Jackie

What’s up?

0

So I’ve been pretty quiet since I hit 100k words- what’s been going on?

  • Round of layoffs at work
  • Friend diagnosed with cancer
  • Another round of layoffs at work.
  • Jackie became a pampered chef consultant
  • Finances have been wiped out from christmas and getting her PC stuff off the ground.
  • 10% paycut at work
  • Guitar lessons are now done because no one can afford them.
  • Have been reading Manuscript Makeover for ways to improve my book
  • Decided to do an initial cleanup of the first draft of my script, then rewrite the outline before starting draft #2
  • started yet another opensource project- this time it’s a collection of Nagios Plugins.

So I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve finished the cleanup of the first two chapters of book 1; hopefully I’ll finish the rest shortly, but it’s very slow going. We’ll see where things head in the next few months- I expect more crappiness.

Evil Plot

1

Ingredients

  • kid
  • hose
  • sprinkler
  • yard
  • wife who doesn’t want to get wet

step 1
take the kid outside to play in the sprinkler
step 2
immediately get wet with the water that’s still in the hose and warmed from the sun
step 3
get the kid soaked
step 4
take the sprinkler off of hose
step 5
show kid how to drink out of hose, hand him hose. Make sure to hold onto a length for crimping
step 6
tell him to go share with momma
step 7
enjoy the show

in the event of retribution
step 8
Crimp hose
step 9
take hose away and spray until wife is soaked

What’s blue and white and still not working?

2

My internet connection.

SO here’s the scoop

5 days until cutover:
I call AT&T, tell them I’m moving and need to transfer my Static IP DSL service on the 30th(Monday). Tech says no problem it’s all set. I am pleasantly surprised at how little of a hassle it was and that it was way smoother than any other interaction I’ve had with them.

Saturday, 2 days until cutover:
We’re planning on doing the actual moving Sunday morning and plan to spend Saturday packing and planning. However at 3am Saturday morning, the internet connection drops, leaving me unable to contact many of the people who may be able to help us move. It sucks, but ok, we can work around it. I still have enough people to get by with and have ways to contact most of them. Since we asked to be connected on Monday, maybe they had to disconnect the old line the day before in order to get their stuff in place. Maybe they cut it on Saturday rather than Sunday because nobody works on Sunday. I get that, I can understand it. While annoying, it’s still better than my previous interactions with them.

Sunday,move day, day before cutover:
We move on Sunday and realize that we never actually checked to see if the house had any phone cables in it. It didn’t. Fortunately my father-in-law knows a bit about phone installation and was able to help me wire up a stub for the AT&T guy to connect to.

Monday, 1 day after move:
AT&T shows up, runs cable, says service will be enabled withing X hours. yippie.

Tuesday, 2 days after move:
Connection is there, but my ip address has changed. “crap,” I think, “now I gotta update dns entries for our sites.” But I can understand this, perhaps my old static ip was tied to the network near my old apartment and didn’t reach this area. I can buy that. So I change my DNS entries… and they don’t work. I look again and I apparently mistyped the IP because the new DNS entry doesn’t match the external IP on the router. So I change it again. and 20 minutes later the external IP has changed again.

They had me on a fricking dynamic IP. For the non techies out there, large ISPs only have a limited number of ip addresses, and more often than not don’t have one for every customer. Since few customers stay online 100% of the time, they can take addresses away from people not using them and redistribute them as needed. This is called a Dynamic IP account. For people who run servers from their homes, keeping the same IP is important, so when your computer goes to connect to morgajel.com, it needs to be able to find the right IP address. That’s why I pay extra for AT&T to guarantee me the same IP address. That is why I am pissed. While there are ways to get around this (dyndns) but they’re a pain in the ass an not an option for me since I run an IRC server as well.

So I tinker around, thinking maybe *I* did something wrong- maybe my router was reset and it cleared the static info. I dig around with Jackie’s help and find the original documentation and try to set up the networking listed manually. No dice. Then I remember that yes, they did manage the info via the PPOE settings, and that just required a user name and password, which is what I was originally using. I switch it back and get yet another dynamic IP. I should point out that my static IP range was 75.x.x.x, while the dynamic stayed in the 66.x.x.x range- this made it easy to keep track of what was going on.

