Tuesday, January 03, 2012

List Day: Accomplishments So Far This Year

  • Successfully syringed a dose of cat drugs into Booty's mouth without spilling a drop

  • Watched an entire disc of the first season of Community

  • Won and lost at Mille Bornes

  • Won at Settlers of Catania

  • Made hot pepper beef stir fry in an electric wok

  • Lost at UPS-opoly

  • Learned about GML application schemas

  • Had tempranillo

  • Went hiking at Ravens' Rocks

  • Crossed the state line into West Virginia

  • Ate a Sauteed 'Shroom Burger at Red Robin

  • Atrophied most of my brain cells sitting through the premiere of The Bachelor

  • Read 64 pages of the NIEM Naming and Design Rules for work

  • Ordered a treadmill

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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Stuff In My Drawers Day: Recorded Dreams

When I entered the 7th grade, I decided to try recording my dreams. I kept pen and paper on the nightstand next to my bed, and trained myself to immediately record keywords from my dream as soon as I woke up in the middle of the night or the next morning.

By the time I graduated from high school and wisely decided to end the habit before I received a stranger as a college roommate, I had filled in two columns on 21 pages in Courier New 10 point font. For the most part, the entries are cryptic and vague when viewed twenty years later, but the occasional keyword definitely triggers vivid memories from parts of these dreams.

Here is a small sampling from my dream sheet:

Cornet/Band/Mixed-Up Stage
Backyard/Katya/Lutz/Cave/Quantum Leap
Plane/Fly/Science Fair/Comp Game
School/Tale of Two Cities/Shadow in the North

Gym/Tim/Band/Eternal Coin Phone
Harrigan/Erin/No Cows
House/Grue/Spiders/No School
Abandoned Farm/Chickens

Hammond was my junior high school. Additionally, I had the dream about chasing panthers through a swamp on two separate occasions.

PETA seeks memorials to cows killed on Ill. roads
Give slim kids higher marks, says French diet guru
Remotely pat your cat with a Wiimote

tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Drama by Bitter:Sweet:
This is the follow-up album to Bitter:Sweet's first album, featuring the same mix of electronica, horn sections, and sultry vocals. The mood is slightly brighter and more playful, making for a nice contrast when I merge them on a blank CD into a super-album. Oddly, the vocalist seems to have developed a much more noticeable lisp since the first album.

Final Grade: B

Malcolm in the Middle, Season Two:
I'm watching old episodes of Malcolm on Amazon Prime, and I think it's stood the test of time pretty well. It even survives the immediate puberty peril that also afflicted seasons of Home Improvement, although Malcolm himself is the least interesting, most annoying character on the show. I feel like this was one of the shows I made time for in college, but don't really remember ever sitting down to watch it.

Final Grade: B+

The Hangover, Part II (R):
Like most comedic sequels, this one was completely unnecessary, but it managed to be unnecessary in the least disagreeable way possible. It brings back all of the original characters in a new setting, and then rebuilds the original plot with slightly different twists. If you loved the first one, you'll love this one -- it doesn't ever try to be more than an obvious reprisal for fans. From my perspective, the first movie was great, and the second was similar enough that I'd rather just watch the first one again. I also tend to think that TV shows and movies that depend on trained monkeys for humor's sake tend to be stretched thin in the ideas department, but maybe someday I'll meet someone who actually thinks they're funny.

Final Grade: B-

Crazy Stupid Love (PG-13):
This movie is something of a romantic comedy mixed with a bromance, and was surprisingly enjoyable. The main stars are Steve Carell as a man whose wife wants a divorce, and Ryan Gosling, as a club-trolling manwhore. The tone is generally pretty light, and though the plot tries to be cleverer than it actually is, the twists and turns merely serve the comedy -- it doesn't steamroll-vomit into a storm of frogs, Magnolia-style. Steve Carell's character was colored by all of the seasons of The Office we've watched recently, but this did not destroy the movie.

Final Grade: B

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Friday, January 06, 2012

Friday Fragments

even 2012 needs some fragments

⋄ Happy New Year! With six days of the new year under my belt, I can now add "living in 2012" on my resumé -- it's at least as much experience as everyone else has, and this is how most people grow their resumés.

⋄ Our original New Years plans involved a quick trip down to Charlotte to see an old friend of Rebecca's. However, as we were in the middle of packing on Friday morning, Booty decided to make life more extreme with a urinary tract infection. Everything is more extreme with bloody pee.

