November 2004

30. November, 2004 - got past that

The first round of home improvement is done, I guess. I had to write a check yesterday, and that’s as good of a sign as any. The fireplace is almost done (still need sealer on the grout) and the bedroom work is done. Sometime next week, I’ll get the new windows, and can start worrying about carpeting for the bedroom. In celebration, I rearranged the furniture in the living room to make curling up in front of the fireplace more inviting.

Overall, yesterday definitely had a monday kind of feeling to it. I spent the morning putting out various metaphorical fires, and then the afternoon with more of the same. Because of the timing of Thanksgiving, two clients are paying me late this month, which means I don’t get paid until those checks come in. I should have expected it, but somehow it still came as a surprise.

So being a good American, I decided the only solution is more debt. I went off to the bank to apply for a Home Equity Line of Credit. If nothing else, I think that keeping all the home improvement stuff in one account will help me plan so I don’t take on too much at once.

29. November, 2004 - post-Thanksgiving

Well, it’s definitely after Thanksgiving now, and I’m starting to feel the crunch. I’ve got two strings of lights that I plan to put on the front of the house, but need to figure out how to get power to them first. I’ve got no tree, and am still wondering whether I’m going to get one this year or not. I’ve got cards to send out, and rather than getting them done this weekend, I still haven’t even gathered the list of who needs to get cards, let alone written the update that’ll go in them. I did get one present bought, but there’s more than one person on the list for presents, so more shopping needs to be done, too. Oh well, at least my to-do list isn’t feeling neglected.

Yesterday I had a successful home-improvement project of my own. The bathroom sink has leaked on and off since I bought the place. The problem is that the lines feeding the faucet were short enough that they were under tension all the time, and would loosen up periodically. I’d just been tightening them when they started to drip, but yesterday I’d had enough, and went out and bought a longer, more flexible feed line, and replaced the old one. Now I should no longer have the special joy of stepping in a puddle first thing in the morning.

While I was working on plumbing, I also replaced the sprayer on the kitchen sink. Easy job, but I managed to jab myself while trying to remove the retaining clip from the old sprayer. That covered my home-improvement injury quota for the weekend.

But I think I’m getting better at this. While I did stop by three stores in preparation for the job (local hardware store, then Home Depot, then Target), when I got home, I actually had everything I needed to do the job, and didn’t have to run out again for one last part or tool. That pleases me.

This morning, the guys from Finer Surroundings will be stopping by to finish things up, so I’m up extra-early so I can be ready when they get here. I’ve also got some phone calls to make, payroll to get done for the first of the month, and plenty of programming work to do, so it promises to be a busy day. For that matter, it’s going to be a busy week — I’m sure I’ll have more to say on that subject.

27. November, 2004 - Steam Plant, snow

When I woke up this morning, there was snow on the grass. That’s a first for the season. I may decide to go out for a walk with the camera later on in the day, but I guess we’ll see.

paved paradise?
paved paradise?
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That out of the way, it’s time for more pictures from last Tuesday. First is the sign that mars what used to be a somewhat wild triangle of land between the Stone Arch Apartments and the U of MN Steam Plant. It’s been an abused piece of land over the years, but now it’s been turned into a parking lot for the apartments. Of course the developer promised that they would have plenty of parking in the garage under the apartments, so I don’t see why they should need any extra parking. Unless of course they lied, but that would never happen, right? My take is that the parking lot is probably better than the townhouses they originally wanted to build there, but I’d prefer to see no development at all on the river side of Main St. SE. Then again, there are a lot of things I’d prefer that aren’t going to happen.

U of MN Steam Plant
U of MN Steam Plant
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Next up is the University of Minnesota’s Southeast Steam Plant (also known as the Twin City Rapid Transit Company Steam Power Plant). It’s been under renovation, and is also looking to change the permit they have so they can burn alternative fuels, so a number of neighborhood sorts got a tour of the building.

It’s a historic building, having first gone up in 1903, as a backup power sourt for the Twin City Rapid Transit Company (it became the main power source in 1905). It was owned by NSP between 1953, when the streetcars were torn out, and 1976, when it was transferred to the University. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places ten years ago in 1994.

U of MN Steam Plant
U of MN Steam Plant
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Our tour was supposed to begin at 3:30, but we started a bit late, and many people had questions, so we didn’t get outside until the sun was just about setting. It gave the building a nice warm glow that wasn’t completely wrecked by the auto-white-balance feature of my camera that I couldn’t figure out how to turn off. No pictures were allowed inside, for security reasons, but I did get a chance to take a couple pictures of it from right next to the river as the sun was setting, and I think they turned out okay. Before the tour, I heard from a couple of the people there that my previous picture of the building was being used either as a screen-saver or background on their computers, which is kinda cool. These pictures were taken from right in front of that tree down on the left end of that earlier picture.

