Saturday, May 1, 2004

South of the Border

I did a walkabout today. Probably 16–20 miles. After today's TCLUG meeting, I went and got some lunch at Quiznos. I walked almost continuously from about 2:30 until about 8:00. I stopped in for a Blizzard at the DQ near Minnehaha Park and stopped in at a gas station later to get some beverages for the walk, but I mostly just walked.

The Grand Round goes all the way around Minneapolis. I probably only got about ¼ of the way around before I had to head back toward my apartment. It's a really long parkway. Anyway, the edge of my journey was Minnehaha Park, where I saw the falls and the creek. I guess I didn't think the falls were quite as high as they were, but I think we Minnesotans get a little too worked up about that place. I'm not sure it deserves so much attention, but the park has been around for ages. If memory serves, there is a statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha (his love interest in The Song of Hiawatha, IIRC) that was erected in 1911. I saw a WPA marking at one point in my journey along the Mississippi.

Well, I'm going to be sore for about a week. We'll see if I can manage to climb the stairs to get out of my apartment building tomorrow.

I was pretty amazed by the size of Minneapolis as I went along on my trek. Walking really gives you a strong sense of the size of things. There are so many people in this city. I saw all sorts of different people too; white, Hispanic, Somalian, Asian, etc. I can't say if any community along the path I took was well-integrated or not, but I couldn't really tell where one population ended and another began.

There were a few signs here and there on people's lawns. Most of them just said “Peace” or something else pretty simple. A few “Say no to Bush” signs. I don't think I saw more than one that was remotely pro-war, but maybe some of the “Peace” signs were meant to proclaim something like “My Peace while You're in Pieces.“ I have no way of knowing. I'd hate it if anybody felt that way.

Anyway, I'd encourage people who live in big places to do things like that every once in a while. It's easy to forget just how big our world is sometimes.

Still, it wasn't as fulfilling as it could have been. I was happy to be seeing new things, but really sad that I wasn't sharing it with anyone.

I should try out Meetup.com and see if I can get together with some people who are interested in something that I like. Of course, I'd like a girl out there somewhere to share my ideas, but I don't know if any of these things I'd try to go to would be helpful at all. Can't hurt to try, I guess.

Well, I'm extremely tired now. I'm going to go take a shower and get some sleep.

Posted by mike at 08:55 PM | Abode , Politics , Self , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, May 2, 2004

Depress the Clutch

Um…

List of songs whose title appears more than twenty times in the lyrics

Heh.

Oh. If you are dehydrated and then go drink two 20 oz. bottles of Mountain Dew, you will go into shock. After taking a shower last night, I tried to lay down and go to sleep around 9:00. Despite the fact that it was about 70° in my apartment, I was shivering even under a comforter (granted, the comforter has become a bit skimpy). I had to pull out a heavy blanket I generally only use in the winter, put my pillows under the sheets for warmth, raise my feet and lower my head in order to stop shaking. That was not so good. At least I knew what to do. The action of the caffeine finally slowed down about three hours later, but it still took until about 1:00 before I was able to get to sleep.

Hmm. I'm reading through the list of songs that Clear Channel banned after September 11th. It's pretty weird. Things like "Walk Like an Egyptian" by the Bangles and "Falling for the First Time" by the Barenaked Ladies were on it.

Popstar

Tired: Waiting for the Olsen Twins to turn 18.

Wired: Waiting for Lindsay Lohan to turn 18.

Posted by mike at 07:19 PM | Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Paint by Number

I'm a little slow at connecting the dots sometimes. I watched The Jesus Factor last week, like I mentioned, but an idea is now creeping into my head (kind of instigated by what I heard today on The O'Franken Factor).

George W. Bush has said that he believes God wanted him to be president. I'm thinking that this belief has heavily influenced the fact that he does not take much input from others on important issues when he is making decisions. In a backward way, this makes sense. If you believed that you had been granted a position of power by God, then you might also believe that God had given you all of the knowledge you needed in order to succeed.

