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.
- Turly sent me an email pointing out the Major risk factor for heart attacks . Sounds pretty darned believable to me. [turly]
- State of the Art: After TiVo, Radio Rewound talks about a TiVo-like device for radio, but it sounds as though it’s not really a very good implementation, has crappy sound-quality to boot (32 Kbps mono), and a poor receiver.
- The USENIX Response to SCO Controversy is a good letter, in which they take some direct shots at SCO. I think SCO’s in real trouble in the long-run, but as with so many legal proceedings, they’re managing to make life heck for others in the meantime, and the results aren’t certain. Meanwhile, Judge accepts expanded SCO lawsuit, pushing the damages sought against IBM up to $5 billion. [slashdot]
- In If the meter’s running, Joe Soucheray takes a look at a cab-ride he had from the airport and the lack of service and bad attitude from the driver. My solution to the problem is to not get in the first cab available, but to wait and watch a little to see if there’s either a driver I know in the queue, or at least a cab from a company I know waiting. I’ve had enough bummer cab-rides that there are some companies I’ll just avoid, even if they were to offer a free ride home. [press-patch]
- Eric Raymond writes about The Luxury of Ignorance: An Open-Source Horror Story involving CUPS and explaining how sticking a pretty graphical interface on something doesn’t necessarily make it user-friendly, and can even make it geek-hostile, by leading knowledgeable folks down wrong paths. [papascott]
- Cops Caught Issuing Tickets As a Contest. At first I thought this was just another abuse-of-power story, but there’s more to it than that. See, the cops were stopping people for valid reasons, and just writing every ticket they could. The mayor said
It is not anything that we as a city support,but I find myself wondering why all those laws are on the books if the city isn’t going to enforce them.
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
- Got a call last night from Mike. It was the very last night of business for Dub’s Pub. Apparently the sale finally went through yesterday afternoon. Good luck to the crew from there, but after nearly ten years of hanging out there, I’d kinda decided to stop going even before they sold, so I don’t feel that much loss.
- Transit workers go to last-chance mediation Monday, and if that doesn’t get them a contract they’re happy with, they’ll meet on Tuesday to set a strike date. Many of the folks I know depend on the MTC to get them to and from work, and while there are a lot of carpools forming and some who are planning to walk to work, a strike is going to hurt a lot of people, and probably cut long-term bus ridership as people explore alternatives. Doug Grow has some background on the story, too. The biggest issue is health insurance and Peter Bell’s insistence that drivers are overpaid compared to private industry. Having driven schoolbus for private industry, it’s true that MTC pays (and paid) significantly more, but part of that was because the private transit companies trained drivers, whereas the MTC pretty much took drivers who only already had experience. Think of the private companies as the minor leagues for the MTC, and you won’t be too far off the mark, so it’s not surprising that they get paid more.
- Results are starting to trickle in regarding the drop-caps I added. Donncha at Holy Shmoly! thinks the drop-caps are
Nice!. Bill at End the War on Freedom gives them a
Humph!(but seems to have something funky going on with his permalinks). Jim said he didn’t especially like them. I dunno. I think maybe the solution is for me to offer some sort of style-sheet preference, since I’ve already written the code to change out the sheet based on the browser you’re using. Maybe I’ll just add something to cookie you and switch sheets based on that, too. I think more time needs to pass before I do anything, though. It also looks like I might need to serve up slightly different style-sheets to account for differences in positioning in Safari and Mozilla. Feh. I really don’t want to have to maintain 23 different style sheets, especially since I’m not doing anything all that complicated. I’m thinking that maybe this will give me the push I need to write the style-sheet preprocessor I thought about long ago. The idea is to have macro-expansion within a master style-sheet that’s served up to clients based on their preferences, browser, the phase of the moon, and whatever else I need to base the changes on.
- Dudley Hiibel is Fighting for Right Not to Show ID. I pointed to his website earlier, but this Wired article about his case is pretty good. The case will go before the Supreme Court on March 22, and there will probably be a decision before fall.
- And Then There Were None by Eric Frank Russell is one of the earlier libertarian-leaning science fiction short stories, and is available online. I suggest you give it a look, f you’ve never read it.
- David Grenier has a suggestion of how anarchists handle telemarketers. The only thing to remember is that owners of toll-free numbers automagically get caller ID information about who’s calling them, so you may not want to call from home.
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.
- Yesterday I inadvertently built a website (well, just one page, but I’m not taking it away, and I’ll be doing more like it) which crashes Internet Explorer on XP. Here’s a single page which will crash IE6 on Windows XP, but other than that one, my server is now detecting your browser, and sending special CSS for IE/XP. Until I hear that IE’s been fixed, no visual upgrades will happen for you IE types. Sorry, but I’m just tired of supporting a browser that’s buggy and not getting upgraded anytime soon. You should still be able to see the site, but I won’t be updating the style-sheet. Or, if you’re using IE on Windows, and this is crashing you, erm, send me a note? Actually, you should be able to see this…
- Hey! A Tribute to Carhenge is now in the iTunes Music Store. It’s pretty darned spiffy seeing my buddy Scott having music for sale there. About the only thing more I could (reasonably, no probably unreasonably) ask would be to have Another Way to Die/The Butterfly of Death (appropriately enough, by the dead guy) up on the store, but hey, that’s a Crops song, so I guess I won’t be holding my breath.
