hardware comments edit

I’ve got this server here at work that’s been having some minor hardware problems. I reported the issue to the systems engineer in charge of such things around the seventh of January. It’s the third of February and the problem still isn’t solved.

The recommended course of action I was told was to swap out the existing hard drives, one by one, to see which of the drives was causing the problem. (For those unfamiliar with RAID, this actually isn’t a problem; if you pull a drive out of a machine and put in a new one, the data magically gets restored to the new drive without missing a beat.)

I didn’t think this was too big of a deal. I’ve replaced drives before, and the general idea sounded good if maybe a little kludgy.

I replaced the third of six drives this morning and all hell broke loose. Drives started failing, the computer blue-screened on me (which actually very rarely happens)… dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria.

After about an hour of ohshitohshitohshit style troubleshooting, we got the machine to come back up, but not in a fault-tolerant state. (That is, if something else goes wrong, I’m really screwed.)

Now I’m in the process of migrating all of the data and settings from the broken machine to a new, better one. This was part of a larger plan and I was going to have to do it eventually anyway, but it’s a long process that isn’t really automated and I was going to test things out and get things working in a reliable fashion first.

From what it looks like now, I’m not getting out of here until after 5:00p. Considering that I wanted to go home early, this isn’t good news. Fucking typical.

personal comments edit

I was up way too early this morning.

I woke up at 5:39a because I had to pee really bad. Normally I get up at 6:15a, and that left me with two choices: Either I could get up, pee, come back to bed, take 20 minutes to get back to sleep, and basically just get back to sleep before the alarm goes off, leaving me tired all day; or I could get up, pee, and just stay up, get ready for work, go to work early, be tired all day, and go home early. Regardless of the choice, I was going to be tired all day; the thing that tipped the scale was the “go home early” part of the second option, which is the one I ended up choosing.

Normally, leaving my house at 7:00a, it takes me about 30 - 45 minutes to get to work. Today, leaving around 6:15a, I got to work by 6:35a. (I had this craving to listen to Billy Ocean on my way to work today, hence the title of the entry.) That’s hella faster, all chalked up to the morons that clog up the freeway during rush hour.

Speaking of rush hour and driving and such, Jenn and I went to the Portland Auto Show this weekend. Never having been to an auto show before, I was pleasantly surprised at some of the cool things they had. I admit I was hoping to see more in the way of future/concept cars (there really weren’t any), but they did have lots of other stuff. Just about every model from every manufacturer was on the floor, and that was neat to see.

We spent more than our fair share of time at the MINI booth. I’ve always had a penchant for small, fun cars and the MINI Cooper has been one of my favorites for a long time. Their return to the US after 30 years of absence is a welcome one, and had I not already bought my car, I’d be looking at buying a MINI. Jenn wasn’t as hot on them as I was before the show, but after seeing one in person and getting a chance to sit in it, she’s hooked, too.

Money, of course, is a whole separate issue entirely.

The MINI ad campaign centers around the concept of motoring, which seems to be a Zen-style approach to driving where regardless of where you are, as long as you’re in your car you should feel like you’re in Nirvana. I thought about adopting this philosophy in my driving as it would probably be more stress-free, but then I realized that I hate stupid people and feel this intrinsic need to punish idiocy (i.e., if you can’t figure out how to merge properly, you don’t get in on the freeway), and that affects my driving much more than some ad campaign ever could, so that was a wash.

I bought a lottery ticket for this past Saturday’s Powerball drawing. I took the ticket in on Sunday to scan it at one of those machines that tells you if you won or not. It went something like this:


Travis, 26, ENTERs the store and strides confidently to the lottery scanning machine. He wonders what he will do with the millions of dollars that are going to soon be entering his pockets when he discovers he is the winner.

Arriving at the lottery scanning machine, he pulls the ticket out of his wallet and runs it under the scanner.

TRAVIS Oh, yeah. Moneymoneymoneymoneymoney! Here we go…

Travis scans the ticket in the machine. The machine does nothing.

TRAVIS [grumbling] Okay, come on now. Scan me, baby.

Travis scans the ticket again. Again, nothing happens. Travis wags the ticket furiously under the scanning mechanism and finally the ticket machine responds with a message on its screen that somehow is heard as a very loud robot voice, almost as though on the PA system of the store.

SCANNING MACHINE You are a fucking loser. Next time you should just light your money on fire. If you feel up to it, please come back next week so your hopes can be trampled again. Thank you.

TRAVIS [yelling] God dammit, machine! I hate you! I hate you!

Travis EXITs the store at a fast walk, obviously irritated at the outcome of the scanning operation.

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how it went, but it was damn close to that.

What the hell else did I do this weekend?

Oh, yeah - we got a lot more done in the way of moving things out of the apartment and into the storage closet. After making a run doing that, we went to Home Depot to pick up some supplies for installing a new shelf in our closet and fixing up an old chair we have. Got all that stuff home, worked some more on boxing things up and organizing it all… good stuff. I think my hockey friend, Jerry, summed it up best: Five pounds of shit in a two pound bag. Now that the cleaning effort is nearing completion, I might say it’s closer to four pounds of shit in a two pound bag. Better, but still not ideal.

Jerry is a total crack-up. Every time I talk to him, I find out new weird crap about him. This weekend I found out he has eight cars, two boats, and a trailer; he’s lived in the same house since 1968 (which is how the “five pounds of shit in a two pound bag” reference came up); he signed up for the Army in an effort to avoid getting drafted (apparently you have more say of where you’re stationed or something if you sign up instead of getting drafted?); and during the 70’s in the whole “return to Africa” movement (with the Black Panthers and all that), he was stationed in Libya, which was apparently where they sent all the African-American soldiers who refused to work well with others due to that movement. He was telling me about how there were stabbings and shootings and things on the Army base because of all the trouble going on. This guy seems to have done everything.

