Friday, February 25, 2011

Computer News

I took my computer to get fixed and at the Geek Squad it worked just fine. So I brought it home. Right now it is working OK again. I told the Geek Squad I'd keep my camera close by so if strange error messages come up I can take a photo of them. It wasn't working correctly last evening, so maybe what it needed was a ride in the car!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bad Computer Again

My computer is dying again or rather acting up with mysterious ailments just as it did about six weeks ago. So tomorrow it's a trip to the Geek Squad again. Not happy, but grateful that this is an inconvenience and not a huge problem. My check book can handle this problem and I put necessary files on a flash drive so I can continue to work while the computer is getting fixed. Blog may be silent for a few days.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Weekly Review

Tomorrow is a busy day and I unsure I'll get out to walk and take photos along the river. So here's the weekly review a day earlier.

Here's how the observation deck along the river looked last week.
Observation Deck February 16

The snow of the weekend certainly change the view.

Observation Deck February 23

The nearby sign still is anchored in snow banks.

Easily one can see this was a bright, sunny day. There was a bit of a cold breeze, but I walked away from it and thankfully on the return trip the breeze has lessened.

Walking Path February 23
People in other parts of the country don't understand how we live here. I thought this photo a good example. Here we are 48 hours after a 13.3 inch snow storm and even the walking path is plowed. This is a not a sidewalk, it is simply a walking/exercise path!

The river, today, appeared to me to be a bit high today. It is completely open again with ice chucks flowing downstream. I went walking with shoes rather than boots so I didn't try to climb the snow banks to get along the river for photos. The forecast is for more snow over the weekend. Sooner or later this has to end!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Views from Inside

Hurrah! Most of this day was sunny, but we surely do have plenty of snow again. Here is the snowbank next to the exercise room. The wind blows the snow across the river until it hits something on the building.
It is hard to have a perspective from the photo. I estimate the drift is about 4 feet high. I took this photo about 9 PM in the evening. It is lighted from the windows from the exercise room.

Today I brought home something to warm the inside of my apartment/flat.

This is a collection of three photos I took on a trip to Hawaii. I took them to my favorite frame shop and wrote a big check to get these triple-matted and then into a frame. The person who helped me was right to suggest a triple mat. One can't see from this photo, but the frame is the closest I could get to the koa wood in Hawaii. The top photo I took at 6:30 AM in the morning while walking on the beach. Due to the time of the day, it includes the moon in the photo.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Views out the Window 4

Much to my relief work got canceled today, and got canceled last evening so there was no puzzle this morning. The public schools were also off today as well as many other public offices due to President's Day Holiday. As I watched little cars try to drive the street and get stuck, I was glad I had no where to go today. I did evaluate all the assignments my students sent me electronically. One paper from a student set off my computer to great complaints. I sent a message to her and she replied saying she would run a virus scan before she sent her next major paper.

I got registered, too, for the Global Health Conference that I'll be attending in June in Washington, D.C. Spent some time exploring plane connections. A 6:30 AM flight  home never sounds good, but sounds even worse now that I know the MetroRail doesn't begin running until 7 AM. It would be a very expensive cab ride to the airport!

My other big project was baking a loaf of pumpkin bread. Over the weekend I had made some pumpkin scones so I needed to make something to use up the rest of the pumpkin. My freezer is full for many future breakfasts.

Officially Saint Paul got 13.3 inches of snow plus some more that arrived this afternoon. The snow plows got here about mid-afternoon. They were running about 6-8 hours behind a usual snow removal process.

A bit ago I looked out the window and noticed the scene below:

This time the ambulance was stopped at my building. With the snow piled on both sides of the street plus cars parked on both sides, the driving lane is down to about one lane and cars piled up behind the stopped ambulance.

I thought the design of lights on the car doors was interesting:

The ambulance left quietly so apparently it was a very small emergency.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Another White Sunday

My flat in Pecs had two large doors that would open to a terrace overlooking a courtyard. In the evening I pulled a white, somewhat translucent shade for privacy. When I awoke I would open an eye and see what the pattern was on the shade. If the weather was good, the tree branches in the courtyard would make an interesting pattern of black against the white shade. However, if the whole view was white I knew another snow storm had appeared overnight. It seemed like every Sunday in February and March was a White Sunday. The weather made it really hard to get out and see the city and the nearby countryside. I would try to read to occupy time and manage usually to wander off to nearby Kiraly ut to get a meal and a cappuccino.

