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The song of a parent

This is an amazing video, it so accurately captures the feelings of a parent with small children. I can’t say enough things about how much I like this video. You’ll just have to watch it for yourself. Video courtesy of YouTube:

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weekend update

Another busy weekend is now complete. Friday I had to work late from home to fix some server problems. Liz and I had been planning a date night all week to go out and spend time together, but since I had to work, we ended up going grocery shopping instead while her sister watched the kids. Not exactly what we had in mind, but its always nice to spend together. We didn’t leave until 9:30pm, and got back just before midnight. We went to the Citrus Park Wal-Mart and managed to grab a quick snack from Dariy Queen while we were out that way.

Saturday, Liz had a fund raising event to go to, so I stayed with the kids and her sister to clean the house and get ready for Sarah’s birthday party. I got the grass cut, the house work almost done and had things mostly ready for when Liz got home. That morning for breakfast I made Sarah belgian waffles (her request) and I picked up her own little personal (sarah) sized watermelon.

Her party was around 2, but we didn’t really get started until later. Liz and I cooked up a nice lunch/dinner, we had some grilled chicken salad corn on the cob, and of course cake and ice cream for dessert. Sarah got some nice gifts for her birthday including new polly pockets which she loves, and we got her some nurf guns which we all had a good time with while on vacation. We’ve already lost one of the darts. Its been raining a lot lately, so we didn’t get to do anything outside.

Sunday, Liz and I got some exterrior house work done. She got up on the play room roof and re-flashed some seams that are still leaking even after our last attempt. Then I got the front gutters cleaned out so that the water would stop destroying the landscaping in the front of the house. I need to get some mulch and re-do some areas. Liz also was kind enough to trim some of the bushes in the front yard for me, and did a nice job of shaping them up a little. Now we can see much better through our front window where we have our Bistro table. Its a beautiful view from that front window, we’ve even started eating breakfast there just the two of us, and make it a frequent reading spot at night before bed.

Again, I’m amazed that Sarah is now 7 years old. I was recently reminded by several sources how quickly time passes. First by Sarah turning 7, and second by my phone. It just happened to chime every 5 minutes for the last 1.5 days (long story) and each time it would chime, I was reminded that another 5 minutes had passed. It reminded me how valuable time is, and how sad it is that between work and sleep, I get to spend so little of it with my family.

Sarah's pre-birthday weekend

We had a semi busy, but nice weekend. On Friday we had Mike and Renee over again, and had dinner and talked. We played the wii again and had a good time watching Liz go nuts with boxing again. I had a few bad games of bowling, but I think we were tied at the end. Everyone got tired around 11 something but we stayed up talking until just about midnight when our guests left. Abby went ot bed on Friday almost normal time, and Sarah stayed up until midnight with us. Michael would have stayed up if we would have let him, he seems to have unlimited energy and does not “konk out” at all.

Friday night, Abby woke up a few times and caused Liz and I to only get a very few hours of sleep. Michael woke up early and we needed to get up a little early anyway as we planned to go to the Rec Center for the Family Fun day. So we got up, ate breakfast and got ready to go. I think we got to the Rec Center by 11 or so. I got the kids to the pool and when they were all set, I left them with Liz and went to hit around in the racquetball courts a bit before Mike and Renee got there to warm up a little. Well I ended up hitting my only ball out of the court into the parking lot, so I had to leave and go to Wal-Mart to get a new can of balls. It took what seemed like forever, and I didn’t get back until almost 12:30. At that point, Mike and Renee just got there, but the Rec Center had run out of food, so Mike went to Wendy’s to get something. When he got back, I was back out on the court hitting around a little more, and shortly thereafter it started to rain. At first, it felt nice, cool water hitting my hot head out in the sun. Then a few minutes later it was pouring! I walked back into the pool area to find the family and they were closing down the pool area, forcing all the people inside because of the thunder storm moving over. So we stood under a walkway for a while talking but decided just to go home. It rained hard and we got soaked getting out to the van. Mike drove me to our van from his, and it was coming down the hardest right about the time we made a run for it. We had a nice relaxing day indoors after that due to the rain which makes a lovely sound on the play room roof, and is ideal for napping on the couch.

