September 2005 Full Listing

30 September, 2005 - running in place

Seems this morning as if that’s what I’m doing. I’m making progress on a lot of things, but in many cases, that progress just maintains things the way they were. I actually worked through my normal afternoon break yesterday, and got something done for a client, but then looked at the result and find myself wondering if it was all wasted effort. We’re trying to give them a clickable map of the US so a customer can pick a state. I got a version that looks pretty, but the HTML alone is over a meg (due largely to Photoshop’s lame imagemap support, or my lack of understanding thereof). I don’t think it’s a workable solution.

And it’s the end of another week, and I find myself asking “What did I get done?” I don’t have a good answer, other than figuring I stayed alive. Some weeks I guess that has to be enough. But hey, I found some fun links for you to click on, so let’s get to them, eh?

29. September, 2005 - brrr

Yesterday was warm enough in the early morning while it was still raining. But once the rain stopped, it got chilly out. And overnight? Well, it didn’t get much below 40 according to the thermometer on the side of my house, but that still felt pretty chilly, and there were frost warnings out for the outlying ’burbs.

Also yesterday, during my mid-afternoon break (which is going to be one of the things I miss the most if I take a full-time job again — I really enjoy taking an hour or two off from thinking and doing something), I started putting down the carpet tile in my bedroom upstairs. I got half-done before I cut myself with the carpet knife and decided that was enough. I’d hate to start out with blood-stained carpeting. Things didn’t go as quickly as I’d hoped, mostly because I discovered that the room is 3.4 meters wide, rather than the 3.5 I’d estimated. With half-meter square tiles, this means that I need to cut about an inch off every tile along the long walls of the room. I didn’t expect an exact fit, but I was hoping it would be close enough that I could just cut one side, but it’s enough that doing that would make the room look lop-sided. With twice as many cuts as expected, I got half as much done as expected.

Today, it looks like pretty decent weather (though nothing like the 80s predicted for the weekend), and I’m not sure if I’ll stay inside to finish up the carpeting or not. There’s plenty of other stuff to do, some of it outdoors, and with the chill last night, I may work extra-hard at getting outside to enjoy what warm weather is left this year. It really feels like fall now, and there may be some pretty colors on the trees this weekend.

28. September, 2005 - raining again

Woke up this morning to dark. Followed by grey. Followed by dark. The rain that was supposed to have hit sometime yesterday evening seems to have been delayed somewhere in western Minnesota, and is still lingering with us this morning. I know, I know, I said yesterday that the nice weather was making it hard to concentrate on indoor work, but I’m still pretty sure I’d rather have that than another rainy day.

Then again, I don’t have to get out and water the grass today. I guess that’s something.

27. September, 2005 - beautiful weather

Yesterday was a gorgeous fall day. The high was near 70, and the overnight low around 50. Perfect sleeping weather at night (with the windows open just a bit), and a nice day to be outside during the day. About the only thing marring the day was the need to stay inside to get some work done during the day. But I still found time to walk over to Dinkytown for lunch, and then took a break in mid-afternoon to mow the lawn, and stand around outside talking to my neighbors for an hour or so.

One of the outdoor things I was hoping to get done was pulling the old TV antenna down from my roof. I don’t use it at all, and it’s just sitting up there waiting for a strong wind to mess it up and maybe damage my roof in the process. One of the neighbors has a 28 foot extension ladder, which is maybe just long enough to reach my roof, and he’s offered to let me borrow it whenever I need, but when I actually looked at the roof, and looked at the ladder, I’m not sure it’s going to reach. So I put him off, saying I’ll get to it some other time.

I think if I tackle that project, it’s going to be when I’ve got some additional help (and moral support) around. I really should have just had the DirecTV guy pull it down when he was up on the roof almost two years ago, or when I had the chimney sweep out last year. Both were professionals at climbing around on roofs and had ladders that definitely reached all the way up there. The last thing I want to do is borrow the ladder from the neighbor, set it up next to the house, and then discover it’s a couple feet too short to reach the roof, which will suck all the motivation out of me.

