it20010630 - Saturday
I bought a grill today. This is actually sort of important as I'm having a cook-out on the Fourth. Meanwhile, I've been running around like crazy trying to get my life organized. You can guess how well that's going.
They woke me up this morning.
To say I had a long week is a more than a mild understatement, and my number one task for the weekend was to attack the resulting sleep deficit. After a long and much needed walk I crawled into bed around midnight, a bit early for me. I muted the phone to guard against calls suggesting a change in long distance service, and for a while I slept well. I probably could have slept till noon or later, but a little after 10:00 the doorbell rang.
Historically speaking, a ringing doorbell has represented one of about three things to me: 1) My girlfriend, 2) Pizza Luce, or 3) A neighbor locked him/herself out again. M and I broke up some time ago, so I knew it wasn't her, and I was positive I hadn't ordered a pizza. Number three was possible, and I do have friends in the area this week, so a ringing doorbell didn't seem completely surprising. I threw on a pair of shorts and stumbled downstairs. There were two women at the door, one older, one younger. Probably friends of neighbors who inadvertently rang the wrong doorbell, I figured. That has happened before. I opened the door.
"Hello, we'd like to share a story of hope for the future."
Oh, fuck me. Are these people intentionally trying to piss the non-assimilated off? What the hell are they doing knocking on doors at 10:00 on a Saturday morning!? Er, anyway, I politely declined to discuss matters with them. I went back to my apartment, fell into my bed and buried my head under my pillows. I desperately tried to fall back asleep but failed. A few hours later, I'm still tired.
it20010629 - Friday
I've had enough sleepless nights over the past few days to last me for quite some time now.
The week in review: End of the quarter at work. Long hours, annoying tasks. Way to warm outside. No air conditioning in the bedroom. Can't sleep. Attempt sleeping in living room, which has air. Fall off couch. Turn on roommate's air conditioner, attempt cooling entire apartment. Takes a day, but it works. (Electric bill is going to suck.) First good shut-eye in days. Sleep through alarm. Get to work late. Scurry, scurry, scurry. Last task at work, work week over.
Well, I'm glad that's done with.
Quote from Becky on Wednesday: "Mark, your mind is a dangerous place."
I'm taking it as a compliment.
it20010625 - Monday
It shouldn't be 90 degrees at 11:30 in the morning.
it20010624 - Sunday
A few hours ago I was told to get off Best Buy/Opus property or face arrest. I was down in Richfield photographing the condemned neighborhood being bulldozed for Best Buy's new headquarters. The individual blocks were fenced off but the roads were still open, so I figured I was in the clear. Well, the Richfield police officer who blocked my parked car apparently disagreed. I argued my case--there were no signs and there were a number of slow-driving gawkers going up and down the streets--but he still told me to get out. I guess being on foot and carrying a camera made a difference. I considered continuing my argument, but when a second cruiser showed up I chickened out and left.
The photos don't really convey the feeling one gets down there. The place looks like Love Canal.
Moulin Rouge is one of the best movies I've seen in a long, long time. I had no idea what to expect--the few ads I saw made it look dangerously close to a documentary-style period piece--and that was good thing. It was quite enjoyable to be completely shocked and surprised by its wonderful storyline and spectacular visuals. It's easily one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen, and no, I'm not just talking about Nicole Kidman. The "virgin" scene came dangerously close to being traumatic, but what the heck. Knowing now that it was made by the same fellow who brought us Strictly Ballroom, it all makes sense.
Go out and see it while it's still on the big screen.
We had an early dinner in the Warehouse District last night. I typically try to be refrained and polite, but our waitress was sort of cute and my friend picked up on my distraction.
"Sorry," I said, "I'm acting a bit strange today."
She smirked. "What's that? Horny?"
"You know there are things you can do about that."
I just nodded and looked out the window.
it20010622 - Friday
They were discussing beverages for this evening's party.
"What do you drink?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. Soda."
"Well, right now I have mineral water, Fresca and Diet Coke."
"I prefer Tab."
The longest day of the year turned out to be long in more ways than one. Why is it hardest to sleep when one is most tired?
it20010619 - Tuesday
I wandered downtown this evening to take some photos for lstc.org and found myself remembering how much I love this city. There were basketball games going on in Loring Park, Peavy Plaza was full of music, Nicollet Mall was crowded with wanderers, conversations drifted in and out of restaurants. Tonight's photos turned out a bit better than usual, too. The walk back home brought pause, though: The marquee of the Skyway Theater, closed and boarded up for a couple of years now, was lit up. I wonder what's going on there.
At right, the IDS Tower reflects the Wells Fargo building in the evening light.
After noting the irony that Siren, the small Wisconsin town that got whacked by a F3 tornado last night, didn't have a siren, KSTP interviewed some guy with Hennepin County about emergency sirens here. Turns out most of the western part of the county doesn't have them. "There's no point in warning a cornfield."
"What the heck," I retorted to the television. "We warned the cornfields back where I used to live."
Heather commented they didn't in the rural area she used to reside in. I thought about this for a moment before remembering Manitowoc and Kewaunee Counties happen to have three nuclear reactors between the two of them. I suppose that may have something to do with it.
Note at 12:30 in the morning: One neighbor getting locked out of her apartment can be an interesting way for everyone in a building to meet each other.
it20010618 - Monday
Mark doesn't handle the warm weather very well.
it20010616 - Saturday
And I thought I was a nerd. My roommate and one of her friends are back in her bedroom, watching a DVD on an iMac.
Don't get mad. Sue, then create a website.
Last night, while my roommate was being verbally assaulted by some guy inadvertently talking his way out of a date, I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood. I have a tendency to be a sucker for boxy, glass-covered residences, so the shiny, modern structure overlooking I-394 on Waverly Place had always been a favorite of mine. Well, it turns it's presently the subject of legal action. Neighbors or people driving by on the interstate can see a large banner attached to the front of the house proclaiming www.kwaterssickhouse.com. Whatever the legal issues, at least the guy's not bitter about it.
it20010615 - Friday
"Back in my day we had to set a frame at 100% with no border to get rid of the page margins."
They stared back, their faces blank. I'm getting old.
The virgin computer sat before me, its operating system reinstalled, its hard drive vast and open. I vowed not to screw it up again. No more beta or alpha programs, no more freeware coded in basements and bedrooms, no more stupid customization. This time I was going to keep it clean.
A noble goal? Perhaps, but still one that lasted less than an hour.
So, anyway, Netscape 6.1 Preview Release 1 is out. And it fucking rocks. After all the disappointment and annoyance that was Netscape 6 and 6.01, this is the browser we were waiting for. It's fast. (Opera fast? Maybe.) It's stable. And, unlike Netscape 6.01, it works. It's such a wonderful little program, I find myself dangerously close to being giddy.
it20010613 - Wednesday
Oh, sure. Yesterday I comment I'm glad I'm not in Houston and this morning I-35W floods in south Minneapolis.
it20010612 - Tuesday
I entered the apartment yesterday evening to find Heather looking out the window.
"Hello," she said.
"Jesus Christ," I answered.
"Yup, he was talking today."
Around 5:30 in the evening I found myself waffling as to whether to leave early to beat the storm or remain at work and wait for it to pass. Reports of baseball-sized hail west of Minneapolis made that decision for me, and, in the end, I'm glad I stayed put, as much of the central-metro damage was in areas along along my commute. A coworker and I wandered outside to gawk at the building clouds when it dawned on me that my car was parked near some potentially debris-producing material. I decided to move my car closer to my building, a decision that in retrospect would have been more appropriate about ten minutes earlier. I sprinted out into the lot, dodging other employees seemingly doing the same thing along the way, all the time watching the huge black mass of clouds rapidly approach. After a near-collision with a pickup truck high-tailing it off the premises, I parked my car and made a dash for the building. Hail started hitting my feet just as I got in. The timing made me a bit smug, but it wore off quickly as the hail started growing to an inch to an inch-and-a-half in size. In the end, my car only got a few minor nicks, no big deal considering it's 13 years old and has more evident aesthetic issues to deal with. My legs were a little worse for the wear, though: It's been a while since I've sprinted very far, so they were pretty much toast by the time I finished the 250-yard run out to my car. But it's a good kind of toast, and I'm thinking I should do it more often.
So, anyway, I'm calling it the great C-Building flood of '01. Fountains of water emerged from storm sewers, picnic table umbrellas headed elsewhere, garbage cans disgorged their contents, and the lot directly in front of the building filled up with about a foot and a half of water. Eventually the storm died down and people started to cautiously make their way from the building. Those of us watching the events from the covered entryway cheered and applauded the first person "brave" enough to slosh through the knee-deep water, and then went on to mock everyone else dumb enough to follow. More contemplative individuals surveyed the situation and elected to exit on the other side of the patio, where the water happened to be only a couple of inches deep.