On Sunday, I took Abby out on a daddy date to the Brandon mall. I’ve never been but had heard it was a nice mall. We went in the miata together, and had a nice ride, but left the top up and used the A/C as it was very warm! We got to the mall and went to a cookie shop and got a small bag of cookies. Abby rode a small train ride before we left for the food court to sit down and eat our cookies. We found that just like the Citrus park mall, they also have a large indoor merry-go-round and so Abby just had to ride that too. We got on and rode around for a while and then headed back to the car. It is a nice mall, but not as nice as Citrus Park. I did find some stores in there that I’ll keep in mind the next time I need to go shopping…

Family Update

We have been so busy lately, there is so much going on its going to be hard to give an update…

We had a great weekend this past weekend, we went to visit some friends of ours on Sunday afternoon and stayed until almost 11. We had a great time, great conversation and I got to try out their wii! The kids had a blast and got extremely dirty, so they had a great time!

We are getting ready to be busy with last minute plans for our trip to visit family. We have packing to do and final arrangements to make. It should be an interesting time.

Last night Liz had her papmer night for MOPS, so I stayed home with the kids and we had a nice time. They watched a movie and had popcorn and brownies! I went to bed around 11, and Liz didn’t get home till around midnight.

I have again discovered how lonely summer mornings are when Sarah doesn’t have school and we don’t all get up together in the mornings. Normally I get everyone up around 6:20am and we get breakfast and get ready to go about our day together. But in the summer, Liz doesn’t have to take Sarah to school, they get to sleep in and I end up alone in the mornings getting ready by myself. So I like the summer in that we save on gas money, and the rest of the family gets a break, but for me its the same old schedule, just all by myself.

Details on DST patches, Goodlink issues and resulting patch problems.

This post is going to be very technical in nature and hopefully someone will find it useful. This all started because of the patches for Exchange 2003 due to Daylight Saving time updates. Below you will find detailed information on the DST patches, resulting problems I had with Goodlink, permissions issues I encountered, and resulting side effects of a supported fix from Microsoft. I’ll break it down into sections, relating to each type of issue I encountered.

Daylight Saving Patches

After installing DST patches on Exchange 2003, I found myself unable to mount the stores on all of my Exchange 2003 servers. The information store service would start, but none of the stores would mount from ESM. After some researching I found this article from Microsoft that was supposed to fix the problems I encountered. After the 930241 patch was installed, my stores would mount and everything seemed to be working fine. After applying these updates, Exchange seemed to be working fine at the time, all my message tests were good and I didn’t see any obvious signs of a problem.

Goodlink and the Send-As permission

After applying the DST patches and the update from MS KB 930241, I found that my Goodlink devices were not working. At first it was affecting everyone, no one was sending or receiving goodlink messages from their handhelds. I did some checking and found this article on the good.com website. Now on a previous case with Good support, we went through and modified the correct permissions for the Goodadmin account in advance, so that we wouldn’t have this issue. It turned out that some of our Exchange objects were not inherriting permissions correctly, so when we applied the DST patches along with 930241, our goodlink system lost the send as permission required to operate properly. I got on the phone with Good support and we went through and manually reset the permissions again, ensuring that all Exchange objects were inherriting the proper permissions. I had to restart the Exchange services on all 4 servers to make the changes effective, and once done, Goodlink resumed working normally. This all happened between a Firday night and a Saturday morning. So not only do you need to ensure you grant the send-as right in AD to the GoodAdmin account, but I’d strongly recommend making sure you have all the inheritance setup properly for all Exchange objects as well. I think our permission issues were remnants of our setup of a mixed environment with Exchange 5.5 and 2003.

Read the rest of this entry

My year of Hell in 4 days

There is a Star Trek Voyager episode entitled “Year of Hell”. Its about a span of 365 days in the life of the crew where pretty much anything that could go wrong, goes go wrong and I think they barely survive (its been a while since I’ve seen it). Well, over the last 4 days, I’ve had my year of Hell starting from Friday night to yesterday around 6:30pm. I’ll summarize:

1. Friday night, I installed DST patches

a. DST patch caused a problem where my info stores would not
mount in Exchange 2003
b. The DST patches also broke the goodlink system for mobile e-mail
c. Turned out that MS had changed the way the permissions work in
Exchange and AD and we had to re-set the permissions on our
GoodAdmin account
c. Spent up until 11:30pm working on the DST patches and fixing the
goodlink account while on the phone with Good support

2. Saturday – all day

a. Checked the server from previous night to ensure everything is
still working
b. Found everything to still not be working.
c. Found some objects in Exchange 2003 were not
inherriting permissions correctly. Had to continue
resetting permissions for those items and testing.
d. Continued working with Good support and testing and finally got the
Goodlink mobile e-mail working
e. Had to follow a workaround by allowing inherritance on the
AdminSDHolder AD object and allowing time for replication
f. Spent the rest of the day testing the mobile e-mail system paranoid
that it would fail again.
g. Abby got sick Friday night, so I got maybe 2 hours of sleep Friday
night and Sat Morning

3. Sunday – all morning

a. Continued testing the mobile e-mail system, all tests were working
ok, external and internal.
b. I stayed home with Abby all day to take care of her, she was really
sick and had a very high fever.
c. Got my first almost full night of sleep, since Liz was kind enough to
stay in the living room with Abby

4. Monday – All DAY!!!

a. Started getting complaints that people couldn’t open some e-mail
messages in Outlook
b. Got some reports that people were missing e-mails, that the volume
of messages received over the weekend and morning were very low
c. To make it more frustrating, all the external tests and internal tests
I was doing were working fine
d. Checked the mail queues in Exchange 2003 and found hundreds of
queued messages, they were stuck in the MTA queue
e. Nothing I tried would release the messages
f. I called Microsoft and paid my $245 fee for support, and spent about
8 hours on the phone with 2 separate Microsoft engineers.
g. Once I got through to the escalation engineer, we got the issue fixed
within 3 hours or so.
h. Turned out that MS had made two code changes to alter the way
Exchange does recipient and sender address formatting or lookups.
i. The quick fix was to uninstall patch 930241. So I did, and that
restored functionality completely, for both symptoms.
j. I also worked with MS to run some store traces to try to
identify the issue.
k. After some minor permissions adjustments for two servers who were
still not inherriting permissions correctly, everything started to
work normally.
l. I did NOT have lunch this day, nor anything to drink. I was on the
phone all day!
m. At 6:35pm I finally left the office and went home and crashed!

So as you can see, thanks to Congress for screwing around with the Daylight saving configuration and thanks to Microsoft for making some code changes that had unexpected side effects, I ended up having a very bad few days indeed. I really didn’t get a weekend, no break, barely any sleep. Its going to take me a while to recover from that. I need a vacation! Sarah has off all next week for spring break, I’m thinking of asking for next Wednesday off to break up the work week and give myself a break.

Stressful few days

The last few days have been hectic to say the least. With all the DST preparations that were needed and other daily tasks it was just crazy. Then on Friday evening after installing the DST updates for Exchange 2003, it broke our Goodlink system for mobile e-mail. The cause was a known issue, and I even worked wtih Goodlink previously and made the necessary changes to our permissions to get around it, but for some reason, we still had problems. I had to contact Good support and work with a tech until almost midnight on Friday, and even past noon today (Saturday). I basically had to re-do all the goodlink account permissions and modify some settings in AD and Exchange. I’ll post all the MS KB articles later. It was a long process and I didn’t get the server back into normal working condition until around noon today. It was working ok when I stopped last night just before midnight, but for whatever reason, the problem re-appeared after a few hours sometime overnight.

To make matters worse, Abby started acting sick yesterday, and woke up last night around 1am with a cough high fever. I heard her crying so I went to get her. Liz and I crashed on the couch because of the time and we like sleeping on the couch sometimes. So when I heard Abby crying I went to get her, only to find her in my bed crying. She had gone in my room to find us and we weren’t there. So she got up in our bed and was crying. I brought her out to the couch with me and Liz and I swapper her around and barely got any sleep. So today, I spent a lot of time working on the goodlink issues, but Liz had to go out to a MOPS picnic event (which we were all going to go to) to spend some time with some orphans. I didn’t get to go, I ended up staying home to work and Abby wasn’t well so I also watched Abby and Michael while Liz took Sarah in the Miata.

We didn’t do much of anything today, and Sarah seems to be the only one with any Energy today. Tomorrow is the last day of the strawberry festival. I love their strawberry shortcake!!! And I would love to come home with a flat of strawberries, but I don’t know for sure yet if I’ll get to go. The plan is to grab some cash from the bank tomorrow and sometime after lunch, I’ll run over to Plant city and get some strawberries, and hopefully find a place that has some strawberry shortcake!

Now I’m off to rest with poor sick little Abby and maybe watch a movie or something while collapsing on the couch!

Poor Abby

Last night, Abby woke up around 4am. I got a tap on my arm and it was Abby standing by my bed. I thought she wanted to sleep in my bed, but she said she had to go potty. I had her go use my bathroom, and it was so cute, she went in there and turned on the big light, it was so bright, I don’t know how she managed to even open her eyes. She got done and came back to me and snuggled for a few minutes. I asked her to go back to her bed a few minutes later. She went back and a few minutes later started fussing again. I got up to check and this time she wanted a drink, so I went and got her cup and brought her a drink of water. She took a sip and laid back down to go to sleep. A little later she started crying again, and this time Liz volunteered to go check. She wanted another drink and so Liz got it, but stayed out there a little longer. She came back in and said she was going to take Abby out to the couch since she was having a hard time sleeping. And because of this, I had to come wake her up when the alarm went off. So at 6am the alarm went off, and I let her know, then climbed back in bed desperate for a precious few more minutes of sleep before starting this week. Hopefully Abby is not getting sick with what we had, and will be back to normal today.

Valentines Day

Surprisingly Liz and I had a very nice Valentines day together. I had to work and she didn’t get home till after 8pm, but we had a very nice evening together and ended up hand making each other’s valentines day gifts. We were both surprised at the gifts and it was just a nice night. The girls didn’t want to go to bed and didn’t end up falling asleep till after 10, but even so, it was a good day.

Reforming Daylight Savings Time

I came across this amusing article a long time ago actually, it has an interesting take on Daylight Savings time:

———-

It happens every spring: crocuses, baseball (with any luck), and the switch to Daylight Savings Time (DST).

Coming off DST is not hard. In the Fall, we set our clocks back one hour. We all get an extra hour to sleep, and those who forget find themselves at church, or the airport, or wherever an hour early. Embarassing, but not catastrophic.

But in the Spring we set the clocks forward, and the trouble begins. We lose an hour of sleep. Forgetful people miss Mass, planes, breakfast, and the big game on TV. Some are thrown into disarray for up to a full week. Annual losses due to DST confusion have been estimated (by me) at over a million dollars. I myself have missed a flight to Washington and a showing of The Seven Samurai because of DST.

There is no need for such tragic waste. We can – we should and must – urge our lawmakers to reform Daylight Savings Time as follows: Setting clocks back is easy; setting them forward is difficult. Therefore, let us keep the fall ritual as it is. However, one Sunday each Spring, let us set our clocks not one hour forward, but TWENTY-THREE HOURS BACKWARD.

Think of all the advantages. We will not lose an hour of sleep; we will gain (almost) a day of rest. It will be Saturday all over again. You will never again miss Confession, or an airplane, or the Redskins game.

Naturally, if this were the whole plan, our calendars would fall behind one day in each year. However, the second part of the Revised DST Plan deals with this. Every four years, instead of adding a day, let us SUBTRACT THREE DAYS. Furthermore, let these be Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, which according to recent polls are the least popular days.

If done in February, which seems reasonable considering what a miserable month it is, this would have the beneficial side effect of shortening the excruciating presidential primary season by an effective four days.

The advantages of this plan are clear. Let us waste no time. With a determined effort we can have Reformed Daylight Savings Time by Spring of next year.

Write your congressperson today!