Today’s supposed to be just about as nice as yesterday. Perhaps a little warmer, but also a little windier. The last two “nice weather” tasks for the fall are pulling out the air conditioners and cleaning the outsides of all the windows in the house. I’m not sure about cleaning the windows today, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be needing the A/C anymore, so I’ll probably pull those out of the windows and haul them to the basement for the winter. And with any luck, things will go smoothly enough that I’ll want to take a walk afterwards. Maybe an evening one so I can check out the new lighting on the Stone Arch Bridge, if this evening’s rain holds off long enough.

26. September, 2005 - good weekend

It was a pretty good weekend. Friday, after griping about the clothesline pole in the back yard, I stopped by a nursery on the way home from lunch. Came home with 120 pounds of black dirt (ten dollars worth) and a bag of grass seed. The weather was nice, a little cool, and I only worked up a little sweat horsing the nearly cubic-foot of concrete out of the ground and hauling it over to the corner of the yard where it can sit until I deal with getting rid of it.

Filled the hole with half of the black dirt, set the hose on low right in the middle of it, and went and filled a few other holes in the yard with the rest of the dirt. Came back and the dirt in the big hole was wet enough, so I raked it around a bit, and hit it with the grass seed. Walked around and hit the other new dirt with the hose and a little seed, and one project was crossed off the list with about one hour of work and one hour of standing around with the hose. I probably put down the grass seed dozens of times thicker than you’re supposed to, but the goal is to get some grass in those spots quickly, and I figure there’s got to be some amount of spare for the birds to eat, too.

Saturday, during the rain (no watering needed), a friend stopped by to go shooting, and we snapped the chalk lines for the carpet tile in the bedroom, a project I’ll tackle next time a rainy weekend keeps me indoors. Took just a few minutes to get that roadblock out of my way.

Then to the range, where we both discovered what a great training aid LaserGrips can be, as we watched each other pull the little red dot down to 5 o’clock on the target before pulling the trigger, pre-compensating for the recoil (flinching). A little mental work and practice corrected that problem (for the afternoon), and I noticed that the little red dot dancing around on the target actually made it easier for me to concentrate on the front sight after a quick peek downrange. I’m still not focusing on just the front sight like you’re supposed to, but I got a lot better pretty quickly. After a while with the pistol, and a while with the carbine (which didn’t like the batch of handloads my pal had brought), we both got tired, and decided to call it a day before we developed any new bad habits. I’m pretty sure I’ll have a little less in the way of bad habits on the next trip out, and that’s encouraging. Plus the rifle range out there should be opening today, which means when it’s time to sight in the deer rifles, we don’t need to worry about the weather. Cool.

After some dinner, beers, and catching up, we called it a day. Sunday? I slept late and spent the afternoon and evening watching TV. It was still rainy and gloomy outside, and I was perfectly happy to leave all the projects around the house for another day.

23. September, 2005 - the week that wasn’t
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A pretty unsatisfying week so far. Business headaches on Monday, followed by a walk and a nap to calm down. Tuesday, work in the morning, followed by some drinking, some more drinking, and even more drinking. Wednesday, dealing with family stuff and the hangover. Plus hot weather. Realized late in the evening that I had missed the monthly dinner club while trying to get everything else dealt with. Thursday, research into ISPs, emails back and forth, and a general wish that the week was just done. Today? Well, there’s a website I should have finished up a couple weeks ago. I probably should tackle it today, but I may let it wait until next week. There’s some followup to be done for the not interview that’s still a not-job. No word on when it might turn into a job, so I should probably find some more work to fill the next few weeks or months, too.

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But hey, there were a couple morning glories blooming in my yard the other day. I took pictures of them for you, since they were kinda pretty. I’m not entirely happy with either picture, but I don’t think I’ve turned all the various rules for taking closeups like this into a coherent mental picture of how pictures like this should turn out. So I keep trying, and then try to figure out what I should be doing better.

