Posts from 02/2011

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Chart Day

Consequences for Drivers Who Sit Beyond the Crosswalk at a Red Light

Professor charged with peeing on colleague's door
Feral fowl foil followers
Jail For Pilot Too Drunk To Name Destination

tagged as data | permalink | 1 comment
day in history

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Stuff In My Drawers Day

Apparently, I also like to smash snails with a cricket bat and wear cast-off costumes from Reading Rainbow.

Being only five years old, I am unable to apply the concepts of perspective to my drawings. I also like to sign my name on every page of this book.

My sister is black, and is also a unicorn.

Our house is actually in Barcelona, which is currently under an air raid alert.

Yellow milk is delicious. Olives are still delicious. I like to sit at the table and expect people to serve me.

Because I attended school in the 80s, it was a very pixelated building. Our school bus was a pickup truck.

Flav's Fried Chicken officially opens
China TV 'substitutes Top Gun for air force footage'
Text message blows up suicide bomber by accident

tagged as green (recycled) content, media | permalink | 1 comment
day in history

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

Tiger Suit by KT Tunstall:
KT's third major album is a very different flavour from her previous ones -- there's more emphasis on synthesized effects and repetitive rhythms and less focus on acoustics. This CD didn't grab me on the first few listens, but it's grown on me over the past few weeks. It's a pretty mellow offering without any big hits, perfect for background music.

Final Grade: B

Despicable Me:
This non-Pixar animated film is no Toy Story, but it's light enjoyable fare about a has-been villain who tries to steal the moon but gets sidetracked by fatherhood. I found his yellow minions to be more derivative than funny, but the voice acting is solid, and this is a pleasant way to spend 90 minutes.

Final Grade: B

The Social Network:
Apparently, the studio believed that no one would watch this movie without accolades plastered all over the cover, but I thoroughly enjoyed this story of Facebook's origin. Facebook itself is almost secondary to the web of social relationships formed around Mark Zuckerberg, and Jesse Eisenberg does a solid job of portraying his social awkwardness without making him completely unlikeable. The account is also reasonably well balanced too -- although it has some Hollywood flair, it's not just a completely one-sided mudslinging job.

Final Grade: B+

The Guild, Season Three:
In the third season, the online guild is falling apart because of real-life interference from a rival guild just as the new expansion pack arrives in stores. The production values have definitely gone up since Season One, although the bulk of the jokes will still make more sense to gamers than non-gamers. I felt that this season was as good as the previous one. (Note: as a web show, an entire season is only about 80 minutes long).

Final Grade: B

If not for postal clerks, puppy would have been DOA
Man claims Glaxo drug made him 'gay sex addict'
Meet Titanoceratops, the Hornier Ancestor of Triceratops

tagged as reviews | permalink | 3 comments
day in history

Friday, February 04, 2011

Case Study Day: Blog Deaths

Where did everyone go?

BlogLast UpdateCause of Blog's Death
Katie Morton November 2010 Had a baby
Kim November 2010 Having a baby
Rob K November 2010 Internet outlawed in North Carolina?
Dad Gone Mad October 2010 Disseminated pictures of his penis to mommy bloggers and shut down in the aftermath
Mike C October 2010 Inexcusable lack of dedication?
Kristen S September 2010 Moving and wedding planning?
August 2010 Guys must have stopped eating stuff?
August 2010 Marriage
Sam E June 2010 Had a baby
May 2010 Moved to Facebook
May 2010 Had a baby
Russ O January 2010 Had a baby
November 2009 Eating burgers and writing about it is harder than it looks?

Conclusion: Babies are killing the Internet.

N.C. Official Sics License Police On Computer Scientist For Too Good a Complaint
Mystery of 200 dead cows solved
How Not to Deal With a Student Mother

tagged as lists, website | permalink | 7 comments
day in history

Monday, February 07, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up

After cheap sushi for dinner, Friday night was Game Night at Anna's, where we squeezed past the behemoth of a minivan to get to her front door for games of Hoopla and "How Many Different Excuses Can Ella Invent to Stay Up?". I won at Hoopla, mainly because it's one of those hippie games where everyone's on the same team and wins together.