Of course, this doesn't really explain the other higher-ups in the current administration such as Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and John Ashcroft also don't seem to give a rip about silly little things like facts.

It's interesting that the John Kerry/George Bush war record thing finally seemed like it almost was about to start to collapse in on itself when new war crimes in a new war suddenly appeared last week. Seemed to make the discussions sort of backwardly relevant. Sort of.

Hmm. I know I wanted to say something else, but I've gotten distracted.

Posted by mike at 10:04 PM | Politics , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Closing the Door

Today (er, Wednesday), I went to a funeral down in Rochester for the brother of a friend of mine from high school. I had met the older brother in passing a few times—he was a senior in my high school when I was in 7th grade, if I remember right (at the time, my high school was junior+senior, grades 7-12).

I left later than I had hoped, and I was worried I'd be late. However, traffic moved well all the way down, so I got there with plenty of time left over. The viewing was still going on at the time (yay, dead body… eep), so I had to wait for half an hour before stuff really started. My friend gave a pretty good eulogy, and I'm glad he was able to finish delivering it (he said at the start it would be difficult, and he might have to pass it off).

Well, I just started feeling really bad for not knowing that the guy had been sick for months. He had cancer—I don't know what type, but it must have been very aggressive. I hope my friend had been able to say everything he needed to say. I always forget the important things.

Unfortunately (in some ways), I was the only person from our grade in high school that showed up. Some of the older brother's friends were there, but I didn't even remember their names, unfortunately. I had hoped that I would be able to do a better job of displaying proper funerary behavior among my friends—a few years ago, another older sibling of a classmate died, and there were moments where I basically treated it like a reunion. Oh well, I guess some classmates and teachers had made it to a memorial reception last night.

I feel bad that I haven't been keeping up on my friends' e-mail addresses and that I haven't ever been very good at communicating with others. It just seems like more people would have made it there if I had just put a little effort into that stuff. But, I'm not exactly a social butterfly or whatever the right term is.

Well, anyway, I got my friend's address anyway, so I'll send him a note soon. I guess I'd stopped sending out lists of addresses partially because I was becoming too preachy when I sent stuff out. I've got a journal to vent in now, so I wouldn't feel compelled to add extra stuff like that. I know that my high school classmates don't all think the same way I do.

Posted by mike at 01:17 AM | School , Self | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Oh, Fox. Why Won't Your Animals Attack When We Need Them?

Seen today on my Dice.com "JobAlert":

PLEASE, PLEASE SEND RESUMES ONLY IF YOU HAVE ALL OF THE FOLLOWING SKILLS

Cheeya, right.

Okay, actually, those guys weren't too bad. I'm just missing Oracle, Veritas, and about three years worth of experience. There have been much worse job postings out there where the requirements go through the roof.

Posted by mike at 01:45 PM | Internet , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Extreme Monkover

So yeah, I did get sucked into watching the Friends finale. I'm a sucker for the Ross/Rachel storyline. I think the downturn in that contributed heavily to the fact that I haven't watched the show very often for a long time.

Anyway, the way they wrapped it up was okay… They waited too long in the episode to resolve it, IMHO, so there wasn't enough denouement. Whatever. That's what reunion shows are for ;-)

So, I'm flipping through the channels as I wait for The Daily Show to come on, and I come across this eerily familiar show on TV Land. I couldn't remember what the hell it was, although the dialogue was echoing is my head. Turns out that it was the shortlived Ferris Bueller series. And Jennifer Aniston was in that too. Wacky. (Of course, it's not coincidence—TV Land was running shows that members of the Friends cast had been in previously.)

(Update: “Okay. Synchronize Swatches!” Heh.)
(Update Update Crap. That was Parker Lewis Can't Lose. Those two shows bled together for me, since I was, like, 12.)

Blech. Just the Ten of Us? Blech. That one deserved to die.

Posted by mike at 09:36 PM | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, May 7, 2004

Abu Ghraib

NBC's new Thursday night slogan:

At least they're being honest about how that makes them feel ;-)

Posted by mike at 11:29 AM | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, May 8, 2004

Tricky Dick

Heh. I just saw an ad on TV for Porsche's SUV. God, that's just wrong.