- More update later… Or not…
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.
- CSS Debugger, Redux has a handy favelet that works nicely in Safari. That’s a Very Good Thing. [holy schmoly]
- While I was poking around CodePoetry, I found Adam’s entry on Drop Caps, and spent a few minutes this morning playing around with them. I’m not going to stick them on all the old entries (one-liners look particularly funky), but I may put them on new stuff. If you feel strongly one way or another about them, drop me a line.
- The CSS Layout-o-matic is another tool that might prove useful. It’s not stunning or anything, but it’s easier than trying to remember which word I’m forgetting in the magic incantation to get the layout I want. [codepoetry]
- The ADHOC / MacHack19 website is getting closer to what I consider ready for public consumption. Sadly, the press releases for the site were sent out before the update I did last night, so the site looked gunky for the first visitors. Thankfully, Steph saved my bacon by slamming out a nice design in a hurry for me. There’s still some tweaking I’ll need to do, but it looks like a real website now.
- Qwest DSL offer gets “naked”, as they announce that you’ll be able to buy a DSL-only line for $33/month if you use your own ISP. Now I need to figure out if I can transfer the number I’ve had for the past 8 years to an existing cellphone. [press-patch]
- About a half-year ago, Public Nuisance talked about how we should protect the sanctity of marriage. It seems worthwhile to point it out now. It’s almost enough to make a guy long for that Real Old Time Religion.
- I stopped by Organized Living yesterday, as part of my ongoing quest for a trash-can for my kitchen. You wouldn’t think it would be such a chore, but I wanted a steel trash can, finished in white enamel. Apparently nobody sells such a thing anymore. Well, they had a few in the store, but the only person who seemed to be working there was the cashier (there were a few people wearing aprons, but they were standing in back talking to each other and ignoring everyone who came through the front door), and couldn’t (or wouldn’t) answer my fairly simple question:
Does this model come in white? I can only find stainless steel.I don’t think I’ll be shopping with them again. It looked like they had a crapload of useful stuff, but based on what I saw in the store, they’re just not that interested in selling it to me. I’m probably just being cranky about the whole thing, but I get awfully frustrated when I’m in a store trying to buy something and none of the people working there will actually sell it to me.
- I had also stopped by a Williams-Sonoma store (I was out in Edina, so the two were within a few minutes drive), and the help there was actually helpful, and apologetic about not having any actual trash-cans in the store, since they are a catalog- and internet-only item for some reason. This morning I mail ordered a trash-can from their website. It looks better than the model I wanted at Organized Living (rectangular, instead of oval), and in white. I probably paid an extra $40 between the slightly higher price and the shipping, but I actually got what I wanted, and for some reason walking into a store and getting greeted with a
Can I help you?followed by some actual help (the guy showed me how to find the trash can on their website and wrote down the part number on a card), made me feel like giving them money.
- Of course now that I’ve ranted about trash-cans for a couple paragraphs, the Google Ads over there in the lower right are already coming up with many different sources for me. I shoulda just ranted before even going to a physical store, I guess. I do like the fact that while I load the page as I'm building it in the morning, google indexes it, and the ads are reflecting my topic before I’m even done writing the page for the morning.
- Susan recommends Twin Cities Free Market now that I’m a homeowner. Looks interesting, but the only appliance I’m looking to get rid of is an electric dryer that I’m not even sure works. I don’t have a way to test it either, as I don’t have handy access to 220V in the garage (where it’s currently serving as a table holding a bag of birdseed). I bet the city will get that one of these recycling days. There might be some things I’d want to get, but when I started thinking about it, I figured that the first thing I’d need would be a truck to haul things in. I think maybe I’ll take my time on that.
- I’ve been thinking about using WordPress for the blog here. It’s the official successor to b2, which I always thought looked interesting.
- Then again, Donncha has released b2++ 0.8. Guess it’s not completely dead after all. I dunno. I probably won’t be making any changes real soon. There’s plenty of other stuff to keep me busy at the moment. [holy schmoly]
- U.S. Still Mining Terror Data, and have been all along. Total Information Awareness didn’t die, it just moved into the “black budget”.
- Viet Dinh, John Ashcroft’s pit-bull, says that The Patriot Act Is Your Friend. I feel so much better about it now.
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?
- Hey, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Guess I’m missing Mardi Gras in New Orleans again, and only 40 more days until Jebus rolls back the stone. If he sees the Easter Bunny’s shadow, we’ll have 40 more days of lent, right? I guess it doesn’t really matter that much to me, since I gave up Catholicism for Lent a number of years back.
- On a somewhat related note, Nader Emerges, Sees Shadow, Portends Four Years Of Bush. Then again, in How’s He Doing? it would appear that perhaps the Nader campaign doesn’t have an awful lot of momentum. [101-280]
- Says here Molly Quinn’s will be reopening a week from Friday. That’s a good thing. I don’t get down there real often, but I still like the place.
- Yesterday I linked to an article regarding the proposed “Homeland Security” bill in Rhode Island. Jim thinks it’s a good article, but misses the point. The bill in question amends the existing statute that makes advocating anarchy a crime in Rhode Island. It simply adds “terrorist acts” to that statute. See all the criminals at Rhode Island Anarchists and more of Jim’s commentary here.
