Space, Time And Mario: A Toddler’s Perspective

Super Mario — Oh no!

Ahh, toddler logic.

I received Super Mario Galaxy for my Wii as a birthday present from my in-laws and promised Will that I would sit down and play it with him as soon as time allowed. See, SMG is rated “E for Everyone” and, well, Will is definitely a part of “Everyone”, so I figured that he would be fine spectating.

I plunked the disc into the Wii and began playing and all was happy for the first five minutes. Mario cavorted through the Mushroom Kingdom, gobbling up Star Bits with all the little (Star Bit-intoxicated) Toadies and Will was enjoying himself heartily. Then came the war fleet.

Bowser and his crew descended in a hail of cannon fire and scooped up the Princess, laughing evilly the whole way. In response, Will shrieked in terror and began sobbing uncontrollably. It seems he was terrified, not by Bowser himself, but by the peril poor Princess Peach was placed in by her kidnapping. I hastily paused the game and spent about 5 minutes talking my son down from his precarious mental ledge. The Princess will be all right, I intoned in my Best Daddy Voice. We’re Big Boys. It’s our job to help Mario rescue the Princess. It’s our mission. And on I went until I was able to get him to start parroting “It’s our job to save the Princess” (or, “Us save princess!”, in toddler parlance). We played for a good 30 minutes following this incident and I came away convinced that all was right with the world again.

A few days later, my wife called me, and with no little amusement in her voice informed me that Will had firmly told her that Daddy needed to come home so that we could save the Princess. Apparently, he’s under the impression that while the Wii is powered down the game world continues to exist, which means that Princess’ jeopardy simply continues and Bowser slips further and further from our grasp. There was a sense of desperation in his toddler voice as he impressed upon her that we had to go after her.

So now, every few days, I “have” to go home and play Wii with my son in order to allow him to continue functioning. It’s a hard knock life, I know, being forced to play, but hey, I’m up to the challenge.


Tales From The Subconscious, Jet Lag Edition

5:30am, local time


Ego: …*snrrrrk* Wha? Huh? Gah!


E: What the heck time is it… Idiot! It’s bleedin’ 5:30 in the bleedin’ morning! Let’s go back to sleep.


E: You moron. There’s a 3 hour time difference. We should still be sleeping for at least another…


E: All right, fine! I’m up! What do you want, you vestigial annoyance?


E: Okay, got it. Hungry for what?


E: Very funny. You stay up all night long thinking of that one? Okay, here’s the deal: I think I saw a BK across the street from the hotel. Will you shut up if I take you there and get you coffee and a breakfast sandwich?


E: Shut up.

‘Member When The Canadians Weren’t Pacifistic Hose-Heads?

Good times, good times.

Sometimes I miss the ol’ USSR, if only for its hockey team. And it’s position as primary supplier of movie villains. I mean, what’s Miracle without the Red Army? Rocky IV without Ivan Drago? Spies Like Us without “Jerry Hadley” and “Bob Hodges”?

Nothing, man. Nothing.

A Good Time Was Had By All – A Photo Essay

A map!

I packed up my wife and child and headed out to the area near Warren, PA and the Kinzua Dam last week for some rest and relaxation with my grandparents. Two days of relaxation were matched by two days of driving, but on balance, we had a lot of fun.

Shot from the valley

We basically veged out on Wednesday, hanging out on the front lawn of the river house my grandparents had rented for the summer. The view above was what met us each time we looked out the front windows of the house.

The Reservoir area

Thursday, my grandfather took us to the Kinzua Dam and showed us around.

Dam flowers

Unfortunately, the lower part of the dam was closed to tourists following the terrorist acts of 9/11, so the only portions of the dam that we could see were visible from the top of the dam and reservoir.

3 generations

We then headed up the river a bit to take in the grandeur of the reservoir.

We piled back in to the car and headed south to Titusville, my parents’ old hometown for a bit of a tour and a visit to the Drake Oil Well Museum.

Drake's Well

Friday, we packed up, said our goodbyes and headed back home.

As the title above says, a good time was had by all.

Network Gremlins

I don’t know if it’s a universal I.T. thing or not, but at my place of employment we sysadmins have taken to blaming any freak accident/unexplainable computer phenomenon/Series of Unfortunate Events on “gremlins”. A person couldn’t log on five minutes ago and all of a sudden, they can? Gremlins. USB sticks now mounting when, previously, they weren’t? Gremlins. You get the picture.