It was an interesting tour. We got to see most of the inside of the plant, including the three new boilers, the backup, and the backup to the backup. The newest boiler is a seven story monster CFB boiler that’s so efficient that they don’t actually run it full-time. It produces too much steam to use in times of less than peak demand, so they end up running the somewhat older boilers instead. The other cool thing about the new boiler is that it’s suspended from above. When they fire it up, it actually grows about a foot in height, and that expansion is a lot easier to handle when the boiler is hanging.

The plant’s main purpose is to generate steam to heat the University (both east and west banks), Fairview University Medical Center, the State Board of Health, and the Cedar Riverside People’s Center. The plant can produce up to 15 megawatts of electricity too, but that’s done with the same steam that’s sent out to the world, so the generating capacity is limited by how much steam can be used to heat buildings. When we were there, it was making about 5 MW of electricity, and using half of that for running the plant. Apparently pumping a MW or two into the grid is a fairly typical average.

The recent renovation was a $120M project. That seems like a lot, but my impression after the tour is that it was money well-spent, especially since it includes the new boiler which can burn darned near anything you throw at it, plus restored the exterior, which was in pretty rough shape.

The plant burns about three train cars of coal per day in winter, and has two coal bunkers. The one right next to the plant can hold about twenty-five cars worth of coal, and the main one by the old main plant can hold more. Since coal is sold in 110-car loads, the plant partners with Xcel when buying coal, and typically gets a quarter-load at a time. They also burn natural gas and wood.

The Guthrie & Gold Medal Flour
The Guthrie & Gold Medal Flour
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As I mentioned earlier, they’re looking to get a new permit to allow them to burn more biomass. The permit application listed a big laundry-list of different possible types of biomass, including turkey manure, which got the neighborhood a little excited. According to the guys running the plant, they don’t actually want to burn manure, but wanted as flexible of a list as possible, since their current goal is to burn oat hulls from General Mills (there’s a lot of oat hulls left after making Cheerios), but in the time it’s taken them to get approval, other folks have stepped up, and the price for the oat hulls has risen dramatically. They want to be able to switch to new fuels more quickly, and I think that’s a reasonable request, as long as they strike manure from their list.

After finishing the tour, and on my way out, I took one last picture of the Guthrie construction with the Gold Medal Flour sign blinking nearby. It’s a view you don’t often get, and my only regret is that I hadn’t brought my mini-tripod so I could have been steadier on the ¼ second exposure. I guess I did pretty well for hand-held, and I got the composition I was after.

26. November, 2004 - I got pictures
fireplace hearth
fireplace hearth
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It’s time to post the pictures of the work around here that I took on Wednesday. This still leaves the steam plant pictures in the backlog, but hey, I should be caught up by Monday, and you’ll have a whole slew of things to look at when you get back to work, right?

We start with the fireplace. A half inch of floor leveller, some mastic, and the tiles are in place. They still need to be grouted, but that’s a pretty quick job on Monday morning, and then I’ll be able to burn things up in there. I don’t expect the fireplace will do much in the way of helping to heat the house, but it’ll make for a nice cozy feel in the living room, which is not to be sneered at.

kitchen
kitchen
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pot rack
pot rack
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Next up is the kitchen. The wall is patched and painted, and the pot rack has been hung on the wall. That one wall of orange makes the entire kitchen feel brighter, and I like the way the white pops out from the orange. They only sell pot racks like this in black and stainless though, so I bought a stainless one and got it powder-coated white. I’m glad I spent the extra $50 for the powder-coating. Of course I’ll need to get a white fridge (that’s already on the list, as this one is showing its age) and stove and paint the other walls to complete the effect, but this is enough to make me happy for now. Oh yeah, and I’m sure someone will tell me I need to buy all new pots and pans to match the new wall and rack, but I’m not going to worry about that just now.

my bedroom
my bedroom
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Finally, the bedroom. The colors are enough there that you can see where I’m going with it. It’s brighter and more intense than I expected, but not a ton, and I think the look will change enough when I get carpeting and furniture in there, and I’ll be happy with it.

ceiling fan detail
ceiling fan detail
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I’m thinking that the carpeting is going to be a cream or a beige that will be close to the ceiling in color. That’s far from certain, and I’ll probably be pondering the various choices for a while as I try to save up the money to pay for that. Then again, maybe I’ll take advantage of one of those “no payments for six months” deals to get the room finished sooner so I can give myself a present of a completed bedroom.

