it20011031 - Wednesday - Halloween
I probably ate twice my body weight in candy this afternoon. Damn coworkers.
The number for the day, courtesy of the service department, is $1358.79.
At least I wasn't the only one having a bad day yesterday. Rich started his morning off by locking himself out of both his house and car and as a result wasn't able to make it into work. As for me, well, they weren't able to finish the repairs on the Saab so I got to keep the loaner overnight. It's not very often I get to bum around in a $50,000 automobile, so Heather and I decided to buzz over Wisconsin to show Rich the wagon. We missed him, but it was a fun diversion anyway.
On a side note, the $2000 I'm spending for repairs, new tires and a windshield would've made a nice down-payment on a new car, not to mention the $1500 I probably could've gotten for my 9000. I've noticed some decent-looking mid-90s Saab 900s out there, many of them being sold for around $10,000.
it20011030 - Tuesday
Adventures of a Saab owner, part 266.
So I broke one of my basic rules and took my car to the dealership today. This wasn't something I wanted to do, but it was becoming next to impossible to get my car serviced elsewhere. I was looking to get the exhaust fixed, some dashboard lights replaced, a tune-up and the (ahem) scheduled (cough) 180,000 mile maintenance. Along with the windshield getting replaced this Thursday, that would put my car in good shape just in time for the trip to Chicago.
Of course, that was the plan before the dealership called this afternoon. The motor mount is going, a CV joint needs to be replaced (I'd been conveniently ignoring that noise), the dashboard lights will take an hour and a half of labor and, to top it off, the car apparently has an after-market catalytic converter, so they can't fix the connection without replacing most of the exhaust system. Well, fuck. I told them to leave the motor mount and the exhaust, but I'll still be looking at about $1250 in repairs and maintenance.
That after-market catalytic converter explains a lot. The first real problem I had with the car appeared in the form of the converter failing, so that was the first thing I got fixed. I had the work done at a neighborhood imports shop, which in retrospect was a mistake, as they told me they were putting Saab parts on the car. Liars. Anyway, the connection between the converter and the engine snapped five months later, and five months after that (now) the connection to the back exhaust broke. There's probably some room for legal action here.
Anyway, for the short term I'm going to have a loud car. Unfortunately, that'll include the trip to Chicago. When I get back I'm going to have to find some muffler shop that does custom bending and have them take care of it. For the long term I'm going to start looking for a new car. With all the work I've put into this one it should (and damn well better) get me through the winter, but after that, well, who knows.
Oh, by the way, the dealer gave me a loaner, a beautiful 2001 9-5 wagon. It costs more than I make a year.
Hmmm. Even with all the special offers and low financing, the new Oldsmobiles are still a bit out of my price range. The Saturn L100s come in under $17,000, though. I could see myself going that route if not for the higher insurance premiums, not to mention the near-obligation to rent off-street parking. Whatever the case, I'll probably find myself buying a used car again.
Other new cars potentially in my price range: The Nissan Sentra GXE at $16,000, the Nissan Altima at $17,000, and the, um, Kia Sephia at $13,500.
it20011029 - Monday
I've been in somewhat of a writing funk lately. It's not just this site, it's my journal and e-mail as well. I owe a lot of people a lot of replies, but, for whatever reasons, I just haven't been up for writing the last few days. Not sure why that is.
Heather, Rich and I went to a Halloween party Saturday evening. She played a butterfly, he dressed as a pimp and I went as an insurance salesman. While some had elaborate costumes, Rich and I were the only ones who really seemed to stay in character. For Rich that meant a lot of staring but very little speaking, with the few words he did vocalize coming out in a soft English accent. For me that meant carrying a clipboard, walking slowly, speaking in monotone and telling everyone they weren't insurable. A few notes to self: Before stating that my organization doesn't insure photographic reproductions of Scientologists (the home's owner had a small shrine to John Travolta), be sure there are no Scientologists within earshot. Also, be sure to verify that attendees are not insurance salespeople in real life before telling them why they'd be poor investments.
"Hello, Certified Auto Glass."
"Hi, I'd like to get a quote on getting a windshield replaced."
"Year, make and model?"
"It's a 1988 Saab 9000."
"Ooooh, a fun one. Let me check on that for you."
- October 23rd: I post a thread on MetaFilter about The New York Times new Electronic Edition.
- October 25th: Mark Pilgrim, referencing the MetaFilter thread, writes why the new edition is stupid.
- October 27th: Pilgrim's piece gets linked fromScripting News.