⋄ Booty is doing much better now after antibiotics, and we were able to invent alternative New Years plans that kept us closer to home, like a Game Night with Page and Brian, and a Hike Day with Brian and Emily, and introducing legislation to ban future use of the name "Brian".

⋄ "Brian Uri" is a very aesthetically pleasing name, especially the repeated R and I in the same positions in each part. When I was a child who invented and subsequently abandoned whole fantasy worlds faster than HP's Touch Pad, I would often name my fantasy worlds "Rinurbia". There may have been several SimCities with this name as well.

⋄ I never had much fun playing SimCity because I would always want to max/min the gameplay. Rather than building a nice organic town and growing it, I would always start my layouts with the optimal organization of police stations and zoned blocks (and always started with railroads instead of roads). Max/min'ing is great when you want to beat a game quickly, but isn't so great when it's a game that never ends.

⋄ Speaking of things that never end, we're getting a treadmill this weekend which we plan to install in Rebecca's Exercise Room. I intend to use it to get back down to my optimal 8th-grade-coxswain weight of 88 pounds so I can sneak onto junior high crew teams as a ringer. Alternately, I'll use it as a good excuse to move around while rewatching entire seasons of shows that I would normally just rewatch while lying on the couch eating pieces of fat and sour cream.

⋄ Other plans for the weekend include some overtime work and a PT party (pronounced Physical Therapy, not Pity). Have a great weekend!

PayPal tells buyer to destroy purchased violin instead of return for refund
China Culls 'Low Taste' Shows

tagged as fragments | permalink | 4 comments

Monday, January 09, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up

In celebration of her last weekend before the next semester starts, Rebecca caught a cold. We stayed in on Friday night, eating a better-than-Totino's but worse-than-Pizza-Hut Safeway pizza and watching the pilot episode of Pushing Daisies. We're now juggling about seven different shows at the same time -- this is the kind of extreme television situation you can get in with a five-slot DVD player and an Amazon Prime subscription.

On Saturday morning, my parents stopped by with 237 pounds worth of treadmill (the Horizon T202), which uses up all the remaining space in the basement -- we may have to knock down a wall to reduce claustrophobia down there. Since Rebecca was sick, I took the treadmill on its inaugural expedition, running 13 miles per hour at a 48 degree incline for fifty-seven minutes.

In the evening, we drove up to faux Sterling for a party with all of Rebecca's fellow PTA students, of many disparate ages and background. We filled up on Iranian food and counted our blessings that we didn't have to drive back to Fredericksburg or Haymarket after the party.

I spent most of Sunday writing briefs about the things I would be working on if I weren't writing briefs about them. In the afternoon, I finally got around to painting the ceiling, and also did some colour tests in and around the living room. We ended the night with our third attempt at stir-fry, using the random combination of fresh ingredients remaining in the fridge from the last attempts.

How was your weekend?

Magpies and bears mourn Dear Leader
Pittsburgh Zoo hosting "Adults Only" Valentines Day event

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

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 its a prime candidate for a William Hung Greatest Hits album.

Unsent: (adj.) not dispatched or transmitted

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

For the first Museday of 2012, the randomly generated title made me picture an abandoned old-time post office, filled to the brim with dusty sacks of unsent mail.

tagged as museday | permalink | 1 comment

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to Cheat at MacGamut / Practica Musica

Fun Fact: In 2012, Ball State University had the highest percentage of prospective cheaters of all undergraduate universities! By a lot! Congratulations Ball State!

The URI! Zone has long been a magnet for Google searches from music majors try to cheat on their ear training exercises (even though there are no cheats available here). Back in 2008, I first had this to say about the phenomenon:

MacGamut and Practica Musica are two (ineptly coded) programs that track the ear training progress of freshman music majors all over the country. You have two options if you are struggling with these programs: practice more, or switch to Business. (The third alternative, take my wonderful ear training class, has been discontinued since 2003). Honestly, if you can't handle this, how far do you expect to get in your field of study?

Last week, while staying at our house during a broken heat crisis, Chris Smith took the initiative to do the follow-up research to see what you might actually discover after doing such a web search. Some of the results are below.

Nestle to help pet owners and pets lose weight online
Three fire engine crews help free trapped gull

tagged as searches | permalink | 2 comments

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

7:24 AM: Waking up late in hopes of combating a cold with extra sleep.

7:31 AM: A peek behind the bathroom mirror.

7:35 AM: All of Rebecca's classmates swear by this stuff, but I don't notice it doing much that Dayquil can't do.

7:41 AM: A quick bagel breakfast.

7:55 AM: Working from home in the morning.

