Too much I once lamented

Everything was fantastic tonight at the Madrigal Dinner. The food was good, the setting was lovely, and the singing excellent. It took place at GC Cuisine here in Edwardsville in their ‘crystal garden. Although I’m normally skeptical of any name beginning with ‘crystal’ it was pretty nice, in spite of the b*tch. A woman who worked there decided that we shouldn’t have been using an empty adjacent hall to keep our clothes/props, and turned off the lights while we were getting ready for the dinner. The dear thing probably just wanted to simulate Medieval light levels.

My folks came to support me once again, and reminded me that the last Madrigal Dinner they’d been to was in 2002, five whole years ago. After all this time, I think they still enjoy it as much as I do. I was completely aware of this, but like so many things it escapes the daily routine of my mind. I was glad to finally be part of the 12 days of Christmas schtick; a cute little girl was my Sherlock Holmes/11 pipers piping, and with a little encouragement she managed to speak slightly louder than a distant rustling of paper. Some of the songs we sang tonight were the same, the costumes were generally of the same quality; paradoxically, this was probably one of the best performances of my life, yet had the least amount of time invested into it. I attribute this miracle to the heart, rather than the mind. In general, it’s very easy to be taken with madrigal music as a singer. Small ensembles, tight harmony, and playful songs are a welcome respite from Bach cantatas (as in I can’t stand them). This particular group was superb because there were no egos/axes to grind/divas, and gifted voices to boot. I’ll certainly miss singing with them.

It’s one of those nights where I get taken up by excessive sentimentality. Of course I’ll remember and cherish the dinner, but not in the way I’d like. The truth of it will be that I remember the way it made me feel far longer than the particulars of the event. This concept applies to most things, but music has the eternal quality of return performances. If in the future I sing one of the songs I sang tonight, no matter how many years pass, it will trigger the memory in a way that no other medium I’ve encountered can. Maybe that’s why I get so sentimental about it.

Christmas time is here {early}

Today is christmas tree day in the Maison Becker/Hosto. Although it seems way too early to me, my domestic partner insists otherwise. I skipped class (a safe move, since all my work is complete) and we hit up Lowe’s hoping to fulfill our x-mas dreams. Lowe’s is about the last place I’d want to buy a tree, since for me the trip into the country is the most satisfying part of getting a tree. Unfortunately, time and money constraints conspire to make my life difficult, so Lowes benefits.

I heard a joke about Douglas Fir (involving Sonny Bono, if you want to look it up) but the tree is really not too bad. It passes the smell test, retained most of its needles in transport, and dutifully protects the presents that dwell beneath its verdant boughs. The ornaments look sparse, since we don’t have many at this point.

I just hope it’s not totally dessicated by the 24th….

All your internets are belong to us

Excitement in the Liberry today.  I got the call around 7:45 that the internets were broken.  Never a good way to start the day…

After a short while, it was pretty clear that Dustin was correct; the router was kaputt.  I called the Illinois Century Network (ICN) at 8:15.  We went through the regular battery of tests, and finally the chap on the other end of the line agreed that our router was in fact worthless.  At 9:45, he told me he’d come w/ a replacement in 1.5 hours.

Meanwhile, people generally accepted that the internets were down.  Books were piling up everywhere, to the chagrin of our poor shelver.  Otherwise, people seemed with the loss of the digital appendage.  One irate patron demanded to know why we didn’t have a backup-generator.  If I asked you to guess at how a backup internet-generator might work, what would you suggest?

At 12:30, I called the ICN again to inquire about our replacement router.  I was told they were busy that morning, but someone was nearly ready to bring us our new router.

At 2:00, our guest arrived, router in hand.  After an hour of haxxoring, we had internets again.

What’s the lesson in all this?

Besides  having a spare internet-generator, I don’t know what we could have done differently.  So the lesson is, no matter how bad your weekend is, Mondays are almost always worse.

The Native Americans called it “Maize”

Yesterday was a pretty uneventful turkey day. The better part of the day was spent cleaning and pruning the basement collection, which was kind of fun (despite the concrete floor being freezing cold). I suppose it’s the first preparations for Graduation-Party-o-Rama. Thanksgiving dinner was pretty much the same as every year, same old fixins, complimented nicely by the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special.

The CBTS really gets me going. Charlie Brown talks about Christmas Creep before it became cool to do so. There’s also the obligatory explanation of why the pilgrims left England. Juxtapose that with today: evangelicals persecuting aetheists and even sub-prime christians. Where will we go to escape them? Witch Mountain? Cuz there’s no escaping from there.

Open Sores

Alot of clawing and gnashing here today. I was thrilled to see that Userful had released their Pre-Book software as open source. I gleefully downloaded the server image from Sourceforge, dreaming of the that glorious day when I wouldn’t have to deal with Envisionware’s PC-Reservation anymore.

I burned the iso and found a box to use as a test server. The system booted up and it was …Fedora! Not really my favorite brand of linux, but I can’t win em’ all. The install required no input at all, and took just a few minutes. That’s where the good part ended. At first boot, the Postgresql service wouldn’t start. Without a database, the Pre-book web installation also wouldn’t start (something about incorrect data format for this version of so-and-so). My instinct told me to update. For the uninitiated, using Redhat/Fedora’s updater is akin to passing a kidney stone, and only slightly less time consuming.

An hour and a half later, we were all updated and gave it another go.

Same message.

After extensive googling, I gave up and reinstalled. It turns out that Userful was aware of the problem and had a troubleshooting entry for it- all you had to do was edit a single file that contained a single line, telling the software to use the new version of Postgresql. How simple would this be for Userful to correct? Aaaaaaaargh.

All this I can endure. But then my tin-foil-hat alter-ego stepped out from the shadows and said “What if Userful is intentionally making this difficult, so people will just buy Pre-Book from them?” This notion doesn’t sit very well with me. In my humble opinion, it’s much better to be closed-source and admit it, rather than be a company peddling itself as open-source. Granted this is not the first time a software company has taken a half-assed approach to releasing its code, but when the product relies entirely on FOSS, people should know better.

In the end, I did successfully install Pre-Book. After a little bit of tweaking, I tried logging in with a newly-created user and bam: a database error stops me cold. Here we go again…

23 Skidoo

This is the inaugural post of my new blog.  I’m on my 3rd or 4th attempt to build a proper web-server, and this is the first one that meets my approval.  I’ll try to keep things interesting, but don’t take my word for it!