16 June 2016

Friday last, while at the office, I patched and rebooted the server this site and others runs on. That’s not totally uncommon: unlike most of the servers I manage for work purposes, I had no remote console access to my server. And since $FIRM kindly gives me power and pipe for this place, that’s just fine. Sadly, upon reboot, I waited … and waited, and finally went into the data center and connected the crash cart to the system. Um, kernel panics and NMI (non-maskable interrupts) all over the screen – it appears I had a hardware problem. Finally the system finished booting, and surprisingly it was working. I didn’t, however, expect it to remain in that state for long.

Come Monday, I went shopping in the recycle stack for a slightly newer retired server, finding a freshly-out-of-warranty R710, not much RAM, but two quad-core Xeons. Permission attained, I then racked the box, cabled it, and started thinking hard about how I was going to get everything migrated. I’ve done it before, but configuration from scratch is hard and prone to errors, since I don’t have this one artisanally crafted host under any sort of configuration management. Yes, yes, the cobbler’s child has no shoes, I understand. I have good backups, but I’d still rather not rebuild the whole system from scratch.

And I shouldn’t have to. I’m using FreeBSD 10.x as my server OS, which brings me a couple of strong advantages: good support for server-grade hardware, and ZFS, the best filesystem on the planet. So I spent a little while poking around the Internet, and formulating a plan, which combined elements from these two sites:

http://daemon-notes.com/articles/system/zfs-maintenance/clonezfs, courtesy of ‘ken’, and

https://forums.freebsd.org/threads/49702/, thanks to Farioko and the FreeBSD forums.

The former helped me get the initial copy over to the new system, and the latter provided guidance in properly configuring the second disk to mirror all that stuff over. Grand total of actual time working on the transfer and getting the mirrors setup: About 45 minutes. Then I had a full copy of the old machine’s system running on the new hardware. Finally, I moved the ethernet  cable over, and wiped the old system’s drives clean with DBAN.

*      *      *


Monday – 80 sit-ups, 40 squats, 32 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 7000 strides on the elliptical in 50 minutes.

Tuesday – Off. I pushed really hard Monday.

Wednesday – 100 sit-ups, 50 squats, 40 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6400 strides on the elliptical in 46 minutes.

Thursday – I substituted yard work for exercise this evening, getting the lawn mowed before big rains move in tonight.


12 June 2016

My heart goes out to all affected by the terrorist attack in Orlando.

*      *      *

Four days ago it was 47° F on my drive in, before 7 AM. This morning before 7 AM, it was 30 degrees warmer than that, and consequently a lot warmer today. Still, I got a few chores done. There wasn’t a need to mow this weekend – we’d had no rain in the last week, and so the lawns pretty much stopped growing. I got some weeding done in the garden beds. And today I got the front automated watering setup working, and added the potted roses to the rotation. In summer’s past, I’d count on being able to remember to water the roses manually. That hasn’t worked out too well. I expect the roses to do a lot better this summer, and be in much better shape come Fall.

No veggies out of the garden this weekend but for one small green pepper. I didn’t want a small plant to put energy into growing a single pepper, so I had two halves of a tiny pepper with lunch yesterday. There are tomatoes appearing on those plants, which is a good sign. A few more weeks and we’ll be eating salsa!

*      *      *


Thursday – 80 sit-ups, 40 squats, 28 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6300 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

Friday – None. Work, followed by an evening out at a birthday party.

Saturday and Sunday – yard work and house chores counted as “walks” for exercise by the FitBit. But no formal exercise.

*      *      *

This week I read Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders. Such a joyously talented writer. I also read last month’s ePub edition of Strange Horizons, an online SFF venue that I support. Again, great stuff. Online, there’s fiction every week, reviews, poetry, and other features. Highly recommended. I’m currently reading this month’s ;Login: magazine from USENIX, and also this month’s Clarkesworld, which I subscribe to via Kindle. For winding down at bedtime reading, I’ve got a couple of Pratchett’s Discworld paperbacks at the bedside.

Also, recently, I finally finished reading In the Shadow of the Master, a collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s work, interspersed with essays from some of the best mystery and horror writers of the last few decades. This reading was inspired by our attendance last year production of Poe, an original play staged by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. For some reason, Poe’s works eluded me throughout most of my education, probably because I was taking some specialty English courses at the same time as the sophomores and juniors in my high school were reading Poe. So, while I appreciated the play, I didn’t have much of a grounding in his works or his life. I know a lot more now, and am eager to attend this year’s production, with a fresh script!

