Work Week Plus

The work week started early … really early. I was up at 0500 this morning, and at my desk at the office by 0555. We had an 8 hour maintenance window to do a raft of VMware and other patching. Licensing issues prevent us from doing things the easy way, so we get outage windows and do things the hard way. That includes getting key virtual machines back online before 0800 on Sunday morning. It was actually a pretty good day – we finished up with two hours left in the maintenance window, which is good estimating. Had something gone horribly wrong, two hours is enough to fix much of it.

Side note – first night down into the 40’s – it was about 47°F out in the back yard when I got up.

Since nothing went horribly wrong at work, I was home and out in the yard mowing by 1300. Got inside and relaxed a bit, and grilled some lovely marinated chicken for supper.

As Sunday’s go, not too terrible.

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Recent Reading – Caliphate by Tom Kratman

No piece of fiction I’ve read in recent years has filled me with sadness for our future like Tom Kratman’s Caliphate. (Note, if you want to read it, the Kindle price at this moment is $0.00.) There is nothing in this book that seems implausible to me. If anything, I find it to be a bit optimistic in the reading of the tea leaves. All civilizations fall, but Europe falling to the radical Muslims through willful ignorance and apathy seems like exactly the path they’re already on. Will events play out as they do in the book? I don’t think so. The radical muslim world are the latest batch of humans happy to play hardball in a brave old world that keeps wanting the game to be played by the rules set by first grade teachers. Be clear: the world is not a kind and easy place. We’ve had it pretty good for the last century or so, but to expect these conditions to last is implausible. What is plausible is Tom Kratman’s premise in Caliphate.

I found the book to be a more-than-good-enough read. Not tightly-paced enough to keep me awake while I read it through. But the story is compelling. I was able to care about the characters, and weep for the world that we’re making for ourselves in this work of fiction. For me, it’s also reminiscent of the Daybreak series by John Barnes. But while there’s tech that doesn’t exist in Daybreak (thus allowing me to distance myself from the action), no such issue exists to prevent me from buying into everything that happens in Caliphate.

You can (and oh, people do) criticize his writing, his stance, his service to America, and everything under the sun. It’s clear how he receives his criticism, right at the top of his website. I wouldn’t say he revels in it, but he want to be sure that before you proceed, there are people foaming at the mouth to disagree with him and his perspective. Frankly, I hope this particular vision of the future is wrong, but I fear it isn’t.

Out of the batter’s box is Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam.

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DoD has announced no new casualties in the last week.

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Top Gear (UK) Tribute

Top Gear (UK) Tribute

Top Gear (UK) Tribute

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A Good Day

Work was work. But the workout was good.

After a bit of stretch, I put in 60 sit ups, 21 push ups, and this:

Elliptical Fun!

Elliptical Fun!

My UP app (from Jawbone, same as the UP24 I wear) tells me I’ve done a million monitored steps since I first put on the device on 31 May. A significant percentage, more than half I’d guess, was done on the elliptical. Go me!

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Late Summer

With three weeks to go in Summer (proper), summer in terms of weather and humidity finally arrived this week. A few days up into the low 90’s brought us some unpleasant heat and occasionally lots of rain. Last night we had 1.3″ here alone. I didn’t look at the weather  radar at the time so I don’t know how broad that front was. But we had lightning and rain for the best part of three hours.

Leading up to that, I spent about 5 hours working out in the yard. Some of that was regular stuff like mowing and cleaning out some dying plants in front.  But I also gave a couple of hours to fence-mending…

A few days ago, Lexi was out hunting bunnies in the back yard, then … she wasn’t. Lexi followed a rabbit, not down a hole, but out a hole. Yep, a hole in the fence which Lexi was able to rapidly enlarge enough to chase through and after. Sigh. The good news is, once discovered, we went out calling her name, and she came running up to me from out of the small wood in the common area behind our property. The bad news was that the fence needed mending.

