Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
  Little random notes.
One of my excuses for not blogging as much has been Twitter, a site where you can post little one line status messages and other tidbits of wisdom. I like the idea, though it would be better if I had it merged into this journal (which other people who are more industrious have done), but unfortunately it suffers from the problem of not working.

After talking with the group there, they seem committed to a path of relying on a certain set of tools that aren't necessarily up to the task at the scale they want to run their service at. It would be like AOL building their instant messaging platform on top of Visual Basic, and insisting that no one write anything outside of that. I don't think AIM would have scaled to 600M users that way.

So my small tidbit for today: ssh -v -X hostname is the way to find those hidden problems with an install that you aren't going to see any other way. -v gives you lots of great arcane information, which combined with google reveals many things. Oh, and the answer was, sshd won't forward X11 without xauth installed.

  The lack of being prepared with children
Having kids is a real pain in the butt most of the time. Occasionally its great to have some helpers when building the ultimate LEGO battle vehicle, but the rest of the time they're screaming and kicking each other and just creating maximum havoc.

Even if you can get past that, they still manage to create situations in which no amount of preparation would have helped. Like today at the library.

We found an overdue book behind one of the beds (which one of my kids crawled under that bed to mope about losing a game of checkers), and so I was going to drop it off at the library. Somehow that simple errand got turned into taking one, and then two of the kids to the library for the evening, so off we went. Except that the one actually didn't want to go, he wanted to go get icecream with his mother, but now he was trapped in a vehicle with the wrong parent, going to the wrong place. But two year olds are actually someone adaptable, so the crying had stopped before we got to the library parking lot.

Once inside, we headed to the kids area, looking for movies to watch, books to read, and toys to play with (our library is pretty kid friendly). It was a quiet night, so I wasn't too concerned with the volume level my kids were making. We found a few movies, a book or two, and then we headed over to the play area to hang out. Zak had gathered up a pile of magazines to read, and I was just starting to get Oscar interested in a puzzle, when one of my obscure parenting senses (a sense you wouldn't use to much in single life, except maybe to tell that your milk is a few weeks past its expiration date) signaled that I had some parenting tasks to attend to.

Now Oscar isn't happy being messed with under the best of circumstances, so I started the long dance of corraling him into some place where I could change him out. That meant we had to leave the library sooner than later. Zakary's preference of course would have been the opposite, but that's part of having siblings. So we did a quick checkout, spent some time getting water on the front of our shirts playing with the drinking fountain and were finally out the door, and so I thought we were making progress. But of course that was just an illusion.

Outside, next to the library, is a bridge and a canal which 360 days of the year does not have any water in it. So much so, that they landscape the thing, and actually drive a mower up and down the sides to trim the grass. So its a great place to play, which is what my kids started doing. Running across the bridge, running down the banks of the canal, running under the bridge. Ok, fine.

The car was parked right there, so I dashed over and ditched the books, and then I thought, maybe I can change Oscar outside on the grass. I grab the diaper kit, which since its papa's, hasn't been restocked in 4 years, but there's still a diaper from our first child that might fit Oscar, and then I stake out a place on the side where I can keep an eye on things and call to Oscar to come over and get fussed with. This gives him a few minutes to rebel, and finally accept the idea without too much fuss.

In the mean time, Zakary is exploring the relationship between potential energy and kinetic energy, seeing how much speed he can build up running down the banks of the canal. Its mostly grass, so this seems pretty safe, and I leave him to it as I setup for a toxic spill operation. Oscar finally comes over and I just have his but on the ground, pants off, and I'm formulating a mop up strategy for the several pounds of green mud oatmeal when Zakary find the only patch of rocks within 50 feet, trips and scrapes up his hands and knees and starts screaming at the top of his lungs which is only reasonable given his predicament.

Thirty seconds earlier and I could have just let Oscar wander off in his original state. Two minutes later (yes I know, moms can do it faster), and I'd have been at a good wrap up point. But at this exact moment, I'm stuck in the middle of one project, unable to deal with the emergency.

I patched things up as quickly as I could, and went to deal with the fall, which involved a small amount of actual injury, but nothing serious. More serious was the strain on my piece of mind. Anyone who takes care of multiple kids on their own on a regular basis has either got to have been born rock solid mentally, or is probably somewhat unhinged. Of course my troubles weren't over after dashing through these events. At this point Oscar wanted to stay (now that he was all clean), but Zakary wanted to go home to get patched up with some Batman bandaids and some kind of consolation snack. And this was just a trip to the library. I don't even bring up the possibility of taking kids to the store to go shopping (of any kind). And even if we're not going somewhere potentially dangerous, there's always the issue of just driving by one of those places that cook potatoes in grease. Talk about your minefields.

Everyone is home and calm now. But its one of those days I'm not going to forget very soon. Maybe we'll stay home the rest of the summer. The kids can amuse themselves smashing rodent burrows with sledge hammers, and burning the vegetation with magnifying glasses. I'll just hide in the basement.

Life in the middle of nowhere, remote programming to try and support it, startups, children, and some tinkering when I get a chance.

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Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
Land and Hold Short
The life of a pilot.

The best of?
Jan '04
The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

Mar '04
Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

May '04
Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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