it20020129 - Tuesday
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<!-- Excuse me for a moment while I be a geek. -->
<entry-id author="Mark Danielson" date="2002-02-29" type="normal" />
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So, anyway, I started my XML course last night. A four hour course can be a bit of a drag when added onto a long workday, but it looks like it'll be worth it. I can already see how XML can be useful. The professor seems good and has an unusual knack for being able to make a metaphor out of just about anything. I didn't really talk to any of the other people in the class, although we seem to be a typical bunch of tech guys saddled with glasses and cell phones. (Those who didn't have both had one of the two.) There's only one woman in the class, and she had neither a cell phone nor glasses, so I guess she was an exception in more ways than one.
it20020128 - Monday
"So," I asked, "you looking at some traveling?"
"You'll give me fair warning if I need to find a new roommate, right?"
Dammit. I like this apartment.
They must have changed something with the firewall at work. No big deal, except I can listen to WOXY again. Whoo Hoo! Morphine is taking me through my lunch break right now. Try getting that on FM in the Twin Cities.
it20020127 - Sunday
Well, Saturday was a good day.
Sarah was up visiting from Chicago, so we got to hang out much of the day. Early in the afternoon we walked downtown to have lunch at Aquavit. What can I say? It was a bit expensive, but very, very good. She had Swedish meatballs, I had salmon with water chestnuts and mushroom pate. I've always said I had to eat there before I could leave Minneapolis, so, well, now I guess I'm free to go. (Ok, that's completely ignoring everything else going on in my life, but what the heck.) Anyway, after lunch I tagged along while Sarah did some (ahem) Valentine's Day shopping for her boyfriend, after which we went and caught The Royal Tenenbaums at the Lagoon. The movie was wonderful. Everyone has been comparing it to Rushmore, of course, and many have said the older work is better. I wholeheartedly disagree. I loved The Royal Tenenbaums and most definitely would be willing to see it again. (And hey, what was that font, anyway? It looked like a variation of Futura to me.) After that Sarah headed to River Falls to hang out with some of her friends there, while I came home, played SimCity and feasted on pizza.
Today I'm running errands and trying to be industrious.
The XML course has been rescheduled; it will now start on Monday. Spiffy.
it20020124 - Thursday
Having lived in Minneapolis for well over a year and a half, most of the walks from the apartment have become common to me. I've lost count of the number of times I've circled Lake Of The Isles, but earlier this evening decided to start off on another such journey anyway. Midway around, though, I opted on a whim to wander out on the ice. It was the first time I've done such a thing here and am glad I did so; this is going to sound dumb, but I almost feel like more of a Minneapolis resident now. The lake was quiet and dark and vast and beautiful. I briefly found myself overcome with the urge to lie down on an isolated section of the ice, stare at the moon and watch the planes fly out of MSP, but then thought someone may see me, think I had a heart attack or something and call the cops, so I decided not to.
On a side note, to the person who left that clear plastic bottle out in the middle of the lake--you know, the bottle that made the loud cracking sound when I stepped on it--I'm going to find you and kick your ass.
Well, the first night of XML class at MCTC didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped it would. Actually, it didn't turn out at all. "Oh, the XML course," he said. "I think that was cancelled." And, as it turned out, it was. The reason for the cancellation was a bit curious, too. It wasn't because too few people signed up, it wasn't because a teacher had a conflict, it was because they lost the registrations. Two days ago they thought only one person had signed up, so they cancelled the course. Yesterday morning five more registrations mysteriously appeared, but by then it was too late. In the shadowy world of class scheduling, there is no "undo" command2.
Trying to put a positive spin on things, if they're able to reschedule the course (which I hope they are), at least I now know that during rush hour I need a minimum of an hour and 15 minutes to get from my job in Eagan to downtown Minneapolis. (That's essentially the same commute I make every workday during off-peak hours. Those trips rarely take more than 25 minutes.) I also know that folks driving south on Hennepin aren't allowed to enter MCTC's parking ramp, which is useful information, especially if one is agitated and in a rush.
it20020122 - Tuesday
There's a television near the entry to one of the cafeterias at work. Sometimes it's tuned to CNN, sometimes it's tuned to Univision, but on most days it's set on Fox News. I've gotten pretty good at blocking out the TV when that station is on, but today was unable to ignore a reporter's comments on the cells Afghan detainees are being held in down in Cuba: "No matter what anyone says, they're being treated far better than they deserve."
