Saturday, December 26, 2009

A good book

There is nothing like a good book.

The past month has been pretty hectic - in a good way really - but I finally had a chance to just sit and read a book tonight. No urgent paperwork, no deadlines, the holiday rush is mostly over, there are several days before my next flight, and I have a reasonably clean house at the moment. So this evening I sat and read a book. It was wonderful.

Merry Christmas!

-SML

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Go Tar Heels!

Some of you may have noticed that I have not spent much time talking about basketball since the season started. Ok, most of you probably did not notice and now that I am pointing it out are just relieved that it is true. I have found a couple of new outlets for talking about Women's Hoops.

I have been helping the communications committee of Tar Heel Team Tempo in sending out a weekly "blast" where I get to write up very short game previews for the calendar, game recaps with links to articles, and summaries of the polls. I get to look for and share links to stories, interviews, and other interesting goodies about Tar Heel Women's Basketball. This is also the group that got me back into photography.

I have also started lurking and occasionally posting on the message boards at Inside Carolina which is part of scout.com where there are fans with a lot more basketball knowledge than I have and only a handful of negative attitudes.

I think this years team is great. There are the usual lulls in energy or complacency such as loosing an 18 point lead to the University of South Carolina last weekend. But there is more talent in this young team than I have seen in a while. They grew up a lot and showed some Tar Heel fight at the end to win a fast paced fun game. I am looking forward to conference play next month.

Lets Go Tar Heels!

-SML

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Digital Bubs

Have I mentioned how much I hate digital tv? Ok, so for a geek, I am pretty low tech at home. I do not watch a lot of tv to begin with and whenever I travel I am reminded in the hotels of much more nothing is really on tv.

Someday I will give in and get satelite so I can watch sports live but for now I am still all about the rabbit ears. Some days I get some stations some of the time. Most stations are a little too far away to come in consistently. Back when it was analog that meant I got a fuzzy picture but all the sound. With digital it is all or nothing. Most of the time this is not a problem. The few shows I do watch show up on hulu or I just wait and get a the dvd (own or netflix) a season later. But with a live a cappella show it just does not work.

Turns out that the NBC show The Sing Off is on hulu. So tonight I can finally watch all the bits of last nights show. The Bubs did advance. If you want to see their performance from the first night - they are the first group of the second hour singing "Magical Mystery Tour". For night two they sing two songs. The first one - the "Big Hit" song is "Right Round" at the opening of the show. Their "guilty pleasure" song is "Come Sail Away". I am hoping that tonight's episode will be on hulu just a quickly. The Bubs sing again tomorrow.

-SML

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Cappella

I am a fan of a cappella groups. I like the harmony. I wish I could sing so well. I often like the songs, especially when it is classics.

Last week I came across a PBS special featuring Straight No Chaser They started as a college group, went their separate ways after school, and more recently regrouped. They were spotted on You Tube with a song and animation short called "The Christmas Can Can" which can currently be seen at their web site. You can also listen to a number of their Christmas tunes. Their songs are fun in addition to be being well done.

One of my favorite groups is the Tufts Beelzebubs. I first saw them when I was kid. I have seen them perform a couple of times here in the Carolinas. They get invited to some of the local invitationals. The other groups are good but then when the Bubs come on you realize there is a whole other level. Some groups are good in small venues with good acoustics but then as they get into larger auditoriums they begin to shout or they get too close to the microphone and it picks up every little pop and sputter. The Bubs come on and they stay back from the microphone and use breathing and projection to be heard. They also stay in tune and time more consistently.

I mention the Bubs because they made the NBC reality show The Sing Off which starts on Monday Dec 14th. I don't usually care for reality shows but I will try to watch some and see how the Bubs fare.

-SML

Friday, December 11, 2009

auto-detect amusements

The "auto-detection" features of technology can be great, horrendous, or simply amusing.

Last weekend the Fedora Project held it's winter FUDcon in Toronto. At least one US participant commented in a blog about the amusement of seeing google.ca as they searched for information.

I spent this week teaching at a customer site in the Atlanta area but the parent company headquarters and domain registration is based in Europe. The result is that in addition to google choosing a non-US server for searching, several times when I went to a site and was asked to login or continue the question was not in English.

Amusing.

-SML

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Where is the gas cap?

Q: What happens when the computers stop doing their job and a worker has to do something manually that is usually done by the computer?
A: The scratching of heads begins

So I got on the plane for my flight home yesterday afternoon. It was packed with no open seats. A bunch of people had to have their roller-board carry ons checked through to their final destination. The announcement to turn off all electronic devices indicating the closing of the doors. And then the captain speaks.... I'll drop most of the apologies but lets see how well I remember some of the more humorous phrases:

Captain: Sorry folk but there will be a slight delay before we leave, they are not yet done fuelling the plane.

[A minute later]
Captain: To update you on our situation, there is some head scratching happening at the moment by the fuel crew. Normally they deliver the fuel to the central tank and the computers move it out to the other locations. That is not working. Not a problem, they can add fuel to each side by hand but the fuel crew appears to be having some trouble finding the gas cap.

[a few minutes later]
Captain: To update you on our situation, the fuel crew seems to be done scratching their heads and should have us taken care of in just a few minutes.

[about 20 seconds later]
Captain: To update you on our situation.... um... let me preface this with - the fuel crew does not work for [our] airline and is in no way associated with [our] airline. They are a contractor for the airport. It seems the fuel truck they brought over is out of gas and they need to go get a different truck. They should be back soon.

[a couple of minutes later]
Captain: OK folks, the are now loading fuel to the right wing, then assuming they can find the left wing, will get the fuel added to the left side and we will be on our way.


Well, they did get the fuel in the wings, and we did leave, and the airport was nice enough to send us to the front of the takeoff line.

but wait - there is more...

Just after the flight crew brought out the drink cart...

Captain: We have reached our cruising altitude of [whatever] but it will remain bummpy for a while. I am told that is it not any better at any other altitude so we will just have to ride it out. Please stay in your seats, seatbelts fastened [blah, blah, blah]

[about 10 seconds later]
Captain: I am also going to ask the flight attendants to please be seated.

For those that fly regularly (or used to fly regularly) you probably already know the outcome of my flight - very bumpy most of the way with no "beer or wine for $7 or $8, snacks including ... starting at $4, or a sleep convenience kit including a blanket and ... for $7" Gosh darn it and I really wanted to spend $7 on a blanket for a 40 minute flight.

-SML

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sunday travels

It is not uncommon for me to be traveling the week after Thanksgiving but this year there was an extra wrinkle in the plans. By the time I was confirmed to a location, the airfare for the Sunday after Thanksgiving travel day was outrageous. Being the polite and flexible person that I often am, I decided to save my client $700 by taking the last seat on the 7am flight. Of course this ment that I had most of the day to kill before checking into the hotel.

So I did what I do. I went to two Whole Foods that I had never been to before. I had breakfast at one, then read an entire book at a bookstore before picking up dinner and groceries at another. They are both a little further from the office than I like to spend fighting traffic after work but for a Sunday it wasn't a problem.

I have friends that collect shot glasses from places they visit. I have relatives that used to collect matchboxes from restaurants back when they had those. I even have a colleague that collects subway maps. I visit Whole Foods Markets.

-SML

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If only I had more time...


Fedora 12 released today. I did not do much for the Docs Project for this release. Based on the timing of releases and my work schedule it is beginning to look like I may only get to work on odd numbered releases. I did some review work for a few of the guides though and mostly kept up with the mailing list. I do know that jjmcd once again put in a LOT of work on the Release Notes and rudi wrangled a lot of guides through translations.

I did get to work with the beta a lot more on this release in conjunction with another project. I finally took the time to look at the new features of the anaconda installer since its rewrite for Fedora 11. I even experimented with an encrypted partition. I also have decided that I do prefer GNOME to KDE for an overall desktop even though I have used several KDE applications for years. I guess I just believe in old school keep it simple and string em together UNIX philosophy. Launching the all in one control center to get to one of the modules just drives me nuts. Unfortunately, I have not yet had time to work with the updates to virtualization and the selinux sandbox. These areas encompass the most interesting new features for my uses and I am looking forward to learning more.

I did submit one "not a bug" and felt pretty stupid after but I guess it better to submit a "not a bug" than to not submit a bug at all. I still need to figure out what bug to add to for getting my the tablet part of my laptop to work. Fedora 11 Live found it "out of the box" by Fedora 12 (live or DVD) does not know it exists. I have not had time to figure out if I can make it work.

