Welcome to the Twelfth Edition of the URI! Zone, guaranteed to be a smashing literary success, because everything is better with an elf in it. Of course, this maxim doesn't apply to the The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, which could have sported a more-tightly plotted pace by cutting out fourteen elves, thirteen shots of Frodo looking constipated, and at least one scruffy, white actor that looked like all the other scruffy, white actors. Middle Earth should have had more racial variety in its human inhabitants, maybe employing some FOB1 Asians for the battle scenes. But, I digress.
Today's post marks the 1,500th time I've ever written a news post for this site. Granted, some updates were much less involved than others (see exhibit A on the right), but in an age where the average life span of a web site is only 44 to 75 days2, surviving for eleven full years is surely worthy of a pat on the back (or a pat on the ass if you are now, or will someday be, a player on an American football team or a shamefully defrocked member of the clergy).
Here are some of the new features you will find in the Twelfth Edition:
I don't have any major plans for the 2007-2008 timeline other than to keep on truckin' with daily doses of music, reviews, absurdity, and interestyng news story links, but if you have anything you'd like to hear me talk about, feel free to let me know! For today, I will leave you with the following interestyng statistics about the URI! Zone and my news updates.
Happy Birthday Gabe Ahlbin!Aquafina comes from . . . THE TAP.
I generally keep a stash of CDs in the car for those occasions when I'm not in the mood for anything on XM Radio (or when Ted Kelly is reciting the complete UPOP Station Slogan on-air for the fifth time in five minutes in case we've forgotten that we're listening to the Pop Heard Around the World, With Global Hits from Coast to Coast in America and on Worldspace Shut The Hell Up and Play the Damn Songs Amen).
One way to determine the strength of an album is to put it in this car stash and see how long it takes before I get so sick of it that it must be rotated out. So far, the four longest-surviving albums in my Car Challenge are: Absolution - Muse, Long Gone Before Daylight - The Cardigans, Eye to the Telescope - KT Tunstall, and Once More With Feeling - The Tonight Show Band. With my recent purchase of Philosophy Tree by Ellie Lawson, I may have discovered another contender.
Ellie Lawson is a UK artist with a voice like a melodic rubber band. Her CD is a mix of acoustic guitar with electronica accompaniment, and some hip-hop dabblings with drum tracks. She occasionally suffers from "pad my CD with too many repeats of the chorus" syndrome, but there's only one really annoying instance (Track 4). If you took Jem and Natasha Bedingfield (and maybe the least annoying bits of Alanis Morisette) and discarded the chaff, you would end up with her music. Below are MP3 samples from some of the tracks on the album (with intentionally reduced sound quality):1) L.A. (1:11)
This is the song I heard on the radio that got me intrigued enough to buy the CD. It suffers a bit from too much chorus repetition at the end, but a quick snip of a few phrases when I loaded it on my computer solved that problem pretty quickly (kind of like a musical vasectomy).2) Gotta Get Up From Here (1:15)
This song's starting to get more air time -- it's got a nice rhythmic pulse and a pleasant mood to it. Track 3 has much of the same feeling to it.5) Never Be the Same (0:21)
A well-constructed but ridiculously overwrought pop song that could have been done by any old artist. I have the same issue here as I had with Mika -- I like a good pop song, but when I'm listening to a unique-sounding artist, I want to hear their unique take on the pop song. Nonetheless, your younger siblings are probably going to dance to this song at their prom.6) Hour of Need (0:59)
This is a transitory song between the first half of the CD (which is more melodic) and the second, more-rhythmic half (not to mention that the hip-hop beats would sound ridiculous directly after Track 5). The introduction is obviously designed so freshman sightsingers can learn about suspensions. I like the song though.8) Bigger Than You'll Ever Imagine (1:14)
Track 8 is probably my favourite track, because it's got a strong sense of pacing and orchestration, and blends her recitation skils with her vocal acrobatics. Most of the second half of this CD includes sections of British rapping, which is always fun to listen to.9) 999 (0:59)
This song is pretty catchy, and would rate considerably higher if it didn't include the sound of a police siren -- that's just impolite to people listening in the car. The Charlatans UK were guilty of this on Sympatico too.10) Get What's Mine (1:00)
This is a very Jem-esque song (with a dash of Lily Allen), but the distinctive timbre of Lawson's voice gives it a little something extra. It's almost a musical representation of a person skipping around.12) Why the Fighting (MP3, 1:18)
The final track is my second favourite, and is a good blend of all her talents.
Bottom Line: It's a fun, well-conceived CD that's quickly becoming one of my favourites, and is especially worth its price: this CD is a $15 exclusive from Barnes and Noble (a.k.a. the most expensive bookstore on Earth that no one orders from), which means that you should do like I did and order it (brand new) off of Amazon Marketplace for five bucks (shipping included). What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section!
Happy Birthday Meg Wilhoite and Richard Gabster!Carnivore Sex is off the table
a clinically proven method of testing your mental acuity
♠ Ever since it flagged www.dooce.com as Pornography, I knew that the "learning" Web Filter at my job was a bit overzealous. My presumptions were confirmed yesterday when I tried to visit a Department of Defense site and found it blocked for my protection. I guess the filter is worried that I may be doing a Google search on semi-automatic weapons and bombs for a Postal-style operation. Luckily, I ordered the potassium nitrate from home.
♠ It's been another hot and dry week, which means I've spent lots of time indoors (a highly unusual occupation since I generally spend three out of five weekdays backpacking the Appalachian trail barefoot). You probably can't tell because I'm Asian, but I'm starting to a develop a tan. Thankfully, I have built in UVA protection, having gone to Tech.
♠ Last week, Emily bought me a new VT sticker to put in my back window which I can actually affix without Scotch tape. The stickers from FSU and T.C. Williams have long since curled into worthless husks of stickiness, much like cicadas run over by a bicycle.
♠ I have not yet ridden my biycle -- the first half the week was devoted to revamping the web site in such a manner that Beavis believed it to be broken, so another thing I'll do this weekend is to calibrate the brakes and do doughnuts around Booty.
♠ You may believe that doughnuts around Booty are cruel, but she can easily hold her own around baked goods with holes in them -- a fact I learned firsthand in Tallahassee when I left her alone in the kitchen at night.
