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numbers I wish I knew this time of year

Every time there's a discussion about local politics I realize how ignorant I am of the most basic facts:

- What's the city's annual budget?
- To a first approximation, can I ignore revenue sources other than property tax?
- I know how much a one-mill property tax costs a property owner ($1 per $1000 of half the property value; well, sort of). But how much revenue does each mill represent to whoever's doing the taxing? (And is the answer significantly different for the city, the school district, ? And remind me how many of those there are?)

Etc. etc.

I get the impression I have a lot of company in my ignorance. It's amazing we manage to get anything done.

music tools

The library recently added a collection of "music tools". I love my library!

It's fun to just bring them home and twiddle the knobs. I'd also like to make something with them. But I don't have much time. So, my goal is just to make a ring tone with each one. I figure a ring tone is short, doesn't have to sound like anything in particular, but could still be fun. So far:

  • first ringtone: made with the Wavedrum Mini. It's made up of several different sounds, but on a phone all you actually here is a big klang followed by a couple taps.
  • second ringtone: made with the Monotron. OK sort of simple but I thought it was funny for some reason.

Recorded either with a little external mike to my laptop, or with a Zoom H4n, then chose bits that work as loops and converted them to ogg format with Audacity.

Another year goes by

The baby is 16 months now, sleeps pretty well, crawls and pulls up, and is in general much more fun. I still don't have time for much else. But I keep reading: I'm taking another break from Proust partway through the last volume; rereading David Copperfield for the first time since I was a kid, and enjoying it immensely; read "Three Men in a Boat" while on vacation in Colorado a couple weeks ago, and was a little disappointed--mildly funny but not much more, to me; started "Huckleberry Finn", which I've never read, embarassingly!, and recognize the source of Heinlein's voice (so why do I find one charming and the other condescending and smug?); and more.

I should have more to talk about than that, but I'm tired.

Everything happens all at once part II

March 28 we became new parents; April 12th we moved someplace roomier.

Now there's no more time for anything!

OK, but I'm still doing a bit of reading--the Proust project's more-or-less on hold, but I'm keeping up with the New Yorker and made it through a novel or two. And I've been taking up the piano again in my spare moments. Movies are hopeless--I've been trying to make it through "La Dolce Vita" for a couple weeks and have maybe made it an hour in after 3 sittings.

suspense, reading, leftovers

I just saw "The Secret of the Grain", which reminds me of "No Man's Land", a movie that makes you wait the entire time for a bomb to go off--only to roll the credits without it happening. But it's couscous that's the source of the tension in "The Secret of the Grain". Time seemed strange to me in the movie--it skips ahead without warning in some places, then seems impossibly slow in others.

I feel bad for thinking "La Vie, Mode d'Emploi" is just a list of lists. It's growing on me. I'm taking a break to read a couple other things ("The Ballade of Beta-2", and "Count Zero"), but I'll put Perec in my luggage for thanksgiving.

We had some people from my French conversation group over Saturday. It went OK. Some people take their potluck contributions very seriously, and not only did we end up with much more food than necessary, but several people insisted on leaving the leftovers; we'll be eating them for a few more days.

Everything happens all at once

I learned that I can't just upgrade the entire OS (well, mysql especially) and necessarily expect mysql databases to keep working without dumping and restoring them.

OK, I was probably told that in large red blinking letters at the time I did an upgrade, and, as always, clicked through the warning without reading.

So anyway, I got this silly blog back up today after it being down for a few months.

In the meantime, summer's come and gone, and I've changed jobs: I'm working from home for Red Hat now, doing a lot of the same work I was doing before for at CITI. I like it.

I've been to Boston a few times for work, to Waterloo and DC for fun, and to Portland for Sara's work, my fun.

I haven't been to Paris, despite a half-hearted attempt or two.

After sharing a one-bedroom student apartment for 13 years, it seems time for Sara and I to move some place a little roomier. But we haven't figured out where.

In overambitious-reading-projects news, I finished "A l'ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleur" and set aside Proust for a while, and I'm slogging through Perec's "La Vie, Mode d'Emploi". Maybe I should give up on Perec. I like to read novels, not lists.

Summer, rain, reading

Summer arrived, then this weekend it got rainy and cold.

The student interns started showing up at work (probably seven of them before we're done). That takes time, but it's fun. A couple projects are getting done.