Well, one can have a White Sunday at home too. Today I was looking forward to taking my older granddaughter to a play. But the forecast was for a snow storm as bad as the 16 incher of December. Got in touch early enough that she wasn't waiting wondering where was Grandma.

Here's the view out the window:

 Not much to brag about!

I went down to the cyber cafe to see what the view was out towards the river.
The snow is covering up all the dirty snow from the past few weeks. The only color in the world comes from the building. Ah, the sun has to win one of these days.

Update: My university web site says the place is closed tomorrow! Hurrah! The snow isn't to stop until about 6 AM. It will be nice to just sit inside and watch things begin to get dug out.

Update 2:  All day we've been hearing "Don't drive unless absolutely necessary." A few minutes ago I heard a lot of motors roaring outside on the street. The street is not very passable and won't be plowed until some time tomorrow. Yet here are these people who must have something very necessary to do. We've not had snow like this for about the last ten years and there are many young adults who don't know much about driving in snow, and certainly can't do it in little cars.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Another "Missed" Adventure

Today I put a load of clothing into the washer and soon I hear clank, clank, clank. I was thinking it was a zipper or something like that. It wasn't until I was removing the clothing to go into the dryer that I discovered I had just laundered my car keys. I was puzzled about how I managed that. Then I remembered I made a trip to garage last evening about 11 PM to remove the last shopping bags and put the keys into the pocket of my slacks. Since it was an indoor garage, no need to wear a coat, nor did I take my purse down with me to do this errand.

I wondered if the laundering would damage the battery. I laid the keys on the counter all day. When I left to go to a movie late this afternoon I took down also my spare set of car keys. However, the quite clean set of keys operated just fine.

Oh, the movie -- I went to see The King's Speech. It is a super movie. This is the first time I've been to a movie theatre since about this time last  year when I saw Desert Flower in Poland. I had a bit of sticker shock when I saw the price for a soda -- $3.50 for a small size. That price makes gasoline look cheap!

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Missed" Adventure

For sometime now, my car has been acting funny when starting. People who ride with me always comment about that -- Some time means 18 months at least. When I returned home from Hungary, the battery was totally dead. This resulted from the drain on the battery from the clock! Can you believe it!?! My mechanic had advised me to take the battery cables off, but I left everything connected because my apartment management wanted to be able to move the car when the garage floor was cleaned.

Fixed that problem and "funny" starting stayed just the same -- that is until about two days ago. Then  when trying to start the car, it almost died out and all the lights on the dash went dead for a brief moment. Yesterday I called for an appointment to have the battery checked. Same kind of almost dead again this morning. Got there and explained the problem.

The service manager found me in a few minutes saying yes indeed it was a battery problem. When one arrives, one checks in and goes into a nearby waiting room. The car's hazard lights are put on until the car is pulled into a service bay. I found out later that by the time they tried to start the car, the hazard lights had ran down the battery and they had to jump the car to start and move it.

So I have a new battery, and didn't end up with any more of a consequence than some more money flying out of my bank account and no misadventure!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What a Difference a Week Makes

In the past few days we've finally had warm weather, up to almost 50 degrees, and that is nearly 60 degrees warmer than when I took photos last week. This will not last, and more snow is fore casted for Monday, but the warm weather did help to melt some of the snow so that water is already making its way down the river and won't be contributing to flood waters later this spring.

Here's the photo I took of the walkway about the cyber cafe in my building last week:
Walkway on February 10

Here's how it was yesterday:
Walkway on February 16
 Notice that the snow has melted enough a bit of grass is showing. Continuing down the walk we find a view of the Mississippi River.

After weeks of weather lacking any temperature above freezing, this is how the river appeared.

High Bridge View on February 10

 Here's the present view:
High Bridge View on February 16

 I continued on my walk to match other photos from last week. Here's how the new observation deck looked last week:
Observation Deck on February 10

 I took the photo yesterday from a different view point. When I got to this point in my walk, I realized I had forgotten about the large rocks that had been placed there -- probably can make a seat to sit, but also prevent someone's car from driving down the street and right into the river. The stones were covered with snow for so long, I forgot them.

Observation Deck on February 16

I kept walking because the weather was so lovely, and took this following picture of the Showboat across the river.