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

9 June 2016

The weather has cooled dramatically, after a day of wind and a spot of rain yesterday. This morning it was 47° F during my drive in. Busy week, what with chores and a CALUG (Columbia-Area Linux Users Group) meeting last night.  The speaker was Eddie Roache, on the topic of Docker. That’s something I know very little about, which makes it fun! Now all I have to do is find time and resources to play with it…


Monday – 60 sit-ups, 40 squats, 24 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6150 strides on the elliptical in 46 minutes.

Tuesday – 48 sit-ups, 30 squats, 21 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 4100 strides on the elliptical in 32 minutes.

Wednesday – 64 sit-ups, 40 squats, 28 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6100 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

5 June 2016

On the exercise front:

Monday – Holiday.

Tuesday – 75 sit-ups, 50 squats, 30 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 5100 strides on the elliptical in 38 minutes.

Wednesday – 45 sit-ups, 30 squats, 18 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6060 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

Thursday – 60 sit-ups, 40 squats, 24 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6130 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

Friday – My back was wonky from a new addition to the “assorted stretches”, so I took the day off. I didn’t even get up to 10K steps (but close-ish at 8900).

Saturday and Today – Yardwork counted by Fitbit as exercise to the tune of 3.5 hours and 30K steps. Good enough.

*      *      *

Yep, the lawns are edged and mowed. The veggie gardens are weeded. And I pulled out enough broccoli to provision three dinners for two. Tonight’s was brown rice cooked with chicken stock, chicken breasts braised in chardonnay and fresh chives, and … broccoli. I also added some chopped fresh chives from the yard to my rice.

I spent some time in the woodshop working on a project for my dad, and that covers the non-working week.

*      *      *

I’m falling behind on my reading, though. There just aren’t enough hours and energy in these summer days.

Ooooh, yeah. There was something else…

I have a large primary UPS here in my home office, to run the always-on home server and assorted network gear, along with backing up a couple of other computers that are running from time to time (but I never like exposing a computer to line power). I’ve had it for several years now, and while the available run time has dropped off a bit, I never got a “replace battery warning”. Instead, at about 10 after 6 (AM) yesterday, it startled me out of sleep with a screeching alarm and an error code that didn’t make sense in context (overloaded). Hmmm. A bit of exploration online, and it seems that there’s something fundamentally off. More than just replacing the battery will fix, I’m sure. So instead I went down to Best Buy and picked up a replacement APC XS 1500 unit. On trying to shut down the old one a last time, I managed to elicit the same error that woke me in the morning. So it’s a good thing I replaced it.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

29 May 2016

Exercise this weekend was due entirely to yard work. The Fitbit reports that I managed nearly 32,000 steps in the two days, and based on activity, gave me nearly an hour of heart rate + activity actual exercise time each day. So that counts.

The garden itself has really appreciated a week of sun and warmer temperatures. I lost a couple of squashes and all of the cantaloupe to the month of rain and lower-than-normal temperatures. The cantaloupe I replaced today, but here’s a snap from yesterday afternoon:

Garden : Late May 2016

Garden : Late May 2016

The tomatoes have gained a lot of ground in the last week and the broccoli look great. But the best that can be said for the peppers and the remaining squash and cucumber plants is this: Not Dead Yet.

Today, the morning was nice (hot, actually): we got the shopping done, then I pruned ivy along the fence line and got that staged for green pickup next week. Then I went to the nursery, picked up some replacement plants, got those installed, and weeded in the garden for an hour or so. Just in time for more rain, yay? We got half an inch or so today, and more expected over the next two days. So much for holiday Monday, eh?

We’ll celebrate anyway, both in remembrance of those who died in service to our country, and to enjoy our 18th wedding anniversary! Huzzah! Oh, yeah, I also picked up some lovely red roses for my bride and gave them to her today.

Reading this week: I enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. You will, too. Highly Recommended.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Gunner’s Mate Seaman Connor Alan McQuagge, 19, of Utah, who died on May 26 of a non-combat related injury while underway in the Red Sea.

27 May 2016

Thursday: 60 sit-ups, 33 squats, 19 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 5440 strides on the elliptical in 42 minutes.

Friday: 60 sit-ups, 30 squats, 24 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6080 strides on the elliptical in 46 minutes.