On Saturday, I repaired a leaky toilet tank in my basement with my knowledge of basic plumbing and screwdrivers, did some pleasure reading, and then played Warcraft while Rebecca went off to the inner city for Indian Food Night. I'm not a big fan of Indian food, in which the three basic food groups seem to be spicy, smelly, or gooey -- instead, I made some shells and cheese (cheesy, cheesy, and cheesy).

Sunday was a pretty relaxing day. We celebrated the Super Bowl by taking down our Christmas tree and doing some kitchen measurements for forthcoming new cabinets in the Spring. Around 5, we joined the caravan of suburbanites on I-66 and went to Jack and Kristy's house for the Super Bowl with wings and chili. We also noted that Fergie sang so poorly that she knocked all of the lights out of the "V" in the giant LOVE stage.

'Death by GPS' in desert
Marriages Made in Tuition Heaven
Tracking down my online haters

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day in history

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Museday Tuesday

As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator or suggested by a reader. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it could be the hit single from Glenn Gould Plays Tatu.

Usurious: (adj.) charging illegal or exorbitant rates of interest for the use of money

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I'm still fumbling through Finale 2011, although it finally works with the new Asus Xonar DX sound card I purchased. This composition is a little bare, since my classic approach for learning newer versions of software is to try it the old way and then give up if the old way has moved. This rapidly accelerating fragment is for a woodwind quintet and percussion.

Payback: Upset Ex-Girlfriend Spams Boyfriend In Google Images
Steelworkers Cautioned Against Watching Super Bowl During Shifts
Turkmen leader orders beauty contests for horses

tagged as museday | permalink | 0 comments
day in history

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Skip Day

There will be no updates today because I'm up over my ears writing Powerpoint briefings, one of which ended up being 49 slides long. It did, however, take some willpower when discussing why a Functional Design Review (FDR) should really be a Critical Design Review (CDR) to omit my line:

  • We need to get the "F" out of there.
  • Bonus Update: Here are pictures of my nephew:

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

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    The Kids Are All Right (R):
    I like to call this type of movie a "terrarium" movie (and have been doing so for minutes now) -- the plot (a family with two moms is thrown into chaos when their sperm donor reappears) is much less important than the family dynamics and character studies, as if the writer just wanted to mix some interesting ingredients together to watch what happens. The movie's not bad or good, it just IS. It's also better than Gosford Park.

    Final Grade: C+

    The Google Way by Bernard Girard (Kindle Edition):
    This is an easy-to-digest look at how Google was able to become so succesful in the academic and technology climate of its time, and the first sections are pretty interesting. The later sections devolve into a series of "what might make Google fail" topics -- although the author makes it clear that everything is pure conjecture, it felt more like a sequence of unanswered questions without answers, rather than a solid forecast.

    Final Grade: B-

    Crane 2.3 Gallon Cool Mist Humidifier:
    After becoming domesticated a couple years ago, and learning that a house is not supposed to have 20% humidity in the winter, I purchased a giant Honeywell humidifier with HUGE JUGS that only needed refilling weekly, and the bane of all humidifiers: a filter. Although this lasted for quite some time, I eventually abandoned it as hard to clean, hard to find replacement filters, and hard to not have it smell like mildew even when clean. This new humidifier only holds about a gallon of water (the 2.3 is misleading because it's throughput not volume) but is filterless and very easy to transport or clean. The tank fits under a regular sink faucet for refilling, and the humidity comes out in a pleasant visible mist. The only negative to it is the sound of the motor, which is too variable to be white noise -- it took a couple weeks to get acclimated to it. It's not that the motor is particularly loud, it's just that it changes timbre enough while running that it doesn't blend into the ambient environment very well. If you have any trouble sleeping in nonquiet environments, this isn't the humidifier you're looking for, and your parents probably raised you incorrectly.

    Final Grade: B+

    Knife-accessorized cock kills man
    Meat-eating furniture
    Activision cancels Guitar Hero franchise

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    day in history

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    List Day: Childhood Confessions

    • I used to think that EXIT ONLY signs on the interstate meant that you would get stuck in some backwater town where the only way to get home would be via dirt roads and wheat fields.

    • As a child, when people would sing the melody from "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega, I simply presumed it was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song.

    • When I was a child, I did not realize that John Cryer and Matthew Broderick were two separate actors.

    • I once broke a light fixture in the now bankrupt hardware store, Hechinger. That's probably why they went out of business.