♠ Mike, of Chompy and Mike, will be coming up next week to help Jamie move to D.C., and will get to see how big my Booty has gotten since he last saw her four years ago. Chompy will not be making the trip, but Booty hates Chompy anyhow.
♠ I'm not sure how much more mileage I can get out of this picture, but I'm sure it's good for at least ten more uses. Maybe Mike can wager "not using this picture anymore" when we beat him at poker next weekend.
♠ This weekend, I have a barbeque / poker extravaganza to go to in Centreville on Saturday, followed by a stop at the Suzanne-Biddick-Smiths to pick up the gay kitty brothers for another weeklong stay at Chateauri (title courtesy of Mike). They spend so much time at my house that I won't be surprised when they become latchkey kids and start doing drugs. It's all good though because I got a gift certificate for opening up my home to the kitties, which I promptly spent on the TV show, Freaks and Geeks, and two cheap-o CDs by The Darkness. On Sunday, I planning on filling out all my passport forms so I can go visit Paige in Spain next spring/summer, because the wait time for a passport is roughly fifteen years right now.
♠ In 2005, Paige went through my site and compiled a list of her favourite witty sayings. You may have noticed the ubiquitous revolving quote in the upper right below Big Blue (a feature suggested by Anna). If you have suggestions for quotes from this site or related somehow to this site, please let me know and I'll add them to the page!
♠ Have a great weekend!They ranged from "It's fun" to "I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease".
Next week, little Becca, the second-youngest regular visitor to the URI! Zone, will leave the area for her first semester at Virginia Tech, continuing the longstanding family tradition of doing everything the four older sisters do (with one inexplicable "who the heck goes to James Madison University? whatevs." anomaly in the early nineties, that will probably be rewritten in the Official Family Biography pamphlet when their homestead becomes a Historic Preservation Site). Because embarassing photos are fun, here is a picture of her in the sixth grade (the same year I started writing daily updates) as a member of the St. Timothy Tigers, a basketball team that puma'led a lion's share of their opponents.
Becca recently got her rooming assignments to the "indifferent, but thank God it's not a Pritchard" Lee Hall, the same dorm that both Kelley's girlfriend, Tula, and Shac lived in for their wild freshman years. To mark the occasion, I thought I would write about my own rooming/roommate experiences on the Virginia Tech campus.
In Fall '96, I was assigned to West Ambler-Johnston Room 5050 which, coincidentally enough, was also the ratio of my high school acquantainces who came to Tech and then failed out because they spent all day locked in their rooms playing Quake. I lived with a sax player from Gloucester who was generally pretty cool when he wasn't on a misguided quest to get me out of my shell by inviting me to sax parties, buying me classy shirts for Christmas, or dragging me to see the newly-revised Star Wars trilogy that had just been re-released in theatres. He also used to play along to Kenny G CDs on his soprano sax, until our perpetually high Resident Advisor, Blair (or maybe it was Shawn), told him to knock it off.
The following year, he moved off campus, and I threw my fate to the roll of the lottery system for a new roommate, ending up in 3119 East AJ with Dan Shiplett (a.k.a. Beavis). Once again, our co-existence was friendly and low-drama. I stayed in writing pep band arrangements, and he went out to give his computer time to render various ridiculous 3D models, like the Marching Virginians Trumpets logo. He drove home to Maryland almost every other weekend, and I generally leeched a ride off of him -- we always stopped in Verona to get dinner at Subway, after which I would eat my sub and then fall asleep for the remainder of the trip. Dan was also a member of the VT Paintball club, and once when he was driving to a game, he slammed on the brakes to stop from hitting a car in front of him, causing a giant canister of CO2 to rocket out of his back seat to smash his car's console.
In Fall '98, Dan moved off-campus and I stayed in the room with a CS major I knew from high school. Relations were good, with the exception of the late nights where he and one of two friends would argue over how to solve mathematical proofs or who was smarter. He was easily the messiest roommate I had, with soda cans and scrap paper littering his half of the room -- a feeble attempt to discover penicillin yet again. However, he was rarely ever in the room, choosing to spend most of his time bugging his high school girlfriend, Kim.
The next year, I moved across the hall into Kelley Corbett's room, which came complete with a Dustbuster, a carpet with padding, a hot pot, and other amenities I had done without in the previous three years (Everything you move in, you have to move out, I reasoned, so why bring anything other than a computer?). When he wasn't on the road spreading the word of the Freemasons, or visiting his eventually-crazy girlfiend, he was off in the practice room or taking a shower with a different towel every day (because the towel touches your junk, and thus, should not be reused). For bonding activities, we would play Blitz '99, watch That 70s Show, or I would listen to his practicing and try to deflate his ego a couple notches.
For my fifth year, I finally moved off-campus and into a crappy Foxridge apartment where I got the biggest bedroom and private bathroom solely on the basis of my gender. My roommates were two girls: Rosie, whose was addicted to Dawson's Creek and the first season of Survivor, and whose showers were of epic-length, sometimes longer than an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with commercial breaks; and Anna, Becca's older sister who was initially worried about what her parents would say when she asked to live with a boy. We also adopted the cat, Kitty, who would ensure that we'd never see a cent of our security deposit by peeing on every square inch of the carpet throughout the apartment.
Share some of your own roommate/rooming stories!Roo-moval comes at $3600 a head
in which I have thirty minutes to write a thirty second song
Carsick: (adj.) suffering from motion sickness caused by a moving vehicleMy Composition (0:30 MP3)
I've found that it's much easier to approach composition from a rhythmic or harmonic vamp when faced with the thirty-minute deadline. This piece didn't turn out quite the way I wanted, and I wasted several minutes trashing and rewriting the second half.Mamma's boy cut off
After a hiatus of approximately nine years, I started biking again, taking evening jaunts around my sidewalkless neighbourhood after the temperature and the traffic have cooled off. With each trip, I'm rediscovering why biking is so much better than the other exercises I might deign to stoop to (and muscles I'd forgotten existed).