- October 29th: I come to work to find a couple Scripting News Updates in my inbox, one of which links to a blog discussing a link posted on MetaFilter by me. I find this amusing and, in what's further proof that I have no life, decide to write about it on my site.
it20011025 - Thursday
I wandered out into the kitchen to find Heather staring at the piles of dishes we need to find space for. "Morning," I said.
"Whatcha looking at?"
"I'm wondering where the hell we're going to put all these dishes."
I sat down at my computer to check my email. "It's going to be a cold one today."
"What's the temperature?"
"Mid 30s, wind chill below zero."
"You know where my winter coat is?"
"In the trunk of my car."
it20011024 - Wednesday
So, anyway, we got a dishwasher. It's nice, but due to new size and location restrictions our floor-level cupboards have become practically useless. As a result we now have a huge pile of pots, pans and containers that no longer have a home. (There's a little space under the sink, but, trust me, we don't want to put anything under there that could ultimately touch food.) I suppose I'll have to drive down to Edina to visit Organized Living this weekend. Anyway, as I have too much time on my hands, here are some before and after photos:
4:50 in the afternoon. Drumroll, please.
I feel like running around and yelling. Actually, I did just run around, but I'm at work, so there was no yelling.
Could the mrbula paradox cause all things to cease to exist?
it20011023 - Tuesday
If not for the gently falling leaves this morning could've been mistaken for that of an early spring day. The sun was out, the air was fresh and the streets were glistening from a brief rain. It was a good way to start a Tuesday. Unfortunately, much of what followed turned out to be about as enjoyable as an early Monday begun in the midst of a gusting hailstorm, but such is life.
The trip down to Chicago to visit Sarah has the potential to turn into more than just a trip to visit Sarah. Depending on how things work out for that Friday, I could have lunch with Robin in central Wisconsin and then grab dinner with Ben and Lisa in Madison. From there it would be down to Chicago to hang out with Sarah, see The Limited she works at (snicker) and make that required pilgrimage to Ikea.
it20011022 - Monday
Heather found a note from the apartment company when she came home this evening. Apparently we're getting our dishwasher installed tomorrow. Wait a second, we're getting a dishwasher!? Whoo-hoo! Granted, we're going to be losing at least a quarter of our cabinet space in the process, but I'm sure the dirty plates and pans in the dishwasher will help mitigate that.
Hmmm. Belle & Sebastian in the CD player today. I must be depressed. On the bright side, while about a third of my department is out sick and another third is coughing, I feel just fine.
Well, the redesign failed. The cover page actually turned out OK, but the design just didn't flow into the internal pages. (The photo album was particularly difficult.) I don't really have time to be screwing around with the design right now anyway, so for the time being I'm going to have to be content with tweaking the existing design. Look for legitimate navigation to be added within the next week or so.
it20011018 - Thursday
Adventures of a Saab-owner, part 264.
"Hello, I'd like to get my car in for some muffler work and some new tires."
"What day are ya looking at?"
"Thursday or Friday. I can drop it off."
"We can get you in. What kind of car?"
"It's a 1988 Saab 9000."
"Uh, OK. Are you going to bring the tires?"
Pause. "I wasn't planning on it."
"OK, it may take us some time to find those."
"Hello, this is Mark."
"Hey, this is Ted from _____. We were able to track down some tires. They're going to be $347 for the four."
"The exhaust is a problem. I've called all the suppliers I've worked with over 20 years in this business and no one makes them anymore. I called Saab and it looks like we're going to the pipe and mountings directly from them. That would take three or four days and the cost would be around $572."
"Well, let's just take care of the tires for now, then."
"Do you want me to order the parts?"
"No, I'll look into that later."
I think I'm going to have to break one of my rules and take my car to a dealer.
it20011017 - Wednesday
Well, I haven't updated for a while, mainly because I've been working on a new design for the site. I'm not happy with the way it's going, though, so it may or may not show up.
Walked around the neighborhood Sunday. Looked at the fall colors, played with squirrels.
Most of the plans have been finalized for New York. I'll be staying at the Radisson the first two nights, the Millenium Hotel by the UN the third. Spiffy.
it20011014 - Sunday
Well, it's about 20 past midnight and I'm here contentedly typing away. I just had a really good meal at, ahem, a strip mall in Maplewood. If you're ever in its neck of the woods, check out Singapore! Chinese & Malaysian Cuisine. I'm not going to try to describe the food, though, as I'll fail miserably. Just trust me. It's good.
it20011013 - Saturday
Well, the dates for New York are official. I'm flying there November 28th and will head back on December 1st. I could've gotten $191 round trip, but decided I could spend the extra $20 to get direct flights on Northwest instead. The trip is over a month and a half away, but I'm still pretty excited.
It's a beautiful day to be in Minneapolis. Sure, the skies are gray, but the trees most definitely are not. I walked downtown to take care of some errands a few hours ago and there were leaves falling everywhere. Traveling through Loring Park, I found myself unintentionally reaching out and grabbing at the leaves passing before me; there were so many of them it was almost an automatic reaction. The squirrels were out in force, too, their food drive in full swing. I had a few of them follow me a bit to see if I was discarding anything. On the way back home I stopped at one point, looked down at a squirrel that had been shadowing me and decided to stand still for a few moments. Within half a minute I had 17 squirrels standing within 20 feet of me, all of them pondering and silent. I felt bad holding them there--I wasn't planning on giving them anything--so I moved on. They scattered, a few of them barking at each other, possibly for infringing on each other's territory.
it20011012 - Friday
November is starting to look busy. I'm going to be visiting Chicago Sarah the first weekend and heading to the folks' place later in the month for Thanksgiving. That still leaves me with over 40 hours of vacation I have to burn before the end of the year if I don't want to lose them. So, um, I'm thinking about visiting New York with Mel. We're looking at November 14th to 17th, November 28th to December 1st or December 5th through 8th. Right now it looks like I'd be able to get airfare and a nice hotel room for under $400.
A coworker offered some commentary on my travel plans earlier today: "You would go to the one place everyone is trying to get away from." Well, there's sort of a story behind that. I've visited Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, but never New York. It hasn't been because of a lack of interest. Indeed, the situation was quite the opposite. I always felt that my first trip there couldn't be for just a couple of days. I wanted a full week, a few days to do the tourist stuff, a few days to get lost to see what I could discover. Last month's events changed my stance on that. From now on, whenever I get a good opportunity to travel somewhere, I'll take it, regardless of how long the trip will be.
In somewhat of a related note, I finally got around to requesting a certified copy of my birth certificate. I should get it in a couple weeks, at which time I'll be one step closer to that passport.
The new Ben Folds album is so fucking good it's not even funny. I haven't done the top five albums thing in a while, but if I did so today, Rockin' The Suburbs would definitely be on it.
Aaron Brown, the steadiest man on television.
it20011011 - Thursday
The Mall Of America was featured in The New York Times this morning. An excerpt:
This place attracts many mall walkers, mostly older people who come for strolls and coffee before the stores open. "We still see most of the people we're used to seeing," said Roy Bergman, a mall walker. "I'm not going to change my lifestyle. Besides, if they bomb this place they'll do it when it's full, not early in the morning."
You know, I wonder about some of my fellow Minnesotans sometimes. Speaking of Minnesota's largest terrorist target, Heather, Rich and I saw Serendipity there Tuesday night. The movie was a bit forced at times and discarded some characters without proper explanation, but overall it still had enough mindless fun to garner a recommendation. (That said, I don't mean to suggest that I actually believe any of that fate/destiny/luck crap, of course.)
And yes, the mall was empty.
it20011010 - Wednesday
it20011009 - Tuesday
Eh, the stupid things I shouldn't have to deal with. This morning I requested a credit report from TransUnion. Why? It turns out there's another Mark Danielson residing somewhere in Minneapolis who happens to have a significant number of outstanding bills. Over the past few months I've gotten a couple of calls from collection agencies mistaking me for him, the most recent having come last night. Granted, I haven't run into any problems so far, but it seems to be a reasonably prudent move to make sure they know I'm not him.
it20011008 - Monday
So, anyway, Sarah made her first pilgrimage to Ikea within the first 48 hours of her Illinoisan residency. And she actually bought stuff. Too bad the quality of their products has fallen through the floor over the past few years.
My legs are a bit sore today, presumably from the game of touch-football yesterday. I knew I was out of shape, but damn.
it20011007 - Sunday
Well, bombs are falling in Afghanistan. If all goes well, food will soon be falling, too. I hope this works.
Turkey Party 2001 was a great success. We had 24 people total, a few fewer than expected but still a great crowd. Most of us were sold on deep-frying the turkey. Cooking time was just over 50 minutes, but that's nothing compared to how long the bird lasted after being placed on the table. The entire turkey was demolished within 15 minutes. John was very nice for finding a deep-fryer for us to use, but now, having seen the results, I'm no longer planning on returning mine to the store. The turkey was very tender and very juicy. We had salt and seasonings available, but I don't think anyone used them. The turkey was good enough by itself. I talked to Heather and she's now planning on keeping her propane tank, so as of now we're looking for another excuse to use the two.
Anyway, aside from the turkey, everything turned out really well, be it food or company. My veggie lasagna was well-received (it was less soupy than normal) and all the potluck food was very good. We had a couple different kinds of potatoes, a big salad, stuffing (Heather's mom's recipe), pasta and veggies. The quality of the deserts was notable, too: Despite just about everyone being full from the main course, the five different desert options disappeared in short order. About $25 worth of bottled beverages were consumed (I know, I supplied them), in addition to a bottle and a half of wine. An unused third bottle remains unopened awaiting a future occasion.
Everyone seemed to have a good time. Conversation was good until Becky broke out Catch Phrase, at which point things got downright loopy (in a good way). Most people cleared out before midnight, but a few people hung out for a while afterwards. The last person finally headed out a little after 4:15 this morning.
I'm already wondering what we're going to do for Turkey Party 2002. (This is a bit sick, but I already have a logo in mind.) Both this year's and last year's parties went so well; it'll be somewhat difficult to come up with something to make next year's as fun and unique. But, then again, we have at least eight months to think about that.
I'll get the photos up when I have time.
Spent most of the day at Jason and Sarah's in River Falls today. Heather, Rich and I headed over there this afternoon to watch the Vikings and Packers games. Fans for both teams found themselves disappointed. (Jason, responding to the Vikings getting a delay-of-game penalty: "Aw shit god-damn hell fuck.") Sarah left in the early evening to take care of some business while the rest of us drove over to Hoffman Park to play a game of touch football in the retention basin. (Note to self: When playing touch football there's absolutely no reason to stiff-arm someone while carrying the ball. That's flag football, you dumbass.) No one kept score, but the general consensus was we're all out of shape.
Driving home later in the evening I found myself being contemplative about the weekend. It's periods like this that make me happy to know those I know and to be in the situation I'm in. I complain all the time, but, relatively speaking, I really have very little to complain about.
If there's a downside to this weekend it's that Sarah (the other Sarah) moved to Chicago Friday. I'm sure she's going off to great things, but, from a selfish standpoint, it always sucks when a close friend moves. It's sort of like when biker Ben went back to northeastern Wisconsin or the other Ben moved down to Madison. Whatever the case, her new residence will at least give me an excuse to travel down to Chicago more often. Still, I'll miss having her around up here.
it20011005 - Friday
Preparations for Turkey Party 2001 are in full swing. Since I'd already finished my shopping, when Heather headed out for groceries this evening I stopped her to make sure we weren't doubling up on anything.
Me: "Do you need any eggs?"
Heather: "I have lots of eggs."
Later in the evening I spent an hour and a half in the kitchen preparing some vegetarian lasagna while Heather and Rich played GranTurismo in the living room. Heather's inquiry came over the sound of buzzing electronic automobiles. "Mark, is your lasagna spicy?"
"It smells spicy." A few minutes later: "Mark, it's too spicy! It hurts my eyes."
I'm taking it as a good sign.
Ben Folds echoed through my head for the entire day today despite the severe and possibly noise-related headache that plagued my morning hours. The concert last night was awesome. The songs from the new album were great, Folds' performance was amazing and the crowd was completely into it. I can't remember the last time I smiled through an entire concert, but last night's performance just about demanded as much. "Rockin' The Suburbs" was particularly good at bringing down the house ("particularly" because a number of songs managed to do that), with the band members jumping from the speakers, a mosh pit spontaneously forming against the stage and Folds doing his best Fred Durst impression. If not for the dickweed fratboy who insisted climbing on the stage and making an ass of himself the concert would've been perfect.
But, then again, in a way the audience member's stupidity was strangely poetic.
it20011003 - Wednesday
As of today I'm officially excited for the Ben Folds concert at First Ave tomorrow. TMBG will be playing there in a week, but so far I've found no one interested in going.
it20011002 - Tuesday
Today was the first day fall really made itself evident to me. Neighborhood trees that seemed to be green just a few days ago have erupted into fiery reds, oranges and yellows. The daily crossing of the Minnesota River Valley remains predominately green, but glimpses of the shades to come are slowly becoming more evident. I stedfastly remain a winter person, but do admit a weak spot for the colors of this fine season. Yes, it seems it may be time to dust off the old analog camera.
It's a beautiful day today, 83 degrees and sunny. On my desktop there's a photo I took back in 1995 of snow clinging to few barren tree branches. This has become a minor issue for some coworkers who think it's anti-American (or something) to be promoting snowfall in this time of gently falling leaves. To them I say bah! I'm a Northerner and damn proud of it. Besides, Halloween is coming up and in Minnesota that could very well mean we're about to get a snowstorm.
Do I want snow? Oh yes. Dump it on me, baby.
it20011001 - Monday
Any day that starts with me driving half-way to work before realizing I forgot my organizer is going to be one of questionable quality.
Today is Grey Day.