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Here she is!

We got a bit of a late start today, but that was fine. After four or so hours at the Museum we (i.e., the kids) had seen enough and were ready to get back to the hotel. Our original intent was to make sure we caught the 5:40 train back to the 'burbs. We thought, if we miss it, at least there is another one at 6:40 (then the next is at 8:40) and if for some reason we want to leave early, there is one at 4:40.

We, however, were ready to go by 3:00. Maybe make the 3:40? It was worth a shot!


We had a bit of a hot, humid, nobody-in-the-mood-to-walk-outside excursion trying to find where the bus would pick us up to take us back to the hotel.

After heading in the wrong direction (my fault), then heading to the right place (my suggestion), then suggesting that that wasn't the right place and heading a different direction (my fault), and then finally figuring that we needed to go back to spot number two (I finally got it right), four hot and sweaty and weary travellers boarded the 14 express and got to the train station by about 3:25. w00t! In time to get some bottled water and head onto the train. I ran Al down to the bathroom while the redhead and Em went to fetch water.

When we met up a few minutes later I said that we needed to head to track one, and she said no, it was track five. While we stood and "discussed" the train on track five left. Oops. Well, but good oops--we would have ended up way far aways from where we needed to go. "I'm certain that West to Elburn is the train we have to be on," I said. "Yes," said the lovely redhead, "but the time next to that is 4:40, not 3:40."

So I pulled out the tiny pieces of paper from my wallet and found the one with the outbound information. 2:40. 4:40. 5:40. 6:40.

No 3:40. Oops.

Grrr-ooaaaannnn. So we found a place to sit, got some frozen ice refreshment stuff, and relaxed and decided being an hour early was MUCH better than being an hour late.

Then something funny happened. There were some pictures on the walls that I'm guessing where made by students for some contest to exemplify Chicago living (or something). Well, Em took an interest in one because it was a drawing of two girls--one in a White Sox shirt and hat (with blonde hair) and one with a Cubs shirt and hat (with brown hair) with a picture of a baseball stadium in the background. Em said that she liked it because she has blonde hair and is a White Sox fan and her best friend is a Cubs fan and has brown hair. So she wanted to take a picture of it. I told her "no" because I thought it was silly to take a photo of a picture on the wall of the train station, but the redhead's sense prevailed, and off Em went. She took two different shots of it and came back to the table.

And a second later there was a security guard. "Please don't take any photographs inside the train station."

Yep. Homeland security busted my daughter. Pretty funny. (Obviously we just said "okay" and he left it at that--he wasn't mad or anything and certainly didn't make us erase the pictures from the memory card or anything silly like that. I explained to Em that if someone "suspicious" were taking pictures of something that might be a terrorist target, and were told to stop taking pictures, but we were allowed to take pictures of seemingly innocuous things, that would cause a problem, so they just don't let anyone take pictures of anything in the train station. Anyway....)

Tonight we're heading out for pizza with my dad. He just LOVES a place called "County Inn," which is a pick-up only type deal. Where they live now is much further away than where we lived when I was growing up in Elmhurst. So now Dad does the thing were they cook it halfway and he cooks it the rest of the way, and no offense, it was never that great to begin with. Monical's pizza in Villa Grove is the same thing, as far as I'm concerned. So we're going to a place called Barone's in Glen Ellyn this evening. We used to have that pizza every now and then when I was a kid and my grandmother (that lived in Glen Ellyn) was still alive, because it was close to her condominium. At any rate, not only do I want to go actually eat "somewhere" (other than my dad's house--no offense, dad), but I want something different than Monical's/County Inn.

At any rate, we're headed over to join up with them in about 20 minutes. I can't wait to finally have some "good" pizza.

Posted: Saturday, July 29, 2006, 11:17 pm
Mood: Excited | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


Well, more like Oakbrook Terrace at this point, but what's a few miles?

Yeesh. What an interesting past 24 hours! We had originally planned to drive up here yesterday morning and maybe spend the day at the Morton Arboretum or something. As it turns out, our Extension group had a meeting yesterday from 3-5, and the Dean of the college was going to be there. Neither my boss nor I made the connection several months back when I asked for the day off. Well, considering the situation, I was told that I was still free to take the day off, but I thought it would be a good idea if I at least made that meeting.

And the redhead and the kids weren't thrilled, but everyone agreed it was in all of our best interests (explanation to follow) for me to go to this meeting.

I had a doctor appointment yesterday morning where we talked about my need to stay on the little purple pill--my doctor was going to take me off of it, as my ulcer has long since healed over, but I explained to him that I was having a hard time controlling my headache and was disobeying my direct orders and was using ibuprofen again. And yeah, it was making my stomach hurt sometimes. We talked a lot about the headache, and the fact that it is on only one side of my head. He thinks I have an inflamed or pinched nerve and that is what is causing the pain.

He said my blood pressure, though higher than it should have been (135//98) wasn't the problem and that he wasn't going to lecture me about that. I told him that I was having a stressful time at work lately, was overwhelmed with consulting, and that I needed to lose a bunch of weight and quit being so lazy about it. He said maybe that would fix it, but in the interim gave me some samples of some migraine medicine and (of all things) an anti-seizure medication that has a side effect of curing headaches. Groan.....

So I spent the rest of the day trying to get caught up with a consulting job, and mowing the yard, and packing.

And then we loaded up the Torrent and headed up to my work. They dropped me off and went to WalMart to get some movies for the trip (and had dinner, etc.). The meeting was interesting, actually. I had no idea the politics involved in all of this State of Illinois/University Extension stuff.

Well, after the meeting was over with, my boss asked me to hang around for a minute.

And yes, it was to discuss That Thing I Can't Talk AboutTM. And let's just say this for now: I still can't talk about it fully (tee hee) but it is essentially resolved, and will become finalized on Monday or Tuesday while I'm out of town. And hopefully, hopefully when I get back on Wednesday this will all be over and done with and then I'll be able to spill the beans.

