East of the Sun, West of the Moon


Credit where credit is due

Filed under: Family,Humo(u)r — Erwin @ 9:31 pm

Last week I requested a copy of my credit report from Trans Union, via the Annual Credit Report website.

Nothing unusual in there, except for two items:

  • They figured my birthday must be in June. I suspect this is because I got my driver’s license in June (5 years ago, time flies) and they seem to assume that those things are handed out or renewed on your birthday.
  • My name is on several bank accounts and a few credit cards. Of all of those, Bank of America is the only one that looks at my credit report every month. I don’t think it’s related to the Identity Advisor account I recently canceled, because they used Equifax. So… WTF?

If anyone has a better answer for these two things, I’m definitely interested.


Too true

Filed under: Family,Humo(u)r — Erwin @ 1:29 am

This is one of the reasons that we call anything involving a screen (monitor or television) screen time, and the boys are limited in how much they get per day. Of course the fact that you need to be precise in your directions is something you find out very very quickly, as a parent. 😉Grand Avenue - March 23, 2007


And then there were four (update)

Filed under: Family,OS X,Technology — Erwin @ 5:20 pm

I guess all I need is a $19 (plus tax and shipping) adapter piece to redirect DVI output to S-Video or component. That’s easy enough. The next gotcha is that our Mac Mini has no remote control of any sort, but that’s something to worry about another day. 🙂


Oh, right, parenting

Filed under: Family,Humo(u)r — Erwin @ 11:12 pm

Two days ago A was apparently trying to find the website for his favourite soft drink. Nothing wrong with that, you’d think. His favourite soft drink is a diet drink (by necessity, most regular soft drinks contain corn syrup, which has to avoid) by the name of Diet Squirt.

The Firefox browser we provided for him has the default Google start page with the (default) preference setting Use moderate filtering. I had initially assumed Google’s defaults would be good enough, but now I see that this setting only filters images, nothing else.

So A, fairly innocent boy that he is, types something in the Google input field to find a website for his drink. Sure, no problem there you would think?

Right, except that he types in squirter.com (hope you weren’t drinking anything right as you read that), and follows the very first link that turns up in the results. Ouch! An indication of his innocent mindset is that he goes “Ewww”, and quickly closes the window!

One of the first things we did (after first verifying what exactly happened; proxy logs are helpful with that, as is the fact that browsers keep track of what you’ve entered into input fields) was to make sure both kids have their Google preferences set to strict but in the end the best thing we can do is make sure there is always someone vaguely keeping an eye on what they’re doing online. I refuse to set up some sort of cyber nanny, if we have to resort to anything of that sort I’d prefer to just set up a list of allowed sites, instead of the other way around.

On the plus side, at least I am not facing up to 40 years in prison because of this.

Ever had something like this happen around you?


And then there were four

Filed under: Family,OS X,Technology — Erwin @ 4:12 pm

The ancient Vaio laptop has finally sustained too much damage and needs to be replaced, so I checked Apple’s list of refurbished MacBooks and picked out a fairly decent one with Core 2 Duo, for M. The misbehaving hard disk in her Mac Mini has been replaced with the one from the Gateway laptop I bought just over a year ago (which then proceeded to fail on me, but that would appear to have been the IDE chips that broke down, then), and the resulting machine, dubbed MiniMoo, now functions as family machine in the dining room.

Once that MacBook arrives (which should be on Friday) I’ll need to figure out a new purpose for my old Mac Mini which M is currently using (via VNC, from the family machine; Are you still with me?). My thoughts so far include it being another shared machine, or a media center type machine, but it would need some additional hardware to convert the DVI/VGA into S-Video. Any suggestions there?

Anyway, that means that in 2 years time, 4 Apple machines have taken over this home. I still have two headless Linux servers in the basement, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon, but I think I’ll postpone upgrading them for a little while, until finances have caught up with my spending, a little. 😉


The inevitable (part 2)

Filed under: Family — Erwin @ 3:37 pm

A year and just over a month after the previous one died, sometime last night A‘s rat died. She wasn’t looking very healthy yesterday evening but we were hoping to still have her with us this morning and see a vet. I know these critters aren’t expected to live particularly long, but I wish they’d live a little longer than this (he had her for 1 year and just under 2 months, N had his for 1 year and just under 6 months, if I remember correctly).

He’s already talking about a replacement, but just as with N, we’ll give him (and ourselves) a few weeks before getting back to him about that.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the two rats that were introduced to the household a year ago will live longer than this.



Filed under: Family,Projects,Software — Erwin @ 2:42 am

I’ve been fairly busy in the past month, as has shown itself in the lack of substantial posts here, mostly just coasting along.

On the family side of things there was the wrapping up of M‘s home improvement project (the living and dining room, which caused quite a few things to overflow into the hall, the kitchen, the front porch, etc).

On the work side I had a massive project on my hands to work out a solution for migrating away from the fairly customized version of DGD that we use. This resulted in an upgrade process that touches over 60 files with code, at least 3 restarts of the game/server and about a dozen fairly distinct steps involving compiling and recompiling code and patching data in objects all over the place. I’ve done that for 4 of the servers now, still half a dozen to go.

I typically laugh at new year’s resolutions, but for 2007 I have two that I really want to work on:

  • Keep track of (all) our finances again.
  • Work hard(er) on keeping our house clutter free.

I used to keep track (on and off) of finances using GnuCash but then I switched to OS X and to run that there I have to install X11 support and either run it locally (which looks like a royal pain) or run it remotely from one of the headless Linux machines, which is less than ideal as well. So instead I’m looking into native OS X applications.

The one I’m trying out right now is Moneydance, software that has versions for Windows, OS X, OS/2, and various unix platforms. It helps that all these platforms support Java. 😉 I like the setup, but haven’t figured out yet how to get online banking to work for the credit card and bank accounts of ours that are supposed to be supported. Not a show-stopper as just about all of them support downloading statements in OFX or QIF form, which can in turn be imported.

The war against clutter has been going on for longer and we were making some decent headway, but the home improvement projects and a few other external factors caused some setbacks. Last week we worked really hard at getting the main rooms (living, dining, kitchen, hall, bath) in shape and now everybody is on the same page again to keep it that way.

Wish us luck!



Filed under: Family,Humo(u)r — Erwin @ 5:17 pm

At N‘s and A‘s school they have an award called OSCAR, handed out when someone has been well-behaved, so to speak. Of course they couldn’t leave well enough alone and made it an acronym, with this meaning:


Today N pointed out to us that there’s a word hidden in there:


Hmm… 🙂

Now playing: Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant


Colorado Springs

Filed under: Family,OS X,Software — Erwin @ 8:47 pm

Garden of the GodsBeen busy, and that’s not counting the 12 hour road-trip back yesterday!

  • Garden of the Gods, for some climbing, posing, wandering, and then a picnic for lunch.
  • Flying W Ranch provided some background information, dinner, and entertainment. A limited menu for dinner, but what they had, was well done.
  • Pike’s Peak Cog Railway took us up to the 14,110 foot high summit of Pike’s Peak, where I found out that the lack of oxygen didn’t combine well with a sunburn headache and possibly some influence from the cold meds. Woo! My ears also took much longer than expected to readjust, which I’ll blame on my cold for now.
  • Manitou Cliff Dwellings, while apparently authentic enough, didn’t quite live up to expectations. The kids got to climb around a lot, but likely would’ve had just as much fun in, say, Garden of the Gods, which is free.

And between that of course a healthy amount of getting to know M‘s cousins, plus their spouses and kids. Even though occasionally I felt the need to zone out (mostly because of headaches caused by a cold), it was very much an enjoyable couple of days.

Bringing the laptop along turned out to be useful as well, to check directions to one place or another, and to burn images grabbed from a camera’s memory stick onto CD so that it could be emptied and reused for more snapshots. 🙂

What irritated a bit is that Firefox (and Thunderbird, but that’s less distracting) don’t use OS X’s system proxy settings, so when changing those in some way (switching Locations or manually) you still need to go in and fix it for them separately. I see there’s a switchproxy plugin available but that doesn’t make it as seamless as I’d like it to be.

Using Thunderbird (IMAP accounts in this case) also required some ssh-tunneling magic because my IMAP server is only visible on my local network. Still couldn’t send email, but that wasn’t a great loss. 😉 I may look into IMAP’s email sending support, though.


Road tripping continued

Filed under: Family — Erwin @ 4:20 am

We’re back home now. The distance was certainly not a problem, but the fact that half of it was in pouring rain didn’t help at all. And when I say pour, I really mean pour, the type that makes you want to set your car by the side of the road and take a nap until it’s over, which of course doesn’t work very well when you have two kids in the backseat. 😉

The sushi place on Saturday was Wasabi and it didn’t have a queue outside. The fact that we were there within the first half hour of them opening for the evening probably helped. They certainly didn’t lack customers. Good food, friendly staff, happy couple leaving the place later that evening. We then proceeded to pick up a good bottle of wine (we’re no connoisseurs, so that’s always a long shot) and two glasses to continue celebrating our anniversary.

Sunday afternoon we visited the old courthouse that’s part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial that also includes the arch. Following two separate tour guides around and then some wandering around by ourselves that took almost 3 hours and I learned a little bit more about the history of the US, since the main reason that this courthouse is maintained by the National Park Service is because of the Dred Scott case, that lead to a US Supreme Court decision that hastened the start of the civil war.

Another evening, another restaurant, this time by sheer coincidence we ended up in the Old Spaghetti Factory, where we ate a delicious meal. The couple at the table next to us was less fortunate, their baby daughter didn’t feel well as they were getting ready for dessert and after the wife left the table with her, the husband nearly walked out without his creditcard, his wife’s purse, and the kid’s toy, that’s how out of it he was. Poor guy! 🙂

If we read the hotel bill correctly this morning they interpreted our use of Wayport as a $0.75 phonecall. Hey, fine with me, that’s cheaper than $10. Beyond that, all seemed fine and we aren’t missing anything (yet — knock on wood).

So that’s our return visit to St. Louis, 5 years later. We’ll probably go back there again, there’s enough to see for sure and it’s a good way to arrange for the kids to see their other grandparents occasionally.

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