GET FEDORA

-SML

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bats

Yesterday evening I spent at least 15 minutes watching a bat. It was mesmerizing. It was circling around above the house with a lot of quick turns and dives. Every once and while I would loose track of it as it came lower into the tree line. There must have been some good eating up there.

-SML

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Season Opener

There was a good showing of fans for the UNC Women's Basketball season opener. It was Friday night, the weather was improving, the next day would have the final home football game, and the Carolina Fever group showed up. All this totalled up for a much better crowd than the previous exhibition game.
The women played in the Smith Center last year while their arena was being renovated. Carmichael is not quiet ready yet, so this year is also starting at the Smith Center. Finally, this year, they get to enjoy a few of the other perks of the Smith Center. Someone came to dim the lights and run a spot for the team introductions.

It was all still way too loud while playing the video but I suppose that is what many fans expect or want. I have noticed that the band director wears earplugs.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the ACC, Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan earned her 700th-career victory and N.C. State women's basketball coach, Kellie (Jolly) Harper got her first NCSU win. All the other ACC teams that played also won.

-SML

links:
Collection of recaps from TheACC.com
Raleigh N&O article on NCSU.
My photos of the UNC game.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanks Ida

The remnants of Hurricane Ida have been trying to pass through my area.

After 48 hours and over 4 inches of rain, the wind also arrived. It is still raining and windy and now it is also cold.

Meanwhile the water table had a much needed refill and at least one rotten tree was identified in my yard.

-SML

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Camera yields basketball photos.

The Tar Heel Women played Carson-Newman in their second and last exhibition game. They won as expected and by a lot as expected. It was a miserable rainy night and not a lot of fans braved the weather to attend. The place really could have used a bit more fan energy.

I have a new camera so I was not paying as much attention to the overall game as I was trying to get some good action shots. I took 156 photos filling 1.1G of the memory card. When I got home, I narrowed that down to about 50 that I liked. So far I have less than 20 of those cropped and/or scaled down for sharing.

I was WOW-ed with the first game. This one showed more of the same energy, speed, good ball handlers, and tall rebounders. There is a LOT of potential in there and they are real quick learners putting it all together. Now, if we can keep that energy when we get to some tougher competition...

Links:
TarHeelBlue writeup
Daily Tar Heel writeup
My latest photos.

-SML

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Its Basketball Time!


Tonight was the first exhibition game for the UNC Women's Basketball team. I missed the scrimmage with the practice team on Sunday but I was at tonight's game. All I can say is WOW. We got us some GOOOOD freshman. And the returning ladies look good too.

For a more professional recap - and photos check out the TarHeelBlue writeup.

I have volunteered to help out Tar Heel Team Tempo with some photography. All I had for this game was my point and shoot. There are a lot more in focus shots than I thought I would get. I played around and was please with how well I remembered the timing of the camera. Then I played with the burst mode some. I like the composite shots it made now I just need to figure out what to do with them. My photos are up on Picasa.

Francis Marion played really well. There are a lot of ties to UNC for that program. The UNC coach used to coach at FM and had been hired by an athletic director that had been a student athlete at UNC. One of the current assistant coaches of FM was a Tar Heel not that long ago. All that history, plenty of time to prepare, and FM came ready to play. They ran up and down the court. They had some really nice shots. They showed some Tar Heel style traps - which I think they did a good job with though it may not have been obvious since the UNC players broke the press a whole lot easier than they were doing last year.

The warmup was fun. There are a couple new drills and a lot of the shots were going in which is always a good way to start. During the game, there were the usual early season mistakes and freshman mistakes. Not as many as I remember from recent year though. These ladies know where they need to be and they play smart ball. Three freshman had 2 blocks each - some of those were also really nice ones. One had 5 steals - Krista Gross who a number of us kept confusing with Italee Lucas. I heard "yeah Italee" more than once when it was Krista who had just made the play. The returning students have all stepped up their games too - and they will need to if they do not want to loose there spots to some of the these fabulous five freshman.

-SML

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Talent

Thanks Mom!


And she mentioned something about being out of practice... looks good to me!

-SML

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Air Travel and Good Karma

I managed to have some good karma as far as air travel for my most recent trip - despite delayed flights both ways. I personally wasn't delayed because I found my way onto earlier flights which had not left at their scheduled time.

Heading north to Boston I was on the 5:15 flight. I had decided not to book the late flight despite the fact that any other flight would mean leaving a seminar early - one that was already paid in full. Based on the timing of the seminar and convenient times to slip away - it turned out I get to the airport earlier than expected so I got on the standby list for an earlier flight. The 1:30 had not left because of a maintenance issue and the 3:30 was already bumped a few minutes due to weather delays - specifically a Northeaster.

Well the 3:30 left before the 1:30 so I think there were some standby moves there. I was told in the club that there was a long list ahead of me for the 1:30 and I probably would not make it on. The suggestion was to not bother trying. But I felt like stretching my legs and walked on down to the gate - where all within the next 10 minutes they called my name, gave me a boarding pass, and started boarding the flight. OK, that worked out.

Then we sat on the tarmac for 35 minutes waiting for clearance to head north.

We left at 5:15 - the time of my booked flight's planned departure. I saw another airline's 5:05 waiting on the tarmac but no signs of the 5:15 as we took off. When I arrived in Boston I looked at the board to see how delayed my original flight was going to be. Turned out that it had been cancelled along with the later flight. I got on the last one for the day.

Sure there was snow and wind and cold in Boston but come on - it wasn't that bad. And it was warmer and clear the next morning. At least I didn't have to spend the night on a train this time. I did that many years ago when a flight was cancelled due to weather.

Coming back had its own excitement. I was scheduled for the late flight but too tired to do anything fun on my Friday afternoon. I got to the airport just barely in time to try for the 3-something flight and by the time I got through security it was delayed another 20 minutes or so and the plane had not yet arrived.

Then they announced the plane was in the area but asked to hold instead of land. This seemed odd. The weather wasn't great but I didn't see lightning.

Next I notices the staff looking out a window on the end. As I got closer I heard murmurings about Air Force One. I looked and there was a BIG plane with United States of America on the side starting to taxi. It was then that I realized that not only were planes not landing but NOTHING on the ground was moving - no planes, no baggage trucks, no fuel trucks - nothing. After the fact, I realized that I hadn't seen them moving for at least several minutes.

The plane took off and just as it became a speck, everything began to move on the ground. Planes lined up to take off. Others that had landed were allowed to move on to their gates. About 10 minutes later - or however long it takes to clear the 15 miles of empty airspace - planes began to take off and land again.

The staff breathed a sigh of relief. Apparently they last time they had to wait for Air Force One everything backup for well over an hour and this time things were stopped for much less time. Next they could now find out which of their incoming planes would land soon and which would be diverted elsewhere for fuel first.

I managed to get on that 3-something flight (which boarded about 4) and I was home merging into what we call heavy Friday evening commuter traffic well before I otherwise would have been boarding a plane. A flight that likely would have been delayed by the next set of storms that were moving in about then.

I went home and watched a West Wing.

-SML

Friday, October 16, 2009

Too Cute

Some things are just too cute not to share.

I awoke this morning to a voice mail from a 5 year old telling me it was snowing.

The child lives in New England. I am sure it was enough snow for us southerners to call snowing. I suspect it was really more like flurries up there. My suspicions are also based on the boston.com weather report I watched shortly after retrieving the message.

While they have been known to have a real snow before Veterans Day, it is rare. I am sure this was much more a dig from the Mom who knows that I am working up there next week. I better pack my snuggies. Then they can all tease me about wearing long johns in October.

-SML

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How old is too old?

I am teaching a virtual (online) class for the rest of the month. This means that I working from home. While this is a good thing in general and the cats definitely approve, it does mean that I need to feed myself instead of eating out every day. So, I have decided it is time to clean out the freezer.

Assuming that it was properly prepared and kept frozen, how long does turkey broth keep in the freezer?

-SML

Monday, September 21, 2009

Prairie Dog Town


Well I did make it to Prairie Dog Town during my trip to Lubbock, TX.

I also drove by the wind museum. It closed each day about the time I was finishing class, but I was still able to view the windmills of various years that are outside the building.
I only had my cell phone for photos but I did upload them all to Picasa:
Lubbock, TX

Enjoy

-SML

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Small town Texas

My first day in Lubbock, TX amused me.
Lubbuck is best known as the homes of Texas Tech University and Buddy Holly. It is flat and being August, it is hot. This week is the break between Summer and Fall terms so it is also very quiet.

