Noé defends

Friday morning I went to see friend and juggler Noé defend his thesis on coronal mass ejections. He actually included lots of introductory stuff, so it was interesting even those of us in the back row just there to cheer Noé on.

That night we met at Grizzly Peak to celebrate. But it was too crowded, so we ended up at Conor O'Neils instead. They have a side room, new as of a year or two ago I think, that was reasonably quiet. By the end, we were the only people there and could run around firing finger flingers at each other without bothering any other patrons.

Anja and Belen had made Noé an impressively silly hat. Apparently it's a German tradition.

Saturday I stopped by the farmer's market, did a little juggling, and ate a little at Saigon Garden afterwards.

Sunday I did a little work on Arbor Update and skimmed back through "Never Let Me Go", taking notes for my Tuesday book group meeting. It still impresses and depresses me simultaneously.

voting day

It was drizzling this morning, but my polling place is on the way to work, and the most convenient way to do everything was to bike. My rain gear is sub-par right now in a couple ways: the recent pannier incident broke off much of the rear fender, so I'm not sure it keeps the rain off my back so well; and my usual rainjackets are worn out (one isn't waterproof, one has developed a big rip in the right sleeve). All that to say, I got very wet.

On the other hand, it wasn't too cold out. And the voting experience was fast and routine.

Our county has a great clerk/register of deeds, who wrote an interesting article about the voting system we use in Michigan.

Work was kind of long and tedious today. Better luck tommorow....

farmer's market, juggling, birthday, moving house, chickens

Saturday morning I biked to my office by way of the farmer's market. This time I left the farmer's market with my dignity (and my produce) intact.

I tried to work for a while, without great success, then spent an hour or so at juggling, then returned home.

Today was my birthday, and also the day that the Polhemus house was finally moved. They had the house on 10 dollies, five to a side, each with two axles, and 4 wheels per axle--so 80 wheels altogether. Workers were walking alongside and periodically retightening cables that ran from one side to the other--presumably part of what kept the dollies attached to the rest. There were also a couple tractors following behind pulling on the thing with cables, presumably to provide extra braking.

There were also a bunch of cherry-pickers ahead and behind of the house working to cut down power lines and other obstructions, and then put them back up afterwards. Between them, the police cars, miscellaneous utility vans, etc., there was quite a collection of support vehicles. I noticed a few of the workers snapping pictures with their cellphones.

Sara and I joined the house as it was turning off fifth onto Beakes, followed it across the Broadway Bridges, then left it as it was turning onto Swift. It was going at an extremely slow walking pace even on the easy straight bits, so the whole move was an all-day job.

Probably about a hundred people, maybe a little less, followed along, taking pictures and hanging out. It was quite festive. I also ran into Sue, an old friend from graduate school who I'd heard had come back to Ann Arbor a couple years ago but hadn't run across till today.

A few days ago as I was waiting for the bus I saw a chicken poking around in some nearby bushes. I didn't get the chance to investigate, as the bus pulled up just then. I almost could have imagined it. But as we got back home today we saw another (or the same?) chicken in the parking lot next to our apartment complex. Where did it escape from? It's a mystery.

Sara made biscuits and scrambled eggs for breakfast, and cooked some pears and apples. Yum! And she made some soup and a cake for dinner.

Altogether, a highly satisfactory birthday.

By the way, my dad also had a birthday recently, and as of today our ages are related in the following way: there exists a choice of an and b such that my age is a^b, whereas his is b^a. Offhand I think there's only two choices of a and b for which that's possible. And the other one is pretty unlikely.

snow, stealth bike, ski jumping pairs

Winter has arrived in Michigan, with the first snow to actually stick to the ground. It isn't *that* cold yet, though; I can be comfortable (mostly) without a hat, for example. Or long underwear.

I dropped off my bike at the bike store yesterday morning, and got it back tonight. I'd neglected it for a long time--I hadn't even lubricated the chain recently--so now it's smooth and silent by comparison. I should take better care of it.

Our Friday night japanese movie was "ski jumping pairs: road to Torino 2006". It was extraordinarily silly. As if the olympics weren't silly enough already. In fact, I think the real-life moguls event is probably funnier-looking than the fictional two-people-on-a-pair-of-skis ski-jumping event.

Since I had my bike with me I rode home while Paul drove Sara home. They beat me there, darnit! For the glory of bicyclists everywhere, I will pedal harder next time.

my squash has road rash

On the way out of the farmer's market, with two panniers of produce, one of my panniers jumped off and scattered all my stuff across the road.

