Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Month: May 2005 (page 1 of 2)

The Christmas Bell

Last week my mother came back from my grandparents farm with their computer. It had died, seemingly a terrible death, and I was going to see what magic I could let loose on it to bring it back. Mixed in with all of the computer junk was another item, my dear friend, the Christmas Bell.

The Christmas Bell is a fixture at the farm at Christmas. The bell has been there for every Christmas I can remember. For the simple cost of two-AA batteries the bell plays synthetic Christmas jingles for hours and hours bringing delight to all. It also has a small lamp in the dome of the bell that pulses with the music.

The bell has gone through some difficult times. A couple of years it was hanging in it’s deserved spot, by the phone in between the kitchen and the dining room, but was unable to play, victim of some shenanigans by my cousins and I no doubt. It fell several times and had broken apart only to be taped back together. The plastic next to the on/off button had melted. My uncle had even taken a soldering iron to it to bring it back to life once. It was the ultimate fighter, coming back to bring Christmas joy to all of us.

I received the bell in rough condition. It had become three separate pieces. Stiff, loose wires broken from their mounts were the only remnants of the cheer it used to bring. I traced everything and identified where it all went, soldered the connections back and flipped the switch, however no sound emitted from my dear friend. He just laid there dormant. I wondered about the switch so I bypassed that, nothing still. I did notice that the single chip on the tiny board, it’s heart if you will, got very hot when it was on. I’m sad to say that my best efforts were not enough to bring him back.

I have respectfully placed him aside in the hope that future technology will be able to cure what ails this great, red bell.

Grandpa with the Christmas Bell (2001)

Tree Mosaic

A few months ago my mother remodeled her kitchen and in the process she took out a window. This left the annoying problem of having a hole on the outside of the house. She asked Tammy if she would do a mosaic for this spot which Tammy finished last week and we installed today.

The mosaic is 32″ by 50″, definitely the largest item she has done. She worked on the piece for about two weeks and was somewhat obsessed with it. All in all it took around 50 hours to complete. It was in two pieces to make it more managable to work on and to install. Neither of us have done a permanent, installed item like this so it was all new territory.

We mounted it today and everything generally went well. We had some problems with the thinset, some pieces came off as we were getting it installed but we worked through it. I grouted it in because Tammy shouldn’t be working with grout when pregnant and I didn’t like the idea of her being on a ladder while pregnant either, which she complained about a lot. :-)

We got the piece installed over about 2 hours. The grout just needs to be sealed now and my mother is going to frame it in so it looks somewhat like a window. It looked stunning from the alley as we pulled away.

Tammy is really great at mosaic. Click on any of the pictures to see more. Requests for commissions can be submitted via this website. Prices are going up though. :-)

Star Wars III

Tammy and I went to Star Wars Episode III today. We made a point to go to the DLP theater at the Eden Prairie AMC. The theater did a really great job with the entirely digital movie.

I liked the movie more than I expected. I figured it would be good, but it exceeded my expectations. The Star Wars crowd did not let down either, the nerd ratio was definitely on the high-end. The story was great. Perhaps my only negative, and it’s minor, was that I didn’t care much for the idea behind the droid general, although his saber moves were pretty impressive.

So the second arc of the Star Wars saga is concluded. I’m left really hoping that Lucas takes a stab at the final third arc with episodes seven through nine. We’ll see!

I’m looking forward to the War of the Worlds and the Chronicles of Narnia series to come to the theater.

Daddy Boot Camp

I went to North Memorial today for Daddy Boot Camp. They recently renamed the class to the much more boring title of New Dads Class, but I’m going to insist on calling it Daddy Boot Camp. I guess they didn’t like the military overtone of boot camp? I dunno.

I got there promptly at 9:00 am and was a little surprised to only find two other expectant dads there. To be clear, this is a guys only class, no chicks allowed! We started at five after and it took until about 20 after for all the dads who were registered to finally arrive. Rule #1 to being a dad, learn to be on time and reliable!