My dad, brother, and I saw it at the Twin Cities auto show. If my memory is right, the SUV got worse mileage than the cars (not surprising), but people who got the cars had to pay the gas-guzzler tax while buyers of the SUV didn't.

I'm also reminded that we saw a car by another manufacturer (I think it was Jaguar) that had stub seats in the rear. They were too small for even a baby to sit in, but had seat belts. My dad and brother figured it had to be a way of making the car qualify as a 4-seater for insurance purposes. I wonder if that would restrict the car from going in certain high-occupancy-vehicle lanes.

Posted by mike at 03:54 PM | Car | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, May 9, 2004

Branch Prediction

Well, I can't say that my car is the neatest thing since sliced bread, but at least I still barely break the $20 mark when filling up the tank. I guess if I was driving on fumes, it might hit $25, but I usually don't let it get that low. The tank is only 11 or 12 gallons, but it gets 30 mpg or so to compensate. Not bad for an '88. Of course, I pay for that in the fact that I can't pass worth shit, but hey ;-)

Anyway, I just found out today on Car Talk that GM's Chevy Silverado (aka GMC Sierra) hybrid gets really poor mileage, even considering the fact that its conventional counterpart doesn't do very well either. It only gets 16 mpg city/19 mpg highway in the 4WD version. That's pretty sad, only improving things by one or two miles per gallon. Even on a percentage basis, it's a poor improvement for a hybrid—you get a bigger difference in switching fuel or getting the 2WD version instead. I guess GM is too enamored with hydrogen power to play with hybrid technology very much. Oh well, I guess you can use the standard phrases: “It's better than nothing” and “They need to start somewhere.”

Ford's Escape hybrid has been on the drawing boards for a while, and it looks like that's going to be significantly better. The standard vehicle gets 20 mpg or so, and the hybrid versions will bring it up to 35 to 40 mpg. Definitely not bad, though Ford hasn't said what the cost is yet, I guess.

Today was Mother's Day, of course. I got Bowfinger for my mom, since she liked that movie (she's a fan of Steve Martin who hasn't given up on him yet, I guess ;-)

Anyway, we all went out to get a snack at Ben & Jerry's when my parents came up this afternoon. Took some time to find a parking spot, and we ended up just stopping in the Radisson ramp. My brother said that the Oak Street ramp was closed for construction—right on finals week, no less. Maybe he was misinformed, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised if the U decided that finals was the best time to start construction work.

My mom dragged us to Walter Library, where she'd heard that the ceiling was nice, and she figured it might provide good inspiration for quilts. In fact, I bet she's seen the ceiling before, back when I was touring campus and before the guts of the building got ripped out. Anyway, we got a few pictures of the ceiling. We'll see if anything comes of that.

We went out to Como Park, which was just about as busy as I expected it to be. It wasn't totally impossible to find a spot, but it was still pretty busy and took us several minutes. We saw the carousel, toured the conservatory, and then left before the weather started to roll in. The sirens were just starting to go off in Hennepin County as we got to my place, so we tried to check out what the weather people on TV were saying. It still seemed like a lot of chatter with little real useful information.

Anyway, we stayed at my place until the tornado warning expired. A little bit of stuff got blown around, plus a medium-sized chunk of tree across the street came down. We left to get over to Panera, and as we drove past the tree branches, my brother and I dragged them to the side of the road. We had some food, and then my parents headed out to drop my brother back at his dorm room.

So, a fairly typical family interaction. They had to deal with some moderately heavy weather as the went back home, but I guess it only delayed them a few minutes.

Posted by mike at 09:59 PM | Car , Family , Food , TV , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pod People

Eep. I saw a Dianetics promo on cable access earlier this week, and right now another one is running in Spanish.

Disturbing.

Posted by mike at 10:39 PM | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Who Knew Tobey Maguire Was So Small?