10:01 AM: Amber is my office assistant.

11:15 AM: A quick ham sandwich before heading to the office.

11:41 AM: View from my (new) office.

4:06 PM: Finished with afternoon meetings.

4:17 PM: Sunset on the way home.

4:35 PM: Booty is pretty much right where I left her.

6:50 PM: Leftover Chicken Reuben from the crock pot for dinner.

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, January 13, 2012

Stuff in My Drawers Day

I regularly thin the population of my file cabinets to make room for new useless junk. On Wednesday, I came very close to trashing 2 1/2 inches of awards and certificates from elementary school through college, some of which I highlighted in this post. I ended up keeping them at the behest of Rebecca, since we figured that they would be a good way to develop complexes in our future children.

Among the things which did not make the "save for later" cut:

  • Back issues of the Boy Scout Troop 131 Newsletter, The Buffalo Chip.
  • Black and white photos showing an absence of wildlife in Huntley Meadows Park, taken for the Nature merit badge.
  • Triplicate copies of college applications for Virginia Tech, UVa, James Madison, and William and Mary.
  • Virginia Wine brochures from 2008 and 2009.
  • A collection of student evaluation forms from Florida State (called SUSSAI forms because SUSSAI sounds like SUICIDE, and the instructors can probably recognize your handwriting) which spend more time bashing the Practica Musica ear training software than discussing my teaching.

Occupy squalor: The ultimate test for helicopter parents
NYC subway workers running "rate my rat" contest

tagged as memories | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

I usually skip any updates that fall on federal holidays, so this rehash of YouTube videos I've liked and linked to throughout the years can honestly be considered as a true bonus update. For "if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for recycled humorous content. And the T.C. Williams High School Marching Titans".

(Audio on movies may not be safe for work -- find your headphones)

Theatrical trailer from Brokeback to the Future

Orangina, the drink of sexy, sexy animals

David Blaine Street Magic: YouTube Edition

Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise

Theatrical trailer from 10 Things I Hate About Commandments

Ernie and Bert try Gangsta-Rap

Cats playing paddycake

Antoine Dodson - Bed Intruder Song

Dick in a Box

Alanis Morissette covers My Humps
UK mom coughs up tumor, now cancer free
The trouble with social search

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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 its a prime candidate for a William Hung Greatest Hits album.

Pelagic: (adj.) pertaining to the open seas or oceans

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This excerpt started out as a hornpipe, but unintentionally morphed into something one might hear in a Zelda game mashed on top of the arrangement I did of Irish Washerwoman for Doobie ten years ago. This is not necessarily a good mixture, however, there's plenty of material available to expand upon at the end of the year if I don't write anything better by then.

tagged as museday | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

List Day: Pros and Cons of the New Office


  • The window view has swapped from "a dumpster and a parking garage" to "the Reston Town Center and the secret building with armed guards".

  • They forgot to install a hall intercom, so my day is no longer interrupted by pages.

  • The north-facing window means I no longer have to creatively close parts of the blinds to account for rising and setting suns glaring off the monitor.

  • I currently share the office with an employee who permanently works onsite.


  • I'm now a floor away from the smorgasbord of food left out in the lunchroom on Monday mornings (from Friday partying).

  • It's now twice the distance to the restroom.

  • It's now five times the distance to the nearest printer.

  • The restroom stalls have automatic flush sensors, which means you'd better not lean too far forward while doing your business, unless you wanted bidet services.

  • Based on how cold and drafty it is, the windows on this floor must have been insulated with nothing but hugs and kisses.

Composer Seeks to Turn His Hallucinations Into Music
Canadian shop sold clay tablet iPads

tagged as lists | permalink | 4 comments

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Alcatraz (Pilot Episode):
If J.J. Abrams were really serious about distancing Alcatraz from LOST, he would have hired a different composer. There's nothing wrong with Michael Giacchino's score, other than the fact that he's reused it several hundred times now -- three note violin motives don't build suspense, they just irritate everyone. This sci-fi show is about prisoners in Alcatraz who all mysteriously disappeared in 1963 and are returning now without any signs of aging. In other words, it's LOST meets The 4400 meets Fringe with Hurley thrown in. I gave the pilot a chance, but the whole time I was watching, it felt like a paint-by-numbers book where everything was already painted in. Everything in it had been done before with less rote, from the oddly paired leads to the mysterious hatch in a bag that will let the writers out of any plot corners they back into later on. I turned it off just as the second hour was getting underway, in favour of watching "Jack Sparrow" again on YouTube.

