Discipline and Balance

Tonight was the first night in weeks that I've chanted.  I don't feel guilty about it, since chanting and Buddhism are tools I use to reboot my brain.  I'm benefitting from the practice, but only slightly, which is to say I have need for some general system maintenance.  Lately, I've been focused on family and running.  My recent dedication to a runstreak has given me some much needed discipline, by removing the excuses and giving me a single path: forward.

I realized something from this approach, though perhaps not directy.  Meghan recently received a record player from her mother, a cool looking thing. It is designed to look like an antique radio, though on the inside, it has a 33 speed phonograph, cassette player, and built-in radio.  With no real dedicate place for it, my butsudan -- the alter I made to hold my Dai-Gohonzon -- was bumped over to the right so they should share space on the chef's rack in the dining room.  When chanting tonight, it made me feel distinctly unbalaned.

Unbalanced, like my training, like my life. I need some more time to process this new tack.  I know how to fix the unbalanced feeling when I chant -- find a new home for either my butsudan or Meghan's record player.  I've got some ideas on how to bring balance back to everything else I do, but it'll be a challenge in time management.  Discipline may be the key factor in moving forward.  We shall see.


Fall Reflections

Tablets and Computers
So many things to do around the house and in life; just need to take it one day at a time, one task at a time.  Right now, I'm staring at a potential two or three hours backing up hosts and upgrading a workstation and server in my basement "server room" (which is really a table with a couple computers, a printer, and a really old monitor). I love having AndriodVNC, Xvnc Server, and XDMCP/X11 to get a remote desktop on my tablet.  Seems to work pretty well, though I would appreciate a working CTRL key from the keyboard to my remote session.  The same goes for ConnectBot, which has yet to incorporate the more traditional user interface.  For the most part, I think the Andriod 3.0 on the Asus Eee Transformer TF101 Tablet is pretty solid.

Yesterday was a bit of a lazy day...  Wait, no it wasn't!  Yesterday morning, I sat on my work laptop monitoring and managing GovDelivery's digest email process.  We're growing fast and upgrading clients from our older infrastructure to the newer one, and as a result, we're finding quirks with the environment, database, and software.  It's nothing we can't manage, though.  Tor, my boss, and Jesse, my coworker, both put in extra time this weekend, as well as our DBA Joe, developers Billy and Jim, and Systems Engineer Ben.  We have a pretty solid team, and they're able to pull together some effective solutions when we need them most.  I'm really feeling that this team has gelled together well in the last few weeks.

Pumpkin Man at Sever's Corn Maze

An Afternoon Break
...was in order, and Meghan's sister had a great idea in bringing the families to the Sever's Corn Maze, which sits right next to the Canterbury Downs race track and casino.  Meghan wasn't feeling well, so I took the boys down to meet Katie, Izac, and Maizie.  We arrived around 16:30 and had until 18:00 to run around and explore.  The entrance fee wasn't cheap, so if you plan on taking your family down, give yourselves more than 90 minutes, and remember to bring cash if you want to feed the animals, fling pumpkins ($2/3 pumpkins), shoot corn ($2/3 ears), ride the ponies ($5/person), or ride the Super Slide ($2 a pop).   Food wasn't necessarily cheap either, about what you would expect at a tourist attraction.  When asked what their favorite part of the day was, both answered emphatically, "Feeding the parakeets!" I think the corn pit was a close second, though.

Running, of Course!
After getting the boys fed, cleaned up, and in bed, I changed into my running gear and headed out for a quick run. I'm starting to enjoy my runs again. With this runstreak, things have gotten a bit monotonous. I can only run the same 1.2 and 3.2 mile loops in my neighborhood before I start to get bored. I tried mixing it up last week with a run out at Battle Creek Park just east of the River and south of I94 on Highway 61. I was in no hurry and didn't sweat the details, just enjoyed exploring the park for a couple of hours. Battle Creek has some challenging hills, though nothing terribly long or tall. You get some of the feel that you might have on the Superior Hiking Trail, so this will be a good place to throw in some hill repeats over trees and roots. I only saw a few mountain bikers on the trail, and ran into a group of young adventurers looking for caves. There was one young pre-teen out on the trails all by himself. He was wearing a helmet and backpack, and seemed to be enjoying himself, but I couldn't help but wonder where his parents were. Where was his riding partner? If this had been my son, he would had a serious one to one about safety. There are too many creepy people out there to leave your childrens' future to chance. In any case, I cranked out a 2.44 mile run in a little over 18 minutes, showered up, and turned back to the computer and work.

Back to Work
I spent the night on cleaning up and improving a Perl script hack to purge out queue directories we use to send transactional messages for digest users.  We had come up with a useable quick solution late Thursday night, but when scheduling it through cron, I found it taking far too long.  I also wanted to make it a "real" script in that it needed a "--help", "--verbose", and "--no-act" options, as well as a way to effectively parse input from STDIN.  I like xargs, but if you can avoid the forking cost when examining thousands of files, it's bound to speed up dramatically.  I also found a simple way of cutting the run time by a large factor; I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Dr. Who, Torchwood, and Entertainment
Meghan and I watched the season finale of Dr. Who as I was hacking in Perl; it was awesome!  I will give no spoilers, but I have to say that I'm continually impressed by the quality of acting, the solid story telling, and the engaging format of the series. I can sit down to any of the Dr. Who episodes and watch it as if I had never seen the series before, and fully enjoy myself. Unlike the new Torchwood: Miracle Day, I don't need to invest eight or more weeks into following it. Meghan and I both agree that the change in format is not as enjoyable as the solid one hour episodes with the threads of relationship between previous and following episodes that BBC favors. The American produces seem to think that the only way to gain a following is to make a huge production out of things, make it into a miniseries. I hate miniseries! I'll be happy when this whole T:MD thing is finished. I don't know what I would do without having my DVR, though. I just don't have enough interest in television these days to stay pinned to the couch at the big Network approved viewing times. Yay, technology!

Right now, I'm trying to rub out some dried hot peppers out of my eyes!  Yeouch!  I'm making some home-made, from scratch chili using dried chilis and a five pound top round roast that needed to be cooked.  It is really starting to smell wonderful, but it has another couple hours to cook in the oven.  The stovetop burner is a bit too hot, even on the lowest setting.  I could pull out the slow cooker, which might be a bit more energy efficient than the stove at this point, but I don't want to clean yet another set of dishes. It'll turn out, and paired with some home-made corn bread, I trust everyone will be satisfied. My parents are coming down for a visit, and Meghan is busy shopping. The boys are playing Wii and DS, and the sun is traveling quickly across the sky. Sooner than I would like, our weekend will be over.

I suppose its time to scrounge together some sort of lunch. Mac-n-cheese, maybe.