University of Minnesota Showboat
Last summer when my friends and I went to a Showboat performance, the weather was so warm we could hardly manage just to sit quietly on a park bench waiting for the Showboat to open!We were so very, very hot!

 The weather was so lovely that I continued on my walk to the fountain. It surely looks like winter. The fountain has been off since the time of the fall floods. It will really feel like spring when I walk down the trail some evening and find the water running again.

Walking back towards my apartment I found another river ---

The above is usually known as a corner! This time of year, though, water can puddle most any where.

Today I took a photo from the 3rd floor of the New Main building at my university. It shows the ugliness of winter when the snow begins to disappear!

 Notice how hazy it is in distance. All the moisture from the melting snow made a great fog today.

But by the time I was ready to come home, the sun was out, making the world look much better. This photo you've seen before. It is of the developing park area in front of my building. I thought this would be a good place to watch for spring as well.

I have not been walking much in the cold weather. I woke up this morning really stiff from the walk. Obviously I needed to do it. Perhaps it was the shoes I wore. Anyway, I'm looking forward to more pleasant weather.

Update: The weather service reports that because there is rapid cooling coming behind this snow melt the water will not reach the rivers and start to flow south. So the probability of floods continues to build. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

What Andrew Jackson Didn't Say

No rant/ no slant is the motto of Minnesota Public Radio, meaning it tries to bring all view points to a question or issue, but in a civil manner. However, today someone slipped in on National Public Radio with a bit of rant. The topic pertained to the federal budget deficit. ( I'm so old I can remember that when that last President Bush left office there was a deficit. It didn't just start about 2 years ago!)

Any way the person calling into the program went on and on about what Andrew Jackson said during the Civil War about not borrowing money. Andrew Jackson died in 1845, so I'm quite sure that he didn't make any statements about the federal budget during the Civil War.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Adventure out the Window

We, my older granddaughter and I, were having a quiet Saturday afternoon. She was on You Tube trying to learn a song she is to sing in church tomorrow. Suddenly five fire trucks along with the van for the fire chief turned into our complex. They all parked at the next door building and I noticed the fire fighters running from the trucks with their fire axes. This was no medical emergency, that's for sure. (If that doesn't make sense, in Saint Paul, the fire fighters are also the paramedics.) It is not uncommon for the paramedic services to arrive to the second building down the way. I'm guessing there is someone there with un-managed asthma or a similar condition, because no one is ever transported.

After all the trucks had left, I started to take my granddaughter home, so we drove by to see what there was to see. My granddaughter noticed windows broken out on the third floor unit.

This morning on Facebook I got the news that a friend in Atlanta had lost everything when a unit below her caught on fire. I observed that with the number of fire sprinklers in my unit that I would drown before ever having things lost in a fire. My small one-bedroom unit has five water sprinklers. The next door building is constructed just the same. It doesn't appear there was much fire associated with this fire event -- thankfully

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Looking for Spring

Yesterday I stumbled onto a lovely blog written by a woman from the other end of the Mississippi River. She had been out looking for signs of spring in the state of Mississippi. So I thought I'd give it a try on this end. Not so easy yet. The days are definitely getting longer. Yesterday I went out to do an errand in the afternoon, thinking I was leaving about 3 PM, only to discover the sunlight was now deceiving me and it was actually about 4:30 and so I would be driving in rush hour.

But the weather remains really cold. When living in my house, my first sign of spring was usually hearing the male cardinals singing out their territory calls. The habitat here is different, no immediate large trees nearby, so no cardinals.  But even though is very cold -- this morning -10 in Farenheit  and -23 Celsius -- I did notice the snow melting along the side of the road where the sun was hitting -- this while driving in the mid-afternoon, so the sun is becoming stronger.

I decided to take some pictures weekly in the same area for the next few weeks so that we can see the difference.

If I go to the first floor of my building and then walk through the party room/cyber cafe, I come out onto a walkway to the river. Here's how that path looks today.
Most of this area is in shadow around 3:30 PM when I took this picture, but there is a glint of the afternoon sun on the building at the upper left. At the end of the walk there is a small overlook before one goes down the stairs to the street level. Here's how the river looked today from that vantage point:
The river is basically frozen and it takes very cold weather for that to happen. Just along the trail there is a little bit of open water. The bridge is called the High Bridge, basically because it is high! On my side of the river, one drives onto this bridge at a low level and then goes uphill the whole way to be at the level of the bluff on the other side of the river. There are river levels marked on the foundation blocks of this bridge. We'll be seeing those again when the flood comes -- notice I said when not if. The Minnesota River enters the Mississippi about 3 miles above my location and it will be carrying lots and lots of water from the heavy snowfalls in southern and western Minnesota, water that will all run off because the ground started out saturated after the heavy rains and floods of the fall.

