Far from Routine

It’s been almost one week and I’ve only had a single emergency at work. (skip the technical details). Apparently, an unscheduled reboot of our intranet server irreparably hosed our LDAP database, which needs to work in order for everyone to use our intranet web site, including some of the software demonstrations that we have available, our on-line DAV-based file server, and our bug database.

Fortunately, the last time something terrible happened to our intranet server, I actually took the time to schedule regular backups of everything we have, including major databases such as our LDAP directory. I just had to take the time to figure out what was going wrong. I thought that restarting the LDAP server process would help, and so I did that, and I was about (I think) to get into our intranet web site. I must not have used HTTPS because I found out later that it was still broken. Of course, when I only check my email twice a day, and only once while anyone in the States is awake, it’s hard to find out that things are still broken.

Fortunately, most problems in a UNIX operating system are fixed by this short and sweet process:

  1. Murder the process
  2. Delete the files (in this case, the database)
  3. Re-start the process
  4. Re-load the database from a backup

That took me about 45 seconds to do. Too bad it took my 24 hours to figure out the problem. At least I didn’t do the opposite and use a 45-second investigation to effect a 24-hour solution ;)

Having not been disconnected from the umbilical cord I typically maintain between myself and the Internet for quite some time, I’m still getting used to the idea of doing things offline. For example, I don’t want to write these blog entries while sitting in an Internet Point, because it costs me money to do so. Therefore, I write them at home and then upload them quickly. There’s a way I can send an email to wordpress to post the entry for me, but I haven’t set that up, yet, so I have to use good old metapad to write them, in HTML. I started out using OpenOffice.org, but then realized that, although being great for writing normal documents, I can’t easily export it to HTML — at least not HTML without tons of junk in the resulting document.

Sending and receiving email is also strange, since I end up just syncing everything when I connect, and then leaving to go somewhere else. I read the email at my leisure, and write back when I read the message and have something to say. The next time I connect, everything gets sent, and a new batch of mail comes in. On top of that, my first trip of the day occurs at about four o’clock in the morning on the east coast of the US, so nobody’s going to read anything anytime soon. I find myself having difficulty phrasing some things, especially when time is involved. If I have to say “I’m about to do [whatever]”, then, by the time the recipient reads the message, whatever it was will likely be done. So, should I say “I’ve already done [whatever]”? Probably not, because, as I write the message, I haven’t actually done whatever it is that needs to be done.

Now I know why there are all of these obscure kinds of cases in languages. Describing the past in the future tense is bizarre. “By the time you read this, I will have completed the task I am about to start.” It’s a head-scratcher.

It’s still somewhat cold here in Florence, so we have to make the most of the time when the sun is available for warmth. That means that we get up, have an espresso, and then get out into the city to do whatever. The past few days have been spent going to markets to get food for a single day. We come home and Katie makes something to eat for lunch while I do some work so I can keep my job. Then, we try to go out and do something enjoyable in the city. Usually, it’s nothing more exciting than a stroll, which is actually quite nice.

For at least two reasons, I find myself in the unexpected position of not wanting to go into any of the classic Florentine historical sites. Katie and I hit most of the big ones when we were here on our honeymoon: The Uffizi, Bargello, and Academia galleries, most of the basilicas, the Palazzo Pitti and attached Boboli Gardens, and most of the piazzas where people mostly hang out and try to sell you sunglasses and prints of famous works of art. Around Easter, my parents will be coming to visit, followed by my sister and brother-in-law and my new nephew, Joshua. During their respective visits, I’m sure we’ll play Florentine host to them, taking them from one point of interest to the next, so there’s really no reason for me to do all of that, now. The real question is how to convince them that they don’t need to see the big sites, but that they should help us fill-in the gaps that we missed in the past…

After our stroll, where we try to wander aimlessly through the city, especially in, around, and into places we’ve never ventured. For example, today we went across the Arno (the “left” side) and then west to see Santa Maria del Carmine. My mother was interested in the frescoes there, so we wanted to see how long it would take and if it was a nice walk. What she doesn’t realize is that you can’t walk 10 meters without seeing a fresco!

With the afternoon waning, we return home and I generally work from then until dinnertime. Another trip to the La Ch@t for an email refresh (this time, while my colleagues are actually awake!) and I return to work. It helps me keep my mind off the fact that it’s still pretty cold.

There’s a warm front coming in, and it rained this morning, so hopefully things will be warming up somewhat soon. I’d rather not wait for Easter to roll around before I can wear fewer than 3 shirts plus my jacket when I go out.

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