I ended up replacing about 20 boards, and blocking off a few more bits with patching. I’ve still got to mix up a slightly matching stain combo and get those boards coated. But between the fence and other yard work yesterday, I dropped about 6# sweating. So, I rehydrated for much of the afternoon.

Today: Shopping and patching systems at work consumed the bulk of the day.

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Recent Reading: The Big Aha by Rudy Rucker.

Last year, I backed Rudy’s Kickstarter ™ for his new book, The Big Aha. I’d been a fan of Rudy’s since reading Software in the early 1980’s. The Big Aha is a big departure from the style of fiction, and of writing, from that earlier era. The author credits Bill Craddock’s Be Not Content as his primary stylistic influence. Using quantum mechanics instead of Lysergic acid diethylamide as his tool for making an entire world behave like a bunch of loons is … interesting. However, I found it difficult to follow the story. I found it difficult to care about the characters – they remind me of everything that’s bad about soap operas. And, sadly, though I persevered to the very end of the book (and it’s taken me a good long while), I just didn’t like it.

That doesn’t mean that you might not like it. You will want to be happy in a place where there are lots of new, made-up words. You’ll want to like characters that make even less sense (when straight, aka not in “cosmic mode”) than people on this screwed-up planet. If you like soap operas, and fantasy, and science fiction, you might like this story. My clear personal failing is that I don’t like soap operas.

The better news, from my perspective, is that with The Big Aha done, I now have my permission to start reading pTerry’s Raising Steam.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Brian K. Arsenault, 28, of Northborough, Massachusetts, who died on Sept. 4, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire.

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Labor Day

Labor Day. It means “do chores at home instead of working at the office”, I think. I certainly did. Marcia asked last night if I’d put up my usual Sunday post. I figured that since it was a three day weekend, I’d put up my post on the last day of the weekend. Yes, that’s reasoned procrastination.

So, chores much of the weekend, working in the basement on the floor, etc. We have new neighbors across the street, which is nice (and they’re nice, too). Tonight, I grilled some chickens, and now I’m here. But I’m not going to drone on and on and on about the chores, so on to the penultimate bit …

Lexi often likes relaxing in the sofa back cushion behind my neck when I take a break and watch some television. Here she is again

Lexi behind my back

Lexi behind my back

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Christopher W. Mulalley, 26, of Eureka, Calif., who died on Aug. 22, in Gardez, Afghanistan, as the result of a non-combat related incident.

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Unlike Arthur Dent, I won’t be seeing yellow (first) on a Thursday, but on a Monday. The buses start rolling tomorrow: screwing up the traffic, and taking kids to the place where they can practice disrespecting teachers, learning, and each other every day for the next 9 or so months. Actually, for PG County kids, it’s the 7th, 8th, and 9th graders getting accelerated remedial disrespecting tomorrow, then ALL the kids are on the bus come Tuesday.

The weekend was full of chores. Saturday was house cleaning. Today was yard work. I should have roasted coffee today, but fell asleep on the sofa instead.

We watched the Doctor Who season premier this evening on DVR. That was fun. I expect to enjoy this iteration of the Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, very much. It’ll take him a while to settle into the role, and for the fans to settle in to having a new Doctor. But I’m hoping for great things.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Leggett, 39, of Ruskin, Florida, who died on Aug. 20, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of injuries received when he was engaged by the enemy.

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Back in the Groove

After several weeks of very intermittent exercise, and some backsliding on the dietary controls, I’m back in the groove, I think …

Good exercise days

Good exercise days

Good exercise days – two days running at almost precisely the same pace. Excellent!

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I use OpenSSH for nearly all of my computing platform access, except for that OS from Redmond. Secure access to commandline environments meets about  90% (a made up number, gut check says “true”) of my requirements. It’d be more, but I access a lot of monitoring services via a browser. But close to 100% of actual work is done via commandline remotely over SSH.

