09/2011

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:
This story is a loving homage to the culture of the 1980s, wrapped in a an intriguing setting of a dystopian future. In the year 2044, the Earth is in pretty bad shape, and most of the populace find escape in a free online game that's a cross between Second Life and World of Warcraft. The millionaire creator of the game has willed his fortunes to whichever gamer can solve his treasure hunt within the game, which requires an encyclopedic knowledge of everything from War Games to Voltron. The protagonist is pitted against a corporation who wants control of the game and isn't afraid to throw millions of dollars and "gold farmer" toons at the treasure hunt to make it happen. I didn't LOVE this book, as many reviewers did, but I did enjoy reading it and would recommend it. There are almost TOO many 80s references towards the beginning of the book, many of which I didn't catch because I was born in 1979 and barely learning to poop on my own when many of them were topical, but this should not get in the way of understanding the story.

Final Grade: B+

Burn Notice, Season Four:
Burn Notice is pretty much dialing it in now, and has lost the fun innovation of the first two seasons. It's still a breezy, enjoyable show with fun dialogue though. Product placement is very noticeable in this season, especially hilarious when you realize that one of Michael's voiceovers could easily be the narration for a car commercial.

Final Grade: C+

Limbo:
Limbo is a downloadable indie game that just oozes with character. The game is done in a film-like black-and-white style with no dialogue or text and very little in the way of sound beyond ambient noise. The first section of the game is very creepy and sets up some great expectations. The middle section loses that appeal and turns into a series of timing puzzles that require slightly better reflexes than I have (or maybe a more responsive control system). The ending is pure tripe. Never believe reviewers that say an ending is open-ended and thought-provoking. The only thing in life that should be open-ended is the deadline on the open bar at any given wedding.

Final Grade: D

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (PG-13):
Obviously I am not the target market for the Harry Potter movies, since one of the very first scenes throws over a dozen characters into a room without introduction and I could barely identify three of them. The movie was also so dark that I tried to take off my 3-D glasses and then realized I wasn't wearing any. However, I felt that the movie was well done overall, even though it was essentially a road trip "Harry and Hermione go to White Castle" story with a sense of suspense that moved in spurts and didn't add up to much on its own. I also wish Voldemort had only made three Horcuxes, because there are so many Named Artifacts by this point in the story that it feels like the trophy case in Zork I.

Final Grade: B-

J.C. Penney pulls 'Too Pretty to Do Homework' shirt
Eric Schmidt: If You Don't Want To Use Your Real Name, Don't Use Google+
Maya Angelou says King memorial inscription makes him look 'arrogant'

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, September 02, 2011

Cat Video Friday

I'm taking the day off from work to do some open source coding today, so instead of a Friday Fragments column, you get some amazing cat videos! Hooray.


Amber loves to watch Veronica Mars.

Unaired footage from the movie, Amber's House of Horrors

Deleted scene from American Beauty, Cat Edition

Logger cut off toes to free himself
Bored UCLA Student Joins Libyan Rebels
Germany Lifts 17-Year Ban on DOOM

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up: By the Numbers

Friday

  • Work: 2 hours
  • Coding: 8 hours
  • Propane tanks exchanged: 1
  • Harry Potter books started: 1 (Book 5)
  • Episodes of The Wire watched: 1
  • Saturday

  • Trips through Costco: 1
  • Items purchased at Costco, having left the accepted credit card at home: 0
  • Coding: 5 hours
  • Points scored by Virginia Tech before TV shutoff: 59
  • Mushroom swiss burgers eaten at Red Robin: 1
  • Episodes of The Wire watched: 1.5
  • Rain storms: 1
  • Sunday

  • Coding: 3 hours
  • Driving: 2 hours
  • Harry Potter books started: 1 (Book 6)
  • 1st birthday parties attended: 1
  • Monday

  • Work: 8 hours
  • Coding: 1 hour
  • Shells and Cheese packets consumed: 0.8
  • Labor Day Barbeques attended: 1
  • Rain storms: 3
  • Number of people who kept revisiting, expecting a Labor Day website update: 4
  • Giant crocodile captured alive in the Phillipines
    Danger warning as Russian albino ostrich escapes
    One sperm donor, 150 offspring

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

    Wednesday, September 07, 2011

    Memory Day: Snapshots

    This picture was taken over Christmas Break in 1997 during my sophomore year. At the time, I was still wearing gigantic glasses and getting the 1/4"-all-around haircut. I couldn't do without my computer gadgetry over breaks, so everything you see in the picture made the trip back and forth between school -- the printer, music keyboard, premium Gateway computer, subwoofer, and collection of Raymond Feist paperbacks. The game on the screen is The Curse of Monkey Island, with its catchphrase, "That doesn't take wooden nickels!"

