by: Matt Simerson
Wednesday 19 Jun 24


Jan 22, 2004: Snow! Lots and lots of snow. Snow piles taller than buildings! In the last two days we've got just over 8 inches. We're supposed to get another 8 inches in the next two days. The ski slopes have lots of fresh powder (thanks to the cold temperatures). It's ideal snow sports weather in Northern Michigan.

Jan 20, 2004: I've been spending a lot of time lately working on the house. Last year I got nearly all of the outside done (siding, soffits, etc) and this year will be getting the inside done. My first priority is getting the new master bedroom finished. Jen's first priority is getting the first floor painted. Guess what I've been helping with on the first floor?

Jan 14, 2004: I finally got a few photos posted of our trip to Washington DC. There are three photo albums posted, one of Washington DC, Mt. Vernon, and Marco. Click a photo below to jump to that photo album.

Dec 22, 2003: Had Christmas with my Dad and family yesterday. I posted a few photos here.

Dec 19, 2003: New to iTunes? Apple has put together a nifty Hot Tips page which you might find helpful.

Now that I've been using my new G5 dual for a short while, I must rave about it, just a little bit. I've already read volumes about the advantages of dual versus single proc G5 and G4 systems. I know all about those advantages on the server side as well. My primary web server is a dual CPU system and I've worked on countless uni, dual, and quad proc systems running Unix. I know what to expect from them but Those systems are all servers, it's very different on the desktop. I also run Win2k on a dual proc system in my home. Once again, the results are very different.

Let me just say this once and for all. Those who aren't extolling, or flat out raving about the beauty of running Mac OS X on a dual proc G5 have never done it. It's a thing of marvelous beauty. If you are the least bit interested in benchmarks (which I am) you will note the absolute speed differences between, say a G4 1.25 and a G5 1.6, 1.8, or dual 2.0. Let's just imagine that the G5 dual is only 2 (or 3, or 4, or 5) times as fast as the single. What those numbers don't reflect though is the usability of the system during that period.

As a real world example, if I happen to be transcoding a DVD on my 15" Powerbook (Aluminum), it's usability is pretty poor during the process. The CPU stays pegged, the mouse is laggard (similarly to "normal" on Windows), and of course, anything that requires a disk operation takes a several times as long as normal to react. It's still usable, but it's no longer fun. Keep in mind, this is on a system that is otherwise, very peppy and responsive.

On my G5, I can be transcoding a video in the background (at incredible speeds), converting my purchased iTunes tracks to mp3, and watching a DVD. All this going on doesn't perceptibly slow down the use of other programs, like Safari, Mail, or Finder. This is incredible. The advantage to this is that my desktop never becomes "unusable", even while crunching away on those big projects. Simply amazing.

I've read from pundits who claim silly things like "only the Finder is threaded" so just a few apps like Photoshop really take advantage of multiple CPUs. These guys are just plain ignorant. They don't understand the overall effect of a dual proc system with a well written SMP implementation. I run Activity Monitor as a login item on every Mac I work on. I always have it running. If I peg the CPU, I know it. If I fail to peg the CPU because I've ventured into swap land, I know it. If I'm waiting for disk I/O to complete, I know it. I do performance tuning on Unix system as part of my "day job". This is stuff I'm very familiar with. I've noticed that both CPU's on my system stay fairly evenly loaded, no matter what app I'm running. Having run true SMP OSes on dual proc systems for years, this doesn't surprise me in the least. Apple's implementation is top notch.

I'm very, very happy with my dual G5 and the accompanying 23" and 20" Cinema displays.

Dec 12, 2003: Busy, busy. Lots of entities want mail servers built at the end of the year. I'm not exactly sure why but I am having to turn away work, and suggest that clients get back to me next year. A good problem to have, but I'm a bit more busy than I'd like to be during holiday season. Maybe this will help me catch up.

Nov 22, 2003: I'm having thanksgiving at moms now. This is only here because I'm showing how I edit my site off line and then commit it to the web server later.

