Saturday, November 25, 2006


I woke up Saturday determined to get some projects finished.

First up was the new programmable digital thermostat. I tore into the packaging, ripped the old unit off the wall and was finished in half an hour- and this was including the time required to make a pot of coffee.

Funny thing, but this new unit seems to work a whole lot better than the old mercury thermostat we had up before. The furnace doesn’t turn off and on so much, and the house seems warmer.

Emboldened by my success, I moved on to the dining room, where I hung up the new light fixture and installed a nifty dimmer switch. While I was there, I put a new three-way switch in for the upstairs light.

At this point, I took a break for lunch and took a quick nap. I woke up, then went outside and cleaned and repaired the gutters.

Then I went about installing the new fence diving the yard into child and dog zones. I purchase a couple of the ready-built 6 foot long sections of fence and a few posts.

I set the first post, then carefully measured 62 inches and set the second.

Yeah, six foot fence sections. There are 72 inches in six feet, not 60. So I’m a dumb shit.

Pulled the post, dug a new hole, and set the post at 72 inches. Except I needed to set it at 74 because the post is a 4 x 4 and I’m a dumb shit.

Pulled the post, dug a new hole, and set the post at 74 inches.

So much for things going easy...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Geek Zen

Follow along:

So, there are two identical, very powerful physical computers.

These machines have been electronically divided into two virtual systems each, for a total of four systems.

These four systems are divided into pairs (for redundancy) then these pairs are joined into something called a cluster. This lets either of the computers fail without a loss of functionality. It also makes the four virtual systems appear as two (entirely new) servers.

This is what we show the users- two servers.

So, we started with two computers, turned them into four, and then turned them back into two computers. These two virtual servers now exist simultaneously on both physical computers. One of the two physical systems could literally burst into flames and it would not affect what the users are able to do.

These two physical computers are replacing twelve physical computers. The energy savings alone are impressive. In addition, the new system is easier to use, has a higher capicity, is more robust, and is completely redundant.

This is all pretty impressive, if you can get your head around it.

The bottom line is that this system doesn’t truly exist as it presents itself. What you see is very far from what it is.

That, folks, is how computers are becoming more like people. There you go, a moment of zen.

You also have a bit of insight as to why I have headaches after working on this stuff.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


The holidays are here. It seems quite fashionable to bash, berate, and belittle each event as it rushes towards us in a non-stop frenzy culminating with the passing of another year.

Guess what? Not going to do it. Sorry.

I look forward to Thanksgiving, but I do not have any misgivings or romanticized notions about the day. I know this nation was built on the backs of others. I call it “Smallpox Blanket Day” in honor of my old next-door neighbor (who happens to be a Lakota medicine man / tribal elder.)

I come from Irish stock. The folks on my mother’s side were imported to work the Comstock. Slavery had come to an end, so the next cheapest form of labor was the Irish. It was slavery without the title.

I have come far past that. I will not forget where I came from, or what happened to my ancestors, but I will not allow it to consume or define me. Nor will I allow the actions of the long dead to determine my fate.

I like Thanksgiving. I like the big meal, the kids running around, and the lazy afternoon that follows the feast. During the entire event I am thankful, to nothing in particular, that I can have a day like that. That I can listen to the kids play. That I am.

This brings me to the big holiday. I like Christmas. I like watching the kids get excited. I like reminding my wife to (however begrudgingly) remember her birthday (December 24) in the middle of it.

I don’t get upset about the perceived commercialization of the holidays. I don’t watch much television, so I don’t see many ads. I have always ignored displays in stores. I enjoy watching the kids get excited, so the things that should aggravate me simply don’t.

See, I’m a grown up. I’ve learned when bitching will do something. I understand that this is a capitalist society and that my level of participation has a great deal of influence over my perception.
  • If I’m not concerned about buying a bunch of gifts, the displays won’t affect me.
  • If I am secure in my beliefs, other people’s will not offend me.
  • If I have my own reason for a holiday, nobody can market it to me.
Thus, with my blinders on and my mind wide open, I enjoy the holidays.