    • As a child, I believed that the correct phrase was "take it for granite", because if you typed "TAKE WALL FOR GRANITE" next to the granite wall in Zork I, you would get teleported to an Easter Egg room.

    • When Cheerios had mail-in prizes for boxtops, I thought that it was common operating procedure for a family to buy all twenty boxes at once and send in their box tops immediately.

    • As a child, I had a kid crush on from the sitcom, Day By Day.

    • When I had to go to work with a parent on a snow day, I would bring my computer games and install them on the computer of whichever coworker was out. I once installed Savage Empire on four different official USDA computers before finding the one with the VGA graphics.

    Border smuggling game stirs controversy
    Deaf dog gets sign language training
    Robots to get their own internet

    tagged as lists | permalink | 4 comments
    day in history

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

    1:27 AM: Returning from one of our rare nights out in D.C. and going to bed.

    9:15 AM: Booty wakes us up by stepping on our faces.

    9:34 AM: An early morning flight to Everlook.

    10:00 AM: A trip to the grocery store to obtain all sorts of foodstuffs.

    10:34 AM: Grocery shopping complete -- mostly carbs in bread and liquid form.

    1:04 PM: Popcorn for an afternoon movie.

    2:30 PM: This is what happens during three hour movies.

    2:45 PM: Sketching and measuring the kitchen for cabinets.

    5:06 PM: It's time for steak!

    6:14 PM: It's time for poker!

    8:45 PM: Kelley wins a hand with three aces.

    10:51 PM: Kelley wins his first Northern Virginia game of poker.

    See more 12 of 12ers at Chad's site!

    Clarence Thomas Keeps 5-Year Silence
    Roaches are forever
    Paul the Octopus start unfortunate trend

    tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment
    day in history

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Museday Tuesday

    As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator or suggested by a reader. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

    I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it could be the hit single from Glenn Gould Plays Tatu.

    Trumpery: (adj.) of little or no value; trifling, worthless; rubbishy; trashy.

    My Composition (0:30 MP3)

    This excerpt is for string quartet, accordion, and marimba. In spite of my best efforts to do something away from the key of C, this one scampered back to familiar territory as soon as it could.

    How one man tracked down Anonymous - and paid a heavy price
    Google Launches Site-Blocking Extension Against Content Farms
    Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology

    tagged as museday | permalink | 0 comments
    day in history

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    List Day: Dumb Things Other People Like

    in no particular order

    • The game, Halo
    • Nickelback
    • The game, Super Mario 64
    • The Big Lebowski
    • Dogs
    • The game, Braid
    • Adams-Morgan
    • A fifth consecutive game of Apples to Apples
    • Macs
    • The Lord of the Rings movies
    • The TV series, Battlestar Galactica
    • The ending of LOST
    • The game, Half-Life
    • Turkey Bacon
    Woman gives birth to her own grandchild
    Cyclone-hit Australians warned to stay away from giant death birds
    Immigration Officer Put Wife On Terrorist List To Get Rid Of Her

    tagged as lists | permalink | 9 comments
    day in history

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Award Day

    It's hard to take good pictures of glass, but this is what I won at work yesterday:

    Thankfully, I was not competing against Esperanza Spalding.

    Defector admits to WMD lies
    Transparent 'DNA' adhesives help police nab thieves
    Fans rally for Robocop statue in Detroit

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

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    List Day: Things to Look Forward To

    • Kitchen Remodeling in May
    • A trip to the Brightwood Farm B&B in March
    • 2/22 Tuesday
    • Delivery of season four of The Guild
    • A nap
    • Beach Week in July
    • A trip to Arkansas in April for a wedding
    • Additional weddings out the ass
    • Buying a new grill in the spring
    • Having more free time to devote to the URI! Zone
    Clown congressman messes up first vote
    Suspended teacher defends critical blog
    Ugandan President may release rap album

    tagged as lists | permalink | 2 comments
    day in history

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    Weekend Wrap-up

    I would normally exploit the socialist secular sabbath that is a Federal Holiday as a prime excuse not to post an update, but the posts from Wednesday through Friday of last week are embarrassingly impervious to literary appreciation. In recompense, you get this bonus update. Smashing!