Except for some brief juggling Saturday I'm mostly staying indoors, looking gloomily out at the rain, and wondering whether it's practical to spend the weekend catching up on some of the work I didn't get done during the week.

In my reading news, my attempt on Proust has stalled in the middle of "À l'Ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleur". "Combray" at the start seemed really original and unlike anything else I'd read, and ever since then it seems more like any big romantic novel.

So I'm back to Queneau (having finished "Les Fleurs Bleu" recently, and now in the middle of "Le Dimanche de la Vie"). And Vahalia's "Unix Internals".

long route home from the airport

Returning home from a good visit with my parents in Silver Spring, the flight (despite dire warnings about security in the wake of the pants-bomber incident) was completely routine. The airport shuttle was more interesting; we tried "Select Ride" (same company as Ann Arbor Yellow Cab), assuming that one previous mixed-up experience was a fluke. It wasn't. My rough memory of the time table:

  • 5:50pm: plane arrives on schedule, go to baggage return.
  • 6:10pm: baggage in hand, call Select Ride, as instructed. Wait on hold.
  • 6:20pm: Uh, 10 minutes on hold seems excessive; did I get the right number? Try dialing again. Proceed to level 4 of the parking structure, our best guess at where we should be.
  • 6:30pm: Another 10 minutes on hold, and finally somebody answers and tells us where to go--down to level 1 of the parking structure. Go there.
  • 6:45pm: Nobody there. Try calling again once or twice more. Supposedly the driver's on his way.
  • 7:00pm: Finally get a call from the driver. Tells us to go back to level 4.
  • 7:05pm: Uh, he's not here. Call him back. After searching around some more, we determine that he's at the wrong terminal, and that level 1 was right. OK, back to the elevator. He'll be here in "5 minutes".
  • 7:15pm: Driver shows. Get in the van. Oh, wait, he's got another passenger to pick up; wait while the driver does multiple calls and walks around the parking structure looking for the passenger. Meanwhile, commiserate with another couple who's been sitting in the van nearly an hour.
  • 7:40pm: Driver finally gives up trying to figure out where the last passenger is, leaves without them.
  • 8:30pm: Arrive home.

OK, so why didn't we give up on this a lot earlier?

Anyway. On with the new year! It's going to be busy.

Mice, Hugo, Galland

There was a rustling in the kitchen garbage last night. I nudged the under-sink kitchen door open just enough to see the side of something large and furry. Eek!

When Sara finds spiders in the bathtub, I get to rescue them. For mammals it turns out our roles are reversed. Sara's closer look found that

  1. It was a small (beady-eyed, cute!) mouse.
  2. It was at the bottom of the (mostly empty) trash, and couldn't get back out. Spiders fall for this all the time, but I'd expected more of our mammalian cousins.

So, she gingerly carried the trash bin out back, and we tipped it over until the mouse could scramble out and hop into the grass.

Then we spent a few minutes looking for a set of mouse traps we'd bought after a previous false alarm. No luck, they'd disappeared.

This morning, some twenty years after my first, I finished my second pass through "Les Misérables", this time in the original. I enjoyed it, but honestly it would probably be saner to read an abridged version: it's a big romantic story that could be told in a few pages, expanded to some 1500, in part with the help of numerous digressions, most of which I can't really swear to have read with much care. One digression, on convents, is particularly dull. Though some others (the Paris sewers!) make up for it.

I *thought* I would also finish something else today: a reading of Antoine Galland's original translation of the 1001 nights--more fun French practice. But when I got to the end I found out that volume 2 (the site only has 2 volumes) isn't actually the last. And now I'm confused. Which edition exactly is the source of their volume divisions? It was originally in 12 volumes. The place they ended volume 2 was page 74 of this google book, volume 4 in some edition. There's a 3-volume edition on amazon. Another scan. I'm confused.

5 billion

It's just one of those questions that comes up every now and then--what's the total University of Michigan budget?

One simple overview; another.

Half of that 5 billion is "auxiliary funds"--mainly the hospitals.

A little more than half of the remaining is the general fund, which is mostly student fees (8-900 million--with over 50,000 students, that sounds about right).

But looks like Sara and I mostly live in the 900 million-ish "expandable restricted funds" section, where the grants go.

So, there you go.


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