Needless to say, I'm quite thrilled. This has been a bit of a bumpy ride. Well, the only thing that made it bumpy was my psychosis. Yeah, I'm a worry wort. But it is all going to work out for the best. w00t!

So we got here late last night and checked into the hotel, and what a hotel it is! We have a two-room suite that has two double beds in one room and a sleeper sofa in the other. There are flat-screen televisions in both rooms, a HUGE L-shaped bathroom with a stand-up shower and a separate bath tub, a mini-fridge, microwave, and a wet bar:

(I don't know if this Internet connection just sucks, or if there's a problem with campus Netfiles, but I'm having a heck of a time getting those pictures over there and viewing them...)

It also has a balcony off of the main room--we're on the 9th floor! You can tell that my psychosis is in full flair right now because I was scared out of my mind on the balcony (and "balcony" is a stretch--it's the width of a sliding glass door and about 2 feet deep....). To the point of when I looked over the edge both my legs and feet starting tingling. I feel that I'm turning into Tony Shaloub's character on Monk. Oh well.

Today we're going to the Field Museum in Chicago. We're going to drive to my hometown of Elmhurst and park and take the train downtown, and then take a bus to the Museum "campus." And I'm not getting in a hurry. And I'm not going to stress. We'll get there when we get there, and we'll get back when we get back. (And as it is looking right now we're going to catch, at the earliest, the 11:13 train to Chicago, which means we won't get to the museum until around noon--but that's fine with me....). Fine, I'm awake (and Al is now too) but the girls are still asleep, and I'm not waking up either of them.

This is a vacation, not The Amazing Race.

So That ThingTM is going to happen next week. I'm quitting freelancing and consulting cold turkey after I finish up my current Resource Directory project. I'm going to quit being so damn lazy, start eating better, and lose some weight.

I'm only 36. While there are some that think it is better to work oneself to death (rather than be "lazy"), I am getting off that train. I'm only 36. I have too much to live for. Life is too short. I need to enjoy the here and now, and be able to see the forest for the trees. It would be very stupid of me to either die or permanently screw up my health because I work too hard. It ends now.

Okay, girls, wake up. I'm hungry.....

Posted: Saturday, July 29, 2006, 1:45 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Little Purple Pill

I have a doctor's appointment later this morning, and like everything else in my life, I'm kinda worried about it. I ran out of my stomach medicine (that I won't name by name because I'm sure I'd just be inviting tons more blogspam and even though I think I have that under control now, I'm really not in the mood to get in a hacking battle with some kid from Russia...). Anyway. We're also switching doctors--the clinic that we go to in Champaign has opened up a satellite branch in one of the towns closer to us, and they are tons less busy and can get us in right away when we need to. So we're going to switch doctors. From the one that told me I could take 20 Advil a day, which screwed up my stomach lining, to the one whose eyes got wide when I told him how much ibuprofen I took and immediately put me on the little purple pill.

My stomach hasn't been well for about a week now, and my old prescription ran out about two weeks ago. And I've had a constant splitting headache for about that entire time. And even though I'm forbidden from taking ibuprofen for the rest of my life, yes, I've been taking it. And sometimes five at a time. It's the only thing that works against this piercing pain in the top left side of my head.

Well, I'm not the fittest fellow in the world to begin with right now--I eat too much, I drink too much, I exercise too little, etc. But my body has really gone to pot these past few months. I've been so busy with work, so busy with freelancing, and spent so much time just worrying about everything--cars, work, That ThingTM, this vacation, the house, money--you name it. I get winded walking up the stairs at work. I basically just feel like $#!&.

And my blood pressure is too high. Even though I take my pills for that, I know that it is high anyway. I can feel it. My head hurts because of it. I can't sleep because of it. And I think this all travels in one big vicious cycle that is going to be hard for me to break free from.

And I would hope that this mini-vacation that starts later this afternoon would help some, but I fear it won't. I fear I'm going to be worried and hurried the entire time. Coordinating train schedules, bus schedules, museum schedules. And the redhead is going to read this and get irritated with me. I'm going to try. This will all work out fine. I'm from "up there." I know how it all works--the trains, the buses, the museums. It will be fun. The kids will love it.

I can't explain my worry. When I went on the blood pressure medicine originally my body wasn't nearly as bad as it is now and my doctor said the blood pressure wasn't because of my weight, or my diet, or whatever. "Some people just have high blood pressure, and we give you this pill, and it fixes it." And it does--neat! I wonder, however, if they have a pill for people that worry all the time, even irrationally. I can't stop worrying. And it eats at me. And part of it is that the more I worry, the more wound up I get, and then that makes me more worried, and that makes me more wound up, and on and on and on.

Everything is going to be fine. I need to see the glass as half-full. Yes, even though I requested a suite with two double beds, and even though the website said that the hotel will try to fill our request but based on situations at check-in we may not get our first choice and get a suite with a king bed instead, I'm sure that they are just saying that because they have to and there's no reason that we won't get the two double beds that I asked for. I'm sure that the travel arrangements for going downtown Saturday and Sunday will run perfectly smoothly, parking at the train station won't cost anything and there will be plenty of spots, we won't miss a bus and have to stand around and wait, there won't be lines to get in to the museum since we already have the tickets, and we'll totally get back to the train station right on schedule to head back to the suburbs and even if we miss a train there will be plenty of stuff to do for 45 minutes to occupy the kids until the next scheduled train arrives. We have a brand new car, so there's no need to worry about car problems. Right? The kids will have fun, and won't be bored, and since they'll have fun it won't be my fault when they don't have fun, because they will have fun.

Sigh. I really need a vacation. And valium. My goodness.

That ThingTM is probably going to be finalized while we're out of town. So I'll be all refreshed and relaxed and ready to move forward in life once again when we get back. Right?

