Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up

Our holiday weekend opened with a Friday night trip to Old Ox Brewery with Marc, where we sat near a silent, solo bicycler with serial killer eyes who would occasionally rotate his line of sight to glare at us like an animatronic puppet. We also ate sandwiches from Pittsburgh Rick's food truck, but they weren't as good this time around since they were out of many ingredients (based on their poor decision to reserve large batches for a Jiffy Lube Live concert the following night).

On Saturday, we maximized the value of our Harpers Ferry annual pass by taking one final trip before it expired. We hiked 7 miles on the Maryland Heights side in the morning, and then Rebecca hiked an additional 5 miles on the Loudoun Heights side while I sat in the pub with a Mountain State amber ale and a Kindle book.

We ate dinner at DISH, as usual, where we had the clams casino, cod, and the pork chop. Clam-based appetizers are generally forgettable -- they should really rebrand all "clam with X" meals as "X with clams", since there's not much you can do with clams other than to cover it up with something more delicious like chowder.

On Sunday, Rebecca hiked another 12 miles along the AT, in the section where the altitude varies like a sine wave, while I returned home to feed hungry cats and play Skyrim. In the evening, we watched the lengthy movie, Boyhood, and ate leftover pork chops.

On Memorial Day (or "Monday" as people who don't get the day off like to call it), I worked from home on AWS training preparation and proposal writing while Rebecca went off to work with old people, who also don't get the day off.

How was your long weekend?

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Stuff in My Drawers Day

This is an Art homework assignment I drew twenty-two years ago as a high school sophomore.

The assignment was to do an abstract sketch. I started by lightly tracing a single, pretentious line in curves and squiggles all over the page. I then shaded in each enclosed area in an unexpected direction and sealed in the pretentiousness with my standard signature in the lower right: my last name under a watermark that looks as if the corner of the page has rolled up.

This is what passed for A work in high school art class. Today, I would have given myself a B, but then I noticed that there's an abstract badger sitting Indian-style in the middle right area of the page, so that bumps it up to a B+.

What do you see in the squiggles?

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

The Shield, Season Three:
We waited too long to finish The Shield for free on Amazon Prime, but the good news is that you can now get the entire series on DVD for $25. The third season is a solid continuation of the Money Train storyline, other than the abrupt introduction of a new character that apparently came onto the scene during the gap between seasons, and then spends the whole season being annoying.

Final Grade: B

The Shield, Season Four:
The fourth season of The Shield continues to build organically upon the plot threads to date, and was entertaining throughout. Glenn Close had a great supporting role, but she was nowhere near as impressive as Forest Whitaker in Season Five.

Final Grade: B+

Hit the Floor by Breakestra:
This album feels like a revival of classic 70s funk with a clean and consistent polish. It might feel a little too sterile to some, but it's right up my alley. You Don't Need to Dance is one of the catchier tunes on the album.

Final Grade: A-

Rayman Legends: Original Game Soundtrack by Cristophe Heral:
The soundtrack from Rayman Origins remains one of my favourite game soundtracks, and I purchased this sequel soundtrack without ever having played the game it accompanies. In spite of a couple tracks that sound very derivative of John William's Harry Potter soundtrack, this is another successful mix. It features just the right balance of thematic reuse and organic development without falling into the Super Mario trap of sounding exactly like the previous iteration. This soundtrack makes me want to play the game, were it not for the fact that I'd also have to buy a Wii U and then wait ten minutes for it to boot up every time.

Final Grade: B+

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Memory Day: Fifteen Years Ago

On Saturday, May 20, 2000, Paige was in town, visiting me at my parents' house in Alexandria. I had just finished the first week of my first internship at FGM, and on the Friday before, I picked her up at a random dead end in Leesburg (her car could not travel more than 10 miles without exploding, so her parents pushed her out of their moving car on their way to locales further north).

As a native of the DC area, I had already become jaded with the tourist grandeur of the area. So, the sightseeing agenda for this day consisted of easy-to-reach landmarks along the Blue Line which, even then, was the blue-haired stepchild of the Metro system. We hit Old Town Alexandria in the morning, where I showed off the million dollar boathouse funded by the Alexandria Crew Boosters and nestled in the armpit of eight blocks of ghettos, and followed it up with a trip past Arlington Cemetery (because no one actually gets off there).

In DC proper, we went to the Smithsonian for the only exhibit worth visiting: the Insect Zoo at the Natural History Museum (sponsored at the time by Orkin). We also went to an exhibit about pianos at the American History Museum, which probably would have been more exciting had it been about brass instruments. After a classy late lunch at the Food Court in Pentagon City, we returned home to watch Usual Suspects and eat cereal.

I also may have tried to get her to read Janny Wurts, but I think she hated it like everyone else who is not specifically me.

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