Final Grade: D+

The Office, Season Six:
This season felt unnecessary, like one of the later seasons of Scrubs. I was never completely bored, but I never really had any urge to watch several in a row. A few hearty laughs in a thin broth of tedium.

Final Grade: C-

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II:
The saga ends about as well as it could. I always felt like the underlying story was needlessly complex at the end, especially in the part where they chase down a million knick-knacks, and the movie doesn't help that much. The visual palette is still very dark -- I'd hate to see this in 3D where the screen is probably 100% black all of the time. In the end, it's well done and satisfying, although I was hoping they would take the LotR approach of having seventeen different endings, because you can never fade to black enough times in a single movie.

Final Grade: B

Malcolm in the Middle, Season Three:
This is the season where Francis quit military school and moved to Alaska in order to provide a nice eight minutes of filler material every episode. It's not great, but pleasant enough to enjoy.

Final Grade: C+

The Bird and the Bee by The Bird and the Bee:
This is a two-person group that started showing up on Pandora after I started listening to Lenka and Bitter:Sweet. The songs are catchy and pleasant to listen to, with a lot of emphasis on major seventh chords (which you can never have enough of) and shifted rhythmic motives. Other than the unfortunate yet hilarious lyric of "I'm lying prostate on the ground" which is actually spelled correctly in the liner notes but sung as shown, this is a decent album, if a tad Lilith Fair.

Final Grade: B

The Guild, Season Five:
The fifth season of this web show finds the guild attending a gaming convention. Though it had some highlights, I actually didn't enjoy this season much -- they spent too much time on cameos and non-gaming-related humour. It was easy to enjoy when the show focused on gaming and human relationships, but this season requires a little more specialization in comic books and geek stuff, which I lack. I guess when Microsoft starts sponsoring your show, you have to start throwing a little money at famous people.

Final Grade: C+

tagged as reviews | permalink | 1 comment

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Fragments

as the lawyers say, the hilarity is in suing

⋄ Other than a complete lack of stickable snow, 2012 has been pretty good so far. The weather has impressed no one, least of all Booty, but at least no one I know has been stabbed, shot, or killed in a tragic blimp accident.

⋄ Unlike most years, my mental year tracker immediately rolled over to 2012, and I have yet to accidentally write 2011 on any checks or documents. However, I can only be good at a small number of things at any given time, so this is balanced out by the fact that I consistently have to think to remember whether I'm 32 or 31.

⋄ Five years ago in 2007, I was just coming to the end of a three month work cycle of 80 hour weeks working on the METADATA REGISTRY 6.0, had not yet met Rebecca, and was trying really hard to like the new Zelda game for the Wii. Today, there's slightly less work, slightly more Rebecca, and just as much Zelda ennui.

⋄ I really want to like Zelda, and I keep on playing it, but it jut feels so slow-paced. I have a feeling that of the 20 hours I've played so far, 18 has been spent watching cinematics with the subtlety of a Will Ferrell movie, and the other 2 hours have been spent waiting for the Wii to power up through 20 menu screens, calibrate the controller, and warn me not to eat it.

⋄ Plans for the weekend include some family time with Rebecca's Maryland branch, a company holiday party with a ridiculous theme (The Wild West), some overtime, and some living room bannister painting. It turns out that overbuying ridiculous amounts of WINDJAMMER BLUE has paid off, since it looks good separating our orange kitchen from our beige living room.

⋄ Have a great weekend!

Florida police officers paid to drink alcohol, eat Doritos on the job
Plane passengers accidentally told they are about to crash into ocean

tagged as fragments | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up

Apparently, all you need to call yourself an Old Times Photo Booth these days are some props and a sepia-tone camera filter.

iPad pushes page turners off the stage
Farmer caught spray-painting birds as prank on birdwatchers

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Paint Day

To go along with HUNGOVER PEE in the kitchen, the living room has been designated as a CREAMY BEIGE zone, which is slightly warmer than the NOUGAT that used to be there (but which can no longer be obtained since the Sears Paint Department no longer exists). This also means that my ridiculous overstock of WINDJAMMER BLUE will see a second life on the railings and bannisters, replacing the existing PUFFIN BAY GREY.

The problem with the railings is that it takes about two and a half coats of WINDJAMMER BLUE to cover up the PUFFIN BAY GREY completely. On the other hand, it also takes about two and a half coats to completely cover up a layer of primer. Life lesson: doing things the right way does not create any sort of useful efficiencies.

I also intend to paint my face on the bars, so that I am staring at you when you're at a 40 or 140 degree angle.

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Memory Day: Snapshots

This picture was taken in the late 80s, probably on one of many Sunday afternoon trips in search of more Civil War battlefields we had not yet Foursquared. Back then, there was no Target, no Walmart, and no four-lane highway floating majestically fifty yards above dry farmland.

Along with my stylish sweater that lasted through seventh grade, I'm wearing a giant Mickey Mouse analog watch. Mickey's hands moved around the dial to report the time until an unfortunate collision with the pavement during recess. After that, it was waterproof digital Casio's forever.

5 online petitions that prove democracy is broken
An Evening with Dr. Demento

tagged as memories, media | permalink | 0 comments

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in this review.

Taller Children by Elizabeth and the Catapult:
This short album is a collection of lighter songs. The lead singer reminds me of a KT Tunstall with an American accent. The song Race You was driving me crazy with familiarity until I realized that it had been featured in an adult diaper commercial a few years back. The up-tempo songs are a little better than the slow ones -- ballads are universally boring though.

Final Grade: B+

Super 8:
You can tell when people were born by seeing if they think this movie is about a motel. This J.J. Abrams feature is a lovingly-crafted E.T. for a new generation. It feels just like something Spielburg might have created, but with better special effects. I enjoyed it more than expected.

Final Grade: B

Community, Season One:
Community is a laugh-trackless comedy about a Spanish study group at a community college. The characters and situations are intentionally one-dimensional, and in fact, many episodes are written solely to skewer common TV tropes. There's plenty of less-meta humor as well, and the DVDs are packed with extras and outtakes. We blew through this season in about two weeks and thoroughly enjoyed everything but the annoying presence of Chevy Chase.

Final Grade: A

Malcolm in the Middle, Season Four:
A mostly forgettable, but enjoyable midseries season. Having exhausted all comedic possibilities for Francis, the writers keep him around on a dude ranch rather than just letting the character fade out of the show (a la Doug from Weeds). This is a good show to watch while applying that third coat of paint to a stubborn railing that continues to absorb all of the color.

Final Grade: B-

tagged as reviews | permalink | 4 comments

Friday, January 27, 2012

Random Chart Day

After 22 hours, I think I'm done playing Zelda: Skyward Sword. At least I got to name my character.

$5 here, $37 there: Americans' indulgences add up
Symantec advises customers to stop using pcAnywhere

tagged as data | permalink | 5 comments

Monday, January 30, 2012

Questions Day

I'm in the midst of weekend work involving the design and implementation of reusable data components, while Rebecca is studying for her first batch of Spring Semester tests, so there wasn't enough material to write a Weekend Wrap-up today.

Ask me about something. Habits, recommendations, trivia, opinions -- anything is fair game. I'll take the most interesting questions that don't involve any revelations of my bank account numbers and answer them later on this week.

Why popcorn smells like a bearcat's butt
Newly discovered color photos from inside Hitler's private home

tagged as you speak | permalink | 3 comments

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hail Virginia Redux

Five years ago today, I composed a new Virginia state song, insignificantly outraged that the land of yearly car inspections had been without official music since 1998. Because of its saucy lyrics, the previous song, "Carry Me Back", was designated by the General Assembly as "state song emeritus". (For those of you who did not go to college, this means that the song has the obligation to show up at least once a week and look pretty in the brochure, but is under no obligation to actually teach anything).

There's probably a touch of favouritism involved when Virginia isn't allowed to say "old darkey", but Arkansas can have an overtly sexual song called "You Run Deep In Me" and innuendo-oozing lyrics like "mallards sailing on a December wind". Regardless, or irregardless, we have now been without a state song for 14 years -- even Maryland has one ("Oh Christmas Tree"), and it's a sad day when Maryland is better than Virginia at anything.

To rectify this situation, I would like to shine a renewed spotlight on my completely inoffensive replacement song, Hail Virginia. With enough new exposure, my hope is that this song will end up trending on Twitter and then noticed by the General Assembly. ("Trending" is when you have nothing original to share on your Twitter account so you just talk about what everyone else is talking about).

Hear it sung by the composer, formerly an accredited ear training instructor at the Florida State Department School College Dominion of Music
Hear the marching band version that the UVa Pep Band will lipsynch to, should they ever be allowed back into any sporting events

To raise awareness of this musical gem, which Wagner would have killed Mendelssohn to think of first, I am also willing to arrange it for other groups besides a marching band. Post your suggestions in the comments section and I might oblige!

tagged as green (recycled) content, music | permalink | 1 comment


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