It would be nice if the little brown spots on my ceiling didn't have legs and weren't able to scoot around. A definite disadvantage to living halfway below ground.

Posted by mike at 04:33 PM | Abode | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Motörhead

Hmm. When the Environmental Protection Agency calculates MPG ratings for cars, they don't actually measure the amount of fuel consumed—they measure the emissions coming out of the tailpipe. Considering the fact that emissions regulations have meant that cars put out cleaner and cleaner exhaust these days, apparently the numbers are a bit out of whack. There's a Wired story about hybrids that explains this a bit.

I have serious doubts that large numbers of people are seeing really crappy numbers, but who knows. The Prius isn't a sportscar… The article talks about a guy who gets mileage in his Civic Hybrid comparable to a conventional version (and, well, my car).

Anyway, kind of makes me feel not so bad about thinking about getting a TDI Golf or other diesel VW. There are other fuel-efficient cars out there too, and many of them are pretty inexpensive (compared to the $25k+ that you need for a Prius or Civic Hybrid).

Posted by mike at 11:43 AM | Car | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Gouda

Sweet!

BugMeNot.com

No more signing up for stupid crap.

Posted by mike at 10:00 PM | Internet | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, May 14, 2004

Rage Against the Machine

I came across this yesterday: Starve the beast.

I've had the idea floating around in my head for a long time that, behind a veil of “compassionate conservatism,” the Bush administration is actually working to destroy the government. I'm pretty sure that thought process was kick-started some day when I saw a random pundit on television make some sort of comment. The pundit merely said something that connected the dots. It's hard for me to believe that people who describe themselves as American patriots would want to bring down the government—I don't mean the current administration, I mean everything.

Who knew that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et al. are anarchists? Sure gets rid of the problem of government regulation.

Anyway, this totally meshes with what's been going on. Allowing companies to skimp on their taxes, tax cuts for the rich, etc. However, people trying to still manage to balance the budget are essentially mucking up the strategy by setting up bonding initiatives and taking out loans. Tremendous amounts of economic damage could be done if lenders suddenly stopped letting the government take out more money. Well, that's what it looks like to me.

Well, it's all very confusing and hard to keep track of. My personal opinion is that the government is probably bigger than it needs to be. However, I would advocate cutting back on military spending and focusing more on providing education and health care to people, but that's just me. Fiscal conservatives seem to think that the opposite is better, which is hard for me to comprehend.

The scariest thing for me is the possibility that going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq might have maybe possibly had something to do with this. Starve-the-beast is such a backward idea for me, so incomprehensible, that I can't rule that out.

Posted by mike at 10:04 AM | Money , Politics | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Not Sure He Would Have Cared for Trainspotting

I've previously written a little bit about my great-grandfather Ingebrigt Teigland. There's a little more information showing up on the 'Net now, though I guess more about his ship than him. He captained the D/S Cresco, which escaped Norway in April 1940 just before the Germans invaded. It arrived in Methil, Scotland on April 7th. This page says:

Had a few trips across the Atlantic, but was mostly in service on the coast of England and Scotland. Took part in Operation Overlord (Normandie) as ammunition and supply ship, arriving June 9-1944, departing June 17 to pick up another cargo.
However, something doesn't quite mesh, since my great-grandfather was taken prisoner in southeast Asia in late 1941. Either the ship went there and the person putting together those pages hasn't found that yet, or he was on another ship after escaping to Scotland.

At any rate, it's doubtful that he had anything to do with the Normandy invasion. Actually, the ship was just on the supply lines anyway, since D-Day was June 6th. Still interesting, I guess.

I need to learn more about this Nortraship story.

Posted by mike at 01:23 PM | Family | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, May 17, 2004

Pannekoeken!

Well, what a shiny, happy, sunny day (not). Yesterday was better, at least in the morning. I decided to try driving along the Grand Rounds, though the actual roadway isn't all that well-marked. I also didn't realize that the parkway (for cars) doesn't form a complete loop. Apparently there's a fairly well-defined path for bikes, but not cars. Oh well.

