My Ramblings

If you are reading this you must be pretty bored…

RC Car

Owen recently celebrated his 8th birthday and I was finally able to convince Maggie that he was old enough for a RC Car. After the usual amount of research I decided to purchase the Associated 1/10 RC10B4.2 Read-to-Run Buggy. This was similar to the cars that I used to race when I was a child. Back then I spent countless hours in the basement of my parent's home building RC Cars so I knew how much of an investment it would be for us to build the car from a kit. Being that this was Owen's first car and he was going to learn how to drive with it I decided to go with the Ready-to-Run so save both of us a lot of time and frustration. Owen was elated with the gift and he really enjoys racing around. We have had a few minor dings and dents but for the most part he has done a great job learning how to drive. I hope that enjoys the hobby as much as I did back in the day.


3-2-1 Blast Off!

Owen received his first model rocket for Christmas and we finally got around to putting it together this past week. I am not sure who was more excited, Owen or myself, as this is one of those projects that I have really been looking forward to since becoming a parent. I loved building and launching model rockets as a child even despite watching my first rocket slowly descend back to the ground in a ball of flames.

Owen is very detailed orientated and loves building (you should see how fast he can get though a box of Legos) so I was confident that he could handle this with a little assistance. Owen and I worked closely glue, paint and apply the decals in hopes that he will be able to work on the next a little more independently.

Launch day was a success as all three attempts were flawless. Owen had a great time and is looking forward to starting the next build.


Tomato Upgrade OpenVPN

For a while now I have wanted upgrade my home router's Tomato Firmware to a newer version that supports OpenVPN. The goal of this exercise was to be able to connect to the Internet from my portable devices in a secure fashion from public hot-spots. I currently do this by using a work VPN while on business trips but I wanted something in place that didn't require use of company resources. I am currently running an older WRT54GL router so there are a number of firmwares to choose from but I wanted to continue using Tomato since I have had such a good experience with it so far. I decided to upgrade to the Shibby fork of Tomato and more specifically version tomato-ND-1.28.5x-117-VPN since my router doesn't have a USB or SD slot required to make use of the additional features.

Dreamhost Migration

The last couple of years when I received my annual Dreamhost bill I always asked whether or I really need to be wasting my money on this service? While it is nice to have a remote shell available from time to time I really only use it for wordpress and a few random scripts that I have written over the years.

Back in the day Dreamhost was very useful as I could store source code, pictures, and other files remotely (which got shutdown a few years back once they introduced the 50GB backup user cap). This was a big deal because many of the cloud backup services didn't exist back then so it was comforting to know that I had copies of important data offsite. These days with all the backup and cloud providers out there I no longer have the need for this anymore. My source code can be stored at, files are backed up with (name cloud backup provider here), and there really aren't too many things I need a remote shell for anymore. I found myself trying to make use of the features available at Dreamhost rather than just using the free services that were out there.

So that brings us to today... I have decided to move to since I really don't need any of the features present in WordPress. Github supports Jekyll which makes templating pages and local development extremely easy so the migration was a realively painless experience. The best part though is that everything is in a git repo so it is versioned and stored offsite so publishing is as easy as a git push. Github also allows for a custom domain to point to the repo which is a plus.

Puerto Rico 2014

We just got back from a week in Puerto Rico where for the first time since having children we actually got to sit on the beach and relax. Prior vacations have always kept us in the pool with shriveled finger tips for the majority of the day so being able to hit the beach was a major milestone. The weather, food, and accommodations were amazing. Staying at a hotel in the city was great as everything was in walking distance or a short cab ride away. We had such a wonderful time that we are already talking about booking again for next year.


NYC Christmas 2013


It has been quite a few years since Maggie and I made it back to NYC for Christmas but this year we were determined to get the boys in to see the tree.  Our day started out with an early morning train ride from my parents house on Long Island which got us into Penn Station a little after 8.  After a quick sprint across the street and into Macy's we were in the elevator on our way up to the eighth floor and into Santaland.  After about a 30 minute wait we were on the train to see Santa.  I have to say the line moved faster than expected and was a much better experience than being at the mall.  A quick swipe of the credit card to buy a family photo with the jolly fellow and we were on our way back outside to start our hike up Fifth Avenue to see all the holiday window displays on our way to Rockefeller Center.

I have to say that the window displays were not that impressive.  Aside from Macy's and Lord & Taylor's I don't think there was a single store that I was really impressed with and it certainly wasn't what I remembered from growing up.  Be that as it may it is more about the experience than anything else as walking down the city streets with the smell of chestnuts and the hint of snow in the air really brings me back to my childhood.

After about fifteen blocks and a quick stop for some pancakes and eggs the boys were real excited to see the tree.  However, nothing could keep there attention for long as they knew the FAO Schwarz was just a few more blocks uptown.  FAO Schwarz was a madhouse and already had a line out the door to get in.  The boys enjoyed seeing all the toys but we couldn't wait to get out of the crowds and back into the less crowed city streets.


All-in-all we had a great trip and hope to continue the tradition throughout the years.

If you are interested in the route we took you can find the details below.

Foundations of Mission Control

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Surge 2013 conference where Gene Kranz delivered the keynote speech.  Listening to his speech was very humbling as it makes one realize that the types of operational concerns and issues that those in web operations deal with on a day-to-day basis are nothing compared to what he and his team in mission control had to endure.  It is not to say that our jobs aren't important and that the consequences of our failures are not felt throughout the business but rather the stakes are just quite a bit different.