25 May 2016

Monday: 40 sit-ups, 20 squats, 12 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 3600 strides on the elliptical in 30 minutes.

Tuesday: 40 sit-ups, 20 squats, 12 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 4000 strides on the elliptical in 33 minutes.

Wednesday: 60 sit-ups, 30 squats, 18 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 4350 strides on the elliptical in 35 minutes.

Being more public about my workouts might help with my consistency in such activities, so thanks for observing.

22 May 2016

A busy, productive week, topped off by a visit to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday evening. We saw the NSO Pops perform, backing up Boyz II Men. We’d never seen either previously, so it was a treat.

Us at the Kennedy Center

Us at the Kennedy Center

Additionally, the Boyz II Men fans are … well, enthusiastic. With a couple of songs to go in the program, women from the crowd rushed the stage. Hmmm. We took advantage of the opportunity and made our exit. Out of the parking and on the road in front of the crowd seems to have been a really good idea.

Today: shopping, chores, coffee roasting, and a bit of relaxation.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

15 May 2016

According to the record books, this last stretch of rainy days ended at 15. But that was measured at a local airport. MY backyard meter got measurable rain on 18 consecutive days, with today being the first rain-free day. Yowza! And let me tell you how unhappy my plants are! They’re not as unhappy as they might have been with a late hard frost, but too much water stunts and kills. The tomatoes haven’t grown, and continuous moisture encourages early rust, which would be … bad. The cantelope seedlings are dead. The happiest looking plants in my backyard (aside from the lawn, which is very happy indeed) are the broccoli. We’ll see how that plays out over the next few weeks.

*      *      *

Huh. Video games leaking out into real life, much? I snapped this shot off the telly screen last night from the Science channel show What On Earth? :

Is this Cave Johnson?

Is this Cave Johnson?


*      *      *

Yesterday, I cleaned most of the coffee-related apparatus in the house, roasted a pound of Costa Rican green beans from Sweet Maria’s in my Behmor 1600 Plus roaster, mowed the lawns, and weeded out the veggie beds.

In the evening, we went to Annapolis Shakespeare to see their production of Romeo and Juliet. The costume and musical designs reflected the late 1940’s, but the language was the Bard’s. The show is directed with a fine touch by the company’s Founding Artistic Director, Sally Boyett. I’ll admit to my weakness for this play – I *love* Mercutio’s monologue on dreams. And Brian Keith MacDonald’s rendition stole the show, for me. Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of the show. Brendan McMahon and Olivia Ercolano as Romeo and Juliet were fun, and completely perfect in their roles. And the rest of the cast, superb as usual, with a special note to the talented and hard-working Renata Plecha, who always seems to have more roles to learn than anyone! Wonderful! Go, see it. There are two more weeks of production!

Today, I cleaned out my office closet. I generated a box of working gadgetry that’s going to the donate stack at work. I generated a can full of trash. I generated a can full of recycle. And I sanitized three phones of elderly provenance:

Secured data.

Secured data.

I carefully secured the data on these three old phones. Out of juice, power adapters long gone, I needed a solution, and Art is the answer.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

8 May 2016

I spent yesterday cleaning house, and half of today doing yard work. THEN Marcia let me know I was supposed to be doing that for my mom, not us! Wrong coast, be damned. Grin.

Nothing much to report for the week. It was wet all last week, I think it rained every day. Even though today was sunny all day, it rained in the wee hours (very polite, that, if you ask me). The NOAA forecast for the week is, well, rain. Every day. The veggies that could be growing, aren’t. The cantelopes are dying, sadly. We’ll see if they recover, but I expect that cooler than expected temps and too much rain are doing them in. Same thing could happen to the tomatoes.

I should have roasted coffee today, but that can wait until tomorrow evening. Ordering more coffee? That I should do right now, since I only have 4# on hand at the moment. {Pleasantly mind-numbing hold music}

Coffee ordered from SweetMarias.com. I’ve got 10 different 2# batches of green coffee beans on the way, with origins in:

  • Burundi
  • Brazil
  • Ethiopia
  • Java
  • Zamibia
  • Sumatra
  • Columbia
  • Bolivia

*      *      *

Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:

  • Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Charles H. Keating IV, 31, of San Diego, California, died May 3 in Tall Usquf, Iraq, of combat related causes. 
  • 1st Lt. David A. Bauders, of Seattle, Wash., died May 6, on Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident.