Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Month: September 2005

Honda Odyssey

Ever since Mazie arrived we have been learning that taking a car seat in and out of a station wagon is not a terribly comfortable thing to do. We’ve also been planning on getting a new car for Tammy. We started looking at minivans a few weeks ago and today we pulled the trigger!

We bought a 2006 Honda Odyssey. I got completely “shiny pebbled” (shi-ny peb-bled, v. 1. to get obsessed with bright and shiny gadgets and forget all practicality) as we were exploring our minivan options and went all out on the Touring edition with DVD and navigation system. I worked a good deal (thanks Internet!) and got a reasonable price relative to dealer invoice at Richfield Bloomington Honda. Their Internet sales guy was quick with emails, only took a couple of back and forths to get to a good price and we had a deal done. Walked into the store the next day and did the paperwork. We got the silver pearl metallic color, pictured above.

A year ago I would have told you you were crazy if you told me that I would be all hyper about a minivan, but this thing is so cool! It has every gadget, bell & whistle you could ever want. It’s too much to even go through here, and I haven’t figured out what they all are yet. The side and rear doors are all motorized. I’ve vowed to go as long as possible without actually touching one of those. :-) It also has a backup camera, all kinds of different sensors and of course twice as many cup holders as passengers. There is even a 110 outlet in the back with AV ports to plug in your camcorder or game system.

On top of the gadgets, it drives very well with some very notable braking power. I also like the “ECO” mode that shuts down three of the six cylinders to get better gas mileage. It has the run flat tires with the mandatory tire pressure sensors. If you get a flat it just lets you know and you need to get to a shop relatively soon.

Can’t wait for a road trip!

Purple HDMI TiVo

I thought I had dodged this bullet, but this morning when I turned on my HD DirecTV TiVo I got “purple haze”. Although, this was different than I’d seen it before. Usually if I just hit the ratio button on the HR 10-250 it would correct after a couple of times, but this is pervasive. It seems that all true blacks are showing up as purple.

This setup has been working since I got it in January! But today it decides to give up the ghost. I called up DirecTV and after 33 minutes of support discussion, and having the support person tell me “the HDMI port just doesn’t work on these, it’s a known problem, you need to use component video instead” I got them to send me a replacement unit. We’ll see if it solves my problem.

This is a very common problem.

Change Game Setback

A friend and I got coffee today and the total came to $4.58.

I gave the person at the register a $10 bill and three pennies.

Expecting that I would then get a $5 bill, a quarter and two dimes.

Instead of the quarter and two dimes she gave me nine nickels! This sets me back in a huge way with the change game.

[And you thought doing math on road signs was geeky? Ha!]

Dad Tips

I’m no expert on this matter. In fact, I’d say I’m far from it. But clearly I’m doing an adequate, or even above adequate job. Some wisdom to share:

  1. Changing tables? Waste of time and money. First of all, changing a baby that is sideways in front of you is stupid. Second, you never take the baby to one of these changing things, you just change them. I insist on Mazie having her feet toward me to change the diaper.
  2. The crib in the baby’s room? Try the crib in your room. Today we moved the crib up into our room. The family bed is great, but going from that to a crib in her room, in another room, is too much. Crib goes to our room for a few months, then into her room. (Or so we think…)
  3. Mazie currently doesn’t dig anyone but Mom holding her after around 7pm. Nothing to learn here, just that this stuff happens, it will change in a while.
  4. Stuff is everywhere, almost, and she’s still not mobile yet! The Intellitainer has taken over the fireplace. And the great thing is, I don’t really care.
  5. This swing is the most important thing in the world.
  6. Function over form. Who cares how it looks, it works.
  7. When the baby is melting down, and you know Mom can make it better, but you really want to try, don’t. The continued meltdown results in frustration for baby, you and Mom. Know when to fold ’em.
  8. Honda Odyssey. ’nuff said.

Feel free to add your own!

Trouble Having a Geek Dad

I wonder if when Mazie is older she will think this is a cool picture, or shake her head about her geeky dad. (Get your own Hello World Creeper.)

Just put more great Mazie pictures online. A lot of pictures from her recent trip to North Dakota as well.

Mazie 3-month Update

I think both Tammy and I are stunned at the thought that little Mazie is only going to be 3 months old this week. The 14th is the big day! She is very excited, I can tell. We are stunned because it seems like forever since she came into our lives. That should not be read as a good or bad thing, but that the period of time before she arrived seems very, very far away. It’s easy to sit back and think of things that happened, say a year ago, and feel like you are reminiscing about a previous decade! Anyway, time goes on for all of us and I’m sure that these first 3-months have seemed even longer for her.

Mazie continues to grow and amaze us both. Since the last update here, she’s developed a lot. She tracks you as you speak, or walk around. She giggles a lot and at least has convinced me that she likes to play little games with me. Mostly this involves me tickling her belly or cuddling her up and rocking her around. Then she giggles, I feel amazed, and we repeat until she’s had enough of it and gets ready to blow a gasket.

Speaking of blowing gaskets, she has started to do that. The last few nights she’s discovered her full-bore cry. We have started to wonder if babies can just get colic at 3 months!? This is when she’s supposed to be settling into more of a pattern and relaxing. We’ve started to put her to bed earlier, partly as a result of the crying. She’s getting more sleep but it’s not necessarily doing anything about the crying.

Mazie went to visit her great-grandparents last weekend and did great. She went through 10 hours in her car seat each way without too much fussing, and delighted us both by keeping a fairly stable nighttime sleep pattern, however she was way too excited to take any naps during the day which lead to some cranky behavior.