Nov 12, 2003: An update! Finally! Jen has a job that she's happy with, very conveniently located just across the street at AAR. She is now a Marketing Specialist and is employed full time.

Oct 24, 2003: My buddy Mike Surls emailed to brag about all the pheasant he shot. So, like any good friend, I invited myself to dinner to help eat them. :) A few digital photos made their way onto the Internet.

Oct 15, 2003:Jen and I visited Nathan and Katie last weekend. I took a few photos of their house.

Oct 7, 2003: Do you know anybody in need of a good printer? I have two HP Deskjet 5150's to sell. You can see photos of them here . They retail for $99 and I'll sell it to anyone I know for $70. I have two because Bill and I both got bundle deals with our new PowerBooks and we both already have printers. These are brand new in unopened boxes.

Oct 1, 2003: Professor Simerson (Jen) has been teaching at Baker lately and thus qualified us for a nice discount on a bundle of computer goodies from Apple. A couple days ago my new iPod arrived, and yesterday two new PowerBook G4's arrived for Bill and I. Bill's wife is also a teacher so we took advantage of the same deal. This it the PowerBook I wanted six months ago and it's finally here. It feels like Christmas. This morning I get up and wonder of wonders, it's snowing outside! So I grab my digital camera and run outside to get a photo of the snow. As I step out the door I notice another box on the doorstep. It's the Salmon we caught in Seattle. New computer toys, snow, and fresh fish. It's Christmas in October.

Sep 30, 2003: Looking for pictures of Keith's surgery? They're on Martha and Keith's new web site.

I have before and after gallery of photos posted. The photos are of Sean's house, the one that Daniel and I sided earlier this summer.

Sep 29, 2003: My servers OS updates are done, toaster-watcher is mostly written and in testing, and blockads is about half re-written in perl.

Sept 11, 2003: After getting back from two weeks of fun in the sun out in Seattle, I've been working furiously on several projects. Our little ISP has attention needs that are absorbing lots of time. Combine that with migrating my server from FreeBSD 4.8 to 5.1, migrating my databases from MySQL 3 to 4, replacing my servers hard drives, rewriting Blockads from scratch, and writing a new program for monitoring mail systems of my design. I'll be needing another vacation before I'm caught up from the last one!

Aug 30, 2003: Today begins at 5:45AM as we loaded up Paulette's Lexus and headed for the airport. The lines at SeaTac are incredibly long, but we managed to sneak through the e-ticket lines (way, way shorter) in good time.

Aug 27, 2003: Today we went out fishing. Early in the morning I landed a Silver Salmon which became dinner. We also caught a few humpies that are being smoked. We made a couple blackberry pies as well today.


Aug 26, 2003: On Sunday Matt Levin and I headed across the pass (I-90) to go climb Ingalls. We left at 5am and reached the trailhead a couple hours later. As opposed to a couple years ago, Matt L was Mr. Mountain Goat this time around, he being in excellent climbing condition and me being in good (but not great) condition.We arrived quite early to the base of the rock climb and then spent an average amount of time getting up to the rock pitches due to another group of climbers we had to wait for.

Aug 22, 2003:Jen and I have been busy. We arrived in Seattle on Saturday evening and went home with Mitzi (Jen's mom) and Bill. On Sunday we spent the day with Christina & Larry, going to Larry's company picnic, and then the Brazilian Festival in downtown Seattle.

Monday we visited Rich (Jen's brother), and then stopped by Jay's house to visit and get on the Internet, toured Trilogy (Mitzi & Bill's community), and printed out some of Bill's excellent photos from their African vacation. Tuesday we had lunch with some friends of Jen's from NW Link, toured Bellevue & North Seattle, and fetched Rich for Wednesday's great adventure.

Wednesday we departed Bellevue at 5:40am, drove up to Crater Mountain (arriving around 8:30) and hiked up. We got off the mountain around 8pm, drove out to Burlingham and got laughed at by the manager of Rhodes as we, a very motley looking crew, staggered into his restaurant at 10pm begging to be fed. We got a surprisingly good meal, and then made our way back home, arriving in Bellevue at 12:15am.

