mellowtigger: (gardening)
I was planning to attend the Science March anyway (more on my reasons in a different post on another day), but this march was unusual in that my employer was also participating as an official Partner. So I got to join my coworkers on the march. The weather cooperated, and it was a beautiful day. The count of how many people attended is under dispute. Even the earlier Kids' March had over 800 RSVPs, so you'd expect the main march to be heavily attended. The count showing up in local newspapers is only 10K people (with some great photos at that article). The march organizers, however, are estimating 48K people. If they were the ones operating the drone at the march staging area, they should have some good evidence for their estimate.

I made a sign to carry on the march. It didn't occur to me that I wouldn't be able to easily take photos. That oversight has consequences: fewer photos, poor quality photos/videos, and getting separated from my group for a long time so I could steal "a moment" to take photos.

Here's the pre-crowd assembling early for the march.

ScienceMarch St.Paul premarch at churchScienceMarch St.Paul droneScienceMarch St.Paul street gathering

We even had a band playing appropriate Earth Day music.

(embedded video is breaking the post, so here is the YouTube link)

I joined my coworkers for the march, and I even made it into their Twitter posts.  These 3 photos are not my own, of course.

ScienceMarch StPaul the whole TNC groupScienceMarch StPaul poster TNC united by nature guided by scienceScienceMarch StPaul me taking a photo

I eventually left my group to climb a bridge wall to try to get a video of the massive crowd. I never could see all of it at once, so the attendance was much higher than what you can see here.  After I took these photos, it probably took me 20 minutes to find my group again, even with multiple phone calls and texts.  I had the same disorganization leter while trying to find my former landlord and his group amongst the throng.

ScienceMarch StPaul crowd 1ScienceMarch StPaul crowd 2

(embedded video is breaking the post, so here is the YouTube link)

Then I got down from the fence that I was standing on. I'm a klutz, though, even on a good day, and I was wearing new glasses from 2 days earlier, so my depth perception is very bad. I ended up meeting the pavement harshly. Much later, I made my way to the Nurse station at the rally. They said I was their biggest accident so far. Typing this post on Sunday, my leg is still bleeding a bit. I won't be doing the gardening today that I had planned.

ScienceMarch StPaul my injured legScienceMarch StPaul nurse station

The rally was attended quite well. I could never get close enough to the capitol steps to hear the speakers well. I never did spot a single news station van or camera (although local stations did have coverage on the 10pm news). I also never saw one of the portable overhead 360 cameras that the police use.  It was the state capitol, after all, so maybe they already have plenty of security cameras everywhere.  It seemed like every third person carried a sign, so the crowd was very engaged. It was also unusually "pale", even for Minnesota. Where are we losing our minority kids in the science classrooms?

ScienceMarch StPaul rally at capitol stepsScienceMarch StPaul dinosaur costume
ScienceMarch StPaul woolly mammoth contraption side viewScienceMarch StPaul woolly mammoth front view

The woolly mammoth was an impressive mechanical contraption.

(embedded video is breaking the post, so here is the YouTube link to video 1 and video 2)

And, in no particular order, a collection of the few posters that I was able to capture on my sunscreen-smudged cell phone camera.

ScienceMarch StPaul poster Blinky SimpsonsScienceMarch StPaul poster Rosie the Riveter
ScienceMarch StPaul USA flagScienceMarch StPaul poster future scientist
ScienceMarch StPaul poster good science makes good judgementScienceMarch StPaul poster no science no beer
ScienceMarch StPaul poster resist ignorance
ScienceMarch StPaul poster science isn't liberal pollution isn't rightScienceMarch StPaul poster science lab labrador
ScienceMarch StPaul poster quote Carl Sagan science is a way not to fool ourselvesScienceMarch StPaul poster stand with Data Star TrekScienceMarch StPaul poster science is important muppets
ScienceMarch StPaul poster science based policy not policy based science

I think it was an Earth Day well spent.

