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A blog experiment...

I was getting bored so I've made a change. I'm experimenting with using and Comment This to power the "active" section of That means that this archive link pretty much just houses the Pre-Blogger archives. I think you have to go back to the home page to get to the Blogger archived posts -- so anything after October 20th until I decide what's up. - Steph

Stuff on the left



Comic Linguist (cunning?) Ari Hoptman at the President Hayes Memorial, hero of Paraguay.

It is of interest to note that if you Google "President Hayes Memorial" the majority of links are hotels.


10.20.03 Fighting with Mom

For the first time in a long time, I'm fighting with my mother. Although, if I say that we're fighting over the holidays, people will roll their eyes and say "you do that every year." But while on the surface, it looks like we're fighting about the holidays, the real argument is me saying "give it a rest" and mom saying "back off" about a whole number of things -- her relationship with my father's family, her feelings towards living and working in St. Louis, and I think the bottom line... my mom living up to my expectations.

Which is kind of an ironic twist, if you ask me. When I think back to the way I was raised, I of course have always known that my family loves me. But like the song says "it's a strange way to tell me you love me" because it wasn't a mushy cuddly type of youth. If you wanted to be loved and respected (which of course you did) the way to do that was to prove yourself to be stubbornly independent and capable. Being out of control was the second worst crime next to lying. Every action you took in your life had consequences, good or bad.

So when I feel like my mom is playing helpless I'm alternately confused (mom has never, in my experience, been helpless over anything) and angry. She's got a lot of nerve saying that she gets to blame other things in her life for her troubles (of which I think she's making a mountain out of a molehill) when the whole premise of our youth was that we caused our own destiny. But everything I say to her skirts around that because I somehow can't bring myself to tell her that she caused her own trials and that she raised a mean kid.

Because through this I feel like maybe I'm just a hard bitch and I should just lay off. If I do that, I've been manipulated by mom because she gets to be above the rules she's set -- I'm angry again and we're back at a stalemate and she doesn't even know I've been thinking about it.

10.17.03 Pre-Weekend Misc.

Dave linked to Modern Drunkard Magazine's "Which Rat Pack Member Are You?" and of course, I had to find out. Apparently, I'm Joey Bishop. I'll take it. I mean, really, none of them would suck.

Managed to make it to work on time today and I tried really hard not to. Okay, I didn't try that hard not to, but the power went out in the middle of the night. I woke up pre-dawn thinking, "Gosh it's Dark" and "Gosh it's Quiet" and "Gosh I'm enjoying sleeping". But then I realized that all those things were because the power went out. I told myself that absolved me of any guilt for being late to work, but just when I was going to drift back to sleep, the power went back on. Bah. In morbid curiosity I went downstairs and checked our magical coffee maker that sets itself from the atomic clock. 7am. Time to get up. Shitty.

Today at 2pm, the new rent-a-art comes in. It was my prize for getting the most "stars" that I got to go help pick it out. It would have been a much more fun endeavor if a) I wasn't convinced that this was a huge test to see how well I knew my coworkers, and b) there had been some really cool art to be had. In any event, it'll be nice to see some change around here and maybe if I guessed right on some, I'll make a few pals. Or maybe a few enemies. Hmm, sure could use some of those at work.

10.16.03 Paper Towel Conspiracy

Tim is a sucker for the "1001 Fill-in-the-blank-est things/events/people Ever " books and sometimes I read bits and snatches of them as well. Since I don't even care for short stories, these kinds of things are only marginally interesting to me. Flipping through one that he was reading, I came across "How to Wash Windows Like a Pro". Since I was planning on washing my windows this fall, I read it.


No one ever told me about squeegees. I was skeptical, so I bought a roll of paper towels at the same time that I got the squeegee. But dang it, I didn't even have to open it. The squeegee thing works. I did 5 windows -- both sides, double sets -- in under 2 hours last night. And they look as good as if I'd done it the mind numbingly slow way with an ammonia rag followed by an alcohol water rag followed by many paper towels. Ugh!

Here it is, condensed from the book: Warm gallon of water with 4-5 drops of dishwashing liquid (Dawn? Joy?). Scrub down the window. Wipe the blade of the squeegee with your sponge to lube it with water. At a slight angle, go across the top of the window. Wipe the blade. Go straight down. Wipe blade. Go straight down again until you've gone across the whole window. Take one last lap sideways across the bottom. If you feel psycho, use a clean paper towel to get the very edges on the bottom.

