But it still works…

A few weeks ago, Laralee and I decided that we need to do some serious de-cluttering of our house. Our motto is:

It should either be useful, or joyful.

Stuff that doesn’t meet one of those criteria needs to go. We started with the crawlspace and managed to get rid of a ton of boxes that were neither useful nor joyful. While I was visiting Missouri, Laralee tackled our bookshelves, removing all kinds of books that she knew she’d never read again, or that she had electronically on her tablet, or that were duplicates of others (paperback and hardcover, for example). I told her not to touch any of mine, although the day is coming when I’m going to need to cleanse my bookshelves.

Today I was going to vacuum my office and noticed a pile of computer parts sitting on the floor. They were overflow from the closet, where I keep all kinds of old components… because, you know, you might need them someday, right? I opened the closet, gave a heavy sigh, and decided to start a purge.

How many keyboards does a guy need? I had about twenty, most of which had PS/2 connectors (PS/2 was replaced by USB at least a decade ago). Oh, and one ancient model with clackety keys and a connector I can’t even remember:

That was probably from one of my very first computers, circa 1992. Anyway, I kept one PS/2 model– still brand new in the box, in fact– because someday I might need one. I also kept a couple of newer USB ones, and chucked the rest.

CD-ROM drives were cool… in 1994. I had almost thirty of them. They’re all IDE-cabled, meaning they won’t work in a modern system, and I have a fancy little external USB unit that can read and burn CD’s and DVD’s. Even that I don’t use much, because who uses CD’s these days? So a pile of drives headed to the heap.

A scanner from the late 1990’s that probably weighed ten pounds? Gone. Power supplies for cases I don’t even have… hard drive caddies for IDE drives… speakers that don’t work… 16MB RAM sticks… an Apple mouse from an old PowerPC… all gone.

After heaving quite a bit out of the closet, I admired the pile of stuff.

The sad thing is that much of it still works! The keyboards are fine, the CD-ROM drives spin up, and so on. They’re just from a bygone era of computers that you can’t buy any more (except maybe on eBay from junk dealers). It seems a shame to get rid of perfectly good components. The pile probably represents thousands of dollars of purchases.

But, neither useful nor joyful. Away it goes.

Everybody loves cuties

Yesterday in seminary I was teaching about the book of Galatians in the New Testament. As a class we talked about the influence of the world (or, as Paul puts it in his writing, the “lusts of the flesh”) and the things we can do to resist temptations. Part of that, of course, is considering the “fruit of the Spirit”:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…

I’m not terribly creative, but every now and then I come up with a zinger. For this lesson I pulled out a bag of cuties (mandarin oranges if you want to be precise) and handed one to each of the kids. They had little ghosts drawn on them:

Fruits of the Spirit! Ha! Get it?

What else would you do with a Mac?

It’s sort of a long story, but I have a really nice iMac now. It’s a late-model 27″ with a fast processor and a ton of memory. Of course I’m not much of an Apple guy, so I wondered what interesting things I could do with it.

Of course: I could install Linux on it!

I popped in a Mint Linux USB installer, and a few minutes later I had a running system. I think Mint is a great distro, but it’s not really for me: it doesn’t have KDE3. I figured I’d see if I could run Jinux on it. I popped in a Jinux USB installer, and to my surprise, the installer ran flawlessly. I had to wrestle with the bootloader a bit, but after a few tweaks I had a running Jinux system (with KDE3):

Since I’m a certified geek, I’m actually triple-booting for now: stock MacOS Sierra, Mint Linux, and Jinux. I figured Laralee might want to give this puppy a spin. She’s out of town, but when she comes home I’ll see what works.

Well that’s a strong team

Last night was the end of the regular season in my indoor ultimate league. As usual, I was a captain and had a great time. Not as usual, my team is actually pretty good. Well, not just pretty good… amazing. We finished the season undefeated:

If it’s not obvious, the league theme was Star Trek, and we’re Jean-Luc Pick-Hard. Not only did we win every game, but we did so with a tremendous lead: our point differential is over 100, meaning on average we won by 7 points each game. Wow.

