Last night it started to snow. I don’t know when it stopped, but when I rolled out of bed this morning we had six inches of it on the driveway. The forecast was for it to be a heavy, wet snow, but that’s where they missed it. It was light and powdery. I cranked up the new snowblower and had it cleared relatively quickly. Then I went to work.

Where it was dead.

I guess that between the holiday (for students, teachers, bankers, and government employees) and the snow, a lot of people opted to “work from home.” I’m no good at working from home. I just can’t find my working mojo from the couch. Or the dining room. Or the bedroom. So I always go in if at all possible.

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Today was Beth’s first day of spring break. That meant I didn’t need to take her to school, which meant I didn’t hafta get up according to whatever the clock said. So I stayed in bed until 8:00, and got to work a little before 9:00.

I forgot that I still needed to go to the school, because I had to pick up the fruit ordered by my coworkers. Also, I needed to move the canoe out of the middle of the floor and get it back along the wall on the saw horses. I suggested that Dennis might want to eat at Taco Bell, take a look at the canoe and help me move it. He liked that plan, so we set out at lunch time and did just that. He also helped me carry fruit to the car. Then I took him to a car dealer where he was having some warranty work done.

Since I got to work a bit later than normal, I worked later to make up for it. It was chilly when I got home, so I didn’t go outside to tramp around. I pretty much just parked my carcass in front of my laptop and did stuff like this (i.e., write blog posts).

I got up around 7:00 this morning and cranked up the snowblower. Beth is out of school for the week (winter break), so there was no big hurry. We only got four inches of snow, which was a far cry from the 18″ they were forecasting. But that was OK with me. This was another wet, heavy snow, and it stuck to all the trees (bending one over in the yard). My repair job to the snowblower held up nicely, which was great.

I took my coat off outside and shook the snow out of it, and then went inside. As soon as I bent over to untie my boots, I dumped four gallons of snow on the floor from my hat (the wind was blowing the snow back at me). I swept it up and dumped even more off my hat into the sink. Then I went upstairs and changed clothes. When I came back down I picked up my coat and dumped yet another four gallons of snow in the floor. And that was after I had shaken it out before I came in! I have no idea where that snow could have come from.

Then I went to work where I had something of a rough day. A customer of ours has been having a bit of trouble with one of our cards, and it’s a very, very old card that we tried to not sell them in the first place. Anyhow, we’ve had their problem here for a while, and they finally got mad enough (I guess) that management decided it was time to have me take a look at it.

The customer’s code was an utter mess, and that gave me a glimmer of hope. As bad as it was, it seemed likely that they were shooting themselves in the feet. I cleaned up the worst of it and got it to compile with no warnings, but the problem did not go away. So I spent the whole day wrestling with some really messy code.

Their code is actually based on an example I wrote nearly ten years ago, and I guess that’s why I’m taking this a little too personally. They took my Mona Lisa and painted a velvet Elvis over it. Man… that shoulda been illegal! It also doesn’t help that this customer is French-speaking, so all the comments and variables they added to the code are in French. Which doesn’t lend to my ability to understand what they’re trying to do.

I spent the first hour this morning cleaning up their mess. The code was badly indented, so the first thing I did was fix that. It’s really hard to understand spaghetti code when it’s not even indented properly.

To add to the fun, management is pressuring me to put in some extra time on it. And that bugs me too. They waited a long time before involving me in this, and now they expect me to solve in a day a problem that has eluded three other engineers for months. And if I can’t, would I please work late. Grrr…

So I came home with a tremendous headache. I thought it was sinus related and took some decongestant, but that didn’t touch the headache (my sinuses are clear now though). I chased that with some pain reliever, and that seems to be getting to the root of it now. Also, I’m not looking at the velvet Elvis anymore.

I didn’t sleep well at all last night. In spite of going to bed exhausted, I had a million things churning through my mind – most related to preparations for Camp-in.

