more fortune cookie

From the Smith’s at 8th and 9th:

  • A four wheeled adventure will soon bring you happiness.

still here

I’ve been so busy living my life that I haven’t been writing about it.  There’s never enough time in the day … after work, I just want to relax, and after I’ve done that for a while, it’s very late and I just want to crawl into bed.  Whenever I pick up a book, I find myself reading late into the night and morning, putting it down only when I reach the end of the book.

A lot has happened.  My wife Kathy and her family have had to deal with the man who runs Goff Mortuary three times in less than two years.  We hope to never see that man again, that we can deal with his son the next time such services are required.

First it was my wife’s maternal grandmother.  She was over 90 years old, and had already made it through a couple of major health scares.  My wife was there when the merciful end finally came.  I first met this amazing lady in February 2005 at her home near San Diego, when we took the family to Disneyland.  I have some blog posts about that trip, and if decide to go find them, you’ll note that I never finished documenting that trip.

Next, it was Kathy’s father.  He had been in the VA hospital for a full month prior to then, having a battle with cancer.  Eventually, its advance was unstoppable.  Once the doctors figured that out, they let him go home for hospice care.  Those last couple of weeks were ugly, marked by extreme pain, unfortunate incompetence from the visiting health care professionals, and the dementia of Alzheimers.  This too was a merciful end, when it finally came.  Kathy had just arrived at home to rest, but the rest of his immediate family was there when his suffering finally ended. They view the tragedy as something of a blessing, because if he had won against the cancer, the rapidly advancing condition in his brain would have been much worse.

Both of these earlier deaths were expected.  A couple of weeks ago, Kathy’s mother and sister visited her brother David, and found him dead.  He had apparently fallen asleep at his desk.  The medical examiner has not yet figured out why he died, and we will not know for several more weeks.  He was 40 years old, just one year older than Kathy.  Despite intense sibling rivalry in their younger years, she was very close to David.

With all these people being lost in quick succession, I think the only person who’s having a harder time than my wife is her mother.  I wish I knew what to say to make everything better.  I bring her chocolate, hold her hand, and give her frequent hugs, but it seems like I should be doing more.  I’m really at a loss for how to help Kathy’s mother.  What do you say to someone who has lost their mother, their husband, and one of their children in close succession?

I suppose we’ve reached the time in our lives when death starts to invade on a regular basis, and that we’ve been lucky so far that we haven’t had to face very much of it.  That doesn’t really make it any harder to bear, of course.



On my work desktop machine, I recently ditched Vista and installed Windows 7.  I had heard from reliable sources (not the commercials on TV) that it was a worthwhile upgrade.  I would classify the difference as night and day, especially in the speed department.  One of the people whose opinion I respect recently stated that he had upgraded his computer from Linux to Windows 7, and his use of the term ‘upgrade’ was intentional.

I finally have a 64 bit operating system on my desk, and I am not running into the compatibility issues that I did when I was running 64-bit XP on my home machine.  If you have a 64-bit OS and 64-bit native applications, you get a nice speed boost, and you can run 32-bit applications with no noticeable penalty.  I say noticeable because there is overhead involved in emulating the 32 bit system.

My work laptop also runs Vista, the original Dell OEM install.  Laptops tend to be slow performers on their best days just because of the tradeoffs required to achieve small size and low power consumption, but I’ve been having serious speed issues with it lately.  Despite having 2GB of RAM, it seems to always run at 70-75% memory utilization, and 70% seems to be the threshold where the memory manager starts freaking out and swapping things to disk while you’re trying to use them.  I believe that Win7 would probably solve these issues, I’ll have to ask if I can have a license for it.

I’ve read in more than one place that Windows 7 is also faster than XP, even on older hardware.  This is not a theory that I’ve been able to test, because my current work machine has never run XP.  I would like to buy a copy for my home PC and take it for a spin.


but the fourth one stayed up

Thanks to some generous donations and my tax return, I have obtained parts and put together a new server.  This blog and a few other minor things are already running on the new machine, though as I write this, most of my other Internet services are still on the old server, saidar.  The new server is named frodo.  I was going to name it bilbo, but changed my mind after reflection.  Frodo is a more mature character than Bilbo, capable of carrying a heavier burden.

The specs of the server are as follows:

  • Old 2U rackmount case with 460W PSU
  • ASRock M3A785GXH/128M motherboard
  • AMD Phenom II X3 705e processor
  • 2x2GB DDR3-1600 RAM
  • two 1TB SATA2 drives, mirrored

Internally, the CPU is a full quad-core Phenom II, but sold as a triple-core. This is part of a line of CPU models that allow AMD to sell chips with bad components that would otherwise just get junked. Not all of the chips are actually bad, though – some of them are perfectly functional chips that have had components disabled to sell at a lower price point. Anecdotal evidence suggests that as many as 70% of them are fully functional. The BIOS on this motherboard has the ability to re-enable the disabled components.  In addition to enabling all the cores, I have also overclocked it from 2.5 to 3.0 Ghz.  It’s been running for over a week now (since 2009-Feb-09) without any issues.

On the software side, this will be the most feature-laden system yet.  Some of that will be just because everything is a newer version, but I have learned some things in the last few years about mailserver configuration that will bring a lot of new functionality to my users.  Some of it is available on the current server, but only to people with root access.  In other words, only me.  Here’s what’s installed or planned so far:

Mail Server:

  • postfix
  • dovecot (
  • amavisd-new (
  • spamassassin (
  • clamav (debian-volatile)
  • razor
  • pyzor

Web-based software (php apps are from source):

  • apache
  • php
  • phpmyadmin
  • postfixadmin
  • mailzu
  • squirrelmail
  • roundcube

I had been planning on doing some full documentation on my wiki of how I’m configuring it, but in the interests of actually getting it done, that hasn’t happened.  I have put up some disjointed notes, which I will flesh out and clean up.  Unfortunately, using those notes won’t be possible for a novice.  If anyone is interested in setting something similar up, I may be able to help out.  Such help would be free of charge unless it’s for a business.


blog breakin?

Today as I was moving my blog to the new server, I discovered signs that the blog site had been tampered with by an outside party. I can’t be sure, but it looks like the tampering may have occurred on 2009-09-03. I think I’ve eliminated the problem.


successful printing from Linux!

I know that this is going to be no big deal for some of my readers. If you’re reading this, chances are that you have either flirted with or reveled in the Linux desktop. I have flirted with it, but never long enough to print anything. Today I told my server about the printer attached to my Windows machine, then successfully loaded my résumé from my website and printed it.

I am excited by this little victory, small as it may be.


cookie of fortune

From Smith’s Chinese:

  • Be prepared to receive something special in a large package.

Could it be more vague? I suppose it could, so I better just be quiet.


cultural confusion

I will see the new James Cameron movie at some point, hopefully in 3D … but I will be thinking about compassion, honesty, valor, justice, honor, sacrifice, spirituality, and humility when I do.


but the shelf is inside out … and it exploded

I am in need of a a new shelf for my refrigerator. The glass got broken out of the middle while it was being cleaned, making quite a spectacular sound which all of us except the nimble-fingered perpetrator heard from the other room. My specific fridge model is Maytag MSD2754GRW. The part number for the shelf is 61004024. This is one of the “beverage spill” shelves, common to both Maytag and Whirlpool 27 cubic foot models. I suppose it could be found on other size models, but that seems unlikely. Anyone got the right kind of Maytag or Whirlpool fridge that they don’t need, with an intact shelf I could have or buy for SUPER cheap?


reflections, the day before christmas 2009

We are nearing the end of another year, and I won’t have to go into work for the rest of the decade. It seems only moments ago that everyone I know was sitting at work waiting for the new century and with it the flood of Y2K problems that never came. Was that really ten years ago? I can come up with another scary number describing how long it’s been since high school, which also represents the end of an era. We were the last group to ever graduate from South High.

There have been a number of doors opening even as these doors close. My eldest child has gotten her first job, an externship for the Pharmacy Tech college course she is taking through her high school. She graduates next spring. The next younger child is making good use of her learner’s permit, and will probably be ready for the real thing in a few months when that birthday comes around. I hope my wallet can keep up. Her twin sister recently extracted DNA from split peas in her Biology class. The older boy played his trumpet in a Christmas concert and did very well. The youngest is, little by little, starting to get involved in managing his diabetes. All of the kids are very intelligent and learning well.