    Alaskan woman punches bear to save dog
    Saggy pants get Green Day singer kicked off plane
    Man arrested for allegedly biting python twice

    tagged as memories, media | permalink | 4 comments

    Thursday, September 08, 2011

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reivews.

    Bastion:
    This is an indie action-RPG game available on Steam, played from a top-down third-person perspective. The gimmick here is that a crusty old narrator tells the story as you play, giving it an Old Western feel. The music is top-notch, and the game itself is light and enjoyable. The way that skills are allocated makes it fun to experiment with different builds without getting locked into anything, and the optional mini-games are tough, but not essential for enjoying the game. The only downside is the sometimes-flaky control scheme that leaves you falling off the edge pretty often or blocking when you were trying to dodge. At $14.99, you're bound to get your money's worth before you get bored with it.

    Final Grade: B+

    The Wire, Season Two:
    The second season of The Wire enlarges the breadth of the story across Baltimore to the dock workers and stevedores. It's not quite as compelling as the first season, but still does a great job keeping things interesting while gradually increasing the tension. The last few episodes are as powerful as can be, but take a little patience to reach. We're now almost at the end of the third season and plan to watch it to the end, but maybe we'll take a Dexter break!

    Final Grade: B+

    Hood sex police officer will not be charged
    Red lingerie to lure Hungarians online for census
    Forgotten mooncakes spark bomb scare

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, September 09, 2011

    Friday Fragments

    it's like Roseanne meets Firefly

    ♠ The flooding is barely noticeable in our direct neighbourhood, although I may have passed Kevin Costner with gills holding up a sign that said, "I told you so!" on the Fairfax County Parkway. Fairfax schools are also closed for the day, and government personnel are allowed to stay home and unexpectedly get work done.

    ♠ When I was barreling through my public school education with complete disregard for retention, I never got to get out of school for something unique like a flood or a limnic eruption. The closest to catastrophe we ever came was the ice storm in January 1996 which kept us in the house for 4 days. Although this was in the days before teachers were Facebook friends with their students, I still had to do schoolwork because my physics teacher called everyone at home to give us assignments in preparation for the AP exam. "Ice storm is garbage!" he said.

    ♠ In retrospect, taking two years of physics in high school, the AP exam, and then two more years of it in college was probably overkill for a liberal arts major, but the other core sciences are far more boring. Knowing your terminal velocity when you're pushed out of a plane is also more useful than knowing how many moles there are, unless you're a bean farmer and have run out of traps.

    ♠ Plans for the weekend will probably include staying in to do work, both real work and self-imposed work, coupled with a trip back to Costco to get all the things I wanted to get last week when I forgot my debit card. We're also having Anna and Ben over for dinner on Saturday. They are providing the main course, side dish, and desert (Ella, Rosie, and Kathryn) and we are providing the oregano and Guinness.

    ♠ Have a great weekend! Don't sink!

    Dear nudists: Please cover up, the seat at least
    Woman dies after exposure to odor at McDonald's
    Waffle House index: How breakfast signals storm damage

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 2 comments

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Chad Darnell's 12 of 12


    5:26 AM: Now that Rebecca commutes to Springfield every day, I just get up with her.

    5:38 AM: Post-shower.

    5:50 AM: Full moon over Herndon.

    8:12 AM: Unexpected at-work work.

    11:58 AM: On the way home for lunch, trying to figure out why the engine light is on. I don't think that's a proper error code, although it could be a koala.

    12:14 PM: Welcomed home by Amber.

    12:25 PM: Wings for lunch.

    1:45 PM: Cats sleep while I work to earn money for their food.

    3:00 PM: Freshly mowed lawn.

    4:48 PM: Working on DDMSence.

    5:45 PM: Recording tomorrow's Museday, Mercurial.

    6:15 PM: Dinner tonight is all leftovers all the time: cheesy slow cooker chicken breasts, mashed potatoes with bacon bits, and Popeyes fries.
    One worker blamed for leaving millions without power
    Arizona church is a house of prostitution
    Woman dies after injecting hot beef fat into her face

    tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 0 comments

    Tuesday, September 13, 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.


    Mercurial: (adj.) changeable; volatile; fickle; flighty; erratic

    My Composition (0:30 MP3)

    This is a vibraphone solo with a little bass and harp accompaniment (the instruments not the beers). There are also two bassoons required, making this piece impossible to perform in the real world.

