Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Don't Need None

I got bored today, so with the assistance of YES, I did a simple analysis of what Drive 105 played from 9 AM until noon today. 32 songs, a median age of 8 years, with the oldest dating back to 1979 or 1978 if you trace it all the way. Hey! That's as old as I am! Years from which more than one song were played were 1983 (2), 1989 (2), 1990 (2), 1993 (2), 1995 (2), 1996 (4), 2002 (4), 2003 (3), and 2004 (11). One-third of the songs were released this year, but another third were released more than ten years ago.

At some point, I may have to go through a whole 24-hour cycle and see how many songs get repeated, but that will require several hours of work. It appears that repeats are limited to once every three or four hours, so analyzing a three-hour block doesn't tell the whole story.

The license for WGVX/WGVY/WGVZ is set to expire on April 1, 2005, so I'm thinking of sending comments to the FCC on that. Finding something to pique their interest will be difficult, though. I might get somewhere with a localism angle, though that's even more difficult to track with that YES service, since they need to know a song's “signature” to be able to track it (I think). Local tracks wouldn't be in their database. The only remotely local band that they play with regularity is The Replacements, who apparently sort of re-formed when they found out that Friends was going to finally end. At any rate, I don't know how I would be able to quantify anything, though.

Posted by mike at 02:39 PM | Music | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Manoeuvre

Humorous domain name of the day: CanEHdian.com.

Did you hear the one about the fire in a butter plant in New Ulm? The butter (an estimated three million pounds) melted and flowed out of the plant, later solidifying two feet thick in some places, with some chunks entering the nearby Minnesota River and flowing downstream just like chunks of ice.

P.B. Loco is going to start franchising. Wacky.

I was going to say something worthwhile, but I guess that didn't happen.

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

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Julie Nelson Can Report Me Any Day

Interesting factoid of the day: The United States needs to maintain an average job growth rate of 150,000 jobs per month just to keep up with population growth.

I went to see the TCLUG presentation on the Ocaml programming language today. Sounds interesting, and I'll probably have to try learning it. It's descended from Lisp and ML, though, which will make it somewhat of a challenge. I did alright in Scheme (basically a Lisp dialect), but when a guy threw ML at me in one of my courses, I got lost (I think I was on the verge of getting burnt out, though). Of course, while Scheme was a functional language, Ocaml can be the big three all together: procedural, functional, and imperative. They've addressed many annoying problems, though it isn't a silver bullet.

The presenter today said that the language works better on big projects, though that doesn't mean that it can't work for small things. One guy set up a bunch of mini-benchmarks, and Ocaml came in not far behind C for most things (speed, memory use, etc.). The nice features of Ocaml don't really become apparent at that level, though, so it wouldn't be crazy to think it couldn't surpass C for at least some bigger things. Hard to say, though.

The grand theoretical concept behind Java's garbage collection is apparently the same as what is used in Ocaml, but Java's implementation is really bad. One interesting thing is that Ocaml's garbage collection algorithm makes the memory that is in use much more cache-friendly, so you gain a lot of speed by making the CPU wait much less frequently on cache misses than in other languages/environments. C makes the programmer manually handle memory usage, so it becomes nightmarish even on small things.

After that, I tried out the extended light-rail line and had just enough time to get some late lunch/early supper before heading back. I decided to just take the reliever bus on the way back, though I probably would have gotten to downtown faster if I'd waited in line and taken the train. The bus got pretty filled up, so a black kid sat next to me and his sister and mom sat farther back.

He felt like talking, so I learned a bit about him. He had just turned 11 yesterday, and wanted to spend some of the money he'd gotten as a gift. However, his mom and sister seem to have connived him into using it for rides at Camp Snoopy rather than something he could hold onto for a while—and it sounds like he ended up paying for them! That's not right, and he knew it.

The kid seemed pretty smart, but wasn't in the greatest environment. He had trouble spelling (seemed to have trouble telling S's and C's apart, maybe that would indicate dyslexia or something) and didn't like to read. After we talked about reading a bit, he asked me to give him a little spelling quiz. He used to live in Chicago, so a few words on, I asked him to spell that (S-H-O…S-A…). I don't know, maybe I can track down his school and get someone to spend some one-on-one time with him. It sounds like he may have been held back a grade already (he was in fourth, I'm pretty sure most kids his age would be at fifth).