Thursday we drive up to Mukilteo to have brunch with Ricardo (Jen's dad) & Paulette. We spend most of the day there before coming back to Mitzi & Bill's and joining them in the hot tub and pool, soothing the overworked muscles. Friday has been our "down day". We had breakfast at the Original Pancake House and are now loafing at Jay's. Jen is grading papers and I am, of course, updating web pages.

Aug 16, 2003:We're all packed, and quite soon we'll be driving to Grand Rapids and flying off to Seattle for a couple weeks. Our plans include visiting family, friends, hiking a mountain or two, going boating, and just spending a little time relaxing.

Aug 15, 2003: As you can see, my new site design has gone live. I've been working on updating all the pages for the last couple weeks. I have a lot of pages posted! While I was at it I recreated a bunch of the photo albums to the most recent format (which is WAY nicer), cleaned up logs of pages, removed some, and re-arranged a bunch of them so navigation is more intuitive. I also moved the Google search function into it's own bar, adding the abiliity to search my site, and use Google from any of my pages.

Aug 13, 2003: I've been working "offline" for a couple weeks helping a friend side a house. In addition to getting paid to help, I also contracted the West Nile encephalitis. I could have done without the latter, but having antibodies for West Nile has to be worth something.

July 21, 2003:Dan's ISDN router met a lightning strike this morning. I have a couple photos posted that show the aftermath. If you want to contact Daniel or Robin, be sure to send smoke signals.

July 20, 2003:The Surls came up for a family reunion so we took the opportunity and went hiking on the Manistee River Trail. We dropped cars at each end and hiked it from Red Bridge to Hodenpyle Dam.

July 17, 2003:We keep making small strides towards getting the house completed. Yesterday we sized one side of the patio, only one more side of the patio to go, soffits on the North and South roofs, and the outside is finished. I've posted a few photos.

House Progress Report: The siding on the house is now finished. The only thing left to do outside is finish putting the soffit and fascia on the eaves.

Jun 21, 2003: House Progress Report: The bathroom is (finally) completed. The kitchen is still mostly (80%) done. Jen did a good job of tiling around the sink backsplash and between the counters and cupboards. The kitchen still needs some drywall finishing and trim before it's complete. Once those are done, it's upstairs to close in and finish the new master bedroom.

July 11, 2003:Last week Jen and I went camping with the Dewey family at Aloha State Park. I've posted a few phots online, click the image to go there.

June 26, 2003:Here's a snapshot I took of the Arizona wildfires while I was in Tucson Arizona.

Jun 21, 2003: If you wonder what I've been up to lately, this is it. My buddy (and former employee) Kevin Johnson is starting up an ISP and I'm helping him build it. The rate of completion on the home renovation has slowed a bit lately but I have made a little progress. The siding is all done on 3 sides and 90% complete on the fourth. Once the eaves and soffits are finished I'll be done with the outside of the house.

House Progress Report: The bathroom is (finally) completed. The kitchen is still mostly (80%) done. Jen did a good job of tiling around the sink backsplash and between the counters and cupboards. The kitchen still needs some drywall finishing and trim before it's complete. Once those are done, it's upstairs to close in and finish the new master bedroom.

Jun 16, 2003: Living in Northern Michigan has plenty if it's own blessings. Yesterday I badgered Martha (my younger sister) into snagging me some venison from her father-in-law. It would be a nice treat after not having any for several years. On her way home, she dropped off three frozen white packages with my begged for venison.

That story just isn't newsworthy but what follows certainly was. Soon after she left I got a phone call from her. Just South of Cadillac a fellow hit a deer along the road and was waiting for someone to take it home so it wouldn't be wasted. Martha & Keith stopped by, verified that it could be had, and then called me. I grabbed a tarp, butcher knife, and gloves and hopped in the car. The guy was patiently waiting for me when I arrived and even helped me field dress the deer.

I had wanted some venison and voila, a fresh little buck (2 inch buttons) stuck his head out in front of a truck, neatly preventing any of the best meat from being damaged. It was a very small buck, nice and tender and almost exactly the right size to fit in our freezer. The photos are breakfeast being made out of the back straps (loin steaks).

Jun 12, 2003: It's here.

Jun 03, 2003: Over the weekend I went to Daniel Surls Open House where I took a few photos including the following panorama. I also helped Keith and Martha lay their new carpet.

May 25, 2003: Is that deal too good to be true? Chances are you too get lots of spam, everything from adding three inches to your manliness to cashing in on 20 million dollars from the former Nigerian government. I highly recommend reading through Macintouch's pages that keep track of Internet Fraud. Then when that suspicious email arrives, or a "too good to be true" offer appears, you'll know it's a scam before they get your money.

May 22, 2003: Today was Jetta maintenance day. I replaced the Air Filter, cleaned the air screen, and the important part: installed a steel skid plate. The Jetta arrives stock with a plastic belly pan, which does little more than keep the bottom of the engine clean and dampen the diesel clatter. However, that plastic belly pan didn't stand up too well and started snapping loose. I fixed it several times but it just wasn't stable enough to withstand the 85mph air currents under the car so I removed and threw it away a few months ago.

Due to all the mushroom hunting of late, and the requisite driving around on dirt roads, reminded me that my oil pan was exposed to all manner of sticks, rocks, and other road debris so I ordered the skid plate and today spent 3 1/2 hours installing it.

May 15, 2003: At 3:30pm, Jen and I went out and checked out a spot I had high hopes for. Jen found about 20 mushrooms and I found one. Then we went back to the spot I found yesterday and spead out into the surrounding area and filled our sacks! A few more photos have been added to the shrooming page.

After doing much research, I determined there are two ways to preserve morels.

Freeze The first is to sautee them until they sweat and then put them (and their juices) into a ziploc freezer bag and freeze them. It works well. One plus for this method is that you simply pull the frozen bag out of the freezer and put it into the hot sautee pan to finish them up. The disadvange is that is uses up freezer space which I never have enough of.

Dehydrate/Dry I have tried a couple poor boy techniques for drying them and have settled on the one that produces the most consistent results. The simplest method is to pull out one of your non-metallic window screens, arrange the shrooms on it, and then set them in the sun to dry. A warm sunny day (all day) will be enough to dry them thoroughly. If the weather is not cooperative, be sure to use another technique. If they don't dry quickly enough, they become very, very fragrant, and not in a good way.

The technique I adopted is only slightly more complex. I've read all sorts of ideas on how to build yourself a dehydrater using the heating element from a dehydrator (a 200 degree oven is too warm) but I'm frugal and didn't want to spend any money on my solution. So, after a few iterations, the solution I found is to place the screen full of shrooms above the oven and leave the oven on it's lowest (200) setting. The rising heat creates a nice convection effect and the mushrooms will be dried overnight.

When you're ready to use them, soak them in white wine or water for a couple hours and then prepare as usual. Drying them takes a little longer but they dehydrate to 1/8 their weight and about one quarter of their size. You can fit several pounds of morels into a quart sized ziplock, they'll keep indefinately, and you don't have to worry about freezer burn or power outages.

May 14, 2003: I only spent an hour hunting morels today. I still found over a pound in about a half hours time. I stumbled into a new patch that nobody had picked yet and quickly scored a nice little catch. Photos are updated.

May 13, 2003: The white (yellow) morels are just now appearing! We've found quite a few small whites we've left in the ground and a few worth plucking. Today's morel hunt yielded a few pounds of blacks, a pound of half-caps, and a pound of whites. Shrooming photos are updated.

May 10, 2003: It's mushroom season on Northern Michigan. I've spent a couple days out in the woods and posted a few pictures.

Apr 28, 2003: My word, they've done it again. Today Apple launched AppleMusic. What is it? Quite simply, it's online music finally done right. Imagine being able to buy any song, from any artist, at any time, for just $0.99. Download the song(s) to your computer, transfer to your iPod, and burn it to CD to play in your stereo or car. Today the selection is 200,000 songs. It'll be two million before long. I've already purchased six songs, and I am very impressed with the service.

Apr 27, 2003: I wonder just how much longer I'll be able to keep up with the kids. Two hours of ultimate frisbee with kids I've got a generation on has me feeling a little rough around the edges. I do feel pretty good about having had to defend and be defended by the opponents fastest player, for the entire two hours. :)

Apr 23, 2003: 38 degrees is a little on the cool side for running when your lungs aren't used to the cold. Jen and I have started running on the Cadillac pathways. We like how the soft earth treats our shins and knees and it also makes the lateral leg muscles work a lot harder to stabilize your feet while running on the trail. Miles out there are much better conditioning than road running.

We clocked about 9 miles on our sneakers this week. My newest sport is poking, prodding, and otherwise tweaking Jen's sore muscles. I do it under the disguise of "massage" so she doesn't complain (much) and it's great fun. :)

It's weight loss time. My weight hasn't really crept up much (10 pounds (to 178 lbs)) but all the extra has concentrated around my middle and it's not aesthetically pleasing. My target for the summer is to lose 20 pounds and hit 155. I'm not sure I have that much weight to lose but I'm going to try. Even when I was climbing every weekend I seldom dropped below 160 except when I was dehydrated.

Apr 20, 2003: Jen and I spent Easter at my dad's farm. This and other photos are here.

Apr 16, 2003: A panorama of our living room and office:

Apr 14, 2003: Todays 74 degree high is having a disastrous effect on our snow. The last remnants of snow are rapidly departing us, as we work at finishing up our bathroom. It's amazing just how much time can be spent in one little room. Tile, drywall, mud, mastic, grout, sealer, caulk, and paint are all oh so much fun.

Apr 12, 2003: Cheap airfare alert! My farewatcher just found us $114 tickets from Grand Rapids to Seattle! Jen and I will be travelling to Seattle from Aug 16 to Aug 30. :)

Apr 10, 2003: Our new phone line is installed. You know where to find the number.

I'm busy working away on the house. So far I've put up a few sheets of drywall in the kitchen, finished drywalling the downstairs stairwell, and have started drywalling the upstairs stairwell. These are all little projects that I need to get done before I start the first big one; finishing the new master bedroom. By sealing up all the rooms downstairs, it keeps all the dust and construction debris from invading the rest of the house. Next will be the bathroom, then siding and then boxing in the eaves.

Apr 7, 2003: Here's a clickable link to our new living room.

Apr 5, 2003: The unpacking is nearly finished. Most of the house is now unpacked and we're now down to working on the important things. Jen is placing knickknacks around the house and I've got my phone switch and home network all wired up (in addition to the wireless network (Laser printers don't come with wireless cards, yet)).

Apr 2, 2003: 55 feet long (25' truck + tow dolly + Jetta), 11.5 feet high, 1400 miles, 163 gallon of gas, 15 hours (3:30pm - 6:30am), and we've arrived in Michigan. Wow. We arrived and Jen took and nap while I spent 3 hours unloading the entire truck (save the big couch and 2 desks). Kevin and Daniel stopped by and helped haul furniture around. It's 3:30pm, we left Atlanta exactly 24 hours ago. Jen is unpacking, I've been going for 33 hours, I think it's time to crash.

Mar 31, 2003: Wow. Our house is feeling a little desolate. The two tops floors are now empty and most everything is now packed and either in the garage, or on it's way. We sold a few things in our moving sale, including our beloved dining room table and chairs. That would be Jen's biggest loss. Mine is a tie between the bigscreen TV and my green leather Stratalounger. That faithful chair moved with me from Cadillac to Seattle, to Atlanta, all over Atlanta, and now is serving an 88 year old gentleman down here. It did get a good home.

