Jackie

Pissed off vs. Pissed on

Today I find myself a little of both.

I was called into the confrence room today and told that the company I was contracted to requested that today be my last day.

Yes, I am officially unemployed.

Fortunately I was laid off, not fired- turns out business wasn’t as good as they were hoping and they can’t afford someone to try and fix their broken infrastructure. Since they fired a developer a few weeks ago, and the lead developer put in his 1 week notice today, I can’t say it’s suprising- if they’re getting rid of me after losing two other people, they must be hemmoraging money pretty badly.

The worst part is, not only did I see this coming, but I worked my ass off there knowing it was coming. I was hoping they’d at least have the decency to give me some severance pay, but apparently since I’m just a contractor they don’t feel the need. They did however give me a nice 1 paragraph recommendation letter- I guess that makes up for laying off a guy with a kid on the way who they shouldn’t have hired if they knew they wouldn’t be able to afford him.

I’m pretty pissed off right now because I feel like I made a mistake coming back to michigan- I won’t be able to find work around here since I’m pretty specialized (michigan is Microsoft territory, and at this point I’m pretty specialized in linux) and the economy is crap to boot.

The worst part about all of this is jackie and I went so far into debt to move back and we still haven’t dug out. Now jackie’s pregnant and my hopes for employment are slim to none, and we couldn’t even afford to move somewhere else if we wanted to because our credit cards are maxed out from the last move.

I feel pretty bad for the other sysadmin because they’re gonna crap back on him again and he’s just gonna take it. The Devs are screwed because I did a lot to make their development environment more professional- seperate user accounts, testbeds, standardized development/beta/production servers, version control, etc- most of that will go down the shitter because it will all be neglected if it’s even kept at all. the other sys admin will probably either format them or ignore them.

It’s been a hell of a day, and I need to take a shower still after my walk- then I’m going to bed. If you know of anyone looking to hire a Linux Sys Admin or a perl/php/ruby developer (or some combination of either), send them my way.

Oh, BTW.

Jackie is pregnant.

Looks like I’m gonna be a father.

Going Home

For the few people who haven’t heard yet, Jackie and I will be returning to Grand Rapids. I was offered a position at a local GR company as a Network Administrator. The company seems really nice from what I saw last friday.

I can’t describe how much I really hate the DC area. It’s just too crowded for me. Among the many benefits of this move, Jackie and I will:

  • be able to be with our friends and family again
  • take up physical training with yojimbo again
  • home cooked meals
  • not live trapped in a box
  • have a 20 minute commute to work instead of an hour
  • be able to go outside and not see a single person.

I’m by no means a farm boy, but DC is just way too big for me. On the positive side, DC has done me some good.

  • I can now stand in a crowd of 30 people without having a panic attack
  • I have a new car
  • paid the bills when Michigan was in a huge recession
  • met some decent people
  • learned to value silence
  • Learned there’s more to do than play with a computer all day

So there you have it. Jackie and I have also picked out an apartment- we finally managed to get into ramblewood after a 3rd or 4th time of fate stepping in. Nice backwoods section near kent trails. I can’t wait to get back- my last day at my current company is April 7th, and I will be in town on the 14th of April. Don’t get me wrong, I like my current coworkers, I just don’t like the area (Sorry Tony, it’s just too crowded).

So it looks like Operation BTFO was a success.

Setting up my Garden

Well, it’s Feb. 26th and it’s still nice out. it’s only 34, but it’s bright and sunshiney. It was 60 last week, and it’s been decent most of the winter. My brain is starting to activate and come out of winter hibernation, so that means it’s time to start planting.

Since I live in an apartment, I don’t get a real garden, so we have a bunch of pots and windowboxes and such. Jackie picked up a weeping Fig and another cane-y palm tree looking thing. While we were at it, we decided to repot almost all of our other plants.

The current cane/palmtree things we have were getting a bit crowded, and the smaller of the two had grown some extra shoots pretty low on the stem, so it needed to be raised up. It should be noted that with these, you have one small and one large, usually. We switched pots, cleaned off the roots, gave them fresh dirt and got some new rocks to cover the top with. We also wiped the dust off the leaves while we were at it. it looks much better now. Jackie originally got the new cane/palmtree in the hopes she could put the two new stalks with the 2 old ones, but that just wasn’t practical, so we gave it the same treatment, and got a new big pot for it as well. The weeping fig was a mess, but we got it out of the old pot and into another large one. When I say large, I mean that this and the cane/palms have 14 inch pots. I think it’ll grow nicely.