    Baby gets it straight from the cow
    Green glowing cats are new tool in AIDS research
    'Mini-Monsters' App Infests iPads With Bug Close-Ups

    tagged as museday | permalink | 1 comment

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Memory Day: Old Movies


    A movie from my birthday, twenty years ago. See if you can recognize any gifts which still might live in my basement.

    Audience at tea party debate cheers leaving uninsured to die
    FHP does U-turn over speed-trap flashing drivers
    Hold the pillow mint, send up the yoga mat

    tagged as memories, media | permalink | 5 comments

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Birth Day

    Coming tomorrow: The geospatial location of each picture.

    tagged as media, day-to-day | permalink | 5 comments

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    List Day: Collage Picture Locations

    To the best of my recollections, here are the locations of every picture in my birthday collage:

  • 1980: Parents' living room
  • 1981: Parents' living room
  • 1982: On a ladybug ride
  • 1983: Parents' family room
  • 1984: Parents' living room
  • 1985: On a giant rock in a river
  • 1986: James K. Polk auditorium
  • 1987: Parents' family room
  • 1988: Parents' family room
  • 1989: Parents' family room
  • 1990: Parents' family room
  • 1991: Parents' office
  • 1992: F.C. Hammond football field
  • 1993: F.C. Hammond courtyard
  • 1994: T.C. Williams auditorium
  • 1995: Parents' office
  • 1996: Parents' living room
  • 1997: PEPCO, Alexandria
  • 1998: MV practice field
  • 1999: Dave McKee's backyard
  • 2000: Squires, Room 243
  • 2001: Squires, Room 243
  • 2002: Mike's apartment
  • 2003: Mike's apartment
  • 2004: A restaurant in Charlottesville
  • 2005: My office
  • 2006: My office
  • 2007: VT Drillfield
  • 2008: Parent-in-laws' living room
  • 2009: OBX Pool
  • 2010: Emerald Isle condo
  • 2011: My bathroom
  • Injury Code W5922XA: Struck by Turtle
    Twit for tat as NATO and Taliban take battle to internet
    Celebrated Wildlife Photographer Exposed as Fraud in Sweden

    tagged as lists | permalink | 4 comments

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Weekend Wrap-up

    With Rebecca out of town for a bachelorette wine tour this weekend, I took the opportunity to retreat into bachelorhood, spending much of the weekend either working on work, or coding DDMSence (I'm about 80 hours in on the next release). Between coding sessions, I read Hunger Games which I received on the Kindle for my birthday, listened to new CDs by Lenka and Mark Ronson, and tried out the indie (a.k.a doesn't cost $50) game, Deathspank, which I'm not completely sold on yet.

    On Saturday evening, I went stag to a classy barbeque where the bulk of the meats were ribeye steaks, with a few hot dogs on the side for the kids. This should be a new rule for what to serve at barbeques that do not take place with my money.

    This is where I turn the blog post into a question, to obscure the fact that I didn't really write much today. What did you do this weekend?

    Coked up: Man arrested with 72 cocaine bags in belly
    Eel removed from man's bladder after entering penis during beauty spa
    Arkansas town searching for toe-sucking assailant

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

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Composing Spotlight: Early Funk-Rock

    I was on the road and/or in meetings all day yesterday so I didn't have a chance to compose a Museday excerpt. Instead, I've pulled an old composition from early 1997 out of the cabinet.

    Early Funk-Rock (490KB MP3)

    This was written in my freshman year of college, in the happy period after I was proficient at the technical and mechanical process of composing, but before I knew any "better" than to use major chords, I-VIIb-VI-V progressions, or write music that people might actually want to listen to outside of a student recital.

    I think composers should spend as long as possible in that peppy pocket, before getting swayed by professors who want more wrong notes or colleagues who think that anyone not writing 12-tone music should be dismissed as a non-serious composer. Composing should be fun, and it should be something you do because you want to.

    When I was in grad school for music, I recall walking past a gaggle of composers who were commiserating about how awful a particular 20th century composer's music was. I was about to chime in with wholehearted agreement, until I realized that they were only talking about a single movement of a single piece, and quite liked the rest of his body of work.

    Qwikster: Not to be Confused With...
    Drunk moose gets stuck in apple tree
    Two men charged after taking their dead friend for a ride

    tagged as music | permalink | 1 comment

    Wednesday, September 21, 2011

    Memory Day: Ten Years Ago

    The nice thing about having a website that refuses to die before it jumps the shark is that eventually your "Ten Years Ago" column will be able to refer to old posts to prove that you actually did go to music grad school or own a motorcycle or get banned from entering Libya because of a religiously insensitive hat.