I still need to make a set of rollers to roll the scroll onto. Also, we still need to finish decorating the church. I was also thinking about making Ken’s prayer shawl (he’s playing the part of a rabbi). I did et to that when I got home tonight, and it did not go very smoothly. The sewing machine revolted on me again, and I was having an awful time with it wanting to tangle the bobbin thread. I finally figured out what was going wrong, and things got better after that. It didn’t help that Beth was in there with me whining the whole time. She has a school project she has been pretending to work on, and it was one complaint after another about why she thought she had done enough, and “I don’t know what else to write,” and “it’s too complicated for me to describe.” Grrr…

I was also worrying about an upcoming deadline for work. I really need to take some time off so we can get ready for Camp-in, but things are urgent again at the office, and that makes it pretty hard to take off. But then today at 3:30 I had a major breakthrough, pinpointing the bug I’ve been chasing for two days. It was beginning to look like I would not find it any time soon. It took me another 45 minutes to fix the bug, test it, and check all the changes into svn, and then I high-tailed it home. I think I will take off tomorrow.

The weathermen were saying yesterday that it should start snowing today at around 3:00 or 4:00am. Well, I wasn’t awake by then, so I don’t know if they were right or not. But it was snowing when I got up.

Mrs Brace made the decision last night to close the school today, and since the forecast was calling for 12-24″ of snow, I did not leap right out of bed when the alarm went off. Instead, I slept until 8:30. Then I took a nice, long, hot, leisurely shower, and then put on my grubbies. When I went downstairs, I saw that it was indeed snowing, but we only had half an inch or so. Doh! So I went to the office. I worked until about 1:00, when I judged that the snow was about as deep as I could let it get before it would prevent me from getting home. Va had called and asked me to pick up a gallon of milk, so I did that first, then hopped in the car and headed northward. Driving was… treacherous. There were still plenty of idiots on the Interstate willing to drive 65MPH, but most people were tooling along at about 40 (which was what the State Troopers recommended). I was passed by a logging truck with a full load of logs. He threw so much snow onto my windshield that I could literally not see out the windshield for about five seconds.

When I got to my exit, I had a decision to make. Left or right? Left is generally better plowed, but I could tell that neither route was going to rate very high in that category. Left also has one very steep hill for me to climb, and then another one that is very long. Right has one steep hill to descend, and then a much smaller one on an unpaved section to climb. I opted for right.

I did quite a bit of sliding down the steep hill, but I stayed over the pavement (with a thick layer snow between the tires and the asphalt) the whole time. But the hill on the unpaved section was almost my undoing. I got up as much speed as I dared and made my attack. About three quarters of the way up, I started spinning the wheels. The car slowed to a crawl, but I kept chugging along. Finally, I felt that I was gaining speed instead of losing it, and then I topped the hill. After that, there were no problems. I got home and parked in the garage.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to get some more work done, but our VPN connection no worky, so there was not a whole lot I could do. Other than troubleshoot the VPN connection. Oh well!

Most of my family in Kentucky are suffering through an ice storm. I assume they have all pretty much lost power now because the “we still have power” reports stopped a while ago. Or maybe they just lost their Internet connections.

When the snow stops I will crank up the snowblower. I went to get the mail about an hour ago, and slogged through about a foot of snow, so the weathermen hit the minimum now. Here’s a picture I took when I was getting the mail. If you look closely, you can see Penny waiting for me to cross over the invisible fence again.

Penny waits in the snow

Penny waits in the snow


Hmmm… it looks like it has stopped here in the last five minutes. But… dinner’s almost ready? So I don’t hafta snowblow just yet?

Beth had another bout of emesis last night at about 3:30. I got up and changed her sheets. First I went to the basement to get her previous sheets out of the dryer. I spread them out on the bed, but then noticed that it had gotten wadded up in the dryer, so there was still a damp spot on them. I fetched another set out of the linen closet (that’s where we keep… the linens!) She had gotten most of her blankets this time too, so I swapped them for fresh ones one at a time. In short order, she had a clean bed. I tucked her in, and went to bed myself.

Today, being MLK day, she had no school. So I slept in a little. We had gotten two or three more inches of snow since I had last cleared the driveay, but I figured I could drive through that, and decided to put of clearing it until I got home. I made it to work by 9:00.

Today was much less stressful than the past several days at work have been. As far as I know, we shipped the card we were stressing over. I received a big “Thank you” from the management team. Hooray for me!

At lunch time I decided to fetch the school’s new server from the trunk of my car. I hauled it up to the office, hooked up the DVD drive to it, and tried to see if I could get it to boot from that. I did! I did a “practice” install. If I had had the Linux disc I wanted to put on there, I would not have practiced any at all. It took about two hours of churning and chugging, but I finally had a full OS on there, and everything seemed to be working.

But man… those fans are LOUD. There are nine of them in there. One of them appears to not work, but it is one in a row of five, and I think I can live without it. Two more are in the power supply, and another two are used for cooling the second CPU. Those two were the screamers. I disconnected them and the noise level dropped by a significant margin. So tonight, I ordered two “ultra quiet” fans to replace them. Hopefully they really will be “ultra quiet”. I do know that the ones I’m taking out are “ultra loud” though, so it will be hard to lose on that swap.

This server does have one bizarre component in it that I can’t figure out. It’s a card mounted in a drive bay and connected to the motherboard via a serial port plus a 50-pin ribbon cable. It has a battery. The major chip on it is made by Qlogic, and they make Storage Area Networking stuff. It has a flash chip on it, and the sticker on the flash has a MAC address with the same OUI as the on-board Ethernets. Here a photo:

What IS this?

What IS this?


None of my co-workers were able to come up with convincing theories either. I unplugged it, and everything booted just fine. If I can’t figure out what it is, I will probably remove it. No need to waste electricity on something I’m not going to use.

Tomorrow I will dash into the church when I drop the girls off at school, and I will pick up the K12LTSP Linux disc. That’s the “real” OS I plan to put on there. I’ll kick off the install sometime during the day, and hopefully, everything will be ready when I’m ready to come home.

Since I got to work a bit late, I decided to leave early to make up for it. (heh heh). Actually, I went home at my regular time because I had put in some extra on my darling wife’s birthday. That should count for SOMETHING. When I got home, I cranked up the snowblower and clear the drive in record time. Two or three inches of powdery snow just doesn’t take that long to dispatch. Then I drove the Pizza Hut and picked up our supper.

After eating, I got to work on another robe costume for Camp In. When we selected the cloth for this one, we found that the store didn’t quite have enough for the full robe. So… I’m putting short sleeves on it, and I’m going to run the bias on the sleeves in the opposite direction. This is, after all, a costume, not some clothing anyone will be expected to wear for a full day.

It looks like Beth is asleep now, so I’m going to slip back downstairs and finish that robe now.

I have nothing exciting to report today. I went to work and was pretty busy, but even most of that was somewhat mundane. There was a great quantity of mundane things to do, and they all had to be done right now though, so mundane does not equate to stress-free.

In fact, I worked a bit later than I normally do trying to get something out of the way. And I did.

Tomorrow my boss will be off site and has asked me to sit in on a meeting in his stead. I am not looking forward to that, but I’ll do what I can.

When I got home, Va had some supper ready for me, which was very nice. I ate it, and then went outside to see if there were any new tracks in the snow. It was very cold (it’s 0 degrees right now), but I do have a pretty warm coat, so that was not a problem. Penny came out with me and I threw a couple of sticks for her. She doesn’t like to follow me into the woods though, because she isn’t sure where the invisible fence boundary is, and I think she associates all of the woods with the fence. There were some new squirrel tracks, some new cat tracks (domestic I’m sure), and some new mouse tracks.

The snow cast I made is drying out nicely. I have it in the kitchen on the floor next to a heater register. Some of the surface has crumbled off, but it was a cast of some pretty crumbly snow, so that didn’t come as a surprise.

In a few minutes I’ll head downstairs (I’m in Beth’s room at the moment, sitting with her as she settles in for sleep). Then maybe I’ll fire up the sewing machine again and put the hems in the soldier tunic I started (and nearly finished) yesterday. Maybe I’ll cut out some cloth for villager tunic too, who knows.