Thursday, July 1, 2004

Walking on Broken Glass

Blech. The humidity has hit today, though I suppose it could be worse. There's still reasonable visibility around here, but things get hazy. I know there have been times in the past when I've looked up at the sky and just seen gray. No real distinct clouds or anything, just gray. I suppose that was at a strange time of day, though.

It might be time to turn on the A/C.

My job is slowly getting better, I think. I just came on and got thrown into an issue I really didn't want to deal with. Part of the problem was that it involved Windows. That project has been deferred for now.

I've ridden on the train a few more times. It's still pretty fun—I hope my parents can come up and try it sometime soon, although it still seems pretty silly to just go a few miles on it. Hopefully the rest of the line will be open for Christmas shopping at the mall, but who knows.

My mom sometimes comes up to the mall to visit with one of her friends. They just make it a day of catching up while shopping. I figure I should suggest that the next time she does it (which I figure will probably be next year, but who knows), they should take the train up to Minnehaha Park to hang out for a while, and maybe visit a few more stops. But, it's hard to say. I can't remember if my mom's friend lives in the area or not, so it might not be so fun for her.

The dead trees around my apartment have been cut down now. I noticed it the other day because there was a lot more light than I expected when I walked in after a day of work. I hope they plant something new there. We'll see.

Posted by mike at 06:59 PM | Abode , Family , Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, July 2, 2004

Stuffing

/me bows to the A/C

No really big plans this weekend, other than to find some way to get to Harriet Island tomorrow for Taste of Minnesota and the whole Grand Excursion thingamabob (I think that's where the steamboats are landing).

Next weekend, on the 11th, my parents are coming up to go to the 72nd annual Norway Day at Minnehaha Park. We'll probably take the light rail line down there. I'm not sure where we'll begin—it could potentially be a few minutes shorter to take the bus from my brother's place rather than coming from my neck of the woods.

Then again, things might be different if my parents want to start at the end of the line. I'll just have to remember to get them to sit or stand facing forward when we come back to downtown, since there's quite a nice view of the U of M campus, downtown, and other stuff from up on the bridge near the Lake Street station.

Supposedly David Sedaris will be on David Letterman tonight. I should try to catch that.

Hmm. Actually, I need to catch up on some NPR shows. Hmm. And I probably need to find out how to get the newer RealPlayer streams going if I want to listen to Car Talk. Stupid codecs.

Work is going, but it's not hugely wonderfully awesome or anything. I made a goof earlier in the day that may have messed some things up that I really didn't want to mess up. Also, I'm kind of wondering if I will be paid a bit more than when, which is not something I really appreciate.

For the moment, the plan is to move into the Inver Grove Heights office on Wednesday, since the long weekend has made it take a bit longer to get Internet access hooked up than it normally would. Supposedly, it'll be a full T1, a concept which is so much less exciting than it used to be way back when. How did I ever live at 1200 baud?

I'm getting really sick of bugs appearing in my apartment. Yet another downside to living on the -0.5th floor. I guess that's another reason why I'm going with the air conditioner.

Posted by mike at 07:10 PM | Abode , Family , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Zoom Zoom Zoom and a Boom Boom

Stupid bananas. They've gone all brown-spotty, but there's still some fairly visible green on them! Do I blame genetic engineering for this, or is it something that GM foods are supposed to fix? Bah.

Oo! Best Week Ever in about 15 minutes. Though I suppose it's a month-in-review one…

Posted by mike at 09:46 PM | Food , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, July 3, 2004

Watery Ways

Went to the Taste of Minnesota and to see the steamboats (er, (mostly) diesel-powered boats that sometimes have paddlewheels that might occasionally work) come into St. Paul. It took my brother and I quite a while to find any decent food there, which was really disappointing to me. Maybe I just wasn't willing to experiment, but the selection just seemed pretty sad to me. Way too many non-food-related things. It rained quite a bit, and we got soaked.

We took the bus there and back. The 3A worked fairly well, although the layover point was earlier than we'd expected. The route was being detoured during the Hmong sports festival, and our driver on the way back got confused. We ended up sitting at a corner for 10 minutes while he talked to the control room—apparently nobody there knew what was going on. Anyway, he eventually ended up making a U-turn (okay, actually a three-point turn).

Posted by mike at 11:33 PM | Food | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Smoky Joe

Steam engine!Today was supposed to be a day of sanitizing my apartment in an attempt to get rid of these annoying nearly-flightless-but-winged ants that keep showing up all over the place. However, around 9:30, I heard a toot from what could only be a train whistle. My brother had told me that a train was coming up along with the Grand Excursion, so I had been keeping my ears open just in case one popped up near me. The Minneapolis Junction is only a few blocks from where Dan, Erin, and Josh lived. I'm another few blocks away, and I heard the whistle quite well. After finding my way down to where the engine actually was, it appears that the sound traveled about a mile. Pretty damn loud.

