Not that anyone should be using AOL to help them make their voting decisions, but this morning I tried out AOL President Match to see who they thought I was most politically aligned with out of the current candidates. My results:
I don't think I'm quite as liberal as that list makes me look. The inclusion of third-party candidates, especially from the Libertarian Party, would probably reinforce that.
) ) )
I was able to get the Saab's radio working this morning. Now I just want to know why the dashboard lights and the fuel injection system are on the same circuit.
This morning it took me over four hours and $270 to drive to work. In the process, I also killed my car's radio.
But first, let me back up a bit.
It was a cold morning. Not just a little cold, but a 22 below, high-wind, lead-pipe-upside-the-head cold. The battery on my Saab was good, but I quickly wore it down trying to get the car started. Annoyed, I went back to the apartment and started calling towing companies to get a jump. As expected on this coldest of Minnesota mornings, the waiting times were obscene. Five hours. Seven hours. Six to eight hours. I was on the verge of putting myself on a four-hour waiting list when I heard the rumble of a truck outside. I looked out the window and saw a wrecker stopping by a stalled car, so I zipped up my coat, ran outside and put myself in line.
$50. He started four other cars on the block before driving off. $300 for 20 minutes worth of work.
My car was running, but not well. The guy from the wrecker service insisted on starting the car himself and practically flooded the engine in the process. From previous experience with the Saab, I knew an oil change was now in order. I called work to let them know I'd be even later than first expected, drove to the suburb of my employment and stopped at a Valvoline Instant Oil Change.
"Oil change for you today?"
"Did you know you have a flat tire?"
"Front right. Completely flat."
I went ahead and got the oil changed ($27), and they were nice enough to put the spare on for me. I drove out and headed to the nearby Goodyear. By the time I got there, I'd lost my front left tire as well.
"So what can I do for you today?"
"Well, I have two flat tires..."
"That your Saab?"
"Aluminum rims. They have trouble holding their seals in this weather."
"Hmm hmm. All the flats people have been bringing in today have aluminum rims."
"What kind of wait are you guys working on today?"
"Two to three hours."
A brief inspection showed the tires not to be salvageable; not only had they lost pressure, but their walls had split in multiple places as well.
Stuck in the middle of a suburban wasteland with no transportation, I decided I was hungry and set out to grab lunch. Unfortunately, a nearby McDonald's was the only place within a reasonable distance. Also unfortunately, the walk there was against the wind. In retrospect, staying hungry probably would've been a significantly more enjoyable experience. This was reinforced by two subsequent experiences: One, the food was bad even for McDonald's, and two, the moment I walked out of the restaurant I realized the wind had shifted direction. I ended up running straight into it both ways.
The high today was -4.
The area lacked sidewalks, so I ended up cutting across a couple large streets and a Wal-Mart parking lot. (I found a small footpath between the Wal-Mart lot and McDonald's, possibly worn there by store employees running out for an inexpensive lunch. Talk about a vicious cycle.) Back at Goodyear, I was pleased to find they'd managed to sneak my car in between appointments. Another 30 minutes, plus $190, and I was back on the road again.
Driving to work, I realized my car's clock was 15 minutes slow. I turned on the radio, and it gave a message for me to enter a security code. Goodyear must've disconnected the battery when they changed the tires. No big deal, I thought, and opened the glovebox to grab the slip of paper with the code for the radio. Despite the buttons on the radio being roughly the size of Chiclets, I figured I could type in the code without taking off my gloves. Of course, I hit two buttons at the same time, causing the radio lock up and start beeping. Worse, it wouldn't let me enter the code again.
I arrived at work over four hours late. After finding a parking spot, I turned off the car, waited a few moments, and then turned on the radio again. It kept beeping. I tried entering the code. It wouldn't take it. In the end I tried everything from removing fuses to disconnecting the battery. No luck. When driving, I now have two options: I can have the radio off, or I can have the radio beep at me.
Neither option is particularly appealing. Tomorrow I drive to Marshfield, Wisconsin for Robin and Andy's open house. I'm thinking about renting a car to do so.
"I got a full-blown booger freeze walking in this morning."
"It's pretty cold out there. We're still sending the kids out to wait for the bus, though."
"I figure it toughens them up a bit."
"Well, I had to do that when I was a kid."
"Heck, we lost half of my fifth-grade class that way."
) ) )
It's been a fairly rough week as far as sleeping goes. The four and a half hours of rest I got last night was the most I've gotten since Sunday morning. I handled Monday on about three hours of sleep, Tuesday on roughly three and a half, Wednesday on two. There are a lot of factors playing into this: Work has been incredibly stressful this month, I haven't been as active as usual (-22 degrees before windchill is cold enough to keep even me inside), and my building's weather-induced hyperactive boiler has kept my bedroom so warm I've had to sleep on top of the covers with the windows open. More than anything else, though, my sleeplessness probably stems letting my body slip into its native 30-hour day over the weekend, a pretty stupid move on my part. I'm usually pretty good at managing against that, but when I don't it often takes me a full week or two to get back on schedule. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
The mindless five-hour redesign of this site that induced it was kind of fun, though. Watch for the new look next month.
