Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Bring Out Your Dead

The radar makes it look like the rain is going to come and go all day, though it looks like it won't rain too hard. There's a circling mass of stuff here. Maybe it'll go away later after the Sun has been heating the tops of the clouds for a while.

I have to help my brother move in today. We'll see how that goes.

I hung out with Adam, Matt, and everyone else who showed up until I left a little after 10:00. I guess it was good I left, since I had forgotten to fill out my rent check. I figured I'd just fill it out after the BBQ in the park, but we ended up going back to Matt's for the rest of the day.

Learned a tiny bit about how Matt's DJing setup works. I might like to try doing that sort of thing as a hobby, but I doubt I'd ever be good enough to get someone to pay me for it or anything.

Mostly, I think I discovered that my conversational skills are probably worse than usual these days. I need to talk to people more often. I should try going to a meetup or two, if I can find good topics.

Hmm. Also, “The Champagne of Beers” doesn't do anything for me. I will now join the legions of people who snicker at those who drink Miller High Life.

Posted by mike at 10:35 AM | Adam , Food , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, June 2, 2004

'Alllo Guv

“British Gas Prices Top $5.79 a Gallon”

In Britain, the Automobile Association said the average cost of unleaded gasoline was about $5.79 a gallon Wednesday, an increase of 14 cents from Tuesday.

But some filling stations were charging more than $6.31 per gallon for unleaded fuel and one, Total Gas in west London, was selling super unleaded for $7.93.

Posted by mike at 05:54 PM | Car | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Heh. I signed up for Netflix. Apparently this was a good idea, considering that I now have 155 movies in my rental queue.

Posted by mike at 07:29 PM | Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, June 3, 2004

Welcome to the Cult of Aveda

Hm. Danny Masterson is playing on an episode of Celebrity Poker Showdown, and is playing for the charity Citizens Commission on Human Rights. A little bell rang in my head when I heard that because—wait for it—Masterson is a Scientologist, and CCHR is a Scientology front group.

Posted by mike at 11:07 PM | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Another One Bites the Dust.

I signed up for Netflix on Wednesday. They shipped some DVDs on Thursday, which I got yesterday. I watched The Office yesterday, but wasn't very impressed by it. It was more ouch funny than ha-ha funny. I prefer ha-ha funny, thank you. Today I watched Spirited Away, but I think my lack of interest in the fantasy side of sci-fi/fantasy caused contributed to my lack of any real opinion on it. Kind of unfortunate.

I should probably recommend Netflix to my parents since they now have a fairly nice TV but no cable (not that they'd necessarily like cable anyway, I think). When nothing is on, they could just pop in a DVD instead. Oh well, maybe the lack of anything interesting on the tube contributes to them actually getting things done.

I'm in danger of overflowing the queue fairly soon, though topping it off would probably involve TV shows more than anything else. They're still a relatively sparse thing on my list, but I suppose more might get added in later.

We'll see how the three-at-a-time thing goes for me. I have a suspicion that this arrangement could leave me in a lurch on weekend. Netflix doesn't send out new discs on Saturday, Sunday, or postal holidays, so there will probably be a few Sundays and Mondays when I get stuck with nothing, but it's hard to say how quickly I'll go through new discs. This is particularly true since turnaround time also has to be factored in, and I don't know how that works yet.

If they send out a new disc on the same day they receive a returned one, if I send a disc in on Friday, I probably wouldn't get anything until Tuesday at least (fortunately Minneapolis has overnight shipping). If it takes a day for turnaround, it could be Wednesday. Of course, things get worse if the local shipping center doesn't have a movie. My parents are probably in an overnight shipping region, but it could be two nights for them.

Anyway, I might personally have to go up to the five-at-a-time system, but I doubt I'd ever need the eight-at-a-time subscription. I was thinking that my parents might prefer the four-movie-a-month subscription, but that might not quite be enough.

Well, in other news, my building is now owned by a new company. I have to remember to write my checks to them instead this coming month. I also don't know if the arrangement where I deduct my month's cable bill from rent (well, the portion paying for TV, not Internet) is still in force or not. It would suck if that went away.

Hmm. Time to skim the U's job website yet again. This job search is getting totally ridiculous.