#ScienceMarch #ScienceMarchMN #MarchForScience #NatureUnitesUs
mellowtigger: (anonymous)
You know you're doing something wrong when Anonymous declares to you that you should be stripped of your anonymity, since normally they are the movement that self-identifies with the power of anonymous speech. Doxing (releasing documents that identify someone online) is not taken lightly, and they explain their justification for this extreme action against the Ku Klux Klan.

people in hoods meet the people in masks #opkkk #hoodsoff
"The anons involved in this operation still believe you no longer particularly deserve the right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom to Assemble but that is not up to us. ... Your hateful ideas and words remain yours to keep. You are allowed to speak and in kind, we are allowed to respond. You are legally free to live and be any which way you choose to live and be. Keep in mind, it is not illegal nor oppressive to hurt your feelings. With that said – We are stripping you of your anonymity. Again. This is our protected speech.

After closely observing so many of you for so very long, we feel confident that applying transparency to your organizational cells is the right, just, appropriate and only course of action. You are abhorrent. Criminal. You are more than extremists. You are more than a hate group. You operate much more like terrorists and you should be recognized as such. You are terrorists that hide your identities beneath sheets and infiltrate society on every level. The privacy of the Ku Klux Klan no longer exists in cyberspace. You’ve had blood on your hands for nearly 200 years.

The last time we took your hoods off, you claimed to be misunderstood. Victimized. No. You are a damaged, dangerous, fragmented, splintered and amorphous collection of terroristic cells with a hate-based ideology and a well documented history of violence against the American public – assault, murder, terrorism. You play a deep, damaging and historically sinister and malevolent role in the United States. We understand you far too well. ... This fight will go on as long as it has to. The aim of this operation is digital. Another cyber war trist, nothing more. We are not violent. We will release, to the global public, the identities of up to 1000 klan members, Ghoul Squad affiliates and other close associates of various factions of the Ku Klux Klan across the Unites States."

In preparation for this event, they helpfully released a document with probing questions that people can ask of themselves and their social groups, which is perhaps a useful way of provoking educational discussions. I'm sure they'll take greater care with this information release, since Anonymous has made mistakes in previous announcements. By its nature, Anonymous data is not curated information, so it should always be verified before acting on it. But then, I suppose they would agree that lesson is useful in all circumstances anyway.

A different anonymous (Anonymous?) group tried to join the publicity surrounding this event, but the people at the helm of this particular operation made it clear that they vouch only for data released via their @Operation_KKK Twitter account. Meanwhile, another supportive Anonymous group is taking this project in good humor, even creating a proverbial Race Card to play in this digital game of social media.

I've already told you about my one or two brushes with the Klan. I don't expect Klansmen or sympathizers to feel shame or hear new logic. I expect this operation will result only in their self-interested preservation instinct. In that context, however, we can still hope this metaphorical light will scatter the roaches back into the darkness.

We should always be ready to speak our counterpoint when we find injustice.

Edit: 5:11pm:  It's official.  You can download the text file here:

#OpKKK #HoodsOff #Anonymous
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
3335 Colfax, Minneapolis MN 55412 sale listingI may have to move soon, and on short notice. The landlords where I'm at now are making arrangements to shift ownership, but there are too many factors "up in the air" at the moment.

The landlord thinking about staying in this house sent a link to a different property, and that page mentioned a house directly across the street.  So, by accident, I found a cheap home that I could afford. All versions of mortgage calculators tell me that a mortgage for this place would be >$100 cheaper than my current rent. I realize there are insurance and tax costs on top of it, but it still seems prudent to consider buying my own place.

Unfortunately, I'm worried that I'll run into the same roadblock as before.  Banks tell me "no" without offering a reason that makes any sense to me.  I've structured my life to live cheaply as I can, and I don't owe money to anybody, so banks don't know what to make of me.  I'm waiting for a callback from my credit union now.  If there's any way to make it happen, I would need to get in quickly to see this property and decide about an offer.

