cucumber and porter
Tuesday, January 6 2015
The weather had made a turn for the distinctly colder, freezing everything that could be frozen, including the plumbing inside the brownhouse. The brownhouse isn't kept heated, but it's insulated, contains a large thermal mass (about 50 gallons of water), and has a south-facing window to catch sun rays. So it responds slowly to cold weather, usually allowing me to leave the plumbing undrained until early January. But this year I decided to drain it just a bit too late. Not that the ice damaged the plumbing (though it certainly could have), it's just that a pipe full of ice is hard to drain. At first I couldn't even get the faucets knobs to turn. But then, with a little heat from a space heater, it started to drip from the special drain have only for the ritual of winter drainage. There's another drain at the top of the system designed to spoil the siphon that makes it all work, and I opened that up as well. To catch the water draining from the special drainage pipe and redirect it to the sink, I made a makeshift trough out of paper that I leaned into position.
While I was in Belize, some hackers managed to exploit a vulnerability in an old version of a server-hosting management application called CPanel, install some malicious code on the host of a website I'd once helped build, and then use it to participate in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against one or more victims. The hosting provider had closed the server down, and now the website's owner was frantic to get Humpty Dumpty all back together again. Unsurprisingly, the job ended up in my lap, and so today I was trying to reinstall the website on the server, which had more or less been restored to factory settings. But there was still something terribly wrong with the server, because every task I needed to achieve kept being thwarted, either by the absence of software or the insufficiency of memory. None of that would have been a dealbreaker had there been any sort of support I could turn to, but Spry.net wasn't answering their phones, and the page where I could open a trouble ticket via the web was broken. After some conferring with my contact on this job, a decision was made to move to a different host. Sorry Spry, that's what happens when you suck.
Gretchen and I had plans to meet our friends Susan and David at La Florentina for dinner, but I was incautious backing out of the driveway and managed to get the Prious stuck in the swampy meadow just west of our driveway. When, after five minutes of spinning wheels it seemed clear it was just sinking into the mud, we abandoned it there and took the Subaru instead. (Later tonight I would manage to extricate the Prius using some pieces of scrap wood as a surface with suitable traction.)
For dinner, we ordered the usual: soup, salad, puffy bread, and a sformato "purple pie." The only person we've met so far who does not like the sformato is David, but he ordered a dish of pasta and really enjoyed it, though Gretchen pointed out that the "fresh pasta" used to make it is not actually vegan. There were no IPAs of any sort at La Florentina, so I had a Black Fly Porter instead. I don't know that I'm especially fond of porters, but this one seemed to suit the dreariness of the weather. The one mistake I mae while drinking it was interrupting my sipping to take a bite of cucumber. The flavor of cucumber in my mouth made the porter taste like rotten vegetables.
The tales of our vacation in Belize led inevitably into a prolonged discussion of modern parenting techniques. All of us have been dismayed to see the people who will inherit the future being so tightly parented that they have lost the skills (and neural circuits) necessary to do things on their own. What will the effect be on their creativity? And, if they're never allowed to fail as children, what will happen when they finally do set out on their own (at the age of 40)?
For the latter part of our meal, David talked at length about his father who, I hadn't known, was POW in World War II. He'd volunteered to fight even though he was young, an only child, and could have easily gotten a deferment. He entered Europe via Italy and was eventually captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. David has plans to write and draw a gaphical biography of his life, though for now he's still in the "discussing the idea with friends" phase. Gretchen brought up the fact that my father (who had also been an only child and probably could have received a deferment) had also served in WWII, though in his case, the Germans were the prisoners and he was the guard (and their relationship was often surprisingly amiable).
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