    This weekend was marked by a lot of highs and lows, but from a perspective that is more geospatial and less emo. We hiked the Occoquan Trail between Fountainhead and Bull Run, which totals up to about 19 miles if you include all of the scampering around looking for unlocked bathrooms. As someone who is no longer in the 2nd quartile of youth, I played my "old" card and stopped at the 11 mile mark (and thankfully, my big toenails did not turn black and fall off), but Rebecca, Emily, and Other Brian made it all the way to the end.

    After a brief nap and a foot-soaking, I met back up with them in Fairfax for some well-deserved pizza and Kona beers, specifically the one we had on our honeymoon. The others were walking rather crookedly after those last 7 miles, which leads me to believe that they had to ride some bulls in or around the Run.

    On Sunday, we met up with Rebecca's coworker, Ashley, in Reston for some sushi at Obi Sushi. The restaurant was trendy and mid-range on prices, and the sushi we tried was good, but like wines, our connoisseurship for sushi falls discretely into "awful", "good", and "great", so this might not be saying much. In the afternoon, Rebecca made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, while I battled some malware that somehow ended up on my Vista laptop during an automatic Windows Update at 3 in the morning.

    We closed the evening by starting the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and we're almost through the opening credits now!

    Rusty Knife Removed From Man's Head After 4 Years
    Memos: Firefighter refused call to Tucson shooting
    Scientists discover how to make squids go completely berserk

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    day in history

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Museday Tuesday

    As part of this feature, which I started in 2007, I compose a very brief work (under 30 seconds) inspired by a randomly generated title from an online word generator or suggested by a reader. The composition can be for any instrumentation, and could even be a purely synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.

    I work on the excerpt continuously for an hour and then post whatever I've managed to complete, even if it could be the hit single from Glenn Gould Plays Tatu.

    Plenteous: (adj.) copious; abundant

    My Composition (0:30 MP3)

    This excerpt is written for a hodge podge of instruments, coupled with big fat-bottomed chords placed too low for clarity. When I was in high school, I used to think that writing with quintuplets was retarded, but they're starting to grow on me now.

    From the mouth of Evan Emory: 'I feel like a jackass'
    Town renamed to Speedkills to promote road safety
    High winds topple National Christmas Tree

    tagged as museday | permalink | 0 comments
    day in history

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Vocabulary Wednesday

    I lost the game on the right because I tried to be too clever, and ended up with a V and a Z.

    Indian man has 39 wives, nearly 100 children
    Australian city to expel 22,000 bats from downtown gardens
    Road toads bode ill in heavy traffic load

    tagged as random | permalink | 0 comments
    day in history

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Review Day: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

    There are no spoilers in this review, although you may not understand many of the words that are coming out of my mouth.

    I've been an off-and-on player of World of Warcraft since it launched, way back in 2004. I stopped for a couple years in 2006 when the first expansion pack killed the PvP brackets, started again, and then stopped right before my wedding (unrelated, of course) for what I thought would be the last time. With my 2009 cancellation, I didn't think there would ever be a compelling reason for me to start playing again, and even deleted all of the game files.

    So, coming into the third expansion pack, Cataclysm, the only reason I reactivated my account was a sense of nostalgia -- in tandem with its release, a huge overhaul of the "old" worlds was done as well, and it's always fun to go back to familiar places to see what has changed. I was skeptical as to whether the changes would be compelling enough to keep me playing for more than a few weeks, but was surprised to find that I was really enjoying myself again. With this expansion pack, a sense of "fun" has returned to playing, and the experience is polished and tightly focused enough to please ANYONE who might have enjoyed the game at one time but lost interest.

    High Points

  • The revamping of the old world is perfect -- fun quests flow naturally together, there are fewer instances of aimless traveling, and storylines worth reading actually tie everything together. There are fewer "kill 100 snakes and get back to me" quests. I've always liked Warcraft, but this is the game it SHOULD have been at launch.
  • The UI is greatly improved (although I still use Bartender to manage my buttons), and the built-in Quest helpers make questing a breeze.
  • The new "Random Dungeon Finder" takes all of the pain out of gathering a group of people together to run a dungeon. I can usually find groups for all sorts of dungeons at my level in under a minute.
  • The music has improved with each release, leaning heavily towards intelligent orchestrations and use of motives and reducing the amount of ambient music. (Ambient music is an English term which means "annoying uncreative repetition"). I used to play with music turned off, and now I only turn it off when the annoying (ambient) Felwood theme comes on. The new Goblin and Gnome themes are perfect. Kazoos are fun and very gnome-like.
  • Low Points