This house has a south-facing roof, so it'd be good for solar in the future.  I drove by and looked outside, and I didn't see any obvious problems.  I'm pretty sure that it's so cheap because it's in a relatively higher crime area.  (Not as thick as downtown Minneapolis, but equivalent to the Powderhorn south Minneapolis area, which is actually a desirable region of its own.)  Bonus: It's even closer to where I work.

Update 2015.09.14 11:45:
I went to to fill out some info too, and within seconds got a phone call from them via QuickenLoans.  They said they can get a preapproval for me.  At this $65K house on a fixed 3.62% interest rate for 15-year loan, they say it will cost me $500/month with "taxes and insurance included".  That's still a lot more than the mortgage calculators were telling me, so I'm not sure what's included by them.  If that's the actual total cost to me (minus utilities) then I can still afford it.  I don't know... maybe I should still contact a local person to see if they offer anything different?

Update 2015.09.14 13:00:
These people scare me more than a little.  I dislike aggressive sales.  I fill out a webpage, and within seconds my phone is ringing.  It happened again.  I have somebody else (who knows they're my #2 contact) looking into financing for me, since I'm not sure what to make of QuickenLoans.  They're a local ReMax person and should know of any Minnesota or Minneapolis special programs for first-time buyers like me.  I saw my credit report from QuickenLoans today, and it turns out I have a "very good" rating now.  I still think the whole credit rating industry is hogwash, but as long as they talk to me, then I guess I'll pursue and see what comes of it.  If nothing else, this escapade has led me to a good website for window shopping for homes and a good website for checking crime reports.

Update 2015.09.14 16:20:
The local realtor (via ReMax webpage) just emailed me, "This property already has an offer accepted according to the listing agent."  Ah well.  The disappointment sinks in again, but at least a different reason this time than a few years ago.

Update 2015.09.14 17:35:
The referral from my credit union called, and he pretty much brushed me off when he learned how much I earn a year.  Pretty much what I expected from all lending sources, but apparently a few are willing to work at my miniscule level.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis yesterday.  It was the most convenient political activity that I've ever joined.  My employer's building closed early that day since the protest was happening across the street from the front door at the Gold Medal Park.  All I had to do was walk outside and join the event.  It couldn't be any easier.

Here are photos and brief video clips that I took. The crowd grew to about 1,000.  I can vouch for that many, at least, although I saw one news report that guessed as high as 1,500. What did not appear in any of the news accounts, though, is the observation that it was a very pale crowd. I think it was about 85% caucasian. The minority clearly has the support of the majority here, which should be encouraging for all of us who expect improvements to be made.  Unfortunately, I didn't know the schedule and had another event to attend, so I left apparently just minutes before they started marching.  I missed the main event.  Oops.

extra security at my work buildingpark's sign with early crowdpark's sign with tv crews assemblingpolice surveillance camerapolice unmarked vehiclesposter easy to hold up smart supportsposter from lady in wheelchairpostersposter at bus stop downtown Minneapolis

Here is a series of shots that show how the crowd grew over time.

time 5:05pmtime 5:33pmtime 5:38pmtime 5:45pmtime 5:52pmtime 5:54pmtime 5:56pmtime 6:03pmtime 6:07pm

I don't pretend to be good at video either, but here are two pans of the crowd that I took.
crowd chanting at 5:48pm (avi, 111 MB)  "No justice, no peace, prosecute the police"
crowd at 6:09pm (avi, 37MB)

I was featured in cameo for several seconds during the 6pm CBS news from local tv station WCCO. You can watch the video here.

I'll write soon about the issues at hand. I land solidly in the "we can do better" camp, but I have a lot of evidence to offer and thoughts to consider. I need more time to organize my thinking. I'll try to be concise. :)



Feb. 7th, 2013 09:35 am
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
What if you had something better than Scotchgard? I immediately want to coat the litterbox and shower stall in this stuff.  It would be even more useful at the animal shelter where I work. It's called EverDry.

What are the chances that this product will prove non-toxic?  We had to give up Scotchgard because of its toxicity, but I really want this new stuff to be safe!  They provide a link to their FDA approval letter. It mentions 3 substances, but I don't know where to look up the extent of their safety testing and toxicology results. Do any chemists out there know the answer?
mellowtigger: (penguin coder)
Word of advice: don't take a traditional computer class remotely when you have only one monitor at your pc.

