Library Limbo

I love to read. I have since I was a kid. I almost always have a book with me, and read it when I have any spare time. I usually have a queue of good books to read waiting for me to finish whatever I am working on at the moment. I finished Lusitania last week, and had nothing queued up next. A friend unexpectedly sent me some books from Amazon for Christmas (Thanks John!) so I know I have some stuff to dig into in about a week. I also have bought some books for my older son, who is a voracious reader too. He loves John Keegan, so I bought a few of his works for under the tree. So I should have the first few months of 2006 covered. In the meantime I have nothing to read, and it is an odd feeling.

I’d like to dust off Smith’s Wealth of Nations again, but it is too much for a week, especially a busy week (my youngest’s birthday is this week, and I have a ton of stuff to do at work)… not to mention all that Holiday stuff. Any suggestions for some nice quick, thought-provoking reads? Regular readers of this site know that I prefer the History and Philosophy sections of the bookstore… though a nice biography or novel is not outside the realm of possibilty. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Getting things done.

I had a meeting today at 4pm (yeah, I know it is Friday) at work concerning a business deal. I’ll leave out specific details but it was supposed to be about fixing some problems. I’m not a big fan of meetings but this one was required because the email exchanges were not making things better, in fact it was making things worse. So the hope was to get everyone involved into one room (6 people), and address a list of details and get them crossed of EVERYONE’s list right then and there. I like meetings if stuff can get accomplished, otherwise I avoid them.

Unfortunately it didn’t go well. Five people showed up, having done all their prep work, and ready to meet, but one person arrived with seemingly no desire to get anything done. Well not really, it seemed that they were there to PREVENT anything from getting done. Instead of following the agenda, they wandered, interrupted, and actively prevented any issue from being resolved. It was very frustrating.

Thankfully that person left the meeting, and at least a small amount of progress was made. Very strange experience though.

Delivery Boy

I shuttled a replacement server up to Vancouver yesterday. Our old DNS server “willow” finally died. Since I live halfway there I drove it up. Everything went well except for two things.

#1: I can’t find my keycard for the Peer1 facility.

No big deal, I call the NOC and a guy comes down to let me in. I walk around from the door I usually go in on the east side of the building down to the loading dock on the north side. Of course I am carrying this 40lb server. Ugh. Not good for my just barely healed back. Then the Peer1 NOC guy locks us out of the loading dock, so we trudge up the loading dock ramps, and around to the SE corner of the building… uphill all the way. My back was really hurting and by the time we got to the elevator inside the building lobby the Peer1 NOC guy must have noted the pain on my face and volunteered to carry the server for a while. We arrive in the datacenter and I’m still in my “work clothes” and a gore-tex jacket. It is HOT in the DC. I hand him the server back (we had swapped again as he unlocked doors) and stripped off the jacket. Thankfully our little server enclosure (a wire mesh “hockey locker”) has an HVAC vent right above it so while I’m working I have cold air blowing on me.

#2: The damn server doesn’t fit in the enclosure!

This trend of making servers 1U high and as long as an aircraft carrier is just completely out of control. This box is a Dell server, and it is about 1″ deeper than the rack it is in. I end up having to stand in on its nose. Plus I have to carve off the RJ-45 cable boot in order to thread the cable into the deeply recessed jack. I guess I’ll talk to Peer1 about exchanging our rack for a different one.

So now my back is hurt again, and our server is mounted vertically.

Finished 1945

I finished reading my latest book (see links on right) as I lay around all weekend recovering from my back problems. Here is a quick mini-review:

Very readable, well researched summary of the critical year 1945. Dallas fills in the Political, and Economic strategies in play by the major powers (UK, US, & USSR, along with France, Germany, and what is left of Poland) along with the usual Military history. It makes for fascinating reading, especially for those of us brought up in the USA. Much that is left out of Military histories and the mythology we are accustomed to here in the US are explored: De Gaulle and the French political (Vichy/the Communists) situation. The broad economic and political maneuvers by the US, UK, & USSR. The extent to which the USSR had no illusions as to the “alliance” with the western powers, and how well they were ahead of “us” in terms of embedding intelligence operatives into the foreign governments of all their “enemies” (From Germany to the US).

I always wondered how, in the grand “war councils” between FDR, Churchill, and Stalin the subject of the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939 was never discussed. This book answers that and more.

The brief window of time in 1990 when the Soviet archives were opened for western view for the first time has produced a fantastic opportunity for historians to fill in sections of the 20th Century’s jigsaw puzzle. This book benefits from that data significantly. If you are at all interested in history, I suggest you read it.

It’s official, WRD is world’s laziest blogger

Bill Dickson has gone one full year between blog posts.

When I first met Bill, he told me he wanted to be a writer. A very great man, James D. Howze, who was an Art Professor of mine, (who I studied 2D drawing under my Freshman year) once told me you create ART by making marks on paper. So Bill, I suggest you start banging your keyboard.

You are a far better writer than I could ever be Bill. Start writing again!

A break in the weather, the 65E comes home.

This past week I got a call from the body shop that they were done with the E-type.

The day before they had told me it would be another week and I was unprepared to pick it up since I was in Seattle in the Jetta. Adding to the confusion was the fact that it was a clear day, likely the last we’ll see for quite a while. It was a “now or never” thing if I wanted to get it home without driving in the rain. I got a ride up to Redmond with Damian, picked up the car, and drove it to my office. It gets dark here now around 4:30, and I don’t like driving this car after dark. I grabbed Dan, our new Windows admin, as a ‘dead head” to use I-5’s carpool lane up to Everett where he lives. I think he enjoyed the ride, even though he didn’t have a coat. It was dark by the time I got him to Everett, but I was able to get home a lot faster than if I were alone. I stopped and filled the car up, stopped at NAPA to buy some gasoline stabilizer, and put the E-type away for the winter. Yes, there will be some projects to do with it, and I may take it out for a spin if the weather breaks, but mostly it will hibernate from now until spring.

The dent is gone:

The numberplate on the nose is gone as well. =/

The body shop offered to make me a new one, and I think I’ll take them up on it. I know a lot of folks think they are “ugly”… mostly due to the fact that they are required in the UK, so like all governmental interference, they are seen as intrusive. Here they are not, and you never see an E-type with a big black numberplate over the nose… except mine. I’ve grown to like it over the years… sort of like a mole on a supermodel’s face, it is the flaw that makes the whole that much more desirable. Unfortunately I did not have any idea it was at risk, so I never documented it. I have plenty of photos, but nothing specifically of the numberplate, so now I’m scrambling to reverse-engineer one. The font used is something of a mystery. At first I tried to research what font was used, or find an equivalent. No luck. Then I took an old photo and enlarged it to full size (18″x4”) and started a Beziers Curve drawing of it that could be rendered in PostScript. I haven’t worked in PostScript since the late 80s/very early 90s, but back then I practically dreamed in PostScript – Aldus FreeHand 2.X specifically. It was a fun little project. I still have a copy of Aldus FreeHand 3.1 on my hard drive, and it works in “Classic” (amazing!) Between Photoshop (I’m using an almost current version of that at least) and FreeHand, I was able to render something pretty close. I’ll share results when it comes back from the shop.

Since I left a car in Seattle at my office I rode the train back the next day. I was a full-time train commuter for a while this summer and fall. I liked it, and will start doing it again someday. My only complaint about it is they go too slow, and pause too often. Makes British trains seem efficient by comparison. The ride from Everett to Seattle is truly awesome though. The rails follow the shore of Puget Sound all the way from Everett to the entrance to Salmon Bay in Ballard. From there they follow the route I used to ride on my bike from Ballard to Downtown. This particular morning there was still a break between large weather systems and the whole Puget Sound basin was beneath a clear streak arranged SW-NE following prevailing winds. I had a nice perch on the Sound side of the train, with a fine view of Camano and Whidbey Islands, plus the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas as the sun came up over the Cascades. The clouds were lit by the rising sun.

You can see the Olympic mountains in the distance, already being swallowed by the next weather system, while the Puget Sound, and the south tip of Whidbey Island remain in darkness below the glowing clouds above.