Anyway, I wandered over there without a camera or phone or anything, but after hanging out for a while, I overheard that the train was going to actually pull out around 11:00. I ran back to my place and called my brother to let him know about the train, and grabbed my camera.

The man behind the curtainI'm not exactly sure when the train arrived there. I suppose it had just come in. The engine had decoupled from the train by the time I first showed up, and was leaving its 25,000 gallon water tender there to drain. Compared with other places, it appears that they decided to move some Amtrak diesels that were helping out down to the end of the train. They were near the head (see here—that image actually was taken with two steam engines at the head), but I suppose they were looking to make a better photo op for today.

Poor viewUnfortunately, putting the diesels at the end kind of ruined the view for anyone who would be traveling in the observation car at the tail end of the train. The types of rail cars were really mixed. Some were really old ones, possibly dating back to the 1920s or so (but I suppose I shouldn't guess too much). Others were obviously from the streamliner era, like the observation car. There were a few, uh, “classic” Amtrak passenger cars too.

Anyway, I milled around for a while taking a lot of pictures, though mostly of the steam engine. I was one of a few people to go up on a nearby bridge to get a better view. It was really neat to see how long the thing was. Most special trains like this only have a few cars attached, but this one had eighteen. Normally, I'd pooh-pooh any steam train that had to have diesels as backup, but I can accept that in this case.

Long trainAnyway, the train started moving on time at 11:00, which surprised me to no end. Of course, it didn't move very far at first—the first order of business was to “wye” the train so it would be heading east rather than north. I was pretty confused by this, but ended up getting a few more decent pictures. However, I think I'll have to leave you with this gem showing that there's a good reason why steam engines are dinosaurs today:

Standing in the wrong spot

Oh, and for anyone who is wondering, the steam engine here is the Milwaukee Road 261. For a while on the Grand Excursion, the engine was joined by the Canadian Pacific 2816, though it wasn't there today (aww…)

Posted by mike at 04:16 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

All I Know Is, Bob Is A Dick

I can't believe Anchorman hasn't come out in theaters yet. It's been quite a while since I first started seeing ads for it. Well, maybe it just feels like a long time. I think I've been seeing previews since at least Hellboy which I probably saw in April.

Today, my website got a whole lot of spam comments from nipr.mil, which is apparently the DoD's big gateway to the Internet. Always good to know that the military's computers are secure.

Oh. The Fourth… I went with my brother down to the St. Anthony Main area, where we just happened to run into Dan, Laura, Josh, and Sarah. We ended up going up to the north end of the 3rd/Central bridge and sat at the curb. The bridge was blocked off, but it's kind of good that we didn't get any closer—the curb was much more comfortable than standing for that amount of time. Still, the show was only about 15 minutes.

Posted by mike at 11:35 PM | Dan , Internet , Josh , Movies , Sarah | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, July 9, 2004

Candybar

Oh, I'm a few days late, but Wikipedia has now passed 300,000 articles.

Someone snapped a pic of the Hiawatha Line at RailPictures.net (though the locomotive is probably mis-identified, and I still haven't figured out what “Train ID” means there). I may try to take a few this weekend, though my camera just can't produce such clean pictures as that one. Another thing I'll have to upgrade eventually.

I'm theoretically getting paid Tuesday by direct deposit. I saw my boss authorize the payment from his end earlier today, so hopefully the pay service won't screw up. I think it was somewhere around $770, which is actually more than I expected. I suppose there were fewer deductions since I'm not a dependent anymore (or does that go the other way around?) Or maybe that $0.33 difference from what I was getting paid at the U actually adds up. Then again, I barely ever managed to put in a full 40 hours there, and holidays tended to screw things up. Usually closer to 35 most of the time.

Posted by mike at 06:49 PM | Internet , Money | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Snooch in the Booch

I'm thinking Dan should go as Silent Bob for Halloween this year.

Unless, of course, that's already been done.

Edit: …And then Adam could go as Jay! Sweet!

Not quite comic-book superheroes, but not too far off

Posted by mike at 07:42 PM | Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Albino

Heh. I think I found the funniest blog title ever.

My parents came up for Norway Day today at Minnehaha Park. It turned out to go alright, although it still turned out to be less than I expected in some respects. I didn't have my hopes set all that high, so I wasn't too disappointed. I'm sure the morning weather threatened some people. Still, much of the problem was that we hadn't been able to figure out any schedule beforehand, so we missed out on a big luncheon they had. Well, we think. That may have just been a church thing.

Some people from one of the Lutheran churches in town were there. I guess they still do some services in Norwegian, if you can believe that.

