Archive for the 'science and technology' Category

Midweek: Mother’s Day and Other Things

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
Midweek: Mother's Day and Other Things

Wednesday – 17 May 2017
Stuff and Things.

This past weekend was… busy. But also awesome. Saturday saw the usual ballet and swim morning routine. I missed the swim portion, as I was judging a game tournament. Then there was a little break – filled by running a couple of errands. Next, early dinner and dropping Team DiVa off at their grandparents’ house, so that Sara and I could see Utah Opera’s Don Giovanni. Again. (We saw the final dress rehearsal, with the little ladies, but went back Saturday for opening night.) I enjoyed the production. They updated the sets and costumes to place it in a noir setting. This changed a couple of scenes, but worked for me on the whole.

Sunday, was Mother’s Day.  Sara had been wanting to go to Spiral Jetty for a while and Golden Spike National Historic Site is just a (long) hop, skip, and a jump from there. Thus, we were up early to pick up DiVa and meet friends at Golden Spike and Spiral Jetty. The first time we went to Golden Spike, the locomotives were in the Engine House for the season; that was not the case this time. We arrived just before the Jupiter made its appearance.

About half an hour later, No. 119 rolled up.

The presentation that the rangers provided also informed us that the engines were fired differently: Jupiter is wood-fired, while No. 119 is coal-fired. You could also tell this from the way they smelled as they approached – Jupiter smelled like a camp fire, No. 119 smelled like a coal-burning oven.

 

After a while, we made the drive to Spiral Jetty. Fifteen miles. Forty minutes. Over bumpy dirt road. The water level was a little higher this time – still not up to the jetty, but only 20 or so yards away to splash pools and just past that to deeper water.

 

 

 

All in all, it was good weekend.

Stray Toasters

And that’s a wrap.

End-of-the-week musings

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
End-of-the-week musings

Friday – 21 April 2017
Another week comes to an end.
And, apparently, it’s been a month since I dusted off the trusty blog. I really need to get better about this…

In short: It’s been a good – and eventful – month. The highlights of the month include, but are not limited to:

  • Going on a business trip.
  • Surprising my parents by showing up on their doorstep on the first leg of the trip.
  • Meeting some new coworkers on the trip.
  • Getting to visit with my uncle towards the end of the trip.
  • Coming down with some travel-related bug that had me down for almost a week.
  • The start of baseball season and the O’s getting off to a great start. Hopefully, they’ll keep some of this momentum through the season.
  • Meeting a Twitter and Facebook friend.
  • TRAINS!  Well, getting to head up to the train.. museum(?)… and one of my favorite train shops.
  • Traveling to Boise to visit family and friends over Easter.

    Sara, Team DiVa, and Grandmother – Easter 2017

  • Watching Team DiVa hunt for Easter eggs while we were gone and seeing their surprise at discovering that the Easter Bunny had apparently left Easter baskets for them at our home while we were out of town.

I’m sure that I’m leaving more than “a couple” things out, but all-in-all, it really has been a good month.

Stray Toasters

And with that…

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye.
(Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, not “The Sound of Music”)

This is only a test

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Wednesday – 22 March 2017
Testing out connectivity between WordPress, JetPack, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+

Nothing to see here, Citizen. Move along.

New Friday Thing

Friday, March 10th, 2017
New Friday Thing

Friday – 10 March 2017
Another work week comes to an end.

 

It was a pretty good week, in all. Things happened. Stuff, too.

I neglected to post – or, rather, elaborate on – something from last week: Sara! and I went to dinner at Table X, as a belated Valentine’s Day outing without Team DiVa.

Table X describes itself as:

We’re a restaurant run by three chefs. We’re going to prepare you thoughtful, honest food without the fussiness of fine dining. In fact, we’re going to give you a new casual dining experience, altogether. Again and again.

We had encountered these chefs’ cuisine last year, at a pop-up dinner done in conjunction with Utah Opera’s production of Tosca. That – along with the idea of there being a new casual dining restaurant both outside of downtown Salt Lake City and not too far from our home – informed Sara’s choice on places to try. The restaurant seats about 230 people, has an open design, and has an air that combines a modern look with a touch of industrial design.

For dinner, we selected the Chef’s Tasting Menu, comprised of five (5) courses:

  • Red Beet Curry
  • Cabbage Toast
  • Scallops,
  • Christiansen Farm Berkshire Pork, and
  • Pecan Tart with homemade Pecan Ice Cream

Let me start by saying that I was leery of a couple items on the menu: the Beet Curry and the “Cabbage Toast.” I am not a fan of beets, nor have I been since I was very young. And the idea of a “cabbage toast” was… intriguing, but set me a little on edge. However, as the Prince song said:

…but it was Saturday night,
I guess that makes it alright.
I said, ‘What have I got to lose?’

The curry was served with cauliflower florets. It was flavorful and not at all what I expected. Sara! commented that it as most likely because they were not pickled beets (like from a can), which I abhor. I happily ate the entire course.

Next up: Cabbage Toast. This was a house-made sourdough, topped with a kelp cream/butter and a red cabbage jam. My first thought, upon hearing “jam” was of a pulped, processed spread. I was wrong. This was… simply… cabbage. And it was excellently prepared; I ate almost all of it.

The next course was scallops. I was all-in for this one, as I love scallops, yet never seem to order them when we’re out. (That, and the fact that I have some issues with getting seafood in a landlocked state.) The scallop – singular – was topped with a small portion of ham. Added bonus: Sara! isn’t a huge fan of scallops, so she gave me at least half of hers. (WIN!)

Course Four was the pork loin. Again, I was happy to try this. And I wasn’t disappointed. It was served with celeriac and red cabbage. It was tender and juicy and just seasoned enough to extract and enhance the flavor of the meat. NOTE: At the beginning of dinner, Sara! asked if she could make a couple of substitutions, because she doesn’t eat pork. For this course, they brought her the Winter Vegetable Stew. It was presented with the vegetables in a bowl and the broth in a separate ramekin, poured at the table.

For the final course: Dessert! This was a slice of pecan tart, presented with house-made pecan ice cream. It was the perfect finish to the meal. Sweet. Sticky, yet somehow slightly crumbly. Just right.

In all, I was quite happy with the meal, the atmosphere, and the service. Our waitresses, Rikki and Haleigh (“HAY-lee”), were attentive and responsive to our requests. While not on the “let’s do this every week” I would gladly recommend dining there.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Catching up.

Monday, February 20th, 2017
Catching up.

Monday – 20 February 2017
Today is President’s Day in the U.S.

For my President’s Day #morningcoffee picture, I used Lex Luthor. Because I could.

Today was a slightly busier-than-planned day, but still very good. Team DiVa, after sleeping in until after 9:30 on Sunday morning, were up at 7:30 this morning – Diana decided to play with the Kindle, while Vanessa decided that crawling into our bed was her best option. (To be honest, I still appreciate getting kid cuddles when I can, as I know that they won’t last forever.)

After breakfast (cinnamon rolls!), it was a kind of lazy morning… until 10:30, when I got an email from work.

<sarcasm>
Yay.
</sarcasm>

So, I did what any diligent IT guy would do: I made like Kool Moe Dee and I went to work. I got there and looked at the system in question, only to find that there was nothing wrong. At. All.

*grblsnrkx*

Back home in time to surprise Team DiVa with a trip to the theatre to see The LEGO Batman Movie. It was a big hit. (Sara and I enjoyed it, too.) Back home again before heading up to Park City for…

…dinner with Liz, a high school classmate:

With Liz (photobomb by Maya)

We met at the Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City, where Liz and her family are staying this week. It’s the first time we’ve seen each other since high school graduation. We had a nice dinner and caught up a little bit on the last three decades. (Man, it really seems like a long time when you put it that way…)

Diana, Liz, and Vanessa

 

Liz, Maya, and Michael

 

Diana, Maya, and Vanessa

After dinner, said our goodbyes and headed back to Salt Lake City. We got little ladies ready for bed, took care of a couple of chores, I caught up on a couple episodes of The Flash, including one that I somehow missed about three weeks ago.

And that brings us to now.

Stray Toasters

Tomorrow comes soon, I should probably start considering hitting the rack.

Namaste.

Stuck On Stupid

Thursday, February 9th, 2017
Stuck On Stupid

Thursday – 09 February 2017
I work in IT.

Granted it might not as grand an opening statement as ReBoot‘s “I come from the Net…,” but it  gets the point across.

I’ve been working on a server chassis and its resident blade servers for a while, getting it ready to move into production. I’ve been using wired keyboards and mice as the user interface. A week ago, I decided to bring one of my wireless keyboards from home – the keyboard has a built-in mouse and the space where I’m working on the chassis doesn’t have a lot of real estate that’s conducive to rolling a mouse around.

I brought the keyboard in last week and showed it to a coworker. It was at that point that I noticed the wireless dongle wasn’t in its storage slot in the battery compartment.

See that empty spot, just to the left of the left battery…?

I’ve spent the past week looking for it  – at the office, at our manufacturing facility, at home. No dice. This morning, I emptied out my work laptop case to make sure that it hadn’t somehow fallen into one of the pockets. I didn’t find the dongle, but I did find my library card, my membership card to Red Butte Garden, and a few other things. (Not really sure why I put them in my work bag…)

On a lark, I looked in the battery compartment again. You know, in case it had magically reappeared. Because that happens so often…

Still no dongle.

HOWEVER…

When I looked at the cover to the battery compartment

Oh, look.

Dongle. Clipped safely into the slot that holds it in place.

*braincramp*

That’s right, it’s been right there…for the past week. This includes the, at least, five times that I’ve had the keyboard in my hands and the at least three times that I’ve opened the battery compartment. Yet, I never thought to look at the cover. Despite the fact that at some level I knew that’s where it was supposed to be.

Super. Genius.

Charlie Brown, meet football…

Friday, October 14th, 2016
Charlie Brown, meet football...

Friday – 14 October 2016
This morning, I came into work a couple hours early, so I could leave early and check out a ballet rehearsal. There were… issues… so, the ballet became a non-factor in my day.

::: fast forward a few hours :::

While on call with my manager and my east coast counterpart, a question about a maintenance repair on a server came up: We contacted our support company a couple of days ago to schedule service a server and drive array (Aw yeah, Titans! warranty repair!). The parts arrived today, but there was no word about the tech who was supposed to facilitate the repair.

For the rest of the story, please deposit 25¢ , I will copy the email I just sent to my coworker and boss:

1. Called [provider] to follow-up on tech dispatch – he was assigned the Incident, but waiting for the parts to be delivered. I asked to have the appointment sceheduled for Monday morning and hung up the phone.

2. Got a call from the receptionist’s desk… telling me that [tech] was here now.

3. [Tech] went in to start working on the server and arrays… only to find that they sent the wrong drives.
a. He changed the battery in the server
b. He’s shipping back the SSDs and requesting the proper SAS drives.

WHEEE!

And that’s how my day has gone, so far. Good thing it’s (almost) over.

Drat these computers...

#LifeInIT #ajobaintnuthinbutwork #TGIF

Namaste.

 

 

Memory Dump

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
Memory Dump

Wednesday – 12 October 2016
Stuff and things and whatnot.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Wait. That’s not a proper post. I really should do one of those someday…

I guess that since I’m logged in, I should make like Nike and “just do it.” Now.

*cracks knuckles*
::: deep breath :::

The past few weeks have been good. Work’s been interesting. The company I work for has been (officially) purchased by a larger entity. So far, things are remaining status quo. I also got to spend about 36 hours on the east coast, thanks to a business trip. I was pleasantly surprised at how “green” things still were – I expected to see far more fall colors. Oh, well. That was only a slight disappointment, to be honest.

Team DiVa continues to astound and entertain me.

There was even a seven-year-anniversary in there, too.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Baby Steps

Thursday, July 28th, 2016
Baby Steps

Thursday – 28 July 2016
No Bad News Thursday. ‘Nuff said.

Don't nobody bring me...

Don’t nobody bring me…

Last night, for the first time in [REDACTED], I went to the gym. I didn’t go so much to do a lot of work other than some cardio.  Which is my least favorite thing. Which I, also, need to do more often and in longer spans. I did a little bit of lifting, as well. Not a lot. But, I did lift. It’s a start. Baby steps, undoubtedly, but steps nevertheless.

Stray Toasters

  • This article came out last week: Here’s 48 hours. Now make a movie.
    I was part of a 48 Hour Film Project film last year; I wrote about it here. It was a lot of fun… and a lot of work. I would definitely do it again, if the opportunity arose and my schedule permitted.
  • Microsoft is giving away hundreds of eBooks. Check out what’s available here.
  • I have been playing with Raspberry Pis a bit over the past few months. Since the beginning of the year (I think), I’ve bought four of them – A Pi2, A Pi3, and two Pi Zeros. (It’s not a habit, it’s cool, I feel alive…) One of them is a retro arcade box, one is currently pulling duty as an Amazon Echo clone of sorts. The Zeroes have yet to be commissioned, but I have plans for them.
  • Since Disney announced that they were pulling the plug on Disney Infinity, stores have been putting the DI merchandise on sale for crazy – in a good way – prices. I may or may not have picked up about fifteen figures in the past month.
  • We now have our first picture of Supergirl‘s Superman.
  • Reading this article made me nostalgic for Electronic Arts’ PHM Pegasus.

Namaste.

“…’cause I’m the Tall Cool One and I’m built to please.”

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016
"...'cause I'm the Tall Cool One and I'm built to please."

Tuesday – 28 June 2016
Over the past few years, Sara and I have talked – mostly idly – about replacing some of the appliances in our home. One that we knew was on the long-range forecast was the refrigerator. It has, in the last three weeks, vaulted to the lead – something about having to defrost the bloody thing three times in less than two months kind of gets your attention. We hadn’t really discussed the type of replacement fridge we wanted; we just knew that we needed something “not as old” as our current fridge. Last night, we packed up Team DiVa and headed to the local Home-Away-from-Home Depot to check out the options.

Not surprisingly, they had many options.

One of the first ones we saw was a petite – no, really, we’re talking 9 cubic feet – fridge. I commented that we had found our fridge and that we could call it a night. I even suggested that we could get two for less than the price of one full-sized refrigerator – at almost the same storage capacity. I don’t think that Sara actually vocalized her thoughts, but the eye roll spoke volumes.

We looked up and down the aisles at the various models and prices: top-freezer, bottom-freezer, french door, four-door, ranging from $300 – $4500 (I’ll come back to this one in a minute). Team DiVa took advantage of this opportunity to open the doors that they could… and were shocked that some of them were “brr-coldy inside!” Shocked, I tell you!

I’d mentioned before that we weren’t sure what model we wanted. While walking around, we decided that a side-by-side model would be best, as it would allow the little ladies better access to both fridge and freezer – a prospect that excited both of them.

Fridge

And, although they didn’t say anything, I’m pretty sure that the built-in ice and water dispenser will be a hit as well, given how fond they are of the one on their grandparents’ refrigerator.

About that $4500 refrigerator that I mentioned earlier: It’s a four-door, 27.9 cubic foot appliance. With a touchscreen. And cameras. Just let that sink in. Ladies and gentlemen, say “Hello” to a fridge that costs many times more than a mortgage payment: The Samsung Family Hub 4-Door Flex French Door Refrigerator

samsung_fridge

 

The lower-right door? It can be either a fridge or a freezer. It has three (3) cooling zones – top, bottom-left, and bottom-right. The touchscreen? It’s wifi-enabled AND you can stream music to it or mirror your TV output to it (as long as it’s a qualifying model). Don’t want to open the door to look in? It has cameras to look at what’s inside. Yeah. Someone needs to drop a mic and walk off-stage…

…but for that kind of money, we could get a new air conditioner and keep the whole house cool. Granted, probably not “ice cream and frozen meat” cool, but you get the idea.

The new addition to the kitchen family will be delivered next week.

Lady Day

Friday, June 17th, 2016
Lady Day

Friday – 17 June 2016
We’ve made it to the end of another week. Selah.

My friend, Dave, posted a link to the following article in a chat a little while ago:

The tongue-in-cheek way the women of Google are responding to a shareholder’s sexist comment

Synopsis:

The women of Google have come up with a clever, tongue-in-cheek way to raise awareness about gender equality after an investor made a sexist remark at the company’s annual shareholders meeting last week.

Now other Googlers are standing up in solidarity by designating this Thursday and Friday as “Lady Day.”

The idea sprouted in an email group for alums of a Google leadership-development program for women. One employee suggested that they should all change their titles to “Lady ___” in acknowledgment and lighthearted protest of the incident. As in “Lady Systems Engineer,” or “Lady People Analytics Manager.”

As of now, more than 800 Googlers — women and men — have changed their job titles in the company-wide directory or in their email signatures.

I recommend reading the entire article.

Google also came up with a new graphic to help illustrate the point:

So, for the day, you can refer to me as “Lady Systems Support Engineer.”

Solidarity – along with equality – is a pretty awesome thing.

Namaste.

“Don’t Panic.”

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
"Don't Panic."

Wednesday – 25 May 2016
Today is Towel Day.

“…it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

 

Stray Toasters

  • I visited my brother and his kids a couple of weeks ago. Despite the fact that we’re (only) 6 hrs apart, by car, and that neither of us really considers that a long drive, it’s only the second time we’ve visited in two years. Still, I had a great time. He and the kids are doing well.
  • DC Rebirth. I have many thoughts about this… soft-boot?
    REBIRTH-splash-small
  • I have my second Raspberry Pi. I’m contemplating setting it up as a media machine for TeamDiva2011…
  • The season finales of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Flash have left me with many questions.
    • I’m still pushing for The CW to call their 4-part crossover “Crisis,” in some manner or other.

Namaste.

Ones and Zeroes

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
Ones and Zeroes

Tuesday – 22 March 2016
I’ve worked in IT, in some capacity or other, for almost 15 years. I enjoy it; I’m even nominally good at it. Today, however, I had to call my ability in this field into question.

A little over a month ago, I was tasked with spinning up a new server for an application that we’re going to vet and possibly put into service. And I did. And promptly went on my merry way with other tasks and projects. This morning, I had to come back to that server and do some additional configuration. I attempted to remotely access the machine. No go.

Huh.

Undaunted, I considered that I’d possibly built the machine in a different site. So, I tried to connect using that sites code. Still no go, Flight.

What the…?

At this point, I started getting “a little” concerned. I was sure that I’d built the machine, but not being able to connect to it or even ping it caused some alarm.

 

I logged into the local virtual machine cluster to look for the machine. There it was, big as day and twice as bright. It was on, so that negated the “Did I remember to turn the bloody thing on” question. I opened its vm console, logged onto the server, and validated that it was working properly. It was. I tried pinging the server from other machines. Pings out, no ping replies returned. I pinged the other machines from the server. Pings out, ping replies returned.

The last time this happened – last week, actually – I had neglected to turn off a server’s firewall, preventing it from responding to any external contact.

I looked at the firewall settings; it was turned off. Good. I checked its IP address. I was able to ping it from other machines. Okay, that narrowed down the range of possible problems, but it raised another question. The server properties showed that it was joined to the domain, so it should (operative word) have been registered properly in DNS. I prepared to remove the system from the domain and re-add it when I saw what the problem was.

I had mistyped the computer’s name when setting it. I hadn’t caught the error because I kept looking at the correctly-typed name in its VM console window.

...

I renamed the computer, removed it from and re-added it to the domain, and in probably the least-surprising thing I’ve encountered today: It appeared to pings and remote calls.

Super. Genius.

Friday!

Friday, March 11th, 2016
Friday!

Friday – 11 March 2016
It’s the end of the week! Of course, I thought that last week and wound up back in the office at 11:30 PM…

Tomorrow is opening night for Aida. If you:

  • are in the Salt Lake City metropolitan opera,
  • are looking for something different to do on a Saturday evening, and
  • like opera,

you should come check it out – ticket information can be found here. It’s pretty amazing. (Personally, it’s even more amazing, having seen what’s been going on behind-the-scenes.) Added bonus, you get to see about 100 more people1 (other than just Roy and me) dressed up as – and walking like – Egyptians:

AIDA: Captain (me) and Guard (Roy)

AIDA: Captain (me) and Guard (Roy)

sdfklj

Stray Toasters

  • Conversations like this are among the many reasons I love Sara:
    • 1:25pm
      Sara
      I apologize, in advance, if I come home with a windmill tonight.1:34pm

      Robert
      I’m sorry…. WHAT!?
      Like garden-sized windmill?1:36pm

      Sara
      Well, I’m going to a vintage market… there’s no telling what I might come home with this time.1:37pm
      Robert
      You bring home a windmill, I’m making a miniature golf course hole in the backyard.
      Just putting that out there.

      1:38pm
      Sara Kelly Neal
      Okay, I accept that gauntlet.

    • Minister Golf
  • Does anyone have a recommendation for a good OBD-II diagnostic scanner?
  • What is the order of the Gorillaz videos in terms of plot line?
  • It seems as though Shohreh Aghdashloo has joined the cast of Star Trek Beyond. That’s just a bonus, right there.

Namaste.

1 – DISCLAIMER: Not all 100 will be Egyptian; some will be dressed as Ethiopians.

Scenes from a Saturday

Saturday, March 5th, 2016
Scenes from a Saturday

Saturday – 05 March 2016
I like sleeping in as much as the next guy. Being the father of twin four-year-olds, however, opportunities to do so is rare. (Granted, I can often extend some weekend sleeping by letting Team DiVa play Starfall or color on the iPad for 30 or so minutes…) This morning, I slept in until 10:30. It was glorious. It was also very necessary.

Yesterday, I was up at 7:30, worked all day, went to rehearsal, and came home… only to get a call from our monitoring company, saying that a system wasn’t allowing users to access shares and files. I wound up having to go back to the office at 11:45 PM. I didn’t get home until almost 3 AM. By the time I got home, I was completely drained.

The drawback to sleeping in was that I lost a couple hours of my day. At this point, I’m considering that a necessary evil. On the plus side, I was awakened by little girls who wanted me to take them outside to play. If you need a reason to get up and start the day, that’s a pretty damned good one, I’d say.

I got up, had a quick bite to eat, grabbed a shower, and took the ladies outside. They “chopped down trees” with axes (curved branches that had fallen off the corkscrew willow). They played on their balance beams. They put up an obstacle course with cones. And, they “climbed” trees… with a little help.

Tree-climbing001

Learning to climb trees

This picture was taken a week or so ago, but you get the gist. The sheer joy they had from “climbing” in the trees made getting out of bed worthwhile.

Namaste.