I like the ceiling fan, and Jon’s idea of putting the plate thing behind it, and painting that blue was a very good one. It really makes the fan pop out, especially when the neon is lit up. It’s not really a bedroom feel, but what the hell. I’m also going to have some trouble finding furniture, I expect. I can imagine the bed I want to put in front of that dark blue wall, but I haven’t seen one like I want in any of the stores, so I’ll probably end up buying a pedestal bed and building a headboard for it.

What remains to be done in this round? Well, the guys from Finer Surroundings will be back on Monday to grout the fireplace tiles and put on another coat and touch up the paint in the bedroom. There are a few bobbles on the edges that need to be cleaned up. And then they’ll be back about a week after that to put in the new windows on the ground floor to seal up the piano windows that currently let cold air into the house. It feels like a lot happened on Tuesday, after the last photos I took, and I don’t expect any more days that make as big of a transformation this year.

24. November, 2004 - Late

Well, yesterday was quite a day. Guys working on the house, me reorganizing big chunks of the website (more on that later), a meeting that was rescheduled so I couldn’t go to it, some work, then a tour of the U of M’s main steam plant, home to see how the work had gone, dinner, then out for beers with Bill. A fun day, and I hope I get around to writing about bits of it in more detail.

As for this morning, last night’s beers slowed me down, but so did a bunch of other little things. Nothing I want to talk about at the moment, but I’m awfully glad there’s a long weekend just around the corner (it started last night for a lot of people, from what I could see). I’m planning on at least one day of complete couch-potatodom over the weekend, and maybe more.

23. November, 2004 - Home Improvement

Well, progress was made yesterday. Things are moving, and today should see even more changes around here. In the bedroom, the mount for the ceiling fan is in, the hole is patched, and two walls and a ceiling are painted. In the kitchen, the hole is patched. In the living room, the tile and over ½″ of mortar have been removed from in front of the fireplace in preparation for actually fixing things right. Apparently there was so much mortar because the firebrick in front of the fireplace are nothing like level, but it meant that once one tile popped loose, all the rest of them came out pretty easily, so it’s going to be a complete replacement there.

I took some pictures this morning before the guys show up at 8 and start doing more work. No spiffy composition or anything here, as the bedroom photos were taken in a dark room with no lights, so they’re lit entirely by flash. I’m hoping that the pictures you’ll see tomorrow are spiffier, both due to cooler things to look at, and because I’ll be taking them when there’s some ambient light.

Fixture in the bedroom
Fixture in the bedroom
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The old light fixture in the bedroom. Turns out I didn’t need the heavy-duty thingie to hang the ceiling fan from, since the box is attached to a joist. It just wasn’t attached very well before, and now it is. There will be a sort of plastic plate covering the rest of the hole, and it’s going to be painted the dark blue that goes onto the walls today. I really look forward to seeing how the fan I picked out is going to look in here. The picture in my head is pretty cool, but I’ve had cool pictures in my head before that turned out to be pretty crummy in real life.

Wall and ceiling in bedroom
Wall and ceiling in bedroom
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Here you get to see two of the four colors that will be in the finished bedroom. This is the wall (blue) and ceiling (yellow). A second coat of each of these goes on today, as the paint didn’t cover quite as well as we expected, plus the dark blue goes on the north and south walls, and the trim should all get painted today, too. And I know it’s crummy to paint the wood trim, but it’s already been painted, and I don’t want to strip it and refinish it just now, so I’ll just be adding another layer to what’s already there.

fireplace hearth
fireplace hearth
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The fireplace hearth, minus the tile. It’s kinda hard to tell in this picture, but those bricks are horribly uneven. On the right, there’s a full inch between the top of the frame and the brick. On the left, it’s about a half-inch. I suspect this was not an original installation, but rather some do-it-yourselfer kludging something together. I’m almost curious enough to tear out more and see if there’s some nice tile underneath there or something, but I’ll need the height to fit the fireplace doors I want to put back, so no more destruction on this one.

kitchen wall
kitchen wall
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Finally, the kitchen wall. It’s hard to see features in this picture, but they’re not real visible in real life, either. It’s basically white plaster on a white wall, and while it still needs to be sanded, primed and painted, it already looks pretty darned good. You can see the bit of the cupboard next to it that wasn’t finished (there was a microwave shelf on the wall there covering that up) and we’re not sure how we’re going to finish that yet, but we’ll figure something out today.