Biking is better than running, because when you run somewhere, you generally have to run back (unless you have inadvertently circumnavigated the globe). Stopping while running doesn't get you any closer to your goal, but you can coast occasionally on a bike. Stationary biking is nice because after you've biked a mile, you get up and you're still in your living room, eliminating the need for a return trip. However, the scenery is more boring than a Robert Altman movie unless you watch TV or read a book, and I tend to slow or stop cycling as I get more distracted by a show.
The past two nights, I started exploring the little clusters of subdivisions around my house, ones which (until now) I've only driven past on the way home from Popeyes. The naming conventions for roads are quite complex: east-west roads are named after bushes and trees, unless they also curve north-south, in which case they're named after Presidents. North-south streets are all Presidents, except for courts, which are assigned silly gender-neutral names as if someone on the naming board was one of those yuppy parents that named their kid, Throck or Teegan.
The only exceptions to these rules are in the northeastern corner of the neighbourhood, where there was obviously a dearth of acceptable trees, Presidents, and random mixes of consonants and vowels. Here, the streets are just given girls' names -- probably all the girls the head of the Street Board slept with in college. I hear Sue Ann and Lisa Gaye were pretty hot (but I'm not sure I want to know the story behind Gary and Jonathan).
Despite having sections with less than 50 yards of open fields between my neighbourhood and the town of Herndon, there are no through streets in the area I bike -- a measure surely intended to keep out all the illegal immigrants who couldn't possibly cross this vast expanse of undeveloped meadow to the promised land. Over there, where the property taxes are roughly four times my annual income, the streets are given names like "Powells Tavern" and "Josephines Bordello" so they evoke the quaint eighteenth century spirit of Olde Herndone.
It was much easier living in Alexandria, where every street was named after a failed Confederate soldier and every stop sign looked like a Confederate flag (but without the blue stripes and white stars).FBI stops weeding out the applicants
When I was in kindergarten, I had some brilliant ideas on how to improve the quality of life around my house, mainly by building a cooler house. The ground floor of The Pickett Oak had traditional sensibilities -- you came in from the terras and immediately freshened up in the powder room (whatever the hell that is). Food was prepared in the kichen and eaten in the dinner room (no word on where lunch is eaten), and clothes were washed in the youteltey room.
It's the second floor of the house that really deserves the architectural accolades. Our private collection could be displayed in the art gallerey and we could play a rousing game of dodgeball in the pe room (though the team on the far side probably has a disadvantage given the shape of the walls). There's even a little room to dump a baby in.
These plans were, tragically, not approved by the Alexandria Zoning Commission.
In seventh grade, I had moved from avant garde blueprints to doodles of cows and bulls. This collection of bulls was a play on words using the suffix as a homonym (one might say that they are bleprints).
Speaking of beef, here is a sketch I made in Mrs. Hamberger's seventh grade English class -- our teacher had gotten into a somewhat serious car accident and we spent about two weeks with a revolving selection of substitute teachers who didn't assign much work. I'm not sure that every contestant in this picture is humorous, but I must say that I drew a pretty funny fat kid (contestant #7).
Here is a fable I wrote during ninth grade World Literature class with Mr. Bonfanti. Apparently you cannot translate a word into Olde Englishe simply by adding an "e".
the DeLorean of fragment-based columns
♠ I have the day off today and you don't. Happy Friday.
♠ As I was charging to my Leave account this morning (a grand total of -2 Hours since I worked extra last week), I noticed that I currently have 296 Hours of Leave saved up -- this means that I could ostensibly take seven full weeks off from work and backpack across Europe. Alternately, I could sell it all back and buy a Winnebago (Fully equipped, big kitchen, water bed . . . AM-FM, CD, microwave). I always intend to use up more vacation time, but whenever I get around to charging, it seems like I've worked enough hours to cover the deficit.
♠ Speaking of backpacking across Europe, I submitted all the paperwork for my passport on Tuesday, which means I'll be able to go visit Paige in Spain (she falls mainly on the plain) next year. A trip of this magnitude would mark the first time since my highly-anticipated arrival in 1980 that I've left the North American continent.
♠ I had to submit my Certificate of Naturalization with my passport application, so until it gets returned, I have no recourse should I accidentally get deported in one of northern Virginia's daily immigrant roundups. If you get advance word of such a round-up coming to my heavily Latino neighbourhood, please send me an email so I can hide.
♠ This week, I also purged a decade's worth of email from my hard drive -- no mean feat for a packrat such as myself. I figured I would never again need the complete record of messages I sent out to the MV Trumpets Listserv (since 90% were either "Trumpet football at 4 PM on Sunday" or "First Trumpets stop adding high notes") or Dr. Sochinski's complete lecture notes for HAMS class (even if they did allow me to ace the FSU entrance exams with little to no studying). Here are two random quotes I found amusing while cleaning out my (mail) closet:
♠ "Since this is a diversity-funded project, please highlight Keith's (upper left) African-American heritage by darkening the skin tone just a little." -- notes on the draft of a promotional poster I made at Virginia Tech
♠ "It's a hell of a lot better than the stuff composed by a guy I know who's a doctoral student in composition at Rice. He's trying to make a go of it in composition because, well, he doesn't have any other real skills." -- feedback about one of my songs from a girl I knew in high school
♠ I would like to warn the audience that nested fragments, which are utilized above, are incredibly dangerous, and should only be used by accomplished Friday Fragments experts.
♠ You may have also noticed that the little icon for a fragment is now a Spade rather than the Club it was in 2006. This is because my membership expired.
♠ Yesterday, I used my Costco membership to stock up on beer for the visit of Mike and Jamie (who arrived late last night, and who will stay through the weekend). They made the thirteen hour trip up from Florida in a single day, and called me enroute from Halifax, a city I've never heard of. I had to look it up on Google Maps.
♠ If you haven't used Google Maps recently, you'll be interested to know that they have a new feature that lets you pick the roads you want to take. Simply plot your location and destination, then drag the blue line between them with your mouse. In this manner, you can favour one road over another. This is the reason why Google will take over the world -- they know exactly how to make things useful!