We went around and made introductions. There was a truck driver, a computer guy (not me), golf course manager, machine builder, etc. Huge variety of backgrounds and professions. We also had to explain why we were there. One of the future dads said “so I can stop being afraid of being a father?” Get a group of anonymous guys like this together and your not going to get a lot of “touchy feely” talk, but he certainly hit a nerve with the whole room. It was nice to hear people actually fess up to being really excited, and also being totally freaked out about what is to come.

The instructor commented that when his wife and he were expecting he felt like he was always two months behind his wife. When she got pregnant she was engaged right away, but it took him until she showed. I can surely relate to that. Our baby is due in two weeks and Tammy is ready for it anyday. I feel like two more months would be just right.

The class was good. I learned how to swaddle a baby the right way, like the nurses do it. Down-up-down-up. I’ll show you sometime — I rock at it. While I’m now comfortable with the mechanics of changing a diaper, I still think it’s probably pretty gross. It was really funny how much happier all us guys got when we got to do things with the plastic baby dolls. Give us something to do and we are much better off than just sitting there.

They showed a video on Shaken Baby Syndrome that was horrific. It wasn’t violent or anything, didn’t show some baby getting shaken, it was just so bad. What a horrific thing to do to a little baby. Nauseated me just a bit.

In the last half-hour a “veteran” Dad came in with his daughter who was 6 months old and fielded questions. That was really good and the kid was just darn cute. He talked about the experience which was still fresh in his mind. I liked that.

PS – Quick update on the name front. Zaida is probably nosing ahead right now over Mazie. We’ll see what we think when she’s born. And, if somehow it’s a boy, we’ll just have to make something up!

Fun with MRTG and SNMP

I’ve been busy [obsessed] with getting SNMP monitoring of my home network working with MRTG for the last couple of weeks. It’s been much harder than I would have expected, but in the end I sure know a lot more about SNMP than I did before. This gives me a lot of information on my home network, like knowing how much traffic is going to through my gateway.

I found really strange things that don’t make sense to me. For example, different CPUs end up in different OIDs from one installation to another of Windows Server 2003. That’s very confusing and doesn’t seem right, but I’ve got proof positive right here on my box.

Breastfeeding Class

Tonight Tammy and I took the breastfeeding class at North Memorial. I have to admit to a bit of hesitation with this class. I asked more than a couple of times “husbands are supposed to go?”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m entirely into the whole baby experience but it wasn’t obvious to me what role the man really plays in making breastfeeding work.

Now after having taken the class I actually think it was one of the more interesting baby classes to date. Quite a bit of information that I didn’t know and I really left thinking how amazing the whole process is.

This weekend I’m taking the Baby Boot Camp class that is just for Dads. I’m actually pretty interested in that class. Hopefully they’ll answer some of the dumb first-time dad questions.


I got my MnPASS transponder on Tuesday. I had my first opportunity to use it today on my drive into work. I hopped on the “sane-lane” at highway 100 into downtown. It only cost $0.25 so I figured I would just give it a try.

When passing under the sensor the transponder in my car beeped four times to indicate it had been recognized and I zipped on into work. I was curious to see how fast the system was so I logged onto the website when I got into work and was pretty impressed to see that my account had already been debited the appropriate amount. Very nice!

One thing I’m curious about is that the terms of use that you sign up for say they will share information with the highway patrol and they have individual timing for each car. Since they track each individual car through the lanes they can easily derive your average speed and I’ve heard of other states using toll systems and handing out speeding tickets to people based on the time in and out of the toll lanes.

All in all, it seems like a really nice system and I like how it’s being implemented.