Déjà vu

Things had been going so well on this latest remodeling spree. The flooring was moving right along, Toddling Ben was helping Daddy hit stuff, and the girls were behaving wonderfully.

Then came last night.

It was like a bizarre flashback.

First, I had to move the Albatross (300 pound TV) and the stand upon which it is perched. It wasn’t a bad stand, but my wife has always had a special place in her heart for it.

“I’m going to move the TV stand, can you keep an eye on the boy?” I asked.

“I hate that stupid, ugly, cheap piece of crap stand,” she replied, then went back to talking to an ex-boyfriend on the phone.

“Yes, but you love the TV more than life itself.”


So I slid the stand across the floor. I lifted it to place it on the new laminate when….

Snap. Crackle. Pop. Crunch. “Uh oh,” I said.

“Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Don’t let the TV fall!” She screamed from the other room.

I looked down. One of the corners of the stand had broken off. The TV wobbled slightly, but seemed to be OK. “See, you do love the TV more than life….”

Snap. Crackle. Pop. Crunch. Rice Crispies from hell.

I caught the TV, and looked for my bride. She was still on the phone with her ex-boyfriend, probably talking about how she had made a bad choice some 15+ years ago. She hung up quickly and came to help rescue her beloved Albatross.

We swung the table my Dad made under it, and paused. “Do you think it will hold it?”

“I don’t know, I’ll call the builder,” I answered.

By this time the hysterical girls where milling about, fretting about the fate of their beloved 36” Toshiba. It was very loud. I took the phone outside and talked to my Dad.

He wasn’t sure, but if I was going to try it, I had better brace it.
I hung up and sighed. I leaned back against the house. My shoulder pressed against a large window.

That’s when the window shattered. I invented a few new compound expletives.

I was not hurt, and my shirt was not even ripped. I left my wife to block off the window with plastic while I Carrie-Rigged (it was her idea) the TV stand with a spare wall stud.

We moved the stand into position, reconnected the TV, and let out a huge sigh of relief.

Then she called her ex-boyfriend back.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


In response to the puzzle below:

(Click for a bigger version)

Now, can we please carry on?

Good Shepherd

So, having drawn the short straw, and being prone to awaking early, I was elected to take our eldest to her Religious (Indoctrination) Education classes. First up, Reconciliation.

Not confession, but Reconciliation. See, now the emphasis is on the pardon. I think this was done for the priests. Now you can do what you want, just confess, do your (significantly lighter) penance, and leave a twenty in the collection basket (we’ve got legal bills, please help!). The whole church has definitely softened up in recent years.

This has been loads of fun for me, as I am predisposed to wearing Hawaiian shirts to mass and cracking wise with my pewmates (new word!). I get odd / dirty looks from the faithful on a fairly regular basis.

My daughter, however, is fascinated by the entire practice. She loves the rituals, adores the decorations, and is giddy with anticipation for her next class.

There have been some interesting exchanges as a result of this new practice, which I will now share with you all.

During Mass:
Maddie: Why don’t you get a Jesus biscuit?
Me: What?
Maddie (Pointing to the people lining up): You know, like them.
Me: That’s called communion.
Maddie: OK, why don’t you go?
Me: I’ll tell you when you’re older.
Maddie: Is it because you’re a Godless heathen? That’s what mom calls you.
Me: No. Wait. What? Hold on. I’m here, and your Mom isn’t. Who do you think the heathen is now?
Maddie: You, because you don’t get communion.
Me: Hush.

In class:
Teacher: Who can tell me who the “Good Shepherd” is?
Maddie (waving hand): Moses!
Teacher: Yes, but...
Maddie (interrupting and nearly leaping to her feet): The burning bush, who was God, called him that.
Teacher: OK, how about in the New Testament
Maddie (with a huge grin): Ohhhhh, that would be Jesus.
Teacher: That’s right…
Maddie (interrupting): But Moses was too. You should probably make the question better.
Teacher: Yes, but we’re Catholic so we try to focus on the New….
Maddie: My children’s Bible has an Old Testament.
Teacher (visibly exasperated): Moving on…

During another Mass:
Me: Go get your blessing.
Maddie: I’ve been blessed enough for one Sunday.

She is SO my kid.