♠ This weekend, I'll be helping Mike move Jamie into a posh apartment in D.C. It will mark my second trip to D.C. in a single week, since Rebecca and I met up with some of her friends for D.C. Restaurant Week on Wednesday at Georgia Brown's (the Orange Studded Chocolate Mousse Bombs were tasty). After moving day, there will be a very special edition of Poker Night, where the titans of the South (a.k.a. Mike and Jamie of Tallahassee) will battle the titans of the fake North (a.k.a. a rotation of my regular poker players in Northern Virginia) in a fight to the finish.
♠ "It's a fight to the finish. That's a good place to end." -- Mitch Hedberg
♠ Don't forget that this Sunday is 12 of 12. Have a great weekend!Update on 4Real: Now his name is Superman
9:01 AM: Here is the obligatory post-shower shot, since I got in trouble last month for wearing a shirt in it.
9:23 AM: Making bacon in my Makin' Bacon device. Perfect grease-free bacon in three minutes, with no messy cleanup. As seen on TV!
9:55 AM: Jamie and Mike eating breakfast and smoking some bacon before heading out to do touristy things in the greater metropolitan area. Mike will probably put up their 12 of 12 on his own site sometime in the next couple days.
10:18 AM: While running low on entertainment options, we decided to bring out the catnip, letting the two visiting kitty brothers have a fight to the finish and placing bets.
11:14 AM: After a spot of telecommuting for my real job, I did a little off-the-cuff graphic design work.
12:22 PM: Next, I tore up the beds in the guest room, in case Jamie or Mike had typhoid fever or tuberculosis while they were here.
12:45 PM: Doing a load of laundry with the bedsheets and my new giant, fluffy Costco towels ($18 for a set).
1:08 PM: Eating leftover chips and dip from Poker Night last night, and watching Freaks and Geeks.
5:12 PM: Went out hunting to catch dinner and cornered a pound of individually-wrapped ground beef in the freezer (It put up a terrible fight and I was lucky to remain unscarred).
6:02 PM: Leaving Sterling for Falls Church.
6:31 PM: Cutting up strawberries for some chocolate fondue.
7:03 PM: Making toasted bread with dipping cheese and buttered mushrooms to go with our pasta dinner. We ultimately got full on mushrooms and cheese and skipped the pasta completely.
10:09 PM: BONUS "Light": Coming home from Falls Church to my lovely home.
As housing officials at colleges around the country send out roommate assignments to freshmen this summer, a growing number of schools say they're getting more requests for changes -- from parents who don't like the roommates' Facebook profiles.
It looks like the "helicopter parents" have gained one more weapon in their quest to completely envelope their offspring in a protective Teflon bubble, which means that the day is not far off when the world will be filled with young twenty-somethings incapable of changing a tire or making a reservation. It won't be long until you'll see someone in the check-out line at the grocery store calling up Mom to ask what a "PIN Number" is, or whether it's better to get paper or plastic.
Parents sometimes see cups in photos and make the leap to alcohol and drugs, Manetas says.
Generally, when I see cups, I make the leap to boobies, but the article is somewhat unclear as to what kind of cups are shown in the pictures. This would have been a perfect article for metro.co.uk, who probably would have posted some booby pictures with the caption "what the cups may have looked like".
The problem with the parents' rationale is that a high-school Facebook profile is 85% posturing and 15% true-to-life. Trying to formulate a picture of what a person is like based on their Facebook page is akin to believing everything you read in an online dating profile (as a matter of fact, I was the runner-up in the 1987 Mr. Universe competition. Just because you're eight years old doesn't mean you can't have the guns).
Wark recalls getting a call from a parent who had "psychological and sanitary concerns" about a student's new roommates, both of whom were gay men.
Those damn dirty gays. Actually, I bet that having a gay roommate would result in more sanitary living conditions than a straight frat boy. Having two gay roommates? You could probably perform open-heart surgery on the living room carpet without fear of infection.
The University of Georgia has a password-protected program called the Dawg House on its website for freshmen to search for roommates.
UG also has less-publicized programs on its website, such as Pimpin' N' Ho'n, for locating roomates of the opposite gender, Fo Drizzle, for catching a ride to campus on rainy days, and Bling Da Bling, for rich Asian-Americans to locate roommates of a similar social and economic background.
Most of the schools contacted by USA TODAY say they have not made roommate changes as a result of such calls from parents.
Thank goodness. I agree that college costs are way out of line these days, but I also think that the parents who are paying the tuition should NOT be treated like university customers. Your kid is eighteen-years-old now -- if he cannot learn to handle roommmate issues on his own, he's not going to get very far in life.1
If anything, parents are looking for the wrong warning signs -- instead of perusing Facebook, they should be checking for the existence of a Myspace account, since it automatically implies that the person will be loud, garish, enjoy bright, pastel colours, spend all their time posting bulletins on the dormitory walls, and own a stereo that automatically turns on when you walk into the room.
1: The only exception to this rule is the one Indian roommate with the overpowering body odour who refuses to shower and can be smelled from all the way down the hall. For some reason, there will always be exactly one of these in every dorm, no matter how many other normal Indians you meet on campus.
Happy Birthday to my sister and Monica Frey!Memo to the Dept. of Magical Copyright Enforcement
BU at 15 data points
August 15, 1992: I had a Saturday afternoon art class at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, which I missed because I was off at Junior Leadership Camp wearing this colourful hat.
August 15, 1993: I don't have any information about this day, but I was probably at high school band camp, learning the show for Mirada and Fascinating Rhythm. I was just going into tenth grade, and my sister was a senior.
August 15, 1994: In the last of the big family vacations, the four of us took the auto-train from Virginia to Florida, and then spent a week at the various overpriced theme parks and beaches.
August 15, 1995: I had a band rehearsal in the morning, wowing impressionable freshmen with my drum major techniques, after which I biked home, practiced my conducting, made a Doom 2 level, and waited for Jack to get home from Canadian Canoe Camp to play it.
August 15, 1996: Today was the second to last day at my PEPCO internship, where I did a "full-day's work" of entering power plant ash tickets in an hour, delivered mail to the entire company in another hour, and then logged onto the Webchat Broadcasting System and chatted for the remaining six hours.
August 15, 1997: I was that (indubitably cool) guy that comes back from college to help out with the high school band, so I spent today teaching marching, having trumpet sectionals, and flirting with the new drum major.
