24 Jan 2016

“Snowzilla” – that’s the name some of the local weather liars gave to this storm, and it was a doozy! The closest local airport to us, BWI, had record snowfall of 29+”. I’d say that here, we got a total of 22″, probably a bit more. Hard to tell more precisely than that because of drifts and wind. Here’s the view out our garage door Saturday morning around 0900 EST:

Snowzilla - Saturday morning

Snowzilla – Saturday morning

I measured 14″ accumulated in the middle of the driveway. That drift next to the door was about 3′ high. I cleared the driveway and the sidewalks once on Saturday. The snow was just about the height of the throat of my snow blower, so that worked out okay. Today, I went out again and cleared everything again – the day started clear and cold (at 16 F), but I waited until after 9 again to start work, and the temps were up into the mid-20’s. By 1230 I’d cleared all my stuff, and helped out a couple of neighbors who needed it. Here’s the driveway:

Driveway after final clearing

Driveway after final clearing

Even with the machine, I still did a fair bit of hand shovel work at the berm down at the roadside.  I also cut a path to the mailbox in from the roadway, and cut a couple of spots off the driveway and sidewalk to give Lexi some greenspace on which to do her business. I’m reasonably tired, at this point.

The best news is that, regionally, we appear to have dodged the wide-spread power outages that were anticipated, between the heavy, wet snow and high winds. Can’t say as I’m disappointed, but I was ready: Along with the snow blower, I’d also spun up and checked out my generator on Thursday evening in advance of the storm – we were ready.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

24 Dec 2015

Happy Christmas eve, if that’s your thing. Today I’ve finished up, finally, the second plumbing job I started on the weekend. I was reconnecting the sink and trap in the foyer area in the basement. It’ll be handy for a variety of purposes, so that’s all good.

In other news, I traded up in cars. After a few squirrelly episodes last winter, I found myself wishing for a four wheel drive car again. I still wanted “fun to drive”, but “massively fun to drive, yet safer” (say an Audi R10) is out of my reach. I’d also been mulling the “really fun to drive” option, with the M2 waiting in the wings for next year’s intro. Affordable, but … that’d be sub-optimal. It wouldn’t be driveable in the ice and snow, as a RWD-only car. What I ended up with is an M235i xDrive:

The new ride

The new ride

I test drove it during a rainy period, and found it to be a much more stable platform in the corners in the wet than my RWD 328i. It’ll probably also be fun and quick in the dry, when that happens again. I don’t have performance tires on it, all season is much more prudent. This, I expect, is going to be a long, long term car.

21 Dec 2015

A day late, and a vacation dollar short. Yep, vacation. I’m “off work” for the next two weeks, which means that I only keep an eye on email, and respond if SMS messages flow my way. But for the purposes of day-to-day operations, I’m offline. Yay!

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In other good news, no vomiting in more than a week, so I’ve got that going for me.

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Please note that policy requires the new disclaimer in the footer of this site. So noted.

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The weekend flew by with assorted home-maintenance chores. They were mostly plumbing, which is mostly done – I still need a short length of 1-1/2″ pvc pipe, which I thought I had on-hand, but I was mistaken. So I also checked on my PVC cement, which I did have a can of … but it’s not a liquid as such, anymore. So that’s on the home center list, too.

I also managed to take some time to decommission some old data drives. For tin-foil-hat-reasons, I don’t just throw disks away or recycle them. I electronically wipe them, then destroy their ability to be read. Here’s the end result of one such session with 6 disks:

Data destroyed

Data destroyed

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Today I got my sump pit monitoring system back online. For a variety of reasons, I broke it a couple of months ago, and neglected for a long while to get it back online. Today, that is remediated. The sump pit monitoring setup is well documented by Al Audet on his Raspi-Sump page, so I would be too redundant to repeat it all here. But his code works, so get it and use it. Yes, you’ll need a Raspberry Pi, and some assorted other stuff along with a bit of soldering or breadboarding skills, but that’s not hard to come by, and none of the stuff is so expensive that you can’t replace the bit you break. Better yet, it’s MASSIVELY less expensive in both time and money than what you’ll go through if your sump pit overflows. There are commercial monitors available. Ones that will also send you text messages are heinously expensive. Try Raspi-Sump, you’ll like it.

Side-note – I was introduced to Raspi-Sump on the pages of Linux Journal.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the most recent week. Ciao!

15 Dec 2015

Life is, by some definitions, a process of learning new things. The wonderful new thing I learned Sunday night is that my food-borne GI problems from the weekend before were not, in fact, caused by food from the new restaurant we tried that last Saturday evening. Instead, my homemade chili, that I’ve been eating from off and on over the last two weeks, was to blame. I can’t explain how whatever was in the chili only affected me really badly but twice… in hindsight, I had a couple of intermittently “bad days” in there that weren’t at the level of all-consuming, but I was feeling definitely off. Anyway, the tiny, tiny price I paid for this knowledge was another night of cramps and morning of vomiting. Oh, and the cost (built into my property taxes) of having the rest of the chili, some 10 or 12 servings, hauled off with the trash. I can’t explain how whatever was in the chili only affected me really badly but twice… in hindsight, I had a couple of intermittently “bad days” in there that weren’t at the level of all-consuming, but I was feeling definitely off. I got some sleep last night, ate reasonably well today, and expect to be sitting at my desk around 0700 tomorrow morning. Sorry for the cheery posts the last couple of weeks, but I expect that my troubles were hauled off by the trash truck this morning before 0800, and I won’t have to trouble you further about such things.

I have nothing new to report about the interval between Sunday and now, except that I live on. Ciao!

2015 Dec 6

Sigh. Something I ate last night seriously disagreed with me. Up at 0100 with … okay, no details. But since noon today, I’ve had a few saltines, a couple of fruit cups, and two glasses of water. As the rest of me started feeling just that little bit better … the lack-of-caffeine headache kicked in. I’m not going to try to solve that until tomorrow morning (I’m taking tomorrow off).

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

2015 Nov 22

This last week, we saw a brand new play, Poe, staged at the Reynolds Tavern by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. An excellent show, good food, and a wonderful evening. How can I tell that a new play is wonderful? It leaves me wanting to know more about the subject, and in awe of the actors plying their trade. The 1747 Pub in the basement of the Reynolds tavern is a great place for the work, too. Only two more nights, this week, so go if you can! We also had Linda and Mike over to supper and a game of Ticket to Ride last night. Otherwise it was a normal, if busy, week catching up from my conference week. Nothing too exciting to report.

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

2015 Nov 15

This last week was a blast at LISA 15, the annual USENIX all things system administration conference. I averaged 12 hour days over the 6 day run, so I’m still decompressing a bit. More of a report on that in a day or few.

Nothing else of particular importance going on in our part of the world just now. Terrorists killing random innocents for kicks seems to be increasing the world suck factor by a billion elsewhere at the moment, though. That makes me sad. Condolences to those who suffered loss in Paris, Beruit, and everywhere else in the world where people kill other people to make a point religious, political, or for reasons psychopathic. Redundant much? Sigh.

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DoD reported no new military casualties in the last week, for which I am grateful.

Suicide by BMW

At 0635 EDT (pre-dawn at this time of year), a deer tried to commit BMW-assisted suicide while I was driving to work. I’d have to say, that deer is a failure. It got up and ran off, and my car is in the body shop for the next few days. Bummer, I know. It jumped out of the bushes ten feet in front of my car or less. I barely got to the brakes before the deer was in my grill. Torso to the grill, neck took out the headlight, and the head dented the driver-side front quarter panel. And me with no venison!

That event rather owned my week, sadly. Still, yesterday we puttered on up to the Maryland Home Show up at the fairgrounds in Timonium, MD. We wandered about for a couple of hours, and spent much more time on the crafts side, and less being pursued by rabid window and siding salesmen on the home-show side. A nice little half-day trip.

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

  • Maj. Phyllis J. Pelky, 45, of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, died Oct. 11 in the crash of a British Puma Mk2 helicopter in Kabul, Afghanistan.
  • Master Sgt. Gregory T. Kuhse, 38, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, died Oct. 11 in the crash of a British Puma Mk2 helicopter in Kabul, Afghanistan.

I’d better not get the flu…

I’d better not get the flu this season, because I’ve already paid the cover charge and over-tipped all the bouncers. Seriously. Thursday I got the regular dose (as opposed to high dose) quadrivalent flu vaccine for the season. Friday, I had the day off. I was taking the day to handle a couple of chores, and then attend Capclave for the two and a half days of programming, Friday through today. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

By midnight Thursday, I had aches and pains in the large muscles and joints, and a mild fever afflicted me. I was “fine” by Saturday morning, but all washed out. Much better, finally, this evening, having missed the whole thing. Sigh. So if this was my reaction to the vaccine this year, my antibodies sure better be ready for the real thing, should it look my way.

In other news… well, there is no other news. Three days of my life lost to the sofa and television.

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DoD has reported no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

Oddly Low-key Introduction

If you play in Apple’s sandbox, you’ll know that today was release day for the latest version of OS X: El Capitan. For a variety of reasons, I decided to upgrade on release day (admittedly after pulling a full, bootable, copy of my system using my favorite tool for the purpose, SuperDuper! Highly Recommended!).  An hour or so to pull down the 6 GB download, another 30 minutes or so to apply the new OS, and my Mac Air was rebooting!

Happily, I got a login prompt at the far end. That’s always a good start. I typed in the credentials, expecting a splash screen all about El Capitan, OS X 10.11, and what insanely great things I had installed on my hardware. Well, um, no. Not as such. Credentials for iCloud – gotta enter them, even though I barely use iCloud. Then I was regaled with legalia – four different many-page things on privacy, etc that I was to pretend I agreed to. I “agreed.” Now, surely, on to the good stuff…

Well, um, no. Not at all. For some reason, the system just dropped onto my desktop, with the VPN prompting me for credentials, a copy of Word opened (weird, haven’t had to use Word on this box in months), and a dialog telling me that Mail had failed to upgrade, click to continue. So I did, and boom. Error message and close. No Mail for you. Well, fine, I use Thunderbird anyway, but I restarted Mail to get that refresh done. 15 minutes later, all good. So I shut down, started up, and logged back in … Now, surely, I can have lights and music and frighteningly good looking young people in videos telling me about my new OS… Nope.

#WTF, Apple. Losing your touch, much?

The new OS is “working”, I suppose. I haven’t found anything broken yet (having hardly looked). Not breaking anything would be sort of the minimum bar, I guess. But what’s the upgrade? Or, more pointedly, “Where’s the beef?” Yes, that ad for Wendy’s came out the same year as that wonderful Ridley Scott-directed Apple Mac 1984 advertisement. Where. Is. Beef?

Apple, you’re welcome to reply in the comments…