    Ten years ago today, I was living in Parkwood Apartments two blocks from the FSU Music Department College School Commune and studying hard to become a professional composer (which is like an amateur one, but with less time for composing, and more grants to apply for). Each apartment was hewn from cinderblock like a combination toaster oven / motel room, although my high rent (for Tallahassee) of $450 a month meant that it was relatively clean, relatively quiet, and did not smell of urine-infused grapes.

    The NIMDA worm had recently been unleashed on the Internet so connections to the place where this website was hosted (music.vt.edu) were sporadic for several days. Likely though, I used NIMDA as an excuse to not write a post, and spent the afternoon mindlessly playing Diablo 2. I was also still fascinated by the movie, Memento, and trying to get everyone I knew to watch it.

    There weren't a lot of folks to convince at this point though, because I had not yet fallen into that wrong crowd of music theorists and composers that would corrupt my soul over the next two years. Being shy and new in town, I employed my traditional approach for making friends, which involved sitting at home alone on the weekends until the sheer musical genius of my coursework (and its font selection) convinced everyone that I was awesome and needed to be invited places. This also worked at Virginia Tech.

    This isn't to say that I was completely antisocial. As anyone from the caste of the perpetually single can tell you, you're always sizing girls up for the prospect of a relationship, even when you tell yourself you aren't -- there is no on/off switch involved. I recall working diligently to chat up the friendly graduate assistant who worked in the office, only to be stymied about a week later when I noticed her wedding ring -- this is the type of scenario that undergrad dating gives you no preparation for.

    I also recall the cute freshman string player I met while observing one of Juan's introductory classes for Music Pedagogy. I even went back the following day (which blew Juan's mind, because no one wants to observe more than the mandatory number of classes) only to find that she had skipped, leaving me to sit through fifty minutes of people unfamiliar with the treble clef. Nonetheless, we would meet again during my many trips to the music library where I would help her with some theory and she'd check out my endless batches of scratched CDs.

    The reason for checking out so many CDs was the dreaded Listening Exam, which consisted of 125 selected works. You had to pass a listening test with 14 or 28 songs correctly identified before receiving your Masters (21 for Doctoral students). Since I was not yet ready to part with adolescence at the time, I resolved to get 21 right on the first try so I wouldn't have to take it again as a Doctoral student. Unfortunately, I didn't actually know many of the songs, and wasn't about to pay money for CDs full of twentieth century music performed by rubbing hedgehogs together, so I spent the last half of September checking out a few CDs at a time and ripping them to MP3s.

    I then applied the universal lesson of public schools: It doesn't matter how well you know the material as long as you can pass the test. I grouped the songs by textures rather than eras or composers and focused on telling apart the similar clips (and ended up passing with a 24). I heard that my study sheets continued to thrive in the years after I left, which is a longer shelf life than any given composition. In hindsight, I was far better at preparing teaching and presentation materials than writing songs.

    As the month of September came to a close, I settled into a routine: passing History of Music Theory factoids through my brain like kidney stones through a storm drain, eating lunch (a side of fries with ketchup) with Mark Connor, Kathy Biddick, and Mike Catania at the Loop while doing the USA Today crossword puzzle, looking forward to Dr. Spencer's wryly subversive Music Pedagogy class, and pretending that it still mattered if I practiced my trumpet every day.

    "The 'whatever' will hit the fan, and we need to make sure the fan is running very slowly when that happens." - Dr. Spencer, on the pitfalls of overexplaining figured bass symbols in basic theory classes

    Sperm bank: redheads need not apply
    Gamers solve molecular puzzle that baffled scientists
    Hero rabbit saves owners from house fire

    tagged as memories | permalink | 4 comments

    Thursday, September 22, 2011

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins:
    The Hunger games trilogy is another set of "dystopian future" books which, at times, reminded me of Ender's Game with more believable characterizations. In this future, the populations of the once rebellious Districts must send two children to compete in a yearly Survivor-like game, a game which the authoritarian Capitol broadcasts for the entertainment of its pamepered elite.

    The hardest part of writing good science fiction or fantasy is to introduce the world of the story without obviously introducing it. The setting is conveyed here very naturally with a minimum of exposition, although the flashbacks occasionally last a little too long. The main characters are believable and sympathetic and kept me reading quickly to the end. There's a fair amount of violence for a teen series, but it doesn't feel gratuitous at all.