So I call them up and surprise surprise, they screwed up. See, they don’t really transfer accounts so much as shut off the old one and create a new one. The tech didn’t bother to notice I had a static account and replaced it with a dynamic account. I’m livid at this point, and tell them that it needs to be switched back. “Ok, I’ll put in the order. It’ll be ready in 10 days.” Now, this should NOT take 10 days from a technical point of view, this is all red tape causing the delay. But WTF can I do, so I say hell with it and go along with it.

At some point my father-in-law comes back over to help with the baby gate and notes that the technician illegally ran the line through the neighbor’s yard. While I’m half tempted to yell at them to fix it, I just wanna get a connection up and running again so I can actually write about the house.

Saturday, 5 days after cutover (timeline gets a little fuzzy here)
Connection is still flaky, but generally working. I call to check on the status of the static IP order, and find out it was never placed. They’ll get right on that.

Sunday, 6 days after cutover
Connection goes down at 7:37am. Completely. It does not come back. Jackie calls tech support this time. Flames, brimstone cries of the undead ensue. Eventually I take the phone and find out there’s still no mention of a static order of any sort for our account. Guess what? They can’t do anything about it because “orders” isn’t open on weekends. They agree to send out a tech to look at the line since they can’t see the modem from their end. He should be out between 8am and noon on monday

Monday, 7 days after cutover:
Connection begins working again around 7am- I think to myself “great, maybe they just took it down to switch over to the static IP- finally I can get my stuff up.” Nope, still a dynamic IP address. I call AT&T to get the static IP address set up and let them know the connection is up. They say hold off until the technician confirms it’s not an issue. ok. I’ll call back later. I spend my time waiting for the technician looking for any other ISPs in the area on dslreports.com

Technician comes out, nice guy, doesn’t see anything wrong, says he’s seen this behavior before when switching from dynamic to static, but the business won’t fess up to it. Whatever. At least the wiring was good, presuming that both the installer and the inspecting tech were both competent. While he was tooling around, I found out that Cyberonic, my ISP from DC, covers this area (they didn’t in grand rapids or rochester hills). They resell business class Covad lines to residential customers. I contemplate switching over to them, but figure it would be too much effort since I’ve gotten this far. I’m not even sure they’d have a decent plan in this area.

So he leaves and I call AT&T back and get the static all set up. She also said the static IP would be in place tomorrow. Just as we’re finishing she informs me that since I don’t have a contract, my payment will go up to $70 a month from $55. “WTF, this isn’t my screwup- you guys said you could transfer service, then you pooch it, then you want to charge me for it??”

“Oh, no,” she says, “When we transfer service, we don’t transfer contracts. If you want the original rate, you’ll have to sign up for another year of service.”

This is where Jesse snaps.

“You know what? Fine, make it the month to month price, because it’ll take me about 3 weeks to get covad in here.” She was a bit shocked by that statement, and the conversation ended awkwardly. I think she was supposed to ask if I was please with my experience but she knew the answer.

I then spent 10 minutes looking through DSL reports for ISPs in the area and narrowing down their plans- turns out that Cyberonic offers the same plan I had in DC for $60. Lets compare the plans side by side:

AT&T Cyberonic
Download speed 3meg 6meg
Upload speed 386k 768k
IP address 5 static 5 static
Stability False True
Cost $55/mo $60/mo

I call up cyberonic, phone is picked up on the 3rd ring. I tell the technician that I’m interested in their plan, I get signed up, cc infos taken, etc. The entire call lasted 22 minutes and 28 seconds. I was never transferred once, my call was never dropped, the technician never once said “I don’t know,” and they were going to do a hotswap on the line and cancel the AT&T DSL for us since we obviously can’t have 2 DSL services on the same line. The transfer should take place in the next 7-14 business days.

I’d like to point out that AT&T still hasn’t got their act together as of this morning (Thursday), and dropped my connection while I was beginning a deployment for work. That was real awesome btw. Thankfully my neighbor is allowing us to use his wireless connection until we get it straightened out. If the issues aren’t resolved by switching to cyberonic, I’ll have the neighbor report the cable crossing his yard and they’ll have to come out and redo it (this is my backup plan).

The good news is we’ve moved our blogs to gopedro.net. I’m still in the process of converting them, but expect to be done by next Monday. The only site that will still point to my static IP is morgajel.com, for my streaming music, IRC server, etc. We’ve also decided to move all of our pictures to flickr, so expect to see broken images for a while.