The Creeping Jerusalem (I think that’s what pete called it) didn’t have enough soil and needed a bigger pot. We transplanted it, seperated the roots as much as possible, and replanted in a bigger pot. It’s roots were fairly tangled, but we did get some of them seperated. It’s sitting in the living room on an end table, next to some forget-me-nots that jackie had from her grandfather’s funeral. Jackie brought my old (failed) window box in from outside, cleaned it up, and I planted spearmint and sage in it. it’s sitting on the desk next to me. Jackie also has a pot on her side of the desk she messed with a few days ago, but it looks like it’s just ferns and such.

The window sill in the kitchen has a couple of windowboxes and some pots on it. My window box has basil and “various peppers” planted in it, and jackie’s has more forget-me-nots. We also got two of those “plants in a bucket” things from walmart, although we got nicer pots for them- one for strawberries (I have my doubts on this one) and one for cayenne peppers. with any luck I’ll get some nice peppers for salsa this way. The other pot is this weird looking plant we got somewhere, but I have no idea what it is- it’s got a red mohawk. As long as it doesn’t eat the cats, I’ll be happy (note- jackie says it’s what we got from her aunt joann). We also have my 2 basil pots that still haven’t died yet- as soon as they do, I’ll toss them, but not before. Rounding out the window sill are two bamboo stalks, which are growing suprisingly well. On the far side of the counter in the kitchen we have our old bamboo forest of about 10-12 stalks, and a new one- jackie found some nice bamboo in an ugly pot, so we tried transplanting them in a glass vase and holding them in place with some rocks. It looks pretty good, but I’m curious how long it’ll last.

So it’s not quite a garden, but it is some nice greenery, which makes the pain of being in DC a little bit less. I’ll try and get some pictures up later.

Owning Up

Had a discussion with my wife last week about how much we share on our websites. It sounds like there is some concern that we talk “personal” issues on our websites- like my temper tantrum when pablo died, and how jackie’s family act like children when you get them in a room together.

So here is my statement on it.

If I discuss it here, I have nothing to hide. I am not perfect, nor do I pretend to be. This site is open to everyone- if you want to understand me, this is the place to read. I don’t feel the need to hide- I am proud of who I am. I talk about my embarassing moments here. You know why? To keep me from ever doing it again. It’s trial by fire.

Not to get real philisophical, but the last 10 years has been a pivitol point in the history of humanity. Knowledge is no longer a secret meant to be bottled up- it is now shared. The people who do this are also opening themselves to the world as well.

People who read this know me; they know my motivations. They’re less likely to mistake my intentions. Yes, I am human; yes, I make mistakes. But I do not cover them up. I will not cover them up. This does not mean I am not a private person- quite the opposite. I however choose the information I release. For example, I wouldn’t release information that would purposfully do injury to people (although I do not care about their feelings). But I do not hide information because I am ashamed.

If you disagree with me, I want to ask you this- why? Why would you not want people to know? Does it matter? Do you care what people really think of you? I admit, I do care- but I care only for selfish reasons. If they cannot accept me for who I am, that is their loss.

I am Jesse Morgan. I am comfortable with who I am. Why can’t you be?

Stupid is as Stupid does.

I don’t even know where to begin. This morning has sucked and it’s no ones fault but my own. It started with the DMA crap- the one machine where it would really help is the fileserver. I needed to simply change the chipset driver, recompile the kernel, and reboot. This should be simple for even a semi-competent linux users.

However, I am a moron. Each mistake I make, I’m gonna put a little * next to it.

So, first thing I decide is “well, since I’m changing kernels, I might as well upgrade*[1]“. so I grab the 2.6.14-r5 source, make oldconfig, and set it up all perfect. I add the lines to my grub config and sit on it for a few days before going through with it.

I notice that the grub config is rather old… like original configuration and note “that’s odd. I must not have known how to deal with scsi when I built this machine, and changed over to lilo. oh well, I know what I’m doing now*[2], so I’ll just install grub to the MBR”

flash forward to this morning. I’ve decided to reboot, and with an hour before work, I figure that’s more than enough time to troubleshoot if problems arise*[3].

I reboot…. notice it’s one of the older bios’ that counts ram. there 640 megs in this machine, so it takes a while… it also has a scsi controller, so it has to count through all of that. all in all, a very slow boot. This is important to remember- it takes 2 minutes of fricken waiting to get through the reboot process.

Nothing happens.

“eh? That’s not good.”

This by the way, is the worst thing you could ever possibly hear me utter. So I reboot. Two minutes later, it does the same thing.

“Crap, lemme just get a recovery CD out and fix it…. CRAP.”*[4] The machine has 1 scsi drive with the OS, and 4 IDE HDs for storage- I took out the CDROM when I added the 200gig HD.

alright… ok, I see what happend… I told grub to check hd0 instead of hd4 for the root directory *[5]– normally it would be hd0(the first ide device) but since I’m using scsi, it comes up as hd4.

“lemme try booting off of hda1 instead of the scsi drive…” well, I couldn’t remember what order they were installed in, and I didn’t want to really crack the case, so I tried booting ALL 4 IDE DRIVES, keeping in mind each try takes not only a 2 minute boot, but I can’t access the bios until it runs through the boot process and the scsi process, then a reset and boot with new settings. so each drive takes a minimum of 4 minutes, plus me mucking with the bios.

Well, nothing works- each one goes to a dead screen. “Well, I guess I can use a boot floppy…”*[6]*[7] I get a floppy from jackie, and start busting out my cdroms looking for a bootimage… Couldn’t use lynx because the fileserver is also the internal dhcp and dns server*[8] couldn’t find one on the redhat CD I had… couldn’t find one on the gentoo CD I had… couldn’t find my suse Cds… couldn’t find a usable one on my ancient slackware CDs (copywrite 1995)… finally found one on a burned slackware CD from who knows when… probably 2002. find the img, dd it to the floppy, and pop the floppy in the fileserver.

I then start to think ahead*[9] “well, if this doesn’t work, I better locate an extra CDROM and pull a HD.” So I boot the machine, change the boot order to take the floppy (another 4 minutes), find an extra CDROM that is of questionable repair, and begin to slide the side panel off.*[10] The machine shuts down. I jiggle the power cable. I press the power button… nothing. The only thing I saw was the power button was blinking.

I freak out.*[11] No if, ands or buts about it.

Jackie asks me “maybe the power supply fell off”. Now I know what she means- she meant two things- “maybe the power cable came loose”, and “maybe the power supply failed.” I know this and I love her very much, but at that moment in time she inspired a very deep and dark rage inside of me.

I took it out on everything that was laying on top of that case.*[12] First I gently moved things like my ceramic change jar, and the foo-foo carpet cleaning powder that got set there they last time the carpet was vaccumed. Then I started throwing things: The nic card that I was meaning to put in the machine; the spare USB dongle; the cane of carpet cleaner that got put there the last time the cats yacked on the carpet.

Then I swept everything else off. Jackie was yelling at me at this point, something about calming down. I grabbed the side panel and threw it on the pile of shit on the floor. my hands were shaking. There was no fucking way this power supply just died on me. The inside of the case was covered in dust, so I sprayed it out with a can of air*[13] and checked all the cables. everything is as it should be. There is no reason that the machine should have powered off when I opened the case….

then I saw the case sensor. it was an old server box, and I forgot it was there. I didn’t even know it worked. well, apparently when this latch is triggered, it powers off the machine. so I followed it, in the hope I could rip it from the mobo and boot back up… it lead to the front of the machine. so I had to peel off the front cover- there was a second button. with both buttons freed, the blinky light went off. I pulled the power cable to make sure everything was cycled correctly, reattached the power and it booted up fine. Finally, I can boot off the floppy and get this fixed….

Jackie left for work at this point- I mumbled an apology, knowing I was now late for work because I was gonna miss the bus. my one hour was up.

the machines boots, and starts to read the floppy….
nothing.

“fuckit, I’m hooking up the CDROM.” I spend a few moments trying to read the jumper settings of the HD I’m trying to replace with a CDrom. it’s the primary slave. I set the CDROM accordingly. I jump through the bios hoops. I get to the CDROM command line.