Mar 27, 2003: We're down to just 5 days left in Atlanta. I expected to be excited but we have too much time on our hands. On Tuesday we got ambitious and packed up half of the house. Tomorrow we'll finish packing everything else and be ready for loading up The Big Truck on Tuesday.

Mar 20, 2003: Why do I love thee Unix? Let me count the ways. For starters, I would hate being in the Microsoft Exploit of the Week Club. I had a "company issued" PC at my last job, running Win2k Pro. I secured my own machines to "work" on, one G4 PowerMac and another Intel to run FreeBSD on. I booted up my Win2k machine once every month, downloaded the security patches, and then turned the security mode back on (power off).

Mar 19, 2003: Savannah! We're taking off Friday to spend the weekend in Savannah. We're going to visit Jen's cousin, see the town a bit, and have a little fun.

Mar 18, 2003: Happy Birthday Rebecca! It's my little sister's birthday today.

Moving Update: Our immediate future is now certain. In just two weeks we'll be all packed up and leaving Atlanta, bound for Michigan. Once there I'll be helping Kevin start up an ISP, doing consulting projects on the side, and getting my house there finished up. Just how long do you think it will take until we cash in some frequently flyer miles on a trip to Alaska?

Mar 10, 2003:: Well, sometimes you just know that you've got it good. It's Monday morning, I'm sitting in front of the computer and my single biggest worry is whether or not I'll get sunburned. It's got to be be a good day. :) It's mid 60's and sunny today. I've built myself a little computing platform that works quite nicely out on the deck. The LCD is a little difficult to read while sitting in direct sunlight but I've certainly worked in much more difficult environments.

Feb 28, 2003: After calculating up my available vacation (TOP) time, my last "official" date of employment is March 13, 2003. The formal letter of resignation is submitted and my cube is cleaned out.

Feb 25, 2003: Bittersweet is my word of the day. That's how it feels to sell a beloved 61" big screen TV.

Feb 25, 2003:Yay! The nasty weather predicted for Saturday missed us. Instead we had sunny skies and wonderful weather all day. We had a good sized crew of people show up to help us move and by nightfall we had everything into the new house. Our many thanks go out to Thomas & Jenna, Phil & Jason, and Erin for showing up and helping out. We couldn't have done it without you.

By Sunday evening the garage, dining room, living room, office, and master bedroom were set up and livable. Last night we set up the utility room, and made some major progress on the kitchen. In another day or two we'll be all moved in.

Feb 20, 2003:Yuck! The weather report is getting worse. We've gone form 50% to 80% chance of rain on Saturday. It looks like moving day might have to get altered a bit.

Feb 17, 2003:The big moving day is Saturday! We're mostly packed so it's just a matter of having a crew show up and load and unload the truck. We'd love to have you help. It's always lots of fun and lunch is on us.

Feb 13, 2003:The house Jen and I are living in has sold so we need be moved out by February 27th. Our evenings and weekends are occupied with the ever-recurring delight of sorting through all our possessions and packing them into boxes.

It's now official. I've given Interland my formal notice of resignation. My last day is scheduled for February 28th, subsequent negotiations not withstanding.

Jan 26, 2003:Uh oh! It's eBay time again! I've already listed an sold a couple DSL routers, and a bunch of other stuff is going up for sale soon including our dining room set, the 61" big screen TV, and our guest bedroom furniture.

Jan 23, 2003:13 degrees F. You have to wonder what it means when the weather man says "unseasonably cold". For Atlanta that would be about 10 degrees with a -15 wind chill. Brrrr.

Every once in a while I feel the urge to express just how much I love Mac OS X. I love being able to SSH into a friends computer and help them solve problems. It's a SysAdmin's dream desktop.

I got a new lens for my camera! Yippee, expect to see some cool panoramic shots coming soon.

Jan 15, 2003:I have a new cell phone number. You know where to find it.

Jan 10, 2003: Happy New Year all. After a couple long weeks battling virii, we're back in Atlanta and recovering nicely. We spent two weeks in Michigan and didn't even get snowed on until the day we left. We're dreaming of snow covered mountains.