Ahem. Now, granted, I've never believed that journalistic objectivity is truly possible, but statements like that are just plain bullshit. I turned around with the intention of changing the channel to CNN. Admittedly, that station has a number of issues of its own, but at least it doesn't have its news judgement being controlled by some half-assed tabloid publisher deceptively billing itself as the News Corporation. As things turned out, though, C-Span was only one channel away, so I left it there. Score.
it20020121 - Monday - MLK Day
It was a busy weekend, although that's not to say it was particularly interesting. I spent much of it cleaning out my bedroom in an effort to create space for a new, larger bed to replace my existing one. Old clothing was removed from the closet to make way for more important items. Some of the clothes were placed in bags to take to Goodwill, others were deemed used up and thrown away. My Kansas City Coalition Against Censorship shirt? Tossed. The flannel I wore most of my junior year of high school? Gone. Overall, I'm surprised how many shirts on the level of rags I've been holding onto. There was one flannel that had holes in the arms patched with duct tape. Yes, duct tape. Granted, this wasn't just any ordinary duct tape. It was red duct tape, a single role of which I acquired when my family cleaned out my grandfather's workshop after his death. (Strangely enough, I really didn't ponder this until I heard the garbage men dragging our dumpster away this morning.) I also gave up on my two favorite blue shirts, both of which were effectively destroyed by a neighbor's pen left hidden in the lint vent of the building's clothes dryer. I'd been desperately trying to remove the stains, but over the past few weeks reality slowly sunk in. They're gone with the rest, although in their case I remain a little bitter.
it20020120 - Sunday
it20020119 - Saturday
We were driving to the mall to catch a movie when Heather and Rich started discussing a near accident they'd witnessed earlier in the day. Apparently a car had darted into a backed-up exit ramp, forcing another car off the road in the process.
"Maybe he had hemorrhoids," I said.
"Hemorrhoids? Diarrhea is more like it," Rich replied.
"He was at that strange point where he wasn't quite sure if he was dealing with just sweat or not."
"Dude, there was a line there, and you just went six feet over it."
The megamall was silent as we walked back to the parking ramp. A long line of tables had been set up outside Sportsmart, probably for some autograph session there the next day. We started hypothesizing as to who was going to be there when I started fighting the urge to laugh. Rich quizzed me as to what I was chuckling about, but, thankfully, I was able to evade questioning. After the mildly convoluted conversation we had while driving to the mall I guess I wasn't quite ready to comment on Sportmart's new "Family Daisy Chain Saturdays" promotion1.
I realized I'd left some things back in the car a block or so away, so I wrapped my scarf around my neck, shoved my feet in an old pair of shoes and made for the door.
Rich: "You're not going to wear a coat?"
Me: "It's not that cold outside.
Heather: "It's 10 degrees outside."
Me: "Well, hey, I spent my formative years in Upper Michigan."
Rich: "I spent my formative years in California and North Carolina."
Me: "That may be a partial excuse."
it20020118 - Friday
It's a bit chilly outside. The mercury dropped below zero earlier today, the first such occurrence this year. I'm quietly cheerful about this, of course, and spent a few minutes this morning breaking out my dad's old down coat and a pair of choppers. Unfortunately, the coat's extra insulation became more than a nicety when it became evident that both of the Saab's locks were frozen shut. I trundled down to the Holiday station (walking, as it's usually defined, isn't really possible in that coat), bought some lock deicer and WD-40 and then made my way back to the apartment. It took about 20 minutes to get the car to open up, after which I crawled in and temporarily held my keys in my mouth as I got myself situated.
Now, here's the thing: Lock deicer is toxic stuff; the back of the container makes offhand comments like "get prompt medical attention if ingested." WD-40's can makes even happier comments. "If swallowed, can enter lungs and may cause chemical pneumonitis... Call Physician immediately." I'm not sure what chemical pneumonitis is, but it certainly doesn't sound like a good time. Unfortunately, I really didn't bother to consider any of this until I removed the keys from my mouth. As if the problems getting my car open didn't delay my morning enough, I also had to spend 15 minutes getting a rather curious, if subtle, taste out of my mouth. Anyway, it's late in the evening now, and I'm still alive, so all is good. I think.
As noted on the sidebar, I've paid off all my debts. This is actually a bit of a cause for celebration. (Granted, my car still needs some exhaust work, but I should have enough funds to take care of that without having to pull out the credit card.) Pizza sounds like a good idea.
it20020116 - Wednesday
Ok, that cover page has to go.
I start evening classes next week. Nothing big, just an XML course at MCTC. It should help me at work, may make lstc.org more bearable to produce and hopefully will get me back into to somewhat of an educational mindset. I'm also taking a one-time course on financial planning, something I really need. Other than a poorly-managed Roth and a fledgling 401k I don't have much happening in the way of investments.
Beautiful weather we're having. Highs in the teens and 20s, with light snow and flurries expected through the end of the week. Most of the parks near the apartment seem to have a fairly consistent three to four inch snowcover. Hmmm. I may have break out the skis this weekend. (Yay.)
it20020115 - Tuesday
So, I'm relaunching my site tonight. Um, yeah. Truth be told, it's a bigger mess now than it was when I took it down following the MSN access fiasco last year. I started to babble about all the changes I've made, but then figured most people wouldn't give a shit, so, well, I decided not to post any of that.
it20020112 - Saturday
Eh, the things I could write about don't.
it20020110 - Thursday
"Do you guys want to get a room?"
"No, I'm just lying on top of her."
"I can see that."