Posted by mike at 07:32 PM | Abode , Family , Internet , Movies , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Out of Time

Argh. I'll be avoiding the TV until this Reagan thing blows over. I was already sort of planning on it due to the 60th anniversary of D-Day. A few shows about it are okay, but it's just been all over for the past few months. Now we have a former Republican president die, so there are countless interviews with Republican representatives, governors, etc., including Tim Pawlenty. Apparently he ordered the flags around the capitol lowered to half-staff for 30 days. 30 days? Flags weren't even lowered for that long after September 11th, I don't think… Hearing that, I just had to turn it off.

I mean, I liked Ronnie when I was a kid, he seemed like a grandfather figure. I appreciate that people should be nice when someone dies, and I know that he was pretty popular after being in office a while. Still, not acknowledging that some people didn't like him seems wrong.

Oh well, I suppose I would have gotten mad at people who pointed out such things after Wellstone died. Oh well, at least Wellstone wasn't involved in Iran-Contra or supplying weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein. And when exactly did our national debt start to increase so dramatically? Oh, the 1980s? Gee whiz Gipper, what's up with that?

Ugh. I'm sure somebody mentioned at least one of those things. I just can't sit through enough stuff to see it. Just seeing the Republican pod-people everywhere gets me sick of everything after a while.

Sunday, June 6, 2004

Gaming the System

Okay, I'm going to have to watch what my Netflix queue does in the next few months, if I'm able to keep it that long. I pretty much filled up the queue already. Of particular interest to other Netflix users is the fact that nearly all are marked as being available now. Only one is marked as requiring any sort of wait (well, aside from discs that have not been released yet).

There are indications that the wait goes up over time, at least if the customer is a heavy user. That bugs me, since that's not the initial impression I got when I saw so many movies available “now.” Most of the sites I've seen out there that complain about this sort of thing are a year or so old. One dates back to 2000 or 2001 (though the guy has been an on-again, off-again customer starting in at least 1999).

Some of the complaints don't seem relevant anymore. It looks like cancellation of service can occur over the web. At least a few people had complained in the past that you had to call a phone number to cancel service. Still, I haven't gone through the entire process, so maybe there's some required human interaction at some point.

Theoretically, if these silly numbers I jotted down are right, a person like me living near a distribution center could watch something like 25 movies a month on the regular three-at-a-time plan. However, you'd have to watch every movie by 8:00 or whatever the late mail pickup time is in your neighborhood, and if two or three movies showed up the same day, you'd have to watch all of them right away. This probably isn't actually possible, though, since there are weekends to figure in.

More practical limits seem to be around 15 or 20, but I doubt Netflix appreciates users who manage to view that many discs in a month. People outside of overnight shipping regions kind of get shafted, since turnaround averages a little more than a week. That would probably theoretically work out to around 12 per month, but the same problems pop up here as with the 25 scenario above. More practical numbers would be a little less than 10, probably (though a few examples I've seen online seem to say that getting much more than 6 is pretty difficult).

I can certainly understand from an economic standpoint if the company wants to slow down heavy users. Current subscription rates are $22 for a month. Getting 10 discs means that the company has $2.20 to use to pay for each one, which isn't a whole lot, but it should still be possible to make a profit with that (IMHO). It's reasonable to expect that fairly normal people would want service at or near that level. There may be others beyond that, but they'd be toward the edge of the bell curve anyway.

It appears that Netflix currently has 28 distribution centers, and apparently 80% or more of their customer base has overnight delivery now, so there's a much greater opportunity for people to rent lots of DVDs. Having so many distribution centers is both good and bad. They can serve more people, and get them their videos at a faster pace. The company obviously has to pay for the expansion, and as they expand, the pace of returns gets higher and higher. This makes it a bit unclear to me if they'll be profitable in the long run.

Some people have advocated that they actually go back to a per-disc pricing model, at least if people want to watch a lot of movies. However, their current (or at least recent) strategy seems to be punishing people who watch a lot of stuff. New and low-volume customers get precedence, while high-volume customers get pushed back. This is essentially punishing good customers, which is not the best strategy in the world. The worst thing is that the company is not forthcoming about this information. Well, like I said, I don't know for certain that this will happen to me, or if this is really what is happening behind the curtain. If I see the movies in my queue slowly move from being available now toward being short and then long waits, I'll have to consider sending a note to someone like Mike Hatch, since that was not the same level of service that was presented to me during my free trial.