August 15, 1998: I spent all day working on the third movement of Olio, commissioned by Joe Ehrenberger for his senior recital, and ultimately played at my own recital three years later, featuring Doobie on the tuba. In the evening, I went over to Chris Sharp's house and listened to him bitch about how much he hated high school.
August 15, 1999: I went up the street to our neighbours' (the Jarretts) house and took care of their new puppy, Bailey, while they were out of town. This mainly involved me cleaning poop and pee off the kitchen floor. In the evening I packed for a trip back to Tech, and left the next morning in the 1994 Dodge Spirit.
August 15, 2000: I was already down at Tech, having moved into Foxridge the previous weekend. Anna moved in today, and band camp started the next day.
August 15, 2001: Anna and Emily stopped by my house to say goodbye, and then I took the auto-train to Florida once again, this time on my own and ready to wow the Florida State musical world with my awesome arrangement of Irish Washerwoman which I edited in the rail car.
August 15, 2002: I took care of the paperwork necessary to become a bona fide resident of Florida (necessary to get a cheaper tuition rate that more closely matched the quality of the classes I was taking).
August 15, 2005: I went down to the BN12 lab at Skyline 7 in Bailey's Crossroad (for a different project) and sat in a freezing lab all day, watching tests run. With my lack of clearance, I wasn't allowed to touch the computer back then. Now I can toss them in the back seat and take them home to install World of Warcraft.
August 15, 2006: Not much happened, other than the fact that I bitched about the fact that there's a new Madden game every year. Madden '08 came out yesterday, and it's clearly better than Madden '07 because the number suffix is bigger.Accused says he was just milking the goat
With the exception of the time Arnold Schwarzenegger visited for a photo opportunity (during which all seven black kids got to sit in front so our school would look ethnic), our elementary school gym program was neither exciting or innovative. We had gym three times a week, and spent ten minutes running around a circle, jumping over cones to the sounds of really bad 80s records. Sometimes, if we had exhausted all other possibilities, we had off-the-wall diversions like Parachute Day or How to Square Dance.
One such diversion, with little to no aerobic benefits, was Jump Rope Week. During this week, Ms. Joyner and Ms. Balthasar (the two single, yet strangely close joint gym teachers) would put on Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody and the entire class would begin jump roping. The goal was to continuously jump for ten straight minutes without stopping or getting tangled on your rope. Obviously, you would tire out quickly if you put any effort into your jumping, so most people tried to jump as slowly and steadily as possible. The winners for the day would get a gold star, and the winner overall after several contests received... a free jump rope!
The problem with this contest was that it was staged to be won by the rich kids, who could afford to buy the lightweight neon jump ropes from the school for $5 a pop. My sister and I could, of course, but my dad the economist always insisted that "$5 for a jump rope was a rip-off". As such, we were left with the box of shared, lost, and/or unwanted ropes. These jump rope orphans came in only two varieties: twined plastic tubes that looked like a charm necklace gone horribly wrong and clattered against your legs with the force of a drive-by shooting, or the honest-to-goodness one made out of rope, with giant wooden hotdog handles. The latter kind were always the ones to get picked up by the resident sweaty kid, who usually lost his grip at some point during the session, hitting a crying girl in the back of the head or legs.
Besides the obvious advantage that a lighter jump rope affords, the rich kids were less likely to get tripped up on their ropes, and didn't have to worry about amputating their legs to prevent infection every time the plastic tubes pinched shins. After several contests in which the same three rich kids always won, the disgruntled working class unionized and kept a sharp eye out for any cheating or even a semblance of cheating. And, like any good public school, there was plenty of cheating to be found.
Kids would jump so slowly that their ropes would actually lose momentum in midair and start to fall straight down. Kids would alternate between jumping with both feet to jumping off one foot and then the other (this is as bad a travelling in basketball or putting your foot in the windmill blades in mini golf). Kids would stumble on the ropes and then keep going, hoping that nobody noticed.
In my five years of elementary school, I never once won a jump rope contest, even though I had plenty of jump roping prowess. I could jump rope backwards, with my arms crossed, double-jump (or as Alex might say, "with multiple jumps"), on one foot, and I could even do the retarded move where you spun your rope to the left and right as if you were machete-ing your way through a dense jungle. My problem wasn't lack of skill, just lack of interest. Around the six minute mark, I would always get incredibly bored and stop paying attention, ultimately resulting in a tragic plastic tube mishap. This character flaw persisted well into college, where I consistently fell asleep in classes at the forty-five minute mark.
Even the fifty minute classes.She said she had e-mailed TVX and was told that her photo was to blame for the DVD's poor sales.
useless filler, not unlike the hour of TV on ABC before LOST comes on
♠ Today is the last day of work for my old project manager. On the positive side, it bumps me up in the food chain to a Technical Lead again (two slots away from Despot), but the downside is that I'll probably spend more time commuting to the Skyline office in Bailey's Crossroad until they hire a new onsite liaison. I've already gone twice in the past week, which is almost as much as I went in all of 2004.
♠ I've been up to my neck in work this week, which is quite a bit of work when you're as tall as I am. As a result, I haven't had as much time to devote to things like coming up with ingenious puns for this website or feeding a hungry Manilan boy to a tiger for just pennies a day.
♠ Yesterday morning, while hard at work in my office, the window looking into the computer lab around the corner spontaneously shattered, and spent the next two hours fracturing into spider webs inside of its frame. No one was around, but the cracks had a center-point, so maybe there is an office poltergeist chucking paperweights at things, much like the plot of The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Sndyer.
♠ I've almost completed my ongoing repurchasing of "favourite childhood books accidentally donated to the library". There are only seven books remaining:
♠ Normally I would buy these immediately (because I am three parts Korean and one part yuppy), but I am not allowed to purchase anything between August 1 and my birthday on September 15, because I always end up buying whatever Anna bought me and then she gets mad and throws the baby at the dog.
♠ Some other items in my shopping cart at the moment: the first season of Heroes, the second season of Prison Break, KT Tunstall's new CD, Drastic Fantastic, and Masters of Fantasy by Bill Fawcett. I promise I won't buy any of this until the 16th.
