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Archived Entries from May 2005


Blood Pressure


So the doctor told me that I could stand to lose 20 pounds way-back-when I was put on the blood pressure medication. Just for grins I stepped on the scale a few weeks back. I say "for grins" because it reads the same amount whether I try to eat well or not. But this time something was different. I had lost 10 pounds.

I got out of the shower today and thought I'd try again, figuring that the glitch had been fixed and the 10 pounds would be back. I was wrong.

I've lost another 5 pounds. What the heck is going on? Do I have a tapeworm or something? Weird....

Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2005, 8:35 pm
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Sudoku!


Oh boy. My dad just sent me a link to an article in the Tribune about a puzzle phenomenon that is taking over Britain. It is called "Sudoku." There is a nine-by-none grid of squares with a few numbers on it and the trick is to finish the grid so that each of the numbers 1 through 9 appears once and only once in each line, each row, and in each of 9 three-by-three sub-grids. And there are all sorts of on-line sites that have puzzles you can play. (I just Googled "sudoku," of course...).

My productivity at work may approach zero if I don't get this out of my system by the end of today! What fun!

I've been so busy lately that I've kind of forgotten to blog. The redhead has recovered from her mystery strep strain and actually went to work on Friday. So, I'm in the midst of a five-day weekend. The kids only have school for an hour on Tuesday so I'm taking that day off as well.

Oh, I almost forgot--the kids and I finally went to see Episode III on Friday (they didn't have school). The first show was at 10:00 and they also had a 10:20 and 10:40 and 11:00 (I think). I figured that lots of other kids would be out of school as well and that we should get there early--the box office opens at 9:30. Then even if we can't get into the 10:00 show, there's another one 20 minutes later, and another 20 minutes after that. So we got there at about 9:40. And we were the only car in the parking lot....

Groan. I said to the young lady at the ticket counter "Gosh--I thought I'd be clever and get here early and apparently I'm more clever than I thought..."

There were a total of 11 people that ended up seeing the show at the same time as we did--how funny.

My review can be summed up in one word, of course: awesome!

I've been processing it over and over for the past few days because there are still a few issues that I have with Anakin's fall to the dark side, but overall I think the movie was done very, very well. I was warned that there were a few spots where I might get teary-eyed, and believe it or not, I did. My son even caught me wiping my eyes once. Oh well. We watched Episode IV on Saturday and I had a whole bunch of questions for the kids during the movie. How does Obi Wan not remember R2-D2? "I don't seem to recall ever owning a droid." Anyway...

We finally got some much-needed rain. I'm sick of filling up a tub of water and driving ½-mile per hour on the Gator out to our garden to water it every day. Today I hope to get back to my final rock-removal project so that we can start planting things around my tiny little water garden. We got some big rocks from the farm to line up around the side, so it looks much nicer now, but I'd like to get the landscape gravel out of there and get mulch down and plant some other plants.

Last week I finished up getting the stepping stone things buried (finally).

Now if only the grass would start to fill back in around the edges of them, I'll be happy. Have I mentioned that I'm sooo happy to have the hose working again? It makes watering in the yard a ton easier. Our containers and planters are doing quite well and are filling out nicely.

I think I should probably get the yard mowed today, and I probably should head over and mow my pal Jeff's yard as well (he's in Canada for a few weeks...). Oh well, I guess that's all for now.

Posted: Monday, May 30, 2005, 3:03 pm
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Radishes


We picked (harvested?) the first round (?) of radishes out at the farm today. They are awesome. I'm most impressed with myself, even though there was nothing special that I did, really.

Speaking of red things... It appears the redhead is going to live! She had a total turnaround yesterday and by this morning felt much, much better. We went to the doctor as scheduled and she was pleased with the progress--so no hospital visit, thank goodness. Phew.

Oh and my mother-in-law is going to be irritated... We're now 0-2 with cucumber plants. The original ones froze in the freaky May frost, and then she gave me six more to replant on Sunday. Well, it's Wednesday and apparently they couldn't make it three days without being watered. Oops. I planted a few mounds with some seeds--maybe if they get established that way we'll have better luck.