Maybe I'm thinking too much of his abilities, I don't know. I took a test in sixth grade that said I was reading at the level of a college student (I always thought that seemed ludicrous, though). I might/should try calling to the schools in his neighborhood (he said he was fairly close to the 38th Steet station, and his school wasn't far from his house, so that narrows it down), and asking if he could get some one-on-one attention, though I know it might be asking a lot of the school. Maybe I could volunteer or something, but I have no idea where my life is going to be in the next few weeks/months.

Oh, and the train was packed. I'm glad I wasn't trying to catch a plane or anything. I think that on a good day, a trip from EE/CSci to the airport would take about 40 minutes (this is an important data point, since my brother is flying out to California this week for an interview at Intel).

Well, I needed a pick-me-up when I got home, so I watched Freaky Friday from my pile of Netflix movies. Even brief images of Lindsay Lohan tend to etch themselves with laser beams into my gray matter, so she'll probably pop into my head randomly for the next day or three. Is it the freckles? I don't understand it!

Posted by mike at 10:06 PM | Movies , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, December 6, 2004

Twisted Funk

It's amazing what sort of weird things the Library of Congress has:

You Can't Diddle Me

It's from an old 19th century song collection. I couldn't figure out the author or date of publication, though.

Posted by mike at 11:14 AM | Music | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Now With More Puppies

I'm currently reading about the most corrupt mayor Minneapolis ever had, Albert Alonzo "Doc" Ames. If this isn't a plot for a movie, I don't know what is. He had served a few questionable terms as mayor toward the end of the 19th century, but when he took office in 1901, he became a total crook. He eventually resigned after a grand jury investigation, and everything was reported in 1903 by Lincoln Steffens, a famous muckracking journalist. His article was titled “The Shame of Minneapolis: The Rescue and Redemption of a City That Was Sold Out” and later appeared in a collection of his articles called The Shame of the Cities (“the Cities” being cities around the country, not just the Twin Cities).

Of course, if anyone ever wanted to make a movie, very little from that time remains in the city—at least downtown—other than the city hall. Even that has a green copper roof now and not a red terra cotta one.

And while I'm here I may as well quote Samantha Bee from last night's Daily Show:

All other days [in December] bow down to the 25th, Christmas. It's the only religious holiday which is also a federal holiday. That way, Christians can go to their services, and everyone else can stay home and reflect on the true meaning of the separation of church and state.

Posted by mike at 10:58 AM | Daily Show , Politics | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, December 10, 2004

Sadly, the Remote Has Vanished From This Physical Sphere

I went to the FCC forum on media consolidation last night. I stayed until about 11:30 PM, at which point I figured I'd better catch the bus home. I did get a chance to speak, but I forgot one important point. What I did say amounted to this:

  • KFAI and Radio K are nice, but underpowered.
  • For Radio K in particular, there is a big psychological barrier for people like me in turning over to the AM dial
  • Why should cable subscribers have all the fun? There should be a public access broadcast station.
The meeting had been heavily promoted on Radio K and (I assume) many other stations in the AMPERS/IPR radio network, such as KFAI. So, the group gathered there had more than a little tilt. Well, if the other stations around town didn't want to promote the event, it's their loss, I guess.

Anyawy, the point I forgot to make related to the sale of WCAL, and is something I've mentioned here before. The station was sold to Minnesota Public Radio. The other bid that St. Olaf received for the station came from EMF Broadcasting, owners of the K-LOVE and Air-1 Christian networks. While I think MPR is big enough, allowing one of those other networks to gain a 100kW station would have riled up far more people.

It was interesting to see how people at the meeting saw MPR, since it is partially funded by the Greenspring Company, which takes profits from the KLBB radio station and by publishing Minnesota Monthly. This money is filtered up through the American Public Media Group, then back down to MPR. In some ways it is innovative; in others, creepy. The folks at last night's event apparently felt that it meant that MPR could do things without being held accountable to their members. I think that's only partially true—MPR couldn't survive without them. Could MPR be more responsive to them? I imagine so.

Most of the people at the meeting represented a slice of about five or six percent of the listening public (by my really rough estimate, they represented listeners of KFAI, KUOM, WCAL, and maybe some others, which works out to ~150,000 people in a region with 2,500,000 listeners).