♠ My list of things to review is starting to overflow -- one of these days I'll need to do a bloated behemoth of a Review Day update to cover the movies, You, Me and Dupree, Pan's Labyrinth, batteries not included, and Die Hard 4, the TV series, Freaks and Geeks, a Gameboy game, Meteos, my trip in June to see Bill Cosby at Wolf Trap, and assorted CDs by Gemma Hayes and The Darkness. Alternately, I'll just let enough time pass for things to become long forgotten, much like I did when I said Kathy and Mike could write a guest entry in 2004, and when I solicited suggestions from everyone in January of this year. I'm pretty sneaky like that.
♠ This weekend, I don't have any major plans, but I'll probably work some on both Saturday and Sunday so I can get some things done without fear of the disruptions and distractions that often come up when you try to work at work. Next week will be more of the same, but in three weeks' time, I'll be using some of my million hours of leave to go to one of those so-called "beaches" in Delaware. Hopefully, I'll get to see a wind turbine.
♠ Have a great weekend!Snakes don't want to get some hot tail
Ella is now four feet tall and one-hundred twenty pounds.
Amber noticed that the dishes in the rack were dripping water into the sink, and resolved to fix the leak.
Playing a game of Apples to Apples during the Mike/Jamie visit.
Poker Night last weekend. Rebecca came in first place, followed by Kristy, Florida-Mike, Jaood-Mike, myself, Jamie, and then Jack. Jack paid two buy-ins, went out first, and had his wife win the buy-ins back.
If you ever go to the Arlington County Fair, don't forget to ride the SCAT.
Every good county fair has a petting zoo.
The llama wasn't sure if this was a dog or a very tasty hor d'oeuvre.
Later on, they raced various farm animals around a track, and the announcer told one of the volunteers from the crowd that she "would make a great dingaling".
More PicturesSee more August Pictures
MoviesAmber in a Horror Movie (3MB WMV)
Happy Birthday Matt Hackworth!Man saved by Heimlich-seat-belt
what I've been up to this week
|Sunday, 2:30 PM: Sat down to do some work from home but found that the VPN server was down. Took a trip into the office and stayed there until late. Had leftover shrimp lo mein and beef with mushrooms for dinner.||Sunday, 10:30 PM: It was so pleasant out that I decided to open all the windows and air out my house (no doubt, the scent of manliness and success permeated the premises).|
|Sunday, 1:00 AM: The "perpetually running free until picked up by animal control then running free again" Alaskan Husky from two doors down, who I have named Miguel, got in a fight with a skunk in my driveway. The stench wafted through all the open windows in my house.||Monday, 5:30 AM: Got in the car to drive to Baileys Crossroad before HOV restrictions closed off the main road for rush hour and found that it reeked of skunk. Plus, the first song that came on the radio was TATU.|
|Monday: Spent all morning manually implementing fixes on set of servers strategically placed directly next to an air-conditioner vent, which made the ambient temperature hover near fifty and the noise level somewhere between lawnmower and jet engine on the classic Decibel illustration chart.||Monday, 10:30 PM: Returned to the office at 1, worked until 6, ate some Shells and Cheese, and then worked until 10. Decided to open the windows again to air out the skunkiness.|
|Tuesday Night: Thunderstorms roll in, forcing me to wake up and shut all the windows. Multiple inches of rain received.||Tuesday, 5:30 AM: Car still smells like skunk. Drove through the rain back to Baileys Crossroad (sixty miles round trip). Sat outside the lab for a half hour because the official lab-opener didn't show up.|
|Tuesday: Spent the day working on three separate issues, running between three separate banks of computers, only two of which were near the phones. Around 11, three more members of the team showed up, and had to be escorted around the secret computers with evidence of alien existence under a ridiculously restrictive escort policy.||Tuesday, 4:45 PM: Finally left the lab and went to my parents' house to wait for rush hour to end. Stole food from their freezer for |
|Tuesday, 7:00 PM: Left Alexandria in the skunk car just as a massive thunderstorm swept through the area. My car failed inspection last May so the inspectors could charge me $40 for a new pair of wipers. They don't work -- they skip across the windshield with a dubba-dubba-dubba sound.||Tuesday, 7:40 PM: Arrived home to find that Booty had eaten Amber, fearing that my extended absence meant that she would never be fed again. Did some more work and went to bed.|
There are no spoilers in these reviews
You, Me, and Dupree
This movie had a few funny moments, but it couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a buddy comedy or a relationship drama. It also couldn't decide whether the story was about the betterment of the title character, Dupree, who's a single layabout, or the issues of the newly married couple he shacks up with. Matt Dillon is slightly less annoying than normal here, and Michael Douglas has a fun supporting role as the overbearing father-in-law. Good for a rainy day, or when there aren't any other movies on the shelf.
Final Grade: C+
A story about a little girl who discovers a mythological world, set against the backdrop of World War I in Spain. Other than a few brief scenes of highly realistic violence, it worked very well, as long as you're willing to read subtitles (the entire movie is in Spanish). Although the English title is Pan's Labyrinth, the story is not directly tied to Greek mythology, and the faun in the story is not actually Pan.
Final Grade: A-
batteries not included
Rebecca and I found this in a thrift store for fifty cents, after just having discussed it as memorable childhood movie. It's a fun light-hearted movie of the 80s from the era when Steven Spielburg was king. The story tells of alien robots who come to Earth and are capable of fixing things, and it's neat to see the throwback special effects and Spielburg's classic style of giving his robots humanistic characteristics. The personification of the street thug as a guy wearing a wife beater and a Miami shirt is worth a chuckle too.
Final Grade: A
Live Free or Die Hard
This was the first movie I'd seen in the theatre since last February's Music and Lyrics trip. This is the fourth movie in the Die Hard series, so if you go into it expect a Die Hard style movie, you will love it. The fact that the plot has John McClane racing across much of the East Coast lessens some of the suspense, but the stunts, explosions, and action are all top-notch. The only part of the movie I didn't like was the ridiculous scene towards the end which involved a big rig truck and a fighter jet. You have to suspend a lot of disbelief to enjoy an action movie, but that particular scene was just so over the top that it was laughable.