In other storm news, the StarTribune presented a rather disturbing statistic today:
Northwest Airlines canceled 123 flights at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday in order to check aircraft for hail damage. Out of 41 planes checked, 13 had enough damage to warrant repairs, Northwest spokeswoman Kathy Peach said.
So, um, what about the other 82 planes?
Whatever the case, I can be thankful I'm not in Houston.
it20010611 - Monday
So, in another money-saving effort, today was the day I planned to start taking lunch to work. I bought a small lunch cooler yesterday and spent a few minutes last night making a meal that included a honey ham and swiss sandwich (on Natural Ovens bread), some carrots and a Kudos bar. I compensated for a lack of cold packs by taking one of my smaller Rubbermaid containers, partially filling it with water and freezing it overnight. Knowing I'd forget to take my lunch as I rushed out in the morning, I taped a note to the door of my bedroom and wrapped my glasses in another note.
Well, I moved both of the notes this morning and my lunch will now be my dinner.
The weekend wasn't wasted, but it still feels like it. I spent most of my waking hours in front of my computer burning files to CD so I can reinstall windows. As of last night I have about 2GB worth of Word Documents, Photoshop files and other miscellaneous crap I still have to save. I really need a tape drive and suppose it would be good for me to be backing up my work on a regular basis anyway. Whatever the case, I hope to have my lifeline back sometime this evening.
Side note: Whoever thought CD-RW shopping could be surreal? There were Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes taped on the cash registers at Best Buy and music from Dada playing loudly in Office Depot.
it20010608 - Friday
it20010607 - Thursday
Among the many pairs of beat-up, flat-footed footwear I'm retiring is a pair of Nunn-Bush hiking boots purchased back in 1991. Those boots have taken me from a snowstorm in the Canyonlands to the rocky coast of Arcadia, from some mountains near Bozeman to a wooded stream in Delaware, from the Badlands of South Dakota to the mountains of Olympic National Park, not to mention many, many places in between. I probably won't throw the boots away, but will instead set them in my closet where they can grow old and gather dust.
I've visited or at least passed through all of the continental 48. I'd like to see Alaska. For whatever reason, I've never taken much of an interest in Hawaii and think it's more likely I'd finish off all of Canada's provinces before I'd visit it... Especially if I ever get around to taking the train from Toronto to Vancouver.
But I'm poor this summer, so I guess I'll just have to live vicariously through everyone who's traveling.
it20010606 - Wednesday
Reports of Netscape's death are greatly exaggerated. Netscape will not only continue to support its browser, it'll be integrating it into other products. Meanwhile, work at mozilla.org will continue as it has. So all you incompetent, punk-ass fools who can't code for anything other than IE should quit your celebrating, shut the fuck up and try to do something correctly for once.
The term "bone spurs" entered my vocabulary yesterday, if only briefly. Thankfully, my foot pain is nothing that serious, just a bad case of inflammation my doctor thinks came from me wearing shoes with poor support. So, does that mean I'm getting old, or that waiting a year and a half between shoe purchases is too long?
You know, my doctor is good and quick, but he sometimes lacks subtlety. He grabbed my foot, furrowed his brow in recognition, and then with what appeared to be some degree of amusement jabbed his thumb into the exact spot my pain was coming from. Despite my mild but completely evident spasm, he still asked if it hurt or not.
Well, my iPaq issues are actually a problem with my PC's operating system. I guess that's what happens when one has a tendency to install bleeding-edge alpha and beta programs on his or her machine. The solution? Reinstalling windows. Fuck. I have over 15 gigabytes of files to back up and my CD burner has ceased to function properly.
Anyway, I now know what I'm going to be doing for my next five or six evenings.
Wasn't able to upload yesterday. Long story.
it20010605 - Tuesday
So I was laying in bed last night listening to the wind outside my window, not really thinking about anything and trying to fall asleep. A siren came from nearby, then another, and then another. They all cut off abruptly, the sounds of racing engines continuing past my apartment. A lot of vehicles appeared to be involved, but it still didn't seem too unusual. We're in a pretty dense neighborhood and it's not uncommon for emergency vehicles to turn off their sirens as they blow through quiet, darkened streets.
A minute or so went by before voices appeared in the alleyway, accompanied by the crackle of police radio and the bangs and clatter of garbage containers being inspected. The ray of a flashlight crossed my closed blinds. Unintelligible male and female voices, and then...
"Did they find him?"
"No, they thought they saw him go down an alley over here."
"We're looking for a Shoeless Joe Jackson, right?"
More crackles from the police radio, followed by the diminishing sounds of a conversation leaving the alleyway.
My love affair with my new iPaq came to an abrupt end yesterday evening when I tried to install the Microsoft ActiveSync software on my home computer. It didn't work, and a 90 minute support call with Compaq didn't resolve anything. No one seemed familiar with the error I was getting, which doesn't make me hopeful about getting my handheld talking to my PC anytime soon.
it20010604 - Monday
I love it when I leave my desk for a couple of minutes to get some water or caffeine and return to find a present. Well, today it was a present to myself: My iPaq came via UPS this morning. No, I can't really afford it, but it'll help me get organized again now that I've permanently escaped the cult of Franklin Covey. This has been a long time comming. Once I decided to go digital I found it incredibly difficult to keep using my Franklin planner and hence pretty much started running my life out of Microsoft Outlook. Unfortunately, that was about eight months ago, and chaos has typically reigned since then. There were two major factors I didn't take into account when abandoning my planner: One, it may be a long period of time before I get a PDA. Two, I can't carry my desktop computer with me. I found myself reduced to printing out contact lists at work and reverting to my less than perfect college-era system of notes and to-do lists scrawled on scraps of paper and Post-It Notes. But, as of today, that system is history.
Besides, I've always had a weakness for items of the bright and shiny variety, and the iPaq is dramatic in both those areas.
In other organizational news, I'm actually getting there. My desks at home and work are still covered with paper, but the peripheral areas are now clear. Most of my paperwork and bills have been filed appropriately, the space under my bed is now clean, my negatives are dangerously close to being in order and I can close my closet for the first time in a matter of months. It's all part of my evil plan to get my life under control again and it should reach a self-sustaining level in a couple of weeks. The cynical part of me could say this is just another one of those life-reworking phases I go through every few months and then abandon, but my recent changes have been more fundamental, so I think they may stick this time. For example, instead of trying to get my credit card bills in order, I've created a process and developed infrastructure to keep them in order. Beyond that, I've tried to automate everything I feel comfortable and secure in automating. The less I have to think, the easier this all should become.
I'm a bit burnt from yesterday. Seems I always do that once each year, then get smart and start using the sunscreen. I have driver's arm, too: My left arm is a few shades darker than the other. My mom has had a couple of run-ins with skin cancer, so I really should know better. In other news, I'm going to have to bandage up my foot when I get home this evening. I apparently fucked it up more than I thought.
it20010603 - Sunday
Well, it's 11:15 on a Sunday evening. My left foot is cramped and sore, mainly from walking in shoes no longer fit for such activities, but for whatever reason I'm still in a rather content, mildly contemplative mood. Nothing too spectacular has happened lately, but sometimes it's nice to have a lazy weekend.
I hit Grand Old Days with an old friend today. The event was sort of strange. It was if the Great Minnesota Get Together had been dropped, horse shit and all, on the yuppiest street in Saint Paul. Masses of people wandered back and forth, occasionally stopping for no apparent reason other than to gawk at the other individuals crowding around them. Overall, I didn't get into it that much. For health reasons I pretty much limit my consumption of elephant ears and fried doughnut holes to the state fair, and, other than a passing interest in the Elvis impersonator, I didn't really see any music I was interested in. A juggler we came across was sort of cool, but the crowd was large and Sarah's a bit short, so we didn't stay to watch him very long. Whatever the case it was still fun, although I'm not sure I'll return next year.
Aside from that, as expected, I spent most of the remaining portions of my weekend playing SimCity 3000. New City 4 is up to a population of about 1,800,000 with a high aura, low pollution and good transportation, but I'm having some crime and value problems. The grid has been filled, so from this point on it's mostly tweaking. (I'm still disappointed that the sound effect for the defense contractor doesn't work in the unlimited version of SC3K.)
it20010601 - Friday
This morning's commute caused me to cross paths with what appeared to be a parts van from Burnsville Volkswagen. Large letters on the side of it proudly announced "BURNSVILLE VOLKSWAGEN - KEEPIN' IT REAL." You know, I never expected to see "Burnsville" and "Keepin' It Real" in the same sentence, but at least the van drove away quickly enough that I wasn't traumatized by the event.
New rule, put in place after events occuring last night and early this morning: No playing SimCity on nights before workdays.