Finally, this weekend is the start of Oktoberfest, and I’m betting I get out and have some beer while listening to live music and socializing with the other folks from the Saints parking lot.

22. September, 2005 - hot & cold

Pretty warm yesterday. Much cooler after the late-evening storms rolled through. As for the small update, I was up until after 2am waiting for the house to cool off from the hot weather during the day, so I probably won’t be awake in time to do the regular morning update. This is what I’ve got now.

In other news, I’m not very pleased by my new ISP at all, but I at least finally heard from them about the bill yesterday (only 11 days to respond), even if their response doesn’t fill me with glee. I’ve sent queries off to some alternatives, and we’ll see what kind of response I get. I’ll probably talk about it all a lot more once things have been sorted out one way or another.

21. September, 2005 - late today

The update today will be late. Busy with other stuff this morning.

Or maybe the update will be tomorrow. It’s not looking good for today.

20. September, 2005 - business woes

Yesterday was not an especially good day. I spent all morning wrangling with various things that I don’t even want to think about. It started with the state. Minnesota has instituted a new Unemployment Insurance website, and requires all employers to use it. The problem is that while I knew the Federal Taxpayer ID number for my business, and my state of Minnesota ID number for payroll withholding, there was yet another number for the UI stuff with the state that my business has had forever, but which I never knew. And to top it off, that number isn’t even what you need to put into the website to log in, you have to enter your User ID, which is something completely different. I’m not sure why there can’t be a single ID for the state, but I suspect the reason is that the people who coded up the website designed it for ease of use by the state employees, and not business owners like me. If they’d been thinking about their actual customers, they would have used an already existing ID.

Once I had that mostly sorted out, I called Paychex. I’ve run payroll twice this month, on the first and fifteenth, and had trouble both times. The problem is a new “payroll specialist” who doesn’t seem to have learned the vocabulary they’ve trained me to use over the past six-plus years, but instead put his own spin on things. I spoke with his supervisor, and explained that the reason I pay them to handle all this payroll stuff is that I’m trying to save time. But when I run payroll, and then have to call back in to correct mistakes, the time-savings is a lot less. I explained that I was trying to be understanding, but between the mess with the state (which was resolved by setting up Paychex as an agent for my business — something I thought should have happened automatically, since they’ve been handling my payroll since 1999 and I’ve filled out plenty of forms for the state allowing them to do that) and the payroll confusion, I was close to the breaking point. So I come out of the deal with a new specialist who’s been at this for a while, and a discount on the payroll processing for a while.

In the afternoon, I found myself spending the afternoon wondering why I even bother running my own business rather than getting any work done. Lately the headaches involved seem to far outweigh any benefit. I’m not closing the doors just yet, but this camel’s back is aching and it’s not going to take many more straws. When people I haven’t talked to for a number of years wonder why I’ve grown to be so anti-government, this is a prime example of the reason. Every interaction I’ve had with the government in the course of running my business has meant nothing but a big ball of stress. Is it too much to ask to just be left alone to help my customers? Apparently it is.

Finally, while I’m griping, I might as well complain about my ISP, too. I got a bill a couple weeks ago that I think has some mistakes. I emailed their billing department on the 10th, and called in yesterday. I still haven’t heard back from anyone there. And this from a place that says We believe service has been swallowed whole and replaced by automated disappointment. We want to bring service back, make it new again. Well, if this is the new service, I’d rather have the old guys where I could stop by with a six-pack of beer and have all the problems resolved before we’d finished the first beer.

19. September, 2005 - Arrr!

No. I don’t plan on doing anything special for Talk Like a Pirate Day, but I figure it’s worth pointing out.

The weekend? Meh. Visit to Mom. Missed two or three different happenings Saturday evening. Mowed the lawn Sunday morning, and rested in the afternoon. Got woke up by rain at 4am this morning.

16. September, 2005 - friday

Not a whole lot to say today. I seem to have used up my typing yesterday. Not a whole lot of links, either. Sorry.

15. September, 2005 - yard work

Yesterday brought some pretty darned beautiful weather. It warmed up enough during the day that I got hot and sweaty while working in the yard, but not so hot that it was miserable. Just enough that it felt like satisfying work. There were two areas in my back yard edged off from the lawn by pavers, stuck into the ground edge-wise. One was around a tree I had removed last month, and the other was next to the little shed that’s attached to the garage. I decided both needed to go.

So I started by pulling out the pavers. Given all the rain we’ve had recently, this wasn’t too tough. One set of them, which had been put in the shallow way (they were 6″ by 12″ pavers, and these were set in only 6″ deep) yielded quickly to the shovel. One dig and pry per paver and they were out. The other set, being almost 10″ into the dirt were a little trickier until I got a decent start on them, and then came out with just a wiggle and a pull. No tools required after the first two, since there was enough sticking above the ground for me to get a grip on, and I could wiggle them into the space left by the previously removed paver.

Once the pavers were out of the way, I attacked the rocks. There were almost a dozen rocks, varying from the size of my fist up to the size of my head, tossed into these two areas. They all needed to be removed so I’ll be able to mow through there without pranging the blade on the lawnmower. Again, a quick dig & pry got the job done.

Then it was time to clear out the weeds. Rake, hoe, rake, chop, rake, hoe, and I had relatively clean dirt that had been worked a few inches deep. There are still a few saplings out there that will require a hatchet, but I’m going to need that for the stump of the tree that was removed, too. Again, the wet dirt made things easier, and I definitely picked the right day for this work. About a bushel of vines, stalks, and branches now lie in a pile waiting for me to chop them up for the compost bin.

And finally, in goes the grass seed. I had two bags of seed, one half-bag left over from last fall, and one brand new one. I used up the leftovers, and saved the new seed for other projects I hope to complete yet this year (filling in bare patches left after the sidewalk work). Then set up the hose and sprinkler and test-water the area. It didn’t really need much water, but I wanted to get the sprinkler in the right position so I can just turn on the tap and have the sprinkler take care of the new seed. With any luck, by the end of the month, I’ll have fresh grass out there to mow, and a lot fewer obstacles to dodge with the mower.

I feel a little bad about sacrificing the mint that was growing in these two areas, but there were so many other weeds mixed in with it that I never really used much of it anyhow. I imagine some will pop back up in the grass, and I can maybe transplant that another day.

Between the yard work, and still getting a decent amount of “work” work done, it was a pretty full day. I didn’t get the old clothesline pole pulled out (or rather the roughly cubic-foot of concrete that anchors it, which is the bigger problem), but other than removing that, filling the hole left by it, and filling a few other holes in the yard (I blame the bunnies), things are in pretty good shape for the fall. I’ll be calling the sidewalk guys in a week or two, and hopefully I can have everything wrapped up before there’s snow. Maybe today I’ll pick up a bunch of black dirt so I can fill the holes.

14. September, 2005 - feels like fall

Yesterday’s rain changed everything it seems. During the afternoon yesterday, it was still warm and muggy outside. Once the skies had finished clearing, there’s much drier air (the overnight low got down below 50°F) and this morning, it feels like fall. I’m really glad I sweated a bit on Monday evening and got the lawn mowed between the showers though. My lawn looks lush and green this morning, and it’s one less thing on the ever-growing list of things I should be getting done. But maybe the biggest change is in my head. We’ve had chilly days already, but with Labor Day in the past, and the Saints’ season being done, today’s cool weather is the one that feels like fall to me.

On the digital camera front, a broken display is not covered under warranty, and the repair cost (including shipping), is more than half of the price I paid for the camera almost a year ago. Given the headaches that I expect in dealing with the repair, I’m not sure whether I’m going to even bother getting it fixed or not. I’m definitely going to wait for a slow day before dealing with it at this point. There’s no point in frustrating myself over it today.

