West Coast Road Trip: Day 2

Today was a touristy day in Los Angeles.

After sleeping in from our long day yesterday, we started off with a late Sunday breakfast at Brent’s Deli (mmmm … potato latkes!). Then my sister-in-law and brother-in-law drove us down to Hollywood Boulevard so we could see the Chinese TheaterHollywood Sign and the Walk of Fame. Hollywood Boulevard was shut down to road traffic because it was being set up for the “Terminator Genisys” premier at the Dolby Theater later that evening. People were lined up across the street waiting to maybe catch a glimpse of Arnold but I managed to sneak a peek at the Terminator they had set up (presumably for photo ops on the red carpet).

On the way home, we stopped at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which was incredible. Reagan’s actual Air Force One jet and Marine One helicopter are the centerpiece in a giant glass-walled hangar overlooking the valley. There was even a piece of the Berlin Wall. It was a very educational and moving experience (regardless of your personal politics).

After freshening up at the house we went out for a nice dinner at the Melting Pot. Tomorrow we’re on our own as our hosts need to go to work (ha, Monday!).

 

West Coast Road Trip: Day 1

We woke up really early to get downstairs, check our bags, and get through security in time for the 5:30am boarding of our flight from Tampa to Las Vegas. Thanks to our TSA PreCheck status though, we were sitting at our gate with almost 30 minutes to spare.

The flight to Vegas was uneventful and by 7:30am (Nevada time) we picking up our rental car for the week (a black Mazda CX5) and driving out to the Strip. After a quick family photo in front of the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign we headed southeast to the Hoover Dam. It was the second time for me, since I had just come out two months ago, but it was no less amazing. It was, however, slightly hotter! Summer in the desert is no joke. Back at the Strip, we went to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in Ceasar’s Palace for lunch and then walked down Las Vegas Boulevard taking in the sights. My daughter and I rode the Big Apple Express roller coast at New York New York which was neat but in the heat of the day the hot air pretty much slammed into you, not refreshing at all.

We left Vegas in the late afternoon, heading west on I-15 towards Los Angeles. Traffic was fine except for the backup at the agricultural inspection station. We tried Del Taco for dinner since we had heard good things about it but were sorely disappointed and ended up grabbing Starbucks instead. There was also one scary moment, on CR-18, where we thought we were going to run out of fuel and barely made it to a gas station. The rest of the night’s drive was fine, although we were getting tired from the long day considering we started at 1:30am PDT. We safely reached my wife’s sister’s place in Simi Valley and were dead asleep by 10:30pm.

9 more days to go!

West Coast Road Trip: Day 0

We’re on our way to the west coast for a family road trip that will take us from Las Vegas to Seattle over the next 9 days!

Our flight to Las Vegas is really early tomorrow (6am on Southwest!) so after a nice dinner at a nearby Maggiano’s we’ve checked into the Tampa Airport Marriott tonight. This waywe don’t have to get up as early as we would if we had to drive to the airport, park the car, take the long-term shuttle, etc. tomorrow morning. We’ve had our nightcap from the Starbucks downstairs in the terminal :-) and are excited to start our travels!

Another spring sports letdown

Usually in May and June I’m watching baseball but this year was different because both my Tampa Bay Lightning and Cleveland Cavaliers were in their respective playoffs, both teams making it all the way to the finals. Unfortunately, a strange pattern emerged as both teams ended up falling short of a championship, losing in 6 games:

Game Bolts vs. Blackhawks Cavs vs. Warriors
1  1-2 (L) 100-108 (L OT)
2  4-3 (W) 95-93 (W OT)
3 3-2 (W)  96-91 (W)
4 1-2 (L) 82-103 (L)
5  1-2 (L)  91-104 (L)
6  0-2 (L) 97-105 (L)
7 N/A N/A

Both teams had injuries and weren’t playing at full strength. Bolts goalie Ben Bishop was clearly hurt in Game 2 (I was there!) when he left twice (and now we know he was playing through a torn groin) and Tyler Johnson was playing with a broken wrist.  The Cavs lost Kevin Love in the first round to a shoulder injury, and then Kyrie Irving broke his kneecap in the first game of the Finals.