My mom mentioned that she'll probably have my grandmother come down for the event next year, and then she can do the whole light-rail trek like my parents tried this time. I think she'd enjoy that.

Posted by mike at 07:13 PM | Family | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lickety Split

Saw Spider-Man 2 with my brother tonight at Block E. It was good. Yeah, I could go for Kirsten Dunst. But so could half the planet.

Last night, it was Anchorman at St. Anthony Main. That was funny, though there were some awkwardly long moments where things just seemed dumb. Whatever. It managed to even out. Seemed to be a strong contingent of Steve Carell fans in the audience. He had some of the funniest bits in the movie, but they were mostly very short blips on the screen.

Hmm. I was surprised to see that the Escape Ultra Lounge was at Block E. Seems like that site is falling into old habits.

Heh, which reminds me of all of the adult entertainment around the Warehouse Discrict Station on the light-rail line. I'm just curious how many kids have ridden the train and then asked, “Mommy, what's a showgirl?”

Posted by mike at 11:06 PM | Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

NMRA

Found a big bug in software that I didn't write but am quickly becoming responsible for. It's really bad. I was packaging the bugfix earlier today and it will be out tomorrow, hopefully.

My programming skills are warming up, and I anticipate that I will raise hell on the stuff that has been shoved my way. I'll be stomping bugs, optimizing/cleaning code, but probably a lot of effort will go into mucking with add-on packages.

A code repository is Coming Soon™, but I think we need to get a CVS book first.

I went over to The Railroad Club at the U of MN to see their model layout. Actually, I thought I was going to a sit-down meeting or something, but they were working on their layout in a back room of the 1701 building. My brother was there, and showed me their DCC controller setup, which is kind of nifty, but there's only one mainline so far. They're currently working on a helix to allow trains to move up and down levels, though there's really only one level at the moment.

Someone mentioned something about Free-mo layouts, modular setups that apparently run on 16V AC current, rather than the more standard 12V DC that most layouts do. Apparently. I'm curious and would like to know more about that, but that will have to wait for now.

I'm tired.

Posted by mike at 11:59 PM | Family , Software , Work | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Socket() to www.me

I'm annoyed that I got two calls this week for two possible jobs three weeks after I got this job. Well, hopefully that means that if my current job explodes, I'll be able to find something. My job is pretty good, despite the fact that we're crammed into a tiny office and I'm not getting paid much. Well, one was only a contract position, so perhaps I shouldn't feel too bad.

I hope we get into a bigger office. When the other guys are talking on the phone, it can get to be really distracting. At least I'm sticking pretty close to an 8-hour day.

Posted by mike at 01:33 PM | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Malfunctioning Eddie

Come! Visit Minneapolis! Go to the house of a crazy person! ;-)

Posted by mike at 09:42 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Goof Off

Bah. I'm really tired. Work is cramped, which is probably the worst thing. I suppose I need to figure out how to recompile the kernel on this box so that I can actually get audio working. Stupid cheap no-name hardware. Actually, I could use a big rack or something to raise my monitors up to eye level. Or at least some level that isn't hunchback-inducing. At least when I was jobless I could take a nap whenever I wanted.

Well, I'm just going to be worried a lot until I have a decent level of cash in my bank account, which will be a while at the rate I'm going now. Hopefully my boss will give me that raise next month. I just don't know if I can depend on anything right now. Which is just a tad unsettling.

Posted by mike at 12:32 PM | Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Is That Natural Gas Coming Out of Your Pants or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Will advancements in effigy technology never cease? ;-)

The guy there is Ben Cohen, the Ben in Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. He's driving around the country with his PantsOnFire-Mobile.

Posted by mike at 09:22 AM | Comedy , Politics | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Streetcar Daze

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. Image by Wikipedia user Leland. Copyright 2004. History: recompressed to reduce file size

Bah. The GFDL sucks ass! (And I still probably didn't get the blurb right ;-)

However, I just wanted to put this image in here as a guide to what I'd like to see on the Midtown Greenway transit project, if that ever goes anywhere. Some noisy people (ie, Tim Pawlenty) want to put buses down there in a BRT system, which I'd really hate to see. Anyway, the image is just to show that rail systems can be pretty unobtrusive. I want the “Green” to stay in “Greenway”

Interestingly, it looks like the Minneapolis City Council passed a resolution to “explore the feasibility of bringing back a streetcar system in Minneapolis” just yesterday. Of course, resolutions don't necessarily mean anything.

Posted by mike at 09:42 AM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Excrement Is Palpable

I'm a little annoyed.