13. September, 2005 - primary day

Update: When I voted at 2:30 pm, I was only voter #36 in my precinct. If you’re in Minneapolis, you should go and say hello to the volunteers working the polling stations. Turnout is very low today and they’re lonely. Oh, and you may be able to affect things by showing up today. It’s not often you can say that. (Mark is running under the “Pissed Off Taxpayer” label — if nothing else, you want to see that on the ballot, right?)


It’s time to vote in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The top two vote-getters in each primary will advance to the general election. Especially if you want to vote for one of the fringe candidates, this is your chance. Probably your only chance.

Yesterday, administrivia, running errands, and mowing the lawn. Today, I try to finish the most annoying of those errands (my digital camera broke, and is under warranty, but I need to send it back to the factory for repairs, which means digging up the receipt to prove that the camera is under warranty, even though it has a one-year warranty and wasn’t even released more than a year ago, then bundling it up and shipping it to the factory repair center) and out to vote. And then some actual work. Wish me luck.

12. September, 2005 - I don’t like Mondays

It’s not a huge thing, but my typical Monday morning tries to pack all the administrivia for an entire week into a few hours, so I can get past it and get on with the productive work for the week. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been all that much productive work for me to do, so entire weeks have felt like Mondays.

And this week, it’s even worse. The Saints’ season has ended, with the team on the road, and not enough of a chance to say goodbye to people. It hit me a little yesterday, but today it seems to hit home harder. I cleaned out my grill for the season last night, which had a feeling of finality to it, but that was tempered by the fact that I’d spent the afternoon drinking beers with friends. Today, there’s no insulating beery goodness in the way.

11. September, 2005 - baseball update

The Saints lost game 4 in Gary in a 1-0 pitchers’ duel Saturday evening. Pretty darned good pitching by both staffs. The Saints only had one runner in scoring positiong all game, and that was in the third inning. From the St. Paul paper: Gary blanks Saints, evens playoff series. Game 5 at 2pm on Sunday on 95.9, 1300, 105.5, or on the net. It sounds as if some folks may gather at Midway to listen to the game. Not sure if I’m going to leave the house or not yet.


On Sunday afternoon, Saints season ends with a 9-4 loss, and it wasn’t ever actually as close as that makes it sound. Gary plain clobbered the Saints pitching, and the Saints bats just weren’t there today. It’s always a shame to end the season on the road, and especially so this weekend, since we thought there was a chance the Saints would advance to the final next week, and I didn’t get to say goodbye properly to all the people I wanted to.

10. September, 2005 - guns in New Orleans

Before getting to the serious stuff, the Saints won last night. First story below. There’s also a bit of local breaking-news. And then it goes rapidly downhill.

The main story is the way that that P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police in New Orleans, has ordered the confiscation of all firearms in New Orleans. First the government doesn’t help people in the hurricane-ravaged city, and then it goes door to door, taking away the protection from the law-abiding, leaving the only guns in the hands of the looters and thugs who have experience dodging police. I’d like to be able to say I’m surprised, but I’m not really. Sick to my stomach, yes. Surprised? No.


9. September, 2005 - weekend

A short week that felt too long. I think that was mostly due to my desire for control, and the lack of it this week. One job I thought was nailed down has evaporated. Two that are active continue to lurch toward completion. One nearly on its own, and the other now firmly in my court, but only since yesterday. The not-quite-an-interview from Wednesday continues to roll around in my mind, as I try to decide whether or not I want to keep my business going, or drop the reins of responsibility and let someone else handle the hassles inherent in running a business. Nothing really taxing, except psychically.

This weekend? Trip to mom’s, party, maybe a trip to the range (too-busy-friend’s schedule permitting), and some more sleep. And hot weather. The yard work I had planned is going to sit on hold a bit longer. I just don’t feel like doing it in the 80+ degree temperatures forecast for this weekend, and it can wait until the weather is cooler. Besides, it already seems as if I have enough on my plate.

8. September, 2005 - wet again

The rain, it just keeps on falling. Yesterday morning, a steady rain. Yesterday evening, beautiful weather. This morning? Wet out again. The lawn needs mowing, if it would ever dry out. But at least the ground in the back yard is soft enough that I should be able to pull out the pavers used to edge the bunches of weeds that I want to remove.

