New servers

IMG_0809.jpgAn order of 10 servers arrived yesterday. This is the largest order of machines we’ve ordered yet. As Gay says, we bought the equivalent of a car from Dell. Now I know how Dell makes so much money while GM and Ford are on the verge of bankruptcy!
When you order one server, Dell ships it UPS. When you order 10, they ship them freight. These went through four carriers to get here: Conway Express to Watkins Motor Lines to Oak Harbor Freight to Vashon Trucking.

These are our first batch of Dell servers. I’ve never been a fan of Dell; I think their desktops are really cheap and their customer service is terrible. But the first server we ever bought back in 1999 when we started was a Dell, and it was suprisingly well-made.

After various problems with servers from our current vendor and the lack of good IPMI support in the machines, I decided to look into other vendors. To make a long story short, Dell’s prices were comparable and have great IPMI support built-in. Even better, Dell assigned us a sales rep who gave us significant discounts on hardware. With that, we could buy 5 Dells for the price of 4 from our current vendor.

Their tech support is still lousy — I had to buy a machine to answer the questions myself that tech support couldn’t answer beforehand. But Dell has so many customers that the community of Dell owners, via mailing lists, forums, etc., who are knowledgeable provide better support than their own tech support. And overall, I’m impressed with the quality of the hardware and Dell’s documentation — I’ve actually had questions answered by reading their documentation! I don’t think that’s happened with hardware or software for me since 1988.
These 10 servers will bring the total number of servers we manage to 38. Yahoo or Google probably throw away 38 machines a day, but I’m amazed at the amount of hardware we manage. And by this time next year, we’ll probably have 60+ servers. I remember thinking years ago that at most Recipezaar would require 5 servers (but then again, I’m also the guy who originally said we could do everything with Microsoft software).

Sold the old Jeep

We sold the Grand Cherokee on eBay on Thursday to a Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan. That’s something that would’ve been impossible just a few years ago! He lives in the Seattle area and hopes to come back in July. His parents came to complete the transaction yesterday, somewhat concerned that their son bought a car on the internet.

It is and was a great car. Gay and I started dating shortly after I helped her find the car in 1998 — she wanted a Nissan Pathfinder and I wisely talked her into a Grand Cherokee (I also owned one a the time). We took it to California that summer to tour Napa Valley, to San Francisco and camping in the Redwood Forest. I dented the side when I was teaching Gay how (not) to parallel park.Oh the memories.I hated to see it go. But we now have a Jeep Commander that Gay talked me into this time.

I still have my beautiful 1985 BMW 535i — not a 528, a 535! — relaxing in the garage. One day I may even drive it again.

New site

Moved the site from an ancient server to a newer, better, more powerful server, upgraded to WordPress 2.0, put a stock theme on it. Done. Now I can go brew my beer.

2 Great Buys

I just bought a couple of things I’m absolutely in love with:

half-pint glasses (for kid-size beer)

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My stylist has been recommending Mason Pearson hair brushes for years to me, but I could never imagine spending a bunch on a brush (!), but this brush really is amazing. Smoother than any other brush ever, and it will last for many years with proper care. It really is better than any brush or comb I’ve ever had, and makes my hair fall smooth and straight. It is most amazing that the brush itself (and all of its packaging) has not changed since the brushes were first made in 1905.

Recent History: Inn at Langley & Whidbey Marathon

We spent the first weekend in April on Whidbey Island because Megan, Laura and I were running a marathon there. The race was fun, and beautiful, along country roads with constant views of the water, even starting with the closure of the Deception Pass bridge. Because there were only a couple of hundred marathoners, it was a completely different experience than any of our previous races. Fewer people to get tangled up in, resulting in better times, but best of all, our support team and friends had no problem driving to several points along the route and cheering us.

We stayed at the Inn at Langley, a hotel we’ve been wanting to visit for years. Each room has fireplace, a balcony with a beautiful view of the sound (where we saw two orca whales playing Monday morning — stupidly, no photos), and a jetted tub that also looks out the water, a great comfort to the post-race runner. Megan and I both got massages the next day at the spa there, as well. Best of all, we had dinner in the hotel dinning room that night. The dining room only seats about 25 people, and is open to the kitchen which is not much larger than our own. The chef is Matt Costello, who won a James Beard award for best New Restaurant in the nation when he headed up Tom Douglas’s Palace Kitchen, another favorite. He started the set menu meal by explaining why he loves to live and work on Whidbey, what being close to his purveyors means and the great food community that has been created on the island. He then detailed the menu, speaking specifically about where the ingredients were sourced. It was truly one of the best meals of my life, so I don’t want to forget it:

Marinated anchovy with caperberry

Foie gras with Sauternes gelee with baby carrot and anise hyssop

Citrus marinated salmon on leeks with caraway vinaigrette

Sweet onion soup with rosemary and bacon

Poached halibut on fingerling potatoes with fresh peas and Penn Cove mussels
Snake River Ranch beef on white corn “grits” with white asparagus

Pierre Robert cheese with kumquats and pickled beets

A tasting of rhubarb: a rhubarb crisp with vanilla whipped cream, an almond and rhubarb tart, and panna cotta with rhubarb sauce

Better Nutrition Reduces Violence

Does Eating Salmon Lower the Murder Rate? – New York Times
He enrolled 231 volunteers at a British prison in his study; one-half received a placebo, while the other half received fatty acids and other supplements. Over time, the antisocial behavior (as measured by assaults and other violations) of the inmates who had been given the supplements dropped by more than a third relative to their previous records. The control group showed little change….Why? Omega-3’s foster the growth of neurons in the brain’s frontal cortex, the bit of gray matter that controls impulsive behavior. Having enough of these fatty acids may keep violent impulses in check. Violent criminals may not be the only ones who would benefit from more fatty acids in their diet. In a recent double-blind trial, when omega-3’s were given to people with a history of substance abuse, the symptoms of “anger” fell by 50 percent.