- Finally, the start of Lent (and the fact that pitchers and catchers reported last Sunday) got me thinking about spring and baseball. So here are the St. Paul Saints home, and road schedules. If you’re using Mac OS X, you can subscribe to them both in iCal, too (home, road). It’s kinda spooky having much of my summer already planned, but what’s a guy to do?
- The Saints are also holding PA Announcer Auditions with Acme Comedy Club. You need to get your tape in by this Friday (Feb 27th) if you want to audition. I think Tim would make a fine PA guy.
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.
- Says here No Law Broken in JetBlue Scandal. The Department of Homeland Security didn’t violate the letter of the law, even if they didn’t follow the spirit of the law.
- Security Efforts Turning Capital Into Armed Camp. But hey, it’s not like DC belongs to The People, anyhow.
- You could get ten years in prison just for reading this blog. Well, not really, but David Grenier points out how “homeland security” type laws can stifle freedom of speech (in this case, making advocation of anarchy illegal). That particular proposal was withdrawn, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find other laws like that on the books.
- RIAA?… Pay ME? It sounds like the checks from the CD minimum price lawsuit are starting to go out. [slashdot]
- The SCO legal train: Know your options and what kind of risk you face if SCO should happen to prove correct. Basically he recommmends that you get some kind of insurance or indemnification if you’re running a version of Linux which isn’t already indemnified. Of course if you’re running one of the BSDs, you’re already okay (as far as I know), since the BSD world sorted out the whole legal mess back in 1993 and 1994 with the release of 4.3-Lite BSD. [slashdot]
- U readies bus alternatives in case of a strike by metro bus drivers. I think the simplest answer to
what will happen to traffic around the U?is to look at how screwed up traffic (and parking) is the first week of school. It’s going to be at least that bad if a strike happens, since there will be a lot more people driving into the area who aren’t used to parking around here. There are also going to be a lot of students walking to school who currently take the bus about a mile or so. But hey, maybe it’ll be good for the businesses in Dinkytown and Stadium Village (if you know of a good link, please send it in).
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.
- Flowers from the Heartland is Jim’s write-up on the people giving flowers to random couples who are getting married in San Francisco. I haven’t had a lot to say about it, since I basically think that the real problem is that marriage is given special legal status. I’m of the opinion that there are two separate functions in marriage. One is the personal commitment between two people, and the other is the commitment in the eyes of the law (which results in things like being able to put someone on your benefits, visit them in the hospital, or have to pay alimony when things go wrong). I think the first is probably something best handled by bodies other than the government. The second is a government function, and should be open to any couple, whether their relationship is sexual or not.
- Here’s the connection between Trojans and Spam that I kinda figured had to be out there. The virus and trojan writers infect the computers, then sell the addresses to spammers who use them to send out their spam. I was figuring there had to be some way people were getting paid to develop viruses and trojans. [slashdot]
- Says here, Mac OS X makes the most secure servers along with the other BSD variants. But the really surprising news is that in the most recent survey, Linux was hacked more often than Windows was. Mind you, this is just looking at servers, so it could be that there are fewer Windows servers out there to get hacked than before. [slashdot]
- More license troubles for OpenBSD team? Looks like it, as the license for Apache changes and now the OpenBSD version of httpd will probably fork. [openbsd]
- Seems as the economy improves (albeit slowly), employees are jumping ship when new jobs come along. They’re tired of working bunches of unpaid overtime and picking up the slack for people who’ve been laid off. [press-patch]
- Kane County tells bicyclist thanks, but stop plowing trail in suburban Chicago that he uses to ride to Fermilab. They’re worried that someone else will slip and fall on the trail, which is officially closed in the winter, and sue them. No good deed goes unpunished. [fark!]
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.
- The Peoples Republic Of Cork has a helpful Corkman’s Guide To Abroad, which explains an awful lot. [holy schmoly]
- KABA (Keep And Bear Arms) Writer Investigated for Questioning Civil Authority. When David Codrea asked San Francisco elected officials if they would ignore lawbreaking other than gay marriages, he got investigated. He’s an “out of the safe” gun-rights activist who’s busy fighting hoplophobia. [endwar]
- A few days back I linked to Papers Please which reminded a reader to send me the links for Terry Bressi’s website, which talks about how he was stopped at an illegal roadblock, and eventually had all charges dropped, as well as Freedom of Travel, which is John Gilmore’s site, covering his fight against the FAA, the TSA, the FBI, Homeland Security and the Attorney General. I also found The Practical Nomad blog, which focuses on the freedom to travel, and has very good coverage of the daily news on the subject.
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.
- Smoking ban to come into force on 29 March in Ireland. They’d planned to have this in place for the first of the year, but implementation took a bit longer. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the pub business, since a similar ban in California shut down a number of bars. [holy schmoly]
- Tests show dogs are almost human in their ability to pick up on non-verbal clues from humans. In fact, they’re better at it than chimps. It seems to be due to their long association with humans.
- Now Preening on the Coffee Table: The TiVo Remote Control tells how TiVo designed theiir remote and why it’s so good. Except for the little problem where it’s difficult to know which end to point at the TV [scripting]
- @ symbol added to morse code, the first change to morse since well before World War II. Apparently hams exchange email addresses often enough via morse code that something had to be done.