Okay, back to bed....

Posted: Friday, July 28, 2006, 9:57 am
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

I'm Es-scared

I'm trying. Hard. Honest.

I'm exhausted. And I'm miserable. And I'm making everyone around me miserable.

We bought our house right before 9/11 and we bought it on an ARM with the intention of refinancing right away. Well, after 9/11 interest rates went down year after year so our ARM kept going down, so there was no need to refinance.

It's been going up the past year or so, and our ARM has finally passed the going "fixed" rate.

And we're refinancing, and have saved a bunch of money in the interim. Yay for us.

We had two "paid for" cars for ever and just now finally bought a new car, and good for us! We needed a reliable car. And we're carpooling (for the most part) and I'm going to get rid of my University parking pass (they are absolutely criminal with the rates they charge for me to park at my damn job!).

I have a car to sell.

And That Thing...(I'im tired of typing all of it) really should happen soon.

But I'm stressed. I'm more than stressed. Too much going on. Too many variables. Even variables that seem to be locked in are still variables until they are actually locked in, at which point they aren't variables anymore. Confused? So am I. But I'm worried too.

This is my one shot at a career. At raising a family. We had some not-real-fun times in the past. I don't plan on getting divorced and finding a new job if this doesn't work out. This is IT. I love my wife. I love my kids. I want everything to "work out." And I'm just about at that point. Where I don't have to worry about stuff.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm at the "final crossroads" of sorts. If this latest thing goes through, I won't need to fret anymore.

And freelancing is killing me at this point. I'm so unbelievably overextended that it isn't funny. I even have a web site I have to do, and I'm not a "designer."

I'm trying. I'm trying to keep it together.

And this post is probably going to get deleted tomorrow, but I'll feel better getting it off my chest. I need to make a "private" button or somethign...

Posted: Wednesday, July 26, 2006, 3:32 am
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Illinois State Park

I wanted to post these pictures yesterday, but didn't have the camera with me to get the ones we took recently. As I mentioned before, we went to "Illinois State Park" on Sunday and hiked a few trails. The reason for the quotes is that the actual name of the park is "Walnut Point State Park," and it is obviously part of Illinois' state park system, and when the kids were little they either wouldn't remember Walnut Point, or didn't know that was what it was called or (I totally don't have any idea and the redhead will probably post a comment and give us the real reason). At any rate, we refer to it all the time now as "Illinois State Park" just to be funny. I don't know. Dorky parent stuff.

So we took a picture of the kids standing on a bridge leading to one of the trails when they were really little, and then in subsequent trips we always try to take their picture on the same bridge. Here they were when they were little and actually liked each other (and we didn't tell them to hold hands, which makes it so much "cuter").

And here is the picture I took of them over the weekend.

It isn't even the same bridge anymore--they tore out the old one a few years back and replaced it with a shiny new steel one. (And no, we didn't go hiking in our bare feet--we were already done for the day and I went back there just to take this picture, but the kids had already taken their shoes off in the car, and I didn't feel like making them put their shoes back on just to walk ten feet from the parking lot to the bridge...).

Then there's a shot that we took a couple of years later of the kids sitting on a bench that is along one of the trails. And you can't even see Em's face in the picture, but it's her attitude more than anything. Or something.

And as always, Al looks thrilled...

Oh well. I don't have much else to blog about. I'm wound up so tight right now that my stomach hurts and I feel like my head is going to explode. I have about five days of work that I need to cram into the next three days, and then five days of vacation that needs to be crammed into the three days after that. And I was supposed to take Friday off so we could use that as a laid-back, no-big-hurry travel day, but now there's a meeting with our group at work and the Dean of the college at 3:00 p.m., which ordinarily wouldn't be that big of a deal but That Thing I Can't Talk AboutTM might be dealt with, and if that happens, it probably won't look real good if I'm not there....

So I need to talk to the boss this morning and see what he thinks. I'll be so happy when all of this is over and done with. Oh, great. And the final for my summer session class is on Thursday. Wonderful....

Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2006, 12:41 pm
Mood: Anxious | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Lazy Monday

Yesterday was mine and the redhead's twelvth anniversary. It's hard to believe it has been that long. She asked me yesterday if I still loved her as much now as I did then. I told her that I think I love her even more. (And of course, she playfully asked "What's that supposed to mean? That you didn't love me as much back then??" Sigh...)

We've actually been at each others throats a little bit lately, and that sounds way harsher than what I'm actually trying to convey. I don't know if I'm stressed and having too short of a fuse (and I've thought about it a lot and don't think it's all me), I don't know if she senses that I might have a short fuse and is pre-empting me, or what the deal is. And it isn't that big of a deal, but it can be frustrating.

I feel so bogged down right now, and maybe that's what the problem is. I really am hoping that the Thing I Can't Talk AboutTM gets resolved soon. It could be tomorrow, or it could be another month. And I hate waiting.

I feel overwhelmed with freelancing stuff right now. The redhead wants me to quit. And I do need to just quit doing it. But I feel like I'd be throwing money away. And of course my mother-in-law encourages me to keep doing it. Part of the "better to be totally overworked and miserable than happy" mantra, I guess. I'm having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees lately. What good is paying for all of this if I can't ever enjoy it? I don't know...


Yesterday we went to "Illinois State Park" and hiked a couple of the trails. I almost hit Bambi as we were driving from one parking area at one end of the park to another area at the other end. Fortunately I was obeying the 20-mph speed limit, and he escaped into the forest unharmed (the actual "Bambi" was a boy, right?).

My class ends this week, thank goodness. Okay, I need to get back to cleaning up the mess in my e-mail inbox....