What a week. I'm glad it's almost over. Last night was sort of representative of the days I've been having. It was 11:00 and I was still in front of my computer at work when a sneeze came on too fast for me to grab a tissue. It turned out to be a big sneeze and resulted in an explosion pattern of blood all over my monitor. Fun.
In other work-related news, I've spent much of the past few months working on what could be called our new product line. They were pretty much finished yesterday, so I went through the process of adding up the number of options we had. The number? Not one more, not one less, but exactly 666. I spent 20 minutes unshuttering an extra option to kick it up to 667.
it20020105 - Saturday
Wee bit of a headache this evening. That's probably what I get for going on a walk in single-digit weather. Ah well.
I will try something new tomorrow. It's called carpooling.
Well, it's turned out to be an interesting day so far.
Got a call from an old high school classmate this morning. She was the absolute last person I expected to hear from, but it was cool and I may get some freelance work out of it. A few minutes later I was going to leave to have lunch with someone I met online last week, but just before I left I noticed blood on the floor. Nosebleed. Dammit. Thankfully it wasn't a gusher like the massive one I experienced earlier last week and was pretty much finished by the time I got to D'Amico's. Lunch was good and conversation was interesting. On a completely incidental note, it's sometimes easy to forget that Minneapolis has famous people, but I ended up sitting with my back to Dan Wilson of Semisonic. But anyway...
From the nonlocality.com TMI department: On rare occassions I get horny about things I probably shouldn't get horny about. Like the really good printer back at the newspaper office. Or the Saab 9-5 wagon I had as a loaner when my car was in the shop. Or the proposed high-speed rail between the Twin Cities and Chicago. Well, add a new subject to that list tonight.
Tentative Plans for Stadium Tour 2002: July 3rd through 7th, utilizing an airplane and a rental car, with stops in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Boston. The first two stops would take us to stadiums that are in the process of being replaced, while the last stop would bring us to a field who's glorious history is threatened by short-sighted individuals. (The very concept of watching the Red Sox face off against the Tigers at Fenway makes me mildly giddy.) With one exception, hotels stayed at along the way would be of the spiffy variety, including the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. Due to the holiday, travelers would only have to take two days off and we'd also have time to enjoy the cities a bit (as opposed to engaging in sleep-deprived marathons between the stadiums). Total cost, including tickets: $550 per person. Fuck yeah.
There are threats to the plan, of course. To stay cost-effective while lodging at the cool hotels requires four or seven people on the trip, but not five or eight. Three and six-people trips could probably be done under $650. Almost any other combination gets really expensive really quick. (I've spent a fair amount of time running numbers. The one-way rental vehicle, or vehicles, becomes a big problem with larger groups.) The game in Philadelphia is against Montreal, so if contraction happens, that leg could be fucked. Actually, if contraction happens, it's relatively safe to assume that the entire MLB schedule will go out the window. For the record, the only other time Cincinnati, Philadephia and Boston have games scheduled so the cities could be visited in-line over a weekend comes in early September. Although none of the teams playing in September are likely to be killed off, the entire schedule is still up in the air until we know whether there are going to be 30 teams come April 1. Hopefully the joke will not be on us.
Bud, I was nice. I visited your new stadium last year. I thought it was spiffy. Now please leave the teams alone.
On a related note, the official sites of Major League Baseball suck. Try finding the entire schedule for a team on their site. You can't do it. Instead, you have to look at each individual schedule month by month. Also, considering the schedule's present design is too wide for many people's printers, you'd think that a print-this-page feature would be in order. No such luck. To make matters even more fun, much of the text in the schedules is white, so many would have to change their print preferences to print background colors if they actually wanted to be able to read what they printed. (Don't get me started on wasted ink.) I spent the better part of an hour printing off schedules Friday evening, a task that should have taken me no longer than five minutes.
"Major League Baseball, where every fan is a target for abuse."
OK, I'm going to bed now.
it20020101 - Tuesday - New Year's Day
New Year's was fun. Jason, Sarah, Heather and I met in Minneapolis with plans to grab dinner before heading downtown to bar hop and catch the midnight fireworks on the Mississippi, with Rich joining us later when he got back from a show up in St. Cloud. The four of us had dinner at D'Amico's, hung out at the apartment and bit and then drove to the Warehouse District. We hit a couple of bars, Heather kicked my ass at darts (although the machine was on her side), and Jason ran into his brother. After that Heather went home to pick up Rich, while Jason, Sarah and I wandered down to the river.
The fireworks were good, but damn was it cold out there. (I'm still kicking myself for a photo I missed of a couple kissing on the stone arch bridge with fireworks going off directly behind them. Grrr...) We weren't able to leave right after they were done, either, as Heather, AKA the transportation, was nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately, Rich had the misfortune of sliding off the road on a night on which tow trucks were not readily available. So Rich didn't get down in time for the fireworks, Heather missed the fireworks waiting for Rich (although she heard them when walking out to her car), and Jason, Sarah and I nearly froze to death waiting for Heather to pick us up. But we all survived, so it wasn't a completely unsuccessful way to begin a year.