- Sorting e-mail friends from foes: Identifying networks of mutual friends helps filter out spam. And correctly categorizes about half of the email. There’s still half of your email to deal with, but that’s at least half of the email out of the way.
- Here’s an Ode to Collegiate Alchoholism. As Bill said, it’s nothing really new for me, but it’s pretty well said. And for some reason I feel I’ve been short on booze links lately. [bill]
- Yahoo! Birth of a New Machine as Yahoo drops google for searches and rolls out their own new search engine. Interesting times perhaps?
- Eric Allman (the Sendmail guy) writes about The Economics of Spam - How did we end up with recipients paying the price? and says that one solution is to make sending email cost something.
- How to never lose Pepsi’s iTunes giveaway. If you drink that particular flavor of sugar-water, here’s the trick to winning a free song every time.
- AOL puts heat on alleged Sunshine State spammers, suing the group of spammers for 1.6 million. [fark!]
- Morris mom turns tables in music industry lawsuit, countersuing the RIAA under RICO laws. It doesn’t sound like she’s got much of a chance, but it’s an interesting strategy. [fark!]
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.
- Yesterday afternoon, the bird feeder was empty again. The birds are eating about two pounds of bird seed every day. There’s also a pretty good pile of seeds on the ground now which are, as I write this, providing breakfast for one of the neighborhood bunny rabbits.
- Webmonkey, RIP: 1996 – 2004. It’ll be missed, but not all that much anymore. I haven’t been there for quite a while, and various site-reshufflings over the years have blown the useful articles into a cloud of 404s. Still, a moment of silence is probably in order… Okay. Time’s up. [boing boing]
- Appeals Court Upholds Do-Not-Call Registry, saying it doesn’t unduly restrict the free-speech rights of telemarketers. [fark!]
- papersplease.org has the story of Dudley Hiibel:
One balmy May evening back in 2000, Dudley was standing around minding his own business when all of a sudden, a policeman pulled-up and demanded that Dudley produce his ID. Dudley, having done nothing wrong, declined. He was arrested and charged with “failure to cooperate” for refusing to show ID on demand. And it’s all on video.
On the 22nd of March 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Dudley and the rest of us live in a free society, or in a country where we must show “the papers” whenever a cop demands them.
- As I mentioned on Sunday, Koscielski’s Gun Shop is still having legal issues staying open in Minneapolis. I stopped by and talked to Mark and Barb yesterday, and got the following information:
- They’re still open for business, but the three months they were closed has cut pretty deeply into their reserves. If you need to buy guns, ammo, or accessories, swing by there.
- You can make donations to their legal defense fund at:Koscielski’s Guns & Ammo Legal Defense Fund
c/o TCF Bank
5550 Nicollet Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55419
- The new location on Chicago is okay. They’re just down the street from Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s, so for a geek, there’s other shopping nearby. And there’s usually parking at the meters on the street.
- Finally, here are The 213 Things Skippy is No Longer Allowed to Do in the U.S. Army. It may not be new, but it’s still relatively funny. [fark!]
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?
I’ve got a bird house and feeder sitting in my back yard. Until this weekend, the woman who lives next door had been filling the bird feeder about once a week, but on Sunday I stopped by Target and bought a bag of bird seed and filled up the feeder myself. Yesterday, as I was heading out to lunch, I looked at it again, and it was empty. Zow! Them’s some hungry birdies. I filled it again when I got back from lunch, and this morning it’s almost half-empty again. If the birds expect a full feeder every single day, they’re probably going to be disappointed. As for the bird house? It’s vacant, but that’s not too surprising – who wants a condo next door to a soup-kitchen?
Bird House and Feeder
- According to this List of Surnames from the 1990 US Census (warning, 3MB text-file), “Polasek” (one of the more common variants on my family name) is the 18992nd most common name in the US, and “Polashek” is 61107th. But hey, that’s still more common than the names of 12.5% of the population, including the way my family spells our name, which doesn’t even make the list. Smith is most common name, with a full percent of the population. This and other goodies are available from the Census’ Genealogy page and the Census Names page. [scottk]
- Mutant Reviewers From Hell is a cult movie review site loaded with humor, content, range, questionable metaphors, impromptu dancing, and a passion for films rejected by most film critics. I like it, and most of that quote came from whoever submitted the link.
- Despite rivals, Kahn remains as the “crazy lady” who represents this area in the Minnesota House. Amanda Hutchings, a student at the U is trying to run as a Republican against Kahn.
- Metro-area bus union rejects final contract offer; strike could follow, shutting down the buses in town as soon as March 1.
- In the event of a strike, Metro Transit will halt all buses. No word on any possible alternatives yet, but the weather’s a bit chilly for switching to bikes. [press-patch]
- Experts Condemn New Craze for “Snorting” Alcohol, which theoretically allows you to get drunk, while still having blood alcohol levels that are legal. [fark!]
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.