My first amusement was boarding the plane for the final leg of the journey. They were blasting the Greatest Hits of Buddy Holly.

My next amusement was the small airport. At least we did not have to cross the tarmac. The last time I was in an airport that small it did not have jetways. There are maybe 4 airlines and not many more gates in use (though there were a few more blocked off ready for growth). There is the terminal. One floor. Baggage claim at one end, ticketing and security in the middle, rental cars at the other end. No parking deck that I noticed and all parking lots are walking distance.

Then there was the rental car area. Get your keys inside because all the companies share a lot that is not even gated and definitely not attended. All out in the open, even Hertz Gold which advertises about covered pickup and drop off. I was offered a shuttle by my rental company but I walked. I could see the lot when I walked out the door. I walk further to my car in central parking at home. The return policy is to pull into a parking place and bring the keys back to the terminal.

The Buddy Holly Center, Silent Wings Museum, and the Wind Museum are of course closed by the time I get out of work. I might make it to Prairie Dog Town though.

-SML

Friday, July 24, 2009

Feeling lucky

I had a great time last week eating my way across Manhattan and trying several new restaurants. It is never easy with food intolerances to pick a place and take that risk of not only how will it taste, but also wondering if it will make me feel awful later. I am really lucky to have a friend that was willing to go try these new places with me.

One afternoon while waiting for a place to open for dinner, we were sitting in a bakery thumbing through the magazines. There was a copy of Allergic Living Magazine based out of Canada. In it was an article titled "Relative Risk: When family doesn’t get your gluten-free diet" This particular article is not online - they do have to keep some reason for selling the magazine after all. Basically it was about the misery of having family and friends who do not understand a food allergy and some tips on when and how to protect yourself or your child. I cannot imagine not being able to leave a child with a family member for fear that they will not be careful of a food allergy. While I have experienced some of the more mild annoyances of friends not understanding and not remembering, I am lucky to have family and friends who understand or at least accept and actively support the efforts to love food rather than fear the effects of eating.

Even reading the article I was even more grateful for traveling with a friend that just expected to eat gluten free and organic for the trip. Even luckier that she seems to even look forward to my ideas for eating out. We even split most meals so as not to overeat and try more places. I would like some more of this kind of traveling. I am also totally blessed that when I visit her home, her whole family makes sure there are things I can eat and even makes last minute changes to recipes to accommodate my intolerances.

I am lucky that I have a mild intolerance even if it is to several items. I do not need to panic about cross contamination. I can manage a meal every so often that has an Asian sauce where they used soy sauce which contains some wheat. I can buy a prepared salad and pick off the croutons and not panic if I missed a few crumbs.

I am lucky that my immediate family does understand. In fact I learned of my intolerance through eating with my parents. My mother is very sensitive to all chemicals, particularly sulphites, and now wheat. The more I cooked with her recipes, the better I felt.

When it was just the sulphites and preservatives it was very hard to explain to friends and other family members. This same magazine has an article online that does a nice job: "Sulphites are cooking up trouble" It is hardest to explain the chemicals that are hard to pronounce and need a magnifying glass to find on the packages of food. At least wheat is supposed to be additionally listed in the "allergen" field at the end of ingredients. Sulphites are not - at least not yet. I am lucky that I have several friends who for years now will at least remember to ask "can you eat there" when the group is looking for a place to go out to eat. I used to go with safety foods like dinner rolls, hamburgers, french fries, and pasta dishes and I didn't realize how much that was actually making things worse.

It is easier to explain no wheat. When my students see me eating a packed lunch instead of the catered lunch and ask me why there is almost always at least one who responds to my "no wheat" comment with a phrase including "gluten free" or "celiac". They know what I am talking about. I am lucky that I do not always have to do all the explaining myself.

It is a real pain to have to deal with both. Because of the risks of allergy attacks, gluten free products are often made fresh and almost always made from basic ingredients and not a lot of processed mystery. That also makes it easier to check for sulphites without having to explain every detail of that intolerance. No wheat, no wine, no wine vinegar generally works - except that too many people do not realize that balsamic vinegar is a wine vinegar.

I am lucky that there are so many newer options and every time a do a new search online I find more places to visit. Like a place for a gluten free English high tea in Atlanta and the option of organic ingredients on a gluten free crust at some zpizza locations across the country.

-SML

Whole Foods NYC - a quick review

There are now 5 stores in Manhattan and another scheduled to open in August.

Chelsea was the first and is probably the smallest. It does have a salad and hot bar but there is no place to sit at this store. I have eaten several meals on the sidewalk using the window will as a table. I have also picked up food and carried to another location to sit and people watch. Most recently, the steps of the post office across from Penn Station.

Columbus Circle was next. At the time of completion it was one of the largest Whole Foods stores. It takes up the entire lower levels of Time Warner Building which also contains a mall and a couple of towers of office and apartments. There is a seating area at this store and it has a very NYC modern look with its changing colored lights. The benches are very hard and a bit high for the tables. The higher stools at the long high tables are better.

Union Square was the third. It does have a seating area and is moderate in size. It didn't impress me as much or maybe it was just the Union Square area that didn't impress me.

Whole Foods Bowery was my new venture on this trip.
It has the Whole Body in a loft space upstairs and a cute bridge across to the kitchen utensil items. There is the standard salad and hot bar take out downstairs but also upstairs is a large eating area and a couple of other food options in the restaurant style theme that has become common in the new stores. I specifically noticed a "create your own wraps" station and a coffee bar but I think there were others too.

This store looks promising for my future trips to NYC. I generally work downtown so this is much closer than the others. It is also walking distance from one of my favorite restaurants and even closer to two new places I found this trip - a bakery with gluten free goodies and a little place with a good gluten free pizza crust.

Another plus for this store was the great selection of take out prepared food after work on a Thursday evening. A few other stores (namely in PA) have had good selections at noon but almost nothing at 7pm when I am trying to select a lunch for the next day at work.

I have not been to the Tribeca store which is now 1 year old and the new store opening next month is northwest of Central Park.

-SML

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A fun trip

We had been talking about it for a long time. My best friend lives in New England with her husband and young child. I live in the Southeast and travel enough for work and on short enough notice that it is difficult to plan a girls weekend anywhere.

But we did it. Just the 2 of us - no pets, no kids, no laptops, no errands or chores or work - just some fun. I finally got to use some frequent flyer points and most of the many hotel points I had collected over the past many years. We met in NYC for 2 nights, 3 days, 1 Broadway musical, and a lot of walking and talking and eating. It was fantastic!

We went to several Whole Foods including the Bowery store that was not open the last time I was in NYC. We had dinner at one of my favorite places: Spring Street Natural. We found gluten free cupcakes at BabyCakes. We did not make it to listen to the swing band at Lincoln Center but we did try one of the Top 5 best margaritas in Manhattan at Rosa Mexicano.

And that was just the first day.

Then there was breakfast at Whole Foods, a walk across Central Park and down 5th Avenue, and a visit to the NBA store and the Public Library. After a nap we tried a new restaurant I found that had wonderful gluten free pizza - not the easiest thing to find. I would definitely recommend Pala Pizza.

9 to 5 The Musical was spectacular! Good music, choreography, comedy, etc. That was the fastest couple of hours of the whole trip. Later, a good (but not as good as the previous night's) margaritas and some decent nachos at Iguana rounded out the evening.

-SML

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Non favorite airlines

I now remember why I dislike flying Continental. [Follow up to "you have got to be kidding"].

A few of the more minor annoyances include:
1. The seats are narrow.
2. There are always youngsters kicking the back of my seat.
3. Too many families with odd bags and not enough travellers with experience maximizing space in the overheads.

I should point out that the staff - particularly at the airport - was nicer than I remember. Not as perky as Southwest but patient and polite - aka professional. The only issue I saw was the calculation of overhead space for the trip. I was on a full flight so they simply assumed that everyone in the first 10 rows with large bags would have to check those bags through to the final destination and pick them up at baggage claim. At least they don't charge for that (yet). I was one of those but after waiting for them to print a baggage tag and then taking the bag to the end of the jet way, it turned out that there was plenty of space left. A bunch of us brought now tagged bags onboard.