I start to calm down. I fix the grub command lines to use hd4, and then attempt to install grub to /dev/sda (the scsi drive.)

Grub balks. I don’t know why, but it does not like hd4. I try for 10-15 minutes, looking in a lunux+ certification book for grub, I look in a fedora bible for hints, I look everwhere. I finally check my LPIC 1 Exam Cram book and determine this is total crap, I did everything perfectly- for some ungodly reason it doesn’t like my scsi drive.

“screw it, I’ll just use lilo.” I adjust the lilo.conf, reload lilo to /dev/sda (LILO didn’t have a problem with it) and shut it down. I disconnect the CDROM, put the face plate back on, power it up and wait…

Sweet, sweet lilo boot screen- how I’ve missed you.

I boot up using the new kernel and hold my breath. everything works. my workstation comes back to life (remember, my this was the fileserver I totalled- my /home was on it.)

I notice I have 10 minutes to get ready to go to catch the next bus. Grinning, I put the side cover back on… *[14]

the machine dies. the power light blinks.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRJGHH I HATE THIS MACHINE ”

I pull the power plug, remove the side panel, then remove the face plate. I press the power button a couple of times for good measure, reconnect everything and power it back up. It all comes up properly. I’m throwing on clothes and getting prepared while it’s booting. I haven’t combed my hair, I haven’t eaten, but I have no time now. I hit the lights, lock the door and run to catch the bus. I just barely made it- I got to work half an hour later than normal.

Now, I’ve counted about 14 or so stupid things here. Bonus points to the person who can name what I did wrong at each of those points.

(And yes VP, I know I you don’t know what a DMA is because you have a Mac.)

26

Hrm… I think I’ll try something new this year. As some of you know, 12/31 is my birthday, and I’m 26 now. That makes it twice as good to look back on my life and reflect. So what’s changed? Quite a bit. I always had a goal growing up, that when I was 25, it would be the one of the best years of my life. Looking back, I think that it very well could be.

Virginia

This was my first full year in Virginia. Went with jackie back to visit friends in Michigan a couple times and realized how much I dislike Virginia. Growing up, I couldn’t wait to get out of michigan… now that I’m here I want to go back. That was quite a shock.

I worked at SPX(I still don’t use their full name here) for a full year, and went from junior developer to developer to webmaster to system admin to lead developer, which those last 3 all happening at the same time. I left the company over money issues and ended up with CSX(again, no full name), where I’m a full time Linux System Administrator. The job is great. I’ve been with them for 3 months as of christmas eve. It also allowed us to afford a new bed- the original move down here did a number on my back, and has been messed up for the last year. I went and saw a doctor and got some anti-inflammitories about the same time as we got the bed, and for the first time in a year, I was able to sleep 8 hours straight. I just ran out of the naproxin, but my back is in much better shape than it was.

We’ve been at our apartment complex for over a year now- This is the first time I’ve stayed at a single apartment this long since I started college. It’s not a huge apartment but it is quite expensive. We’ve also been digging ourself slowly out of debt. We did end up taking on a new debt- my Ford Tempo finally died, and we bought a new Toyota Corolla (my first foreign car; has a lot more meaning to someone from MI). The car is great, but we added a whole lot more debt to our lives.

Family

Family has been good and bad, lots of interesting things going on. Jackie spent a good chunk of the year working 70 hours/week in New Jersey working on a case that her lawfirm ended up being disqualified for. The big bonus she was promised? well, she got 1/3 of it. She’s the 3rd person I’ve talked to this year who got screwed on a year end project based bonus through no fault of her own. From now on she ONLY works 40 hours a week. If they don’t like that, she can go elsewhere and make 50% more.

And to round things up:

  • Chaos, the cat who lives up to her name, turned 1 and has calmed down. She isn’t quite… “domesticated,” but she’s calm enough now that I don’t want to throw her off the balcony.
  • Toby still hides under the bed.
  • My brother Jamie broke his hand punching a guy, then got his ass kicked a few months later by a mob.
  • My brother Brian is still playing trumpet at UofM- his second year there I think.
  • My mom has been bowling a lot
  • My dad shot Bambi in the spine. He says Bambi is delicious.
  • My good friend Jeff got married to his girlfriend Corrie
  • my Mother in law Rhonda got married to her boyfriend jerry

Hobbies

It’s been a Good year for hobbies- or bad, depending on how you look at it. I’ve been hitting the guitar with a renewed passion after finding the Guitar Grimoire series of books and Rockhouse “Learn to Play Guitar” DVDs. Before this year I could only play chords and single notes- I was a rhythm guitarist essentially. Now I can play all 5 modes of the pentatonic scale and the first mode of the F major scale. I still got a ways to go, but this was a big hurdle for me; one I thought I’d never get past. Now I’m to the point of being able to understand music a whole lot better.

I’ve gotten back into art with the purchase of a Wacom graphic tablet. I’ve started working on several drawings, mainly pictures of old DnD characters I’ve played. lots of fun and interesting stuff.

For writing, I finally decided to write a story about the DnD world I created- Willis. since I can’t play DnD, I figured I could at least write about it. I got about 10k words in and realized that my outline had stopped being an outline. went back through and started writing a first draft, got about 1500 words in and got sidetracked with other projects.

One thing I’ve wanted to get into since I was 10 was electronics- never got the chance though. Well, the last 2-3 months I’ve decided it would be cool to make my own guitar pedals, so I picked up “Demystifying Electronics” and started learning. It’s a slow process, but I’m getting there. Right now I have a 130 in 1 electronics kit, and I plan on getting a real breadboard in another month or two (to make sure this isn’t another failed hobby).

And of course there’s my programming. I’ve been working on a bot named Ziggy who is based on one of my favorite DnD characters. He’s become quite a source of amusement to me, though I think he’s wearing a little thin on others. I’ve also started working on a Streaming Radio interface to allow me to tag and catagorize songs and create shows. It’s called Ridllr. If I can get this up to a certain level, I’d like to place it under a GPL license and sell support for it (though I doubt there’d be many takers). The hardest part was coming up with enough music to stress test it with large loads. Fortunately there was a used CD store down the block from me at SPXwith cheap CDs.

Linux is of course my bread and butter now, so I’m continually learning about new services and such. at CSX, I’m using Redhat, which I’ve honestly not had much experience with- I’m relieved to learn that it’s reall not much different, it just has some minor annoyances. the updates and security issue is really the most annoying. I’ve done a lot of work with apache, subversion and bind this year, and quite a bit with perl.

Lets see, hobbies that are going into stasis… Jow Gar is obviously since 1) there’s no place to practice and 2) my teacher is still in MI. Chainmailing is as well because I’ve always got my hands full with my other hobbies….

Friends

As I mentioned in the section above, Jeff got married. Shabbs got his wife pregnant and she popped out little zsolt …”skullteddy”.. ugh I’m horrible with spelling that, so phonetic will have to do for now. Made some new friends- Pete(dendrite) who I actually met in 2004 but we’ve kept in touch after both leaving SPX. There’s also Tony, who’s well on his way to a bright music career. Worked with him at SPX as well. Met William(shaldannon) and Ben(ben) who we hired at SPX right before I left- I keep in touch with them to help them when I can.

Of course there’s my new coworkers, but I differenciate between coworkers and friends to keep the lines unmuddied.

I also spoke to porter for the first time in over 5 years. I’ve come to the conclusion that being pissed off at people, no matter what crime (real or imagined) isn’t worth keeping up the hate. I doubt we’ll ever be close friends again, but at least it’s less thing I have to deal with. being mad at someone is entirely too much work. That said, he hasn’t continually annoyed me like other people I’ve put on a mental banlist. He’s never claimed to own my friends; he’s never threw temper tantrums and forced me to remove him; etc. Perhaps next year I’ll bury another hatchet.

I’ve spend a lot of time back in the #asp channel, so now I have a place to focus and vent my anger and hate. Met VP in real life, and he’s just as scary in person as he is to a clueless noob who wanders into #asp. But they’re all good guys generally and a very valuable information source.

All in all, it’s been a very good year. I have a pretty good idea how I’m gonna top it next year, but that’s my secret… for now.

Enjoy 2006 and happy birthday to ME, MUAHAHAHA.

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