Another busy weekend and, again, not much to show for it.
I've been thinking I need a better way to identify priorities. Trudging through paperwork Saturday morning, I came up with a quick test that won't really help me figure out what I should be doing, but at least should help me identify the things I shouldn't be spending time on. In brief, before undertaking some project, be it major or minor, I'm going to ask myself two questions:
- Is it important (and/or right), and
- Is it enjoyable?
If it's neither important nor enjoyable, I probably should't be wasting time on it. Granted, by that logic I should never bother cleaning my apartment, so the test could probably use some work.
) ) )
It's going to be a busy week. Unfortunately, most of the reasons it'll be busy fall squarely into the "important" category, with "enjoyable" making nary an appearance. I have no idea what the highlight of the week will be, but I'd bet good money that it won't be the trip to the Hennepin County Government Center Tuesday morning.
But more on that some other time, after I've calmed down a bit.
"Oh, that's a feather that came out of my coat."
"You're keeping it?"
"I'm going to take it home for the cat."
"Yeah. He eats them."
"Your cat eats feathers."
"They're from birds. Of course he eats feathers."
"I found him snacking on the end of a pillow once."
) ) )
Wednesday, 12:34 A.M. I'm going to make a concerted effort not to talk about politics today.
) ) )
OK, I lied. James Lileks has a hilarious remix of Howard Dean coming a bit unhinged during his final speech in Iowa Monday. While Lileks obviously intended for the file to lampoon Dean, in a way it actually has the strange effect of making the speech sound much, much better. The enthusiasm Dean was trying to stir up (and, unfortunately, missed) comes out much clearer when backed by a dorky soundtrack.
Who knows. Maybe Lileks just gave them their campaign song.
8:13 CST. Time for the State Of The Union. I'm going to keep a running count of the number of times I get the urge to throw something at the TV over the next hour:
(8:15.) Wow, he's gotten off to a stupid start.
(8:16.) I think he just licked his nose.
- "Inside the United States, where the war began..."
- Now he's defending the Patriot Act.
- More Patriot Act crap.
(8:18.) Dems applauding the expiration of parts of the Patriot Act. Awesome.
- More Patriot Act B.S.
- And more.
- He's still saying Iraq has WMD. Or at least alluding it it.
- (8:22.) Full participation by women in Afghanistan my ass.
- (8:23.) Oh, sure, it was the UN who wanted Saddam out. Right.
(8:25.) "The United States of America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." Look in the mirror, dude.
- (8:27.) Did he just say his words were credible?
- (8:30.) Alluding to terrorism and Iraq again.
- (8:33.) Oh, for the love of god, give up on the WMD in Iraq already. WE ALL KNOW YOU LIED, GEORGE.
- More WMD.
- (8:37.) "Forward strategy of Freedom..."
- "No ambitions of empire." Right.
- (8:39.) No, George, the economy is not strong.
- And tax "relief" didn't help.
- "Jobs are on the rise." Uh, a couple thousand across the entire country isn't very many, Pres.
- (8:41.) The No Child Left Behind Act. Hey, didn't you just underfund that?
Better higher ed support. I'll drop back to 24 for that, although I'll believe it when I see it.
- Uh oh. Tax reductions again.
- (8:45.) Make the tax cuts permanent.
- (8:46.) Protection from "frivolous lawsuits."
- Energy conservation. Yeah, like we believe you.
- (8:48.) "Be wise with people's money." $100 billion dumped in Iraq, George.
(8:49.) Immigration reform. Good, but again, I'll believe it when I see it.
(8:53.) Medical coverage. Lots of crap flying around here, but nothing I'm getting too riled up about. Yet.
- (8:55.) Drug testing in schools. Good way to teach them young that the government owns you.
- Are you talking about drugs in professional sports? WTF.
- (8:58.) Ok, here comes the abstinence speech... Waiting for it... Yup.
- More abstinence stuff.
- (9:00.) Only heterosexual couples should marry, mmm'kay?
- "Unleashing compassion of religious institutions..." Grant money to faith-based charities.
"Age two... Age ten!" Heh.
- Ok, he basically just said God was guiding our nation in all it's efforts abroad. Great, George. You have Jefferson and Franklin spinning in their graves.
And with that, it's over.
) ) )
Add in eight more throws at the TV for the Democratic response. Also, was it me, or was Nancy Pelosi trying to hypnotize us? Blink already!
) ) )
The Independent: George W. Bush and the real state of the Union.