Posted by mike at 12:45 PM | Internet , Money , Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, June 9, 2004

Washin, Washout

Well, on Sunday I headed home for a few days since a friend was in town. We managed to get together on Monday and Tuesday, which is better than the luck we'd been having lately. Anyway, I'm back in the Cities now, and my computer managed to shutdown gracefully in the power outage (grr!)

Anyway, I watched Bowfinger while waiting for my parents to show up during the day on Monday. I hung out with my friend in the evening after he'd come down from Duluth. On Tuesday, I guess I woke him up. Oh well, I kind of figured he'd sleep in longer than he expected to. Anyway, we went to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, then I gave him a short tour of the new “golf community” in town.

Yesterday evening, I hung out with another friend in the area, though this mostly consisted of me standing around nodding as other people talked. This particular friend is mechanically inclined, so he was replacing part of the front wheel on his car. I held the flashlight for a while, which sucked because it made me a good target for mosquitos. Sucky. I have something like 13 bites on my right arm, which I used to hold the flashlight.

Anyway, I was mostly lazy today, watched some Futurama, had supper with my parents in town, then headed back up to Minneapolis. Some Netflix DVDs were waiting for me, so I popped in Buffalo '66. Woo! Christina Ricci! I'm kind of mixed on the movie itself. Definitely different from your usual movie fare, though I guess it still wasn't really all that far off from some regular plot lines. Probably a worthwhile bit of time spent if you like Christina Ricci at all.

Bowfinger (which I watched on a DVD I'd bought my mom for Mother's Day) was much better than I had expected and Harry Potter was pretty good too, though it could have used a fair amount of tweaking.

There was a lot of rain today at my parents' place. Not as bad as some parts of Minnesota, though. Fortunately, things cleared up while I drove back to my apartment.

Posted by mike at 11:42 PM | Brian D , Family , Movies , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Jon Stewart's Favorite Word

If I end up voting for John Kerry this fall, I'll probably have a line of thought that goes something like this:


Of course, that site is trying to convince people who are on the right-side fence of Mr. Kerry's yard. I'm sitting on the othe side of the left fence at the moment.

Posted by mike at 01:35 PM | Politics | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, June 11, 2004

At Least I'll Wake Up

Oh, isn't C-SPAN great? If you get sick of watching the funeral of the guy who died last weekend, you can watch the funeral of the guy who keeled over in 1973.


Okay, I have to go make my bed now. And then I'm gonna sleep in it.

Posted by mike at 12:09 AM | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

From the Great Beyond

I was surprised to find out today that Accenture is incorporated in Bermuda as a tax dodge. This is according to Lou Dobbs's column in the June 14 U.S. News & World Report. There's also a Forbes column mentioning this. Of course, this fact popped up recently because Accenture was probably going to end up having the contract to handle the visitor monitoring going on now at U.S. border crossings. Looks like that contract may be blocked now, though.

I might have to mention this to my old boss at CSOM. They used Accenture for a while during the development of their new website, but I don't know if they still have a contract with the company.

The company has some fluff about “corporate citizenship” on its website, though they don't mention anything about taxes :-p

I also recently heard about a site called Onshore Alternatives that lists many companies that have contracted with people working offshore. I don't know how many of them are actually incorporated outside the country, but I suppose there's some overlap. I guess the name implies that there are alternatives, but most of the companies listed have some offshore workers.

Well, anyway, that's the PSA for the day.

Posted by mike at 11:23 AM | Corporations , School , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, June 12, 2004

What Dreams May Come

I'm just feeling really crappy right now. My joblessness is really getting to me, and I can't seem to find anything. I dunno… I mean, there are jobs out there, but the only entry-level technical jobs advertised are for help desks or call centers, hooking up cable TV, and data entry. I could probably manage the first two if I had to, though they would involve dealing with a lot of people who don't know how things work. The last would just be a boring clerk job, the equivalent of running a machine in a factory. I just couldn't do that without going crazy.

This past week, I've been feeling pretty awkward. While I was home, I tried calling friends, but I usually ended up talking to a machine. I know I stumble a lot when speaking, though I can sometimes recover if I'm talking to the right person. Answering machines kind of bother me since I'm not communicating with an actual person, but just hoping I get my words out in the right order on the first try.