Bike to Work Week

Next week is national Bike-to-Work Week! Take the opportunity to dust off the bike, pump up the tires and pedal on into work. I’m planning on wheeling myself into the office the majority of the week. Data Center

Over the last few months I’ve been on a steady march to increase my server capacity at home. Why? I’m not entirely sure why. How about it’s fun? :-)

I decided to take a plunge into the deep end and get a rack for home. Getting the rack took up more space for just one or two servers, but as I add infrastructure it is much more compact. I went with the APC NetShelter VX 25U rack. I wanted to get a rack that had good depth and solid build. It also has removable sides and doors to make it very easy to get into. Overall, I like it a lot but it’s very heavy. Hopefully I don’t have to move it anytime soon.

We disposed of a bunch of servers at work and gave people an opportunity to get some in exchange for a charitable donation. I picked up four machines (they are the four Compaq 1U machines). This required the addition of another 1500 VA UPS which I just put in tonight.

Everything is working very well. I’ve got enough cable off the back to move it about 10 feet out into the room for access. The cable management in the back is a mess, but I’ll deal with that later. I decided to keep everything on the top half and leave the bottom open for later additions.

It’s all pretty loud but luckily I don’t care since it’s in the laundry room. It also generates plenty of heat. I’m done for a while now. The next thing I could see adding is an external disk enclosure to add a couple of terabytes of network storage.

Finding Pants In Manhattan

I woke up in my New York hotel at 7:00 am this morning very tired. I didn’t get to sleep until fairly late the night before. I took my camera and a couple of lenses into Times Square to get some classic New York photos. My day didn’t start until 9:30 am so I could sleep in a bit.

After getting cleaned up I went to get dressed. I had flown in on a Sunday night so I was very casual coming in — sandals and shorts. Great to be able to fly in casual clothes. I got up this morning to put on my business attire, black slacks and a dress shirt.

Now, the last few months haven’t been great ones for me in regards to my weight. Let’s just use the excuse that I want to support Tammy in pregnancy. :-) So I’ve got a number of dress slacks that fit me, and I have a number that really do not fit. Well, as I got ready in my hotel room I put on my shirt and stepped into my slacks when sudden horror struck.

I had brought pants that did not fit! To be clear, this wasn’t a matter of just being a little tight. Oh no, these were simply not going to fit in any way, shape or form.

After expressing my frustration with the situation with some colorful language I realized how completely screwed I was. I had flown in wearing shorts and sandals. I had one pair of slacks that did not fit. I had 1 hour and 25 minutes before my meeting started. I seriously would have feigned illness, massive food poisoning or something, before showing up to a business meeting in shorts and sandals.

I shut myself of the horror after about 30 seconds and went into action. I immediately put on my shorts and sandals and headed down to the front desk. The woman there told me that Macy’s opened at 8:00 am and was 8 blocks down Broadway. I ran out, literally, and grabbed a cab. I got to Macy’s, ran to the door and found them locked. They opened at 10! She had the wrong information.

More colorful language at this point as I called back to the hotel. Things were looking very grim. The concierge told me of a place downtown, just 15 minutes on the subway that opened at 8 am. No way I would be able to make that work. I found a crappy clothing store selling super cheap junk but they had nothing that was better than what I was wearing. The concierge called a Banana Republic and they were open. As I prepared to head over there I thought about sizes. After calling them back we found they carry nothing bigger than a 38 which even at the best of times wouldn’t be for me.

I walked back to the hotel. At this point I called Tammy and expressed my despair. Panic was in my voice with only 55 minutes until I had to be at my meeting. I got to the hotel and the concierge worked the phones. Jackpot. She found a store that had the right size and would open early for me! I checked out of the hotel and headed out with luggage in hand and 40 minutes until the meeting.

I got to the store, ran in and grabbed a pair of dockers. Changing rooms were a time luxury I didn’t have. Dropped trou’ right in the store and put on the dockers. Fit! Great! Grabbed a new belt as well and left for my meeting with 25 minutes remaining, and a sense of calm having averted a total disaster.

I called Tammy to let her know the situation was under control and hung my head out of the taxi window like a dog to cool off, all the running around had worked up a sweat. I felt completely like I was in the TV show The Amazing Race. I think it’s time to segment my closet better!

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