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Easter Week 2005 Edition


Winter decided to remind us at the start of March that just because it was March doesn't mean that winter has ended. It really hung on for dear life.

On the first it snowed. It wasn't a heavy snow, but there was a big gale that morning, so the snow drifted all over the countryside. On days like that Wheeling Pike, my usual route to Muncie, would be blown over, so I took the Interstate, thinking it would be safer.


Without trees or buildings along that stretch of rural Interstate between Fairmount and Muncie, there was nothing to blunt the force of the gale. It blew off not just the snow but the sand and salt spread by the state Highway Department. Thus the whole route was coated with ice and buffeted by the gale. I could drive no faster than forty miles an hour (64 km/h), and yet I could still feel the car shimmy and the wind hit it so hard as to push it toward the median. I had to concentrate on keeping the car steady while seeing others both less fortunate off the sides of the road and less prudent speeding past me.

The next two weeks were bitter cold, although not as bad as the first. The mornings were constant reminders that I had to replace that stupid speedometer before its whining drove me either deaf or nuts.

Finally winter gave over, and spring came with warmer weather as the crocuses and other bulbed flowers pushed their way to the sun. The crocuses are already blooming; the others will soon follow.

This spring is not going to be as leafy as usual: The ice storm has torn down a lot of branches. In fact, so many have been downed that most of them are still lying about. My folks' pile are still in the back, although I helped burn a lot of the smaller ones last Friday.

My Job

Work is currently a three-way split between MOPAC, the mobile card-catalog program; MEJP, the mobile journals listing; and the two new PDAs that came last week.

I looked over MOPAC, and I worked on it enough to get it to work on my workstation. I transferred it to the production server and got the search form to work but nothing further. What I would like to do is separate ZNUL, the Z39.50 client backend, from the interfaces. The client can be useful for other applications, but not if it is overly intertwined with MOPAC itself.

I finished work on MEJP this week. I had come further on this project than I had hoped, having added all the features my boss requested simply by abandoning .NET Mobile Control's object list control as too complex.

I have a spec report on the Palm Tungsten C. I will give over Good Friday to working with it and the other new PDA. I want reports on these done before my boss's return on Easter Monday.

My Car

Apart from Squeaky the Speedometer, my car is running much better due to an expensive front strut replacement and a lot less expensive oil-and-lube change.

I will pay a visit to the Ford dealership again. I want to know if, when they said they had no speedometer for my make and model (Ford Aspire) of car, whether they meant "We have no speedometer at all" or "We have no speedometer with a tachyometer" — which I thought was that resetable mileage gauge but now know to be a measurer of an engine's RPM.

State Government

In the Indiana State government this year the Republicans hold the governorship and both houses of the General Assembly. That in itself is unimportant because the Democrats hold a sizeable minority, and all it takes is a handful of Republican objectors to scuttle a bill.

Whether the rest of the national economy has recovered, Indiana is still in recession. Most of the good-paying manufacturing jobs are gone. Those few positions that pay well are in law or business management or other field that requires at least a master's degree. For the rest of us are low-paying jobs in sales, distribution, health care, technical repair or local government. Without any jobs for them, the majority of graduates from Indiana colleges leave the state in search of a better life.

Worse, since the working population of Indiana now consists mostly of "the rest of us", the state cannot take in enough money to pay its bills. Those bills are getting bigger with the growth of pensions for public school teachers, of Medicaid (health insurance for the poor part of which the state government must contribute), and of the decaying family welfare system.

In the past the General Assembly has worked around a constitutional requirement for a balanced budget with accounting gimmicks. This year the gimmicks will not work anymore, and the state government is staring at a deficit of US$600 million.

The General Assembly managed to pass a budget that removes the deficit by capping spending on education, local government, and property-tax relief. The budget also includes money to shore up the welfare system, Medicaid and teachers' pensions. The governor wants to raise income tax rates for wealthier Hoosiers, which the General Assembly rejects.

Compared to the longstanding budget mess, other legislative issues are trivial:

Copyright © 2005 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Written on 25 March 2005.