I tried doing some car maintenance, replacing the oxygen sensor because my car has had some hesitation/stuttering while cruising. I didn't find much of anything specific when searching online for my 1988 Chevy Cavalier, but a few other people mentioned having similar trouble on other cars. One guy mentioned that his car runs fine without the sensor connected, so I tried unplugging the existing sensor and running the car that way, and the problem went away. However, the “SERV. ENG. SOON” came on after the car warmed up, so it's hard to say if the ECM just went into a safe mode and covered up for some other problem with the car or if it just discarded the non-information coming in on that data port. It just might not be a valid test…

Anyway, I figured that at less than $30, it couldn't hurt to try a new sensor. Of course, lots of parts stores are closed on weekends. The NAPA store on East Hennepin was closed today, although they're supposed to be open on Saturdays. The other shops didn't have the primary part that you're supposed to use, but they reportedly had others. I ended up going to Midway to find parts there, since a call to the Lake Street store indicated they had something that would work. Apparently it was in a pile or something.

I should have just returned the part or looked it up on the Internet before trying to put it in. This sensor is bigger than the part my car already had. Well, “bigger” is a word that has to be used carefully. The part fit just fine into the screw hole, but only after the wire leading into the thing had been severed.

Yeah, the part of the sensor that stuck out of the exhaust manifold was too long, so it rubbed up against other parts of the car. It's a screw-in device, so the twisting motion caused the wire to wind up, and eventually break off as I got it to fit in.

So, now I'm trying to figure out what went wrong here, and I guess the lady who helped me at NAPA got the wrong part for me. She might have accidentally selected the 6 cylinder version of my car rather than the 4 cylinder. Or maybe she just forgot a digit somewhere. This particular part is Bosch BSA 12014. The one I should have gotten is 12013. However, she'd retrieved a different version previously for me to take a look at, and it was also the larger type. Possibly when she went back to find parts again, she was still looking for something big like that.

There are three different parts that come up when I did a search on NAPA's website. I suppose it's possible that they just didn't have any of them, but I think there was some human error on her part. So, I'm debating trying to return the part to their store and essentially blame her, but it would have been better if I hadn't, y'know, broken the thing first.

Anyway, I'm going to carry around a list of the parts that I know will fit (because I've seen images of them and they look like the existing part in my car), and try to find something tomorrow or Monday during my lunch break. Unfortunately, the actual part I need is generally more costly (probably since it's smaller), but not excessively so. I paid $21.99 + tax for this thing, and the proper part is only $25.99 or $26.99 (well, there's also one for like $38.95, but I'll just keep that one as a last resort).

Posted by mike at 07:23 PM | Car | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Aqua Vitae? Aqua Velva?

Heh. Everybody who came to Minneapolis for the 4th of July fireworks got gipped bigtime. The Aquatennial fireworks own (or 0w3n, even).

Posted by mike at 10:37 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, July 25, 2004

We Be Trammin'

I saw The Bourne Supremacy, and it was good.

In my car, I replaced my O2 sensor finally, and it was better (I think).

In my room, there's a pile of dirty laundry, and that's not so good.

Now I'm debating whether to do laundry or go see Farenheit 9/11 finally. I think the movie is going to win.

Posted by mike at 06:21 PM | Abode , Car , Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A Strap-On for Algernon

What's the “izzle” version of “pizza”? Pizzle?

Damn you, Snoop Dog, for creating a lossy algorithm!

Posted by mike at 07:24 PM | Food | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Dude, Where's My Social Commentary?

I'm actually kind of interested in seeing Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. It has a pretty good rating on Rotten Tomatoes—so far, at least. But maybe I'll just end up tacking it on my Netflix queue.

Posted by mike at 08:14 AM | Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Drrty

Want to know why it rained today?

Because it's the day after the first time I ever washed my car.

Not that I'm actually complaining—it's just funny ;-)

Posted by mike at 06:59 PM | Car , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Cheerios

I did a nearly-90-minute support call with an Englishman today.

While he was in the UK.

Glad I'm not paying for that bill. I wonder if the $29.95 we charged him will cover it ;-)

And AT&T lied to me. I had to dial 011 + 44 + ..., not 01 + 44 + .... Whatever. Of course, I don't think AT&T is our phone provider anyway :-p

My life will become bug fixes for the next week or two, I think. Probably the simplest thing I need to do is not bug fixing, but simply making a configuration nicer (ie, DirectoryIndexing On, or whatever the Apache syntax is for automatically making index pages).

The product I'm working on (almost taking over, actually) is the reByte. Would I recommend one for you? Get back to me in two weeks when all the bugs are fixed ;-)

You can't blame me for version 2. 2.5, maybe (but that's a few months down the road yet).

Posted by mike at 09:46 PM | Software , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday, July 30, 2004

I Have No Root and I Want to Scream

Liev Schreiber is like, so totally evil:

I'm surprised I haven't seen him in more movies. But he does a good job of narrating my favorite PBS series. (Uh, that's plural.)

Posted by mike at 08:52 PM | Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack