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Jan 25, 2020

English Class
last update: 01/25 @ 10:42

Robert’s group is doing a short scene from Othello in English class next week. He found (in our basement) a suitable sized box to turn into a wall for their set. And after the rain quit this morning, he was giving it a couple coats of gray. It get’s handed off later in day for Kenna to add some detailing to it.

I’m sorry we’ll miss the production.

It was great fun to see him on stage at the Folger as the Moon back in middle school.

Outside of he’s enjoying being an assistant stage manager for a local theater production of Frozen Jr. Another show we’ve enjoying seeing.

Jan 10, 2020

Flumoxed … Resolved
last update: 01/10 @ 20:42

Feel free to skip this, it’s going to be geeky…

I’ve been running Bind as a DNS server for years now; both for our internal network and as authoritative for this website. It’s been stable and working fine for many iterations of DSL and now cable ISP service. It’s possible, though I don’t honestly remember, that I was running (an older version of Bind) way back in the Ricochet wireless modem days.

And I’ve always been a control freak so I’ve had it configured as the resolver for our internal network. If the query is not for something on our network, it goes to the root servers and tracks down the correct IP address.

So I was flumoxed when my Comcast service was upgraded and suddenly my internal DNS servers could no longer get resolution for external systems. The upgrade was meant to be simple: new modem, faster service. “This year’s deal.” And it worked fine for everything except DNS resolution — which means it effectively worked fine for public access of this site, but was significantly broken for our use here going out to the Internet.

My flumoxation was of the compound variety: a simple upgrade, which clearly didn’t break connectivity, did break that one key function. And rather than querying our internal Bind servers, if we queried a public DNS server, it worked fine.

But, being a control freak, our internal network is a different domain from the public network (but registered and paid for). And that domain is not published. So relying on public DNS would leave us blind to our intranet.

I had iftop running and was tailing logs and doing tcpdumps for wireshark and nothing was standing out to me as the problem. I just got status: SERVFAIL for external addresses and everything internal was fine.

As I was scratching my head and looking for better Bind debug options, I ran across the documentation for forwarding. Since I could query external DNS on the command line fine, I thought it was worth a shot (though not my preferred option).

That worked. I’m sending more traffic to (and I’m more reliant on) Comcast and Google’s DNS servers. But it’s working.

I would welcome explanations or theories, but now I’m just going to bed. I expect it’s something in the format of an “internal” query from Bind (following the path from the root name servers to the authoritative name servers) versus just asking someone else to do that leg work.

But first a shout out to Bill at Comcast. He was not able to point me to a fix, but he tried very hard and was as helpful as he could be. (And I know my situation is not very common.)

Jan 04, 2020

I take umbrage
last update: 01/04 @ 16:36

Long enough ago that I almost forgot about it, I got Robert a Meggy Jr. We had time this afternoon to find the soldering iron and solder, and with the rain coming in the afternoon, it seemed perfect.

Imagine my chagrin, as Robert was using the soldering iron I think I got in high school, when I read in the directions as it discussed soldering irons, “Seriously. If you use one that is old and busted, or a $10 radio shack iron, or that thing from the dollar store, please expect to spend at least twice as long soldering.”

For the record, the 40 year old soldering iron Robert is using does not seem to be holding him back at all.

And he is not one of those who enjoys the smell of solder (and yes, it is lead free solder — even from back then).

Spooky Afternoon on the River
last update: 01/04 @ 16:24

With 60+ degree weather in January, it seemed like an excellent time to go to the river.

Robert and Sarah were less convinced.

With the cold water and warm air, it was spectacularly foggy.

On the way back to Angler’s Inn, it was helpful to know where the takeout was as it was quite socked in.

And I can attest to the water being cold.

After taking on some water in the waves and getting pretty wet, I developed literal cold feet and decided not to do much surfing.

The level was nice, the wave on the Virginia side and hydraulic on the Maryland side were both fine. But I really didn’t want to get that wet and I certainly didn’t want to take an accidental swim.

It was very cool to be out in the fog though.

And nice to get back into my boat (I missed December).

Jan 01, 2020

last update: 01/01 @ 23:30

We drove up to Baltimore to visit the National Aquarium to start off the new year right. And we happened to be there when a volunteer diver was giving a talk in the main tank about sharks.

They have many (well fed) sharks — four kinds in this tank — and a green sea turtle, Calypso, who seemed at least passingly interested in the talk.

Robert’s plan, after seeing volunteer Amy and several other divers working in the tank, is to see what it takes to be volunteer diver there.

New Year, New Decade
last update: 01/01 @ 23:10

We were invited to a New Year’s Eve party with one of Robert’s friends a block and a half away. Will has a younger sister, so the party was geared to her group and had a balloon drop at 9pm (New Year’s in Greenland).

That gave us time to come back and relax before meeting the boys to go up to the Masonic memorial.

New this year, fake foxes (you can see some in the background). A bit off-putting at first, until you see what they are. And they seemed to work as there was less evidence of geese on the path or lawn.

The location is great for us. With the recent move of the Old Dominion Yacht Club, the fireworks were right down King street.

Alexandria does a very nice fireworks show. And having a great view 2 blocks from home makes it even more special.

The year, the weather was cool but dry and no fog. The fog last year made it seem very eerie: just flashes of color in the fog.

This time, the view was spectacular! We could see “our” fireworks and several Maryland cities across the river.

After the show, we did the normal:

Ran around the house three times with (empty) luggage.

Swept our troubles off the front and back porches.

Ate twelve grapes under the table.

And toasted the New Year!

Here’s to a happy, healthy, safe year and decade to come.

Dec 29, 2019

last update: 12/29 @ 16:26

December 25, 2019

Robert was very patient waiting for the full family to gather in Decatur to open presents on Christmas. We enjoyed too brief a trip but took advantage of the time to catch up.

And play Catan.

And play Dominion.

And eat and drink lots.

December 25, 2019

The cousins had their night out; we enjoyed a fantastic Christmas eve lasagna, and an outragous Christmas dinner with beef and all the trimmings topped off with a croquembouche. More photos in the vacations section.

Dec 08, 2019

Christmas Tree
last update: 12/08 @ 23:21

We walked over to our favorite tree lot yesterday.

Not quite as planned, it was no longer light as we had some kitty calming to do before we could go: Panzer had found a paper bag and…

Trapped himself inside it. There was a brown, paper bag streak racing through the house; downstairs, then up.

We found some of the bag. But there was still a rope handle wrapped around him as he was hiding under Robert’s bed.

We got him out with treats, checked him over, gave him some dinner, then went to get the tree.

So the decorations went up today.

I think we did well.

And I think Panzer agreed.

Robert is working on replacing the Christmas train around the tree with a Christmas Hot Wheels track.

But he’s still working on getting the curve and loop to work as he’d like.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

And we can barely wait…

Dec 01, 2019

Onions, Stat!!!
last update: 12/01 @ 12:04

We had a great Thanksgiving meal at the Hargadons, following a fantastic Wednesday dinner here and before the now traditional Caps Hockey games on Friday. Which was followed up by a lovely feast at Lee’s house on Saturdy (after the traditional billiards games).

As family branches make their ways back across the country, Ian stopped by before his flight and he and Robert picked up Overcooked. It sounds like a great game, but will it translate into more self-sufficiency for Robert in the real kitchen?

Nov 25, 2019

Passing of a friend
last update: 11/25 @ 21:00

Catan game photo by SZap

We drove down to Richmond last weekend for Martha Mabey’s memorial service. She was a family friend of decades and I’m sorry that she’s gone now.

But it was not unexpected to her or her family and friends.

She did all she could to make the arrangements ahead of time to make it easy on her family, and to exert her sense of style on the service.

Because her life (and her husband’s) was so intertwined with my parents lives, Loren, Susan, Steve and Helen also traveled to Richmond for the service.

Pipeline rapid photo by SZap

That gave us time to play Catan, enjoy several nice meals, and tour the James River rapids Steve and I grew up on (and Loren had some occasion to enjoy).

It also gave us time to remember Martha and Gordon and all the shared memories with our parents.

Jessica, her daughter, seems to be handling it well and has lots of support in Richmond.

One thing Martha did was pen a book of Contacts about her friends and what they meant to her. That included a a page about my mom, which I’ve added to related information about her.

And if you’d like to know a little more about Martha Mabey, she wrote THE LAST DOCTOR IN AMERICA about coming to terms with a life threatening medical issue. Something which clearly helped to motivate her to plan for her end of life.

I like to think she would have enjoyed the serendipity of running into a parade in Ashland on our way home. And of the flexibility of the organizers to deal with a parade route cut in two by train tracks.

As she and Gordon lived in Ashland for a while, they may have enjoyed the parade (and the trains) years ago.

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