Posted: Monday, July 24, 2006, 12:30 pm
Mood: Anxious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Took the Plunge

Well, after months and months of discussing, and calculating, and sometimes fighting, we finally bought a new car. And we had intended to get a not-really-new-but-new-to-us "new" car, but as it turned out, by the time my discount (through the University) was figured in, and the rebate was subtracted, and lower interest rates for new instead of used, etc., etc., it was only going to save us a couple thousand dollars to get a used one with 15,000 miles already on it. So, we got a "new new" car.

I had originally wanted the redhead to get something like a VW Passat or maybe a Volvo S60, but she somehow managed to fall in love with the Pontiac Torrent from the first time she saw one. I don't necessarily share her adoration, but hey--it's her car, not mine. And as long as she's happy, I'm happy. (And she's pretty happy about all of this....)

It is actually pretty cool. It has a sunroof and an in-dash six-cd changer and satellite radio and heated leather seats.

And we're taking a trip soon and all of the extra room for the kids and all of their junk will be wonderful. It doesn't ride like a truck, like our old minivan did, which is cool. It actually rides quite nicely, to be honest.

So it looks like I'm going to sell the red car. I had intended to try to hang on to it for the kids to drive when they turned 16, but while my motives were good, actually doing that would be a pain in the neck and wouldn't be worth it.

Now if I can just keep the Aurora running for a few more years....

Posted: Friday, July 21, 2006, 3:36 pm
Mood: Content | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Quick Update

My boss just came in and chatted with me for a few minutes before heading out to the farm to rate some roots.

That thing-I-can't-talk-about is nearing the end of its, err, journey.

So I'll be able to talk about it soon!

And then maybe I can start sleeping again....

Okay, I need to go reboot the production server and see if the /etc/hosts change fixes the PHP mail() problem...


Ooop, wrong window.

Posted: Wednesday, July 19, 2006, 3:22 pm
Mood: Awesome | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


I don't know if I've been working too hard lately, or if I've been doing too much consulting, or what the problem is, but I've been falling asleep on the couch every night, and just been exhausted in general. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's school. Who knows?

Anyway. The redhead told me the other day that my blog isn't fun to read when I just talk about tech stuff. Well, just for her, I have more tech stuff to talk about.

Well, not that technical, I guess....

I moved our web stuff at work back to the production server yesterday. It worked just as it should have--I did a last-minute copy of the web pages and database tables early yesterday morning, changed IP addresses, and rebooted both machines, and everything did what it should.

mail() in PHP isn't working yet, but I think that's because of an /etc/hosts problem that I fixed after the fact but I need to reboot the machine again and I'm not going to do that until, well, a few hours from now when I get to work for the day.

I'm happy that everything else worked as plan, however. I think at this point that I might actually know what I'm doing. Scary thought.

I'm at the point in the semester where my class has gone from being something fun and new to the time where I'm ready for it to be over and out of the way. Ugh. Only a couple of weeks to go.

Okay, I think I am going to do the wrong thing and eat something before I go back to bed. Well, I was sleeping on the couch so I guess I'm not going back to bed.

Oh, I almost forgot.... I fixed the blogspam thing, I think. A while back I set it so that if anybody that has previously posted a comment tries to post a comment, it writes the comment to the database, sends me an e-mail, and automatically makes the comment visible. Then I attempted to make it so that a "new" comment poster would have their comment written to the database, and an e-mail would be sent to me, but the comment wouldn't be visible until I changed its "verified" status in the database from "no" to "yes." Any time after being verified, comments from that IP address would appear automatically. Then I tried to stop the spam so that not only wouldn't it appear automatically (which I fixed a while back) but it would also not be written to the database, and most importantly, the system wouldn't send me an e-mail.

The trick I used is checking every non-authorized comment for "http:". I can post comments with links in them, and anybody whose IP address is in the comments database can post comments with links, but if a "new" comment poster tries to make their first post, and makes the mistake of trying to post a link, it won't appear. I don't expect that this will turn away hoards of legitimate comment posters or anything, so I think this solution is a good one.

Anyway. I'm going to bed...

Posted: Wednesday, July 19, 2006, 8:10 am
Mood: Tired | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Mac OS 9

"The application 'QuarkXPress' has suddenly quit..."

Oh for Pete's sake. I mean, really.

The 21st century is a few years old now, Quark folks.

I don't even remember what simple task it was that I was just doing. At least I save even more frequently than the autosave does. Or something.

Groan. Okay, back to work...

Posted: Monday, July 17, 2006, 1:49 am
Mood: Irritated | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment


That's the process that was puking, not coldfusionmx7.

Know what was stopping it? SELinux. Rather than starting the service, SELinux was asking it a question, and it wasn't in a place to be answering a question, so it puked. And skipped right over coldfusion as well.

What fun! Not.....

I turned off SELinux. (Then I went through a bunch of updates, and registering with RHN, etc., etc., that I needed to do but just hadn't.)

Then I turned coldfusionmx7 back on, and lo-and-behold, it started up on boot.

How wonderful. I can move back from "test" to "prod" first thing on Monday (I'm taking tomorrow off--we're getting hooked up for phone service through our cablemodem connection tomorrow afternoon....).

And while we sit here and consider just how "complicated" Linux is (groan--it really isn't), I should offer a short anecdote....

One of the people I work with (the person that hired me originally four years ago) stopped me in the hall today. Apparently his machine had not started up properly, or something. He had a bunch of colored bars on his screen and a blinking (DOS-ish) cursor at the top left. So he pressed the button on the computer to shut it off, and then turned it back on, and had the same result.

Three or four more times he did this.

Then he rebooted and Windows finally started up, but the screen was all funny, and he had a balloon telling him that Windows had run some automatic updates and automatically restarted for him. He restarted one more time to try to get the screen to display normally.

And it blue-screened.

After restart number (well, I've lost count) he finally got it to come back up and act normally.

"Any idea what the problem was?" he asked me.

"No," I replied.....

"...yet you make fun of me because I use a Mac..........."

And that was the end of that conversation.