I noticed the snow around this sign:

I thought this would be a good place to observe weekly for change. Here we look across the river to Harriett Island. We'll probably see the Island under water again before the spring is all said and done.

And finally something that excited me. Last summer construction was done on an observation deck over the river. This is right behind the building where I live. I can hardly wait for the chance to pour a cup of morning coffee and then head out the door to the observation deck.  This project was nearly completed when the fall flood came and work had to stop. One day when driving home I thought I noticed new lights and so went out to today to see. Yes, the lights are now installed and the railing has been built along the river.  Now it looks like only spring needs to come so that the construction fence can be removed.
Stayed tuned for how some of this looks in another week.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More about Trains

I saw only the second east bound Amtrak train in a week go by now -- at 4:30 in the afternoon, when it should have been traveling by a 8 AM this morning. It didn't have an Amtrak engine so obviously one of the problems is that the train equipment didn't end up in the right places after the snow storms of last week. One west bound train did go by last evening only about 30 minutes late, but it was only the second or third one in a week, when the trains are to be daily. The train traffic has been severely disrupted. I'm just beginning to notice the long freight trains again. They also disappeared for several days. We always knew that Chicago was a hub for train traffic and I'm seeing the results of the snow storm yet out my window.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Saint Paul has just finished its annual Winter Carnival celebration. The story with this is that sometime in the late 19th century an eastern U.S. newspaper said Saint Paul was Siberia, so the city leaders set out to prove one could have fun in the winter. On Sunday I wandered up the hill to Rice Park to take photos of the ice sculptures. Often the sculptures disappear within 2 or 3 days, but the weather has been so cold this year that 10 days after the sculpture work, they are all still there.
 This block long sculpture marks the 125 year anniversary of the Winter Carnival.

Here are a couple others.

The building to the right side of the picture is the Central Library.

Many visitors had to "pose" with this sculpture. I simply don't get why one has to be in the picture!

These photos were taken on Sunday morning when the temperature was a warm 30, about-1 for my European friends.

This morning was nearly 40 degrees cooler, -6 in Fahrenheit, -21 for the Celsius system. The river was steaming this morning. One knows it is cold when cold water is steaming because the air is so much colder!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Where are the trains?

Out my window I see the trains. There is a passenger train from Seattle to Chicago in the morning,about 8:15, and one from Chicago to Seattle at 10:15 in the evening. Since the snow in Chicago last Wednesday, I have seen three trains. One from Chicago went by on Saturday afternoon rather than at 10 PM in the evening. Two east bound trains have gone by at very different times. Freight trains are missing, too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blue Sky in Minnesota

"The whole country is having the storm." No, just because there is a storm in Chicago and New York doesn't mean the whole country has a storm. It seems like if something happens to New York City they think everything is the same around the country!

See the blue sky and a jet trail today. We have a lot of snow on the ground, but none in the air today. The temperature was just about 0 (Farenheit for my European friends), but the sun is getting strong enough that there is heat on the streets and sidewalks to turn the snow to water.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Views out the Window 3

Well I'm still looking at life out the window, although today I took myself across town to a short meeting.

Here's how Minnesota handles snowfall. Last evening a snow emergency began at 9 PM and the plows were here for the north/south street by 10 PM. This morning the plow is back for the east/west street which is the major direction for all the streets in this housing area.
 I got a good picture because the plow was stopped for a few moments waiting for a parked car to move. One is supposed to move cars for a snow emergency, but I think this year St. Paul has given up on towing cars. The plow waited so the street could be plowed more to the curb. The street where we pull out of the garage has narrowed down to about one lane if there are cars parked on each side, so it is becoming important to get the plowing done to the real sides of the street.

With snow comes tracks. And what critter made these tracks?

Answer: It's the two-legged Qwest service man. The white boxes have something to do with Qwest phone lines. And it seems like 2 or 3 times a week someone has to walk from the street to the boxes.