But I don’t know if that’ll be today. Today I’m getting all the pieces for a website I’m building for a client, and I need to spend some time assembling them and cranking out all the various individual pages.

7. September, 2005 - late update again

Oops. I guess I overdid the benadryl before going to bed, since I overslept and need to get out the door relatively soon. At least I wasn’t sneezing! The update will come later in the day.


Update: Well, I’m back, and time for a few quick links. The interview thingie went okay, but wasn’t so much an interview as lunch with the people who might be able to interview me once the position becomes officially open. Apparently bureaucracy is all around me.

6. September, 2005 - more storms

Another noisy night last night, as a wave of thunderstorms moved through. Flashes and booms during the night as I was trying to sleep kept me awake longer than I wanted. This morning, I need to try to gather up the projects I’ve got subcontracted out and push them through to completion. They’re both pretty darned close, but seem to suffer from repeated “just one more thing” syndrome. I also should hear about a possible new gig for me. Tomorrow? Job interview for a position I’m certainly qualified for, but not certain I want to take, since it would effectively mean shuttering my own business.

And that’s about it for now. There’s home games for the Saints tonight and tomorrow, and then they travel to Gary. It looks like if we make the finals, the first two of those will be on the road.

4. September, 2005 - a dark and stormy night

Thunderstorms much of yesterday and pretty much all last night, with warnings about possible flash-flooding in low-lying neighborhoods here in the Twin Cities. No real problems where I’m at, other than the noise waking me up a few times during the night. I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep, but tomorrow’s a holiday, so I’ll maybe have a chance to catch up.

And yes, I realize I’m blogging right through the weekend. Not sure why, but between the allergens and rain outside, plus a late night at the bar on Friday, I didn’t get outside to do the yard work I had planned, so I’ve been inside at the computer (rather than working on any of the “inside projects” I could have been tackling).

But I’ve also been working on some of the forms used on my sites. In the past week, I’ve noticed concerted efforts by a few hackers to try and see if they can use my forms to send spam. I’ve found and fixed a couple security holes over the weekend. Sigh.

3. September, 2005 - preparedness

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a lot of people are thinking more about preparedness. It’s the kind of thing I’ve been pondering since before the Y2K scare, and I always try to be at least a little prepared, but it’s time for an audit of things. And sure enough, there are things I hadn’t thought of before.

So today, I’m going to link to other people’s ideas, and also write down my list. Hopefully others will find it useful.

2. September, 2005 - hiding inside

The wind from yesterday subsided, but I still spent the entire evening hiding inside with the air conditioning running. I’ll poke my head outside today, but I really don’t like this time of year. Yes there are allergy drugs, but in my experience none of them will do the job for me against a huge concentration of allergens like those flying around in the air yesterday. The most discouraging part is that this happens every year, and I know from experience that I’ll be dealing with it for another month or so. Ugh.

There’s an awful lot of awful news about the mess in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast in general. You can go find them yourself if you’d like. Me, I’m reading some, ignoring others, and occasionally getting sucked into the disaster-porn on the TV. The big lesson I’ve taken from the whole thing is that in a really big disaster, depending on the government is going to leave you either dead or miserable, and I hope others see the same lesson. There are some smaller lessons that involve thinking through what kind of disaster could happen near me, and what that should mean for my preparedness. It’s not that I want to get set up Burt Gummer style, but I think a bare minimum is that a guy should have supplies for a week, either while holing up at home, or getting the hell out of dodge. More on that some day in the future. And a light load of links for today. At least it’s more than yesterday, right?

1. September, 2005 - morning meetings, late update

Had a couple meetings this morning, so the update will be an afternoon or evening affair.

Update: There’s a strong wind stirring up all the allergens in the midwest and blowing them straight into my nose. I’ve doubled the dosage of the usual drugs, shut the windows and turned on the A/C and am still miserable. No further update today.

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Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:59:38.