Service Civility

As a member of the ARRL, I get lots of email about radio (most of it sales material for their books and swag), but this afternoon I got a letter reiterating the core values of Amateur Radio. The most telling is the last paragraph:

Amateur Radio is about development of communications and responsible public service. Its misuse is inconsistent with its history of service and its statutory charter. ARRL does not support its misuse for purposes inconsistent with these values and purposes.

My best guess: apparently there are some issues with burn-it-all-down trumpers misusing the Amateur bands. In a world where anybody can buy a handie-talkie for $50 and watch a video on how to program it, it’s going to be a problem where unlicensed people push the PTT and get on the bands for wrongful purposes.

But it’s not only unlicensed users, it’s ticket-holders as well. Last month, I was listening to a two-station QSO on the local 444.2 repeater, and the conversational tone started turning negative regarding the state of Austin’s COVID-19 regulations. One of the guys in the QSO went on to say, “Well, I think the city of Austin mayor ought to be shot!” It was at that point that I had to break into the QSO and remind these guys to keep it civil. They did, for a while, but it was enough to remind them that they’re using a public repeater on an open band and that there are others listening.

Defense of the Amateur bands is important, and this self-policing is what keeps us in the good graces of the FCC. If you hear someone acting up on the air either through bad talk or intentional interference, take a note of date, time, frequency, any callsigns involved, and a description of the issue (if you can record the audio, that’s best). Then send these notes to your local Volunteer Monitor for reporting. They may not have grounds to take actions on that one incident, but if there are enough notes to help locate and identify the offender, that gives them a stronger case for investigating and escalating to the FCC for prosecution. That’s why they’re there.

And that’s why we’re here. It’s a big world full of lots of different ideas, and we’re all listening.

Let’s keep it civil out there, everyone.

Panic! At the Filesystem

Replacing disks in a software RAID is a nerve-wracking, stress-inducing, ITIL-remembering, backups-checking activity. And I’ve done it six times in the past week.

First round was to replace the 5 disks in my FreeNAS box to upgrade the storage from 8TB to 16TB. Thankfully, ZFS is a stupendously rock-solid volume manager and filesystem. It has this amazing feature where you can plug a disk into a spare SATA port and tell ZFS to replace one of the current disks with the new one. Once it’s resilvered, you eject the offlined disk, put a fresh one in its place, and replace the next down the line. All this without losing parity.

Tonight’s round is to replace a failing parity disk in my 3-disk software RAID5 on a Linux box that I use as a hypervisor. When I moved the server and powered it up at my new apartment months ago, the SMART daemon started yelling at me every day that there are pending sectors on one of the disks (when you run systems for years without powerdown, weird problems hide until you powercycle). The only fix is to pull the disk and wipe, which will reallocate those 2 sectors.

Anyway, the Linux system is using mdadm to manage the volume, which itself contains an LVM volume, and the system partitions are virtual disks inside that volume (it’s complicated). Considering these are ancient 640GB disks that have seen a lot of spindle time (even before I rescued them from the reclaim heap), I’m a little freaked.

C’mon, 84 more minutes…

Eventually I’ll replace or rebuild this hypervisor on modern disks, but for now, I just need it to work. It hosts a few VMs that I find useful (and not essential, thankfully), but the Xen hypervisor is lagging in industry support, and the OS it runs on is so old, I can’t even dist-upgrade. Oops.

I really should take more risk and stay up on things, or at least use a hypervisor like KVM that allows live migrations of guests so I can stand up a spare box and then spot-upgrade servers (y’know, like real sysadmins do). Set-and-Forget is a piss-poor management scheme.

Anyway, as I always jokingly say: Sysadmin@Home is a game nobody wins.

New Year, Old Life

At the beginning of 2021, I’ve taken to actually using the full potential of my living space. All of these pieces of entertainment gear, which have previously been scattered and disused in my last apartment, are now together, connected, and usable.

As such, I’ve started pulling old audio tapes from the mothballs. For a time between junior high and college, I was an avid collector and trader of tapes before I had the capital to get into CDs. What is striking, however, is just how many of these tapes were Christian rock and metal.

Like, an ungodly high percentage.

Christian Rock production tapes and label compilations.
Lots and lots of dubs, singles, and other secular stuff.

I’m not exactly sure if I want to pop in these tapes and give them one more spin, mostly out of fear that the earworms they contain will inspire me to grow out my mullet and believe in Jesus again (I’m joking, of course). I’m afraid that, somehow, they’ll pull my heartstrings and make me regress to a time when all I had to worry about was witnessing to other white kids and convincing the squares that my heavy metal hair had nothing to do with my ability to worship Christ — even though they couldn’t give a damn about my hair or what I had to say about anything (oh, the tiny little battles waged inside our naïve little minds…).

Really, this getup was more like clown makeup. I’d play this Christian metal for my non-religious friends and they’d snicker and laugh because the only thing special about it was that it was a stylistic carbon-copy of every top-tier secular band but with different lyrics. “Hah! This sounds like Judas Priest! Why should I listen to this when I could just listen to Judas Priest?” My limp answer was always, “Because this rock is for the Rock! It’s sanctified!

That separate-but-equal-but-for-religion argument never, ever won any souls who weren’t already up for grabs.

I look upon this collection now as more of a time capsule of those years and, honestly, I feel mildly shameful of what it says about me. It’s evidence of a time when I was more interested in broadcasting the image of being hardcore about Jesus, about putting up the radical front for God, about going out into the world and shining the light of the Holy Spirit into all the dark corners looking for demons…and being the asshole for it. It had less to do with actually doing good works, and more to do with telling people off.

Very few people who knew me then bothered to keep in touch with me later.

Thankfully, I’ve grown into someone who, hopefully, has the ability to keep mum and respect other points of view (as long as they’re nontoxic). I may have started my life in advertising, in my personal, religious, and even scholastic life (mass media was my college major). But after that major change of heart in my young adult years, when I finally became honest about who I was and where I fit, I just couldn’t take on any labels, symbols, or ideologies that mandated that I propagate them forward with my own energy. I won’t carry the flag for a cause that won’t carry me. This peacock shaved off his plumage.

Eventually The Fool walks forward through the tarot’s Major Arcana and arrives at The World — and it’s a big world out there. I just don’t know if I want to play back these tapes to remind me of the little world I come from.


“Why’s the fridge running all the time?”

Last thing I wanted to do on my holiday weekend was defrost my frost-free freezer. Seems the thermostat that controls the defrost heater is a little…busted. It’s time either for a surreptitious repair (by locating my own replacement part) or to file a maintenance request (since I don’t own this fridge). Really, it depends on who I want to blame for a bungled repair.

Yeah, it’s just, uh, a little busted.
Swept a forced-air heater between ends as I loosened ice and sopped up water.
Tried to work quickly before the main compartment got too warm. Never got over 40F, which is great. Freezer contents were stored on ice in an ice chest.
Freezer was holding 1.1 Liters of the tribe’s water.
All sparkling.

I’ll look around online and locally to see if I can find a part within the week.

BTW, this is twice in the past 2 months that I’ve had to defrost this thing. (Last time was around Thanksgiving.) I really should fix this ASAP.

AFK errand

Now that I’m fully settled into my apartment, have my work-from-home desk going again, and have fully set up my couch and entertainment center (complete with TV, amp, speakers, and all the A/V gear working together, unlike the last apartment), I seldom spend any quality time at my personal workstation. With all the time I lose sitting at my WFH station fucking off, then spending hours afterward making up for lost time out of rancid shame, and then tuning out with some streaming media later, there’s just no time or space for doing anything of substance with my personal time. My personal projects are dead.

Like my dreams.