef for dinner, which was far more successful than the pork.

  • F 12/27: Worked on Auricle. Met up with the visiting Emily and Brian at Ozzie's. Realized that Fairfax is overcrowded and retarded, and went instead to Sakoontra to avoid a 50 minute wait.

  • S 12/28: Went to Edgewater, Maryland to do the Uri Christmas at my sister's house. Had lamb, intent on completing my "meat for dinner" Bingo card.

  • S 12/29: Did laundry and played Borderlands 2. Ate dinner at Zeitoon on Church Road, and was satisfied.

  • M 12/30: Worked on Auricle. Went grocery shopping. Had pizza for dinner.

  • T 12/31: Plans for tonight: grilled glazed salmon for dinner with New Years celebrated on London time, so Rebecca can go to bed and work a normal day tomorrow, while I sit around the house pretending to be unemployed for another 5 days.

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Wrap-up

I only created two pages worth of funny captions this year because of Reuters. They trimmed their normal selection of over a hundred images to about fifty, mostly of people crying, dying, or getting blown up, and then added unskippable interstitial ads to the slideshow. It's hard to keep things light under those circumstances.

Christmas Vacation so far has been quiet. After a Riverside service on Christmas Eve followed by the Muppet Christmas Carol, we had Christmas morning at home and then visited my parents in Alexandria briefly before converging on my sister's place in Maryland for a final Christmas celebration before they flee to Rhode Island. During the festivities, Rebecca was overtaken by a flu variant she had picked up from work, made more virulent with the bitterness of old peoples' tears. We left early and I put her to bed with a 103 temperature.

The flu kept her down through Sunday night, and I caught it myself on Saturday morning. Although she was able to get back to work by Monday, I've been at home unable to do anything useful since Saturday. Being sick involves lots of sleeping and watching things. Among the things I watched: the complete Toy Story trilogy, two Kevin Kline movies from the 90s, the first season of Mozart in the Jungle, episodes of Modern Family, Season One, and episodes of Newsroom, Season Two. Among the places I slept: my bed, the guest bed, the couch, and the floor of the office.

We don't have any crazy New Years plans tonight, since Rebecca works tomorrow, but I'll probably make some steaks and cough on everyone.

New pictures have been added to the Life, 2014 album. Happy New Year!

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (PG-13):
I've only seen the most recent 3 MI movies (starting from when JJ Abrams took over), and this is the best of those three. It has a strong collection of fun, tightly-orchestrated action sequences with minimal cuts and special effects getting in the way, and benefits from the comic relief of Simon Pegg.

Final Grade: B+

Jurassic World (PG-13):
Surprisingly, this Jurassic sequel is as good as the original. It's the perfect popcorn movie, with just the right number of callbacks, and a reasonably fresh plot. If every summer blockbuster were as good as this, I'd probably go to the theatre occasionally.

Final Grade: A

The Code, Season One:
This is a six episode Australian show with all the intensity of the movie, Prisoners. It's very bingeable, and tells the story of a government conspiracy in New South Wales. An Australian version of Jason Bateman stars as a journalist with an autistic hacker brother. The suspense never lets up, the hacking sequences are visually appealing and mostly based in truth, and everything resolves in a satisfying conclusion that doesn't need a 2nd season. Additionally, the workmanship and cinematography of the show feels fresh, just because it isn't another HBO or Showtime show. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: A

Ash and Silver by Carol Berg:
The second (and final) book in the Sanctuary series is a logical continuation of the story and effectively builds upon the foundation of the first book without any unnecessary new invention. The story is a page-turner requiring continuously revised perspectives on the motivations of the characters, although it was occasionally too puzzle-like for its own good. The pacing of the reveals is well-done, and the main character doesn't suffer nearly as unnecessarily as in the author's Rai Kirah series. I enjoyed it over my Christmas break, in spite of the cover art which suggests that the man has a neck like a giraffe.

Final Grade: B

tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, December 31, 2018

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2018 album. Google Photos sucks.

  • Events
    • Watched Maia while Rebecca taught Advanced Yoga Teachers about anatomy on S 12/1. Had Siam Spice for dinner.

    • Put up our outdoor Christmas lights and had dinner at Chuy's on S 12/2.

    • Finally got around to taking our Christmas card picture on H 12/6.

    • Had a family dinner at Mellow Mushroom on F 12/7.

    • Went to Ghazaley and Michael's Christmas party at their new home a mile down the road in Herndon on S 12/8 (everyone cool is moving to be near us these days).

    • Rebecca and Maia had a playdate with Carolyn and Fiona on T 12/11.

    • Rebecca and Maia went to Pauli's farewell dinner at Maggianno's while I had a solo dinner at Miller's on F 12/14.

    • Rebecca and Hannah went to Car and Ben's annual Scotch Tasting Night while Brian did babysitting duty on S 12/15.