But the biggie this trip was the father teaching his grade school aged child how to ignore the rules. She was watching a video on her nano when the announcement came to turn off all electronics. She of course ignored that announcement. She glowered when the staff directly asked her to turn it off for take off. Then dad shows her that if she had just flipped it over in her hand as they came by, no one would have noticed it was on and she could then just keep watching. Same kid had her cell phone on the whole way and was texting during landing.

I don't care how silly the rule seems, or how much you know about electronics and interference, or how many nanos it takes to mess with ground control radio chatter. The parent should not be teaching the child how to ignore the rules. Of course, this is not a problem which is unique to this airline but for some reason I have always had some story of inconsiderate people whenever I have to deal with a continental flight.

Oh the joys of flying.

-SML

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye old friend

Today I waved goodbye to the first car that was really mine. The first car that I researched, picked out, bought new, financed, and paid off.

It was a 1995 Ford Explorer with over 150,000 miles - most from the first 5 years. I had a couple of cars before it that were registered in my name but they were family hand me downs and I do not think we ever even changed the title with those. The Explorer was picked out when I was doing a lot more road trips and camping with friends. It also helped me move 4 times, made many trips to the hardware store for my dad, transported a lawnmower between homes for a summer, and it survived - with only a little body damage - Hurricane Fran trying to hide it under 4 trees.

It served me well but we finally reached a point where it would cost more to have it fixed than it was worth as a trade in. It no longer wanted to let me move the gear shaft into place (it was a stick) and it seemed that the clutch was not disengaging the transmission so it might not cost much in parts but the labor costs alone would exceed the trade value.

I donated it to Habitat for Humanity. I hope they can make some money. It should have some good parts or maybe it can be fixed up easily enough to sell.

-SML

Friday, June 12, 2009

Everything is bigger in Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas. That is what they say isn't it? Well my week can definitely contribute to that at least some of those theories.

The roads are bigger and the cars are bigger and the traffic delays are bigger.
It took 2 hours to go about 25 miles on Friday afternoon trying to get to the airport. That eliminated any chance of getting on the earlier flight....

Getting on the earlier flight probably would not have happened anyway since there were cancellations yesterday due to the storms including the afternoon flight to Raleigh. I am sure they are still trying to find seats for all of those people...

Yesterdays storms were actually Wed afternoon to Thurs afternoon storms. Lots of rain, lots of flooding, lots of wind, lots of damage. Some news reports mentioned "worse ever".

By the way - it is not fun sitting in a car in traffic and jumping out of your skin in surprise when the town tornado sirens go off. I managed to wait out the worst of the storm in the Whole Foods Market eating dinner but I had to fight some strong wind in the parking lot and the power went out briefly just after I got inside. I got a little wet going to work the next morning too.

Despite the hot but otherwise very nice weather in TX tonight, I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight home that is now almost 2 hours delayed. At this point I won't be home until tomorrow, at least technically.

One thing that was NOT bigger this week was the training room. We crammed 15 people in elbow to elbow to use the laptops on a desks barely deep enough to hold everything. Some very bright guys in this class though.

-SML

Thursday, June 4, 2009

You have got to be kidding!

The only direct flights from Raleigh to Newark are on Continental!
I used to take the AA flight. Nothing like downsizing for the economy.

-SML

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Using Special pages to assist with wiki cleanup

This is part 2 in a series of articles that can lead to a leaner and meaner wiki for Fedora Project. Part 1 was on "what needs to be done and why".

[ed note: Paul was quick to follow my suggestion in Part 1 and has already moved and categorized many of the older Board Meeting pages. Now to find a new example...]

Start on any Fedora Project wiki page such as https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/
Look at the menus on the left at the "Toolbox" near the bottom.

Click on "Special pages"

Lets begin in the second section which is titled "List of pages"

* All pages - allows you list all pages beginning with a specific string. It defaults to the main space but can also be used to find pages in other namespaces.

Example: Looking at pages that begin with "bug" shows all the BugZappers/Meetings/* files that can be moved to the Meeting namespace. The directory hierarchy style of naming in a carry over from the old wiki system and is not recommended in the current mediawiki environment. So these files should also be renamed to something more like "Bugzappers meeting minutes $date" and placed into a category such as "Bugzappers meetings". Another large example would be pages that start with Extras. Since Extras is from Fedora Core days, I would guess that many of these pages can be archived or renamed.

Warning: All pages will list redirect pages as well as pages with content. For example, listing all pages that start with Docs/Beats also shows many pages. However, follow one of the links and you will find that these pages have already been renamed to Documentation Beats. [Look below the (new) title and above the banner image where is says "redirected from" - the URL will not change (yet)]. This is an example of why it is more useful for members of a team to move their own pages rather than the wiki team trying to keep track of everything.

*Categories - lists all the categories that have pages. Use this list to find an existing category or to get ideas for additional categories. There are less than 500 categories at the moment.

Example: There was already a "Board meetings logs" category and now there is also a "Board meetings" category. Docs Project has categories "Docs Project meetings" and Docs Project meeting logs" and "Docs Project archives" and several others.

Tip: Categories can be placed in other categories. This provides the hierarchy. The above mentioned Docs Project categories are all sub categories to "Docs Project"

Warning: Category names are case sensitive and spelling does count.

The last two options that I find particularly useful to the wiki cleanup project are from the top section titled "Maintenance reports" and are

* Uncategorized pages - pages that are not yet in any category. The wiki team would like to see this page have "no results" Currently there are about 3700 pages here - or more than one third of the "content pages" in the wiki. Since Paul has begun cleaning up the Board pages, BugZappers is the next good example alphabetically.

* Uncategorized categories - categories not yet in other categories. The wiki team would like to see this list trimmed to less than a dozen.

Now that you have found the pages, the next step is to rename them and add categories.

For renaming see Ian's tip of the week entry.

For categories return to my notes on wiki cleanup and its links to policy and help pages.

Next time: more examples of using categories.

-SML

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A long weekend

My long weekend has started out productive. I spent Saturday morning cleaning the gutters. Cleaning the leaves out of the gutters and cleaning the dirt off the visible part of the gutters. Then I planted some summer annuals in the pots out front. By then I was very warm and hungry. After lunch I cleaned up a pile of old paperwork by sorting, shredding, and recycling. After a quick trip to the store for cream to go with the fresh strawberries, it is now time for a nap.


-SML

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Will Tar Heels be cheering for Duke?

I am a Red Sox fan. I follow baseball. I am familiar with best 5 of 7 or 3 of 5 series. I am used to watching the wild card race at the end of the season and all the possible combinations of who has to win or who has to loose to get a particular team into the playoffs. I also enjoy going to a local minor league game with a group of friends.

College tournaments can be a little different. The ACC Baseball tournament is this weekend at the local minor league park. There are 8 teams competing. They are divided into 2 pools of 4 teams. Each pool plays a round robin schedule of 3 games in 4 days. The winner of each pool plays in the championship game on the 5th day. Tie breakers are first head to head in the pool and second regular season percentages.

I think this is why sports can be a good subject for teaching math and logic.

FSU clinched a championship spot after its second win in pool A. Pool B is a little more interesting. It will be decided by the last game of the 4 days - beginning at 8pm tonight. That game is between Virginia and Duke.

If Virginia wins, they go to the championship game.
So you would think that UNC fans, who would normally cheer for anyone but Duke, would be for VA. Well maybe not. Especially if UNC wins its game at 4pm.

See VA is 2-0 and if they lose they will be 2-1.
If Duke wins they will be 2-1.
If UNC wins this afternoon they will also be 2-1.

For a three way tie. UNC gets the spot because of regular season wins.

Now if UNC loses this afternoon they will be out and I am sure the Tar Heel fans will return to normal anyone but Duke cheering. Assuming they stay to watch the game at all.

At that point the winner of the 8pm game goes to the championship.
If VA wins they go with a 3-0 record.
If Duke wins, both VA and Duke have 2-1 records and the tie breaker if who won when they play each other.

How is that for learning math and logic? I bet you could even fit in a lesson on flow charts?

-SML

Friday, May 22, 2009

The back roads of Valley Forge

Last month I was in King of Prussia. Yes, that is the name of a town. It is in Pennsylvania. I was asked that question when online with the Fedora Docs Project recently. It is best known today for its large mall. It is also in the area of Valley Forge.

When working for this client, I stay at the Valley Forge Convention Center. The hotel does have a fridge and a microwave but I still much prefer the full kitchens of a Residence Inn or Homewood Suites. The full suite hotels also usually have two large windows providing more light and general niceness.