- Bush Courts ‘NASCAR Dads’ at Daytona 500, as Dale Jr. runs to a win, and Johnny Sauter endangers dozens of people with some bonehead rookie mistakes. He’ll get better, but going three-wide and wrecking Michael Waltrip wasn’t his first (or last) mistake of the day. And Scott Wimmer showed that not all rookies deserve the yellow stripe on their rear bumper that means
I don’t know what I’m doing, so don’t follow me.In any case, NASCAR season has started again, and I’ve got something to look at on TV on Sundays until it’s time to go get sun-baked on Sundays at Saints games.
- From what I could see on the TV, a lot of fans were genuinely happy to see the President at the race, but They Came to See a Race, Not a Photo-Op says that some weren’t so pleased. My impression was of a typical politician – all President Bush needed to say was
Gentlemen, start your engines,but he couldn’t resist the temptation to say more than that. I can’t find a real story about it, but his mini-speech (lasting less than sixty seconds) before giving the command had me reaching for the fast-forward button on the TiVo.
- Groklaw’s Jones Looks Beyond SCO and gives her take on the future of their lawsuit, as well as other legal threats to Linux.
- F.C.C. Begins Rewriting Rules on Delivery of the Internet, allowing delivery of bits over power-lines.
- The science of love takes a look at the chemicals involved in lust, love, and long-term attraction. I probably should have linked to this last week, but I’m sometimes slow.
- A new life for old flour mill details the latest developments in the plan for the Pillsbury A Mill, and tells about the meeting that will be this Wednesday evening at Marcy (not March) school. [press-patch]
- Here’s an article that paints Google as Big Brother. It’s an interesting article about the cons of Google, but no real news if you’ve been paying attention over the years. Still, it’s nice to have the information collected in one place. [jim]
I keep thinking I should have something to say here this morning. But I don’t.
- Independence Party targets students for state caucuses which will also be held on March 2. More information about the caucuses available on their website.
- The Picket Line is a weblog run by a guy who’s decided to stop paying as much tax as he can, legally. How? By simplifying his life so he needs to earn less, and then taking every deduction and qualifying for every tax-credit he can. Me, I’m not as aggressive about it as he is, but there are some useful tips in his FAQ and I’m pretty sure that buying a house is going to help out on the taxes in the long-run. I am rather surprised he’s trying to do all that while living in San Francisco, though. I’m pretty sure it would be easier to do just about anywhere else in the country.
- Foes Assault Passenger Screening, asking Congress to put in some privacy safeguards.
- GAO Slams CAPS II—Hot Potato Now in White House, after the head of the TSA’s Office of National Risk Assessment resigned. Does this mean we’ll see an ends to CAPPS II? Probably not, but it might set it back a bit. [boing boing]
- Koscielski’s Gun Shop is under attack (again) as the City of Minneapolis is trying to shut it down. I plan to stop by and talk to Mark to find out more details, and will post them when I know more. For now it looks as though the legal fund at the TCF at 5500 Nicollet Ave in Minneapolis is the best bet if you want to do something to help.
- Earth Calendar says that if we were in Bulgaria, I’d be wishing you a Happy Trifon Zarezan (Wine-grower’s Day) and the Encyclopedia of Days says today is also Literacy Day in Liberia.
- This article says that X-rated surfing [is] common at work. That doesn’t really surprise me. I’ve been seeing more emails from friends at work sending out “not safe for work” links and pictures. And I’ve had clients try to show me various non-work-related things while I’m meeting with them. The way I see it, they’re just stealing time from their companies, but it’s so common that it’s hard to draw the line. Is it acceptable to spend a minute writing a check to pay a bill so you can mail it from work? What if you use the postage meter at work? Or do all your bills? Or send out a stack of invitations? Then again, most companies steal plenty of time from their workers doing things like asking you to stay late
just this oncebecause of some crisis that could have been easily averted if the manager hadn’t been busy surfing porn in his office. [press-patch]
- After Packing M&M’s Together, Scientists Like What They See, which is that M&Ms pack more densely than spheres when packed randomly. And if you make the M&Ms peanut (so they’re ellipsoids) they pack more densely than the most efficient possible packing of spheres. Why does it matter? Because maybe making ceramics out of M&M-shaped molecules will yield stronger materials.
- Snackster.net claims to be
the world’s best peer to peer recipe sharing program.I don’t know, and can’t really tell. It’s windows-only.
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|
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|
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|
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.
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.
- Sayings with flowers – Apparently beyond being generally hopeless, men are no good at writing things on the cards that go with flowers. Good thing I don’t have to worry about that this year, eh? [press-patch]
- Battlestar Galactica Greenlit For Series. Another thing I’ll have to remind my TiVo about once it hits the air. Now a really useful thing would be a way to tell the TiVo that it’ll be coming and it should record it, but until the machine has hard data about a program (typically no more than 2 weeks in advance), you can only record by time and channel, so I’ve got plenty of chance to forget and miss the first episode. Update: Chaz reminds me that Mail to the Future is perfect to keep me from forgetting about Galactica. Duh. [boing boing]
- VeriSign Reconsiders Search Service that pissed everyone off last time they did it. Apparently we’ve gotten much more tolerant of them since last October. [fark!]