Hey, I started a Perl tutorial today! It's pretty straightforward so far. Of course, I can't yet publish an entire encyclopedia of insect information just by running a program with a single line of "as\fjwe43/?5$adf \|/R fds--wlqur '*7sdf"

Or however those Perl programmers do it....

Posted: Friday, July 14, 2006, 2:09 am
Mood: Exhausted | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


Why use a pair of tweezers when a hammer will do the trick?

rm -rf /opt/coldfusionmx7
rm -rf /web/CFIDE
rm /web/cfide


And that takes care of that.

Okay, what's next?

Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2006, 1:42 pm
Mood: Happy | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment


Mood: Okay (so far, anyway......).

I installed ColdFusion on the main server last week, and yesterday moved over databases and web pages from the test server that is currently acting as the production server.

Then I did something that screwed it all up....

Our main server has dual NICs--one of them has an address outside the campus firewall (so that we can serve web pages to the public, of course) and the other one is behind the firewall--basically for my access to the machine. (And so that when eth0 fails, I can just switch the IP address of eth1 and reboot).

Well, I was only running the eth1 NIC when I installed ColdFusion. And it occurred to me after getting data sources hooked up and all that jazz to give eth0 an IP address (the one that the test server normally uses) and use it to serve pages. That is, make sure it all works like it is supposed to so I can flip the switch and put it back into production.


Uh oh. No more ColdFusion. "Internal Server Error." It seems that the JRun server isn't starting up now, which means ColdFusion won't start either. Groan. I disabled eth0 and it still isn't happy. Put the original httpd.conf file back into place. Nope.

Oh for pete's sake.

Because I added a second IP address? How does that make sense?

I've screwed with it for the last 45 minutes and I think what I'm going to do is configure it to have both NICs start on boot, put the production httpd.conf file into place and then...


It only takes a few minutes. Hell, and if I have to I can always just wipe the machine and start over (kidding. Uh, I mean, I hope I'm kidding...)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2006, 12:07 pm
Mood: Okay | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Back to Production

Well I'm finally taking the plunge and getting everything back up and running on my production server. Last night at home I went to look at something on one of our web sites and for some reason it struck me--these pages are being served from a Dimension that's on a desk in my office.... And temporarily, that's not a bad thing.

But there's a reason we have a production server with three 10,000 RPM SCSI drives (RAID 1) with dual power supplies, UPS units, dual NICs and 6 gigs of RAM. And it is all freshened up with new drives and a new RedHat install.

Time to move from test back to production.

Okay, the web site tarballs are finished copying. Back to work...

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2006, 5:36 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Fatherly Wisdom

At the dinner table this evening....

"That's why, kids, you should never take yourselves too seriously in life.....

...because people like mom and me will make fun of you."

Tee hee. (And it is true!)

Posted: Sunday, July 09, 2006, 11:28 pm
Mood: Amused | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


So I had some car problems yesterday. Actually, my car has had a couple of "episodes" over the past few weeks. Nothing bad enough for me to easily make a diagnosis, however. I've been in a "take two aspirin" sort of holding pattern. Well yesterday it finally went nuts on my way to work. It sputtered a few times on my way through town, and I tried to tell myself it just wasn't warmed up yet, even though it never has had problems like that before when not-warmed-up. The fun really began once I left town and accelerated up to 60 mph. I turned on my parking lights (yes, my car is old enough that no lights come on automagically) only because I'd like to think that it makes it easier for people to see me--in otherwords, people heading toward me wanting to pass the car in front of them on the two-lane highway. Sort of a "hi, hurried person, I'm right here!"

Well, as soon as I turned on the parking lights, the car hesitated, then I looked down and my speedometer was bouncing around up by 70, and there was no way I was going more than 55. Turned my headlights all the way on, and things got worse. So I turned off the lights and headed back home and rode with the redhead to work.

I assumed that my alternator was acting up. There's a whole lot of other details that I'm leaving out, mostly because I don't feel like taking the time to type them all out. But suffice it to say, something is really wrong.

Well this morning I got up and removed the alternator and drove up to Autozone in Urbana (I got there right as they unlocked the door--and of course apologized for showing up right as the store opened. Silly, I know, but that would drive me crazy if I worked there and there were people waiting to come in right at the start of the day--give me a few minutes to get acclimated to being at work, at least. Or something). The good news is that there's nothing wrong with my alternator. The bad news is that now I don't know what's wrong. Good--not having to spend $115. Bad--this thing was a TOTAL pain in the neck to get out, and I'm not looking forward to reinstalling it (hence blogging instead).

And then I still have to find out where the short is.

I really, really am not ready for a car payment right now. I told the redhead that if we can get both cars to make it through the rest of the summer, that we'd get her a new car in October. It'll be after the pool is closed, the a/c won't be running all day long, the huge summer car buying season will be over and maybe we can get a better deal, etc., etc., etc.

Now I may not have a choice.

And here I was feeling all sorry for myself while driving home. Trying to convince myself that we're so much better off financially now than a year ago. That we won't end up in the poor house if we have a car payment. But what if we get her a new car, put the red car in storage (assuming I can fix it today), and then the black car conks out two months later? Then we're at two car payments. But even with two car payments we're still way ahead of a year ago. Yet I'm still nervous about it all.

I promised myself I'd buy that Lexus for my graduation present--and that won't be for another two years. I really need the black car to last another two years. But I don't see how it will. It just passed 120,000 miles the other day. Anyway.

So I stop at the grocery store to get dishwasher soap so that I can do dishes and clean up the kitchen, since my sister and her family are coming down today. And I'm worrying that the redhead is up for the day, and mad that I'm off screwing around with the damn alternator, leaving her without a car, and no way to get dishwasher soap, and she's going to be irritated with me for the rest of the day. So I figured I stop and get it on the way home.

Lucky for me, she was still asleep.