I'm supposed to spend all week in a SQL 2012 Administration class.  The first two hours have already been immensely frustrating.  I'm skipping lunch to go buy another pc screen.  I wasn't intending to spend this money.  In fact, I've refused all these years to buy a second monitor because of my environmentalist objections (using electricity on an unnecessary device).  Today, however, that extra monitor has become necessary.  I will not pay attention to class if I have to maintain 4 different windows on a single screen: 2 pdf books, 1 instructor slideshow, and 1 remote virtual machine (window in a window).  I've already given up, and we've only started.

I'll go to the local Microcenter to buy another screen on short notice. I favor screens with 16:10 resolution ratio, which means my new monitor will be a little more expensive than equivalent devices.  I like Dell's attachment bar, but their screen only has 8ms response time.  I'm not sure, is that fast enough for smooth screens with computer games?  My current screen is 5ms response time, and it works great.  I generally trust Tom's Hardware, and their forum suggests that 8ms will work fine for non-professional gamers, and Maximum PC's review article concurs, with caveats.

Okay, it's decided.  I'm spending $330 at lunch today for Dell's U2412M monitor.
mellowtigger: (disconnect)
That house I wanted?  Its listing got pulled for a while, so I thought some other lucky person got it.

I see now that it's back up and another $5k cheaper.  Now, it's listed for only $30k!

GAH!  Why does the bank think I'm a bad loan candidate when they tell me outright they they only find good credit history and a good credit score?! GAH!!!
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
Are you any good at reviewing a car before purchase? I may have found one that I'd like to buy. I'd rather have someone else also look it over, since my skill last time obviously wasn't as great as I'd hoped.  This car is at David's Auto here in Columbia Heights. I didn't think to write down the long VIN number from the dashboard, but here's what I did get:I've been trying to limit my vehicle search to stuff that has gas mileage around 20 mi/ga.  I also want to spend less than $2000.  I haven't had much luck finding undamaged vehicles at auction that I want.  Similarly, my two criteria have eliminated most everything I find posted on Craigslist.  Is everyone dumping their gas guzzlers this year while hanging onto their small economy cars?

I also checked out the possibility of leasing a car for only part of the year.  Way too expensive.  The webpage for Enterprise car rental estimated $3800 for a 5-month lease.  That amount of money would cover the purchase of a used car plus one expensive repair bill.

I rode my bicycle this morning out to two local used car lots.  Honestly, their stuff looks like they bought everything at auction, worked repairs on them, then dropped the cars in the lot without any price stickers or other info posted on them.  Seems lazy to me.  The Dodge that I found above was one of the few to have details on it.
mellowtigger: (the more you know)
Every time I make a boneheaded programming mistake or fail to remember a math formula that I once knew, I wish I was living my life doing something that kept me focused on a single task and technology instead of needing to dabble in so many different and distracting things. I increasingly notice that I forget the skills that I don't use daily. Still, though, I can do small things that help the people who actually do the hard research.

encouragement is better than nothing

A month or two ago, I read a curious story about an observation of a brand new kind of chemical reaction. Instead of a reaction being driven by the traditional energy and motion in these molecules, they found that quantum mechanical tunneling caused some chemical reactions. It means (I think) that some reactions can occur while needing much less energy than expected. This story was something quite new to me, and I forwarded it one of my ex-boyfriends ("the chemist") via email. He emailed back quickly to agree that it was an interesting story. A few weeks later, though, he emailed again to say that exactly such a project may enter his lineup of research soon! Yay!

GDP and penile lengthYesterday, I encountered a story so absurd that I had to submit it as a nomination to the Ig Nobel committee. I got an email reply within 30 minutes, stating, "Thanks, Terry. A worthy nominee." The story was about a doctoral student at the University of Helsinki who compared male penile length to economic performance in various countries. Within a single year (1985), there didn't seem to be much correlation, but when comparing growth from 1960-1985, the data suddenly shifted into a very nice arrangement.