And as long as the red carribean haba?eros make it, I can buy everything else at the store.... Just kidding.

Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2005, 8:16 pm
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Personal Computers


You know, I'm happy with the new Athlon64 machine. It's pretty quick, I like the new case (a lot!) but no matter how I slice the snickers, I'm really, really, really sick of the fact that even for bundled or "free" software, I still have to spend an hour installing new/updated drivers, etc., etc., etc. just to get the damn thing to do just about anything.

Groan, and now the stupid thing is stuck. What's the point of Task Manager if when I click to terminate the Roxio baloney Easy CD creator thing that is stuck (on a scratched disk, but I had to try for my son's sake--long story) and I'm not allowed to eject the CD? Excuse me? I'd like my (scratched) CD back.... Why is the button on the drive inactive.

I need to find a paper clip. Stupid Windows....

Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2005, 2:07 am
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Strep Throat


My poor wife has come down with a brutal case of strep throat. Brutal like I took her to the emergency room Sunday morning, where they said to go see a doctor in 48 hours if she wasn't improving, and that doctor (today) said to come back tomorrow and if there is still no improvement they are admitting her to the hospital. This is after penicillin and shots of steroids. And she is absolutely miserable.

And I'm half-scared to death. I don't even want to talk about it, I'm so scared, but right before my mother died she had a seemingly not-that-big-of-a-deal problem that landed her in the hospital unexpectedly. I realize this is lots, lots different, but I don't think I can be faulted for being overly worrisome about this.

I need to find something else to focus on right now.

Oh, I installed the 60 gig drive that was in my "old" PC into my G4 this afternoon. I had two 40-gig drives in there. I moved one of them to be the slave to the CD-RW drive, and then made the 60 gig drive the slave on the primary IDE channel. I'd be all sorts of impressed with my 140 gigs of storage if I hadn't just built a new Athlon64 machine with a 120 gig SATA drive. Well, and my G5 at work has a 250 gig drive. Oh, and an external firewire 250 gig drive. Half a terabyte. How funny. Still, I'm over 300 gigs at home now, and that's pretty ridiculous too....

I'm hopefully going to be taking some RedHat training in St. Louis next month, which is semi-exciting for me. I'm not thrilled about being away from home for four nights but I don't have to fly there and, well, I'm actually looking forward to the training. Maybe the redhead and the kids can drive down separately for a night or two and we can, I don't know. They can go to the zoo or something one day and maybe we'll do something on the other half of the last day. I don't know. With as volatile as the job market is (and even though my bosses assure me in no uncertain terms that they will always come up with funding for me...) it can't hurt to take these opportunities when they arise.

The netadmin for our department wants me to go to the RedHat "Summit" in New Orleans in a few weeks. And that's all well and good--I'd like to listen to Wesley Crusher talk about how much he likes open source as much as the next person--but I think that actual hands on training serves me better at this point than discussions of the merits of open source, et cetera.

On another note, it looks like my freelance typesetting career is over with. (Sigh of relief). It looks like the money troubles have finally way caught up with my old employer and outsourcing to overpaid (me!) freelancers is no longer prudent. They are actually going to let a bunch of people go and outsource the entire publications arm to a publisher (or something like that--there's no need for me to get into details...). My point is that while I enjoyed the money, it was such a hassle and I always told the redhead that while I thought I could never turn down the work (and subsequently, the money) that if they ever told me that they didn't need me services anymore it would be a blessing that was somewhat disguised. I don't have other clients. I don't want other clients. I can do actual computer consulting for twice as much per hour, and I still have no desire to do that! I want to make six figures a year as much as the next person, but right now I'm happy to play with the kids and have my weekends to fart around in the garden.

And speaking of relaxing... My blood pressure is high again. Really high. I guess I did what people do on failing diets--my blood pressure went back to 120/80 and I thought that "well, maybe it won't hurt to have a Code Red with lunch today instead of lemonade...." I've been eating terribly (not really gaining weight, though, which is why I think this snuck up on me....) and taking in caffeine again on a regular basis. It's no wonder I haven't been able to sleep (and have those stupid little black spots in my vision again...). No more pop. No more frozen pizza. No more being lazy about what I'm eating. Drat. Oh well.