- Hmm. Lots of software displays Decompression bomb vulnerabilities. Say someone has taken a huge file of data that compresses really well, like hundreds of gigabytes of the same character over and over again. Say that someone compresses the file into a really small file and then emails it to you. How’s the software on your end going to respond? In many cases, not very well at all. [boing boing]
- From MobileWhack, here’s a reason to buy a Nokia cellphone if you dig Python. Cool. [boing boing]
- Twin Pushers and other Free Flight Oddities has some pretty cool rubber-band-powered model planes. Some even include plans so you could build your own. [jwz]
- Residents, businesses see crime increase around U, but it’s mostly vandalism on this side of the river. I guess I’m not really that worried about it, since my new house is in a less vandalism-prone neighborhood than the old one, so I’ve seen an improvement. Maybe that’ll change when the weather gets warmer, but for now, things are pretty quiet.
- Speaking of warmer times: according to the Northeaster, the packet boat running out of Boom Island Park will be run by the SkipperLiner Marine Group next year. That’ll be an interesting change. The boat should be similar to the LaCrosse Queen, and I’ll probably decide I have to go on a ride at least once.
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.
- Down at Drake (where the subpoenas were issued for information about members of an organization), it appears the anti-war inquiry unrelated to terror and focuses on trespassing on an army base. But it still doesn’t explain why the subpoenas were issued in the first place, and then withdrawn. [instapundit]
- Subpoenas on Antiwar Protest Are Dropped, but
If it was just a trespassing investigation, why seek the membership records of the National Lawyers Guild?
- Privacy Is in the House as a bill has passed committee which would require government agenciies to assess the risks to privacy of any new regulations. It wouldn’t fix all the problems, but it would mean that privacy might get a little more attention.
- What Really Happened At the Airport is a nice little story about how trying to help someone isn’t necessarily the best thing to do, even if it’s the right thing. [endwar]
- Entire United States Expatriates, or
What Happened to the US I used to know?is an explanation from someone who moved out of the US explaining that it’s not so much that he left the US, as that the US he knew left him.
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|
- One of the gifts I got at my housewarming party was a Pussy Willow Tree. I stuck it in the kitchen and watered it a bit, and the darned thing started to bloom or something. The little fuzzy bits suddenly sprouted some sort of appendages. Anyway, here’s a picture. Thanks to Pat Rice for the funky growing thing I need to keep alive until I can dig up some lawn and stick it outside.
- The Idiot Villager has some thoughts on Who to fear in politics, saying that while the Republicans sometimes enact laws that are bad, they’re often overturned relatively quickly. On the other hand, when Democrats enact bad laws, you’re going to get a bigger government forever. Except that lately it’s been the Republicans who are pushing a New Deal.
- Dominate. Intimidate. Control. takes a look at what the TSA is doing now. Interesting bits, and when I read it in Reason, it raised my blood-pressure. I’ll probably be flying at least once this year, but I’m hoping I can just use up the frequent flyer miles I’ve accumulated before I decide I’m not going to fly anymore.
- The big problem is that Clashes with security seem to be growing nowadays, to the point where the country has stopped feeling as free as it used to and the restrictions make stupid scams like this E-mail scam from “Department of Homeland Security” all the more believable.
- Feds win right to war protesters’ records. And people don’t think the federal government is getting out of hand? Update: They withdrew the subpoenas. More when I know more. [jwz]
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.
- Gun law foes work for repeal because they still think having more people carrying handguns makes the state more dangerous, in spite of any evidence to the contrary. [press-patch]
- I’m pretty sure I knew most of the Cartoon Laws of Physics, but it’s nice to have a list just in case a guy needs to check on something.
Everything falls faster than an anvil.Check. [vowe]
- The MPAA and RIAA should take a look at the The Pornography Industry vs. Digital Pirates, as they seem to be doing okay, and
A few merchants in the industry who have tried the kind of aggressive methods used by mainstream entertainment companies say they have not received much in return for their efforts. In fact, some porn websites are getting more business by giving away free samples. But then some buggy-whip manufacturers complained about Henry Ford, too.
- Meanwhile, “We Will Bury Them With Their Own Confusion” is a swell movie explaining how Apple and Pepsi are, erm, stretching the truth with their ad saying that file-swappers were prosecuted. Heck, it might even be libel. [vowe]
- Group urges formation of U district, making an official neighborhood (in the eyes of the all-important Neighborhood Revitalization Program which hands out money) for an area that’s been mostly unrepresented. I think it’s a good change.
- New zoo revenue is goal at Como. The free zoo needs to pull in an extra $95k from visitors this year, and will need to guilt people a little more to do that. It’ll probably work on me. I expect I’ll try to make it to the zoo a couple extra times this year, and kick in a little extra each time. [press-patch]
- Minneapolis might shutter schools, including three elementary schools in the Longfellow neighborhood where a friend of mine lives. She’s pondering a run at the School Board because of this and other issues. More once I hear something official, no doubt. [press-patch]
- Jim’s brother has written A Lament for George Bush. Jim thinks you should all read it (he also thinks his brother has too much time on his hands). [jim]
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.
- The Chrisian Science Monitor asks Does more surveillance work? and looks at Great Britain for some evidence. There’s no evidence that the high level of surveillance actually makes anyone safer and the crooks don’t worry about cameras except when they actually get caught by one.
- New owner plans to convert Dub’s into an Irish pub, perhaps reopening within a month. The sale isn’t final yet, so we’ll see.
I’m tired and don’t feel like blogging.