Fast and better than I can do the old way.

10.14.03 Neighborhood developments

I'm not one of those "Change is Bad" people. Here are a couple of articles I've found interesting because they hit two topics I like -- real estate development and my neighborhood.

The first is specifically about the 'hood: Skyway News: Giant riverfront condo complex shrinks. Which is not to say that it's small. It's still over 1,000 units. In general, I'm for the idea, but looking at the rendering of the project has me a little hesitant. The buildings are just, well, dull. If I ran the zoo, I'd make it less units yet (500?) and make them more interesting buildings -- these remind me of the International Center or worse, Cedar Square West.

The second article, Twin Cities Business Journal: Condo market may become overbuilt hits on my second hesitation. Some 250 apartments are being built, 150 townhouses & lofts are in progress, not to mention all the proposals going on downtown.

We're talking about some 4,000 new units in the next four years, which seems like a lot of houses to fill, considering that there has already been a lot of development (take a walk around the North Loop sometime.) If they manage to fill them, that means there will be 4-8,000 extra people getting in their cars and driving to the suburbs nearly every day because people that buy $500K condos aren't going to want to shop at Rick's SuperValu or Lien's Creepy War Books. (Sorry guys, but you know it's true.) That's a lot of traffic even if they are Lexi.

For once I am hoping that the economy stays sluggish and slows some of this development down to a rate where all these units can be absorbed and a few more supporting businesses can be built.

10.13.03 Shaking my head like an old person

If'n ya know me, you know that I fairly well disdain all thing U of M-ish. The noisy students living in the neighborhood, the U's perennial whine about cash despite the ridiculous tuition hikes, department cuts, and sports boosting. Mostly, I hate it because it represents the last time I had to pay someone to make me miserable (except for my few experiments with waxing) with no degree to show for it. Anyway.

The one soft spot that I have for the U, believe it or not, is the Greek system. Yeah yeah, I know, but it was sort of an accident. I wound up at the U due to lack of scholarships for my dream college which meant I was suddenly facing living at home. I'd been a good girl for 18 years and I had to get out. My dad suggested Rush. It wasn't anything like me and I really enjoyed it. I believe to this day if I'd been able to stay, I'd have my degree today.

Lately, the Greeks have been freaking out about their houses getting designated as Historic Properties. They're claiming that it's going to be so much more expensive to maintain the houses and waa waa waa. (See Dave's links: 10/13, 10/8, 10/3) I'm totally baffled, honestly. They seem to have gone completely nutty because they think taking over our little Neighborhood Association will solve the issue. But just in case there is any confusion, here's how it works:

  1. The Heritage Preservation Commission makes a recommendation to the City Council to designate an area as "Historic"
  2. The Commission, as a courtesy, gives the recommendation to the Neighborhood Association for comment so that if the neighborhood association has an opinion, it can go into the comments before the City Council
  3. Independent of the Neighborhood Association's comments, the City Council approves or rejects the historic designation (This is true, I believe, for most Planning Commission things too -- they can comment, they don't get to decide.)
  4. The historic designation for the Greek houses in question applies only to the exterior of the buildings
  5. The Greeks that live in the houses do not pay for the exterior maintenance. They don't even pay for interior maintenance -- just operating costs. (Which is amazing, since they generally trash the inside.)
  6. Alumnae pay for interior and exterior capital improvements, period.
  7. Even houses in dire operational financial straits often get nifty capital improvements

The most important part of this issue for me* is number 2. These folks are torturing a small organization that as I see it, has enough trouble as it is. If they manage to take over the association, then the whole thing will be gutted come May when the Greeks lose interest, move home, graduate, etc.

But the craziest part to me is how they're missing the marketing opportunity. At least when I was at the U, it was fairly difficult to recruit folks to join the Greek system. Most of the recruits were legacies -- people whose parents had fond memories of their Greek experience (notice it was my father that suggested Rush.) The U of M is mainly attended by the "regular joes" of high school and regular students hate the Greeks like they hated cheerleaders and quarterbacks. Historic designation could theoretically inject a little perceived class in the institutions. It's a Historic House, not an Animal House.

