Apologies for the few weeks with no index page … I obviously typo’d something on the command line a couple of weeks ago.  Thanks to G for pointing it out.

All is well now.


I’ve been listenening to Beirut‘s Gulag Orkestar all week.  It’s great:  fresh (ok, if you follow new music with lower latency than do I, as it’s a year old), somewhat novel, and both lyrically and musically interesting for multiple listenings.One song in particular has sunk its aural fangs into my brain.  Scenic World is haunting in its brevity, like there’s nothing more to say on the topic than is said in  these two stanzas (which constitute all of the lyrics of the song – no need to repeat anything here):

the lights go on
the lights go off
when things don’t feel right
i lie down like a tired dog
licking his wounds in the shade

when i feel alive
i try to imagine a careless life
a scenic world where the sunsets are all

I think Amy is probably going crazy listening to it, though she’s doing a good job hiding that.  Ben, on the other hand, loves it — while he and I were in the car together earlier in the week he offered (unprovoked): “this is a very beautiful song,  daddy”.


I just realized that the blog post I just made is the second in a row that doesn’t do much more than link to dumbrella artists. I have done things in the last month other than read web comics. Really. Actually, it’s been a very busy month, which is at least part of why there hasn’t been much here. The rest of why is largely twitter, the micro-bloggy nature of which seems to have received the bulk of my “I should tell someone about that” urge.

I’ll write more here soon. In the meantime, enjoy this hilarious picture of Nora, with costuming by Ben and photography by Amy (of course). I love my family.



I like these drawings. I wish there were an RSS feed.


The second frame of today’s overcompensating is particularly hilarious.

(Now, if the feedback loop between the internets and the culture works, we sit back and wait for this page to get some content.)


Thanks to Amy and JB‘s motivational dissing of our old (and oft-broken) mythtv installation, I set out last weekend to rebuild the setup, which involves a backend system in the basement and a frontend in the TV room driven by an xbox that can retrieve recorded video from the myth system downstairs.

I had a very easy time getting current myth (0.20) installed on a SuSE 10.2 box with a Hauppauge PVR-350 last weekend, and as I’ve come to expect in 4+ years of myth use, 0.20 is noticeably better than 0.18. Since the xbox scripts that interface with myth are version-specific, I needed to update them too. and this was enough motivation for me to go ahead and get a modern XBMC install.

It’s all working now, and it seems pretty cool.

I’ll spare you the particulars, but there were 2 non-obvious problems I encountered along the way, the corresponding solutions to which I thought I’d leave here where google can find them:

problem #1: database connection errors from the xbmcmythtv script. This was puzzling as I’d verified that the host-level packet filters on the server running mysqld were allowing traffic, I was seeing successful TCP connections, and I had verified from a different machine on the network could connect to the target db using the username+password I had configured xmbcmythtv to use. Since the xbox has relatively few other diagnostic capabilities, I used ethereal wireshark to watch more closely, and found a mysql auth error being sent back by the server that read:

Client does not support authentication protocol requested by server; consider upgrading MySQL client

solution #1: use pre-mysql-4.1 style password encoding on the server. With the specific error string (unhelpfully obscured by the xbmc script), google quickly found this note in the MySQL reference manual.

problem #2: script says “caching subtitles” when I try to play a recorded show, then appears to hang for a while before returning to the program listing. This one was quite a head-scratcher for a while, since I wasn’t trying to do anything with subtitles, I couldn’t find any caching options that seemed related, and there was no other indication of something that might be failing (permissions, etc.). What’s more, this problem was coming up after I was successfully getting the list of recorded programs, which meant the xbox was successfully talking to the backend server (mysql, smb, and the myth backend process are all on the same box).

I found some threads on various xbox fora that described very similar problems, but none with solutions that were even potentially relevant.

solution #2: use IPs in the xbmcmythtv config. I had been using the FQDN of my backend box in both the db and general paths config screens of xbmcmythtv. The xbox is configured to use an internal DNS server that is authoritative for the domain in question, and to remove all doubt that DNS was actually working, the DB connection and connection to the mythtv backend worked fine (as evidenced by my ability to retrieve the program listing).

While desperately searching for clues on the “caching subtitles” problem, I found a mention in some random “common problems” document that emphasized that unqualified hostnames (i.e. missing the full domain) in the xmbcmythtv config would not work. I was already using FQDNs, but on a lark I tried replacing the FQDN with the IP of the backend server in the SMB path part of the config, and sure enough, that did the trick.

Apologies for what was certainly a very boring post for, well, anybody who came here except via a search for one of the aforementioned problems. For those of you who did get here looking for answers, I hope this helped.


If this is true, I’m thrilled! Selfishly, this is directly on my way to/from work; more generally, WSGC would be a great addition to the increasingly condo-y downtown. With only deserved offense to Cap Center Foods intended, downtown needs a grocery store.

(via Dane101)


I took Friday off of work in order to have Memorial Day make an easy 4-day weekend.  I didn’t have any particular plans, but we had beautiful weather and no shortage of options.  In no particular order, then, my weekend included:

  • had lunch at la Queretana, a new Mexican restaurant on the west side (thanks to Jay for the recommendation)
  • styled & repotted new twin-trunk arborvitae
  • repotted small new windswept juniper
  • styled & repotted new ‘rainbow’s end’ dwarf alberta spruce
  • styled dwarf korean lilac that’s been sitting in a training pot for 2 years
  • finished detail wiring and repotted semi-cascading juniper (with very cool deadwood potential)
  • saw Waitress at Sundance 608 (the movie was ok, the theater was pretty cool, though pricey)
  • checked out the new Muramoto restaurant, Sushi Muramoto.  It’s no Restaurant Muramoto, though it doesn’t try to be, and is good nonetheless
  • went to the gym with the whole family
  • acquired and built and unattractive but utilitarian plastic tool shed in the backyard
  • had a great Q at Jon & Colleen’s (though Colleen was absent), with tasty pork a la Doug
  • hiked partway out to Picnic Point and back (hiking with a 3 year-old and a 4 month old)
  • went to the Farmer’s Market
  • biked to the Zoo, at times through the Madison Marathon
  • made a quadruple batch of bolognese sauce
  • had lunch at La Hacienda (this always seems to happen after we go to the Zoo)
  • participated in Nora’s first carousel ride & first time down a slide
  • finished plans for the backyard patio project w/ Amy
  • made pizza with Ben (we cheated and used pre-made crusts & sauce from Fraboni’s, but it was pretty good nonetheless)

Whew — I’m sure I forgot something, but that’s the bulk of it.  It was a busy weekend.


I had the following dialogue with my 3 year old son after I got home from work last night:

Ben: “What does contrary mean?”
Me: “It means inclined to disagree.”
Ben: “No. No it doesn’t. Don’t say that.”


For those of you who are in the Madison area, the Badger Bonsai Society (of which I’ve been member since I started working with bonsai in 2004) has its annual show this weekend.  The show is Saturday and Sunday (May 19th & 20th) from 10a – 4pm at Olbrich Botanical Gardens on Atwood.  Admission is free, though donations are accepted.  Stop by and check out some cool trees in pots for a few minutes during your weekend.  I’ll have four trees in the show this year for the first time, as well.

For those interested in delving a bit deeper, there will be demonstrations at 11am and 2pm on both days.

(photo courtesy of Grufnik via the Creative Commons license)

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