I actually have some gardening pictures to post but I think I left my camera at work today. Sorry, I left work's camera at work today. Tee hee.

Posted: Wednesday, May 25, 2005, 12:17 am
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Worn Out


As I mentioned in my last post, I finished up my plumbing fiasco on Friday and was able to open the pool.

I spent part of the day Saturday vacuuming the pool, adding chemicals, dealing with the sand filter, etc., etc. I also spent some time in the yard reconfiguring and "burying" the stepping stone things. The redhead started showing signs of strep throat on Friday, and by Saturday she was much worse. Sunday morning it was so bad that she could hardly breath because things were so swollen, so off to the emergency room we went. She's now on day two of antibiotics--yesterday she seemed to be improving but she's not in real good shape today. Hopefully she can get some rest today and start feeling better.

I am so sore from digging all of the holes for the stepping stones--cutting sod without a sod cutter is a pain in the neck (and arms, and legs, and especially, the back). I'm happy it is finished. Yesterday afternoon I got the yard mowed. It never looks like it needs it to me until after I finish and realize that, yes, it needed it.

Right now I'm in the process of converting a whole bunch of files for my boss. He paid to have a bunch of slides scanned and put on a CD several years ago. Of course, that was also several computers ago for him, and now he can't use the images because they are in PCD (Kodak photo CD) format. There are eight CDs worth, and unfortunately for me each CD starts with "image001.pcd" with no other identifiers (that is, I can't just copy all eight CDs into a single directory because the file names are the same...). So the first hoop I had to jump through was using Photoshop's File Browser to rename the 8 directories worth of files to something more unique (yes, I know something is either unique or not-unique and that "more unique" is technically wrong....). I just added a number to the end of the left part of the filename corresponding which CD it was on. Then I was able to put all 692 images into one directory.

Now I'm using Graphic Converter to turn them all from PCD to JPEG. I tried using Photoshop initially, but every time it opens a PCD file a dialogue box appears--one that can't be made to go away with any of the "Ignore Color Conversion warnings" checkboxes in the Photoshop batch dialog box. Graphic Converter is up to 378 out of 692. This is really slow going.

Once this step is finished I'm going to go back to Photoshop and change the image size of them from 3072 x 2048 at 72ppi to 1200 x 800 and 300 dpi. And of course, I'll rename them image001.jpg along the way (ooh, and good thing I decided to write about this because it just occurred to me that I'll need to use a 3 digit serial number instead of 2...).

I need about 2 more hours of sleep....

Posted: Monday, May 23, 2005, 1:46 pm
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The Verdict Is In!


And no, I don't mean about the new Star Wars movie--hopefully we'll see it tomorrow or Sunday (I'm absolutely not fighting crowds no matter how anxious I am....).

The plumbing works!

Here's what it used to look like:

At the bottom you can just see the top of the old "main" valve--the one that even when turned all the way, didn't shut the water to the house off. Above that is a saddle valve for the water to the fridge (from when the icemaker still worked--that water line has been shut off for several years...). The T above that goes to the spigot on the north side of the house, which also froze and broke over the winter. And for the T at the top, the left side goes to the rest of the house, and the right side turns and bends and goes to the spigot behind the house--the one I've been messing with (I'll fix the other one later...). And the pipe going to the back of the spigot (the connection isn't visible) is soldered together, even though the end of the spigot thing is threaded. The idea is that if it ever breaks again, you just unscrew it and screw in another one. That's what I was aiming for with my new design.