I tried getting hold of a female friend of mine from high school, though I hadn't known if she had her own phone. I've tried calling her parents' place in the past, which gets to be pretty unnerving. It doesn't help that one time, I took a bit too long to leave a message and the machine beeped at me. I don't know if I was cut off or what, but I swore when it happened because I was in the middle of giving my phone number. Anyway, mostly I just got to be really scared of leaving weird-sounding messages.

I'm no good at chit-chat either, so it's hard for me to call up someone just to talk. I need to have a pretty strong pretense for calling, but I suppose that's true for a lot of guys. Still, I know my communication skills are pretty lackluster.

Anyway, so I'm just feeling alone, tired, and frustrated since I'm still not having luck on my job applications/interviews, and since I haven't really had a chance to talk to any girls that I truly know and appreciate since about the time I graduated, or even longer if certain variables are considered. I still haven't ever had a true girlfriend.

And now it seems that my curse of bad timing continues to extend into new realms. For this weekend, the only movie I have left from Netflix is , which I think I refrained from seeing in the theater because there was a long stretch of depressing movies being the only good stuff available on the big screen, and I'd had enough. This disc may have to collect dust for a while.

My life has been in doldrums for so long now that I tend to forget that I still only have a folding card table and a folding wooden chair in my kitchen. The times when I want to go and experience something new are usually tempered by the fact that I'd like to share the outing with someone close, but that just hasn't ever happened. My life would have been very different if I'd been able to have a girlfriend at some point.

Posted by mike at 07:00 PM | Abode , Movies , Self | Comments (0) | TrackBack

That's That

Okay, I watched the movie just to get it over with. I expected a good movie, albeit one that was depressing. It turned out that it was a crappy, meaningless film. Heh, I just had an image in my head of Rip Torn in Defending Your Life as he ate dirt (or something closely resembling dirt), proclaiming it to be delicious. I don't know what all the critics liked about the movie. So far, my experience has been that Rotten Tomatoes's ratings pretty closely match how I feel about big-screen flicks, but I'm baffled in this instance. My best description of the movie is “eclectic” due to the existence of a number of unusual elements added in. However, just putting a bunch of interesting but random bits together and running them through the blender doesn't make a good movie.

Well, that's over with, at least.

I guess the other thing I wanted to mention today was that I spent some time last night and today playing with DBMix, which is a music mixing program for Linux. It's kind of neat, allowing beat-matching and that sort of thing with just a mouse, but unfortunately the onboard sound on my motherboard doesn't play well with it, so I don't have a cue output, making it rather difficult to do anything useful. Argh. Maybe there's another driver that will work better than via82cxxx_audio.

Posted by mike at 09:49 PM | Movies , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, June 14, 2004

That Means You're Not Ticklish

I finally saw this weekend's Best Week Ever. I was kind of disappointed… It seemed to be pretty dull this time around. Oh well, they can't all be great. Maybe it was fine, and there was something wrong with my perspective on things. I was probably thrown off-balance beforehand because the show on just prior listed Jessica Simpson as Maxim magazine's #1 something-or-other. Bleh.

Screw you, and the horse you rode in on.

Or something.

Ugh. I hope I get a call about an interview tomorrow. A good interview, where I actually get the job.

I called the friend I had tried to call before, and finally talked to her this time. I probably called at a bad time, since she didn't seem all that excited. But then, I seem to recall that she often didn't seem all that excited back in high school. This is kind of why I never call anyone.

Posted by mike at 12:08 AM | TV , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

What Would Dan Quayle Say About That?

Not a whole lot has been happening, mostly just watching TV and movies, and applying for jobs. Today I had to go pick up Erik at the airport, after he came back from an interview in Washington state. Sarah IMed me around 10:30 or 11:00, but the only info she had was the time he expected to be ready to be picked up (she couldn't do it because she was doing CPR training). He didn't respond to any phone calls, so he must have been in the air already by that time.

Well, I got down there alright, but it turned out that I was at the wrong terminal. He must have flown Sun Country or something, since he had to be picked up at the Humphrey Terminal rather than the Lindbergh Terminal. Oops. So, I swung through Lindbergh one more time, since I wasn't sure if there was a quick exit from there down to Humphrey (there may have been, but I don't know where it would have been). So, I got back on the highway and got off at the right exit, but I've never driven to Humphrey before, and I've only ever been there about three times in my whole life—sometimes late at night, so I had few spatial references. Anyway, I ended up messing up my maneuvers a few times just because I was anticipating having to do things before I really had to. Then, I accidentally took a turn toward Lindbergh again. No! I hate it when I'm forced to drive like I don't know where I'm going.