Well, Dean just got his ass kicked in Iowa. This sucks. I guess I'm glad that Kerry came in first, as he and Dean have been the candidates I've been rooting for so far, but I still would've liked a stronger showing from Dean. That said, Iowa has never been a good indicator of who's going to be nominated, so it's not like all is lost at this point.
I'm not quite sure what I think about Edwards coming in second. I'm going to have to spend some time reading up on him again. Regardless, New Hampshire should be interesting.
) ) )
In other political news, my dad thinks he knows who's going to be the Democratic nominee: Al Gore. To hear him tell it, the primaries are just one big setup for a "surprise" Gore nomination in Boston this July. I don't share his enthusiasm for this theory, but, hey, to each his own.
I knew I was behind on my email, but holy crap. I have no idea what I wrote that caused all the words of concern for me, but I just want to let everyone know that I'm OK and doing fine. Really.
) ) )
In other, less serious mail news—this of the terrestrial sort—I've been having a lot of problems sending and receiving packages lately. Robin and Andy's wedding photos were returned Thursday for no clear reason; a Christmas card from an old coworker, postmarked December 19th here in Minneapolis, was delivered Tuesday; and a Priority Mail shipment from my folks, sent on January 8th from Northeastern Wisconsin, didn't get here until the 16th. Granted, there weren't any major consequences to any of these delays (it's not like I missed an important check or anything), but together they're still very annoying.
) ) )
A short piece in today's StarTribue pretty much sums up why I've stopped watching KSTP.
Just an FYI: Garlic, red peppers and chocolate are not a good combination.
) ) )
My old Saab—i.e., the one I'm keeping—has been in the shop for maintenance of the scheduled and regular sort since last Tuesday. One of the taillight assemblies had been having intermittent problems, so we decided to replace it. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be easier said that done: As of this afternoon, Saab has sent the shop defective replacement parts three times in a row. Now, I know this sounds similar to the problems I had getting a timing chain for my other car, but there's one striking difference: Where the last car was serviced at a local mom-and-pop operation a few block from my home, the current work is being done at Morrie's Saab, one of the largest Saab dealers in the Midwest. Now, I can sort of understand it if a small operation had trouble getting the correct parts from time to time, but when a dealership the size of Morrie's runs into the same problem it makes me think GM has some work to do on their supply systems.
On the bright side, I've spent the last week tooling around in a loaner, a shiny new Saab 9-3. It's definitely more fun to drive than my old 9000, although that's not to suggest I'd ever want to own one: The new car is a Saab in name only, and in that sense is pretty boring.
Well, I suppose it was only because of another team's end-of-game implosion that the Packers made it to the playoffs anyway. Just like the Vikings' string of dumb moves against Arizona, the Packers wrapped themselves up and handed the game to Philadelphia. Farve made his first throw in overtime and I turned off the TV before the ball had even begun its descent.
What a dumb way for the season to end.
) ) )
At first I though the Packer game was going to be the lowlight of the day. Of course, that was before I dropped my cell phone into the kitty litter.
You know what I hate? Hotels that provide irons in each room, but the irons are too big to fit into any of the sinks. You know what else I hate? Showers that don't have a clear on/off switch.
I'm in Deerfield, Illinois on business. It's a fly in, work, fly out kind of deal, so there won't be much to report. And on that note, back to work.
So, it's the new year. My resolutions are archived here. An 80% success ratio would be nice.
) ) )
Not much else to say about the past few days. New Year's in St. Paul was kind of lame. Two guys, a credit card and a Wisconsin-based fireworks store could've resulted in a better show than what people in downtown St. Paul were presented with Thursday morning. Eh. As for Minneapolis, I'd like to find out what rocket scientist decided the hold the fireworks show at 8:30 Wednesday evening, forcing those traditionalists among us to trek to our neighbor to the east. Not good.
Anyway, I celebrated New Year's Day off by rummaging through my file cabinets and trashing old documents. It's a process I go through every six months or so, but somehow I made a much bigger mess this time around than I usually do. Indeed, this evening is the first time in four days I've been able to see the floor of my living room. Whee, the excitement is unbelievable.
It's going to be a busy week, though. I have a business trip to Chicago Wednesday and Thursday, plus a number of other things going on at home. (For various reasons, I'm going to make the tactical decision to not talk about those right now.) The only thing I'm going to make a big point of this week is sending Robin and Andy the photos from their wedding. It's embarrassing that I didn't have them to them a month ago. I've promised a rant about Proex a number of times in this space, but I've been so worn down by the entire fiasco I no longer feel up to it. Let me just say this: If a person is willing to pay a premium for quality photo processing, basics like the photos (and index prints) being delivered in the order they appear on the negatives should not be too much to ask.
) ) )
Unless something goes dramatically wrong in testing, come February this site will have a new design. It's been dressed in these colors since March of 2002 and is really overdue for a new look.
Or, in a way, an old one.