The good news is that both of my teams had great, exciting runs and have a great chance of being contenders again next year, assuming they stay healthy and don’t have too many lineup changes in the off-season.

Cool note: the Tampa Bay Lightning are the first team in history to face an Original Six team in four consecutive rounds of the playoffs in the same year: the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks. Too bad they couldn’t have beaten the fourth one. :-(

So my spring sports bonanza is over … time to watch some baseball. How are the Rays and Indians doing? Wait, the Rays are in 1st place? I need to start paying attention!

AL standings

WIJFR: The Man in the High Castle

It’s America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.

I know I said “American Gods” would be my last WIJFR post, but I just finished reading “The Man in the High Castle” by Philip K. Dick. I originally read this alternate history story by PKD many many years ago, but was inspired to re-read it after watching the pilot episode of the new Ridley Scott-produced original series on Amazon Prime Video. It’s been greenlit for a full series and now that I’ve re-read the original source material I’m looking forward to watching it.

CyberPower BRG1000AVRLCD UPS

A recent power outage that resulted in my server staying up for only about a minute made it apparent that it was time to replace my 5 year old CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD UPS in the computer closet. I’ve been very happy with that model so I chose just to go with its updated sibling, the CyberPower BRG1000AVRLCD.

The BGR1000AVRLCD is a 1000VA/600W uninteruptible power supply with, 10 outlets (5 battery/5 surge). It has one more surge outlet than the CP1000AVRLCD and as a result is slightly taller, but has a nicer, clearer, black and white LCD status screen. Like the older version, the outlet spacing doesn’t allow for power bricks, so you’ll need to invest in some short extension cables. The outlets are nicely shaded/color-coded to make it easier to figure out which side is battery-powered. My favorite feature by far is the mute option, which lets you turn off all beeps and alerts.

I also picked up two smaller CyberPower CP350SLG UPSes. These are 350VA/255W units with 6 outlets (3 battery/3 surge). While I wouldn’t really recommend these for a desktop PC setup, they work great for keeping my TiVos and tuning adapters running during power outages and flickers. Like the BGR1000AVRLCD, you can toggle all the beeps and alerts on and off by pressing the power button twice quickly, which is a nice feature. I do have one have one minor problem with the CPS350SLG: a slight hum that is very noticeable in a quiet room (like a bedroom).

 

Two Weeks in NYC

I just got home from a two-week business trip to New York City.

I was here last October for a software systems upgrade but this time I was assisting with moving the office (corporate headquarters) from Park Avenue to 1 Rockefeller Center. This ended up being 15 straight days in the office, averaging 13 hours a day, as we set up the new office (the first week) and then handled all the support issues (the second week). I was supposed to come home the Friday before Memorial Day weekend but ended up staying through Monday to finish everything up.

It was a grueling trip, but did have some highlights: I watched part of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup playoffs between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers in “Rangertown” in Bryant Park down the block from my hotel (the Lightning won 6-5 in overtimeand since my trip was extended I got to go to Game 5 at Madison Square Garden where the Lightning won 2-0.

 

From Vegas to Vivid Vervet

It’s late April which means time for another Ubuntu upgrade … 15.04, Vivid Vervet.

I downloaded the new release via “do-release-upgrade -d” last Friday, which took about 2 hours. Since I was leaving for Las Vegas the next morning, I didn’t want to reboot the server and run into problems before being out of town for four days, so I left it and then finished the upgrade tonight.

For the most part, everything worked, as expected after the reboot (and re-applying some customizations to affected configuration files). The biggest hiccup was due to the switch from upstart to systemd for the init system. Some of my services (AirVideo HD, Calibre, Pulseway, and UniFi) hadn’t started automatically (and wouldn’t start through systemd). I had to do some Google searching and put together .service files and clean up old init.d scripts but eventually got it all working. Also, my Plex Media Server package was completely removed during the upgrade for some reason so I had to re-install that (luckily all the database stuff was still present so I didn’t have to rebuild my library).