Anyway, I finally made it there, and it probably would have been a lot easier if I just hadn't tried so hard to be ready for the unexpected. Then, there was the escapade of getting back to Erik's place. Well, Sarah called asking for an update just a few minutes after we left the airport, and then I missed the turn I wanted to take just as I picked up the call (See!? Driving and cell phones don't mix—except when you're trying to get pic up someone who is at the wrong terminal ;-)

Well, I'm not even sure if you can get from northbound I-35E to westbound I-94 anyway. We ended up taking U.S. 52, since I know that road, but we had to wait as traffic was backed up at the point where that road essentially ends to become surface streets. Things went okay on 94, but I got off on 280 and then improperly took the Energy Park Drive exit. D'oh. So, back to Minneapolis and up to Como (which we wouldn't have had to do, if the traffic hadn't been so heavy on that road too). Oh well, I guess I gave Erik the grand tour, which will be good for posterity, just in case he gets that job in Washington.

I went out for an evening walk today around the St. Anthony Falls trail loop and Nicollet Island. It was really nice until the mosquitos started biting a bit, but they didn't show up much until I was about ready to be done anyway.

The walk was made a lot more enjoyable by the fact that I've indulged in watching some DVDs starring my favorite female celebrity. I've written before about how just seeing or hearing someone I find attractive can really calm me down and make me happier. I think I really needed that, at least now that I think about how low I was feeling last weekend. Still, it is and will remain as one of those intangible things, since this is a person I'll never meet.

She was in the war movie We Were Soldiers a little bit. Probably not enough time to justify if it was a crappy movie, but I thought it was good, even though there was no single concise message it tried to portray. It's mostly just a movie about a battle plus a little bit about the families the soldiers left behind. It's a good movie if you just want to see how things happened, but not so good if you want a movie that answers the “why”s of war.

Today, Netflix delivered the first disc of the TV show my favorite celebrity was on. I'd actually added this to my queue and pushed it near the top of the list over the weekend when I was feeling down, since I knew it would help in a weird way. It's emotionally wrenching and draining sometimes, but it's also good since it shows that at least someone else in TV land understands that good, honest, yet quiet people like myself actually exist. Well, not that I'd ever be picked out of a lineup for my good looks or anything…

Unfortunately, there are some semi-technical issues with the DVDs, so I guess I'm glad I didn't follow the impulse I had over the weekend to just go out and buy the first season or two. Some of the music was changed (though I might not notice—it may have been changed already in reruns, which is where I first watched the show) and the video was not telecined properly for DVD distribution to make most video frame progressive-scan. That's kind of dumb, since a telecined TV show can take up significantly less space on the disc, either allowing a higher per-frame bitrate, or more video on each disc. Oh well, fortunately my DVD playing software has a video filter that will clean it up for me and give me nice non-interlaced output.

Hmm. I guess I may as well mention that, while I was walking around this evening, the voice of Ira Glass of This American Life popped into my head. A second later I thought, “You know, I bet my favorite celebrity would like that radio show.” So, I got home and was randomly reading articles about said person, and found out that she indeed listens to the show. I've decided that I won't make anything of it other than say, “Heh. That's funny,” since, well, millions of people like that show.

Oh, also, my brother is living in a place owned by someone Erik knows (and I suspect that other people I know may also know her). On our screwed up drive around town, I pointed out the road my brother lives on, and Erik said that his friend Vanessa owned a place there. I think I may have met her way in the past too, but I can't really remember. She seemed familiar when we met.

Posted by mike at 11:24 PM | Car , Erik , Family , Movies , Sarah , TV , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, June 18, 2004


I've been playing a computer version of the game Risk lately. Probably a little too much, although I haven't been wasting whole days on it or anything. Anyway, last night, my room got to be pretty stuffy while I was trying to get to sleep. Heat seems to be a big indicator of whether I'll have weird dreams or not. Last night, different parts of my body ended up being represented in my mind by countries on a Risk map. I was constantly tossing and turning because of overheating in one area or another. If my armies won a fight to take over a country, I covered up another section. If my armies lost, I had to uncover some part that was getting too hot. I finally won the map after things cooled off this morning.