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.
- Go check out the spiffy Valentine’s Day cards at we love you, yes you. Some nice, some not so much. Many funny. One line I particularly like:
money can’t buy you love. but love can’t buy you cargo pants.[boing boing]
- Here’s a spiffy way to get Command line Futurama quotes from Slashdot if you’re running on a Unix box. It’ll work on Mac OS X if you install lynx, but it’s not there by default, so you’ll have to do a little work. [jr]
- Can we expect A New Politics sometime soon? Since the Republicans and Democrats are becoming indistinguishable on so many issues, maybe a new political alignment will emerge on the libertarian/communitarian axis. I’d be hip to that.
- TiVo in TV audience research pact with Nielsen using the data TiVo gets from the more than a million people who subscribe. Of course that makes some TiVo watchers uneasy after post-Super Bowl reports say that exposing the silicone was
the most-watched moment to date. Suddenly people are realizing that their TiVo knows what they watch, and when they hit the rewind button. Me, I figure if the people making TV know that I now spend about zero time watching shows on the three old networks, maybe they’ll start putting something on the air that I want to see. [fark!]
- Stop the Cash Flow, Kill the Spam, and one way to stop the cash is to go after the companies whose products are being advertised via spam. I’d like to think that this would help, but I see a large number of spams that don’t seem to be for any product. Maybe the product information is hidden in the HTML version of the mail (which I never see – it’s automatically stripped at the server), but apparently they’re still making some money off those, since the spam just doesn’t stop. So I’m not too hopeful about anything stopping the flow other than better filters.
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.
- Geeks Put the Unsavvy on Alert: Learn or Log Off, and most importantly, quit opening the damned virus attachments. Basically, there’s a lot of geeks getting tired of helping their less tech-savvy friends who don’t seem to ever learn. I’ve “solved” by mainly telling people that I don’t do Windows. For some reason the Mac users don’t call as often because their computer won’t work.
- Doctor Fun is back from his hiatus. Woo!
- In Westgate - Like Eastgate, but West. jr discovers that world66 will let anyone add information, whether it happens to be valid or not. [jr]
- I’m a little hesitant to link to Let’s resolve the WMD debate once and for all, but given the dearth of other things today, I guess I’ll have to. [instapundit]
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.
- I spent much of yesterday fixing a problem with the Calendar Jottings for my old neighborhood. Turns out the problem was that the cookies used to keep track of whether you were allowed to post new events or not were all set to expire on January 1, 2004. Sheesh. The most disturbing part is that it took so long to figure that out, and included things like disconnecting the VPN Hardware that I use to talk to another client’s network because it kept timing out the sessions I was using to debug the problem on the server. I can’t reconfigure the PIX because the only way to talk to it at the moment seems to be via the console port, and I can’t find the cable I need for that.
- Pentagon Kills LifeLog Project, which was designed to track everything about a person. Well, at least it’s been killed from the “white” side of the budget…
- Travel Privacy Probe Spins Wheels as Mineta’s Morons are being slow in producing information on the investigation of the supposedly confidential information given to them by JetBlue and NorthWest Airlines.
- Small city crimes can now be reported with Web-based system at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/police/e-report/. Sounds like a good idea, as long as the current restrictions are kept in place.
- The top Ten Technologies That Refuse To Die include spiffy things like analog watches and vacuum tubes. But there are also evil bits like the fax machine.
- The Ice Palace won’t chill any longer than originally planned. It’s being closed this weekend and coming down beginning next Monday. The weather’s cooperating, but the metalwork and the electronics are needed for something else, so it won’t be kept up any longer than planned. [press-patch]
- Finally, looking forward to spring, these Pepsi-G Stove Assembly Instructions let you make a cool little alcohol-fueled cook-stove out of a Pepsi can, a Guinness can, and a little labor. Think I might have to try it one of these days. It’s not like I don’t have plenty of raw materials on hand, and it would definitely make a bike-portable heat-source for tailgating at Saints games. [boing boing]
- In spite of all the talk of how the latest Snowfall strained plowing resources and how the governor’s cutbacks are hurting plowing times, I managed to drive at my usual speed up to mom’s yesterday to drop off her birthday present a couple days late. It’s pretty amazing to me when I stop to think about it, rather than taking it for granted: when I was a kid, school might have been delayed on the day after a big snowfall like the one we had on Sunday and Monday. Now, the roads – all the way out into gravel-road-country where my mom lives – were plowed all the way to the ditches. It’s not that snow-plowing technology has advanced a ton during the intervening years (it has advanced, but not that much), but that cities, counties and states are richer (your tax-dollars at work, for once) and have more snow-plowing equipment (and people to operate it) available (crews around here get a lot more practice, too). On the other hand, I’m still sore from the shovelling I did yesterday. Good thing there’s ibuprofen.
- How public should public records be? You can get ’em by going to the courthouse, but should they be available on the internet? In many cases, they already are, whether officially or not. I don’t like having all that information available, but if it’s going to be online, it should be equally accessible to everyone. [strib]
- Bruce Schneier has a new essay asking How We Are Fighting the War on Terrorism: IDs and the illusion of security. It’s about identification and security, and why the former has so little to do with the latter – the same sort of thing he talks about in Beyond Fear (which I haven’t read yet, but is on the list). The real problem is that trying to ID or profile people at the airport or immigration doesn't help much if you don't know in advance who the bad guys are. It's not as though terrorists carry a special “terrorist” ID card.