LDAP Coming Soon

I spent a few hours today playing around with LDAP (Lightweight Directory Address Protocol). Why? Well, it frustrates me that my webmail application and Thunderbird don’t share address books. To add insult to injury, if Tammy has an email address of someone I can’t just find it. And, while I’ve moved all email to the IMAP server so I can’t lose anything on a client machine, that proverbial address book still sits there, not backed up, on each computer in the house. It’s a mess.

So, I got a binary distribution of OpenLDAP for Windows and went to town. The installation parts of this whole project went fairly well, but learning the in’s and out’s of LDAP will take some further work. I installed OpenLDAP and it seemed to be working, but how would I know? Turns out there aren’t very good tools for working with LDAP directories. phpLDAPAdmin came to the rescue! (Thank you SourceForge!) I installed this great toolkit and was able to see my LDAP server for all of it’s glory. As an aside, I had to have PHP:LDAP support which I didn’t, so I upgraded to PHP5 with LDAP and all sorts of other goodies and then broke my SquirrelMail 1.4.5 install. Luckily I was saved by the not-really released SquirrelMail 1.4.6cvs tree which works (at least so far) with PHP5.

After all this, I added some LDAP schemas for things like inetOrgPerson and started creating an address book. First thing I tried to do was create a record in Thunderbird. Bzzt! Little known dirty secret, while Thunderbird can read from an LDAP store, it cannot write to one. I even installed the 1.5b1 release and it too cannot write to an LDAP directory. After cursing the people’s email client briefly I found this was also true of the Address Book application in Mac OS X “Tiger”. And while SquirrelMail works with LDAP, it also is read-only.

I’m going to stay the course though and find a web-based address book manager that uses LDAP as the back-end. There are a couple. (Yes, I could use phpLDAPAdmin but it is more for administration than daily use.) Then I will just have my email programs query the LDAP store for information as needed.

I started to think of all the stuff you can do with an LDAP server though — anyone up for a recipe book using LDAP?

The Farm

I come from North Dakota, and like the majority of people that come from North Dakota, I’m only one generation removed from the farm.

My mother grew up on the farm, and my grandparents still live there. All of my aunts and uncles on that side of the family live within 30 miles of the farm. The farm is our family’s center. It is where most things start. My grandparents are the only ones that live at the farm now. But at least once a year at Christmas the population at the farm spikes significantly as dozens of people return to celebrate the holiday.

The farm is in northwest North Dakota. A dozen miles north and you would be in Canada, but the accents remind you that you are not. This is the world of wheat and barley. The land is sectioned in crop lines with the occasional lone oil well dotting the horizon. Trees are planted in rows to keep the wind from stealing the topsoil. Lakes and rivers are very rare. There is a flatness to the land that is as awe inspiring as the jagged peaks of the mountains. To see this land in winter is to witness nature’s stern character, and in summer to see the bounty of the earth.

When I was a kid, I would vacation at the farm during summer break. It was an amazing world. I would play with my cousins for hours in the haystacks while the grown-ups were working in the fields. I learned to drive in a pickup out in the field. We would go into town to sit at the café and my grandpa would have coffee and conversation, while I had a malted. It was, at least for a kid, a vibrant community with interesting characters, filled with strong belly laughs.

When I return now, some twenty-five years later, the farm is pretty much the same. That’s good. You want your center to remain consistent. But the world around it and many, many other farms have changed a lot. Just driving the dirt road that goes in front of the farm you see several ghosts of farms that were.

Every year in America a lot of people that still live and work on farms aren’t able to make it anymore. With each generational transition only a few farms remain in the family. The “family farm” is quickly becoming something you will only find in textbooks, working examples of the tradition will simply be gone or relegated to historical attractions.

I realize that times move on. The economy is different. People around the world farm and send their product here. It is a global industry with giant corporations. Those that do farm can do it with more efficiency so there is less need for things as quant and romantic as the family farm. Plus, it’s hard work. The family on a family farm works from dawn till dusk. It is a risky occupation, both financially and physically. This is work done in the open sun, with sweat.

Whenever I return to the farm I savor the time. Personally I savor it because it’s time spent with people I love and respect. My grandpa no longer works the fields, not for lack of will but instead lack of youth. My grandmother is the pillar, the foundation, of everything that happens on the farm.

I savor it as well because I’m watching the last half of a great film. I will return to this area throughout my life, if only to see what has happened. In the twenty-five years I’ve been coming here it’s changed an amazing amount, more than any city I’ve visited. It isn’t a film of prosperity and growth, but instead the opposite. And with the conclusion of the story an entire way of life will be forever lost in this country, and that is something that I think we should stop and take a moment to honor.

Jamie v. Racoons

A few weeks ago we had some sod put down in our backyard. The first two weeks went as they should, I watered it everyday, all was great. I had even started to mow it. Then, the racoons came.

These little buggers figured out they could get in the seams of the sod and roll it around revealing a triumph of worms and grubs. I put everything back in place and hoped they would just move along.

Like racoons would move along. They returned night after night. I tried staking down the grass with tent stakes. I didn’t have enough stakes and they still made it through. I put more in and they decided to just rip the sod in the middle. I called our landscaper and they suggested using “lawn staples”. I got fifty (yes, fifty!) of them and the racoons simply pulled them out.

I decided the cavalry needed to come in so the landscapers came out and replaced some of the sod, since it had been damaged too badly, and laid down a fence that they use with deer on the sod to keep it in place. The next morning I called them to let them know the racoons had been in there again. The battle continues…

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