Then there was this freaky insect that followed me around a bit. It looked like a little blue Koosh ball with six long and spindly legs. There was other stuff too, but it's fading too fast for me to describe it in any way.

Posted by mike at 08:16 AM | Dreams | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wax On, Wax Off

So, there's a new washing machine in my apartment building, and the sticker on it says that it'll only cost $1.00. We'll see if it stays that way. The old washer left quite a pile of rust behind.

I figure that Steven Scott Management must have held off on buying a new washer since they knew they'd be selling the building. I think it just barely lasted long enough for that to work out. I guess I'll have to try the new one out soon.

I cleaned out my car yesterday, and also dug out a sheet with info regarding the muffler on the car. Well, sort of. The only useful thing I could find was the warranty number. Looking over Midas's website, it looks like the muffler itself might be under warranty (most of their deals on mufflers have a lifetime warranty), but the pipe going into the muffler (which appears to have already been replaced at least once) probably isn't. I imagine that the problem is probably in the pipe leading into the muffler, but I suppose I should bring the car in and have them check things out anyway.

I suspect they won't be open on the weekend, though, so I'll probably have to wait until Monday.

Posted by mike at 09:24 PM | Abode , Car | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, June 20, 2004

A Desire Named Streetcar

So I was kind of watching the news this weekend since it's 50 years since the last streetcars in Minneapolis, and since the Hiawatha Line opens in just a week. Both the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press published a clump of stories which were mildly interesting. They had a few more facts than my Wikipedia article, probably due to the writers having access to Lexis-Nexis versus my dependence on free material. Channel 5 (KSTP) did a short story in their 10 PM newscast about the new line, and channel 11 (KARE) did an “Extra” piece that had a fair amount of film of the old streetcars, which was kind of neat.

In a lot of ways, it's kind of surprising that the Hiawatha Avenue corridor was the first to get a rail line. Many people initially hoped that the first line would go between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul along University Avenue (and presumably Washington Ave near downtown Minneapolis). I was surprised to see someone mention that rail had been at least mentioned as something to go down the middle of I-394 instead of the sane lanes (a part of the road that I don't think I've ever seen open, though I've never gone down that road during rush hour).

It seems most likely that the next line will split off of Hiawatha just north of the airport and then sort of trace Highway 5 toward downtown St. Paul. Many people still want to see something go down University Ave, but that will require a lot of bridge or tunnel work on the University of Minnesota's campus, and I don't know how well trains would fit down most of University Ave.

Still, I think this initial line was probably the best possible choice, since it will (eventually) let business travelers get downtown easily, or allow people on layover at the airport to stop by the MoA or even swing by downtown for shopping. Well, maybe it's just a pipe dream. If those other lines I mentioned just above also eventually get built, that would make a pretty effective triangle-shaped route. I think it wouldn't be good to expand much outside Minneapolis and St. Paul proper until at least one of those lines is built (Probably the Highway 5 one. There are already some basic plans for it. I think that's called the Riverview corridor).

Well, whatever. I guess people have to see if ridership on the first line is anywhere near projections first. Too bad that'll be a bit difficult to figure since the last few stops won't be open until December (and it's not unreasonable to think that might get pushed back).

Posted by mike at 11:48 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, June 21, 2004

Come Sail Away

Agh! I complained about Danny Masterson playing for a Scientology front organization a while ago, and now I see that his brother, Christopher Masterson, is also playing for the same organization on Celebrity Poker Showdown. What the hell? How did both of them get on that show? Messed up…

Posted by mike at 11:34 PM | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Hocus Pocus

Well, I have a sort-of job. It's “sort-of” because it's a semi-consulting gig. A small company that mostly does consulting but also has a software/hardware (firmware?) product. Well, actually it's more than one company. And one or two or three people outside of the group I'm working with also work on the software/hardware product.

The pay is crummy for a computer job, especially for a guy who has an actual college degree. But it's the only thing I could get. It's supposed to be a temporary pay scale for about a month. I should get more after that, and probably another raise after three months. So, hopefully it will work out. I just have to figure out how many hours I can actually count as work since it's semi-consulting. It's pretty tight for me if the first month only works out as billable hours or something.

