Monday night's budget committee meeting was just as interesting as last week's meeting, but in a different way. Once again we were presented with the huge cash shortfall that the city of Canby is expected to face in the coming year. Several departments presented their budgets and answered questions. Most seem to understand that there are going to be some cuts and are willing to do what they can to help.
The swimming pool provided the most heated discussion, though. The pool requires approximately $200,000 from the city's general fund. Our deficit, after hiring freezes, is about $200,000. Randy Carson, one of the councilors, suggested that we ought to consider just shutting the pool down. (Note that he's not recommending that we do this, just that we consider it as an option.) The pool, of course, has tremendous history in this community and a large number of supporters, several of whom were at the meeting, as if they new somebody might recommend shutting it down.
This suggestion brought on a lot of debate. The meeting crawled. As I mentioned last week, in past years it's only taken about five meetings to get through the budget. This year, I'm willing to bet that it's going to take eight to ten meetings. There's a lot of work to be done unless some easy solution presents itself.
For the past several days, I've been playing a lot of Turborisk, a game that Mac and Pam introduced me to. I played risk as a teenager, but never thought it was that great. Now I'm itching to play a real game with somebody.
More than actually playing Turborisk, I like watching the computer players duke it out. The game is very customizalbe: you can create unique computer personalities (if you know Pascal) and you can specify which computer players are present in a game. For the past couple of days, I've been having the a nine computer player game running in the background as I work. Each game takes a few minutes (though some last as long as half an hour). At the end of the game, I write down who won and who came in second and then record it in an Excel spreadsheet. Obsessive? Certainly. J.D.-like? You bet! I'm trying to determine which computer player is best.
I may try to develop my own computer player here before long. Though there are a couple of strong AI personalities, none of them are great. A human can always win so long as he/she survives the first few turns.
Kris convinced me that I ought to drop the Digital Logic and Computer Architecture class that I was taking, and I'm glad I agree to do so. Though I'm interested in computer architecture, the textbook and the instructor for the class were, well, Not Good.
By dropping the class, though, it gives me free time that I have not had in a couple of years. For the past two years, I've either been constantly taking at least one class (if not more) and/or working two (or more) jobs. As a result, I have not had a period of time in which I have all of my evenings and weekends free. Before this period of madness began I was quite content that I had created a life where I did have my evenings and weekends free and could do whatever I chose. I look back on that time with great fondness, and I'm attempting to return to that pastoral lifestyle.
Jeremy and Jenn and Andrew mock me for my desire for a so-called "pastoral lifestyle". They believe that it isn't achievable. But I know that it is. I had it at one point, and somehow convinced myself that I wanted something else.
Actually, what happened was this: I had my pastoral lifestyle. But Kris decided that she was finished with teaching and wanted to change careers. We had lengthy discussions, and she decided to pursue a career in forensic chemistry. During 1999 it seemed very likely that we would be moving to New Hampshire in order for her to attend a graduate program. Due to this impending move, I would need to have some sort of career skills that I could call upon. (Working for a family manufacturing business doesn't give a person the skills to get other jobs.)
About this time, Andrew was recruited to teach a C++ course at Portland Community College. Being interested in computers, and having always wanted to learn C++, I signed up. I took the class. I realized that this was the career that I was looking for. I took more computer classes. As Kris took forensic chemistry courses, I took computer science courses. She began to apply at grad schools.
Then she found an ad in the paper for a forensic chemist position in Portland. She applied for the spot, never expecting to be hired. But, damn it, she's awesome at everything she does. She was hired. At about the same time, I applied for a part-time programming position at OGI and I was hired. I spent a year doing that (and occasinally taking other computer courses) before I realized that computer programming wasn't right for me. I prefer system administration. I started Computer Resources Northwest with Andrew and Jeremy to utilize my system administration skills.
Though the partnership didn't work out, the business will continue and I'll be able to use these skills (and have fun with them) in a very low-key, J.D.-specified manner. But I find myself continuing to take computer classes when I really don't need or want to. It's a habit. One that I need to break. I need to relax back into my pastoral lifestyle: reading, biking, gardening, writing, etc. without taking on added responsibilities. This is the final year of my budget committee appointment and I will probably not seek to be reappointed. The city council seems to be in good hands now, Terry Prince is a mayor that seems to hold values closer to mine than Scott Taylor did, and the rest of the budget committee seems earnest and capable. I don't need this extra time commitment (though, admittedly, it's only a couple of nights a week for a month or two out of the year).
I want to return to a life of relaxation and happiness.
Now if only I could get a good night of sleep...
On this day at foldedspace.org
2005 — Weekend at Rosings Park We had a pleasant weekend at Rosings Park. I have cat photos to prove it.
2003 — The f-Stops Here I promised to refrain from photography talk but once a week, but…
2002 — Hypertext A search for on-line SQL resources spawns a hyperlinked adventure through the realms of genius.