A big plus for the Legal Seafood at the mall. They have always brought wonderful hot rolls to the table unless of course you are ordering from the gluten free menu as I now do. This time however, I was offered some gluten free rolls to try. "We just got them in, please tell me what you think". I think they are very good. He also said they have rolls for sandwiches now as well.

The training center used to be in Conshohocken so I have already been to several of the Whole Foods in the area. The closest one to Valley Forge is in Wayne. It is a small store with not the best selection for a hot bar and dinner but they did have the flourless chocolate cake that I found and liked out in Las Vegas. I knew how to get there from the airport and the highway and I had mapped out a more direct route from the store to the hotel before I left home. That is if you can call windy back roads direct. It seemed that it would be more fun then going all the way back to the highway and around.

Then I ran into a roadblock. Well, really construction and a detour and I came out not quite where I thought I would. Luckily it was near two other roads I recognized from the maps and I made it the rest of the way to the hotel without more than one u-turn and only a few extra miles. So far it is still the fun type of adventure.

So the next night, I took the adventure an other direction and tried going through Valley Forge to get down to the road for the Whole Foods. Another roadblock and detour - they were working on the bridge over the turnpike. There are not many ways across the turnpike. Unfortunately this time I got a little turned around and then ended up off the back roads and on a highway. It took a while to find an exit and get turned back around. That adventure turned into about an hour to get to the store but only about 15 minutes to get back.

One other interesting point on my tour of the back roads of PA was finding Devon. I was driving along the road that has the Whole Foods and I saw the buildings of the Devon horse show and fairgrounds. I didn't realize it was so small. It is packed into this little town and only a few blocks from the Whole Foods. There were signs for trailer parking way away from the complex. I assume they have a shuttle. I know it as one of the big Dressage shows on the East Coast. The show started as a fundraiser for a therapeutic riding center. I think it still is that but it also attracts many top level international competitors.

I am going back to Valley Forge in June. I think I will see if I can find my way to one of the other Whole Foods stores that are further north. I have been to at least one. It was a good bit further away but it was also a much newer and much larger store. I may even make it a challenge to get there without using the highways again. I would also like to do more walking in the Valley Forge historic park.

-SML

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Road rant

Road rant.


OR Get off my road and out of my rear view


OR If they were thinking what I am seeing.


[Disclaimer: These thought have been going through my head as I drive for the past week or so... They are intended as humor though most are based on not so funny situations I have been in recently.]


The speed limit is 55. That means go 60 on the straight in the passing areas and 40 on the curves.

If I fill your rear view mirror, you will move over. Then I can speed past and slow down on the next bumper.

Ahh - a wide open road, go go go. Wait how fast am I going? Hit the brakes. I think I will sit here next to this other car so no one can pass me.

I am a professional driver with tinted windows and a for hire license plate. I can go 80 in a 65 and zip in and out around slower cars and cut people off and it doesn't matter.

I can drive 70 mph while eating breakfast and talking on my cell phone... as long as it is not raining. When it rains I know to use two hands on the wheel, use lights and wipers, go at least 10 mph below the speed limit, and pump the breaks ever few minutes especially on curves.

Staying close the to car in front of me also helps.

If it is very cold and wet slow down ON bridges as well as through a curve.

When traffic is merging from an on ramp, move over to the left. Even if it means cutting off another car and bringing the speed of that lane down by 10-15 mph.

Don't change lanes unless necessary, even if you are going slow in the fast lane. Other will go around.

When traffic is merging from an on ramp, maintain a constant speed... it does not matter the spacing of the vehicles.

-SML

Revisiting wiki search and cleanup - Part 1

The short version:

how can you - a Fedora contributor - assist in making the wiki more useful for everyone?
1. Archive old pages so they do not appear in a default search.
2. Move all meeting minutes and irc logs to the Meeting namespace.
3. Move all user pages to the User namespace


The long version (and the answer to Why me?):


As the release of Fedora 11 approaches a variety of housecleaning occurs. Rawhide becomes the working location for F12. Fedora 9 gets marked as end of life and all the bugs in bugzilla get noted as "wontfix, please open against a newer version if issue persists." The Docs Project will review the Release Notes process, archive old notes, and setup for F12.

This seems like a good time to revisit the state of the wiki and particularly the issue of search is borked. A lot of progress has been made to assist users and contributors with finding information in the wiki. The backend database settings were changed so that 3 letter words - like F11 and git - would be indexed. The fonts teams and feature pages show nice use of categories to track progress. Ambassadors and Marketing have been culling old information and grouping event information. Docs Project and Packaging have also made great strides in categorizing and renaming pages. I probably should not have tried to point out good example as I am sure I have missed others.

Yet when I search for a page recently created I still have to sort through many many extra hits. The newest pages of equal relevance are listed LAST. For my search for the release announcement for F11 my target was hit 7 of 7. Searching "F11 feature" on the other hand finds 127 hits with the default display of 20 hits per page. This makes it harder to find a new page. These 127 hits also include a number of irc logs and meeting minutes.

This doesn't seem useful for active contributors let alone attracting new users.

Changing the sort order to newest first may be an option, and Ian is looking at some other options this summer. Meanwhile: how can you - a Fedora contributor - assist in making the wiki more useful for everyone?

1. Archive old pages so they do not appear in a default search.
2. Move all meeting minutes and irc logs to the Meeting namespace.
3. Move all user pages to the User namespace.


Why this will help:


The default search only searches the "main" space.



If everyone that hosts meetings was to ensure that all the meeting minutes and meeting logs are in the Meeting namespace that would reduce a lot of hits right there. There are about 100 pages of Board/Meetings/$DATE and that is just one team. Also, if all the FC5 and FC6 related pages and other older feature pages and even the older FWN pages were in Archive they also would not be found with a generic "gnome" or "kde" search.

Q: What if you need to find those minutes or those old feature pages?
A: Use the advanced search and add "Meeting" or "Archive" to your search locations. Also the pages can be grouped together in a category that can then be browsed.

Q: I search for various meetings almost everyday. Will I always be using advanced search?
A: That is fine. OR: Log in and modify your account settings so that "Meeting" is part of your default search when you are logged into the wiki.

Q: Doesn't Archive mean delete?
A: No. There is a separate procedure for requesting a page to be deleted. Simply moving a page to Archive is a good way to take it out of the default search but still keep it in existence for legacy SIGs or historical purposes.

Q: Why me?
A: There are plenty of pages to move. It doesn't take long to move 5-10 pages. If 100 contributors each moved 10 pages in the next week that would be a HUGE chunk of cleanup. Start with pages related to a project or team that you work on or if you have been around awhile, start with an old project and look for pages to Archive. If a few team members move the meetings pages they can also clean up any "how to host a meeting" procedures as well.

Next time: Using "Special Pages" to find pages to move, pages to categorize, and categories to use.

Meanwhile, start at my notes on wiki cleanup page.

-SML

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taking a class

Occasionally there is a silver lining to a slow economy. Within a technical training company it is common to allow instructors to cross train by sitting in other classes offered by the same company for little or no cost. There is usually the expectation that the class is either one that the instructor may eventually teach or at least a related topic that will enhancing the instructors ability to teach the classes they already teach. For the full time trainer it may be a job requirement. For an active contract instructor it is usually more of a courtesy if a seat is available - and with the right to bump the trainer in favor of a last minute paying customer.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to sit in a few classes for the "cost of materials" and many classes for "free". I do not get paid for the days I spend learning instead of teaching. I also pay for my own travel but I have been very lucky to live in such a technology rich area that I can usually find a local offering. Long ago I had many students attending Intro to Linux classes ask "is that like the Cisco IOS?" When I had the option to sit in a CCNA class I took it and refreshed my memory on telecommunications while I learned a little bit about the Cisco IOS. By the way, there are several similar commands between the IOS and Linux and other Unix command line interfaces.

This spring one of my clients suggested that I cross train with the intent to teach some of the AIX curriculum. The first step is to sit in the classes. The admin class is running at the local training center this week and I am sitting in class. There are a lot more differences than I remember. I worked on AIX some in the early 90's. It still looks the same. To be fair, we are running an older TL of AIX5.3 right now so I am trying to reserve judgement until we upgrade to the AIX 6.1 later this week. Linux on the other hand has moved ahead in leaps and bounds. As much as I get frustrated by some of the bloat in some Linux distributions, overall it so much more flexible to configure.

I do not know if I will get far enough to teach this course. There are a couple other courses that go with it to have all the knowledge for any type of certification. I would like to continue the cross training, but even if that does not happen this will help me teach Linux and I already think it is worth the cost to my sponsor. I have a lot more sympathy for my students transitioning from Unix to Linux. Sure find, grep, and man can get anyone there but when you have to remember to add the path to find and work with a grep that doesn't have the --color option it does get a little harder. :)


-SML

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What a morning.

It was a dark and stormy night....

No, wait. It was not night.
It was a dark and stormy morning....

A rare morning at that, one where I did not need to be any particular place at any particular time. No planes to catch. No class to teach. No family, doctor, or pet appointments. With the weather report for rain and wind all day and getting colder as the day went on, there was little reason to get out of bed. The only things waiting for me were a pile of laundry and sink full of dirty dishes. And since the cats would definitely prefer I stay in bed, I rolled over and went back to sleep for another hour.

Eventually, however, the stomach growled and I got up and headed to the kitchen. I cleaned the coffee pot, put in a fresh filter, and reached for the coffee. Uh Oh. No coffee. So much for warm coffee, a good book or movie, and not going out in to the wilds of the dark and stormy morning. After some serious consideration of just having tea, I ventured out into the world.

After spending a lot on what seemed like very little, I returned home to unpack the groceries and found I had not bought cream. Coffee - check. Cat food - check. Bananas - check. Milk - check. Dinner for later tonight and something for tomorrow - all good. But no cream. And in case you wondered, no there was not enough left at home for tomorrow mornings coffee.

And so ends my dark and stormy morning.

The afternoon went better. Dad called to say he had to come my direction for an errand and I had him stop and bring me cream. He also helped me hang my bike rack in the basement so I could finally get that up off the floor and out of the way. And now I can curl up with a drink, fresh strawberries, and a good movie.

-SML

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Have you seen this Guitar Hero Ad?

What happens when Metalica Guitar Hero and a few NCAA legendary coaches get together in front of a camera?

They make a risky business commercial. Now available on You Tube for all to see over and over and over again. This UNC write up also has a link to an ESPN behind the scenes spot.

-SML

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tar Heels win title!

Go Tar Heels!

A Tar Heel Triumph: North Carolina Takes Down Michigan State, 89-72

Several new records and a great end for some great seniors.

Celebrations on Franklin Street.
Time to go shopping for a new sweatshirt.

It was a big day for sports fans.
The NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game on opening day of Major League Baseball.

The Red Sox got rained out so they will try again tomorrow. I'll still be wearing Carolina blue but maybe, just for Spot, I'll wear my Red Sox t-shirt under my Tar Heel sweatshirt.

The Women's NCAA basketball championship game is tomorrow night. A Big East team will win. Louisville takes on undefeated UCONN. No opponent has ended a game closer than 10 points and Louisville lost twice, the closer game being a 28 point loss. They are playing really well right now and it is hard to beat an in conference opponent three times in one season but all predictions are for UConn to win this one. I'm hoping that it will at least be an interesting game.

I am also proud of my Tar Heel women even if they did get knocked out in the 2nd game. They played very well at times this season and often better than expected. They had a lot of adjustments to make and it was fun to watch them grow. I am really looking forward to next season.

-SML (UNC Alum)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

It is definately spring

Procrastination happens.

I had the great plan of posting some time back with the first signs of spring. Some bulbs had popped up and I thought I should take a picture and share with the world.

Then it snowed. Not record breaking but the 6 inches was something like the 7th largest March snowfall on record for this part of NC so it did make the news - and kill off some of the early buds.

Then I did get a couple of pictures but never got them moved from the camera. That was around the time when I saw a flurry of pictures and posts about the signs of spring.

This past week I was about 400 miles north of here and when I got home I realized that spring was in full force.
Redbuds are dropping buds and dogwoods are opening up.
The cherry tree has leaves and the flowers are mostly gone.
The white ipheions on gone and the blue ones are fading.
The pear tree and the apple trees have flowers.
The phlox and periwinkle are colorful and the azaleas have buds.
The many colors of green are just appearing in the trees.

I moved a dogwood this weekend from the woods to my front yard and still need to move some periwinkle and irises then go pick up some summer annuals to plant, a few more ground cover plants, and start up the veggie garden.

The real reason I know it is spring though is that my arms are red and itchy.
Now where did I put that allergy medicine...

-SML

Saturday, March 14, 2009

ACC Men's Tourney

It is another basketball weekend. This time it is cold and rainy outside and the games are on local TV. Also all the games are being covered by the Tar Heel Sports Network (Woody and Eric) on local radio. But what I found interesting is that the same four schools made the semifinals though in slightly different match ups.

Recall the Women's tournament:
1. MD
2. FSU
3. Duke
4. UNC
Where UNC lost to MD and Duke won over FSU in the semifinals.

Now look at the Men's tournament:
1. UNC
7. MD (beat #2 Wake Forest the day before)
3. Duke
4. FSU
Where UNC lost and Duke won.

Does that say something about the overall programs of those school? I don't know but it is an interesting thought. I do know that, like the Women's program, the ACC is one of - if not the best conference. The quarter final games on Friday were decided by 3 points, 2 points, 9 points, and 1 point. The semifinals today were differences of 3 points and 6 points.

Tomorrow is Duke vs FSU - Duke has been in the championship game 27 other times and has 16 titles in 55 years. This is Florida State's first time in the finals since they joined the league in 1992.

-SML

Friday, March 13, 2009

Not a hardware person

I am not a hardware person. Given a working system that supports the operating system, I can get things installed and configured. Even the many cases where the software is not really supported but it can work are fine. Oh sure, I can deal with hardware but it is definitely not my favorite activity.

I built a machine from scratch one time. I had a number of colleagues and friends who loved the activity. A bunch of us went to one or more computer shows at the fairgrounds and picked out parts. Then a friend came over to my apartment and we put the box together. I remember at the end signing the date and our names on the inside of the case as a sign of accomplishment. The friend was bouncing with excitement, I was just exhausted. At least that was over and now I could do the fun stuff of installing an operating system which at that time was probably OS/2. The friend wandered off bored and I started having fun. But then, I also had fun helping customers get a DOS box to connect to TCP/IP, IPX, and Netbios networks all at the same time with a bunch of tweaking to memory management and protocol.ini configurations. Now that was fun.

Why do I mention this? Well, a couple of weeks ago I finally moved my home desktop from Fedora 7 to Fedora 10. This involved a complete reinstall since when I ordered the machine with the "defaulting partitioning" I assumed it was Fedora 7 default partitioning including LVM. It turned out to be the company's default partitioning which did not include LVM and because of a few other issues, I did not reinstall it until after I was sure I would not need to return the whole thing and by then I would have to backup some stuff so I might as well wait for the next release which was due soon and the comedy goes on and on.

Then this week I discovered that I don't have enough memory to boot the F11 alpha in KVM. So I am spending some time looking at the book and the machine and the BIOS to figure out my options. The first book I find says the motherboard has 3 slots for 184 pin DDR DIMMs and a max on 3G RAM. The system (dmidecode) tells me I have 2x1G in there now and 4 slots, a maximum of 4G, and a bunch of supported speeds but unless I am missing something, it does not tell me anything helpful for ordering additional memory. Taking the case off reveals 4 slots and a pair of 1G DIMMs labeled PC2-5300 and with a part number that turns out to be 240pin non-ECC memory. I dig a bit deeper into the pile of hardware and manuals and find another book. This book now matches with the 4 slots and says I can have up to 8G which sounds much more like what I would have ordered.

Turns out I still had the book from a previous machine that used the same brand motherboard and I wasn't paying attention to the model numbers. No wonder I was confused. Sigh. Maybe I should go back to watching basketball now.

-SML

Sunday, March 8, 2009

For the record...

Maryland Wins 2009 Women's ACC Tournament
Terrapins beat Blue Devils in Overtime 92-89.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

So much for 5 in a row

No. 11 Carolina Falls To No. 4 Maryland, 95-84
It was back and forth. The final score isn't a good reflection since it was 83-81 with 2:38 left on the clock and 8 of Maryland's last 10 points came at the foul line.
There were some very good moments for the Tar Heels, just not enough. It was pretty even on assists, turnovers, blocks, and steals. Field goal percentage was close and UNC was better from 3 point range. MD got to the foul line a lot more, making more than UNC attempted, and ended up winning the boards but only by 7. In the press conference, Coach Hatchell mentioned that UNC got more points in the paint but couldn't get to the foal line and is not sure any team can keep MD off the foul line.

In the second game of the day,
Blue Devils Advance After Beating Seminoles 75-57. I stayed until partway through the second half. Duke led by about 20 at the half. FSU surged a bit at the start of the second half and got within single digits before Duke pulled away again for good.

This ends a UNC winning streak of 13 consecutive ACC Tournement wins. The last time UNC was not in the championship game was 2001. UNC has been in 13 of the last 15. One other realted note - The last time no teams from the state of NC - or even more specifically, the last time that neither UNC or Duke - was in the final was 1993 (VA over MD in triple overtime).

On the other hand, Coach is still very optimistic about the NCAA tournement. It is hard to win in conference where the other teams know your style. This year particularly, where the conference is so balanced, so talented, and all in such a fun style. She said this was a fun game - except for the last 3 mintues. I also noticed that in the 10 games so far, every team - win or lose - scored over 50 points in the game. That is well over 100 points scored in 40 minutes of play in every game. That is fast basketball, that is fun basketball. The Maryland vs Duke game tomorrow should be fun too.

Meanwhile in the SEC, the Lady Vols fall in the semifinals to top seeded Auburn who will take on the winner Vanderbilt vs LSU game.

-SML

Corrected Mar 8, 2009 - VA beat MD in 1993. MD last won an ACC championship in 1989.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The ACC - day 2

So far the predictions are holding true.

Tar Heels Rout Clemson, 74-55 after only a 2 point lead at the half. The most impressive items appeared not in the recap, but in the game notes. "The crowd in today's game is the largest in ACC Tournament history with 13,599 fans." and "The Tar Heel rebound effort is fifth-best all-time in the history of the ACC Tournament." UNC got 59 rebounds - more rebounds than Clemson had in points.

Offensive wins fans, defence wins games, rebounds win championships.
I am sure someone deserves credit for that quote since I have heard it a number of time.
If I had to guess, it was probably first said by Pat Summitt but I think I have heard it from other coaches too including Sylvia Hatchell.

In the afternoon game,
Terrapins Survive the Deacons 72-70. Wake lead through much of the second half but Maryland went on an 11-0 run to regain the lead.

-SML

Thursday, March 5, 2009

ACC Tournement Round 1 evening sessions

The evening of Round 1 goes much more as expected.

Boston College knocks off Miami 76-59 and will meet Florida State tomorrow.
and
Virginia downs Hokies 66-57 and faces Duke tomorrow evening.

Meanwhile a bit to the west...
Second Half Surge Sends Lady Vols to SEC Quarterfinals. This is one of the rare time they have had to play in the opening round of the SEC Tournament.

-SML

The ACC "Upset central" Tourney

Maybe I should not have made any predictions. So far I am 0 for 2. Though I will stick to my predictions for tomorrow's winners.

Everyone said it was a good conference, balanced in talent, and the tourney is very much up for grabs. After all, 5 teams are nationally ranked in the top 20, all teams lost at least 2 conference games, 8 teams have overall winning records, UNC is the 4th seed with 4 conference losses, all on the road and by a TOTAL of 19 points (4, 6, 7, and 2).

First up this morning: 12th-seeded Tigers upset 5th-seeded Jackets in Game One in "the biggest on-paper upset in the ACC Tournament's 32-year history". GT beat Clemson twice during the regular season. This morning it was tied at the half. Clemson came out with the will to win and some fundamentals. Clemson out rebounded GT 50-38 and shot 94.7% from the free throw line (18-19). Now Clemson faces UNC tomorrow morning.

In less of an upset, the afternoon game saw NC State's saddest season come to an end. Wake Forest wins, adding to observations that is very hard for any conference match up to result in a 3 game sweep. Although my Tar Heels did over Duke last year :) NC State won the two regular season match ups with Wake Forest but could not make it happen a third time.

There are 2 more games tonight.

-SML

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Keyboards do not like milk.

When I was a kid, my mother never let me take food or drink out of the kitchen (unless it was for a picnic outside).

Most data centers do not allow food or drink at all.

There is a reason.

Luckily this geek has plenty of spare parts around the house.
And good thing it wasn't the laptop.

-SML

PS: old IBM PS2 keyboards are heavy and click very loudly.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tourney Time

The pairings have been announced.

Here are my predictions for the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament:

Thurs:
#5 Georgia Tech beats #12 Clemson. GT is a very athletic team that plays good fast basketball. They have had some time as a ranked team and deserve more recognition than they get.

#8 NC State beats #9 Wake Forest. State already has 2 wins over Wake this year. I think they can do it again.

#7 Boston College beats #10 Miami even though Miami has been playing really well late this season. BC's new coach played at UNC and knows ACC basketball.

#6 Virginia beats #11 Virginia Tech. Virginia already has 2 wins over VT but this rivalry game is always a toss up. I'll take a close game with the win to the nationally ranked Virginia.

Fri:

#4 UNC most likely plays Georgia Tech. GT won at GT and UNC won at UNC during the regular season. I think UNC can win on the neutral court of the tourney. Clemson's only chance against UNC is if UNC players try to coast through it and not play Carolina ball.

#1 Maryland plays NC State or Wake Forest. MD will likely beat either.

#2 Florida State plays Boston College or Miami. FSU ended up with a piece of the regular season title but they had a puff schedule with all the top ranked teams on their home court. Lets see what happens in neutral territory. Both BC and Miami have a chance here but BC is more likely to pull off this potential upset. As much as I would like to see BC win, I expect FSU to push on through to the next round.

#3 Duke plays either Virginia or Virginia Tech. I think Duke can hang on, even if it faces the very good Virginia team which will likely want revenge on their loss during the regular season.

Which brings up to the semi finals on Sat where I still have top 4 seeds playing.

#4 UNC vs #1 MD
#3 Duke vs #2 FSU

And Sunday's Final game where I predict UNC beats Duke in another great game.

We shall see. The ACC is a great conference with 5 nationally ranked teams and a couple more that should be ranked and will likely go the NCAA tournament. This year is even tighter than years past. This is good for the game, good for the conference, good for the teams, and good for the fans.

Go Heels!
-SML

This doesn't look like March in North Carolina...

And in the morning light:


I think this is the most snow this year. Definitely more than November. Also more than I got in the January snow that covered Raleigh. At least it is snow. Much of this area got a lot more ice than snow and a lot of people are without power.


-SML

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Slip sliding away

A friend has done a ground hog day thing about the weather this winter. There has been a lot of snow in the north-east. I am having a similar feeling. Back in November I posted a picture of my car covered in snow for the second time before Thanksgiving which is very unusual for North Carolina.

December, January, and February sure seemed cold and windy and wet. In reality I do not think they were all that unusual weather wise. It just seemed that every time I wanted to be outside it was cold. Signs of spring began appearing this week. There are daffodils all over town and there is something up in my back yard. Trees are beginning to show leaves and the critters have started to shed. I was going to take some photos and post when suddenly....

It is March and it is snowing - and accumulating. This is very unusual for North Carolina. I count 10 times ever in all of central NC according to the NOAA site. It was 58 Saturday morning and gradually got colder as the day went on. It was 38 and rainy on Sunday. I drove home from the basketball game in sleet. They can't put the salt brine down until the rain stops or it just gets washed away. Luckily most people were not on the roads and overall they were not that bad but I did slide a tiny bit on one turn.

By the time I got home the mulch in the front yard was turning white. By 10pm the car is white too and it is just beginning. The prediction at that point was for 1-3 inches in Raleigh, less than an inch further south and east, and 3-6 inches north and west towards my place. While many counties had called of or delayed school by early evening, my county waited until 11:30pm.


-SML

Another Senior Night

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular season ends with Duke vs UNC - in both the men and women. It is senior night for one team or the other (alternating) each year. It is always a big game known nationally as the battle of tobacco road and compared to Yankees vs Red Sox rivalries. It is often a battle of top teams.

The women played today at Duke and once again senior night was special even though it didn't turn out exactly as I hoped. The rankings nationally had UNC at 9 and Duke at 10. They were tied for third in the ACC. UNC won the match up earlier this season in Chapel Hill. UNC played better overall this time around. Duke played incredibly well. The end result was Duke winning 81-79 in overtime.

During the post game press conference:
"We will use this game as motivation," Hatchell said. "Everything happens for a reason, and this may be a blessing in disguise. I hope so."

Maybe she said or intended to say "had better" instead of "will"? I predict some rebounding practice between now and Friday.

Besides motivation, there are a few other positives out of tonight's game:
1. A point from Coach that this was a televised game and probably the best one all season. It was a great game for women's basketball. The radio commentator for the Tar Heel Sports Network reiterated that point as well but her take was that "If you didn't care so much about the outcome" it was a great game.

2. Playing at 11am on Friday means a few hours more rest before Saturdays game (assuming we can win). They might even get to stay and watch the next game for a bit. The coaches will definitely get to scout the next opponent after a win instead of with their minds on an upcoming game.

3. The end goal is a NCAA Championship. A good seeding for the tourney can help. UNC has lost 5 games this year. All 4 conference losses were on the road. They have a chance to fix those mistakes and show that they are better now as they go through the conference tournament. Some say that a win over MD would help our standings considerably. Well, we are now in that side of the bracket.

Rebound ladies. From here on out is one and done.

-SML

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Senior Night

There is just something special about Senior Night at a college basketball game. Or maybe only at schools that really appreciate these student athletes and recognize that they are also still college kids. I wonder though, how much it confuses the opponents?

Coach Hatchell starts the seniors on senior night if at all possible. For some it is the only start of their college career and some of those come out at the first dead ball since senior night is a conference game and there are no easy conference games.

Thursday night Laura Barry got her only start. She scored within the first minute of the game - her first points of the year by the stats I found online - which resulted in the bench jumping to their feet and a huge cheer from the crowd. Good for her, good for the team, and good for the crowd. She was wide open and her teammates got her the ball. My thought was that Miami (the opponent) wasn't really prepared for the different starting lineup. Laura stayed in the game until the first media timeout (almost 5 minutes) even after other substitutions. She must have been doing her job well in the coaches eyes as well as in mine.

I remember other years like that as well. With a senior reserve player with few minutes who started on senior night and scored the first basket. Sometimes the years blend together but my memory says it was Jennifer Nelms.

There were 8 seniors honoured this year. Two managers, the video coordinator, and five players: Alex Miller, who has ended her career after continued issues from last year's injury, and Laura Berry, Heather Claytor, Iman McFarland, and Rashanda McCants who all started.

The Carolina Fever (student fan group) was also very supportive. Near the end of the game, instead of the Lets-Go-Tar-Heels chant, they were chanting Thank-you-sen-iors. Though I still do not know what was up with the bright spandex leggings and off the shoulder sweatshirts that many were wearing.

Thank you Seniors for four wonderful years of fast paced team work.
Lets keep it going all the way to April!

-SML

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Memories of Robinson Hall

I found Requiem for Classical Physics on Fedora Planet. Matthew Daniels has been doing a great job on updating the Fedora User's Guide. He is also a physics major. I was an astrophysics major and enjoyed double slit experiments. My optics class and the advanced lab class were my favorite classes. Maybe that's why I followed the post and liked the post, but he does try to keep it simple for the non-geeks. Hopefully others may enjoy it as well.

Now I think I'll go grab my copy of Timeline by Michael Crichton where quantum physics meets medieval history in the world of fiction.

-SML

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Historic Stadiums

Do you remember the Mastercard Priceless ad where they go to different ballparks? It was baseball parks. It used material from a real story and had controversy over the rights to that usage. It is one that came to my mind today.

I've been to Fenway (of course) and to a game in St Louis (in the 80's at the old Busch Stadium) and maybe one other. It is not so much seeing the different ball parks or ball teams. I have no interest in seeing all the parks but I wouldn't mind seeing more of the historic ones. I missed out on getting to the original Yankee Stadium and to Shea Stadium but there is still Wrigley Field and these days you can probably count Dodger Stadium as one of the few other old fashion ones.

On the other hand I appear to be collecting memories of historic basketball arenas. Last night I went to historic William Neal Reynolds Coliseum to cheer the UNC Tar Heels in a road win over the NC State Wolfpack. Not only is it fun to see the buildings but it is also fun to see the differences in fans and cheering traditions. The NCSU band is good. They played some great music and whoever was on drums last night is great! There were a lot of kids there including whole school groups. The box score showed just over 6000 in attendance and the coliseum holds 9500 so it was a good crowd. There was a lot of blue in that crowd. We ended up sitting high up behind the UNC bench which turned out the be near the Carolina Fever student group and the season ticket holder bus trip folks.

Other venues I have seen (historic and otherwise)
Carmichael Auditorium (UNC)
Dean E Smith Center (UNC)
Cameron Indoor Stadium (Duke)
Reynolds Coliseum (NC State)
Boston Garden (2006 NCAA Women's Final Four)
Wells Fargo Arena (Arizona state hosts 2005 NCAA Tempe Regional)

I have also been to the RBC Center (home of the NC State men's basketball) but only to see a couple of Hurricanes games.

A quick search of the experts on the internet suggests that my "must see" list should include Kansas, Penn, and Minnesota. Being more of a women's hoops fan, I have to add Tennessee, Connecticut, and Stanford.

-SML

Golden Shovel of Wiki Gardening Award?

Thanks Karsten for mentioning the work done on the Fedora Docs Project wiki cleanup. I didn't know there was a Golden Shovel of Wiki Gardening Award.

It has also been fun reading up on the packaging guidelines and package maintainers procedures. That renaming work is moving along nicely as well. Check out the new entry point for the Package Maintainers - it is the category page so any new pages will automatically show up at the bottom simply by adding [[Category:Package Maintainers]] at the bottom of the page. That work was just done this past weekend, so I was very pleased to see an email this morning pointing another user to a process page by using the NEW page name.

It is easy to use the old names since they redirect with most people not even noticing. This means that many others who are working at this cleanup in other groups go unnoticed. So I would like to pass on the Golden Shovel of Wiki Gardening Award to Fabian Affolter who has been moving a number of the user pages around. He has been working on moving and redirecting the pages of [[FirstnameLastname]] to the format of [[User:loginname]] and the only reason I noticed was by seeing all the moves in the Special:RecentChanges page of the wiki.

Finally, for those that don't know (or don't remember), this "wiki cleanup project" is accomplishing several task but the biggest is to make the search feature work better for everyone. In my mind, this is especially important for new users so that they can find what they need and stick around to help Fedora grow. It is not a hard task. Anyone can help. Find out how in #fedora-docs.

-SML

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oktapodi

Great short!!!

OSCAR-NOMINATED SHORT: "Oktapodi"
The thrilling tale of one octopus' quest to rescue its partner from the cooking pot is one of five nominees for Best Animated Short Subject.

View the short at the "Oktapodi" Web site

[As seen on CBS Sunday Morning show Sunday Feb 22, 2009]


I miss the days of "Best of the Fest" at the Somerville Theatre [particularly April 1990].

Those were the days of
-SML

[Corrected link for April 1990]

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New URL

Some of my readers may have noticed that I changed the location of the this blog. Others will not even notice since there is a redirect in place.

When I started I did not yet have my company domainname registered so I used the blogger domain with the free hosting. I choose the hostname of laubersolutions since this is about my travels while training for my company.

Then I finally registered laubersolutions.com for my company and now that it has been yet another year since, I thought it was time to put the blog in that domain. Especially since blogger (now part of google) lets me do it for free and redirects the old name. How much easier can it get? The final motivation was deciding to do this before getting onto Fedora Planet.

My dilemma was whether it should be blog.laubersolutions.com or something else. Since "The Traveling Trainer" is more about my personal life even if it is on the road mostly for work, I decided on travelingtrainer.laubersolutions.com. This leaves the blog.laubersolutions.com name available if (or rather when) I get around to setting up a company blog with more on the business itself (instead of me personally) and the technical aspects of Lauber System Solutions (like more linux and application posts).

Anyways - if you have my site bookmarked in the old location, you may want to change it to the new location: http://travelingtrainer.laubersolutions.com

-SML

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More gluten free thanks

In an effort to share the love...

Thank you also goes to Not Your Average Joe's for also having a gluten free menu. The rosemary skewered fresh scallops are particularly good. Too many dishes have wine or wine vinegar for me to take family members but it still a good place.

I was introduced to this restaurant when visiting friends and getting take out from Joe's is a common Friday night event when I stay with them. I have eaten at this restaurant on several trips to the Boston area but while looking up the menu for this post I realized that they have a Leesburg, VA location as well. That is doable when I teach in Tysons.

-SML