  • I haven't played the new Goblin race, but the Worgens have really annoying sound effects, especially noticeable when you're sitting in the auction house and the Worgens around you sound like a herd of pigs searching for truffles. I call them "allergy wolves" now.
  • You almost level up TOO fast. I'm all for a streamlined game, but when your druid gets Cat Form at level 8, the game is too easy.
  • All of the great old world content that was revitalized really brings the omitted bits into sharp relief -- Silithus is still horrible, the Outlands look the same, and you still can't ride a flying mount in some areas.
  • The twink brackets are completely broken. My level 59 priest, Plinky, has experience turned off, and the queues for Warsong Gulch never pop.
  • Some of the new new stuff is great, but it all starts to run together after a while -- when you're dealing with millions of experience points and thousands of hit points, it can't help but to get a little tedious. Thankfully, there's plenty of other stuff to try out when questing is dull.
  • The new quests rely too much on phasing (where you are the only person who can see what's going on in your quest) and cutscenes. Since people on different phases of quests are not visible on your screen, it makes the world more non-interactive, and lifeless. If I wanted to play Zelda, I would get out my SuperNES.
  • The bottom line is that World of Warcraft now has over 6 years of experience in what works and what doesn't, and the game as it stands today is easily the best game I've played in quite some time. It even stopped my Minecraft addiction. Give it a shot if you've cancelled your account in the past, and take the time to enjoy the leveling up process -- the game is only lame when you're rushing to the end and then find that there's nothing there.

    Final Grade: A-

    Sarah Palin uses secret Facebook account to praise main account
    Today's lab rats of obesity
    Handcuffed suspect drives off in police car

    tagged as reviews, games | permalink | 1 comment
    day in history

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    Friday Fragments

    one month closer to John Cusack on a giant boat at the end of times

    ♠ I recently read an article in the Post about the pervasiveness of red light cameras around the region. Personally, I don't have any problems with properly calibrated red light cameras, because people who run the light long after it has changed are pretty douchey by their nature.

    ♠ Of more pressing concern in my book are speed cameras. Speeding is a very green offense, because it reduces the number of cars on the road at any given time, increases productivity while decreasing travel time, and breaks up those viscious slow-moving pockets of drivers that threaten the throughput of roads. Plus, when you have a speed camera, you eliminate the enjoyable car game, "Spot the Cop", which I became a master at after five years of driving on I-81 to Blacksburg.

    ♠ Road Tip of the Day: That traffic light may turn red if you're speeding, but if you speed even faster, you can still make it through before it changes. However, this doesn't work on those curmudgeonly-red lights that treat green as a leap year holiday, like the one on my way to work.

    ♠ I've been a little less busy with work this week, as you can see by the fact that I only had to fall back on EZ updates (also known as Scrabble Day) once this week. And that update was originally going to be more ambitious, but our third game of Scrabble extended overnight, and when we returned to play the next day, Booty had knocked over all of the letters in a quixotic attempt to learn English. Maybe I'll teach her to understand more words than her name and "DINNER TIME FOR KITTIES" this summer.

    ♠ Speaking of pet projects, DDMSence has now had 380 legitimate downloads, which is like one download for every day of a leap year, and then one bonus download for each of the Holy Helpers. Had I monetized this library from the start with micropayments, I would probably have earned enough money for a gallon of gas or so, but then I would have had to report it on my tax forms.

    ♠ Sunday is going to be Tax Day in our household -- don't forget to mail me your $50 so you are in compliance with the URI code. Now that things are quieting down with work, maybe I'll even get to play some video games this weekend. The rest of the weekend will be punctuated by various dinners with various diners.

    ♠ Have a great weekend!

    Introducing Pictionary with Legos
    Gaddafi says protesters are on hallucinogenic drugs
    Woman accused of aggravated assault over Girl Scout cookies

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    day in history

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    I'm down with a headache from last night's thunderstorms, but here is my take-away lesson from this weekend:

    It might be surprising that the P.F. Chang's at Dulles Town Centre has a one hour and twenty minute wait for dinner. What's more surprising is the number of people actually sitting around and waiting for a table.

    City puzzled by mysterious mail
    Sausage thief wore no pants
    How to make oatmeal... wrong

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    day in history


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