But so I'm at the grocery store, and I got paper towels, and those sausage and biscuit sandwich things that the kids like for breakfast (well, kids including me....), and American cheese because we don't have any, and a new pretty thing of hand soap for the kitchen sink. And I get to the checkout line, and the person in front of me is paying with food stamps. So here I am worrying about something as trivial as a car payment, and this guy has to use food stamps to get food for his kids.

Nothing like a nice big lightning bolt of guilt to come from the sky.

So it took a while for his stuff to get checked out (stopping after certain items and signing the ticket things, etc.) and I stood and patiently read the covers of all the trashy magazines nearby. He finally got his bags and left, and I put my stuff on the conveyer. The checker acted like she was irritated that her last customer required the additional work on her part, and I wanted to tell her that she has no idea--no idea how awful it would be to be in that guys shoes. We got some "public assistance" way back after Em was born (the optometrist that the redhead worked for went bankrupt and she lost her job, and her health insurance, when she was like 8 months pregnant, and I had just finished up college and was working for a temp agency for like $7.50 an hour...). And it was awful. Embarrassing. (And we didn't have food stamps--we were on something called "wic" that basically we just got free milk and juice, and some other stuff.)

Fortunately, we were back squarely on our feet a few months later, and actually went and cancelled the "assistance" and the folks at the county offices were stunned. "You have six more months." "But we don't need it anymore." I'd write a check and pay the whole amount back to them, but they won't let me. Oh well.

So I wanted to tell this checker how lucky she was that she didn't have to walk a mile in his shoes.

I didn't say anything, paid for my stuff, and out the door I went.

And this guy is loading his bags into the back of a late-model Jeep Grand Cherokee with vanity plates.

So yeah, nevermind all of that. Sheesh.

Okay, I need to go put my silly car back together.

I need to be confident. I can fix this. Surely the electrical system of the car can't be that complicated. So there's a short somewhere--I just have to find it. I think the best course of action is to put it all back together, fire it up, turn on the lights and blinkers and radio, and then start pulling fuses. Assuming that the car "gets happy" when the affected system is no longer attached to the electrical grid, I can then identify which part of the car contains the short. And once that is narrowed down, it should be much easier to deal with individual bulbs, components, etc., and find the culprit.

Here goes...

Posted: Saturday, July 08, 2006, 2:07 pm
Mood: Aggravated | 1 comment| Article URL | Post a comment

Mr. Hyde

Oh I am so irritated that I just had to swat at a fly with the back of my hand as it landed on the middle of my middle flat panel (no, I'm not trying to sound snobby or anything--these are way cheap flat panels--but give me a break! Land somewhere else!).

Okay, Mr. Hyde.

And I don't mean me. Tee hee.

I was just out watering the garden and the redhead's multitude of flowers and for some reason got to thinking about one of the things that I don't think about.

There are lots of things I don't think about. I mean most of what I have ever experienced falls into that category. I just don't want to go there.

I won't force myself to go there. I can easily fight any urge of some inner sense to trick me into going there. I just don't do it. And the mere fact that I'm talking about it now has mental troops heading toward the border in my mind that consists of "there."

Which is why I stopped watering, midway through, to come blog for a minute. Otherwise I'll forget. And while this all matters to nobody but me, for the most part, I wanted to write about this. Maybe opening up that wall every so often, even just slightly, will make me, well, not friggin' nuts anymore.

So I took a class when I was a junior in high school called "History Seminar." It was a "high-weighted" class, so as far as class rank was concerned, a C counted for a B, a B counted for an A, and an A jumped two points to be counted for 6/4, if that makes sense.

It was an awful class.

The timing was bad. My mother died during the second semester of my sophomore year. And other than the very evil Margaret Lamon who was my English teacher when my mother died, most people at the school were sympathetic and understood that there were more important things in life than worrying about A Tale of Two Citites or whatever else.

The entire track team showed up at my mother's wake--they ran there as a group for the start of practice. And our track team was huge. I'm talking probably a hundred guys in matching green York sweat suits showed up at once. And they all got in "the line." Every one of them.

My English teacher didn't show up. Not that I expected her to do so. I didn't expect Coach Newton and the track team to show up.


Phew. I didn't intend to get this emotional at this point....

So Mr. Hyde and history "seminar." You know, "to prepare us for how it is in college." Well I don't know where ol' Henry Hyde went to college, but my (sometimes half-drunken) college experience had no "history seminars" in them.

Here was the deal. The class taught itself.

The desks were arranged in a "U" around the outside of the back of the room. Every day a different student was to be the presenter. So if your topic (and yes, they were in historical order) was the Boston Tea Party, you'd be expected to become a, well, a Master's Degree level expert on that subject (tongue-in-cheek, of course--but you were to become this historical "expert" on the task at hand).

Then it got even dumber. (And no, I just went to delete that and put "more stupid" but no, it was dumber....)

Everyone in the class, the "seminar" if you will, was expected to have a set of questions to ask.

And the questions weren't "hey, I don't know how to change my oil--what do I do?" They were "bait," if you will.

So you ask a question, and then the "lecturer" responds, and then you have evidence to back yourself up and start an argument, with them and the rest of the room, who was also expected to be ready for an argument.

And Mr. Hyde, for whatever reason, loved a historian whose last name was "Bailey." So basically, you came up with three good references, two of them from this Bailey dude, and then waited your turn to interject and share your "knowledge."

"Well, isn't it true that Britain planned all along to do that? According to Bailey, in article...."

Yeah, because that's just what college is like.

My maudlin-ess has worn off and now I'm irritated, like I was when I was watering.

Which reminds me, I need to be watering.

Oh, but Mr. Hyde showed me no sympathy. I did quite poorly my first semester of my junior year. I think I got a thing mailed home to my dad that said I was getting a "D" in history seminar. I did well the second semester. I don't know.

I have an odd outlook.