"Economic growth between 1960 and 1985 is negatively associated with the size of male organ, and it alone explains 20% of the variation in GDP growth. With due reservations it is also found to be more important determinant of GDP growth than country's political regime type. ... Although all evidence is suggestive at this stage, the 'male organ hypothesis' put forward here is robust to exhaustive set of controls and rests on surprisingly strong correlations."

How unexpected a correlation is that?! Could we guess that male ego insecurity might increase economically aggressive pursuits, while the less threatened are more complacent? The whole thing reminds me of the stereotypical monster truck (or sports car) and its inverse relationship with male "ratings" in bed. I hope the author wins an Ig Nobel prize from the nomination and thereby gains some attention for the work. It's certainly no less absurd than the nonsense that mainstream economists are babbling these days. *laugh*
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
Thomas Avenus gardenA year ago or so, I talked to two banks about home loans and they both told me on the phone that they didn't work with loans "under $100,000".  I've had more success this year on that point, but I've now been turned down twice because I don't have enough debt.  It's bad to live by the goals of simplification and self-sufficiency when applying for a big loan.  You have to be in debt (and paying religiously) in order to qualify for more debt.  I was told again this morning that my credit score is good, but there's just not enough involvement/history for anyone to offer a loan.

It's really a shame too.  That $35K house really would've been a nice small place for me to retire someday.  The mortgage (even with taxes and insurance) would have been cheaper than my current rent.  It needed a few repairs, but none of them sounded expensive.  Oh, and just 3 or so houses south of it, there was this nifty little urban garden that I could have used too.  All that, and only 1 mile from work.

I am disappointed that it's not going to happen.  :(

Meanwhile I was told that I should try to build more "alternative lines of credit".  Paying car insurance each month would count.  So would paying a store credit card.  The pet store is always on my case to get a card when I buy cat litter.  I may have to take them up on their offer.  That would get me the last line of credit that I need.  I could someday quality for a house loan because I buy cat litter on a pet store credit card.  That's how messed up the American financial system is.  *facepalm*
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
Now, as promised, happy bunnies and dancing unicorns.

happy rabbithappy rabbithappy rabbithappy rabbithappy rabbit
happy rabbithappy rabbithappy rabbithappy rabbithappy rabbit

There, the world is so less scary now, isn't it?
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
On a fluke, I checked some local listings for properties in northwest Minneapolis, near where I work.  I happened to find something that looks "very interesting".  It doesn't look awful, it's only a mile from work (as the crow flies, anyway), and at least one of the two immediate neighbors keeps a tightly manicured yard.

Best of all?  The price dropped recently to only $34,900.  Yeah, that's right.  It seems to be a beneficiary of dual blights: foreclosures and tornado path.  Here are the Edina Realty listing and the Minneapolis city reports for the property.

I bicycled over to the house this morning to look around outside it.  I saw no major damage to the house itself.  The fences are destroyed, the phone/television lines are on the ground because a tree limb fell on them, and there is some foundation cracking on the alley garage (which is still in better condition than where I live now).  The house itself looks great from the outside, though.

You can see photos of the house inside and out at the realty listing above.  Here are photos of the yard I took this morning from the East (with my bicycle), North (nicely grown over with ferns), West (sunlight for good garden), and South sides of the property.

yard eastyard northyard westyard south

I took one photo that turned out okay of the kitchen from the south window.  And here's what's left of a house just 1 block away.  Even a month after the tornado, there's still a lot of work that needs to be done along its path.  There were lots of constructions crews working today on roof and wall damage at houses throughout that area.

kitchen through south windowtornado one block away

So.  Now what?  I want to see in the attic at the roof, and I want to see in the basement at the foundation.  I have 20% cash down available, but that would exhaust every penny I have.  I have nothing more than that to do the minor repairs indicated on the city reports for the house.  I already contacted a realtor, and they referred me to someone who can work with first time buyers for arranging financing.  I have emailed her to ask what step(s) I should take next.