Gremlins!Well, last Friday and today have been some of the most gremlin-filled days in recent memory, bar none. We’ve all tried to be sanguine about the whole affair and just shrug our shoulders and mutter “Gremlins!”, but that only takes one so far. Perhaps we bought a cursed Cisco box with a time-delayed Curse Activation Feature without knowing it.

I came in to work on Friday to discover that no one could receive any mail, a condition that was causing no little consternation amongst the throngs shackled to their cubes and, after a careful bit of investigation by myself and the team lead, we determined What Apparently Went Wrong:

  1. We back up all of our DNS, DHCP and NIS server maps using CVS in order to keep ourselves from getting into a bad state with no easy way to back out damaging configuration changes. Somehow, our master DNS configuration file was partially overwritten so that any reference to a shared key (I’ll get to that) was removed.
  2. Our DNS tables are generated (mostly) on-the-fly by our DHCP server, which relieves us of a great deal of administrative burden. However, one can’t just have DHCP servers overwriting our DNS maps willy-nilly, a condition which we avoid by requiring access to a shared key that both DHCP and DNS can trust, thus allowing clients that are authorized in our NIS setup to request an IP from the DHCP server and have one assigned as well as have the DNS server updated.
  3. The DHCP server must be restarted/reloaded in order to read new ethers addresses from the NIS tables, which we accomplish thrice-hourly with a simple cronjob.
  4. Since the reference to the shared key was overwritten, the DHCP server was no longer able to force DNS updates, meaning that individual hosts began dropping from the DNS radar like flies.
  5. At around the same time that DNS began to fail, our primary mail server had a minor NIS hiccup that caused it to fail over to our secondary NIS server.
  6. All email addresses are fed through the NIS aliases map in order to tell the mail server who the intended recipient[s] are.
  7. Our secondary NIS server had recently been replaced with a newer, beefier box that was receiving all NIS map updates from the master server except aliases for causes not quite clear at this time, although much finger pointing was aimed in the direction of a faulty Makefile.
  8. Our mail server, unable to determine where to deliver mail, threw up its hands, spewed a whole bunch of “aliases: no such map” messages into the syslogs and contentedly queued up mail for the better part of a morning.
  9. All of which translated into: no mail for anyone until we figured this out.

This email fun was followed by a raging wave of thunderstorms that swept through the area, knocking out building power first (our compute center is UPS’d and generator-backed, so no worries there) and then knocking a transformer and some Verizon telcomm equipment offline, effectively nuking our external link and a sizable portion of our surrounding area, meaning no web access to end the day, followed by some incorrectly-configured Macs sitting on admins desks giving us heartburn for a goodly portion of the day as well. Wheee!

There's... something.  On. The wing!While Friday was fun, I came in to work fully expecting an easy day, as HGCDs (High Gremlin Count Days) are normally few and far between. However, ’twas not to be. I arrived to find my voicemail blinking and my boss standing in my office saying “Our web is down”. After running this statement through my Management-to-IT filters, I realized he was saying that no one could get to any external websites. I and the team lead poked around a bit before realizing that there is a bug in the newest version of RedHat Enterprise (the version our web proxy just happens to run) that ignores the specified default route when being run on machines with multiple NICs, such as proxy servers. This bug was triggered when our proxy, sensing a Disturbance In The DNS Force on Friday had run dhclient and thus begun ignoring the default route, resulting in our poor proxy having no idea how to get to the content that people were requesting of it. We manually added the default route and things once again moved to Status: Hunky Dory. Problem solved, at least for now.

As for me, I’m avoiding ladders, black cats and mirrors for the rest of the week, just to be safe.

Will’s New Do

A common subject of discussion over the course of last weekend’s festivities was the length of Will’s hair, primarily my various relatives’ opposition to its ever-increasing tendencies and our hesitancy to arrest said tendencies.

Well, this weekend we finally found ourselves agreeing with the chorus and decided to give Will a bit of a shearing. For reference, here he is before:

Will before "the Cut"

And after:

Will after "the Cut"

It’s weird. He looks more like a little toddler now after his haircut, a fact which causes my wife to tear up at points as she realizes that he’s growing quickly into a little boy.

Next up: walking!