The Chincilla Master

Ahh Zack… always having fun with Amazon when he buys things.


I must admit it’s pretty funny when a package shows up with a label like that.


I just found this in the man page for resize2fs, a Linux filesystem tool:

When “kilobytes” is used, I mean real, power-of-2 kilobytes, (i.e., 1024 bytes), which some politically correct folks insist should be the stupid-sounding “kibibytes”. The same holds true for megabytes, also sometimes known as “mebibytes”, or gigabytes, as the amazingly silly “gibibytes”. Makes you want to gibber, doesn’t it?

Ahh, geek humor. I love it.

Best installer ever

I’m installing Mediawiki for a client. This is the same platform that Wikipedia uses (they make the source code available for free) so it’s a familiar interface and it’s surprisingly easy to use. As I’m going through the installation process, I found myself at this step:


That’s hilarious. I wish more installation programs were honest like this.

Old TV, meet new TV

Old TV, meet new TV.


In the front we have our 50″ Samsung plasma TV. It’s been a great unit for many years now, but I decided it was time to be a little bit ostentatious. So we bought a new 70″ Sharp LED TV. By my math, it has almost (but not quite) twice the image area. We can’t go any larger because an 80″ display wouldn’t fit in our little alcove. And come on, 80″ is just obscene, isn’t it?

Karma, irony, or something

Last night Kyra made a fruit smoothie and brought it upstairs to drink. Our house rule is “no food over the carpet”, so as soon as she came upstairs I told her to go back down. She protested that she would never spill the smoothie on the carpet, and why did I treat her like such a child, and so on. Zack (correctly) pointed out that there have been many occasions when he and his friends have broken the rule, and managed to stain the carpet with their food. Don’t even get me started about The Takis Incident.

Anyway, she turned and went downstairs, fuming. At the landing on the stairs, she dropped her smoothie. Pink stuff went everywhere on the carpet. I’m not sure if that’s karma, or irony, or what.

Today we’re still working on cleanup… the landing and adjoining stairs have been thoroughly scrubbed and now we have fans moving air over them to help them dry a bit.


It reminded me of the scene in The Matrix where the Oracle tells Neo not to worry about the vase, he turns and knocks it over, and then she says “What’s really going to bake your noodle later on is: would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything?”


Would Kyra have spilled the smoothie on the carpet if I hadn’t told her to get off the carpet?

First accident

Well, I suppose it was only a matter of time. Alex was out at a work meeting most of the morning, and called us to report that he’d been in an accident on the way home. Apparently he was a little overzealous accelerating at the stoplight, and rear-ended someone. There wasn’t any visible damage on her car, which was kind of strange considering the front of our car was pretty smashed up. The hood is bent out of shape and the headlights are askew.


It happens to the best of us. I don’t know how much it’ll cost to repair– these things seem to end up being surprisingly expensive– nor what it’ll do to our insurance policy. Whee.

Cancun, here we come

For a few years, we’ve talked as a family about taking “one big trip” before the kids start leaving home and starting their independent lives. Well, the clock is ticking and we’re now counting down Alex’s time at home in months. In May he’ll graduate, and shortly thereafter he’ll head out on a mission and after two years it’ll be time for college. Yikes! If we’re going to do this, we need to do it soon.

So today, after considerable thought and planning, Laralee and I committed to a family trip to Cancun over spring break. It’ll be at an “all-inclusive” resort, which really means “mostly inclusive” because all of the fun things we want to do– like jet skiing, parasailing, and swimming with the dolphins– cost extra. Still, it should be a really cool trip and a chance to have one last big fling as a family before Alex heads out into the world.

I hope it’ll look something like this:


And not like this:


Wheeze puff pant

Today I learned how it feels to be out of shape. It was a nice sunny day, with the temperature hovering in the high 40’s, so after a four-week hiatus I managed to get enough players for a game of lunchtime ultimate. Unfortunately I haven’t really done any exercise in those four weeks, so when I went out to the field and started chasing plastic, I was sucking wind. Fortunately everyone else was doing the same. We looked like a bunch of old men (and one old woman).

I guess I need to spend a few hours on the treadmill each day…

Universal translator

My mind was blown this evening when I read about– and then downloaded– the latest version of the Google Translate app. It translates between any two languages in real-time. I picked English and German, and I started speaking. The app recognized that I was speaking English, and after waiting for me to finish a sentence, my tablet repeated what I’d said in German. For fun, I spoke in German and then it translated back into English. Basically, it recognizes the language being spoken and switches to the other one. I tested Spanish (since I know a little Spanish) and even switched to Traditional Chinese.

In addition to speaking aloud, you can type a sentence and have that translated. You can also hold up the tablet and point it at a road sign or some other printed material, and the screen (using the camera) overlays the translated words right on the image. Holy freaking smokes. Amazing stuff.

Forty years ago this was science fiction, in the form of the “universal translator” featured on Star Trek. Today I can hold it in my hand. Welcome to the twenty-first century.


For over twenty years I’ve had a set of infant car keys hanging from my rear-view mirror. There are five, and they represent the keys to…


This week a few things have happened to cause me to think a bit about where I am in life– both professionally and in my family. As I was driving back from Boulder today I happened to glance up at my keys and I noticed one of them was looking back at me:


I couldn’t help but get a little introspective. Have I been a “success” in life so far? What does success mean for me? What changes might I need to make to accomplish what I need to do?

Stay tuned.

Hay Day

Both Laralee and Zack have an app called Hay Day that allows you to run a farm. You raise chickens and pigs and cows, produce eggs, bacon, and milk, make cupcakes, stash things in your barn, and sell them to other players across the internet (or, in their case, to each other).

This scene is pretty common around the house these days:


Yep, they’re trading popcorn or whatever. The game is pretty clever because it takes time to produce things, so you have to keep coming back every hour or two and check in on your stuff. It’s funny to see the two of them sucked into it like this.

I’m going to be somebody

I saw this funny Tumblr page by a guy named Martin Bruckner, who made posters illustrating things his two-year-old daughter said. Here’s my favorite.


Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone felt that way?


I saw a series of photographs by a woman named Emma Phillips; she’d stumbled across a salt mine in Australia and was inspired by the other-worldly appearance of these massive piles of salt. When I saw the pictures I was amazed. I guess I never really thought about how salt is mined, but to see white cliffs and piles hundreds of feet high and bulldozers moving it around just seems unbelievable.




That is a lot of salt.


Kyra whipped up a batch of bonbons yesterday. These are one of my favorite little treats.


She said I could have as many as I want, since I so graciously allow her to win at Mario Kart all the time. Yep, that’s the kind of dad I am.

Cheap gas

Whoa, $1.99/gallon for gas? What is this, 2008?