Final Grade: A-
Happy Birthday Ann Lamond!Being my size, I have to eat a lot, and this [money] will go towards paying the grocery bill.
the literary cure for syphillis
♠ A recent glance at my server stats shows that the Americans continue to charge cowboy into my website -- a veritable Pac-man on the pie chart, consuming all lesser countries in a single obesity-driven gulp.
♠ I'm guessing this means I should cater more to my target audience, with NASCAR Day, Fat Day, We Require A National Language Day, and Eating Fake Chinese Food Day, since getting Chinese carryout is an American pastime that every child must experience at some point. Canada is a "close" second on the chart, so I can also talk about ham and tooks.
♠ Sometime in the past year, I seem to have started pronouncing the word, toast, like a Canadian might pronounce the word, hoser. I don't think I can blame this on Blacksburg or Florida, the scapegoats for all my other peculiar pronunciations.
♠ The greatest snack in the world when you're hungry at bedtime but it's too late for a real meal is lightly-browned toast with butter. Yum!
♠ While searching for succulent images of toast to illustrate the above fragment, I found a site with one of those fuzzy 3D pictures emblazoned on a piece of toast. I was always pretty good at seeing stereogram images, but I know people who could stare at them for hours without seeing a thing. The funniest part of stereograms is listening to people who CAN see them try to explain them to frustrated people who desperately WANT to see them.
♠ Sometimes I want to make a fake stereogram with nothing in it, just to see how many posers (rhymes with hosers) pretend that they can actually see something. I'm betting it would be a much higher number than expected. In fact, here is a stereogram of a pony on my belly. Can you see it? The ass is on the right.
♠ This weekend, the plan is to work, start planning out the ridiculously posh improvements to be done to my basement this Fall, and attend Anna's church bell concert, featuring Ella as the bell dampener. It's supposed to be a highly musical experience, so come on out.
♠ Happy Birthday tomorrow to Nancy Livingston and Beth Smith!Warner Bros. Follows the Yellow Brick Road
Simply go to the comments section to complete these eight sentences and wait for the hilarity to ensue!
1) There ought to be a law against...
2) Michael Vick belongs in...
3) I hate having to choose between...
4) In the future when tasty food is replaced completely by vitamin pills, I will...
5) The thing about babies is that...
6) Everything would be alright if only...
7) The only thing worse than a politician is...
8) My life is full of...
Happy Birthday Mike Buns!Campers tie peeper to a tree
in which I have thirty minutes to write a thirty second song
Dinkiest: (adj.) the smallest, the least important, or the worst qualityMy Composition (0:30 MP3)
I initially envisioned this title as referring to one of those old-fashioned music boxes that play by rotating a spiked metal roll against many metal pins. That, plus the fact that I had just gone to Anna's "Saintly Dingaling" handbell concert on Sunday inspired me to use just a single sound for all the parts. As this progressed, it started getting out of hand, and away from the concept of dinky. Thankfully, my thirty minutes ran out before I made a full-fledged transformation into Steve Reich.
Happy Birthday to Wythe, Corey, and Gretchen!Australian teenager cracks $84-million Internet porn filter in 30 minutes
For three years in elementary school, my sister and I attended day care every morning from 7 to 8:30 and every evening from 3:00 to 5:00. This wasn't today's version of day care that costs more than a semester of college and lasts all day with "child care professionals" -- instead, it was merely a holding pen for kids whose parents' work schedule didn't sync up with the school schedule, run for minimum wage by the least-qualified workers in the day care industry. You could probably pool the child-care knowledge of all three ladies in charge (who probably wrote "able to procreate" under job experience) and responsibly care for 3/8ths of a child.
Day care took place in the cafeteria, a high-ceilinged rectangular room that was half round tables and half long tables. On the first morning that my sister and I were dropped off, we claimed a round table and talked about school. Soon after, a crybaby third grader (who was coming to day care for the first time as well) sat down at another table and bawled because his parents had left. The woman-in-charge decided to stop the crying by ordering me to switch tables and play with this clown. As a result, she went from having one cryer to three -- I was crying because I had been separated from the only person I knew there, my sister was crying because we had been split up, and the snotty-nosed one contined to cry because he didn't want to play with me. This essentially sums up the day care experience.
The next year, my sister made friends with Rikki Jarrett (the same Jarretts whose dogs I took care off -- first Rusty the chihuahua and then Bailey the poopy puppy) who lived six houses closer to the school than we did. Her mom decided that she would drive us up to day care everyday, so my sister and I would walk the fifty yards to their house and then get a ride for the last (most arduous) 0.2 miles. My sister and her friend would ultimately drift apart, probably for some ridiculous teenage drama reason in seventh grade.
There really wasn't much to do in day care. More students attended the afternoon session, but that just resulted in more arguments over who got to play the single raggedy-assed copy of Candyland. The only fun toy in the closet was a poor man's air hockey table, a wooden structure that you played with a checker and two pencils -- I liked this so much that I asked my dad to build one at home, and got many hours of entertainment out of it. One month, my friend, Judd Gatch, procured a roll of shelf paper, and we proceeded to draw the world's longest maze, measuring roughly eight inches by twenty five feet. He moved soon after, and took my brilliant maze work with him.
Besides these toys and the occasional trip to the playground, the women in charge were at a loss for ways of keeping us entertained, a situation exacerbated by the fact that you really didn't get homework in those years. During one of the last Christmases I was in day care, they decided to hold a Christmas variety show for all the parents, part of which involved a production of The Three Little Pigs, using cardboard houses spray-painted by James Houck's dad to look like bricks and straw. I was the third pig, because Asians would never build a straw house when there are predators with the lung capacity of Arnold Jacobs around.
If day care taught me anything, it was that school-sponsored activities were the way out. By my final years of elementary school, I was making icepacks for the nurse in the morning, and doing gymnastics in the afternoons. This went on until it was no longer cost-effective to remain in day care -- by the fifth grade, I was watched over by my seventh grade sister at home, where we smoked crack and watched Duck Tales every day at 4:00.Miss Teen USA South Carolina answers a question
Amazon Marketplace has been the catalyst to kick start my long dormant CD-buying habits. In the past I averaged maybe five CDs per year, but the ability to get brand new CDs (still shrink-wrapped) for $3 to $6 each drives my clicky yuppy fingers wild. At this price, CDs with a musical prowess roughly equivalent to an undergraduate student trumpet recital recorded from the Green Room are much easier to dismiss without regrets.