I really want to thank gopedro.net for in all of this. I highly recommend them for any domain name purchases or hosting. They’ve been handling our domain names for years now, and their service is outstanding. I’d also like to thank our new neighbor Bobby for being one hell of a cool guy.

I’ll keep you updated on how things go. Hopefully I’ll start writing about the house soon.

*UPDATE 2008-07-14*
Cybronic called and told me they’d be sending a technician out tomorrow to verify the lines. Hopefully I should have a working connection soon.

*UPDATE 2008-07-16*
My bad, it was wednesday. Connection is up now and I’m back online with a static IP!

Kids in the Hall

0

So Ian is staying with Jackie’s mom this weekend. Jackie left to drop him off about 10am friday morning with the intent of being back in Troy to pick me up around 6pm. Around 3pm one of the guys I work with walked into the room and began a conversation like this:

[matt] Anyone want tickets to see Kids in the Hall?
[me] How much?
[matt] Free.
[me] ooh, I’ll take them!

The show was 7:30 that night- enough time for Jackie to get back, grab a quick bite to eat, and go. The venue was only about 15 minutes away and there were plenty of fast places to eat between work and there. It was unbelievable timing. So the next time Jackie calls I let her know what’s going on. She wasn’t real excited (“I’m neutral”), but that was mainly because she had been driving for 2+ hours already and was ready to vegitate on the couch.

We hit a National Coney Island and then the show. Another friend pointed out that the show should be called “Old Guys in the Hall” now since it’s been 20 years since their show started airing, but I gotta tell you, it was still some funny shit. You could tell Kevin McDonald and and Dave Foley still have great chemistry- Two great scenes come to mind.

The first was a drunk scene between Kevin and Dave. A minute or so in, Kevin’s ear-mic
became sweaty and fell off. He wasn’t able to get it to stay back on (even with dave quickly trying to help), and had to say his lines while pressing the mic to his cheek with one finger. Dave jumped in and started doing the same thing (as if drunk and mocking him). Kevin was barely able to finish the skit (from laughing at the absurdity of it).

The second scene involved Kevin having an affair with Dave’s imaginary girlfriend. The amusing part was kevin was wearing a silk robe that looked like it should have went down to his knees, but only got about halfway. When he sat down, he did something that involved him grabbing the sides of his folding chair and dry humping the air in front of him. Apparently the black spandex trunks he was wearing showed the front row his balls. Dave gave him a look and Kevin became very self conscious and tried to fold the robe up to cover his boys, but the stage direction had him moving all over so he kept trying to cover himself. After a few attempts he grabbed the front flaps of the robe and crammed them down the front of the shorts giving him a giant codpiece. Dave started to lose it and took off the trenchcoat he was wearing and had Kevin put it on backwards, which in reality gave him about as much coverage as the robe.

Two great lines spawned from this scene:
“My trench coat isn’t going to cover your balls forever.”
“I’m pretty sure the stage direction didn’t say ‘show the audience your balls’!”

I would definitely recommend seeing them if you get the chance… unless you don’t want your head crushed.

starting opensourcecook.com development

0

So jackie wants to take her recipes and build an open cookbook sorta thing. I’m not sure how all of this is gonna play out, but I’ve set up the dev environment for it. I’ll try to make notes about it when I can.

28

2

Whew, it’s been a busy year. Back in 2005 I wrote a list of things I’d like to do eventually that I’d be able to do if I had the time and resources that winning the lotto would provide. I’ve made a positive step towards realizing a couple of those.

Family

The big change this year was the addition of Ian. We didn’t get off too well in the beginning, but we’re doing pretty good now. He’s just now to the point where he’s taking his first steps. He’s a smart kid, very inquisitive, but stubborn. Within a few years he’ll be learning how to read and write- I’m guessing it won’t be long until I’m teaching him how to program. He’s got an eye for any type of electronics, but goes nutty for my blackberry or laptop. Yeah, he’s a geek in training.

Jackie’s been doing fairly well, all things considered. She’s been staying home with Ian rather than going back to work, and it’s driving her a little stir crazy. To help ease the cabin fever, she got a laptop for christmas- Ian wasn’t letting her stay in the office, so now she has a way to keep in contact with people from the living room.

Weddings

This was the year of the wedding… Brad and Erin, Jordan and Beth, Matt and Carrie, William and Charleen, Jackie’s friend Joslyn, Jackie’s sister Lori, and Paul and Kristen. I only made it to 4 of the weddings, but I was standing up in two of them. The ones we went to were all in Grand Rapids, so we had the joy of driving back and forth 155 miles each way, with the added bonus of dropping Ian off somewhere along the way

Work

Work started off pretty rough. I have a habit of reflecting the attitudes of those around me, and my supervisor at the beginning of the year was pretty negative. That coupled with Ian’s birth and all the associated expenses turned me into a pretty miserable person. Fortunately the supervisor left and was replaced with a cautious optimist. Things got better- so much so that I just passed the 1 year mark at my current place and still find it interesting and entertaining.

Technologies

I’ve played with many new technologies this year- Jboss, Netscaler and CentOS being the three foremost. I’ve dug back into ruby with a couple of new projects, as well as LDAP and a plethora of new utilities. I even picked up a bit of python. This trend doesn’t look like it’s gonna let up, so the job should be exciting and interesting for some time to come.

Projects

This year saw me move away from music and go back towards software (although I have been playing harmonica in the car at stoplights on the way to work). I joined the Luma team as head cheerleader and started the QT4 branch. After becoming frustrated with the python, qt3->qt4 transition and the codebase in general, I started an unofficial sister project, Ruma. I still sit in the Luma channel and help when I can, but I’m gonna sit back and wait until we’re ready for QT4- hopefully we’ll scrap the entire codebase and start fresh.

Right now I have two other developers “working” for me on Ruma, Lars and Hiro. They’ve put a lot of effort into bringing this bad boy to life, and I’m thankful I’ve had their help. For those of you not aware, Luma and Ruma are LDAP administration tools. As a System Administrator, I use LDAP a lot, so having specialized tools can be helpful.

Another project I started this year was competing in National Novel Writing Month. I finished the rough draft for my first book, Sinblade, a week early. It’s only 150 pages or so, but not a bad start all things considered. Jackie’s (sorta) working on revising it, and once she’s done I’ll open it up for others to start giving me feedback. I’m excited and nervous about it. If it takes off and people like it, I have 6 or so more books that I’m interested in writing.

The money situation is still pretty tight, but it’s getting better. Hopefully next year will be as much of an improvement over this year as this was over last year.

Finding a Hobby

52

So Jackie’s been sitting at home with Ian for 4 months now and is incredibly bored. All she every does is read. I suggested a hobby, but she doesn’t really have any (except scrapbooking, which is expensive)- So what I want to do is get some ideas from all the people who read my site. Here are the base rules:

  • cheap- no more than $25 start up cost and that must last 3 weeks.
  • work from home- Jackie doesn’t have a car during the day
  • Not computer-related
  • Space limited- it’s a small apartment, so Float-building is out.
  • baby friendly- Ian is still a factor since she’s home with him all day:
    • baby safe (no toxic fumes, molten metal, etc)
    • drop/pickup easily (Ian gets hungry/poops often and unpredictably)

I’m sure there’s more little rules, but those are good enough for now- Here’s what I’ve thought of:

  • Carving:
    • Wood figurines
    • Plaster figurines
    • Soap figurines
  • Painting:
    • figurines/miniatures
    • small statues
    • ceramics
  • play with electronics (we have a 100 in 1 electronic experiments board)
  • Music:
    • Learn to sing
    • Learn Keyboard (have one)
    • Learn Bass (have one)
    • relearn clarinet (she has one)
  • making puppets/muppets/marionettes
  • find a work-at-home clerical/dataentry/paperpusher job (what she’s currently looking for)

Any suggestions guys? I really need some help with this one.

I hate those meeses to pieces

26

So some time in the middle of the night, I’m awoken by this strange, high pitch squeaking sound- almost a whistle. I could hear movement in the other room, so I figured it was the cats playing with a toy.In Truth, the cats have ADD and usually stop after about 10 seconds or so, but this kept going… 20.. 30 seconds. I finally got up and walked into the other room to see chaos playing with a live mouse. It was a tiny little thing, maybe three inches from nose to tail, and she was batting it back and forth up and down the hallway.

She knocked it into the kitchen, and I followed to grab a jar or something to put over it so I could scoop it up and put it outside (far far away). By the time I had something, Chaos had knocked it under the fridge. Try as I might, I could not lift the fridge, full of food, in the middle of the night to scoop him out, so I waited until morning and Jackie called maintenance to get some traps. They set up two traps- one under the stove and one behind the fridge.

In the middle of the day, Jackie messages me saying she heard a trap go off- I come home that night to find one squished little mouse under the stove. I toss mouse and trap and think nothing of it- problem solved (except chaos, who was heartbroken). This should be the end of the story.

This morning I wake up and walk into the kitchen and, out of the corner of my eye, see the trap behind the fridge is upside down. As I walk over for a closer inspection, I see not one, but TWO mice sticking out of the trap.

So apparently we have mice. I’m gonna need more traps.

27

0

Doing another annual recap this year like I did last year.

2006 was a pretty rough year- move from DC Metro back to Grand Rapids, got a crappy job, found out jackie was pregnant, got laid off from crappy job, spent 3 months unemployed, and at the end of November was offered an awesome new job in Troy, MI (the other side of the state). Other than Ian, and the new job, the best good news is we finally have a decent couch- two of them, actually.

Employment

I enjoyed working at CSX a lot, but Virginia started getting to me- a guy threw himself in front of the orange line and it was on the news down there, and I realized I could sorta understand why he did it… that was my hint that I needed to get out of there. The result was taking the first job that could get me back to Michigan.

I ended up taking a contract-to-hire job back in Grand Rapids that paid poorly, treated me like crap, and generally made me come home and curl up in the fetal position. Part of the agreement to even get close to the payrange I was looking for was I had to work 55 hours a week. The problem was I spent all 55 hours each week for 3 months putting out fires and stressed myself so badly that the doctor told me I had to cut back. Five months(August) into the 3 month contract (oh, it was open ended, didn’t you know that?) I was laid off. No severance, just a boot out the door. I wasn’t the only one laid off since the company is apparently not doing as well as they thought they were, but there’s still a lot of bitterness there.

The recruiter flat out lied when he said the Grand Rapids job market had improved- the unemployment rate is still 7% and companies are closing down left and right. I spent 3 months searching for a job in the area when our friend Chris P. offered to hand my resume off to a friend of his who was looking for a linux admin. Three interviews later, they offered me the job for a decent amount of money and benefits. The down side was it’s in Troy, so we’re moving again. This place seems great tho, and I don’t have any of the doubts or negative feelings I had initially about the job in GR.

Family

In July, Jackie and I found out we were going to have a child. It’s a boy, and he’s due on March 10th. We’ve decided on Ian Hawthorn for a name. We’re really excited about it, but to be honest it didn’t help the stress level when I was laid off a month after finding out. We’re looking forward to it, but the new job is complicating issues like lamaz classes and doctor changes.

My brother Jamie is off being a park ranger/professional bum, Brian is still in school, parents are doing good, inlaws are good, grandparents are all doing well and the cats still haven’t been set on fire- can’t ask for more than that.

Hobbies

I finally finished my chainmail shirt. The age difference between rings resulted in some bad discoloration which I tried to fix by treating with vinegar- Unfortunately that completely removed the zinc coating on some resulting in rusting- once I get the cash I plan on rolling it in a bucket of sand to remove the rust, oiling it, and then putting it in a tupperware container.

I played with my guitar quite a bit early in the year, but slacked off later on. I also realized that learning to play the keyboard is going to require more than 25 keys, so I’ve put it off until I have the time and money to get a real keyboard and take lessons. I did manage to pick up a trumpet and restring my violin- I can play a scale on the violin (barely) and can annoy the neighbors with the trumpet. I also bought some new reeds for Jackie’s clarinet and learned how to play a scale.

I got back into ruby and finally checked out this whole rails thing- it’s very cool. I wish I would have kept up with ruby way back when and ignored the nay-sayers.

I’ve also taken up walking- yes, walking. I’ve been walking about 3 miles every other day since we moved back to Grand Rapids- once around the block. Now that we’ve moved, that’ll probably go by the wayside due to the lack of walking partners and Jackie’s general roundness (from Ian).

Hopefully 2007 will see us getting back to where we were last year this time.

The Baby’s Site

0

Jackie and I finally agreed on a name a week or three ago- “Ian Hawthorn Morgan”. We also bought the domain IanHawthorn.com for him- figured it was something he could take over when he’s old enough- it’s also gonna serve as a news center for family and friends. Jackie’s already set up a wordpress theme and started posting emails we’ve received and other such details.

I’ve revised my categories on this site and added one for ian when I mention him.

Go to Top