February 2004 - full listing

29. February, 2004 - Leap Day

February’s usually a long enough month already, but I guess if you’re going to make it longer, this year is an okay one to do it. We’ve had pretty nice weather in the latter part of February, and I’m not especially anxious for the snow that usually hits us in March. I’ll enjoy the extra day this year.

That leads me to my rant for the day. I’ve been thinking about politics. I just don’t see how anyone can claim that they’re for more personal freedom (and generally line up on the left of the current political spectrum) while still thinking that bigger government and other social programs are a good thing.

As soon as you have government redistributing money, you’ve given up some measure of personal freedom. Take marriage, with the accompanying benefits like health-insurance or different tax rates for couples filing jointly. If it weren’t for government being in the marriage business, same-sex marriages wouldn’t be as big of a deal one way or another.

No Child Left Behind is another example. Cities and states started taking federal money for education (it was about 7% of their budgets in the last numbers I can find), and in exchange, they’re having to face federal intervention in education (even if it claims to offer more local control in the long run).

Remember the 55mph speed limit? Or moving the drinking age to 21 nationwide? Both are cases where the federal government blackmailed states into changing their laws by threatening to withhold highway dollars. As soon as you start to take money or services from the government, you’ve also accepted whatever strings are attached (either now, or in the future) to that money. Once government has power over some portion of your life with laws are on the books, those laws are open to selective enforcement, like the two cops in Georgia in the story I mention above. That’s why I advocate smaller government and fewer laws.

The point to remember is that what the government gives it must first take away. - John S. Coleman, Address, Detroit Chamber of Commerce, 1956

28. February, 2004 - Dub’s Pub, R.I.P.
27. February, 2004 - gonna be late

Well, here it is, two ayem, and I’m still awake (as opposed to waking up). I’m thinking that means that the big update for today is going to be a bit, um, tardy. Or maybe this will be the whole thing. I guess we’ll find out together.

26. February, 2004 - tweaking the look

I almost forgot the bird-feeder update this morning. I’ve seen the following birds since I started filling the feeder: sparrows, swallows, pigeons, a male cardinal, what I think was a dove, but might have been a smaller pigeon, and a blackbird. The Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter has been helpful in figuring out what’s what, especially since the birds all have their winter colors, which are much duller than the summer ones, so they all look either brown or grey to me, but I probably need a better bird-finder, since that one is most useful when you already have a clue, and I’ve just about run out of clues for identifying the birds out there.

I’m also thinking that maybe I should get a standalone web-cam of some sort that I could point at the feeder. There’s a fair amount of activity out there during the day, and it might be something people would want to look at. Then again, most of the standalone ones I looked at were a couple hundred dollars. Maybe I’ll just add one to my wish-list and see what happens.

25. February, 2004 - How hard can it be?
24. February, 2004 - Fat Tuesday
It's Alive!
It’s Alive!

Yesterday I mentioned that the pussy-willow-tree I received for a housewarming present has many leaves now, though some of the catkins are falling off. I also promised a picture, so here it is. Not one of the better pictures I’ve taken, I think, but it’ll probably make the giver happy to know that I haven’t managed to kill the plant yet. The hop plant I received at the same time may not be so lucky. I stuck it in the room under the front stairs down in my basement, thinking it would stay dormant down there, but apparently the warm weather has been warm enough to wake it up, so it grew some sprouts. Oh well, I watered it, and put it back into the dark. I figure one more cold snap to get through, and then I can set it in the garage until the ground thaws enough for me to plant it. I’d put it in the garage now, but that would virtually guarantee some really cold weather to kill the plant and make Steph unhappy, and we can’t have that, now can we?

23. February, 2004 - A Good Monday?

Quick home-front update: back is better, dosage of ibuprofen back down to normal levels; pussy-willow-tree has many leaves (maybe a picture tomorrow); birds continue to dig the grub I’m putting out for them, and I saw the first cardinal eating from my feeder yesterday. It’s looking like it’ll be a busy week, but there’s no snow to shovel, so I’m digging that. So yeah, I think it is a good Monday, at least so far.

22. February, 2004 - hanging around the house

Moving the bird feeder away from trees and other things that a squirrel could use seems to have helped. There’s less spilled seed (but still quite a bit), and consumption is down to the point where I only need to refill it every second day. Then again, part of that may be due to the fact that the feeder is more exposed, plus there’s an awful lot of spilled birdseed on the ground where it used to be – the birds seem to go there about as often as to the feeder (for now). I’ve also added a couple pigeons to the roster of birds eating from the droppings under the feeder. If there were to try and land on it, they’d definitely be heavy enough to cause a spill, so we’ll see how things develop.

The birds got an extra treat yesterday, too. I cleaned out the fridge a bit and found some blackberries that were left over from my housewarming party on January 31st. I figured it would make a nice treat for them. They seemed to agree.

My back is still hurting, but I’m coping. A trip yesterday to Cub yielded a new bottle of ibuprofen that ought to last me a day or two, along with some extra food that’s easier to prepare, and more seed for the birdies.

The ice-dam in the alley broke yesterday. The water is now running into the alley, rather than pooling right in front of my garage. I’m just hoping I’ll be in good enough shape to shovel the slushy snow that’s coming today out of the way tomorrow morning.

21. February, 2004 - Ouch

Yesterday was actually a pretty nice day. It snowed through most of the day, but the weather was warm enough that the snow wasn’t sticking on anyting that had been shovelled. Which meant of course that I was out fairly early in the morning shovelling things clear. There were only two problems. The first is that the meltwater is pooling in the area in front of my garage, because the alley and the area in front of the neighbor’s garage have ice dams where the water wants to drain. The second is that the snow was wet and heavy, and at one point I felt a twinge in my back from heaving it around.

As I’ve found a couple times in the past few years, a twinge in my back while shovelling isn’t a good thing. At the time, it doesn’t hurt much, and I managed to finish all the shovelling, and get some grocery shopping and the day’s work done. But in the evening, my back started to stiffen up. By the time I headed to bed, I was in some real pain, and while I’m still upright and moving around today, I think my weekend is probably going to be spent laying on the couch or floor and reading or watching TV, rather than getting anything done around the house. I definitely won’t be moving any boxes around.

Some days, when I wake up, I don’t feel all that much older than when I was going to college. Today isn’t one of them. Nothing like a bad back to make a guy feel old. And one of these years, I’m going to learn that the shopping trip after feeling the twinge in the back really should include a jumbo bottle of ibuprofen, no matter how much I think I have on hand.

20. February, 2004 - you were right, Jeff

On Wednesday, Jeff sent me an email saying that the spillage from the bird feeder and amount of seed that was going out was probably due to a squirrel. Well, I still haven’t seen a squirrel in the bird-feeder, but yesterday I noticed that the feeder was over half-full at one point, and then about an hour later was nearly empty. It may not be a squirrel, but something is tipping the feeder enough to spill out much of the seed. I think when I refill it today I’m going to move it over to the clothesline pole which should be out of range of squirrels jumping at it, and see if that makes a difference. If nothing else, it means fewer steps through the snow to get to the feeder for me.

19. February, 2004 - grab bag
18. February, 2004 - following up

Today’s links are mostly further notes on things I’ve already linked to. Sometimes a guy’s just gotta go back and fill in the blanks.

17. February, 2004 - hungry birds

One of the good things about the way I do this blogging thing is that I usually have some links in the “waiting for an excuse to use it” pile, often waiting for me to add in some decent commentary. When I run into a morning like this, when nothing in the news really strikes my fancy, that comes in handy, since you still get a full quota of linkage. Aren’t you the lucky one?

16. February, 2004 - holiday?

It says on my calendar that today is Presidents Day. Huh. As I remarked last year, it gets a lot less notice than Valentine’s Day, but hey, there’s a ton of pastel-colored and heart-shaped chocolate on sale in the stores if you want to stock up while you wonder why there wasn’t any junk mail today.

15. February, 2004 - Sunday Morning Politics

I keep thinking I should have something to say here this morning. But I don’t.

14. February, 2004 - Happy Trifon Zarezan

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Nice and sun-shiney and a high around freezing. Even Steph admitted it was nice out. A far cry from spring, but it’s the kind of day that makes mid-February (traditionally the coldest week or two of the year) bearable. I decided to take the afternoon off from work, going out for lunch, and then hanging out up on East Hennepin for a while.

It was easy to see the difference in people out walking around during the day, too. It wasn’t so much that we’ve moved into spring (in spite of what the clothing of some would suggest), but more that we got a little respite from winter, and people were taking advantage of it while they could.

The biggest benefit of weather like yesterday’s is that when that next cold-snap hits, you know that we’ve just about turned the corner, and the weather will generally be getting warmer from here on out. There’s still March and April and the huge quantities of snow that they usually bring, but at this point it feels like there’s maybe one good cold snap left in winter, and that’s a powerful light at the end of the tunnel.

And I’m very happy to be able to have a job that lets me take a few hours off to go enjoy the nice weather while we’ve got it.

Stone Arch Apartments
Stone Arch Apartments

During my walk home from lunch, I stopped to look at some things in my old neighborhood. As it turns out, the Stone Arch Apartments don’t look so bad now that they’re finished. The different colors and setbacks and such really do break up that big building so it doesn’t seem quite as massive as it actually is. When the snow is gone, I expect I’ll be biking past it once in a while, so having it look a little better is a good thing.