Well, fortunately, it wasn't quite as crazy as I'd been expecting. There was less talk of WCAL than I expected, at least at first. It seemed to pop up more often as the night wore on. There were some other interesting topics brought up. Public access cable channels are apparently being bought in some markets. KQRS actually did a relatively nice thing, though at midnight to 2 AM. Oh, and Mental Engineering is making a comeback, apparently.

There have been two post-event articles in the local papers so far. Kind of disturbing in their quality level, though. Jonathan Adelstein's name was spelled “Edelstein” by the Strib, which also misspelled Michael Copps's last name as “Capps.” The Pioneer Press spelled it “Kopps.”

Unfortunately, the meeting won't have a direct effect, but it was put in the public record. Previous similar events were credited with causing courts to reverse an FCC decision made last year. Now I just need to refine my ideas and put them into some comments regarding the upcoming renewal of radio licenses in Minnesota.

Posted by mike at 10:42 AM | Music , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Reputations in a Compromising Positions

Wow. I'm really disappointed by this Red Baron pizza I just ate. I don't buy that brand very often, usually because I perceive it as being too expensive. Of course, DiGiorno and friends have upped the ante on that one. Anyway, it just seemed really flavorless to me. Maybe they just have overly-powerful pepperonis or something, but the sauce didn't didn't seem to have much taste at all.

I'll have to try to remember to tune into Cosmic Slop on Radio K tomorrow. That series is wrapping up after ~12 years (they started back in the WMMR days before that micro-station merged into KUOM in 1993). They play the “forgotten pop of the '70s,” so it's any guess if I'd like it or not.

Posted by mike at 05:50 PM | Food , Music | Comments (0) | TrackBack

nicholas nickleby

Agh! I just watched Bridge on the River Kwai, where one of the main characters was played by William Holden. He's been dead since 1981, but I know there's a currently-alive (or at least not dead for long) actor who sounds exactly like him and looks pretty close to the same. The guy I'm thinking of has probably been in more B-movies, Sci-Fi channel flicks, and Outer Limits (or Twilight Zone) episodes than I can count, but I can't think of his name. Frustrating. I'm pretty sure he was in at least one episode of TNG too. He has a gravelly voice, usually has hair (black) puffed right so it stands fairly straight up, and often has a beard. He usually plays the bad guy, too, which is why I thought it was so weird this movie had “him” in a good role (though he really would have been about 5 to 10 years old when it was made).

Posted by mike at 11:02 PM | Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, December 12, 2004

See Dick and Jane Learn

MythBusters and The Simpsons should not be on at the same time.

Posted by mike at 10:29 PM | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, December 13, 2004

Goodbye Sister Disco

Potatoes are weird. Starch is weird.

Bought too much music today. Probably the wrong stuff. I may have to finally sift through my collection and take some stuff to Cheapo.

I got Gold Medal by The Donnas. Better than I expected. They could actually fit on 93X if a DJ so desired (I don't think they want to tamper with the image of the angry white man station, though). I can tell I've heard the group's music numerous times before (not tracks from this disc—previous ones), but I don't know if I've ever heard it in regular sets on the radio aside from Radio K. Seems more like something that got picked for background in TV ads or something. Why do we get better music in our ads than on our radio stations? Little dribbles of techno spread amongst Revlon commercials, for instance. FOOBAR!

I almost bought The Futureheads by The Futureheads, but then I was thinking, “this is just white boys with guitars,” so I eventually had to put it back. I also knew there was another not-based-on-guitars band I was looking for. As soon as I got home, Radio K pointed out my apparently useless brain cells by playing Unkle (or, if you want to be pedantic, U.N.K.L.E.).

In perhaps bad taste, I went for the man-of-indeterminate-heritage–with-guitar with Prince's Musicology. I may have to sell that one. Like Jamiroquai, only less fun. Well, to my ears, anyway. That's the last time I trust anyone on VH1 to tell me what's good (I normally don't—this was just a period of bad judgement). I'll hang on to it for a while, just in case it grows on me, but I have doubts.

Jimmy Eat World has a new(ish) disc, Futures. I approve.

I seem to remember hearing (of?) them eons ago when I was in high school. The first track I remember identifying with them was “Lucky Denver Mint,” which apparently came out in '99, but that would seem to be a few years too late. Oh well, hard to say.