After a few false starts, I headed south from the dowtown area along the path, but I got sidetracked after just a few miles because of the AIDS walk that was going on. I had to detour, sometimes going around in circles and generally having to deal with traffic that I didn't want to. I finally got back on the right path around Minnehaha Park and kept going. I drove by the lakes, though almost got stuck going in circles around Lake of the Isles. Once I got going again, I found that hardly anybody cares about Cedar Lake, and I got a bit of a reprieve from the heavy traffic around all the other lakes.

I finally got lost again when I came across I-94 and a train going by. I'm not exactly sure where I was supposed to turn, but I suppose I would have gotten really confused if I got to the end of the parkway.

Anyway, I ended up driving south on Lyndale, then had to detour again because police had blocked off the roads near the flower shop where a guy got shot. I couldn't tell what was going on at all as I drove past, but I saw a news report later that explained what happened.

Hmm. Time to take a shower, and then I need to run some errands. I need to drop off some more applicant action forms at the U, get change for and then do my laundry, buy some food/beverages for when my brother visits tomorrow, and then probably some cleaning and a few other things.

Posted by mike at 09:48 AM | Car , Family , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

!pu dekcuf sreenigne tfosorciM

My brother came up to Minneapolis yesterday so that he could interview for a job and check out a place to rent. The interview seems to have pretty much been a bust—he just filled out forms, whatever that means. I'm not sure what he thought of the place to live. It has pluses and minuses…

My brother went back home today and brought the gift I got for my dad's birthday, which was today. I bought him the third volume of Futurama, so I guess I'll have to go down and visit soon, eh? ;-)

I've been watching entirely too much PBS lately, staying glued to whatever television-receiving device I have available in the evenings. I thought Colonial House has been good—the show will finish up next week on Monday and Tuesday. Tonight, I watched Scientific American Frontiers where they talked about the vaunted hydrogen car. Not quite the type of show I would have done, but it showed some interesting things nonetheless. I also watched Secrets of the Dead tonight, which mostly just rehashed D-Day in 1944 for the billionth time, but explained some of the technology that was used.

I'm slowly becoming aware that a lot of the Americans who were involved in the invasion did some stupid things during that period. Omaha beach, which ended up seeing the highest casualties in the initial invasion, should have had much more tank support than it did, but the tanks (which were supposed to float on their own) were let out too early, especially considering the heavy seas. 26 were lost in a row. I think only about a half-dozen made it, but I don't think they gave good numbers in the show tonight. Also, there were some ships off the coast that were supposed to fire rockets onto the beach to create instant foxholes for the invading troops to hide out in as they crept up on the Germans, but they also jumped the gun, and most of the rockets ended up uselessly falling into the water a quarter mile off the shore.

The History Channel also did some stuff months ago on the weird technology used on D-Day and afterward, talking about the instant harbors that were created. The Americans just quickly lashed them together without properly linking everything together, while the Brits took the time to do it right. As a result, the American harbor broke into pieces after a week or so, while the British port stayed in full working order.

Yeah, we've been messing shit up for a long time. I guess it just has evened out in the past because a lot of Americans have done enough smart things, but I think that's been falling off lately.

Edit: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that SciAm used the phrase “And with gasoline still under $2 a gallon…” at one point. Heh. Guess they finished that a little while ago, but I can't blame them, really…

Posted by mike at 10:33 PM | Family | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Fuel My Fire

Erg. I'm was getting annoyed by the guy standing out at the front door (which happens to be right next to my apartment) and talking on his cell phone. I hope this doesn't become a regular occurrence. Kind of annoying.

Anyway, I drove out to Eagan for a job fair at their Civic Arena. Took me forever to find it, since I didn't notice when the highway I was supposed to follow split off again. I found it eventually, after I figured out where Pilot Knob Road was. Mapquest didn't really do a good job on this one, IMHO. It told me to go along highway 55. I guess there's no good way for their system to know that Hiawatha Ave sucks ass traffic-wise. I took I-35W down to the crosstown and then took 55 from there instead. However, since I barely ever drive down Hiawatha, I decided to take it back up so that I could see the progress on the light-rail line.

Well, taking the train down that road will definitely be faster than driving ;-) I'm not sure if they've got the stoplights set up properly yet, though. I'm always amazed at the extraordinarily long lights on that road, and today was no exception.

Hmm. Gas prices seem to be on their way back up—not that I have to care about it for a few weeks. I filled up yesterday for $1.999/gallon (pretty good for being in Minneapolis proper) at the Holiday station nearby, and it ended up being $22.77. Actually, the Holiday station prices seem to be somewhat better—might be due to the reformulated gas they sell. More likely, it's just my imagination.

Hmm. Either the tank in my car is pretty puny, or the gauge is off and I actually have a fair amount of fuel left when the indicator is nearly on ‘E’. Whatever.

Today, I saw unleaded gas at $2.199 at a SuperAmerica near Eagan. I laughed when I saw the Diesel price just below that was $1.689.

Posted by mike at 06:25 PM | Car , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Friday, May 21, 2004

Crunch Time

I wandered downtown today. I was going to try to take pictures of the light rail train cars, but I just felt weird with so many people around. Maybe I'll try again on Sunday or something (though they probably won't be running). Anyway, it's only a matter of time before one of the trains gets into an accident with a car. From the looks of it, people are violating the rules about once every 3 minutes along the downtown stretch. Fortunately (I think), most cars that make mistakes are turning onto the part of the track that goes the same direction as the cars are supposed to. So, hopefully there won't be any head-on collisions for a while. Still, I think the design of the tracks is probably inappropriate.

For most of 5th Street South, they go down the middle of a one-way street. This means that people must figure out if they are going to make a right turn, go left, or straight before they get on the road. In theory, if people know where they're going, this is safer than the alternative of having the tracks running off to one side, since drivers turning off of the road don't have to cross the tracks this way. However, the way it is now, everyone who makes a mistake either has to go around the block (which most people are too impatient to do), or cross over the tracks. There are some little curb-like things that discourage people from crossing along the city blocks, but I'm not sure if crossing over in the intersections is any better.

Well, the (simulated) bell on the one train I saw seems to be a lot quieter now. Last time I was right next to a train, the bell was very annoying. I think they've got the volume right on the bell and the whistle-ish thingy (though I was out in the open—who knows what people in cars will be able to hear).

I really think the Hiawatha line will be successful, though. I thought the route stunk when I was still in my U of M-centric mode, but the route connects some of the most important things in and near Minneapolis. I'm sure that many business travelers will see it as a godsend. I think the official number for ride time is supposed to be something like 23 minutes from one end to the other. It's damn near impossible to get from downtown to the airport or Mall of America by car or bus in that amount of time during the day. Now we'll have to see if I actually live in this area long enough to take the train down to the mall. It's quite possible that I'll move before the last stretch of track opens up.

Posted by mike at 04:54 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Built Like a Ton of Bricks

I'm pretty much convinced that the light rail lines we are seeing today are overbuilt. The Hiawatha Line cost something like $715 million, though more than half came from the feds. The line would have to carry somewhere around 40,000 riders per (week)day for the next 20 years to pay off the investment of Minnesota communities. Not that they were expecting to ever get paid back with hard cash, though… The big thing these days is the amount of money saved by not building new roads, and the level of taxes pulled in from new people and properties. I think the investment will pay off in that sense, but who knows if the amount of money pulled in by ticket sales will ever cover the cost of building the thing.

It just bugs me that the old streetcar systems way back in the day were actually money-making systems. Well, the companies went up and down in the short term, but they generally made money up until automobile-related companies started playing dirty. It doesn't seem right to dump money into these systems and expect to never see it come back directly.