Renovations on the Steam Plant
Renovations on the Steam Plant

And it appears that the U of M is finally doing some long-overdue renovations on the exterior of their steam plant. It’s still going to be an ugly building, I suspect, but it’ll be nice to at least have it be a cleaned-up ugly building. I couldn’t tell if they’ve done any work on the side of the building facing the river, but hopefully they will before they’re done. For that matter, hopefully we’ll eventually get the concourse between it and the river that exists in various plans (most notably the one for the WhiteWater Park).

Where Andrew Riverside Church used to be
Where Andrew Riverside Church used to be

Finally, there’s the hole where Andrew Riverside Church used to be. I miss the old building, and the block looks wrong without it there, but since I don’t live just a block from it, it’s not such a big deal to me anymore (hey tore down the church on the day I was moving, so I missed getting photos of the demolition). It will be interested to see what goes in there, though. I’m expecting some condos, but wouldn’t be surprised by an apartment building, either. Ideally, I think there should be some more retail there to tie in with the other retail right along 4th Street just west of 35W, but I don’t know if the neighborhood would go for that. For that matter, I’m not sure what you could put there that would draw customers over time.

Finally, yesterday evening’s Auto Body Experience show was a fair amount of fun. We were treated (among other things) to Scott’s lovely wife donning a blue and white sweat-suit and blonde wig for “Annie” (a song about Resusci Anne, the CPR training aid), and danced about until the song was done and it was time for her to give Scott a big Valentine and on-stage smooch mouth-to-mouth.

Umbrella Bed wasn’t all bad, either. In fact, the music was pretty fun, but I wasn’t particularly impressed by the lyrics and after their first set, all the horns had pretty well blasted out my hearing. Plenty of folks were dancing to them, including one gal about whom the women I was sitting with wondered Do you think she knows you can see her nipples through her shirt? Once again, maybe I’m just an odd duck, but that wasn’t the first thing I’d noticed about her. I did get a laugh by taking off my glasses and rubbing my eyes. And yes, I’m pretty sure she did know.

It was a fun time, and nobody was killed, so I’d call the evening a success.

13. Feburary, 2004 - Spooky?

I’m not sure whether it being Friday the 13th or the day before Valentine’s Day is spookier, but if you’re looking for some fun this evening, the Auto Body Experience has announced that they’ll be playing Lee’s Liquor Lounge this evening.

I was thinking about Steph’s complaint about the cold this morning, and I kinda get it, but mostly I just think that it’s winter, and at least to a zeroth-order approximation, how cold it is doesn’t matter to me. Shoes, jeans, t-shirt and big winter jacket are enough even in the coldest weather, unless it’s real windy, too. Then I might pull out a hat and put something long-sleeved on under the jacket. Or if there’s a bunch of fresh snow to stomp through, I’ll put boots on my feet instead of tennis shoes. But mostly, I don’t even check the temperature before heading outside. From sometime in December until sometime in March, the outdoor attire doesn’t change all that much.

12. February, 2004 - WAM!NET options

In an interesting twist, it appears as though the tale of the only stock options I ever received may be drawing to an end. Back in January 1999, when WAM!NET laid me off, I had the choice of whether to exercise my stock options or not. I did, buying 2500 shares at $0.96 each. Last week I received notice that I have two choices of what to do with those shares: cash them out at $0.25 each; or convert them to some other form of note that might pay me $0.50 each at some time in the future. It’s all part of a fairly massive restructuring of the company, with the hopes that the new owners might have a chance of keeping it afloat. I haven’t decided for sure, but I’m probably going to take the cash and run. I think it’s time to close the books on that particular chapter of my life.

11. February, 2004 - good morning?

Unlike most 4am postings, this one is done on the tail end of the night before. I seem to have stayed up later than a guy probably should have. And had a couple more beers than was probably wise. Guess I drank so much, I just got stupid.

Pussy Willow Tree in Bloom
Pussy Willow Tree in Bloom
10. February, 2004 - a little this, a little that

Well, the snow today isn’t due until later in the day, so no morning shovelling for me. Between that and a surprisingly productive day yesterday which included a two-hour nap, I woke up this morning in a pretty good mood. I expect that will change if I have to drive home in fresh snow (which seems to panic people even if there’s not enough to affect traction), but I’ll worry about that later, I guess.

9. February, 2004 - the longest month?

February’s a rough time of year it seems. Between the cold weather and that silly holiday that reminds me that I’m single, there are more things I don’t like going on in this short month than things I like. Even though it’s the shortest month, it often feels like the longest.

Add to that the fact that I’m settled enough in my new home to feel relatively comfortable, but still have a lot of work to do to make it just the way I want it, and it’s not feeling like a very pleasant month. And I’ve had to head outside and shovel some snow half of the mornings so far this month. I dunno. I guess I’ll just keep trying ot soldier through, but I’m ready for it to be March already. And I expect the linkage (or lack thereof) will reflect that.

8. February, 2004 - no news day

I’m tired and don’t feel like blogging.

7. February, 2004 - little bit of luxury

I’m sitting and writing this in luxury this morning. Yesterday, a package arrived via UPS, and it contained a new bathrobe. After years of trying to buy a decent robe at local stores, I finally gave up and ordered one from a big and tall men’s store online. And it’s amazing how much better it feels to have sleeves that actually reach my wrists instead of ending just below the elbows. Or a robe that goes below my knees. One size does not fit all. Just like getting a shower that’s mounted high enough, getting a new bathrobe makes my mornings a little bit more pleasant. Am I becoming a sybarite? Maybe. But I like it. And hey, it’s nice to see this intarweb thingie be useful once in a while.

6. February, 2004 - nothing to see here

Well, it’s been one of those weeks. I’ve been busy with stuff that either doesn’t pay the bills, or has been actively preventing me from paying the bills. The paying work’s no real picnic either. I’m tracking down obscure memory-corruption problems on Mac OS 9, and while I’m booted into 9, I’ve got no email or just about anything else useful. And then when I crash because I failed to find the bug again, I’ve got to spend almost a half-hour waiting for my HD to get repaired by the OS.

I know, I know. I was one of the last geeks around to actually upgrade to Mac OS X myself, so why am I complaining about 9? Well, mostly because when I finally did make the move, I did so thinking that I was was of the last people to upgrade, and as such, I wouldn’t have to worry about a lot of that old cruft anymore. Instead, I find myself fighting years-old bugs that either don’t show up at all on X or are harder to track down there because the tools don’t have fifteen years of evolution behind them. It makes me grumpy.

In any case, I find myself on a Friday with no links queued up for you, and very little that struck my fancy this morning. I was tempted to have nothing at all here today, but some more digging produced these links. Sorry if they’re not up to the usual quality, but I’ve got to go shovel some snow (less than predicted) and then try to stomp a bug or two. And then I get to try and put my VPN back in order so I can let someone know I’ve fixed the bugs.

5. February, 2004 - more on the way

More snow, that is. I really like the way the snow has made things look outside, but with another four inches or so on the way, hitting sometime during the day today and going through the night, I’m not looking forward to having to go out and shovel everything out again tomorrow morning. I guess the best approach would be to just enjoy today and worry about the shovelling tomorrow, but that just isn’t working for me this morning. Snow in January isn’t so bad, as there isn’t a lot of it yet (usually). Snow in March isn’t so bad, as there are warm enough days to melt a bunch of it. Snow in February is a lot more draining, since you know it’s still going to be around as grey piles of slush in April.

4. February, 2004 - dug out
3. February, 2004 - snow done, cold now

Update, 9:24AM: Well, I just got back inside after shoveling for most of the past hour and a half. When I came in, there were icicles in my beard all the way to my ears, in my hair, moustache, and eyebrows. My coat, it’s soggy from the sweat that didn’t freeze on my head. Eww.

Sadly, I wasn’t thinking ahead, and had the digital camera in my (outside) coat pocket the whole time. For some reason it seemed to think its battery was dead, so no picture. Oh well. The temp actually fell while I was shovelling, too, from one-below to four-below.

Sheesh. If you ignore all the hoopla about some has-been pop-star baring some skin, there doesn’t seem to be much news to comment on today. Yeah, there’s some politics happening, but I haven’t been very interested in that, either. So here comes the miscellany…

2. February, 2004 - more snow
1. February, 2004 - Happy Birthday Mom

The housewarming party went well. We put a dent in the keg of mead, drank pretty much all the beer that people brought, and some of the backup beer that I bought for the party. The only foodstuffs that didn’t go well was the fruit, which surprised me a bit, but what the heck. There was at least one camera here, but it wasn’t mine, so I don’t have any pictures to post just yet. Maybe I’ll get some good ones via email (hint hint). Thanks to everyone for the swell housewarming gifts, even if some of them got consumed during the party. The sushi at the party came from Simply Sushi, in case you didn’t grab some chopsticks with the URL on ’em. The party wrapped up about 2am (a trifle past the midnight I’d mentioned in the invites) and I had everything cleaned up (with some help from a few folks – thanks again) and was asleep by 2:30.

Today’s Mom’s birthday, and she called at 8:30 to tell me that it’s been snowing up there all night, and the road to her place is pretty treacherous and I should stay home. This is two weekends in a row when Sunday snow has kept me from visiting her, and I’m thinking that maybe I’ll have to head up there during the week sometime. But the opportunity to stay home and nap on the couch this afternoon will not be squandered.

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Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:56:11.