    • Rebecca met up with Annie for brunch in Alexandria while Maia spent the morning with grandma on S 12/16.

    • Family date at the indoor Ridgetop playground followed by dinner at Cafesano on M 12/17.

    • Brian and Rebecca visited the Uri grandparents in the rain on H 12/20.

    • Had a family dinner at Burger 21 on F 12/21 then looked at Christmas lights on Juniper Avenue.

    • Rebecca went to Margalit's going away lunch then joined Brian and Maia at the Wilmers on S 12/22.

    • Had Christmas Lunch with Rebecca's parents and Marc on M 12/24.

    • Went to Fredicksburg to visit the Hickses and Ahlbins on T 12/25.

    • Had Christmas with my parents and sister's family on H 12/27.

    • Fell victim to an awful multi-day migraine, H 12/27 - F 12/28.

    • Rebecca and Marc went to yoga in the morning. Had dinner at Tammy and Zoe's on S 12/29.

    • Had early eve beers at Crooked Run South in S 12/31, then Rebecca rang in the new year with Car and Ben.

  • Projects
    • Participated in Advent of Code all month long.

    • Finished adding Book 8 of 11 to the Paravia Wiki on S 12/2.

    • Fixed some squeaks in the floorboards, discovered when sneaking around the house at midnight for Advent of Code.

    • Migrated my coding projects from my personal Subversion server to GitHub.

    • Applied 3 years of much-needed upgrades to the MediaWiki / PHP stack under the Paravia Wiki on M 12/31.

  • Consumerism
    • Occasionally playing Fallout 4 when playing anything at all.

    • Enjoying Designated Survivor, Season One and Patriot, Season Two this month.

    • No notable new music.

December's Final Grade: B, Sleep-deprived, but very fun.

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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Last Deep Thoughts Day of 2020

One last post I want to preserve from 2020:

December 29, 2020

As this rancid mayonnaise jar of a year ends, you might feel aghast at the behaviors or beliefs of other American citizens or hopeless about your ability to make things better. Please remember that none of what we're seeing came out of thin air. The siege lines between political factions, the man wearing his mask under his nose, and the innate fear of "the other side" -- all of these are just symptoms of deeper issues.

One reason we've gotten here is our smartphone-induced need to boil everything down to a sound bite without nuance. This has lowered the prestige of education, science, and journalism, resulting in a chaotic, fragmented news environment where disinformation is amplified. When every story is framed with exactly two sides, one "side" has to lose for the other to win and it becomes easier to dehumanize others while safe inside an echo chamber.

We need to fix causes, not symptoms. We cannot repair the divisions in this country without first repairing or reinventing the influential sources that shape peoples' beliefs and understanding of the world.

I don't have a sound bite solution that will fix everything, but here are some simple things I'll be doing in 2021.

  1. I'll continue to support traditional journalism and make it a point to read past the headlines of newspapers with differing viewpoints (allsides.com makes this easier).
  2. I'll try to look past peoples' behavior or bumper stickers and remember that it's dangerously easy to reduce someone to a false caricature when I don't know anything else about them.
  3. I'll try to be the best example of the type of person I'd want around me in my local community and professional network.

Thanks for indulging my final TED Talk of 2020.

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Friday, December 31, 2021

End-of-the-Month Highlights Day

New photos have been added to the Life, 2021 album.

  • Events
    • Rebecca and Maia went to Claude Moore for Christmas lights on S 12/4.

    • Rebecca taught anatomy virtually for yoga teacher trainees on S 12/5.

    • Maia visited the grandparents and made cookies, F 12/10 - S 12/12.

    • Maia got hit with a 102.9 fever after school on M 12/13.

    • Maia had a negative COVID/Flu/Strep test on T 12/14.

    • Maia's preschool class was cancelled for COVID exposure on W 12/15 and we went into quarantine ourselves for a few days.

    • Maia tested negative for COVID, AGAIN, on M 12/20.

    • Elizabeth, Steve, and Catherine came by for a visit enroute to Fredericksburg on H 12/23.

    • Had Christmas visits with Rebecca's parents on F 12/24.

    • Had a nuclear family Christmas in the morning, then dinner with my parents on S 12/25.

    • Stayed at a nice cabin in Waterford, M 12/27 - H 12/30.

    • No plans for New Years.

  • Projects
    • Competed in our company's Advent of Code challenge again for the 4th straight year.

    • Started working on Puzzle Boat 5 on F 12/3 to see if I can solve one on my own.

  • Consumerism
    • Enjoyed watching Michael McIntyre: Showman on Netflix. Currently rewatching The Good Place with Rebecca, who hadn't seen it before.

    • Enjoyed listening to Golden Age by Woodkid.

    • No new games this month.

December's Final Grade: B+, would have been better without all the COVID!

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