Thus I am now the proud owner of a six-pound butternut squash with a mild case of road squash.

I also got brussel sprouts, potatoes, apples, and pears.

Fred brought Deanna and their three-week baby to our wednesday morning donut hour. It just sat there asleep, looking like a baby. But it was nice to see them all.

Work went OK. On my way home I swung by a bike shop and they fixed a couple problems and told me to bring it back for a more thorough tune-up.

non-halloweeny halloween

I've been playing piano a little more recently; nothing ambitious, just fooling around. It improves my mood a lot; I should play more.

I rode to and from work today. My knees don't seem to be bothering me particularly any more. I try to stretch after my ride, and walk around a little more often at work. Maybe that helps.

I did absolutely nothing even slightly halloween-y today. Terrible!

babies, bicycling, journaling

My friend and co-worker Fred was back to work today after three weeks of paternity leave. He looked alert enough, and says he's actually getting 6 hours of sleep a night. I seem to be of an age when everyone I know has a baby.

I rode my bike home from work. One of the pair of cheap halogen headlights I use was dimming, though I'd recharged all the batteries just a couple days ago. I suspect a problem with the charger. It's the time of year when I'm always returning home in the dark.

I have some fairly tedious debugging to do which mostly involves waiting for compiles, so figured I"d stay up a little late and do some reading.

Stephen Tweedie's "Journaling the ext2fs Filesystem" talks about the design of ext3. It's kind of suprising, but it turns out that one of the most important features of a filesystem is the way it recovers from crashes. Keeping your files safe, after all, is probably the most important thing your computer does--a computer that regularly loses your files, or, possibly worse, silently corrupts them in ways that you don't notice till long after the fact, can be worse than useless. And crashes are hard to avoid--even if the software is perfect, there are always power outages.

So the filesystem has to be updated in a way that allows the computer to figure out what happened even if it last died halfway through an update. Also, the computer has to be able to figure out what happened *fast*. The traditional filesystem repair process can require reading through an entire filesystem, and disk sizes are growing much more quickly than disk bandwidth, to the point where reading through a large filesystem can take hours.

The approach taken by ext3 is a fairly common solution called journaling; the filesystem appends a record of each update to a special file called a journal. After it has recorded the update to the journal, it appends some kind of special "commit" marker to the journal, and only then does it go mess with the actual file system.

Once the actual filesystem has been modified, the OS is free to remove the relevant entries from the journal.

Then on reboot the filesystem just reads through the journal, performs any updates that are marked as committed (in case they weren't previously finished), and removes any entries that aren't marked as committed. (Those updates will then be lost, but that's better than possibly making a mistake and leaving the filesystem in an inconsistent state.) Recovery is fast as long as you keep the size of the journal down.

Journaling also made it easy for the linux developers to maintain backwards compatibility with ext2--it's still possible to mount an ext3 filesystem as an ext2 filesystem by just ignoring the journal.

They note one interesting connection with NFS: NFS performance is often bound by the amount of time it takes the server to synchronously commit updates to disk. With some tuning the journalling may help by turning most such commits into sequential writes to disk?

Frustratingly nonmobile home

They've been promising to move the Polhemus House across town for weeks now, and it seemed it might finally happen today. I think it sounds like great fun to watch them move a two-story house up Division, across the Broadway Bridges, to its final resting place on the north side, so I walked downtown this morning to go see what progress there had been.

But, not for the first time, I was disappointed. It's still sitting on wheels next to its original lot. According to the kid I talked to, there with an adult taking pictures, Detroit Edison was just to busy handling calls (maybe a result of yesterday's crazy winds?).

So I had a hot chocolate at Eastern Accents and then did a little grocery shopping on my way home.

Sara and I finished watching "The Terminal" over dinner last night. I checked it out in part because there was an article in the International Jugglers' Association magazine a while back about Kumar Pallana, which made him out to be an interesting character. His part in "The Terminal" is indeed a highlight of the movie.

I also went to juggling yesterday, then had dinner with Dave, Paul, and Micah at Saigon Garden afterwards.

walk in, bike out

Today I walked in by way of the farmer's market (total haul: one spaghetti squash, one cauliflower, and some pears, grapes, and brussel sprouts).

Work went OK.

I biked home by way of the library (adding to the load a CD by "Les Nubiens" and a DVD of "The Terminal").

Another day

I went to work. I came home. I ate dinner.

On the way home, I stopped by the coop and the Indian place at the south end of Broadway and picked up some food; we had a premade microwaveable indian thing for dinner with some rice that Sara started in the rice cooker this morning.


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