Ahh, this is more like it. At the bottom is the new house shut off--a fancy and durable ball valve instead of the "old kind." If you follow that pipe all the way up you can see it turn left where it connects with the rest of the house. Simple enough. Halfway up there is a T (sorry it is hard to show depth here...) that goes toward the back of the house. There is a T along the way that is simply plugged at the end. I did this with thoughts of future expansion. That way if we ever get enough money for a new fridge, rather than use one of those nasty saddle valves, I can attach the water here. Think of it as a plumbing PCI slot if you will. Behind that T the pipes turn upwards and then go through a second ball valve shut-off. Once again, I'm trying to think ahead. The next time I have to mess with the outside plumbing I can shut off just that part of the water! This means I can work on it at my leisure and not worry about the kids not being able to take baths, etc., etc. Pretty clever, eh? Then it travels up and to the right and then toward the back of the house where it connects to a threaded end into which the new spigot has been screwed. Before it gets to that point there is another T that goes down (and then you can't see it behind the black insulated thing) but it is also just plugged at that point--eventually I'll tie in the spigot from the north side of the house to this point (you can see where that pipe has been cut and is not attached to anything--it's the one in the semi-foreground with the yellow hanger thing holding it up).

I still can't believe the damn thing works and doesn't leak! Woo hoo! I rewarded myself with lunch consisting of two soft-shell tacos with chorizo and some leftover taco meat. I also sauteed some green pepper and onions and broke out the hot salsa.

By then the pool had filled up and I started the vacuuming process. My new waste line from the filter works well, which sends the water into the middle of my back yard so that my neighbor will quit complaining about her yard getting wet. Groan. And no she won't. Duh. She came outside with her husband while I was vacuuming and I could hear her griping about their garden being muddy. Um, it rained all day yesterday--my garden is muddy too. Not one drop of that water came from my stupid pool, so drop it. Yeesh.

I had filled up two filter baskets of muck by that time, so I decided to call it quits for a while so she can be outside and moan and groan in peace. Tee hee.

Okay, I promised the redhead I'd fold some laundry before the kids get out of school, so I had better get to it...

Posted: Friday, May 20, 2005, 7:05 pm
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My Lack of Patience


Once again I'm home from work making one last ditch effort to fix the water connection to the back yard spigot. And I promise that if it doesn't work when I'm finished this time, I'm calling a plumber. This is ridiculous. And it is already almost the middle of the day and I still haven't installed the new pipe set-up. And my patience is wearing thin. I don't like projects that involve lots of waiting between steps (in my case, you have to wait for certain solder joints to cool completely before connecting more pipes, etc.).

The stupid pool is open, but is low on water. Last night I made a gravity-based hose of sorts using the pool vacuum hose and the faucet in the kitchen. Let's just say that method isn't the fastest way to fill a pool... If the hose doesn't work by the end of the day, I may as well cover the pool back up until I can get a hold of a plumber, because it's probably not prudent for me to have the pump running right now as it is. I suppose my problems could always be a lot worse, but this is still quite aggravating.

Oh well, back to my soldering....

Posted: Friday, May 20, 2005, 3:48 pm
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Wonderful Rain


Thunder woke me up around 4:30 this morning. I went downstairs and unplugged my G4 (since it actually has information on it that needs to be kept safe) and then went back to bed, but couldn't really get back to sleep. So I got up and putzed around and made the kids' lunches and took a shower and got ready for work. I took my time driving through the sheeting rain but got to the parking garage well before 7:00 a.m. How nice for me. I haven't seen another soul in the building, the hallway lights are off, my office lights (as always) are off, and it is nice and dark and dreary outside. Perfect.

I'm going to try to take tomorrow off to open the stupid pool. Today I'll have to go after work and drop several hundred dollars on chlorine and algaecide and lithium "shock." Groan. And I have to buy another plug for the damn sand filter because I have managed to lose the one that I bought just last season. Groan again. And all of this pool business is contingent on my getting the spigot hooked up (without leaks) first.

I'd love to be able to pick the kids up from school tomorrow and go straight to the theater, but I don't know that a) I'll be in a position with the plumbing and pool to do that and b) if that's even a good plan--by the time we get there it may be packed with school kids already. I think the most prudent course of action is to deal with the pool and plumbing tomorrow (assuming my boss will let me take the day off) and maybe see about going to the second or third showing of Ep III on Saturday. Matinee prices, and hopefully if anything maybe only the first showing of the day will be swamped, and we can sneak in under the radar. I exert way too much energy planning the logistics of such simple tasks. I wonder what it would be like to not be this way. Hmm.

At least I don't have to go to the farm and water the tomatoes tonight...

Well, I should wrap this up because I'm anxious to get a jump start on what's on my plate for today. I'm bringing lunch out to the redhead's office today, which I'm looking forward to--as much as I like dining out every day with my geek friends, it's always nice to have lunch with the wife unit.

Posted: Thursday, May 19, 2005, 12:00 pm
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Two Down...


I got my grade (finally) for the class I took this Spring, and I'm still batting a thousand... I've registered for a class this summer and another for the fall. And then I'll be halfway finished. How bizarre. I guess I didn't think this was going to happen this quickly.

Yesterday I gave a lot of thought as to why I'm even doing this. At this point I still think the odds are 50/50 that I'll go on to pursue a Master's degree in computer science. So really, what's the point of getting a second Bachelor's degree? I already have a job--nothing will change there. I'm sure that I won't get a raise because of it. Will it make me more marketable if I ever need to get another job? I doubt it. Becoming proficient with ColdFusion will probably be more marketable than a second Bachelor's degree.

I've also given a lot of thought to my dad being upset that I never went through commencement when I graduated the first time. Why didn't I? For starters, I technically graduated at the end of the summer, and they only do commencement in the Spring, so if I went through graduation it would have been 9 months later, and what would have been the point? I was embarrassed by the entire situation surrounding my graduation to begin with--having gone to school for almost five years and dropping out, running a bar for 3 years, and then limping back and finishing up in my mid-20s. I didn't want to be up on stage with a bunch of 21-year olds who were on their way to start their lives. My life had already started. I was married with a kid on the way when I finished up my degree--stinkpot number one was born a mere month or two after I finished. I wasn't even close to being a typical college graduate. And don't at all read into this that I regret the situation I was in at the time, because I don't. I'm absolutely thrilled with the way my marriage and family has turned out--I just didn't feel like going through a graduation ceremony--I had a few other things to worry about at that point.

But my dad was upset that he didn't get to watch me walk across stage. Considering the circumstances, most of me didn't care--he was the one that abandoned me in my time of need. My in-laws paid for me to finish up my degree--not my dad. Why would I do what he wanted?

And I've stayed mad for a long time. But my madness isn't changing him--it's only wearing me out. The only one hurting from my grudge is me.

And to be perfectly honest, I don't know that I can disprove the notion that I may very well be trying to earn a second college degree just so my dad can see me walk across a stage.

I also wouldn't be surprised if when the time comes (assuming I continue down this path) he has a scheduling conflict and can't make it down for graduation anyway. Okay, this is neither nerdy nor gardeny....

Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2005, 12:28 pm
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Late Night


Our friend Steve came over last night. At midnight. And of course I stayed up and we drank beer in the garage until 2:00 a.m. That was a good idea.... not!

We talked a lot about work and the politics in play at work and the whole proposal that our departmental IT director had for me running the Linux servers, etc., and it is now perfectly clear (as if it wasn't already) that I made the absolute right decision in turning down that proposal. Good for me. Anyway....

Fedora Core 3 is up and running--woo hoo! Now I just need to get some of the junk cleared out of there. What a mess.

I thinned the radishes out at the farm yesterday, and planted another two pepper plants. It looks like we have watermelon vines sprouting as well. The tomato plants are all doing well, and I can't wait to start making salsa!

Well, I should get some work done before lunch....

Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2005, 2:36 pm
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Personal Computers


Okay, the next time I embark down this road someone please, please remind me that some (all?) PC motherboards want single channel devices to be un-jumpered. Sheesh. I've spent the past two hours (well, in between watching 24...) trying to get the guts of our old WinXP box, now in a new chassis, to see the hard drive. Well, in the old machine there were master and slave on both channels. Here there is just a hard drive and a floppy drive and a CD-ROM--primary master and secondary master, right? Nope. Primary nothing and secondary nothing. Groan.

And my pal Tod says that Macs do things weirdly....

Speaking of my pal Tod.... He requested a picture of the new machine, and here it is.