I got an anthology CD for The Who, since it's one of those things you're supposed to have, I guess. And would someone explain to me why “Who Are You” is the title track for one of those CSI shows?

There was another CD I purchased, but it will remain nameless until Christmas, since it is a gift for my aunt and/or uncle.

Posted by mike at 09:38 PM | Music | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Frostbite Falls

I came home for a few days, since a friend of mine was going to be here for two weeks. We went to see Blade: Trinity, which I guess was better than I expected, aside from being the world's longest iPod commercial. Ryan Reynolds was funny (watch out for the vampire pomerenian!) and Jessica Biel was her lovely self. I didn't know she was born in Ely, Minnesota. Oh, and she's much better as a non-blonde.

Some unexpected expected things happened for my friend, so we didn't hang out yesterday. Hopefully we'll do lunch or something today.

I sprayed fungicide on my mom's rose bushes on Tuesday. It was cold out, so the leaves got fungicidecicles. I also helped fix a festive deer that we have. One of those white wireframe jobbies that has Christmas lights strung through it. I had to go and replace about 20 light bulbs to get it to work, and then there were a few faulty ones that took a long time for my dad to track down with a tester.

Posted by mike at 10:40 AM | Brian D , Family , Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Outplay, Outwit, Outlast

MPR announced WCAL's new format and the call letters the station will start using in January: KCMP. The station's program director will be Steve Nelson, who reportedly helped create Radio K back in '93. He might still have a close affiliation with that station, though he had been working at MPR recently. They also moved a guy from MPR's distribution arm over to be music director: Thorn Skroch, previously of Rev 105 back in the '90s (I guess Nelson worked there too). If you haven't figured it out by now, the station will pretty much be what many observers expected: a mixture of everything.

MPR has set up a weblog for comments on the format. A few people are concerned that the station will stomp on the toes of KFAI, Radio K, and other community outlets. Hopefully there will be some differentiation, though KCMP will have a definite advantage over the community stations since they have a 100kW transmitter, just like the big boys of commercial radio (even though it's located in/near Northfield, which is on the southern edge of the metro area). I'm glad they have a repeater in Rochester, though. Then I'll be able to listen to it when I visit home ;-)

The Strib already has an article on the station and the call letters. KCMP apparently doesn't stand for anything, though it rhymes ("KCMP 89.3"). I suspect it'll be hard for the station to differentiate itself from “triple A” outlets around the country (and even around here), though Nelson has been calling it an “anti-format” station. So, KCMP is trying to be the new Rev (with more wattage than they ever had). I'm still excited. And no commercials! (Er, dramatically reduced from what you get on Clear Channel, Viacom, and Disney, anyway).

Posted by mike at 11:17 PM | Music , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Hot Gay Gridiron Action

I'm not sure if this is still in Dinkytown, but it might be: old newspaper box.

Now, it's just a box, but it's a box with character.

Update: Another thing I saw on James Lileks's site was the Northwestern Life headquarters (now owned by the annoying ING), which was designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the same guy who did the World Trade Center in New York. Yeah, he was a pretty awful architect.

Maybe the Northwestern building would look better in silver. But they'd still have to do something about that gnarly green glass.

Update update: Yamasaki also apparently designed the University of Minnesota's dastardly Civil Engineering Building, where floors are numbered downward. He also did a structure named Reliastar II next to the earlier Northwestern building, but it's a total piece of crap (as compared to the other buildings, which are at least interesting despite their ugliness).

Posted by mike at 02:28 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Monkey Gone to Heaven

Continuing my interest in the architecture of Minnesota, it appears that by some measures, the two big bridges in Duluth-Superior outstrip the length of the Millau Viaduct by a considerable margin. Though it's agreed that Millau is the tallest bridge in the world, it's only 8,070 feet (2,460 m) in length. The Blatnik Bridge is at least 7,975 feet (2,430 m) long, with overland approaches (whatever that means, exactly) adding another ~2,800 feet for a total of about 10,775 feet (3,284 m). Blatnik was originally completed in 1961, and gained its current name in 1971. The Bong Bridge, finished in 1985 (as far as I can tell), clocks in at about a thousand feet longer at roughly 11,800 feet (3600 m).

Since historians have usually been obsessed with the center span rather than overall size, nobody bothers to write down the numbers. Just because someone puts a pier in the middle of a bridge doesn't mean that it's any less difficult or costly to build the whole thing…

Anyway, it appears that the Bong and Blatnik bridges don't require tolls, so they appear to be the second- and third-longest toll-free bridges in the country after the Seven Mile Bridge in Florida. Blatnik may have been the third-longest bridge in the country (maybe the world) when it went up. But, that's just judging by an incomplete list on Wikipedia.

I haven't been able to find hard numbers yet, but the rumor is that the Cedar Avenue Bridge carrying Minnesota State Highway 77 over the Minnesota River is the longest bridge entirely within the state. The I-35W bridge could possibly be longer, I'm not sure, and I'm sure the I-494 bridge nearby is also very long. The Mendota Bridge is also in the neighborhood and is 4,119 feet (1,255 m) in length.

Posted by mike at 10:02 AM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, December 20, 2004

O Paganbaum, O Paganbaum

Inherently funny words and tragedies don't mix:

Larry Oakes (December 20, 2004). Zamboni explodes; fire destroys arena, Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Posted by mike at 04:37 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Dude, Where's My Gwar?

Alton Brown is going to be at the Roseville Barnes & Noble (Har Mar Mall) on January 22nd, 2005 at 7 PM. There will be a talk and book signing.

Posted by mike at 11:43 PM | Food | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, December 27, 2004

Middle Spunk Creek

I'm back from Fargo. I got a pretty good amount of stuff—better than last year, I think. We had a little difficulty traveling north. We detoured through St. Paul because I-494 is under construction, but U.S. 52 was totally backed up going over the Lafayette Bridge, so we got onto city streets and got a bit lost. We probably could have gotten onto I-35E pretty easily, but I was convinced that the turn we needed to make wasn't possible without jumping across three lanes of traffic in ¼ mile. Anyway, we ended up taking Jackson Street north for a while before getting back on the highway, and came across the Minnesota Transportation Museum's Jackson Street Roundhose by accident. Quite a few older rail cars over there, plus some old city buses.

Anyway, there's no snow through a big chunk of central Minnesota. Only a bit more than a dusting down in the south around Rochester, and perhaps a few inches near Fargo-Moorhead. That just doesn't seem right. At least the ice on the lakes has thickened up, so people feeling that the snow is lacking can still get their fishing huts out. Seemed to be a popular activity as we drove south today.

I saw The Life Aquatic. Not the best movie ever, but at least it was reasonably funny and felt like a story, rather than some junk I've seen in theaters. I'm still glad that I didn't end up getting roped into seeing The Polar Express.

The Loot:

  • Keen Eddie (TV series) on DVD (with music by Orbital—woo! ;-)
  • Palm Tungsten E (might return that to trade up or down, it needs research)
  • A book on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!
  • Far Side month calendar and Dilbert day calendar
  • Fridge magnets
  • Family photos
  • A tiny solitaire electronic game
  • Money
And there's probably something I forgot…

I also read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, since I didn't run out and get the hardcover.

Posted by mike at 08:40 PM | Car , Family | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Strange Days, Dangerous Nights

Weird. We all know about the Great Chicago Fire, but what about the Peshtigo Fire (the deadliest fire in U.S. history) and the fire that hit Holland, Michigan on the very same day? Three fires around Lake Michigan starting around the same time. That's pretty crazy.

Posted by mike at 12:00 AM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, December 31, 2004

It's the End of the World As We Know It

Interesting news of the (yester)day: Mark Wheat is leaving Radio K for MPR's third service. He's been the program director at 770 AM for six years, from the looks of it, and probably the station's most recognizable voice. I don't know if he did anything else there before that. Maybe.

I don't know exactly when MPR will switch to the new format. Could be as early as tomorrow, but it is more likely to be another week or two down the road, from the looks of things. They're really digging into the Radio K talent pool, though.

There are a bunch of movies I need to see, though I'm a bit worried that I'll end up going out to see them all and then end up with nothing to see for months. Then again, I have Netflix.

Keri Russell was on Conan O'Brien last night. She's got a few things coming out in 2005, and she's been in a play in New York lately—one of those rare moments where I wish I lived there, though she's going to be replaced soon. Kind of funny considering that some of her major credits include the New Mickey Mouse Club and The Babysitter's Seduction… Heh.

Anyway, January is shaping up to be a good month for me in terms of entertainment. Now I just need a job.

Posted by mike at 09:37 AM | Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack