Stupid News Articles

In today’s rendition of “stupid news articles” I have three wonderful entries found via my Google News feed. I should note that the PHP code I wrote that aggregates these articles does so outside of my Google account; in other words, the rating algorithm is not unique to me… it’s optimized for general-interest.

1458625_881634774711_1441341013_nThe first headline comes to us from USA Today (on October 17th, just after the government shutdown “ended”). Thank goodness the panda-cam is back!!! Where else would I get my daily dose of cute?

1379865_881636720811_21857182_nUp next, a riveting piece by Forbes arguing that, if you disagree with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you must be a racist. There’s been some spectacular misinformation flying around about Obamacare, but this is just about as founded as the claim that girls have cooties.

1467315_881636740771_725116411_nFinally (and most egregious), I learned from the Washington Post that Lee Harvey Oswald was the founder of the Tea Party movement. Seriously, this one made me throw up a little in my mouth. I don’t care what you think of the Tea Party, tying any group of people to the hatred required for assassination is reprehensible.

I expect this kind of dibble from YouTube comments and Blog posts (yes, I know)… but these are all reputable, mainstream “news” organizations. I’ll end with one of my new favorite quotes:

“The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion.” -John Lawton

Quantum Suicide of Sophie Miller

After two years of hard work, I’ve officially finished my work on the film The Quantum Suicide of Sophie Miller! I submitted the soundtrack for manufacturing last night and can’t wait to hold the final product in my hands. In the meantime, this (very cool) 3d rendering will have to do: 3d Proof View.

Over the coming days and weeks, I’ll be posting the entirety of the soundtrack online as lossless FLAC and portable MP3 files. I’ll also be writing a blurb about each track as considerable thought went into designing the score. For now, the following is taken from the liner notes of the album:

Creating the soundtrack for The Quantum Suicide of Sophie Miller has been a uniquely challenging experience. As our protagonist explains, true randomness does not exist beyond the quantum world; the musical challenge was to compose a score that reiterates this concept. The approach was twofold: draw heavily on musical references, and utilize character-centric themes.

Nearly every piece is built upon a specific genre, inspiration, or concept. This is generally done via chord progressions, instrumentations, and/or melodic intervals. The most obvious example is the diegetic use of Ave Maria in Hamlet. Elsewhere you’ll find remnants of and allusions to Buddhist chant, It Is Well With My Soul, the circle of 4ths/5ths, and many more. By drawing on traditional sacred music and various mathematical patterns, the soundtrack embodies the themes of religion and science.

In addition to every track drawing on carefully chosen thematic material, each is also tightly correlated with a given character (or pseudo-character). The actual score heard while viewing the film is an amalgamation of these various tracks: combined, intercut, and overlaid to reinforce the actions and intentions of the players in any given scene. The soundtrack before you is unique in that it’s not a simple copy-and-paste of the film’s score; instead, it’s a collection of the major themes that comprise the film’s music. Every flourish you hear on this album appears in the film; likewise, nearly every note in the film is recorded on this collection. However, these flourishes and notes will not align; what you’ll hear on this album is the original per-character source material, from which the film score is derived.

It’s been a real pleasure to again collaborate with RiverBend Films; I hope you enjoy listening to this album as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it!

I look forward to sharing my hard work with you all, it’s been a real blast and I’m extremely proud of how everything turned out.

Walking Her Home

As referenced in the previous post “Engagement Story“, I proposed last Friday to Jamie, my girlfriend of 5 years, by way of re-written lyrics to the Mark Schultz song “Walking Her Home“. I may someday share the actual recording I made, but for now… here are the lyrics. Enjoy!

Verse 1:

Looking back, they see it all

from the nights they fell in love in those college halls.

From setting sun, to dawns first light

friends gathered, learning, growing through the night.

At the end as crowds disband

They were standing hand in hand…

Chorus 1:

He was walking her home, holding her hand.

Oh the way she smiled, it stole the breath right out of him.

Down that old road, with the stars up above.

They remember were they were the night they fell in love.

He was walking her home.