Oh, and the system we use for counting hours (QuickBooks online) doesn't support any operating system other than Windows or any browser other than Internet Explorer 5.0 and up. Agh!

This is supposed to be a Linux company, but somehow they didn't notice this yet? A bit strange. Oh well, I guess they usually do e-mail on a Windows box or two.

So, I have mixed feelings. I should still be able to do job hunting, so I guess I'll keep doing that.

Only two and a half days to the Hiawatha Line opening. Yay!

Posted by mike at 08:45 PM | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Quad City DJs

Oh boy. I got really sunburned while waiting in line at the Hiawatha Line stops today. I only stopped at three places since things just ended up taking so long. I probably waited in line for over three hours, but went on the rail line for just about one. The cars were pretty much packed like sardines or like the U's buses, except without people who knew how to maneuver in such crowds. Plus, so many people were bringing in strollers and other things, so it got to be pretty hard to get in and out.

I guess I'm glad I went to the opening ceremony thing, since the news stations haven't covered it very well so far (maybe they're waiting for the “official numbers” and not putting anything special together until the 10:00 news).

The crowd definitely had a lot of people who are regular Metro Transit riders. I know it's not nice to say, but I stood next to a number of developmentally challenged individuals during the course of the day. Yes, in many ways, it was the creepiest crowd I've ever seen.

I'm not sure if my brother got a chance to ride today or not. He was suposed to be doing a HAM club thing for part of the day, and probably didn't have enough time to go very far (or at all, really).

Oh! I should mention that some of the speakers were heckled at the opening. I suppose one reason why not much of the opening ceremony has shown up on TV is because of that and generally poor audio (their sound setup was a bit messy).

The signals along the line are still pretty fubared. I guess it is now sounding like the main problem is getting at least three separate systems talking to each other in a nice way, and the pre-emption also has to work for emergency vehicles at the same time. Of course, at the moment, this really only affects the cars and not the trains, so it doesn't matter to me much.

I finally got a bird's-eye view of the construction happening on highway 62 at the Hiawatha Avenue intersection. I didn't really understand that they were doing away with the lights there until I looked down from the rail bridge. Suuure, now they fix that mess ;-)

Hmm. Governor Pawlenty (I think) mentioned something about setting up a busway in the Midtown Greenway area. Ugh. I hope that they do a light rail line or heritage trolley there instead. They spent a lot of effort cleaning that thing up, no sense putting noisy buses in there.

This is kind of a disjointed post. Oh well.

Posted by mike at 07:11 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, June 27, 2004

You're Going the Wrong Way

More light rail randomness:

At the Fort Snelling station, there was a guy from LEGO there with a version of one of their trains with the blocks colored to look like the Hiawatha Line.

After some more reading, it sounds like the signal problems along Hiawatha Avenue may be due to the transit people being overly cautious and activating the pre-emption system too often and too early while also preventing traffic from moving in any direction in some cases. It makes sense from their perspective, but backs things up pretty badly.

I took the Route 155 shuttle dow to the MoA today. One of the drivers I had was a bit of an asshole. 155 is a boring stub route with just three stops (I think), and he was being very insistent that he only went to Fort Snelling and not any farther, though he should have mentioned that a transfer to the train would go farther. Maybe he just doesn't like the train.

Oh, and my route to work (once work moves to Inver Grove Heights) is starting to look pretty convoluted. The simple way to go is to do University Ave to Huron to I-94 and then south on US 52, but I may end up doing University to I-35W to MN 55 to MN 110 to I-494 to US 52. I've only tried the routes in non-peak traffic so far, so it's hard to say how things will go. 55 and 110 aren't freeways by any stretch of the imagination, so there's a lot of area where I can get bogged down by traffic lights on that route, and if I have to deal with I-35W, that would suck. Then again, dealing with the US 52 to I-94 interchange is a mess since it involves the nearby I-35E.

The routes are nearly equal in travel time, which surprised me greatly. The 55/110 route actually took longer for me by about two minutes, but I didn't really know where I was going at the time and I could shave off another few minutes by doing the route properly. Almost actually makes me wish that they'd turned Hiawatha Ave into a freeway, but not really…

Posted by mike at 10:28 PM | Car , News , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack