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Sunday, August 1, 2004

August 1, 2004

Another mini-vacation from posts...

It's been a while since the last post I've made here; much has taken place in that time -- the things I can readily recall will be noted here. For everything else...well...perhaps another time. smile

Network Issues

As you may recall from the last post, I was having some implementation problems with the servers on the local network. I'm happy to report that most of the mission-critical stuff has been since fixed, and things are working well. I got the subnets working as expected, and the internal network (e.g. all the client machines) now use the router box as the internal router/firewall. This box is the only machine that speaks with the modem...which is how I want it set up (for firewalling reasons). That part of the network (and DHCP service) has been restored and is 100% operational.

On the other hand, NTP is still not working. Why, I'm not quite sure, but I have a feeling it's got something to do with the uplink. It attempts to synchronize right away and generally fails. This should not keep the internal network from functioning, however. Upon checking the status of open/listening ports, it is listening, but not doing anything. As I've mentioned before, NTP is the least important network feature at this time.

Bind/DNS is still spotty. I spent a few nights tinkering with this and received mixed results. For some reason, even after I re-wrote the entire named.conf file from scratch, adding features as I went along...if I ever flush the cache tables, I get SERVFAIL messages in return for lookups. It has something to do with the forwarding and/or manual lookups. What, I'm not exactly sure yet...but it works about 50-75% of the time, which in DNS terms, is not acceptable.

At this time, only my personal machine (and the servers themselves) use the local DNS; all other client machines are configured via DHCP to use the ISP DNS servers.

But everything else is working, and that's clearly a Good Thing.

Water Issues

Water Conditioning

I wouldn't necessarily call it an 'issue' per se, but the house we bought came with a 28-year old water softener. Fortunately, it does still work, but with the particulars of the water here, it doesn't really have the gusto for the two of use. After tinkering with it some, I made it more acceptable, but it's still not perfect (I don't ask for perfection, either).

I was intending on replacing it with a Kinetico unit. They're pretty much the top-of-the-line units which use no electricity to operate (it's demand-driven and operates on water pressure) and are generally superior to pretty much any water softener on the market. Of course, with this comes a nice price tag, but I digress...

Anyway, I happened to be manning our Sunrise Software booth at the Grant County Fair -- just down the road in Herman, MN (you may recall that as the 'bachelor town' from the early 90's). Anyway, while at that fair, I met several new exhibitors and conversed with several others I already knew (the benefits of living in a rural environment and Bullshitting like I do). One in particular was a representative from a company in Alexandria, MN, which happens to be the nearest Kinetico dealer for me (I'd already looked that information up). After two days of idle chat and discussing my current water situation, I arranged for him to come out and do some testing (it was an easy sale since I already knew I was going to get a Kinetico unit). Well, long story short, a new Kinetico water softener is being installed tomorrow afternoon, and the guy was nice enough to give me a 'more generous than normal' discount as well as change some existing plumbing for me (I have a major plumbing project coming up in the next few months).

Plumbing!

One of my goals leading up to the renovation of the bathroom (the first real major project of the house) is to re-plumb the water lines in the house. Considering that all of our water-using rooms are on the main level, this makes the job a lot simpler.

The short of the story right now is that water enters the house on a 1" line, then is reduced to 1/2" entering the softener, and 3/8" for all hard water faucets (e.g. the one outside and the one line to the kitchen). From the softener, cold water is all run on 3/8" lines from there on, and water to the water heater is 1/2". Hot water is all run on 1/4" lines, with the exception of the washing machine (which is 1/2"). To boot, almost everything is done with compression fittings which, in my limited experience, tend to fail exponentially with time. The softener guy is going to run 3/4" lines from the main shut-off through the softener, which will make my job of re-plumbing everything from that point much simpler.

As of today, I've removed the hard water faucet in the kitchen (I have no use for it, and will T-off a (softened) cold water line for the faucet in the future) and therefore more or less removed the line to the kitchen area. As of tomorrow, the remaining line will be removed. So, at this time I pretty much need to put together a plumbing schematic and implement it. I've got a good idea of what I'd like to do at this time, so that helps. smile Actual implementation, on the other hand, probably won't take place until we start the bathroom project (because I can do it all in one shot then instead of messing with the same places twice).

No More Birds!

After the first bird entered the chimney and couldn't find its way out (aside from peck at the draft flap in the basement near the furnace), we knew it would be necessary to place wire mesh around the cover at the top of the chimney. After the second bird entered the chimney, we took action. I had really hoped I could wait longer than a month to go climbing on the roof of the house, but after obtaining an extension ladder from a neighbor the job was done in mere minutes.

Thanks to chicken wire doubled over (to make a slightly more "tight" mesh) and attached with baling wire (that stuff is great!), we should have no more fowl getting in there...and if it did get in there...it should have no problem getting back out. It was primarily the big fowl (e.g. robins or other larger small birds) which had a tough time.

Unpacking...

It's getting better as time goes by. Things are slowly making their way out of boxes and into appropriate places or into storage. Things look significantly different than two weeks ago, I think.

Cats

I don't recall if I mentioned this in a previous post or not, but we've acquired a second cat. The price was right (free), and he (yes, he) came fixed and de-clawed. At first I was a little hesitant about a second cat, specifically a male cat, but Felix (the new cat) and George have really gotten along pretty well since the very beginning. Granted, they get into their little battles once in a while, but ironically enough, Felix wins his share (even though he doesn't have claws and George still has his claws).

Felix has been quite an addition to the family, and 'the boys' are definitely a fun pair to have hanging around. Beth and I have our 'respective cat,' Beth with Felix, and George with me. The worst part of having two cats happens to be on those random nights when they decide it's fun to play or fight in the middle of the night (sometimes right on our bed)...but we still love them all the same. smile

That's about all...

...for now. I've started writing this around 8, and it's now 10 (granted, we made supper and ate during this time, too). That...I'm tired...it's been humid today (although the A/C has come in handy)...and I've run out of things that I can think of to mention. Until next time...hopefully not as long as the last...
This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/25/07

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Miscellaneous Bits

  • One Gorgeous Daughter (Kirstin)
  • An Incredible Wife (Beth)
  • Two Cats (George/Felix)
  • Two Dogs (Koshka/Kurva)
  • My birthday is at the 48851th place in Pi
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