    Final Grade: B

    Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins:
    I'm a fan of any series where the plot deepens rather than broadens as the series progresses (for example, the Empire series by Janny Wurts versus the Matrix movies which really had nothing to add after the first movie). Collins enriches the backdrop she introduced in the previous book, and this book really gives a good context to the struggles of the main characters. The setting of the last third of the book is a little too convenient, but I still couldn't put it down.

    Final Grade: B

    Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins:
    The final book definitely stumbles, but provides a logical and consistent ending to the series (although it might not be the ending people want or expect). I feel like this book could have been trimmed a bit, since it's the only one that dragged, and it suffers from a few too many supporting characters that are never fleshed out enough to remember. I also felt like something was off during the pacing of the last sections of the book -- it felt jumpy and disjunct, not unlike trying to drive on the I-495 in Virginia between Great Falls and Springfield.

    Nonetheless, I enjoyed the series overall, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys this kind of story.

    Final Grade: C+

    Gunmen dump 35 bodies on busy avenue in Mexico
    Kindergartner brings mother's crack pipe to show and tell
    French boy finds 30-year-old human fingers in jar

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Movie Day

    By popular demand, here is a video from my 9th birthday in 1988.

    Man details sexual relationship with dolphin in book
    U.S. porn magnate funds $1 million quest to embarrass governor
    Koalas need tunnels and speed limits

    tagged as media | permalink | 3 comments

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Weekend Wrap-up

    I did a twenty-hour surge of coding over the weekend to bring DDMSence to completion, at the expense of most of my leisure time and my 7th or 8th vertebrae. Now it's just a matter of beefing up documentation and waiting for the alien autopsy files which I bundle into every version to be approved for public release.

    When not coding or getting indigestion from eating all of the leftover cheese and crackers from the wedding shower that Rebecca hosted on Saturday, I caught up on my reading, which varies depending on the room I happen to be in at the time. In the kitchen, I'm reading the latest edition of Wired magazine. In the living room, it's The Corner, which essentially embodies the spirit, if not the plot, of The Wire. While I'm in the office, I'm digging through a book on the Unified Modeling Language (this is why I'm trying not to spend much time reading in the office). Finally, my bathroom reading is either the latest Bathroom Reader, or a re-read of Russ Olsen's first Ruby book, depending on duration and motivation.

    To close out the weekend, we went to Aoba Sushi on Route 7, our go-to environment for reasonably cheap sushi and friendly staff. Our usual M.O. is to get three normal rolls and a special roll -- this time we got the Las Vegas Roll, which was stacked high with sequin-like fish eggs. We stayed away from the aptly-named American Roll, which had cream cheese and was deep fried.

    How was your first Autumn weekend with 100% humidity?

    A Campus Champion for Women in Computer Science
    Obituary: Electron Boy lit up the lives of many
    Three arrested in bungled beer heist in Covina

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

    Tuesday, September 27, 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.


    Leonine: (adj.) characteristic of a lion

    My Composition (0:30 MP3)

    This excerpt is written for a typical subset of brass and woodwinds, and is reminiscent of a running lion on a nature show, rather than a crowned lion in a cartoon.

    Germans Face Off in Hairy Debate Over Whisker Do's and Don'ts
    'First Irish case' of death by spontaneous combustion
    Santorum asks Google to clean up search results for his name

    tagged as museday | permalink | 1 comment

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Memory Day: Homes

    To commemorate my recent mortgage refinance, which will let me pay off the house 8 years sooner for fifty bucks a month less (9 meals at Popeyes), here is a retrospective of all the places that are qualified to erect "BU Slept Here" plaques once I have fulfilled my childhood dreams of becoming a robber baron and then making over my image through philanthropy.

    1980 - 1996
    My childhood home was nestled in the drooping bosom of Seminary Valley in Alexandria, on a dead end "street to nowhere" which was originally intended to be a major north-south artery, but has since settled on being "that wide street that uses up the asphalt budget because the former mayor lives on it". Since leaving home, I've learned that the one downside to living in Seminary Valley is that you cannot get out of the neighbourhood without an 8 minute wait at a traffic light. This was probably an intentional design aimed at keeping middle-middle class white families in their proper place.

