Hard drive guts

My main data drive failed a few weeks ago (fortunately I have backups) so I wanted not only to get rid of it, but to make sure all of the personal data was unrecoverable. That meant, of course, cracking open the hard drive casing and trashing the disks.

For some reason I find the guts of hard drives to be fascinating. Terabytes of data stored on silvery magnetic platters, delicate motors and read heads that can position themselves to micrometer accuracy, the ability to stream hundreds of millions of bits of data per second… cool stuff.

Permit me a few macro shots.





After I had everything out, I took the platters outside, set them on the sidewalk, and smashed them with a hammer. Laralee pointed out that in the movies, all data seems to be recoverable no matter how bad the fire/explosion/chemical spill was. But I’m pretty sure I took care of this stuff…

Winter wonderland

We woke up this morning to find about 10″ of snow on the ground. The kids were disappointed that school hadn’t been cancelled (the roads were pretty slick) but after all of the days that were cancelled due to the September floods, I suspect it would take a snowpocalypse to get out of school now. Or a polar vortex, whatever that is.

Anyway, I walked Zack to school and it was pretty cool to see everything in quiet white. I took a few pictures on the way.





I just purchased some software from a well-known security vendor. I’m not sure what I did wrong on the form where I enter my billing information, but I guess I’ll never know. They have an amazing error message:


Undaunted by this display of web programming prowess, I perservered and re-entered the data. Now I get something slightly more helpful:


A new favorite food

At dinner Laralee remarked, “My new favorite food is whipped cream.”

That was kind of shocking coming from the woman who makes “green drinks” from horrid mixtures of juiced vegetables and some kind of crazy powder that contains all the tasty goodness of chlorophyll. Maybe we’re entering a new era of dining at Casa del Schroeder…

Socks affect my pong game

I lost a couple of ping-pong games against Brent this afternoon. During the game I kept feeling my socks sliding around under me. These are new socks I just bought because I’ve worn holes in a few other pair.

Back in my office, I discovered the reason they felt strange. Both socks had literally rotated 180 degrees around my feet and were upside-down. What the heck is this:


Much better:


Clearly this was the reason for my loss. I’ve appealed to the U.S. Table Tennis Association to find out the ruling for “rotated socks”. I believe that’s in the rules somewhere.

Brrr… lava

My basement office is always a little cooler than the rest of the house. On a hot summer day, that’s a wonderful thing. On a cold winter day, it means I have to bundle up a bit more as I venture downstairs to work.

Today it was cold enough that the lava in the lamps beside my monitors couldn’t muster up the courage to actually float.


The lamps were on all day but only managed to make huge blobs that sat morosely on the bottom.

I had to explain to Kyra and her gaggle of friends that lava lamps work by heating up the waxy “lava” material, which then floats up in the liquid where it cools off and then sinks back down. The cycle repeats, and the mystical beauty of lava lamps is created.

It’s kind of a bummer that today I just saw fat blobs.


It seems like kind of a shame to reboot a server that’s been running non-stop for six and a half years:

09:54:27 up 2392 days, 19:50, 3 users, load average: 0.26, 0.41, 0.22

Old School D&D

Zack’s friends have been playing Dungeons and Dragons with him lately. It’s kind of funny because he comes home after a six-hour marathon gaming session and tells me all about the excitement: “So we opened the door and there was a group of orcs and I cast a level-ten spell of orc-slaying and took out their leader with my Sword of Magical Stuff (+5 against orc leaders) and then we found the mystical Orb of Seeing Things and…”

So for Christmas I gave Zack my ancient collection of D&D manuals:


These are vintage early-80’s books that have been gathering dust in our crawlspace for a while. I remember buying them and reading about all of the rules, abilities, monsters, and so forth. But then Dirk’s mom decided that he couldn’t play D&D because it promoted satanism and killing people with swords. We ended up playing Star Frontiers instead, which is basically a science-fiction version of D&D where you kill people with laser blasters instead. Oh well.

I’m glad these books will finally go to good use.


A few weeks ago I shipped my entire collection of old photo negatives to a company called ScanCafe. Today they were returned safe and sound, along with four DVD’s packed with the high-resolution digital scans of those photos. There are 4,044 in all.

I’m just poking around right now, but in the next few days I’ll probably sit down with the kids and we’ll walk through all of these on the bigscreen (our TV can show photos from our collection). I’m sure it’ll be an absolute riot as we remember some hilarious moments. Heck, moments aside, it’s just funny to see how my friends and I looked twenty years ago.

I’ll probably post some of them here in the coming days, partly to share stories but partly to embarrass anyone else in the pictures who happens to read this blog.