Archive for May, 2009

Where the money goes

So Governor Pawlenty is going to have to cut the budget himself to balance it. The question is how? He’s asked for public input at, and a lot of people have been sending him suggestions. We have little idea what those suggestions are because they haven’t been released in their entirety, but the ones that have been released, such as liquor sales on Sunday (which I support) and racino (which I do not), aren’t real solutions because the governor has to cut the budget; he can’t unilaterally change the law to increase revenue. Asking the public what to cut is a lot more difficult (if I was asked, I’d first suggest the governor stop being a stubborn, short-sighted, mean-spirited jerk; then I might suggest cutting IT costs by moving to open-source software like Linux and Open Office). Why is it more difficult to get answers from the public as to what to cut? One reason is that many people don’t know where the budget goes.

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Саша the kitten

Julia and I picked up Саша (Sasha) the kitten yesterday. Here is the link to the gallery. She is very playful and energetic, and is pretty fearless. She climbed all the way to the top of the cat tree I made (although she needed a little help getting down), and is in general having fun exploring.


Миша (Misha), the existing cat, is not very happy about this at the moment. He’s all hissy and has tried to take a swipe at her a couple of times. We are trying to introduce them slowly so they don’t kill each other. Next step: getting some baby gates so they can see each other and maybe get used to each other.

New Photos Up: McClure-Fisher Wedding

This past weekend I went to Omaha with Julia to attend the wedding of one of her friends from way back. I took my camera, of course, to capture the event. The full gallery of photos is on my website here. Here’s a sampling…

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The end of a (foolish) era

Today, Time Warner announced that they would be spinning off AOL into a separate company, undoing the grand AOL-Time Warner merger of 2001, a business decision that is destined to go down as one of the worst decisions of all time. There are many symbols of the dot-com boom and bust —, eToys, computers given away for free — but the AOL-Time Warner merger probably represents the epitome of the bubble, the notion that the internet changed everything, including the business cycle and quaint old notions like “profitability”. Likewise, its demise shows both how wrong that belief was, and also how incredible the pace of change continues to be.

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Computer Utility: SyncBack Freeware

If you have more than one computer, laptop, or external hard drive, and you want to keep files synchronized between them, one of the best tools out there is SyncBack Freeware. This free utility allows you to set up multiple syncing rules between different drives and network locations, such as full two-way synchronization, pushing data from one drive to another, or pulling data from one drive to another. It has a comprehensive filter system that lets you tweak everything to your heart’s delight, and a scheduler that lets you schedule when you want it to run. I use it not only to synchronize files between my desktop and laptop, but also to backup all of my data to my external hard drive. It’s a fantastic piece of software.

  • Current Mood: Sleepy

Two Graphs

Well, three actually, but two concepts: Price of Government and Tax Incidence. They are pretty important in understanding Minnesota’s budget and tax issues.

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Computer Utility: Firebug

Firebug isn’t a computer utility per se; it’s an add-on to the Firefox browser. If you do any web development work, such as working with CSS and JavaScript, Firebug is indispensible. I’m a CSS noob, and it is incredibly useful for seeing how CSS works, especially fun things like inheritance.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should be using Firefox.

  • Current Mood: Helpful

Taking it for granted

A couple weeks ago I went to the dentist, and although I didn’t have any pain or other issues, my dentist found the beginnings of a small cavity. I went in a week later to have it filled; less than an hour later I was on my way. A short time later, I got my bill for $150 (which, when I thought about it, seems like a really good deal). My insurance paid for the majority, I paid the rest, and that was it.

All in all, it’s a pretty mundane story. Hardly worth even mentioning, you’d think. But taking a closer look at the pieces, it’s not unremarkable at all. I’m very fortunate that I can engage in such a transaction so easily at so little cost to me; for countless people, that just can’t happen, and the distance between my situation and theirs is not as great as one would think.

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Computer Utility: TreeSize Free

Hard drives are huge these days (I have a couple drives in my computer with a total of over 1 TB of space), but that doesn’t mean that it is infinite. More important, having lots of stuff on your hard drive can slow down your computer and make some tasks, like defragmenting, take much more time. Sure, you can see how much space you have used and how much is left in Windows by looking at the drive properties, but wouldn’t it be nicer to see exactly where things are? In an easy-to-interpret, graphical format: Then here’s the utility for you: TreeSize Free.

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Have a kitten

I don’t have any good recent photos available, so here’s a photo of a kitten (as always, all of my photos are at


Миша asleep in his temporary kitty bed.

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