From pictures I've seen of the old layouts, it seems that they had a much lower footprint than modern light rail lines. From the looks of things, old rails were not very visible when embedded in roadways. Today, the Hiawatha Line has big pre-formed chunks of concrete with special grooves built in to hold the rails. Old systems used wooden railroad ties, like practically every other railroad on the planet. Today, they're made out of concrete. Granted, I don't like the idea of tearing down a forest to make a railroad line, but there have got to be other materials (compressed wood chips or other recycled stuff, maybe?) that would fit the bill. Then again, maybe concrete is cheaper than I think it is…

Anyway, I suppose certain concessions have to be made due to the passage of time. I'm not sure how safe the old systems were. Newer light-rail trains, which often have their very own space to run on, probably have fewer accidents. It's hard to say, though.

I suppose people should take time to look at the systems in Europe and certain parts of the U.S. where they didn't get totally destroyed. They still seem to have much lower impact…

Posted by mike at 12:21 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Back to the Future

It looks (to me) that I was at least partially right in my previous entry. The Midtown Greenway Coalition did a preliminary study indicating that it would cost something like $53 million (in 2005 dollars) to build a “heritage” streetcar system along that corridor. The proposal only has a single track for much of the way, but they liked the idea of the low-impact style of tracks (take a look at this and this (from old Orleans)), which allows grass to grow through them. They're projecting ridership at around 7000 people per day, which could possibly pay for the system (at least the cost of initally building it, not counting operational costs) in two decades.

That seems like a much better way to go about things, though who knows which method would turn out to be more successful in the end.

Anyway, I did happen to take the bus down to the lakes today so that I could go on the Minnesota Transportation Museum's streetcars there. I ended up just taking a ride on the old one. I guess the track they use is partly/mostly original (pretty much the only original track left in the city), so it's kind of shifted around over the years. Not quite as smooth of a ride as I expected, but certainly not bad considering the trolley I went in was built of wood and made in 1908 :-p

I was really shocked to hear the air compressor running (for the brakes). It's really the only thing on the streetcars that makes enough noise to be truly bothersome.

The museum was also running some vintage buses. The engines need just a little work—I choked on blue diesel fumes more than once this afternoon. Kind of sickening.

Posted by mike at 09:21 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, May 24, 2004

Mr. Dumas

Well. I went to the Minneapolis Public Library for the first time. I went to the central one in downtown since it's about as close as anything considering where I live. Plus the fact that the southeast branch is apparently a poor excuse for a library and doesn't have anything that I care about, apparently.

I was surprised to see something resembling a card catalog in the corner. I don't know if that's for the whole site or what. I have to say that I felt the library seemed pretty small. Then again, the Minneapolis library collection is spread out across several different branch locations. Maybe they just figure that's the best size.

Anyway, I was really confused by the “Central Mpls SC Coll” notation I got on some of the books I wanted (okay, most of the books I wanted). The library's website didn't explain what that meant. I finally asked someone at the library after searching high and low, then discovered that it meant “Special Collection,” which is up a floor.

So, I went upstairs and asked the first lady I saw about this book I was looking for. Of course, she's just a receptionist and I haven't even gotten into the Special Collection area yet. Grr. Turns out that they have some pretty restrictive hours. I guess it's open from 10 or 11 AM to 1 PM on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, and 1–5 PM on Tuesday/Thursday (or something like that). I was there at 12:54. Guess I'll go back tomorrow.

Oh well. I suppose I have to be made to feel dumb every once in a while.

Posted by mike at 02:23 PM | Books | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Ride of the Valkyries

I'm baffled by the crap that American Movie Classics has been playing recently. I mean, Dudley Do-Right? Come on!

There seems to be an emerging relation between this AMC and that other AMC.

Had a job interview today at the U law school. It went okay, not great. Might have a second interview next week or so.

I went back to the library yesterday and read some more about the old streetcars that used to go through Minneapolis and other cities around here. I read through the book The Electric Railways of Minnesota, which turned out to be a much more technical book than I expected. Rosters of the different streetcars, where they came from, precise maps of the rails and streets of the era, construction of the railway. All sorts of stuff that would really excite some people, but I think most would get pretty bored by it.

There's a lot of really fascinating history to the old railway, but the human side of the story seems to be fading away in favor of business details (not really surprising though, since that book was compiled in large part by sifting through company records). Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places.