Watched the Hawks win one and lose one this weekend. They say they may still be contenders to go to the playoffs, but… well, I don’t have a lot of faith. Maybe they’ll get lucky or something.

I cleaned the grill on Sunday. That was probably the messiest thing I’ve done in a long time. I ended up using car engine degreaser to get the crap off the grid. My hands smelled like degreaser for a couple of hours after that.

personal, home, media comments edit

With the changes we’re making around the apartment (moving things around and putting things in storage) in combination with the upcoming tax preparation, I’m starting to re-evaluate lots of things.

The housing situation I’m in bugs the living shit out of me. I’m tired of having me, Jenn, the two cats, and enough stuff to fill a two-bit flea market all crammed into 1000 square feet. It’s just not enough space. We’ve pared down a lot of the stuff we don’t use, making several donation trips to Goodwill, having a garage sale, and getting this storage closet to offload some of the lesser used items. Even with all of that, I’m irritated. I need space to stretch out and walk around in, and I just don’t have it here. I was hoping we could afford a house this year, but with Jenn in school and without a regular job, and me with the economy the way it is (thanks, stock market!), it’s just not going to happen.

The household budget is not nearly what it could be. I’m a cheap bastard, I’ll admit it. I really just don’t value food, so when friends ask me to go out for dinner, I usually say no - I just can’t spend that kind of money on something that goes in one hole and comes out the other. What I do buy are DVDs and CDs. I’m a media junkie. I’ve got this rockin’ CD database program that I use to keep track of my CDs, and looking at it now, it says I have 577 CDs. That’s counting multi-CD sets as individuals (so a two-CD set counts as “2” and not “1”). I can’t tell you how many DVDs I have, but they pretty much fill up a six foot tall bookcase. I love my media. But now that Christmas has passed and I have those bills coming in… and I bought my TV (which was admittedly expensive but I haven’t regretted it for a single second)… man, I’m fucking broke. I mean, seriously. I used to be able to pay all my bills and then put a little money into savings for a down payment on a house or something. Not anymore. I’m spending every penny I bring in, trying to pay down the credit cards and stuff. I haven’t bought nearly as many CDs or DVDs as I usually do, which hurts morale but helps on the budget. I’m hoping to have some of the larger bills paid off by the end of the quarter, at which point I will be in a better situation.

Physical fitness has me irritated, too. As in, “I’m a hunk of lard and my ass is melting over the sides of my chair right now because I’m so disgustingly atrophied.” Jenn and I are both a little concerned over our personal fitness, since we both have desk jobs providing exercise roughly the equivalent of grazing. We’ve picked up a couple of those yoga exercise balls and have done a little work there, but somehow I think I’m going to need something a little higher impact to counteract the effect of the berry pie in the refrigerator. (Change my diet? Are you nuts?) Of course, I’ve talked about this before, so I won’t go on with it. But it does bug me.

So, anyway, I’m re-evaluating all this stuff, realizing that something’s got to give. I’m not sure what it’ll be first, but something tells me I’ll fix up my budget and correct inadequacies in my housing situation prior to ever getting anything resembling muscle tone.

personal comments edit

I took my work keys home with me last night to see if I had the key for my display case on the ring.

I didn’t.

I searched around my house again in a fruitless effort to recover the damn thing, but I couldn’t find that key if my life depended on it. It is officially gone. Enter the locksmith.

I called one of those 24-hour places just to price stuff out. Turned out I had two options - either I could have them come to my place and make a key for the display case at a cost of $85 - $125, or I could take the display case to them and they could make a key for $25 - $35.

No way was I paying $85+ for a new damn key. But it was also equally unlikely that I could get the display case down to the locksmith shop.

Some ginger work with a screwdriver and some pliers, and one of the locks was liberated from the case. A little more work and it was back in its original shape.

I took the lock into the locksmith’s shop this morning. Ten minutes and $17 later, I had two keys that worked better than the originals. (Of course, I could have bought new locks for cheaper than it cost me to get a new keys made, but that would mean I’d have to pry the display case apart… nah.)

Watching the locksmith guy work was amazing. I mean, the guy was a machine - a little picking and some prodding on the lock, next thing you know there’s a key that fits it. I respect anyone who knows what they’re doing - if you can do a job and make it seem like you’re performing magic, that’s when you’re a real professional. It’s like when you see these shows on TLC where you have this team of like three guys and they build a new house in an hour and a half or something. It’s crazy and wonderful and downright amazing. That was this locksmith guy. It was cool and it made me want to learn how to be a locksmith. But then, there’s another part of me that really doesn’t want to know how he did it so I can retain that sense of mystery. Once you learn the magician’s secret, it’s not magic anymore.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s what people think when they see the programs I write up. Do they think, “Wow, like magic, that totally solved the problem in an elegant fashion!” or is it more, “Good - problem solved… moving on now…”? I’d like to think that I maintain that same level of magical professionalism that I saw at the locksmith’s shop today, but most of the time I think the stuff I do is taken for granted because of its intangible nature. Not much I can do about that.

Speaking of TLC, it looks like Trading Spaces is going to be on this new Discovery HD Theater thing that’s coming out. I’m hoping that we’ll get that with our digital cable; I’ve got an HDTV and I’d love to see how it performs.

media, tv comments edit

After some quick research, I found two things:

First, we don’t get Discovery HD Theater in our area by default. That’s something you have to special request.

Second, it costs like $5 - $20 a month. It’s a subscription service, not just another cable channel!

Now, I enjoy my Trading Spaces as much as the next guy, but if I’m going to be paying $20 a month for a channel, it’d best have some boobs on it. And I don’t mean the scary native ones you see in National Geographic.