The guys from Finer Surroundings have been good so far, and things are going pretty smoothly. The biggest problem yesterday was that I hadn’t bought enough paint for the bedroom. I made the mistake of actually believing the manufacturer’s coverage figures for the paint. I should have known better than that from the painting I did with my dad when I was a kid, but apparently that lesson didn’t stick as well as it should have.

22. November, 2004 - Busy Week

Got my truck back on Friday. It wasn’t quite as happy of an experience as I’d hoped, but I’m not going to go into details just yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Lovely
Lovely
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On Friday night, someone apparently decided my trees weren’t festive enough, and they needed to decorate them for me. So I got to spend a half-hour on Saturday morning in the front yard, pulling bits of butt-wipe out of my trees with a rake. Makes me miss living in the country, where if someone came into your front yard to commit asshattery like that, nobody would say much if a guy happened to unload a shotgun shell loaded with rock salt into their backsides.

It seems as though this week is going to be even more compressed than is usual for the week before Thanksgiving. Almost everyone I work with is either taking the entire week off, or heading out of town on Tuesday evening, to get out of town ahead of the traffic. Me, I’m just hoping to plug along and get something done in the midst of the home improvement that’ll be going on around here, but I wonder if maybe Tuesday’s rush-hour will be a killer, and Wednesday will be fine.

A couple weeks ago, I decided that there were a number of projects I just wasn’t going to complete before the snow flew around here, and that I wanted to see done so I can settle in a little better around here, so I called in professional help. They’re starting work today.

The guys are due to swing by about 8:30 this morning, and are going to start by patching up some holes in the kitchen wall, mounting the support for the ceiling fan in my bedroom upstairs, replacing the last few windows on the ground floor that aren’t weather-tight, and other bits that need to be done before the paint starts flying. I expect there will be priming today, too, since they don’t want to work on Wednesday either, and that’s the only way they’ll be able to finish things up tomorrow. I’m expecting a flurry of activity, followed by a shot to the checkbook. Hopefully warm fuzzies will follow.

21. November, 2004 - Staying Power

It’s been seven years. Seems like a long time, and yet like it was just yesterday that I started writing on this Intarweb thingie. Heck, it was November of 1995 when I put the first copy of Mead Made Easy on the web. So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice. One more year, and I’ll have had stuff on the web for a full ten years, and will have been actively blogging for eight. I went daily in January 2002, after going twice a week in September 1999.

While it sometimes feels good that I’m getting almost four thousand page views per day, for almost forty-five hundred different pages every week (of the about seven thousand total here on the site) from over seventy-three hundred distinct machines per week, those really aren’t huge numbers. I find myself wondering why I keep this up, especially since I seem to spend more time on daily things and less on adding new content to the non-weblog parts of the site. I spend a couple hours every morning reading various sites and updating the links around here, and wonder if that time wouldn’t be better spent going out and doing things worth writing about instead.

Anyway, that’s the thoughts this morning as I look back. The weather has finally changed and we’ve got a brilliant blue sunshiney day outside today, and I may try to get out and enjoy a bit of it before it’s time to park myself in front of the TV to see who wins the Winston Nextel Cup.

19. November, 2004 - I got my wish

Yesterday I said I wished the weather would change. This morning, it’s raining and promises to for most of the day. Sorry about that, but I’m going to have to be out in it a bunch today, too. Got a lunch to go to, and then later in the afternoon, my truck is supposed to be all better and I should be able to retrieve it from the body shop. Yay!

I’m tempted to believe that getting my truck back is a positive sign, and maybe I’m done with a bunch of the hassles that have been distracting and frustrating me this month. But the pessimist in me wonders what’s going to go wrong next and I think I’m going to wait until after Thanksgiving before breathing a sigh of relief, since I’ve got some workers coming in next week to do some stuff around the house, and if that goes well, I might be able to see clear sailing through Christmas, at least. Wish me luck.

And hey, this sunday will be the seventh anniversary of Dave’s Picks. No promises of anything special for the day, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I spent some of the weekend working on the website.

18. November, 2004 - Gray Days

Okay. I’m ready for a change in the weather. It’s been reasonably warm so far this week, but it’s been gray and drizzly, too. I really don’t care whether the change is to some real rain, or a bright sunny day, but I’ve had enough of the gray.

Chris
Chris
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Yesterday, I continued in my battle with my compiler, and I’m starting to get pretty frustrated by it. It may be a poor craftsman who blames his tools, but I haven’t been impressed lately. Add in a late-morning phone call from mom who’d found the bill for her car insurance, discovered that it was due next week, was significantly higher than last year, could I please call the insurance company to sort things out so the policy doesn’t get cancelled if the check doesn’t get there in time, and I wasn’t especially happy in the afternoon. The crisis has been averted, and all will be well, but it was an hour out of the middle of a day when I was trying to make all my hours pay. A couple buck burgers for dinner at the Sporty helped improve my mood, the beers with dinner sure didn’t hurt, and gabbing with Jim and then Chris and the other Chris and Steve was cool, but I find myself with the same problem with the compiler this morning, and no good solution. Oh well. I have three different mediocre solutions, each with its own particular flavor of pain, and will hopefully decide on which is the least sucky in the next hour or two.

17. November, 2004 - Hump Day

After a slow start yesterday, I had a pretty good day. Frustrating, but good. I’m currently fighting with my compiler, which is never a great sign, but at least I made some progress in the battle, and have some hope I’ll work out the rest of the problems today. I also made some progress on a design for a client, fixing up some web-stuff for another client, and invoiced all the clients and paid the mid-month bills. Not a stellar day, but a lot more productive than I’ve been most of the rest of the month.

If you didn’t notice the mid-day updates yesterday, scroll down. There’s a bear you might want to look at if you grew up in the upper midwest anytime before the 80s.

16. November, 2004 - Virtual Monday?

Freaky weather again (still). It’s being unusually warm (they said something about twenty degrees above average on the news last night), and that’s got me torn. I’ve got a bunch of paying work to do, and the days are getting shorter, which means that even starting out bright and early in the day means it’s dark before I finish a decent amount of that in a day. But I also feel a need to enjoy every bit of warm weather we have left, and I spend time staring out the window thinking that I should find an excuse to get outside. I think sometime this week I’m going to give in and stick some garlic and onions into the garden before it freezes so they’ll get a head-start on the growing season next spring. They can go next to the ones I missed in the harvest which have re-sprouted in the recent warmth.

Deli on 15th and Hennepin
Deli on 15th and Hennepin
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In local news, the deli at the corner of 15th and East Hennepin keeps getting closer to opening every time I go by there. I’m really looking forward to it opening, and have been talking with the owner when I see him outside. He’s hoping to be open soon, but I’m expecting he won’t get the doors opened in 2004. Also, via the rumor-mill, I’ve heard that the old Goal Line Bar location is going to possibly be a full bar, but that’s even farther from completion. I don’t expect that to open before the smoking ban kicks in next March, and more likely not until sometime next summer. It’s good to see that I’m not the only one who takes a long time on construction projects.

Speaking of taking a long time, the Como Grill (at 15th and Como) still isn’t actually open. It looks ready to go, but the coming soon sign is still up, and they weren’t open when I walked past yesterday evening.

And a note for the kid trying to get someone to do something for him in front of the grocery store on Como: If you’re asking passers-by for money or to do you a favor, or whatever the hell it was you were after, using relatively standard English so they can understand you might help your cause.

Yesterday? Meh. The truck’s at the body-shop. I made it up to mom’s. I got a little bit of work done in the afternoon between phone calls and composing an email to a site that’s ripping off Mead Made Easy, including everything but the copyright and author information pages (if that doesn’t stop soon, I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I’ll probably write the ISP next) Update: The owner of the site yanked the file. Cool. I had a yummy dinner at Mannings. It wasn’t a horrible day, but it did little to improve my opinion of Mondays in general. Given the general lack of productivity yesterday, today feels like a virtual monday.

15. November, 2004 - hurried

I’ve got a ton of things I have to do early this morning, beginning with getting out to the ’burbs by 7am to drop my truck at the body shop. I’m lashing this together in a bit of a hurry, and there won’t be a big rant today. I can feel the disapppointment already.

Oh, and I updated the blogroll over there on the right over the weekend. Another rush-job, so if you’re listed and feel slighted by my commentary, or want something about the link changed, drop me a note.

One final note. The Camaro got towed away on Friday. RIP. I forgot to take a picture.

12. November, 2004 - broken

I guess when I said I’ll post some links later in the day yesterday, I meant something along the lines of I’ll nap all day and give you nothing.

That’s been typical of my life lately, though. I haven’t been real excited about any of the work I’m doing. Nor about much of the “fun” stuff I’ve been trying to do. And it’s when I’m being a slug that I get most annoyed by other people slacking. There’s the lawyer who doesn’t call to tell me what’s up. There’s an employee who never answers emails. The home improvement guys who are stopping by sometime to help me finish off some projects I had meant to get to this summer, but I haven’t heard anything since sending them the signed proposal. The clients whose feedback comes weeks after I send them work to review and then it consists of a two word critique. Hell, I’m starting to wonder why I bother. Maybe it’s time to find a job like driving bus again or something.

More likely, it’s just time to get on with things I don’t want to do, but which will make me feel better once they’re done. I’ve still got a busted Camaro sitting behind the house that needs to go away before I have to pile snow there. I’ve got a busted truck that goes in to the body shop on Monday. I’ve got a to-do list full of other overdue items, and am going to run into a cash-crunch next month if I don’t get some of the work-related ones done, pronto.

11. November, 2004 - OMFH

Well, I set out last night to go and get drunk. I seem to have succeeded.

The Wall Live

The night started at Keegan’s. I had dinner, dessert, some shots, and a bunch of Guinness. Mmm. $85 later it was time to move on. Ouch. Stopped at the Terminal, where there was a Pink Floyd tribute (runs every Wednesday the rest of the month) that turned out to be better than I expected, plus I got to see Joel, who used to live next to us at 717 for the first time in a couple years. When the show was done, we headed to the Front, which was dead (we were the only customers) on “Music of Prince and Michael Jackson” night, and I finished the night at Whitey’s, where I bonked my head on the door closer on the way out. Ouch. Got home not too much after midnight.

I took a bunch of pictures at the show at the Terminal that are linked from the picture. Got a half-dozen that worked out of the forty I took. Guess that’s not too bad. I’ll post some links later in the day.

10. November, 2004 - ugh
Window? What window?
Window? What window?
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Yesterday started out pretty good. I had a productive morning and was feeling pretty good about life. Then about noon I headed over to my ISP to snarf a 2G file I had sitting on my server, rather than clogging up the DSL pipe all afternoon. Turns out the file was NFG. Strike one on the day. Then a meeting I didn’t want to go to, where one of the attendees was 45 minutes late so we couldn’t start on time, and the results of which I’m not especially happy with. Strike two. Finally, I figure I can head home and relax for the evening. As I’m I stop in line to wait to turn onto the freeway to head home, wham! I get rear-ended. Well, at least these things don’t come in fours, right?

Wrinkle
Wrinkle
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After making sure that everyone’s okay, and checking out the van in front of me that I got pushed into (no damage on that end), we pull over to the side of the road and exchange information and assess the damage. The rear hatch of my truck is shattered and scattered not only all over the inside of the truck, but also on the roof, on the hood, and on the rear bumper and pavement. Lots of expensive glass all over. The bumper’s cracked, and when I swing the spare tire out of the way, I notice that the tailgate is fubar, too. Dammit. Eventually the cops show up and fill out their report and I get to head home with the wind whistling in the back of the truck. At least I had mostly emptied it out so I didn’t have to worry about a bunch of broken stuff in there.

I’m okay, as is the other driver. We even were joking about the accident a little, and it’s all repairable, but I have a feeling today isn’t going to go as planned. Gotta find someone to fix the truck and talk to the insurance agent, and hopefully get the truck somewhere before it starts to rain and snow today, since it doesn’t seem to be quite as weatherproof as it ought to be. And when that’s all taken care of, I suspect I’m going to hunker down and do some drinking.

9. November, 2004 - flying cars
Hockey Rink at Van Cleve Park
Hockey Rink at Van Cleve Park
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Well. This morning isn’t turning out to be a very happy one so far. After cutting all the stuff I was going to post here out of one file, and pasting it into another, then saving the one I’d cut from, my Mac panicked. This meant that everything I’d written this morning went up in a poof of electrons. Worse, CrashReporter couldn’t even tell me what had gone wrong so I could maybe at least report a bug to somebody. I also tried to grab a picture of the screen, but because everything other than the big annoying black box telling you you’re screwed had gone dim, it’s nearly impossible to read. That’s to be expected with a ¼ second hand-held exposure, but it didn’t help matters, so the commentary is going to be thinner than I’d like. I also find myself wondering whether the 10.3.6 update I applied yesterday is at fault.

Further digging suggests that the problem may be Activity Monitor. Taking a peek in windowserver_last.log, I saw the line Nov 08 06:31:20 [187] kCGErrorIllegalArgument: CGXOrderWindow: Operation on a window 0x28 not owned by caller Activity Monitor at which point things pretty much went to hell. Maybe I’ll run without Activity Monitor going all the time and see if that helps.

Meanwhile, in local news, the ice rinks are up at Van Cleve Park now. A sure sign we’re getting close to winter.

8. November, 2004 - Monday

This week will hopefully be more productive than last. I spent a lot of last week either paying attention to politics or thrashing between three different projects when I should have been working on any one of them and finishing something. On friday I did get to do the neener-neener dance. A client who didn’t follow my recommendation, then later decided I was right after all, now will have to pay extra because I had already implemented it the way they asked for. That felt like a good way to wrap up the week, but I need to actually get the work done this week.

I’ve also got another project that I’ve been holding on the back burner for about a month, and it’s time to wrap that up. It’s probably going to fill up this week, but I’ve had problems getting started on it.

Finally, in completely unrelated (and somewhat icky) news, I sometimes have goofy late-night ideas about websites that should be out there. For some reason, they often appear in my head after a night at the bar. Sometimes they’re good, like the idea to snarf Better Nerds. Sometimes, they’re marginal, like Mental Hygienist (I still like the idea, but don’t have the time to do anything with it — if you do, let me know). Sometimes, like this weekend’s idea, What’s That Rash? I’m not sure. And maybe it should be a .info, rather than a .com. But hey, the domains are available and I’m pretty sure I’ve had worse ideas. I could even see it paying for itself with referral money from the health and personal care section of amazon. Doesn’t mean I’m going to snarf those domains, though.

7. November, 2004 - It keeps happening

Last night was our monthly poker game, and predictably enough politics came up as a topic for discussion. Once again, I found myself biting my tongue. Not only was there Bush-bashing going on, but I didn’t feel comfortable elaborating on my comment that There are people whom I think less of now because of their attacks on George W. Bush. At least my keeping quiet kept the conversation relatively civil. I wasn’t talking about anyone at the table, but I feared if I went on, one of them would say something to turn me off. Don’t lecture me about how the election was stolen by Republican Evil. It was lost by Democratic Incompetence.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to defend Bush. I wouldn’t have voted for him in this election at all, but I also think that if you’re going to attack him, you should use something that actually has some basis in fact, rather than in Fahrenheit 9-11. Better yet, don’t attack, but criticize in a way that doesn’t immediately alienate those people who don’t agree with you 100%. Saying that it’s time to check the fire sprinklers in the Reichstag may be cute (once, maximum), but it won’t sway anyone. Preaching to the choir may give you warm fuzzies, but it doesn’t win people over.

As I’ve said before, one of the bigger problems with this election was that the Democrats didn’t offer a clear alternative to the president. There’s a reason I’ll sometimes refer to them as the left-wing of the boot-on-your-neck-party.

With that in mind, I collected some links for today.

5. November, 2004 - guess not

I keep telling myself I’m going to quit typing about the election results, and then I’ll get an email (pointing to a site like this) or have a conversation that puts me back on the subject. It doesn’t make me especially happy, and I’m fairly sure it’s not what you want to hear, but I keep needing to vent. Sorry.

On a lighter note, I had fun at the ABE show at the Turf Club last night. One of the bands following them brought toys they handed out to the crowd, including little LED flashlights, hopping frogs, and some sort of noise-makers. Fun toys, and I probably should have figured out who to thank. No pictures from the show, since it was dark enough that I couldn’t hold the camera steady for anything worth posting. Drat.

4. November, 2004 - moving on
Sign in Andrew Riverside Park
Sign in Andrew Riverside Park
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The election is past, and I’ve been hearing a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth for the past couple days from folks who are convinced that a second term for GWB is going to be the end of the world. I don’t think that’s the case, but hey, go ahead and rend your garments if it makes you feel better. But I don’t think the world is going to end. The differences between GWB and Kerry weren’t all that large, and we’ll survive. I’m much more worried about the House, Senate and Presidency being controlled by the same party than I am over the specifics of which party it is. My biggest fear for the next two years is that government is going to Get Things Done, and that’s pretty spooky.

Andrew Riverside Presbyterian Church International Peace Park
Andrew Riverside Presbyterian Church
International Peace Park
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On a more local note, I took a walk through the old neighborhood yesterday. They needed some help over at the new MHNA office and I used that as an excuse to take a walk on a nice sun-shiney day. A couple things of note. The first is that the triangle of land down by the Stone Arch Bridge has been razed and looks like it’s going to be turned into a parking lot. In spite of a stop-work order from the city, there was a worker out there packing down the gravel. It’s probably too late to do much about it, though. The second is that I finally stopped by to look at the Andrew Riverside Presbyterian Church International Peace Park and took a couple pictures. The wide one is hand-stitched together, but I think I did an okay job of it. It’s nice to see something where that church that fell down used to be, even if it’s a short-term park.

3. November, 2004 - it’s all over but the lawsuits
at the range
at the range

Before I get to the election news, yesterday, Bill and I, to celebrate our civic-mindedness in having voted, (and to get Bill’s deer rifle sighted in) headed out to the Oakdale Gun Club in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. I went out to get my rifle closer to zeroed and work on breaking it in.

I dunno if Bill realized it, but that was the first rounds that have gone through that particular gun. Anyway, the bore-sighting they (supposedly) did when I bought the scope doesn’t seem to have been particularly close, since I was off by over 24 MOA . The set of holes in the lower-left corner were at 25 yards, holding dead center on the target. The set above them was after my first adjustment, and after getting a stool to sit on so I was a little steadier. Of course, on the first couple adjustments, I wasn’t thinking that at 25 yards, I’d have to adjust four times as much as the target indicated, since it’s a 100 yard target, and that frustrated me a bit. The four that are only a little bit to the right of center are when I’d decided I was close enough on the left-right adjustment, and walked the scope up with those four shots. I gave up before I was right on, but I think I should at least be on the paper at 100 yds next time I head out.

When I called it a day, I was tired, not from the recoil (I didn’t really notice that at all), but rather from holding up the rifle. It’s a heavy one, and those are muscles I’m not used to using. I suspect the heaviness (and extra layers of fat) protected me from the recoil. I also started noticing the trigger, rather than being surprised when it broke, and that’s something I’ll probably want to tweak in the long-term. It’s heavier than it needs to be, but I’m not going to worry about that until I’m keeping the groups smaller.

I liked the club. It’s a nice location, well maintained, and even though it was one of their few open to the public days, the folks working the range seemed to deal with the hunters not following the range master’s directions pretty well. Nobody ended up with any more holes in them than they arrived with, and nobody screwed up more than a couple times in a row. I think I might look into a membership, but I might try a couple of the other rifle ranges first.

2. November, 2004 - Electile Dysfunction
Fall leaves
Fall leaves
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Update 0845: I made it to the polling place about 7:30, and there were no problems with lines. That’s a good thing, since it was raining outside, and if the line had extended outside, it would have make things ucky. The folks working said that everything was going smoothly, except it was already very busy. When I actually ran my ballot through the machine, I was voter number 120, which is pretty good for the polls having been open just a little over a half-hour.

Then it was over to Manning’s for some breakfast. Yummy. A mexican omelette with grilled potatoes was just the thing to round out the morning expedition. Finally, as an added bonus, I noticed that while the maples on the north-south streets have mostly dropped their leaves, those on the east-wests haven’t yet, and they looked pretty, so I took a picture for you to enjoy. When I look at it now, I suppose I should have been more off to the side to get an angle on it to make it look better (and maybe crop out a car or two), but I didn’t think of that at the time.

Also of note on the way home, Move On had set up across the street from the polling place. I’m not sure if they were far enough away or not to be legal, but the way the entry to the school works, basically everyone who was voting there was either walking right across the street from them or cutting across the playground.


So it’s election day. I tried to mostly avoid talking about it (other than the first set of links). Yes, I’ll be going out and voting, and hopefully not standing in line forever, but we’ll see how that works out. If you are heading out, turnout is supposed to be high, and waits of a half-hour are projected just about everywhere. 10am to 2pm is the lightest time of day according to a story on the news last night, so maybe you want to take a long lunch and vote then. Good luck.

1. November, 2004 - not a single one
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spooky?
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I normally don’t do much decorating for Halloween. When I lived in the old place, there would be a few kids stopping by, but since it was a four-plex, someone from one of the other units would always stick a pumpkin on the front steps or something. This year, knowing there are a couple kids in my new neighborhood, but not having any idea how many would come by, I figured what the heck, and set up a glowing felt and plastic pumpkin (no, not this possibly NSFW one that jr pointed out) in the front window to advertise the availability of a free sugar buzz.

And not a single kid stopped by. Well, unless you count the two nice young men from Americans Coming Together who wanted to make sure I knew where to vote, and seemed a little offended when I offered them candy. Ah well, their costumes weren’t very impressive, anyhow.

Over the weekend, I got a few things accomplished around the house, plus visited with Mom. I’m almost caught up on laundry. The dishes are clean except for last night’s dinner plate. The bird feeders were filled. The garage got swept out before the first snow hit, and the boxes I brought down from Mom’s now have a clean place to sit until I figure out how to sell off a ton of Avon steins, figurines, decanters, and awards. And I filled my shop-vac twice emptying the ash-pit under the fireplace. That made for one horribly heavy trash bag, and one horribly clogged filter, but I felt like I had accomplished a lot.

Today I get hit with the double-whammy. It’s a monday and the first of the month, which mean I get a doubly-heavy administrative load to deal with today. On top of that, none of my employees bothered to send in their hours from last week, so I’m have to pester folks before I can send out the invoices for that work.

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Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:57:54.