Night on My Side by Gemma Hayes
I'd only heard a couple songs by Gemma Hayes when I bought this CD, but I really liked the timbre of her voice -- kind of like a Sia with less laryngitis. It turned out to be a major disappointment, with unmemorable tracks and several of those annoying artsy songs where the singer repeats the same phrase eighteen times over a repeating electronic loop. Good voice, bad music, and minus ten points for being an Enhanced CD that can't play in a computer without special software.
Final Grade: D+
The Roads Don't Love You by Gemma Hayes
Gemma's second released CD is much better than the first, and also contains the song I knew, Happy Sad. This is a very relaxing background CD without edges or complexities -- kind of like a folksy Ivy.
Final Grade: B
Pirate Queen by Boublil and Schonberg
This is the fourth musical by the Les Mis team (who also wrote Miss Saigon), and it played on Broadway this year. The pair definitely has a style -- when I saw Martin Guerre at the Kennedy Center, I kept hearing exact lifts from Les Miserables, and when I listen to this CD, I hear undertones of Martin Guerre, especially in "Here on This Night". The music is pleasant with no stand-out songs, and the story looks like it deserves a musical much more than the ridiculous bad story in Martin Guerre (Irish woman captaining a pirate ship vs. man's best friend returns to village to tell of man's death and gets mistaken for that man and shacks up with his wife then finds out man isn't dead after all and I don't consider this a spoiler because it happened in real life in 1554 so there) -- it's kind of like Martin Guerre with Irish jigs.
Final Grade: B
Permission to Land by The Darkness
This CD has the catchy single with the best throwback 80s rock video ever. The rest of the CD is so-so and clocks in at just under 40 minutes. I'd rate it lower but it only cost me $2 -- it's kind of like finding free pizza in the work fridge and then complaining that it doesn't have any mushrooms.
Final Grade: C+
One Way Ticket to Hell... and Back by The Darkness
The Darkness' second release, this CD is full of great songs and is also a pretty cohesive album. I especially liked the song, Bald which really captures the hard rock spirit perfectly. Its only downfall is a running time of 35 minutes -- Rosie has taken longer showers than this CD.
Final Grade: A-
All I have to do now is burn both Darkness CDs onto a single disc, and end up with a normal length CD worth a B+!
Happy Birthday Chris Li!Ninja teens not so swift
where the hell did August go?
Since the last day of the month (also known as "throwaway post day") has fallen on a Friday, there will not be any Friday Fragments today. Friday Fragments is a column of highly concentrated ingenuity, much like the end result of putting MacGuyver in a moonshine still, and to use it on the last day of the month (when posts immediately roll into the archive to make way for the next month) would be a travesty on par with putting the Jim Swearingen piece anywhere other than the Intermission on your concert.
Instead, today will be a chance to stop and take stock of what I've done and where I'm going. For anyone like Katie who was devastated to find that there would be no Fragments today, I'll even use the fragment spades to make you feel more at home.
Where I've Been
♠ January: I cancelled my World of Warcraft account, purchased Wario Ware, the craziest game of all time, and held the First Annual Impromptu Weekday Virginia Tech Poker Night (without Doobie).
♠ February: I took a week off from work and did absolutely nothing productive (unless you call beating Zelda productive), met Rebecca, and then had a lyrics-writing contest that Doobie won.
♠ March: I renovated my kitchen and living room, became the sole contributor to the Paravia Wiki (427 pages and counting), and had people over for St. Patrick's Day Corned Beef. Doobie was not involved in this month.
♠ April: Anna and Ben had a baby, I remodeled my bathrooms, and watched all five seasons of Six Feet Under while Rebecca was on a cross-country road trip. Oh, and bad stuff happened at Tech.
♠ May: I invented Museday Tuesday and had two parties: one for Cinco de Mayo and one for Memorial Day. Both parties had poker games, and I won for the first time EVER.
♠ June: I went to a Wine Festival, remodeled another bathroom, was introduced to sangria, saw Bill Cosby, and went to Jack and Kristy's wedding.
♠ July: Ella dressed up as Hedwig for the release of Harry Potter 7, and I went camping. Surely I did more than that, but that's all I can think of with my rapidly atrophying memory.
♠ August: I helped Jamie move, bought a bike, went to a fair with llamas and piggies, and made ten fifty mile trips to Bailey's Crossroad for work, earning $26 in gas perdiem each trip.
What's to Come
♠ September: The greatest month of all time (because of the birthdays it contains), I will be going to Bethany Beach for a week and celebrating my 28th with steak and potatoes. Charlie the cat, 20% of my sister's Christiansburg menagerie will also be staying at my house for two months, during which I'll introduce him to the mystical wonders of the catnip.
♠ October: October will be the month for remodeling my basement, and I may also try to make a trip down to Tech on a nice, quiet Away game weekend to help Becca get wasted. If I'm lucky, there will be a crappy student recital in the Recital Salon that I can turn pages for too.
♠ November: November, as always, is the Month of Thanksgivings, where I have a Thanksgiving Dinner every single weekend. Like last year, there will be a guest appearance by Paige of Spain, but she's only coming because her Wii in Spain is too far from the Internet hookup to download classic games and she wants to steal mine. The Passport Office might even have finished my passport by now.
♠ December: I'll be going to see Avenue Q at the National Theatre on December 2 and then spend the rest of the month wondering what the point of eggnog is. At the end of the month, when my leave pool is bursting at the seams with my three hundred plus hours, I'll sell some back for a hefty price, and then use the check with the "much less hefty because of taxes" payback to buy Christmas presents for everyone. I'm thinking live matching penguins for all my friends.
Happy Birthday to Don Linn on Sunday! Remember that there will not be a web site update on Monday, because it's a holiday and the only holidays I work for sound like Kermit and teach about symphonies.Holy Water, meet airport security
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