A Quarter Century

No one is really quite sure the day I — Pookie the Cockatiel — was hatched. So, after careful investigation, it was determined that Columbus Day October 12 was probably my hatch date. Today, I am 25 years old, not bad.

Let me just say it is difficult work to train humans to communicate with us. Primarily for survival reasons, we birds do not reveal a lot. But, Dad and Mrs. H. have gotten reasonable marks for figuring me out.

Doing what I always do, inspecting.
Dad left his dresser messy just for my birthday.

Taming sendmail [ I hope ]

With the exception of one Linux server, which performs URL routing, all our Linux servers have jobs to do, and send email out when their jobs have completed. All our Linux servers run sendmail, but sendmail is being used in its crudest form. It’s not serving in its full capacity, but its only job is to move email off each Linux server to our email server, and does so with a Perl shim that logs into our email server using a valid user name.

Over the past few years, our email server has needed replacing. Its disks get full, and it cannot accept more incoming mail. I’ve never bothered to tune sendmail, but have now resorted to something crude that I hope will prevent our Linux servers from many, many retries, and hanging due to one of many conditions, including running out of memory.

# A $? -eq 1 means the mail server is running. That is ?Invalid command was not found.
(echo open mailserver.arlington1.local 25; sleep 1; echo EHLO; echo quit) | telnet | grep "?Invalid command"

if [ $? -eq 1 ]; then
   if [ -r /tmp/sendmail_stopped ]; then
      rm /tmp/sendmail_stopped
      /etc/init.d/sendmail start
      mail -s "sendmail has started back up." dbadmin@town.arlington.ma.us << /dev/null
      echo "sendmail OK"
   if [ ! -r /tmp/sendmail_stopped ]; then
      touch /tmp/sendmail_stopped
      /etc/init.d/sendmail stop
      echo "sendmail still not OK"

So far, so good. I’m hoping to shutoff sendmail and hence shutoff retries, so I don’t have to force reboot our Linux servers.

But, Your Honor, I’m a Farmer

Many years ago, I worked at a riding stable near my home on the seacoast of New Hampshire. My primary job was to clean out stalls, go on errands, and help bring in the hay.

The stables also included several acres of prime pasture land. Prime pasture land in New Hampshire often equals a source of hay, and riding stables go through a lot of hay. You might also be surprised the neighbors who did not want hay, would give away their hay in exchange for having their fields cut. So, helping with hay was a big part of my job towards the end of the summer.

Working on any kind of farm is hard work; equipment is scarce; and it is hard to complete every administrative task, like getting the one and only tractor registered with a proper license plate. If you do not have a vehicle registration, you can be fined.

Well one day it happened. The New Hampshire state police gave my friend Roger a citation for driving the tractor on the road without a registration. He came home dejected, because he had to go to court and pay a fine.

But his son, Ross, said don’t worry, Dad. Absolutely nothing is going to happen; and that is because this is New Hampshire, and you are a farmer. The minute the judge hears you were out haying, the ruling will be case dismissed.

Other family members weighed in with their opinions, and, even though the tractor soon got a registration plate, the court date loomed.

Well, Roger had his day in court, and although we wanted to have faith in Ross’ prediction about the magic of his father being a farmer, we were all prepared that Roger might receive a fine.

On his day in court, the judge asked to hear the defendant’s story. Roger started his story with “Well, Your Honor, I was in a hurry trying to bring in hay before it rained, and…”

Roger got no further. The judge said in so many words, “You were out farming? Case dismissed.”

And we all learned a lesson that day. If you are farming in New Hampshire, it almost impossible to do wrong.

Lightening Up

First, this post The Pros and Cons to Being 27 and Living With Your Parents cheered me up. And reading a few of the posts in that blog made me re-realize something. As much as I love water meters, endpoints,  and programming in general, not everyone wants a daily dose of sleep aids, especially if they did not request them.

So, once our Recapituation is done (that’s the ritual of preparing the 3rd quarter real-estate tax bills — often more stimulating than sleep inducing), I’m pledging to turn over to a less boring leaf, if possible. An until then, may you have a wonderful holiday season along with some laughs.

The Grain Hawk

A lot of people do not get how birds work. It takes a lot of fuel for us to fly, build nests, and just to exist, especially in colder weather. We have to eat often. We are not like dogs or cats.

Peachy, an emerald-backed peach faced lovebird who preceded me, was such a good flier, that he could fly upstairs following the staircase. That’s flying upwards at a 45 degree angle. Peachy was a fast flier. But after a flight, he would seek out food.

Pookie (the Cockatiel) and I get a varied diet of mash (cooked grains), Avi Cakes and Nutri-berries (from LaFebre). But, I never miss the opportunity to bulk up on grain. My favorite is rice. I do not fly a lot, but it takes a lot of energy to fuss and keep things the way I want them.

Lovebird [Hawk]