These dorks should be calling their alumnae with the good news that some organization has finally recognized the Greeks as being a long-standing, integral part of the University and community. Start a fund raiser to restore the buildings to their original glory. Have Historic House days where members stage Fort Snelling like tours and charge regular U students to visit the houses (as much as they huff, they're all curious and they'd probably pay $20 to go through 3-4 houses.)

Feh. These kids today.

10.10.03 Ah, Friday

Has this been a tough week? Not particularly, I guess. It's just been so long. Between entertaining clients, working on soul sucking projects, dealing with miscellaneous IT headaches, and having beautiful Indian Summer weather outside, I'm just so ready for it to be Friday.

Add on top of that some gals are coming over to play at my house tonight and you've got a recipe for TGIF.

10.09.03 Tis the season for PUNKINS

PunkinluvWho is that adorable punkin on the left? PunkinLuv, that's who! Mr. Mitchell picked up some Sculpey and has been experimenting with small statuary. I'm the lucky recipient of his first creation.

Why do I love punkins so much? I just don't know. But if I could have all the punkins in the world, well, it just might not be enough. At this time of year, I find it to be very fun to notice all the houses with punkins as I'm driving. This upsets Tim, but he's no match to orangy-goodness.

10.07.03 Clients will kill you if you let them.

I've never really had the kind of job where you got to go on business trips. My father always did. I've tagged along on a couple of my ex-boyfriend's trips. Of course, I hit the road with Tim at any chance, but that's different because there's no corporation paying that* tab.

It seems to me that if you are on a business trip, your primary source of amusement is to meet with your intended vendor or client, and drink. At two o'clock, I took our client to meet with one of our mutual vendors. After meeting for a couple of hours, we went to the bar and had a beer. This lasted until about 6, where in a lightning flash I noticed my window of opportunity to bail 30 seconds after I'd passed it and it was gone forever.

Well, it was gone until 9pm. No food, save a couple of pretzels at the bar. Me, drinking 1 to their three. Trying to talk about a business that I've pretty much only been informed on a need to know basis. Feeling awkward when they talked about communications problems internally and externally. Feeling dumb, self-conscious and trapped.

I guess I should be grateful, one of my co-workers got pants'd in a similar situation.

10.06.03 Playing the game

The PR side of the company was informed a couple of weeks ago that when clients are in the office, they're expected to wear suits. Design wasn't told this, but I have a client meeting this afternoon. In a safe than sorry move, I've worn a suit. I don't know that it was necessary, but maybe it'll show that I've got my fingers on the pulse. Yeah. Just what I always wanted...

Yes, doctor, the patient seems to have hypertension.

10.03.03 "Big Plans for the Weekend?"

Poor co-workers. So unassuming, they ask this question. "Yes," I reply, "I'm going to a wake and a funeral. How about you?" Maybe it's stuff like this that got me labeled an office bitch?

10.02.03 $4.30 per month

Somehow I got on a fax spam list. I've been on it for a long time. I don't know who it is or how I got on there because, well, I have no fax machine. So periodically, I get "faxed". I can't figure out how to stop it because a) last call return service doesn't work, and even if it did, I'd get, well, a fax machine, and b) because I don't have a fax, I don't know who is sending it.

I'm on the do-not-call list, so I get very little along the lines of telemarketers. But the ones that I do (since I have a "business relationship" with them) are usually pretty nice and their calls are short and relatively inobtrusive. But the fax people, since they're pretty much illegal anyway, call at all hours of the day and night. Last night, it was 2am.

This morning, I checked my phone company to see if there was a feature that would allow me to block just this stupid fax marketer. Yes, for $4.30 per month I can block up to 15 phone numbers without even knowing what the numbers are. Since I'm inclined not to give Qwest a penny more than I have to (I don't even have call waiting) I'm leaning toward silent suffering.

But I'm so sleepy today that I might just do it.

10.01.03 The 'hood

There are only two stores that Tim and I would like to see added to our neighborhood and since we figure we'll never get a porn store, you could say that we're simply overjoyed that we're getting a bookstore! (Yeah, we've got Lien's and Bookbinders, but they're not the same -- no new releases, no periodicals, etc.)

This article in the Southeast Angle, Sippers to Lounge Where Tractor Trailers Once Sat is about the Marine shop that is turning into some upscale joint and bookstore (and two shops to be determined later.)

Sigh. So happy!

(First, Second & Third Quarter 2003 Archives)


Tim Mitchell, Comedian

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