- Computer Solitaire Patented: Patently Ridiculous. The earliest filing date of any of the patents? 1996. I remember playing canfield on my Stearns PC which got gutted in 1991 or so. There just might be some prior art out there that the patent office seems to have missed. [fark!]
- MABS can claim huge numbers; repeal effort can’t. Minnesotans Against Being Shot claims large numbers of members (after all, who really wants to get shot?), but how many actually want to repeal the concealed-carry law here? Weren’t these the folks who could only get thirty people show up at the capitol on Monday for a rally? [press-patch]
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…
- U digs out from under winter’s wrath. Most of the sidewalks in residential areas still aren’t shovelled. I’ll be heading out this morning to shovel one last time (for this storm). Of course now that it’s done snowing, it’s being cold instead. Not bone-chillingly cold like last week, but back below zero, even without the wind-chill. Oh well, at least I’ll have an opportunity to work up a sweat that will freeze.
- With Valentine’s Day a little more than a week away, maybe it’s time to buy an imaginary girlfriend on eBay. Seems like there are worse ways to blow $20. But when I double-check the link this morning, I find that the couple hundred listings that were there last week are gone, and I can only find one match. Oh well. So much for that idea. [boing boing]
- Couples Watch Mating Animals To Get In The Mooo-d has another idea for Valentine’s Day. Go to the San Diego Zoo and spent $100 to watch animals getting it on. Somehow I don’t think that plan’s going to work for me. [fark!]
- Steph can’t believe I missed the Coolest FireWire Hub Evah. Frankly, neither can I. Instead I bought a boring FireWire hub which I haven’t even bothered connecting, since I haven’t needed the things I was planning to plug into it enough to bother unpacking them yet. [steph]
- Secretary of state urges college students to replace aging election judges since 80 percent of judges are more than 60 years old. It pays $6 an hour, and a new plan would allow the wages to go straight to a non-profit of your choice.
- Snowfall of season hits region, and is still coming down. I shovelled the sidewalks yesterday morning, and I’ll probably be out there both this morning and sometime this afternoon or evening when the snow finally winds down. There’s a snow-emergency in St. Paul, but Minneapolis is holding off (as they usually do) until the snow actually stops falling has declared a snow emergency beginning at 9pm this evening. They’ll start plowing the alleys this morning (which is something new to me, since this is the first time I’ve actually had a garage on an alley to worry about) and I’m trying to decide if I’m going to try and get out there to push the snow from in front of my garage into the middle of the alley, or whether I’ll just wait until the snow stops. [press-patch]
- Meanwhile, over at the Strib, All-day snow in store as storm sets up shop in Twin Cities says that the snow probably won’t stop until 9pm today. I’m thinking this is a Very Good Day to be working from home. [strib]
- Major changes advance for U-area renters as city housing inspectors will now be able to revoke the rental license of landlords who are repeat violators of housing codes. On the other side of the issue, landlords around the U are working to put together a uniform lease. Even if it’s a huge nightmare of a document, I think that will be a step forward, since a renter will only have to figure it out once, and places like the U will likely go through it with a fine-tooth comb.
- New Landlord-Student Group Mum On Meetings, but seem to be going after SECIA the official group for my new neighborhood. It’s a little frustrating though. I don’t get the Southeast Angle here, since I live on the wrong side of Hennepin, so I either have to pick it up with groceries or read it online to find out about this sort of thing. And SECIA doesn’t have general meetings like Marcy-Holmes does, so I don’t get the news there, either. I’m not ready to jump in and start working in a new neighborhood, but it would sure be nice to be able to go to a meeting and find out what’s going on.
- Finally, with the end of football season, it’s time to start thinking about spring (even with nearly a foot of snow coming down). Minnesota Twins 2004 Spring Training starts with pitchers and catchers doing their first workouts three weeks from now, and the first spring training game is just a little over a month away.
- I’ve also been thinking about riding again. I’d really like to have a GPS on the trike so I could map my various rides around town, but the handheld units just don’t work all that well, in my experience, and suck batteries down pretty fast. I wonder how the unit described in For the Jogger Craving Data, a GPS Tracker work on a trike.
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.
- It was so cold on Friday that they closed the Ice Palace.. Seriously, for a couple of hours they closed the ice palace because they decided it was too cold for people to stand outside.
At least it’s finally getting a little warmer. [jim]
- The Trend of Vanishing Tech Jobs is that they’re not really vanishing after all. There are some jobs moving offshore, but they’re mostly the shitty jobs that someone graduating from a Vo-Tech can do. The real programming jobs are still here in the US, though they may have moved to other companies. That’s the gist of the article, and it matches my outlook pretty well.
- Bush downsizes plans in budget but still seems to be planning to spend like a Democrat. [press-patch]
- Be prepared: 2004 Legislature convenes Monday:
That’s exactly what I’m afraid of. [press-patch]
all they really must do this session is pass a bonding bill that authorizes Pawlenty to borrow money … to pay for new buildings and remodeling projects across the state. They could pass that bill and go home, but they won’t.