August 2008 Archives

The deconstruction continues

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Howdy folks. Just got back from an overnight trip to Wichita, Kansas. What's that you ask? Why was I in Wichita? Why not?!

Truth be told, we had to drive up there to take down our disaster recovery site. We were collocating our DR systems at a facility there; we had about $900,000 worth of computer equipment sitting in 3 racks, which was connected back to our primary production site via a 200MB/s fiber optic connection. It was really state-of-the-art, and it was one of the major projects I was involved with prior to the shutdown.

We drove up yesterday afternoon, spent the evening pulling/disconnecting cables and preparing the servers for removal. It was a pretty painful event... thankfully we stayed at a nice hotel, the Hotel at Old Town and had a fantastic dinner at a restaurant called The Larkspur.

The Hotel at Old Town is neat - it served as a primary warehouse for the Keen Kutter company, and has since been converted into a "period" hotel. Everything there was similar to how it would've been back in the day. The rooms had 10-12 foot ceilings, plaster walls, large bathrooms with nice tile, and all of that fun stuff.

The Larkspur had amazing food - we enjoyed the best spinach artichoke dip I've ever had, an awesome salad, fresh-baked sourdough bread with olive oil, and one of the best creme brulees I've ever had. I had seared tuna for my entree (which was unbelievable), and Don had a Kansas City strip steak, which was served with a peppercorn brandy sauce that was out of this world.

Thoroughly stuffed from dinner, we retired back to the hotel, and fell into calorie-induced comas. We proceeded to disassemble the rest of the equipment this morning, loaded it into our trailer, and drove back to Arkansas. Here are some pictures of the event:

Here's what nearly a million dollars worth of computer gear looks like, sitting in racks at a collo facility (oh - our racks are the first three; the other racks 'belong' to other people):

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Our blade servers (at the bottom), and our 20TB of SAN disk space (near top):

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Another shot of the blades/SAN:

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Here we are, literally pulling the plug on the whole thing:

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Our Virtual Tape Library (a huge array of disk drives that backed-up all critical data):

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Our hotel:

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Yours truly, removing the individual blade servers from the chassis:

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The empty racks (sniff, sniff!):

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$900,000 worth of computer equipment in a U-Haul trailer:

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At least the drive home was scenic and exciting (not really):

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The saddest part of all of this is that the FDIC will likely shred all of the hard-drives, which renders most of the computer equipment worthless to anyone who might want to bid on the items at auction... They can't risk having any information leaked, and even with "secure wiping" of the drives, there's not a 100% guarantee that the data couldn't be recovered by someone with enough desire to scour for info. So, our 6-month old equipment that cost a total of $1.8MM is basically worth about $100k.

Sigh...

Mutant M&Ms

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Even though I'm not a huge candy fan, I really like M&Ms. My favorites are peanut M&Ms, and we have a "community jar" of them here at work. With so many people departing the refugee camp (aka: "work"), I've been designated as keeper of the M&M jar.

I went to the store yesterday and bought a huge (46oz) bag of peanut M&Ms so that I could restock the jar. And as I was pouring M&Ms into the jar, I noticed something that I don't recall seeing before...

Mutant M&Ms.

These are the deformed and mangled M&Ms that look like some kind of genetic experiment gone horribly wrong. The odd thing is that I don't recall ever seeing so many deformed M&Ms as I have recently. Is there something going on at the M&M/Mars plant that we don't know about?

Take these four little guys for example - I found them in the bag I bought yesterday...

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I think there needs to be an investigation - these guys look to be extremely ill.

More from Failblog & Tri-shoes

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I could spend hours on this site - oh wait, I do... :-)

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And, in even better news, my new Triathlon bike shoes came in today. They're Specialized Tri-Vent shoes, and are designed specifically for triathlon use. They feature a really "open" design - lots of venting on the top, bottom, and sides (to facilitate the drying of the foot), and are designed to be worn without socks (to help speed transition time). I'm going to wager a guess that these shoes will help shave at least 2 minutes from my transition from the swim to the bike portion.

I'm going to give them a try tomorrow on one of my longer rides; I hope they're comfortable... if not, my 'ole dogs will be barking before long.

Here are a few photos of them, compliments of my iPhone:

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And one of the venting/cleat area on the bottom (the sole is carbon fiber):

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I'm planning to swim and run tonight - the weather looks good, so hopefully I'll be able to get in 1000 meters of swimming and a few miles of running.

Skate Park

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BJ invited me to the skate park tonight, and asked that I take a few pictures of him and his pals. Here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy.

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And my favorite picture - the flash, the lighting, it all worked perfectly:

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Amazingly, no one was injured and most of the tricks were "landed" - it's pretty cool to watch these guys ride.

My new favorite site: Failblog.org

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A huge thank you to Renee for telling us about "fail blog" - it's a hilarious site of ironic/humorous pictures that people add the word "fail" to. Two of my favorites so far:

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and while this one isn't a picture so much as a story, I love the "Fail" and "Win" parts. I have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard at this.