But I can’t be too over-confident; next week is the tournament and more often than not, top-ranked teams come into the brackets with a bye and lose their first game against a lower-ranked team who’s won their first round and is warmed up and hungry for victory. That’s what happened to my team last season, when we were also in first place during the season but lost in the tournament semi-finals (so did the second-place team). So I hope we do well and manage to snag some championship swag and bragging rights.

Braces, part 4

A few days ago, Zaque became the fourth member of our family to get braces. He certainly wasn’t very excited about it, but recognized that something has to be done about (as he calls it) his “snaggletooth”. Like Laralee, he’s missing the lateral teeth that are on either side of the top front incisors. Instead, he has canines in those spots. By dragging his teeth around a bit, the orthodontist thinks he can organize everything nicely.

Here’s my boy before heading off for the procedure:

And here he is afterward, making me wonder if he caught a whiff of nitrous oxide or something…

Well, we’re off on a two-year journey now!

D Board

Whenever I’m captain of an ultimate team, I keep track of our defensive plays on something I call the “D Board”. I’m a firm believer that defense wins games, so it’s important to reward* those plays.

Last night were the first games of the spring season. We rocked the D Board.

We won the first game of our double-header, then tied the second in a grueling match under high winds. They were both good, balanced games, and I really like my team this season. We’re going to have a lot of fun together.

* The “reward” in this case is eternal glory.

And you are…?

I was running some errands just now and stopped by Jimmy John’s to buy a cheap “freaky fast” sandwich for lunch. As I was ordering, one of the sandwich-making guys behind the counter called out, “Hey, Jeff, how’s it going?”

I looked at him but had absolutely no idea who he was. Sometimes people say hi to me and they seem familiar but I can’t quite come up with a name… maybe from ultimate? Church? A client from work? One of my kids’ teachers? Even then, I get a sense that I know them from somewhere. Not this time. It was weird.

Anyway, I played it cool and chatted with him for a few minutes. After leaving, I thought maybe he was the Jimmy John’s delivery guy who had dropped off a sandwich for me at my office on Tuesday. If so, do the delivery guys actually remember the names of people requesting delivery? That would be either creepy or really cool customer service.

This is going to keep me stymied for a while…


Today marks twenty-one years of legal partnership with the most amazing, gorgeous, thoughtful, kind, loving, patient wife I could ever hope for.

As John McClane said so famously, she’s “the best thing that ever happened to a bum like me.”

Ooh, choices

Laralee and I were out on a lunch date today, and stopped by Kohl’s because we’d heard from a friend they have some super sweet suit jackets in stock.

Indeed they do.

The question is which one looks better on me. La liked the flamingoes, although I think I preferred the crazy colored pattern.

In the end, we didn’t get either because they were $100 and I couldn’t think of an event other than an 80’s party where I’d honestly wear them. And we don’t have any outstanding invitations to 80’s parties.

Ahh, the joy of being a kid

In the photo below, #7 is Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for the Spanish national soccer team. Check out the kids.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could all feel that way about once a day?

Packrats? Who, us?

Today I had some free time this afternoon, and since spring is a few days away, I figured I might start on some “spring cleaning”. For a long time I’ve thought we could probably get rid of some stuff that’s been in our crawlspace for years.

I was right.

We tend to keep boxes for expensive electronics we buy (mainly computers, but also audio equipment and the like). I guess we figure when we move, we’ll want to use the original boxes with their padding or something. Well, about half of our crawlspace turned out to be comprised of such boxes. Many of them were for things we didn’t even own any more! (VCR, anyone?)

I tossed them out of the crawlspace into the basement, then up the basement stairs to Laralee, who tossed them out the side door into the driveway.

There, we removed three trash cans’ worth of styrofoam packing and crushed many of the older boxes. A friend of mine is getting ready to move, so I asked him if he’d like some of the nicer boxes. He said sure, so we managed to pass off many of these to him. Nice!

Oh, and let’s not forget things like 3.5″ floppy disks with video drivers that I found in one of the computer boxes. Yeah, that’s old school.

The rest of the crawlspace awaits another lazy afternoon when I have some time for more spring cleaning. I happen to know I have at least two big boxes of old college papers and assignments…

That’s customer service

A few days ago I ordered some power cords for my servers. Today they arrived, neatly packed in a box, along with a small bag of M&M’s.

Brilliant! It probably cost the guy less than fifty cents, and it made me extra happy. When I need more power cords, you’d better believe I’ll head his way so I can get more candy.

Deep thoughts

This was a conversation I had with Kyra yesterday.

Well, she’s doing it

I talked to Kyra for a bit today as I was navigating Denver traffic on I-25. She told me that it’s official: she’s decided to serve a mission for the church. Although it’s strongly encouraged for young men, missions are optional for young women. So this isn’t something she has to do, but rather that she wants to do.

She’ll start filling out paperwork in the next few weeks, and will be eligible to leave for the 18-month stint sometime after her 19th birthday in July. It’ll be interesting to see if she leaves before Alex comes home from his mission (sometime in October)… that would mean the two of them don’t see each other for three and a half years!

I’m really proud of her for deciding to do this. It’s going to be amazing.

Cross that one off my bucket list

Today I was playing ultimate at lunchtime, and I managed to score a callahan. BAM. That’s the first time I’ve done it– despite playing for almost 27 years– and definitely something I’ve wanted to cross off my bucket list.

(A callahan is when the opposing team is on offense, deep in your territory, and makes a pass that a defensive player– in this case, me– intercepts in the end zone for a score. It’s very rare. And also very awesome.)


Well, I can finally check “taxes” off my to-do list for the year. They actually went more smoothly than in years past, maybe because Laralee and I have been tracking our expenses in a better way. I ended up filing some extra paperwork to correct a tax mistake I made in 2014 (sigh) but I think everything is squared away and now I can sit back and wait for my refund…

Eso no es bueno


I’m doing some server work, and I accidentally reconfigured one of the servers to use Spanish. I set up the locale just as you’d expect:

locale-gen “es_US.UTF-8”

As anyone can see, there’s a typo in that command. “es” is the language code for Spanish… I meant “en” for English. It took me a few minutes to figure out why suddenly all of the text from commands was being shown in Spanish…

Ye Olde Days

Back in the Day (as in, before the internet), you could spout whatever “facts” you wanted, and people couldn’t prove you wrong without going to the library and checking out a book.


I’ve been trying to break Zaque of two bad habits for the past couple of months. One is that he takes off his shoes when coming in the front door after school, and just leaves them there until the next morning. The other is that when he’s working at his little computer desk, he often has snacks and leaves glasses, plates, and crumbs on Laralee’s desk (right beside him). In both cases, I’ve been nagging him but it hasn’t worked.

A few days ago I struck on an idea. I would charge him one cent for the first infraction, and then the price would double every time he forgot to put away his shoes or clean up his snack. On day one, he failed on both accounts, so he owed me $0.03. I mentioned to him that the power of doubling is amazing: after a month of not putting away his shoes, he would owe me a little over ten dollars.

Since then, he’s taken care of it every day. Apparently three cents was all it took to break him of his habits…

Stuff happens

So today I had planned to spend the morning installing some new hardware at BitRelay: a server, a switch, and a backup disk array. It was all pretty innocuous, and I figured I’d be home a little after lunchtime to hang out with Laralee and Zaque and enjoy the Presidents’ Day holiday.

Well, I forgot to bring the disk array with me, which meant I had to make another trip and basically spend three hours in the car (it’s a 45-minute drive each way to the datacenter).

And when I installed the new switch, for reasons unknown to me, my entire network stack went down. That meant all of the servers were running but couldn’t be reached from the internet, so for about 15 minutes a whole bunch of clients were calling and emailing me and my team asking why their web sites were down. Meanwhile, I was frantically plugging and unplugging things, hoping that I could fix whatever had happened and get everything running again. In the end, I really don’t know what happened because rebooting the network stack twice seemed to resolve it. Ugh.

By the time I was finished it was evening, and then I had to write an explanation (and apology) to my clients so they understood what had happened and how I’d keep it from happening again. That’s never a good conversation to have.

In a little ray of sunshine, one of my clients responded with this:

Stuff happens and we do not always know why. No worries.

Nice. That helped to remind me that despite my feeling that it had been a disaster of epic proportions, in the grand scheme of things, 15 minutes of downtime isn’t really all that big a deal.