I know in my heart that Mrs. Lamon wasn't fair to me. I don't think Mr. Hyde was either.

And all of this is interesting because I started--well, I finally convinced my cahones to agree to it--a quest to go apologize to someone on campus. An instructor that I had the "first time" I was in college. Something that has eaten at me for 15 years.

She was fair to me. And she shouldn't have been. And I owe her an apology.

And she's retired now. I suspected from checking the English department's web site, and verified by standing at her door. It was closed. And there was another person's name on the door.

Is this good for me? Am I making progress?

I think I'm still too focused. Still too brooding.

Okay, I need to water the planters by the diving board...

Posted: Saturday, July 08, 2006, 1:51 am
Mood: Curious | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


I found a wonderful instance where procrastinating totally paid off. I take classes at the Springfield campus of the University of Illinois. Well, I take them on-line through that campus. I take one a semester, and will get my second Bachelor's degree in a couple of years. I do it because it is fun, and because it is mostly free. I say "mostly" because one of the neat deals we get as University employees is a tuition waiver for taking classes, at any of the three campuses, but we still have to pay any of the fees associated with the class. There's a $4 student-to-student grant fee (whatever that means) and some other $2 fee as well. And for my on-line classes, there is a $100 on-line course fee (well, it's $25 per hour and the classes happen to have all been 4 hours long so far). So each semester I've had to shell out $106. And I tend to put it off. I don't get in trouble for not paying it, and they don't put any sort of academic hold on my account because the tuition is paid, I'm just not caught up with the fees. In other words, I kind of forget about it...

Well I never paid my $106 from last semester. I got an e-mail yesterday that my tuition waiver for Summer and Fall semesters had been approved and I thought that I had better log in and find out what my balance is and go take care of it. Was I ever suprised to find that I owed them $6.33. They paid my tuition for Summer and Fall, plus the on-line course fee, plus the on-line course fee for last Spring.

Okay, let me correct that, just so we're all clear, and Uncle Bill doesn't got nuts (again) and accuse me of being the reason why tuition rates keep increasing.... They technically don't pay anything. My campus doesn't give the Springfield campus any money (I don't think). All it means is that my charges are removed. I'm not taking anyone's "spot" and therefore am not causing the University to be losing a single person's tuition income by taking up a "spot" that a paying person can now not fill (nice sentence, Mr. Rhetoric--now we all know why I am so hell-bend on getting a computer degree....).

And while it does list on my bill that the tuition has been waived, it doesn't show that the on-line fee has been waived--they just aren't on my bill any more.

So yesterday I walzed over to the Henry Admin building and wrote a check for $6.33 to pay my account (actually I wrote the check for $36.33 and got $30 back--I can do that because I'm not just a student...). Then I went across the street to get my new iBook for 2006-2007. (And not an Apple iBook--I'm of course referring to the original iBook that predates Apple's by many years--the U of I student planner/calendar book thing). There were lots of parents and new students in the bookstore, asking lots of parents and new students kinds of questions, which was somewhat amusing, having been through that experience many, many years ago. I got my iBook (on sale for $4.99!) and headed back across Wright Street toward the quad.

And then something really odd happened. I sort of felt like I went back in time or something. I became ultra-aware of my surroundings. The quad. The buildings. I went to school here. I'm walking along where I used to go to college. I used to have classes in that building. And that building too. The huge importance of my college education sunk in at that moment. How lucky am I that I got the opportunity to fix my screw-up and finish up four years after dropping out. How lucky.

A couple of years ago I was driving back with Dr. Gray from Iowa State University over in Ames, and we were on I-80 passing semi-truck after semi-truck after semi-truck, and he asked how school was going and I told him that I was feeling bogged down. That I wasn't sure why I was back in school. Why I was not necessarily wasting my time, but why was I putting the stress on myself. He talked to me in a sort of fatherly way (not in a bad fatherly way) and told me that he thought I should keep it up and hang in there. That college is so important because it is something that "nobody can ever, ever take away from you." That really sank in with me.

And how wonderful. Not only did my boss say it was okay for me to go back to school, but he was encouraging me to keep at it.

And yesterday I felt so lucky. So appreciative. I had paid my tuition and bought my new yearly planner (and smirked to myself when I once again thought of what would happen if Apple Computer ever decided that it owned the name "iBook" and tried to come after a behemoth like the University of Illinois--that'd be fun to watch!). I felt like a student again. A student who appreciates it all this time around. And who isn't going to screw it all up this time.

Posted: Friday, July 07, 2006, 2:58 pm
Mood: Happy | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment


Hey, July of 2006--aren't you supposed to be on your own line up there? This blog is such a hack....

I just finished up part of a consulting job, and I've finally admitted to myself that my poor computer is getting old. I mean just plain slow....

Last night I was actually importing some songs into iTunes (a somewhat processor intensive, uh, process) and trying to use Photoshop at the same time. Heh. Funny. Not. And even this morning with just Photoshop and Quark running (and a few other things) this poor thing was totally dragging. Yes, I'm spoiled by having the Dual G5 (with 6 gigs of RAM) at work, but still.

And since (theoretically) all of this consulting business should be slowing down soon, I can't see that I'm in the market for replacing this machine. (Well, and I'm not buying an "obsolete" G5, and Apple doesn't seem to be murmuring much about when they'll start using Intel in desktop machines, and even when that happens I'd still want to wait for the second-generation of the Intel desktop machines, and then I'd still probably wait until the third-generation came out so I could get a deal on a second-generation one... Phew!).

Besides, I have this thing pretty well tuned to my needs, Four hard drives, three monitors, all the software I want installed and working properly. It's not like replacing a computer is like replacing a television set....

Hmm. I wonder... Processor upgrade?

Huh. I didn't realize that they made them all the way up to 1.8 GHz (I though they topped out at like 1.2 or something). But still. $300 for 1.4 (double my current speed) or $400 for 1.8 GHz. That still seems awfully expensive. And third-party processor upgrades make me nervous anyway.