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You can find your own favorites at failblog.org

First Triathlon = DONE!

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Surprise!

I did a triathlon this morning. I had registered for it a few weeks ago, but wanted to keep it under my hat; I didn't want anyone to come watch, because I wasn't sure how it was going to go. Fortunately, it went pretty well, all things considered. I didn't win my age group, but I finished 9th out of 17 (only 15 in my group actually finished - two were DNF), with a time of 1:40:xx (I don't remember how many seconds it was). I got edged out by a guy right at the end, otherwise I would've finished 8th... I didn't even know he was behind me - I had tunnel vision and couldn't really hear anything, probably because of adrenaline.

My friend BJ went along to help out (thanks again, Beege - you were a life saver) and to take some pictures. He used a combination of a crummy disposable waterproof camera and my normal camera. The disposable photos are horrible; my plan was to carry it with me throughout the race and snap pictures along the way, but I gave it to BJ at the last minute.

Highlights?

+ Getting kicked about 25 times during the swim - once in the forehead, which caused my head to plunge into the water while I was trying to take a breath... I started choking, and thought I was going to die. I rolled onto my back, coughed water for about a minute, then got back to swimming.

+ Getting passed during the swim by 5 girls... who started five minutes behind my group. My swimming sucks - I need to focus exclusively on improving my swim times.

+ Cutting a 1.5" long gash on the ball of my right foot while exiting the swim portion of the race; there were so many rocks, and it was slippery - I stepped on a rock, slipped, and s-l-i-c-e! That made the bike/run really fun.

+ Being horribly slow in the transition areas. I need to get some tri-specific bike shoes, so I can skip the socks. Putting socks on while you're soaking wet isn't really easy or fun.

+ Passing about 60 people during the bike portion. I flew on that section - my average speed was around 19mph, which I was super happy with. According to the results, I was one of 57 people with a bike time of under 50 minutes. The fastest bike time was 38.xx minutes, and was set by the race winner.

+ Laughing with a 52-year old lady while on the run. She passed by me and said, "tell me again why we do this?" I started laughing - it was pretty funny at the time...

+ The weather; it rained 2.75" between midnight and 7:00am. Our race started at 7:20, and I had to be there by 6:30. So, for a good 45 minutes or so, we got soaked, and so did everything else. My bike got absolutely filthy during the ride... But thankfully it didn't rain much during the race, and just as fortunately the temperature was fantastic - about 75F the entire time.

+ Not dying.

So, without any further ado, here are some photos:

Here's me in the water, getting ready for our start. I was in the 2nd group to leave. There were about 80 people in my group.

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Me, swimming (or as some might say, sinking):

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I think I had cut my foot about 1 second before this picture was taken...

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In the transition area, between the swim and the bike. I was so sloooooow!

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Out on the bike - just leaving the transition area:

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Finishing the race (man, I need to lose another 25 lbs... hideous!!)

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To give you an idea of how much it rained the past few days:

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And here we are, leaving the race - I'm all smiles:

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And the bike - it got a little dirty:

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Race summary:

Swim = 500 meters
Bike = 15.44 miles
Run = 3.25 miles

Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes; 183 out of 274 competitors, 9th in my category

Finished: 9/17 (15 actually finished)


My next race is in Conway, AR on September 14. I plan to swim a TON before that race, and hopefully improve my transition times/speeds. I can't wait to try it again!

Areas to improve:

- Swim time. I did the 500m in 15.xx minutes, which is terrible. I need to get into the 11-12 minute range.

- Transition time. My T1 (swim-to-bike) transition was almost 4 minutes; for comparison, the winner did it in 32 seconds. Socks = the devil.

- Run time. I do a pretty consistent 10-minute mile (6.0 mph) pace. I'd like to bump that up a bit, to like a 9-minute mile or better. Distance doesn't appear to be an issue; I need to speed up a bit.

- Gear. Get some tri-bike shoes (no socks needed) and some zip laces for my running shoes. Everything else appears to be in good shape.


It's been an interesting week. We started off with insanely high temperatures early in the week - the heat index on Monday was 106 or 107, and the humidity was 85%. Not real pleasant weather, and even more unpleasant for the car. I'd get into my car at the end of the day and nearly melt... here's what my dash showed for an outside temperature after work on Monday night:

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Granted, that's probably a bit on the high side (reading from near the pavement, most likely), but you get the idea. Some might say it was hotter than hell; note that my odometer shows "666" and the temperature has the lucky number "13" in it...