Every time I set up a new server, I’ve been logging into the new box and setting up the first user account with the appropriate public key. First I’d copy the key up to the new system, then I’d log in on the new box and run commands like these:

[user@box] ~# mkdir .ssh && chmod 700 $_ && touch $_/authorized_keys && chmod 600 $_
[user@box] ~# cat >> $_

How was I to know that in the intervening years, some one of the smart contributors to the OpenSSH project added the ssh-copy-id program. All I need to do from the client system is type something like this:

[user@client] ~# ssh-copy-id -i .ssh/ user@box

It prompts me for my password, and the work is done. All of the directory and file work, correct permissions included (replacing those chmod commands), all done in one swell foop. Very handy.


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Push Through

I’m tired. There’s been a fair bit of unscheduled work over the last few days, leading to sleepus interruptus. But I got done what must be done, and a fair bit else besides. The big project of the weekend was a bit of reconstruction on the front step, which has been sinking away pretty much since the house was built. For some reason, they didn’t rebar the step into the concrete porch.

What I need to do is break that old step out, drill some holes into the porch and epoxy in some rebar, then pour a new step. But I’ve not had the time to take on that project. Sadly, we’ve spent a lot of time this summer telling people to mind the first step, since it sank another inch in the last year or so. What we had was a 7″ rise, then an 11″ rise. That’s a lot.

So yesterday I put in some pavers over the step, so we now have two 9″ rises. Even height risers are much safer.

Better step height

Better step height

The other fun thing I learned about the original step installation is revealed by the shadow line you see under the pavers. Yeah? Me, too. The underlying, original step is 12″ deep on the left side, and 13″ deep on the right. Sigh.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Samuel C. Hairston, 35, of Houston, Texas, who died Aug. 12, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire.

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We’re ten days into August, the last (usually) properly hot and humid month of the year … and we’ve only made it up out of the 80’s into the low 90’s ONE day this month. Mind you, I’m not complaining. Our electric bills are lower, the house is more comfortable, etc. But this definitely bodes, eh? If the ice comes in September, I’m going to be upset.

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In other news, like most non-lazy people, my time is defined by the work I do. Yesterday: patching an ESXi host, and mowing the lawns. The latter was a big catch-up, because it’d been at least three weeks since last I mowed (well before the Red Hat course). The one mitigating factor is that even though it hasn’t been super hot, there also has not been a lot of rain. So the lawn stayed mostly dormant. Today, Marcia joined me for the shopping, then I did a bit of around-the-house maintenance before heading into the office to do some patching of Solaris systems. I could do that work remotely, but it’s a lot easier to do on my multi-screen setup at work. All of the patching stuff (both days) went well, and systems are stable, which is good.

*      *      *

Marcia and I recently started watching a new (to us) show on HGTV called Fixer Upper. The hosts, Joanna & Chip Gaines, have a great chemistry and fun working together on their projects. It makes the show a joy to watch. Recommended!

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Staff Sgt. Girard D. Gass Jr., of Lumber Bridge, North Carolina, died Aug. 3, in Jalalabad Air Field Hospital, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident while on patrol that occurred in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.
  • Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, 55, of Schenectady, New York, died Aug. 5, in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by small arms fire.
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What I’m Reading – The Setup

Tech note – when you see a Twitter handle here, it’s because I follow that person/entity there. For Twitter curation, I tend to lean towards the tech/tech security sector, with a light mixture of  non-tech people added in.

What I’m Reading – The Setup

Recently, @deirdres (Deirdré Straughan) brought to my attention a brief interview with @brendangregg (Brendan Gregg) that was running on The Setup ( Huh?

The Setup is a collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

Ah, yeah. Now, you see, that’s something that I can get into. How real people use and integrate technology into their lives and their jobs is very interesting to me. And the fact that the initial link confronts my consciousness via Deirdré and Brendan helps for traction, since both of those folks are on my personal “smarter than me, I should pay attention, I’ll learn something” list. What I found at The Setup was that there are a lot more people in the world that belong on that list. I’m happy to have found some more of them. One of the best things in (my) life is to be surrounded by smart people.

My thanks to Daniel Bogan (@waferbaby), who came up with the idea, and keeps on truckin’.

Be well.


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