Verse 2:

Five more years, they’ve become best friends, seen thick and thin.

They find themselves on those college grounds again.

He takes her hand, drops to one knee

with tears in eyes, he asks “will you marry me?”.

As they kneel there, arm in arm

he promises “from this day on…

Chorus 2:

I’ll be walking you home, holding your hand.

Praying that the Lord will see us living out his plan.”

Down life’s shared road, with the stars up above.

They remember were they were the night they fell in love.

He was walking her home.


They’ll see each other through both good and bad;

a lifetime spent together, sharing all the love they have.

Verse 3:

A nursing home, in fading light.

The time will come to say their last goodnight.

With no regrets, or love ungiven’

reflecting on the journey they have been.

As life’s ember’ll cease to be,

they’ll close their eyes and there they’ll see…

Chorus 3:

..they are walking on home, still hand in hand.

Oh the way she’ll smile when he says “this is not the end”.

Just for a while, they’re on those old grounds

giving thanks for all the love and life that they have found.

They’ll be walking on home.

They’ll be walking on home.


Looking back, from start to end,

a journey walked together hand in hand.

Engagement Story

This past Friday, June 15th, I proposed to my girlfriend of 5 years! What follows is the “Engagement Story”, from her perspective. I’ll be writing my own account of the event (and the weeks leading up to it) in a few days. Until then, enjoy!

I can imagine few activities that leave me more exhausted at the end of the week than working at camp, so when Libby (the program director) approached Mackenzie (my little sister) and me on Friday afternoon, June 15th, after we had spent a week volunteering and asked us to drop off a package in Houston, I suspected no mischief. “Since you’re going to Houston,” she asked, “would you mind dropping this off with Sara? Her mail isn’t forwarding properly, and we keep getting stuff for her here.” For those who don’t know the back story, Sara was the previous program director at Lutherhill, who had moved to Houston at the end of the previous summer. Libby took over as program director last fall.

Privately I thought, “Gee, Houston is kind of out of our way…I visit Houston *so* frequently, though, so maybe it would be okay if we take it now, and I drop it off sometime later when I’m actually *in* Houston rather than home?” When I inquired by when the package needed to be delivered, Libby responded, “Oh…like tonight.” Chalk up another point for sleep-deprivation, because it never occurred to me to question the supposed “urgency” of the package. When Mackenzie replied, “Okay, yeah, we can take it,” the deal was sealed – we were going to Houston, whether I wanted to or not!

We departed camp around 5 p.m. Normally the drive back home lasts about 2 hours (a little longer when I drive, a little shorter when anyone else drives). I texted my mother to inform her that we were on the way but needed to make a stop, so she should expect us around 8 or so. With address entered into the GPS on Mac’s phone and sticky note clutched in hand (another plot hole I failed to detect: Sara’s address was written on a sticky note, but not on the package itself – how the heck did I miss that!?), we were off!

En route, I decided I was excited about the opportunity to see Sara. I had not talked with her in over a year, and she had recently announced her engagement, so I wanted to offer congratulations and ask how the wedding planning was going. I knew the visit would be brief, but I still appreciated the chance to say hello. Since her zip code matched the zip code I had when I lived at Rice (another clue I failed to notice), I wondered about the feasibility of visiting campus, but immediately ruled that out because I thought we should make every effort to return home before dark.

The sticky note read “6221 Weslayan, Houston 77005.” Mackenzie’s GPS directed us to a street in West U. (Weslayan), and I immediately noticed the dearth of houses actually situated along Weslayan. Plenty of residential streets intersected Weslayan, but only a few driveways actually backed up onto the street, and I couldn’t find numbers on any of them. I obsessively checked the GPS, certain we were close, but 6221 simply did not exist. When we got to University Drive, I instructed Mackenzie to turn around and drive slower, sure we must have just missed it because the house numbers were not obvious. When she attempted to drive a different route, I became very persistent (“No! Turn left *here*! We have to go back! You must have missed the house – drive slower this time!”). Mackenzie pulled over to the side of the road about two blocks from where I was certain Sara’s house must be, and reached into the back seat, asking, “Where did I put that package?”