I then had to take a trip up to Springfield, Missouri to deliver a hard drive to a conversion company. So, while up there, I took the liberty of enjoying one of the world's finest meals:

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That's a single cheeseburger (plain) with fries, cheese curds, and a Diet Pepsi from Culver's. Rumor had it that there were several Culver's destined for Arkansas, but I somehow think that fell through - the latest "Culver's finder map" on the back of the menu made no mention of Arkansas. (That's Karl's food in the background - he joined me for the journey)


Tired of the heat (and roasting to death in my car each day), I talked to a few folks who've had their windows tinted. They all claimed that their cars were much cooler at the end of the day, and thanks to a friend, I got the "hook up" with a local window tinter who was able to sneak me in on Friday. The tint looks really nice, and (you know me) is super high quality with a lifetime warranty. It won't fade, turn purple, or bubble. It was very inexpensive to have the job done - not sure if I got the "friend of a friend" discount or what, but I was shocked by how little it cost to have done. Here's a quick cellphone picture of the tint:

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That picture was taken at my friend BJ's house (BJ lives in the middle of no where, but oddly that's not too far from our house).


Friday was a sad day at the bank - all of our development staff was finally released; their services no longer needed. To "celebrate," we all went to lunch at Jose's. We even called in an old fallen comrade, Matt Earl to join us. Matt's doing well at his new job, and it was great to see him - he may be from Ohio, but he's still a-ok in my book. :-)

Here's our group, sitting at a table, enjoying some mexican food (I had the fajita tacos special, no rice, no beans):

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Seated (starting at the back, left corner, facing the camera) are: Jarrod (blue shirt), Jonathan, Matt, Brad, Brad's wife, Stephanie, Kelly (white shirt), Karl, Joe (can just see his head peeking beside Karl's), and Hai.

Most of the guys have jobs lined-up, so it's not too awful. It's still a shame, no matter how you look at it, though. I wish you all the very best of luck, and I'm going to miss you all tremendously. You are great, great people with unbelievable skills and talents, and I count myself as lucky to have known and worked with each and every one of you. Best wishes.

To round out the day, we fired-up a movie on my new Playstation 3 and watched it in Karl's office. It was sort of a last "hurrah," as well as a good way to sleep off a big meal of chicken soft tacos...

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It's amazing how well a white board works as a backdrop for a movie... there was a little bit of glare, and a few hotspots, but it seemed to work well, all things considered.


Finally, last night BJ and I went to a pizza place in Fayetteville called "Hog Wild" pizza. We tried the "Hogfather" pizza, and it was pretty decent. The thing was huge - I only had 2 slices, and it was relatively inexpensive. My half of the bill, including an appetizer, a Rolling Rock (which I haven't had in probably 5 years), and a huge iced tea, was $14.80 + tip. I was pretty happy with that. Here's a shot of the 'za:

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After eating, we drove to the mall to check out some t-shirts, then went to a used record store to look for video games, DVDs, and music. BJ bought some CDs, and I bought a few music DVDs.


All in all, it was a pretty decent week, although I'm still in shock from the development group's departure. It's really going to be tough at work now... those guys made it enjoyable. Oh, also - in case you were wondering, all of the photos were taken with my iPhone, which I'm absolutely in love with. It's amazing.

How I spend my day(s).

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Today I'm watching Ground Hog Day, and can't help but feel as though the movie is a direct and accurate representation of my current life. Stuck in a rut; everyday exactly the same as the day before it, and nothing you do matters. (that's a quote from the movie) It really hits home.


In other more exciting news, I went to the Raymond James Arkansas State Championship road race on Sunday. It was hot - about 101F, and humid. Several riders got heat exhaustion (96-mile race). I didn't ride, just watched. I did run and swim yesterday, though. :-)

Here's a picture of the biggest group of riders from the race:

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Whoops - forgot about these!

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I was so excited/impressed by the lighting from the other night that I completely forgot about the pictures I took when I picked-up my bike from Competitive Cyclist... there aren't many; we were pretty busy with the fitting and getting everything set-up.

Here's Zach doing some initial fitting:

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The bike is on a fluid trainer (you can pedal, and as you pedal faster, the trainer offers more resistance - sort of like a treadmill for your bike), and Zach is measuring the overall seat to bottom-bracket position. Prior to demo'ing bikes, Amy helped me measure myself using Competitive Cyclists comprehensive "fit calculator."

You take about 12 measurements in various positions (standing, sitting, arms out, etc) and enter them into the calculator, and the system generates three different sizing options (based on your riding style/preference). Competitive then uses the results to "rough fit" the bike for you, and then they tweak the fit while you ride on the trainer.

They use plumb-bobs, protractors, angle finders, and a bunch of other crazy stuff to make sure that you're fit properly to the bike. It works - the Cervelo fits perfectly and I have zero pain in my feet, knees, hips, or back when riding (the Trek used to hurt my feet so badly that I could hardly walk).


Here's the bike sitting on the trainer, just waiting for someone to hop on:

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After we got everything fit and after a brief demo ride, I got back into the car and headed for home. I had to stop in Russellville for a treat:

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I had a Whatta-Burger with cheese (plain) and a small order of fries. Whatta-Burgers are soooo tasty!! It's almost worth a drive to Russellville just to get a burger...