Eh, $400 is half of a new stove. I have more important things to spend the money on.

Sorry, Quicksilver. You're just going to have to deal with being slow for the time being.

Okay, I'm going back to bed.

Posted: Thursday, July 06, 2006, 9:36 am
Mood: Apathetic | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Okay, How 'Bout a Normal Post?

Phew. Sorry for the outburst.

So anyway... Work was good today--I had a very relaxing five days off but it was nice to get back to "command central."

I finished up Angels & Demons over the weekend. And yeah, it's pretty much the same durn thing as The DaVinci Code with a few details changed. To read them a few years apart might have been an okay thing, but not one after the other. And I still can't believe that anyone at Harvard (whether they be a nuclear physicist or a fictional "symbologist") doesn't know what CERN is. Anyway. Fun book, yes, but really just the same thing as The DaVinci Code.

Right now I'm reading The Big Bad Wolf by James Patterson. It's okay so far. I only started it because the book that I want to start reading now is at work--Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Hopefully I can tear through the Wolf book in the next day or two.

I did some consulting tonight--I'll finish it up in the morning. I also have a web site that I need to get done for a prominent local attorney in Urbana. The bad part is that he has registered and I told him to get and at one point he had and it expired and is now being held by a company in Australia, who has failed to return my e-mail inquiries (doh!). "What can we do in a situation like this?" Uh, sue 'em? (I'm not the lawyer, of course...).


Tomorrow is a Bulletin day, and I think I'll switch from the test server back to production on Friday. Assuming nothing else appears on the radar.

Okay, I need to go squish the kids before they get sent to bed...

Posted: Thursday, July 06, 2006, 1:59 am
Mood: Calm | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

Eighty-Three Dollars

Yep. I just spent $83 at the Amoco in town.

And that was a bargain--all of the price increases (20 cents per gallon in C-U, as well as at Mobil and Casey's in town) happened after ol' Ed had already closed up and gone home for the day, so I was able to get premium unleaded (for the redhead's car) at $3.09 a gallon, and regular unleaded for $2.89 for my car. Regular is $3.09 at the other two stations in town.

I'm not aggravated about the 83 bucks. I'm not aggravated that I had to go get gas tonight when I didn't need to (well, her car needed it, I had half a tank...). I'm aggravated at the reason behind all of this.

Because Kim-Dong-Il fired a missile into the ocean? It didn't even work properly. It was a misfire. It blew up. I have a better chance of creating a missile in my back yard that can get to Korea than those *$%^&#*@#es have of creating one that can get to the U.S. And it's one missile. It isn't like they have hoards of them (like we and the Russians do, which still sucks, but still....).

"...that, and the growing unrest of what is happening with Iran..."

Yes, Iran threatened to stop oil shipments. Ooooh--scary. All it took was me reading what Condi had to say: Oil makes up most of Iran's economy. They would screw themselves way worse but cutting off oil than they would be screwing us. They'd go bankrupt. Fast.

Okay, I don't mean to get too political here. I'm not thrilled any more than anyone else is over the current situation.

But this whole "sky is falling" mentality drives me crazy. I've complained about it before. A hotel blows up in Jakarta, and gas goes up five cents. It rains in Kashmir, and gas goes up five cents.

Here's why this is ridiculous:

Most of our oil doesn't come from Iran. Nor Iraq. Nor Saudi Arabia. Not even all of OPEC combined.

It mostly comes from Canada. I'm not kidding! Most of our oil comes from Canada. And the second place finisher, I believe, is Venezuela. And while that guy is a kook and probably needs to be removed from power as much as Saddam did, he's still in our hemisphere.

Okay, I need to go get numbers to back myself up....

I was wrong.

Most of our oil comes from here. 40% of our crude oil comes from the United States itself. Then Canada, who with Mexico makes up 35%. So seventy-five percent of our crude oil comes from North America. Then Venezuela is 8%, as is Saudi Arabia.

Either way, I'm still holding to the fact that I can't see a logical reason why gas went up 20 cents a gallon today because of that lunatic in North Korea.

My mother-in-law called several hours ago and told me to go get gas because people were lined up at the stations in town. No thanks. I'll be irritated about this, but I'm not going to fall into "panic mode." I'll either go later in the evening (which I did) or fill up tomorrow and pay the price (It would have been like six bucks more--big deal...).

Okay, now that I have that off my chest.....

Remember that "think I can't talk about?"?

Aaack. I apologize--I just typed two paragraphs and erased them. I'm still too fearful of the rug being yanked out from under me.

We're a few days away, hopefully, and then I can spill the beans.

Let me just say this: if everything works out the way that we expect it to, it won't matter if gas goes up to $8 a gallon....

Posted: Thursday, July 06, 2006, 1:24 am
Mood: Aggravated | 3 comments | Article URL | Post a comment


What a party! We had 40-50 guests (we think we only had one "no show"--a couple that recently had a baby and we had already figured that they'd be here in spirit if not in body...).

I had a ball. Parents had fun, and kids had even more fun. I actually cooked at a reasonable time, which was appreciated. The keg was cold and the company was, well, wonderful.

I actually did get the outside audio system working, so we had tunes piped in from a laptop for the entire afternoon/evening.

I really, really need to get the pool light fixed (and I don't think the light is the problem--I think the switch is the problem...).

What fun!

I did some consulting work today, and finished up Angels and Demons (longer, but not as fun as The DaVinci Code, IMHO...).

I'm just in generally good spirits.

And I have one more day off before having to go back to work....

(We're planning a short vacation in a few weeks and have been making more plans this evening.)

I hate the Fogals. And people wonder why I'm skeptical of "religion."

Posted: Tuesday, July 04, 2006, 1:23 am
Mood: Worn Out | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment

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