The State of the Union Drinking Game. I'm glad I didn't play.
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I awoke around three in the morning, a funny buzzing sensation surrounding my head. It took me a few moments to realize that buzzing was actually purring, and that sensation was actually cat hair. Putter had plopped himself down on my pillow, wrapped himself around the only visible part of my body and fallen asleep. My first thought was it was kind of cute, but my second thought was there was now cat butt on my pillow.
With that, the cat was promptly but kindly placed at the foot of my bed.
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One of my New Year's resolutions, the one about not working over 45 hours a week more than three times over the course of the year, already seems to be on its last legs. Yesterday I worked over 11 hours. Today would've totaled eight and a half, but I worked through lunch, so in reality it was more like nine. If I tried to be really strict with my time over the next three days I'm sure I could still come in under 45, but there's a lot of stuff I really have to get done this week, so that's not really practical.
The Raiders and the Bucs. I can't think of two teams I could care less about. Well, maybe the Texans.
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This turned out to be one of those evenings where I probably would've been better off if I'd just kept my mouth shut. I got to attend a small dinner party at Meg and Amanda's, and while it was a lot of fun and the food was good, I managed to unintentionally insult the hosts on a number of occassions. For example, when discussing our frigid weather I stated my belief that it's actually good as it keeps the stupid people awayforgetting, for the moment, that Meg and Amanda are moving to NYC this summer. Nice. Later on while I was preparing to head out Amanda commented that she liked my winter coat, but said she wouldn't want one with an open neck like it. My less than well-thought-out reply: "That's what scarves are for."
Everyone laughed, so it was taken as a joke, but internally I was horrified. Later tonight I accidentally insulted the cat three separate times, but he doesn't speak English, so it was okay.
11:45 in the evening. It's already six below zero in Minneapolis, and the temperature's still dropping. They say we could hit 20 below before daybreak. Inside the apartment, though, it's a sweltering 83 degrees, and the cat is actively avoiding the warm spots on the floor. I turned off the radiators a couple of days ago, but there was still enough heat coming through the floor that I had to open the windows in my bedroom. Tonight I'll probably sleep on top of the sheets.
Other than that, there's not much to say other than it's turning out to be a very busy week. It was one of my goals going into 2003 to limit my work weeks to 45 hours with three exceptions throughout the year. I hate to burn one of those exceptions in the first month, but it looks like I'll pass 45 hours sometime early Friday morning. Who knows. It probably wasn't a reasonable resolution anyway.
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The coffee shop used to be dreadfully goth, but these days seemed to be skewing emo. She rustled the chipped ice in her glass before shifting subjects. "You ever have trouble telling if girls are interested in you?"
I thought about it for a moment and told her no, but then related a story about the year in college where another student apparently had a profound interest in me, a fact that was evident to everyone except me. "After the year was over they were all like 'Mark, she always acted differently around you,' and I had to respond if she always did act differently, how was I supposed to be able to tell?"
"That's a valid point."
"So, no, I guess sometimes I have't been able to tell."
Sim City 4 came out last Tuesday. In related news, my weekend was completely trashed. I did a few legitimate thingsI finally got a reading lamp, caught up on laundry after one of the building's two washing machines was out of service for a week and a half, and photographed the beginning of the end of the Minneapolis Public Librarybut most of it was spent in front of a computer immersed in an artificial world where one can first play god and then play mayor. Despite the amount of time spent playing it (I was up to 3:00 this morning), my reactions are no better than mixed. The graphics are much better than SC3K Unlimited, but I'm not sold on the gameplay yet. For one, the lack of boulevards sucks. I'm also iffy about the scaled-back ordinances and the inability to change and rearrange the size of cities in regions (hey, Maxis, can you point to the metro areas where the largest cities sit on the outer fringes?). I also put a question mark next to the integration with "The Sims," which so far appears to be more of a marketing ploy than it does a legitimate game element. But, as said, I'm only five cities into SC4, and the first three of those were intentional test cases anyway, so my opinion will probably change.
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And with that I'm off to meet a friend for coffee. I guess everyone has to venture away from their computer now and then.
"I rediscovered my love of green tea today."
"Are you shaking?"
"Yes you are... You're shaking."
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I seem to have lost my ability to estimate walking distances. When I headed out to meet some friends at the CC Club last night I thought, oh, it's only six or seven blocks, no big deal. In reality, it turned out to be twice that many, not good considering the temperature was hovering around zero and I was dressed in winter attire of the short-range variety. It took me a few minutes to thaw out, but I did manage to retain all my fingers, so it wasn't that bad. Anyway, the only reason I'm still pondering last night at all is I wander down Lyndale at least once a week, so I should have a fairly good idea where everything is and how long it should take to get there. Am I really that absent-minded? Who knows, maybe the CC Club is just stuck in a walking equivalent of flyover land, a peculiar space passerby are aware of but don't mentally organize.
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"You either embrace the cold weather or you let it get to you."
"Really, you get used to it after a while."
"You know, they have a word for that."
Diana and I caught Gangs Of New York at St. Anthony Main this evening. The movie started out slow and maybe a bit rough, but it became more involving as it progressed. I can't say whether I liked it or not as my brain is still attempting to process it, but I do know it's not a film I'd tell people to avoid. So, anyway, more on that subject whenever I finally make up my mind.
Changing the subject slightly, despite having lived in Minneapolis for two and a half years, this evening was the first time I visited that odd little movie theater on the other side of the river. It's a bit worn down and the screens are a tad small, but I still liked it. It's clean and unpretentious, a good place to hide out and catch a movie after a bad day at work or a long afternoon extracting cat hair from the carpeting. I'm slowly becoming more movie-orientated again, so I may become a regular customer.
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I finally posted the photos from September's trip to Cincinnati. They're kind of boring and I probably put up too many of them, so consider yourself warned if you take a look.
It's turning out to be an exceedingly difficult week for sleep. Three straight nights with less than three hours of sleep each night. I'm dragging a bit.
I'm not sure how it is on most days, but Friday evening there was something very off about the Aster Cafe. Diana, a friend of Biker Ben and Beth's who'll be ministering their wedding in a few months, was reading a paper when I walked in, but most of the customers were just sitting idly with their coffee, glazed and distant looks on their faces, none of them doing anything. The soundtrack for Amelie played from unseen speakers without competition. I greeted Diana and walked up to the counter to get something to drink, but before I could even say hello I found the server tossing questions at me. "Do you know what the word 'house' is in French?"
"No, I can't say I do."
She looked at the girl reading a book at the end of the counter. "He' doesn't know, either." Pause. "What can I get you?"
"A large chai tea, please."
"That's hot, right?"
I sat down at the table a few minutes later. "There's something exceedingly grim about this place."
"I don't know. Everyone just looks really drained and bored."
She folder her paper and looked around. "I hadn't noticed."
Despite the oddity of the Aster, it did turn out to be a good evening. We missed Gangs Of New York at not just one theater but two, wandered around Block E and discussed the future of those two friends of ours who're about to get married. The funniest point of the evening probably occurred at the downtown Schinder's while we were perusing the magazine racks. I picked up a copy of The Skeptical Inquirer at the same time she grabbed an issue of New Witch Magazine. We looked at each other's selections, looked at each other and broke out laughing.
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Earlier today I was pretty confident I'd have the Cincinnati photos up by this evening, but that was before I stumbled across a site about Cincinnati's abandoned subway system. I suddenly found myself on an abandoned-subway web-surfing kick, and with that my afternoon was shot.
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In other news, it would seem that the cat likes White Castle. (Hey, I was up late last night.)
One of the downsides to having a site design that incorporates the year into it is that a new year requires new images. Due to a relatively new computer and the absence of Frutiger from said computer's font folder, that turned out to be a much greater challenge than it should've been, and hence udpates here have been delayed a few days.
While I'm not sure what Putter thinks about the situation, I can say I'm still recovering from what from this point forward will be referred to as "The Mouse Incident." But more on that some other time.
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While out running some errands on my lunch hour, I had the misfortune to listen to an interview on MPR with Carol Molnau, Minnesota's new lieutenant governor and transportation commissioner. She came across as a kind, grandmotherly figure who happens to have an incredibly profound detachment from reality. The Minnesota DOT is in pretty rough shape as it is, but under her direction, I think we can safely expect it to become downright fucked. Among the many lowlights (with my comments in parenthesis):
- She thinks a second beltline around the Twin Cities metro is an "excellent" idea.
- Busses will always be the mule of mass transit, so we need to build better roads for them.
- Maybe we can let the UPS and FedEx trucks use the HOV lanes during rush hour. (Oh, sure, that'll encourage people to use the lanes.)
- A light rail line between Minneapolis and St. Paul? It took her a lot of words to say it, but no.
- Commuter rail like the proposed Northstar line? Probably not, unless the cities along the way want to pay for it. (Uh, what if we funded the freeways like that?)
- She would support severely scaling back the municipal consent laws that allow communities to have some control over the construction and design of the freeways that slice through them. According to Molnau, the laws have "given local communities a lot more power than was ever intended."
- Mass transit is social engineering, but new freeways are not.
And that's just a start. She made a number of asinine comments over the course of the hour, but one was more telling than most as to how horrible of a transportation commissioner she'll be: "People always ask 'Can we build our way out?' This metropolitan area hasn't tried." Oh, wonderful. Maybe she should consider visiting Atlanta sometime. I'd like to think four years is a short time and Molnau won't be able to do that much damage, but I thought the same thing about the Bush administration. I've heard some reasonable things from Pawlenty over the past few weeks, so I'm trying to keep an open mind about him, but as far as transportation goes, it would seem we have a disaster in the making.
Hold on, dear friends. This is going to suck.
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I left Heather and Rich's around 11:00 last night, got home a quarter to, circled the block for a parking space, sat with Putter and listened to the rumble of the fireworks echoing in from downtown, collapsed into my bed and slept until 11:15 this morning.
And with that, I start the new year. It should be interesting.
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My brain has been preoccupied with more important matters lately, so despite Sunday's blather, I really haven't spent much time thinking about goals and resolutions for the new year. That said, there are a few that have become fairly evident, although most are ones I've already been working on for some time:
- Limit work to 45 hours a week. In an effort to be realistic about this one, I'm going to allow myself three exceptions over the course of the year, but that's it.
- Buy property. I'm not closed to the idea of getting a house, but considering my lifestyle (or lack thereof), I'm leaning towards a condo or a townhome.
- Travel overseas. If things go as planned (and certain political situations don't change), that'll probably happen in July.
- Read at least one book a month. I used to be a voracious book reader. While I still spend about 20 minutes a day going through the paper and an hour or so reading stuff online, I feel I've lost something by not immersing myself in a good book now and then. Subject and genre aren't very important to me, although if history is any guide, most of what I read will probably be nonfiction.
- Take better care of myself. I think there's a law that says New Year's resolutions have to include some exercise-related item, and so this is it. I've been pretty good about keeping myself active, but I don't have any formal exercise plan and am starting to pay for it. At the rate I'm going, my pants-size will equal my age around 40, and that's no good.
There are others, and I'm carrying over many of my resolutions from last year, but those are the new ones most prominent in my mind.