Mar. 28th, 2011 06:03 pm
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I edited yesterday's post to make a correction. The guy who saw the graffiti version of the Wells Fargo ad took a photograph of it and sent it to me. The ad was on the bus stop bench, not the bus as I originally wrote.

There's a link to the photograph in the article now, if you'd like to watch.

It amuses me.


Aug. 17th, 2010 09:55 pm
mellowtigger: (penguin coder)
Hiatus is tempting me with its seductive call again.

Once every few years, I take a break from email and web and internet and pc games. I just shut it all off. It does some good to shake everything off once in a while. Get a new perspective.

Haven't decided yet.

Maybe it's just the Benadryl talking. Allergies have kept my sinuses busy for a few days. Definitely not thinking in my best form lately.
mellowtigger: (Green Lantern)
I'm probably too late, as the event is supposed to happen starting today, but just in case there's still time...

The U.S. is promoting a global online event meant to be a sort of focus group to build consensus on courses of action that people across the planet can work to achieve together.  Yes, "warm fuzzy" with few specifics.  It's an interesting idea, though.

I look forward to reading someone's account of their experience with this year's event.  :)

P.S. I just signed in, so registration is still open.  I see topics for sustainability, civil rights, health, etc.

Avenue Q

Mar. 18th, 2010 11:38 pm
mellowtigger: (Default)
They're coming to Minneapolis for a week.  I really want to see them!  I've had a hard time, though, trying to justify spending $40 for something as frivolous as entertainment.

For 2 months now, I've been hemming and hawing.  I could sit in the nosebleed section, 2 rows away from the end of the theater.  So very very very tempting...

(videos not safe for work.  "offensive language" ranges from tame to sexual.)

I finally decided against it.  *heavy sigh*  I still don't yet know how much some collection agency is going to be asking me to pay for the torture session (electromyography) from last month. I don't want to skip out on my economic obligations yet.

If the economy collapses, you'll know to blame me for failing to spend profligately.
mellowtigger: (Default)
She is speaking locally in April.  I heard her speak about 15 years ago, and she was very good.  It's worth the effort to attend, assuming there are still seats left for this event.

"A Reason For Hope"
Monday, April 19th, 2010 · 7:30 p.m
Beth El Synagogue
5224 W. 26th St. · St. Louis Park, MN 55416
mellowtigger: (wild things)
Join the Minnesota Zoo and the International Wolf Center for this once-in-a-lifetime wolf experience.  Start the journey at the Minnesota Zoo with a Wolf Zookeeper, observing and learning about the Great Plains Grey Wolves and endangered Mexican Grey Wolves.

Continue this three-day, two-night adventure in Ely, MN.  Howl to the local wild wolf packs, track radio-collared wolves from an airplane, hike to an abandoned wolf den, tour the inspiring exhibits at the International Wolf Center, and learn about wolf biology and conservation from wolf experts.  You may also have time to enjoy the wooded trails, library, and indoor sauna at the private group cabin (rooms are double occupancy) at the Silver Rapids Lodge.

Fee: $475.00 per person (Minnesota Zoo and International Wolf Center members receive a $25.00 discount)

Includes: transportation, lodging, programs, and meals

Ages: 12 + (minors must be accompanied by an adult); programs will be geared toward adults.

I'm posting this notice mostly for [ profile] foeclan, but other locals might be interested too.
mellowtigger: (flameproof)
cold weatherThe new year is starting out cold.  I guess that's typical for Minnesota. says it's currently -17F/-27C (-31F/-35C windchill).  I heard the house popping during the night because of the cold.  What's more annoying, though, is that our cable modem drops more than half of its packets when the temperature is this low.  (We think it's because of equipment outside of the house.  It's Comcastic!)

It was a few degrees warmer (but still subzero) when I went out to the New Year's party in my kilt.  Knee-high buffalo skin boots help a lot.
mellowtigger: (dumb)
Bleh.  I think I should just make it official and take a brain holiday. 

No thought allowed.

Baby bats!  



mellowtigger: (Default)

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