Ugh. I'm tired and need a nap. I think I need to move this fall to someplace where there aren't school buses driving by every two minutes in the morning. I'm off the main drag here, but the noise carries across the park, everybody seems to keep their cars here during the day, and the noise from the school gets to be annoying sometimes.

I guess this is what you get for living in the city, but I know there are quiter places nearby. Still, a lot of people seem to think that the city absolutely must be noisy. There was an entry on LiveJournal's Twin Cities community about motorcycles, and I largely agreed with it. I hate loud motorcycles. There is no reason for a small two-wheeled vehicle to make more noise than the average semi. Still, everybody ganged up on the guy who complained. Sheesh. Motorcycles can be very quiet, and there are people out there who actually like to have quiet rides.

Posted by mike at 03:45 PM | Books , Movies , Self , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Blue Man Group

Heh. Ken Barlow made a funny during the weather tonight on ch. 11. He was outside, where it had started raining. He was handed an orangish-red umbrella, but he didn't like it. He eventually threw it away since he just thought it was silly. Then, it started to rain harder, so he took off the sportcoat he was wearing. He was wearing a light blue shirt underneath. As the rain hit his shirt, the shirt became darker, so the color of his shirt got pretty close to the color of the blue screen. He basically started to disappear.

Anyway, I thought it was funny, but maybe it's just because I was tired.

Posted by mike at 12:46 AM | TV , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Climbing up the Walls

Today feels like a Radiohead day.

Posted by mike at 10:53 AM | Music | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Around the World

Today is my one-year anniversary of being a Wikipedian. Too bad their servers are sucking lately. Theoretically, they just got in some new hardware which should be up and running soon, but I am becoming worried. It's been a few months now since things were last running smoothly on a consistent basis.

I'm finally becoming happy enough with my Twin City Rapid Transit Company article to point it out to people. It's about the old streetcar lines around here (see, there's a reason why I've been talking about that recently).

I found out the other day that the Twin Cities actually had the most expensive track in the country. At the time (the early 20th century), it cost $60,000 per mile. That translates to, uh, lots today, like $10 to $20 million, maybe? (Update: I totally did my calculation wrong. It should have come out to something more like $1.5 million) Hmm. That seems really high, but I have no idea what things really cost these days. Then again, the whole 12-mile Hiawatha Line project is over $700 million, which is like $60 million per mile (of course, there are a few big tunnels in there too, plus a lot of modern gadgetry). I'm not sure exactly what date the $60k figure comes from, I just found it in a book on Tuesday.

Heh. That makes another number come into an interesting perspective. In 1932, probably the worst year of the Great Depression, the company made a net profit of $50,436.

Update: Well, it's hard to say exactly how things translate over time. Certain goods certainly translate differently. According to this page about historical dollar values, the $60k cost would translate into something like $600,000 to $700,000 1991 dollars, which would be like a million or so today.

Sheesh. That makes me want to hurt the Hiawatha designers. Again, I'm not sure if other things like overhead lines and labor were figured into that number or not. Hiawatha needed new things like stations, electrical systems, maintenance facilities, and, uh, trains. Still, we probably got ripped off bigtime in at least a few categories.

Posted by mike at 12:10 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, May 31, 2004

Shut Up, Donkey!

Yay! I found SkyscraperPage.com again! I was confused and thought it was Skyscrapers.com. That really worried me because all of the cool pictures were gone.

I went to see Shrek 2, but I was kind of disappointed. It's a tired storyline.

Hmm. I wonder if I'll be able to eat anything interesting tomorrow, seeing as it's a holiday. Then again, I should probably stay in—spent too much money on the movie, popcorn, and pop.

Agh! Before I forget, I should mention that a lot of evergreen plants around here seem to be dying. That doesn't seem good. At least three trees just on the land of my apartment building. Maybe somebody used bad weed killer or something when treating the area. Makes me wonder what I've inhaled.

Posted by mike at 02:03 AM | Abode , Food , Internet , Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack