A Valuable Summer Job

It is because of my summer job long-ago at September Farm of Rye, NH that this afternoon I was able to lug a 50lb bag of wild bird sunflower seed out to the car.

A very nice clerk offered twice to provide help, but having once hefted bails of hay and bags of Purina Oats and Omolene for the horses, I was able to take it out to the car ,and my back is fine.

So, thanks, September Farm. Although after mucking out the stalls, I needed to — as the late Moe Howard would say shower and use cologne — working there gave me good hoisting strength.

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Learning Less Stressful Ways of Navigating Life From Children

I work with amazing people in our municipality. One of them has a young mobile, talking, pre-school daughter, and I get to hear about her daughter’s latest sayings.

I plan on incorporating two of them in the never-ending struggle to get work done and offending as few people as possible while keeping most of them from commandeering my time.

Mom swears she does not know where her daughter picked up these phrases.

These sayings are:

No, I’m good.

Not right now.

And here are some examples:

Parent: Don’t you think it’s time for bed?

Toddler: No, I’m good.

Early Childhood Teacher: How do you feel about going to pre-school? [How do you feel about advancing a grade?].

Toddler: Not right now.

So, adapting these to municipal life:

Elected Official: Come to a meeting to discuss implementing a software solution in one week that should take a month.

Municipal Employee: Not right now.

Boss: Would you come to a meeting with me that will be like having your teeth drilled without Novocaine?

Municipal Employee: No, I’m good

Now, what do we have here? Language that can be spoken in front of children, maintaining calmness, and communicating with short, concise answers.

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Temporary Workaround When Multiple Python Versions Cause Problems

I wrote and maintain an AMR (automated meter reading) store/transfer system. The system is implemented in Python, and has both command line and Django components, which share Python modules. Django is using Python 2.6.6, and the command line version is using 2.7.3.

Last Spring, I had to use pysftp and wound up breaking the web application. There is no pysftp installed for Python 2.6.6.

Eventually, this server is going to be rebuilt, but, until it is, I restored the web site using a bit of a kludge, by performing this workaround. The web site (Django) component does not use pysftp.

It’s funny that until you try something, you don’t know if it will work. Here is the workaround:

import sys
import os

if our_python_version >= (2,7,3):
   import pysftp

Since Django was built using Python 2.6.6 and no Django modules use sftp this is a good workaround, until I can rebuild this server.

This is what I like about these more modern languages, like PythonClojure, and even languages like Perl. You can interdict during a module load.

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Filed under Automated Meter Reading, Django, python

Baklavillin Walnuttobutericin

A Baklava Safety Warning

A Baklava Safety Warning

It is that time of year. There are a lot of Greek festivals at local churches. I have always had very good baklava from those festivals. Home made baklava  is made from the pure stuff, honey, walnuts, butter, and filo dough. Some people even use rose water, though it is rare. A friend of ours who makes baklava put this warning on a package of home made. I took the warning seriously.

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Greater Boston Bone Marrow Drive


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Bone Marrow Drive (Greater Boston, MA)

My friend and colleague, Scott Enwright needs a bone marrow transplant. If you feel like participating, we would appreciate it very much. Thanks.

Here is the link:

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Replacing CVS (Source Code Revision Control)

Well, it has finally come down to finding an open source source code revision control. But, what do I choose, git or something else? This will be interesting.

I have been using cvs for over a decade, because I know it, and I’m the only user. Then, cvs began expanding keywords in javascript code  on me.

Nothing lasts forever, so a new task for 2015. Replace our source code control.

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The Green Phone

Many years ago at the end of the Carter Administration, Paul Volker was appointed chairman of the board of governors of The Federal Reserve System, August 1979. A few years later I was married, and came to appreciate my wife’s thriftiness and ability to deal with financial figures quickly, almost effortlessly. This was a talent I sorely lacked. Around about the same time, my mother-in-law, who also worked effortlessly with finances, and found both a several thousand dollar and a $0.10 error in two different bank statements. Now, because of that, I built up a mythology around my mother-in-law, kind of like William Faulkner’s fictional Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi, but requiring less talent. I imagined she had the financial equivalent of the direct-connect phone connecting the White House and the Kremlin, only this was to discuss financial matters. I called it the Green Phone, which meant in a financial crisis, Mr. Volker could pick up the phone and get advice from the very same person who had found a $ 0.10 error in a banking statement. The dinner time stories including fixing the accounting of several German financial institutions, when my mother-in-law was touring Germany along the banks of the Rhine, to saving the U.S. from economic disaster. She was embarrassed by all this, and, since the mythology included Paul Volker, like Wagner’s Ring cycle, the mythology concluded after Alan Greenspan was appointed the next FED chairman, much to my mother-in-law’s relief.

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A Simple Question Without An Answer [so far]

Aside from having enough disk space to defragment a disk, choosing a slower time of the day to defragment a disk, and perhaps running the disk check utility before you defragment, I want to know if it is okay to defragment a Windows server or workstation using Microsoft’s disk defragmenter.

A consultant we use happened to see the Microsoft disk defragmenter running on several of our servers, and said running the defragmenter could cause problems. However, the consultant offered no reasons why or any corroborating evidence. I’ve been defragmenting disks for over a decade with no apparent negative results. More or less the Microsoft Devnet community said it’s OK, but I am still looking for the definitive answer to this question.

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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.

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