    1996 - 2000
    I spent 4 years living in West and East Ambler Johnston, long before it became a weird hippie learning commune, when the only noteworthy thing about it was the antics of the arsonist pulling thousands of students out for nightly fire drills. This is also when I learned that you can mute an in-room fire alarm in an undetectable way with Scotch tape and a Sharpie. In 5050 West, Andy Norton practiced his soprano sax along with Kenny G. 3119 East was an engineer zone, led by Dan Shiplett and trailed into detritus by Nathan Egge. 3112 East was a solo pad that I shared 5 days a week with Kelley, when he wasn't out culting it up in DeMolay.

    2000 - 2001
    8600E Hunter Mill Road in Foxridge, where I lived in my 5th year of college with Rosie and Anna, was the only apartment where the amount of urine in the carpets exceeded the amount of urine in any given unflushed toilet. Thanks a lot, Kitty.

    2001 - 2003
    Life at Parkwood Apartments in Tallahassee was pretty quiet, other than the time the guys upstairs bought Dance Dance Revolution, setting up standing waves of unfortunate girth. Parkwood is also where I learned that a rice cooker full of rice counts as a full meal, and you should check on the community washers occasionally when using them, because the homeless were often on the prowl for clean shirts.

    2002
    In order to shave 30 miles off my daily internship commute, I stayed with Anna's family in Chantilly during the summer of 2002, spending most of the time standing around looking creepy. There were Catholics everywhere!

    2003 - 2004
    I lived at The Elms in Centreville when I moved back up to Virginia, mainly because it was the only place in the area that had an open parking lot with no permits required. This apartment was the battleground in almost every Kitty vs. Booty cat fight video I've ever posted.

    2004 - 2011
    I moved up to Sterling in February 2004. In hindsight, the birdbath which was the centerpiece of the front yard was clutch. I should have kept it and mounted it on the roof. You can't tell from this picture, but the yard was a mudhole before we built all of the sidewalks around the house, and I was occasionally worried that the house would sink during especially heavy rains.

    You are now well equipped to be my reference on any security clearance interview that might arise.

    Jellyfish to the face ends third Cuba crossing
    Diplomats owe $17 million in New York parking fines
    Doritos Creator to Be Buried With His Chips

    tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    Review Day

    There are no spoilers in these reviews because nothing has a plot.

    Record Collection by Mark Ronson:
    Mark Ronson's previous pastiche album had a funk-horns-hip-hop sound culminating with Ol' Dirty Bastard rapping to Britney Spears' Toxic. This new album is full of original works, and has more of a synth sound to it. Songs like The Bike Song are insanely catchy and well-constructed, even though there isn't much substance behind them. I may end up liking this album better than "Version", which got old because of how awful the sax and trumpet players sounded.

    Final Grade: B+

    Two by Lenka:
    Lenka's second album doesn't stray to far from the original "you can't help but be happy when listening to this" pop mold of the first, and reminds me of a cross between Regina Spektor, Ellie Lawson, and an Ingrid Michaelson without angst. It drags a little in middle when it gets too ballady, but the start and finish full of great throwaway pop. I also enjoy the dancing stethoscopes in the last half of this music video.

    Final Grade: B

    the wait by Zox:
    I really liked the song, A Little More Time, but the rest of this album doesn't necessarily match up with it. None of it is bad, but it leans a little towards frat rock with an overuse of guitars, and the lead singer isn't always on pitch.

    Final Grade: C+

    Logitech M510:
    For many years, I used the (now discontinued) Logitech MX620 as my main mouse, which easily fit the curve of my (right) hand and had one of those infinity mouse wheels that you could let fly like you're on the Price Is Right, getting to the bottom of a thousand page document in seconds. It turns out that that mouse wheel was the first piece to go as the mouse aged -- I noticed recently that the mouse was trying to induce epilepsy by scrolling up one line and back down at odd times when I wasn't even touching it. Also, I would browse around a Google Map only to zoom in or out by varying degrees. If the MX620 were still available, I'd by it and three more backups, but I had to settle for the M510. This is a symmetrical wireless mouse which fits comfortably and has the same well-placed thumb button (which I bind to "open in new tab") but doesn't have the free-scrolling wheel, which I greatly miss.

    Final Grade: B

    Patrons mistake ice cream costume for KKK
    Diversity satire a little too biting
    Two-faced cat sets record as oldest living "Janus" cat

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Friday, September 30, 2011

    End-of-the-Month Media Day

    New photos have been added to the Life, 2011 album. Enjoy!

    Why does anyone still use Bank of America?
    Amazon's Android Tablet May Be the Best and Kill the Rest
    Belgium's "Mr Penguin" dreams of Antarctic funeral

    tagged as media | permalink | 2 comments

     

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