Frustrated by her sudden flakiness, I climbed out of the car, figuring I could maybe find the house on foot – we were only 2 blocks away, after all. As I marched away from the car, Mackenzie called after me, “Wait! Change of plans…you need to open the package and follow the directions!”

Finally it dawned on me that some serious skullduggery was afoot. Why would *I* need to open a package meant for Sara? The truth is – I would *not* need to open a package intended for Sara, which left only one option – the package was never intended to reach Sara, and had been for me the whole time! All was not as it appeared…

Upon opening the package, I found a rock labeled “180‌°”. My first instinct was to make an about-face, but I quickly realized I was nowhere near any place of significance, and there was no way whoever had sent this rock would know which way I’d be facing when I got the instruction. When I glanced up at Mackenzie, confused, she mentioned that she needed to take me to Stockton Drive (one of the entrances to Rice University). With this final piece of information, the message clicked – I needed to go to the statue in the engineering quad at Rice called “180‌°” (there are 3 statues in that quad, all labeled according to the angle they make with the ground – 45‌°, 90‌°, 180‌°). Coincidentally, this statue marks the very spot where Kyle and I found ourselves on the morning after his graduation from Rice 5 years previous, talking about “what comes next.” Anyone else see any symmetry here?

Mackenzie suddenly developed a mysterious desire to visit Rice Village and asked where she might park in order to do so. I directed her to the band hall, since it has a visitor’s parking lot next to it, and it’s relatively close to the engineering quad. I was also *finally* developing a suspicion of what kind of shenanigans were under way, and I suspected I ought to visit the ladies’ room – no matter what the surprise was, I did not wish to ruin it by rushing off in pursuit of a restroom in the middle of it. I walked to the engineering quad, and sure enough, there was Kyle, atop 180‌°, along with a portable CD player, 180 lilies (my favorite flower!), some candles, and a bottle of sparkling grape juice.

I climbed up to join him on 180‌°, asking if he knew anything about this mysterious message I’d received. He responded by giving me a hug, then pressing “play” on the CD player. I recognized the opening chords to Mark Schultz’s “He Was Walking Her Home”. When the first verse started, though, I heard that the voice coming from the CD player was not Mark Schultz, but was Kyle…and the words had been altered so that the song no longer narrated the story of a hypothetical couple, but described *our* story instead.

When the song described the two people back on college grounds, Kyle dropped to one knee, pulled out a ring, and (at the pre-determined break in the music) asked, “Will you marry me?” For some reason, I was struggling to actually vocalize just then, so I nodded (vigorously, I think), and he stood up to give me the best hug of my life! When the song ended, I recovered my voice and said, “Yes!”

I guess some people celebrate moments like this with wine or champagne; we substituted sparkling grape juice. The ring is made of recycled metal, and the diamond was grown in a laboratory rather than mined, so it is 100% conflict-free!

Before actually proposing, Kyle flew out to Baltimore to talk with my best friend. He attempted to fly to Houston to talk with my other very close friend, but his plane was diverted and he couldn’t make it while she was in town, so he had to talk with her on the phone. The night before he actually proposed, he had dinner with my parents to ask for their blessing. My dad, being contrary, asked “What would you do if I said no?” Caught slightly off-guard, Kyle eventually responded that he would ask anyway, but he’d be extremely disappointed. My dad praised that response as the right answer and (still being contrary) gave his blessing, provided that Kyle promised to learn both how to drive a stick-shift car, and how to ski. (We have already begun to rectify the stick shift issue.)

So now we enter the next adventure of our lives! I am humbled by God’s graciousness in blessing me with such a wonderful fiancé. I know that the years to come will carry many ups and downs, and I look forward to facing both the challenges and the blessings with Kyle at my side.

Happy Pentecost!

I hurriedly slapped this video together this evening after getting the idea stuck in my head over the weekend. Sorry about the poor production values, hope you still appreciate the joke!

A little sacrilegious? Probably.
Rather amusing? I think so.