I cut the window myself. This case is actually pretty cool--behind the grill on the side door is a "scoop" that extends to offer a straight blast of outside air to the CPU cooling fan. A fan can also be mounted in between, but part of the reason I chose this case is that I think side door fans are mostly unnecessary, and make it a pain in the butt to remove the door because the door is then attached by a wire to the chassis. Anyway. I cut the hole to show just the "important" parts of the system--that is, I could have made it extend further upwards or further to th right--but what good is it to look at the hard drive framework that would be ¼ inch inside the window? I just need to get a green light to put inside now....

So I enlisted the help of my son today with the transformation from the old Linux server to the new.

And you know what? I ran the old system under the premise that the primary IDE channel didn't work and thought I had to have both the hard drive and the CD-ROM on the secondary channel. Probably because both were jumpered and the hard drive wouldn't work with a jumper on it on the primary channel. Grrr.... At least I am a bit reassured that it was user error and not a primary IDE bus problem with the old P2B Pentium II motherboard--maybe I can get $1.50 for it on eBay....

At least the first Fedora install will work, hopefully. It isn't Windows, after all....

I'm ready to get some of this old junk out of here. And this is so ridiculous, but now that I think there's a chance that there was never a problem with the IDE channels of the P2B motherboard, I almost want to see if I can use it for something.

No, I have to stop. No more computers. The situation is out of hand as it is....

When trees (other than silver maples) volunteer in the yard, I have a hard time bringing myself to destroy them. When perfectly good computer equipment exists, I also have a problem taking it out of service. I have an old Dell sitting down here--an OptiPlex Gs+ with a 200 MHz Pentium (MMX!) and the maximum 128 megs of RAM. It just needs a battery so that it will quit griping about the time changing every time it is started. It's a perfectly good, albeit slow and old, system. It could be a great Linux file server or print server (although the world doesn't need those now that printers serve themselves, so to speak). But what the heck am I going to do with it?

Here we go--Fedora Core has finished installing and is booting for the first time. What fun.

Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2005, 3:04 am
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Short Weekend


Even though I had four days off, it still feels like my weekend was too short.

Friday night I went to plant some more peppers at the farm, and my in-laws intercepted the kids and took them to dinner. After the redhead got home we decided to go to dinner ourselves since we were unexpectedly kid-less for a few hours. We started to head north to go to a tavern in a little town about 10 miles north of us, but the weather to the north was getting nasty, and they were interrupting songs on the radio with thunderstorm warnings, etc. It's just a storm, we decided. About a mile out of town I looked over my left and then said to the redhead "Um, honey, does that look like a funnel cloud to you?" "Why yes darling, yes it does...." was her reply. Okay, so maybe going north was the wrong choice....

I turned the car around and headed back to town and out of the way of what looked like the formation of a tornado (I never heard on the radio that one touched down). So we ended up going to another town about ten miles to the south and had dinner there. It was very nice, and we had a great time. I got fried walleye and it was awesome. The redhead got seafood alfredo or some such thing. And even after a beer or two and a couple of (big!) glasses of Chianti, the bill was only thirty bucks. Quite affordable. We need to do that more often....

My Athlon 64 machine is up and running! The third install of Windows XP was the charm. The hard drive thinks it is C:/ now, so stupid MacAfee agreed to install itself. Groan. With as many times as I fiddled with the BIOS and booted from the installation CD, I felt like I was installing Linux, not Windows.

Needless to say, I bet a cookie that installing Fedora on the rebuilt Linux Server tonight will be a ton easier than the wrangling I had to do with the Windows box.

Posted: Monday, May 16, 2005, 3:43 pm
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Time flies...


I took Thursday and Friday off from work (the bosses were in DC anyway...). Thursday I had to have the city shut off our water so that I could replace the main valve coming into the house. I was nervous as all get out that my solder job would leak when the water was turned back on--surprisingly, it works fine. I still don't have the part hooked up for the outside freeze-resistant spigot, but I have two shut-offs between the main water line and there, so I can get to it when I get to it (I did a much better job of planning that the original plumber..).

Friday I put my computer together. I just now got it working this morning and it still isn't "working." I've spent the last 48 hours learning more than I wanted to know about Via and Promise RAID controllers, what needs to be enabled/disabled in BIOS, and that SATA drives are a MUCH more complicated animal than your everyday IDE. And now, of course, I finally got it to install WindowsXP on the SATA drive, but because I had the zip drive plugged into the primary IDE channel, it decided to name the zip drive C:/ and the hard drive G:/ (of all things). And of course, MacAfee VirusScan won't install because it wants to install on C:/ only. So I'm reinstalling Windows with the IDE channel unplugged. Reformatting a 160 drive takes FOREVER. Groan.

I cut a window in the side panel yesterday and installed a piece of plexiglass. It's pretty cool. The side panel has a "scoop" thing under a small intake grate so that air can get sucked from the outside right into the CPU fan. My window is sort of an "L" shape and only shows parts that are worth seeing (that is, I could have made the window much bigger but seeing the side of the internal drive bays a half-inch from the window isn't quite exciting...). I hope to get a green light for the inside of the case next week.

Now the exciting part to all of this is that I get to take the "old" Pentium 4 guts of the last Windows box and rebuild my Linux server with them. The Linux box currently is running with a 350 MHz PII on a motherboard that doesn't even have a working primary IDE channel. I'm more looking forward to upgrading that machine than I was to upgrade the Windows box. (Of course, I backed up all the redhead's settings to the Linux server before building the new machine, so I have to get it working first so that I can copy those files back before erasing the drive and installing Fedora Core 3.)

I planted a couple of red hot chili pepper plants in containers out on the deck. We'll be inundated with peppers from the garden at the farm (I have to thin radishes and carrots today...) but I thought the bright bushes would be pretty to look at, or something. I managed to plant a couple of poblano peppers at the garden last week, along with a couple of eggplants.

Come on, partition set up......we're 90% of the way there.

Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2005, 4:23 pm
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Busy, busy, busy


I was actually swamped for the better part of the day today. Phew. And I just finished up with the last part I had to do with four minutes to spare!

I think the redhead and I have come to a consensus that we're opening the pool Friday. Groan. I'm taking tomorrow and Friday off--tomorrow I have to redo the plumbing under the house so that I can replace the main shutoff valve and also install a new spigot on the back of the house (will make plant watering much easier!!). And I really can't open the pool without being able to use the hose, so the plumbing will have to work tomorrow.

I'm not necessarily ready to deal with the pool yet, but such is life.

Well, I'm off to therapy. I'll make sure to take some before and after pictures of the pipe situation tomorrow. The way I envision it to be when I'm finished will be a much nicer design. Multiple shutoffs for outside water and inside water, etc. Pretty cool. I'm such a geek...

Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2005, 6:56 pm
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Athlon 64


Well amid all of the car repairs and boxes and boxes of clothes arriving from Old Navy (just kidding honey...) I actually let my compulsive nature out last night and ordered a new computer. Well, most of a new computer.

I ordered an Athlon64 3000 (Winchester) with an Asus A8V motherboard (has onboard RAID!), a 160 gig hard drive, a one gig stick of RAM, and a new case. I'll use the DVD drive, CD-RW drive, mouse, keyboard, and video card (with the fixed fan!) from my current machine.

All the cases at newegg that had windows in them already were a bit dorky for my taste. (I know that's hard to imagine--me saying that something is too dorky....). So I ordered one without a window--we'll take care of that this weekend. I might also install a 120mm fan in the top of the case with a switch to turn it on and off--I wanted to do this with my current case but never got around to it, mostly because I wouldn't want to be drilling and having metal shavings everywhere with the components still in the case, and taking the guts out just to cut a hole never seemed timeworthy. Now that I'm starting with a new empty case, I may as well cut all of the holes now....

I'm almost as anxious for what I'm going to do with the "old guts" from the XP box. I'm going to take out the poor Pentium II motherboard in my Linux box and finally let it retire. I can (I think) put the 256 meg stick of PC100 RAM in the G3 before I unload it on Jeff, and I'll see if anyone on eBay wants the PII 350 processor. Then I'll put the Pentium 4 motherboard and guts into the Linux box, erase the drive, and start with a fresh install of Fedora. I can't wait!