This time of year is rich with milestones for us. Earlier in the month, one of the boys had his 14th birthday. Tonight, we visit family for Christmas Eve dinner. Tomorrow, the kids open their presents and we have a few friends and family over for Christmas dinner. My nine year wedding anniversary and 40th birthday are also coming in the next couple of weeks.

I love and appreciate my family. I don’t tell them this often enough, and what I do tell them probably gets lost in my grumpy outer shell. I’ve got five kids that are really a pretty good bunch. I can’t say enough about Kathy, who keeps the house functioning despite a continuous battle with her own body. Thank you, everyone.


half a bufday to you

For various reasons, the birthday party plan I had for New Years eve is not going to work out. This is the way things usually work out for my birthday. I’m not the only one who doesn’t get a proper celebration, though. Kathy’s birthday usually comes while we are at a campground, because it is in the middle of July, which is the ideal time to take school-age children on an extended camping trip.

What we have decided to do is split the difference and have what we


the big four oh

I would like to have a birthday party. On December 30th, I reach forty years outside the womb. Would I get any response to having a combo birthday/new years eve party on the 31st? I’m thinking of a pot luck sort of arrangement. I don’t necessarily want to tell people what to bring, but I would like to coordinate it so… we know what will be there and can be ready to fill any gaps.

Comment here or send me a direct message so I can figure out whether this is worth doing.


fortunate cookie

From Smiths at 8th and 9th:

  • The respect of influential people will soon be yours

USB fun

Earlier this evening I was having trouble with USB. All USB devices stopped working, so I could only access the computer via remote desktop. This has happened before, but the usual fix (shut down the computer, unplug it, wait 30 seconds for all power to drain) didn’t work. So then I got back in via remote desktop and removed all USB devices from device manager. That resulted in total failure – they were detected as “unknown device” instead.

After a few hours of struggling with system restore and the Intel driver update and getting nowhere, I finally broke down and ran the Windows XP setup that I had long ago copied off the CD and slipstreamed with Service Pack 3.

That worked, but then I couldn’t get Windows Update to work. I had to uninstall IE8, reboot, and now it is just finishing up the 57 updates that it required once IE7 was working.

Microsoft is not my friend at the moment.


temperature variance

Winter is not my favorite time of year. I really dislike the cold. I know that a lot of the reason that I dislike it is because I do not prepare well and am usually not dressed appropriately. On the other side of the coin, I also do not like the heat of high summer. Utah is fairly temperate, but we do get a fair number of days where the temperature goes pretty high or pretty low.

If I thought there was any way I could afford to live there, and it wouldn’t make the kids crazy, I would move to somewhere in California where the Pacific Ocean keeps the temperature fairly constant for most of the year, but I don’t think I would live right on the coast.


need a different toothbrush

Must the toothbrushes with the small heads all have soft bristles? Why is it that the drugstore thinks that only tiny kids with soft teeth could ever use a brush with a very small head?

Anyone know where I could find such a compact head brush with medium bristles? Walgreens was no help.


life elevated

Today’s post title is utah’s new marketing slogan. I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight, and there is a commercial on TV about utah and our wonderful snow, showing a skier interspersed with other images. I thought “life elevated, and it’s all downhill from there.”

In other news, they just asked “Dibley, party of two” to the podium. I wonder who Dwayne is with…


fortune cookie

From Smiths @ 9th and 9th:

  • Don’t be overly suspicious where it’s not warranted.

exciting fortune cookie

From the usual, Smiths @ 9th and 9th:

  • A good position and a comfortable salary will be yours.

Maybe I’ll go to the CFO’s office and tell him that Master Fung has an urgent memo for him regarding me. Because Master Fung is sensitive to both the economy and the environment, he wrote it on much smaller paper than is typically used.


big dish

At work, we are replacing our 5.6 meter two-way satellite dish with one that is 7.6 meters in diameter. This dish offers twice the surface area of the old one. So you can get an idea of the scale involved, the yellow ladder inside the cage is 8 feet tall.