Hmm. I'll have extra hard drives after all of this is said and done--and the ones in question are 20 gigs or larger. I won't have a spot for a second drive in the new PC box unless I don't put the zip drive in. Ponder this, I will. Maybe I'll leave a 20 in the Linux box and use the 60 from the current PC in my G4 and then not buy a new drive for the G4 (I was planning on getting a 120 at some point). That would leave me with a 60 and two 40s in the G4. Still overkill. Anyway...

The weather has been wonderful. I don't think that my tomato plants that were started from seed are going to fare very well in my small home garden. No big deal--we'll have so many tomatoes out at the farm that it will be ridiculous. I do think the redhead and I are going to need to do some salsa canning this year...

I get to go pick up the Aurora with a new radiator this afternoon. I hope that's the last nickel and dime for a while... At least I get to have lunch with the redhead so I can give her my car to drive home! I'm starving...

Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2005, 5:10 pm
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Busy Weekend!


Friday I left work a hair early to make a few stops on the way home. I stopped at Corkscrew, a wine store in Urbana, to pick up a few bottles of wine (Pinot Noir for me and Muscato for the redhead). Then it was off to Schnuck's to get dinner. And finally I stopped and picked up a couple of cases of oil (and a couple of filters!) so that I can change the oil in both cars this weekend.

For dinner we had surf 'n' turf. Mmm.

This bugger was 2 ½ pounds (it took over 20 minutes to cook!) and the steaks I cooked were monstrous as well. We all had too much to eat, but that's okay ever now and again I guess....

Yesterday we spent a good portion of the day at the farm. I started off the day by going and sitting in the Driver's License place for a half hour to get the registration renewed for my car (that expired last weekend--oops...). Afterwards I stopped at the local grocery store and bought some plants out of their outside greenhouse. I got 12 tomato plants, 6 green peppers, 6 jalapenos, 2 habaneros, 2 red chilis, 2 garden salsa peppers, 2 crimson carribean habaneros, 2 yellow bell peppers, and 2 red bell peppers. And then it was off to the farm to replant our poor garden...

It actually wasn't too bad, and there is actually a little more rhyme and reason to the layout now than there had been previously--and we all know that nice layouts (in straight lines) are most helpful for my OCD. We had just better not have another frost...

After planting the garden I spend a huge chunk of the day mowing the "yard." I put yard in quotes because it is acres of yard. Even on a big John Deere mower (and a big John Deere mower--not like the kind people in my neighborhood have...) it takes hours. But it is finished at least and when Papa is in the field farming it behooves everyone of us involved to do our part to, well, keep him happy.

I'm just happy the garden is re-planted....

Today I need to mow our yard. Other than that, I don't think I have any other Sunday plans. Oh, except maybe changing the oil in our cars...

Posted: Sunday, May 08, 2005, 12:26 pm
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Finally Friday


What a long week. I'm very much looking forward to the weekend especially since the weather has returned to being Spring-like. I fear that I may have to replant much of the garden out at the farm, but that's not a big deal. Tomatoes and peppers are cheap, and the mother-in-law will probably give me money for new plants anyway.

We're having surf and turf for dinner tonight. I have to go pick up a lobster after work today (along with some wine and some other stuff...). I'm excited!

Well, I don't have much more to write about. I'm kinda worn out, to be honest. I look forward to a middle-of-the-day nap tomorrow. Sunday too.

Posted: Friday, May 06, 2005, 6:12 pm
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Nickels and Dimes


A thousand dollars is an awful lot of nickels and dimes, but those aren't the nickels and dimes I want to talk about. (The redhead picked the check up today from the radio station--Yay!)

I believe the nickel-and-diming to death may be starting with the Aurora. While $800 later the sensor for the headlight relay switch is no longer possessed, another problem has appeared on the horizon, in the form of brown liquid on the floor of the garage. Not oil, thankfully, but the situation isn't much better. Dex-cool antifreeze. Yep. I knew it the instant I saw the wet spot. The radiator has a leak (I think).

It isn't by any of the big radiator hoses and it is on the opposite side of the engine compartment from where the water pump is. So I'm betting the radiator itself has a small (hopefully small...) hole in it. Groan. Oh well. Just part of the cost of doing business, I guess...

Posted: Thursday, May 05, 2005, 7:55 pm
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