What I enjoyed most about the keynote was his focus on what he refers to as the "Foundations of Mission Control."  What is so great about these principles is that they don't just apply to those that work in mission control.  These are core principles that we should all try to embrace throughout the operations community and in our personal lives.  These qualities are essential to building great teams and core to what we should look for when hiring and developing staff.

In Gene's words:

  • To instill within ourselves these qualities essential for processional excellence:
    • Discipline - Being able to follow as well as lead, knowing we must master ourselves before we can master our work.
    • Competence - There being no substitute for total preparations and complete dedication for space will not tolerate the careless or indifferent.
    • Confidence - Believing in ourselves as well as others, knowing we must master fear and hesitation before we succeed.
    • Responsibility - Realizing that it cannot be shifted to others, for it belongs to each of us; we must answer for what we do, or fail to do.
    • Toughness - Taking a stand when we must; to try again, and again, even if it means following a more difficult path.
    • Teamwork - Respecting and utilizing and ability of others, realizing that we work toward a common goal, for success depends on the efforts of all.
  • To always be aware that suddenly and unexpectedly we may find ourselves in a role where our performance has ultimate consequences.
  • To recognize that the greatest errors is not to have tried and failed, but that in trying, we did not give it our best effort.

We should work hard to build teams and a culture that embraces these principles.  Perhaps we won't be able to get 100% coverage but we will all become better engineers just by trying.

Soccer Time!

It is hard to believe how big these boys are getting.


Inbox Zero

I am a big fan of GTD and a couple years back when I was reading all that I could to try and figure out how to be more production I came across a few blog posts from Merlin Mann.  While I have no desire to use 43 Folders, as my trusted system for GTD has to be completely digital, I did stumble upon his posts on Inbox Zero.  Without a doubt the framework that he has laid out has been a game changer for me.  I no longer repeatedly scan the same useless email every few hours because it just happens to be in my line of sight.  Instead I tackle my inbox by replying if the response will be quick, defer it to my pending folder for later followup, delegate it to someone else, delete it or just archive it.  Each day I ensure that I leave the office with an empty mail box and each day I make sure that I review my pending and waiting folders to process any mails that need attention.  Working with this system has saved so much time and stress by allowing me to manage my inbox.  I encourage others to take a look at Merlin's blog posts and videos to help try and streamline the way you handle mail each day.

For more information see

Thomas 3 Years Old

Thomas turned 3 years old this past week. Here are some shots of him enjoying his new tractor.




So Long Casey Dog

Thanks for being such a loyal and loving pup.  We will miss you!






Here are some photos from the recent blizzard that hit our area.







Owen Sledding

Here is a quick video of Owen going all out on the hill at Simsbury Farms.

Happy Halloween


Thomas Singing

Here is a short little video of Thomas singing some of the new songs he has been learning at school.

Double Check Your Optimizations

We ran into an issue this weekend at work that probably could have been less impactful if we were able to get to access to a terminal session a little quicker.  The problem was triggered by a memory leak in a logging daemon which consumed the majority of the memory on the server which in turn caused our caching server to swap and slow down under high load.  Once the caching server slowed down it started to allocate additional threads because it was handling more connections and processing requests at a slower rate.  While this normally would only result it poor performance it actually wound up making the server unmanageable because 30,000 threads were allocated, which not surprisingly brought the server to its knees.  The desired result of the configuration change was to increase the number of thread pools so that there was a single pool per cpu core while keeping the maximum number of threads under 5000.  If this was working as expected the processes would have allocated 5000 threads and we would have been able to get into the system to manage it.  Unfortunately, it was overlooked that one of these settings had its role changed in a new release of the software which in turn resulted in having the potential to allocate a much higher number of threads than what was desired.  We had been running with this configuration for months and might never have seen this issue if it wasn't for the memory leak; however, it is an important reminder to ensure you have a very good understanding of the purpose of a configuration setting before making the change.



First Day of School



Happy Birthday Owen!

It is hard to believe but Owen just turned 6 years old.  I know I say it all the time but time sure flies by these day.

The Joys of Owning a Pool

The pool hasn't caused us too much trouble since we moved here but this year it started leaking pretty bad.  I spent 6 hours one weekend digging out all the pipes (45 feet long and 2 feet deep) so that we could have them replaced.  It turned out that the original pipes had already been patched 7 times so it was definitely worth the time and money to get them out of there.  Hopefully, these will last 2o more years but who knows what lies in store for us in the future.




Cheap Hip Check

Snow Day

Rough course...


Thomas is obsessed with the iPad and playing his "Melmo" game.  Amazing how fast these little guys learn.


Owen and Thomas rocking out to some good tunes.

Finally some usable space

For those of you that have ever been over our house for a bar-b-que you will be happy to know that there is finally a place to sit and relax.  We finally put on a deck to make this otherwise unusable space just a little more  usable.  I wish I could take credit for this project but our contractor did all the work on this on.

Gone Fishing!

Here are some pictures from Owen's first fishing trip.  I still can't believe he caught a fish on his first time out.

Another Great Weekend

What a great weekend!  We spent most of the day Saturday sitting out by the pool and then got up early Sunday morning to hit the trails.  Here are some pictures for the weekend.

Living With Bears

One of the benefits of living so close to the woods is having all sorts of wildlife rummage through the yard.  Simsbury offers plenty of deer, turkey, and bear sightings throughout the year.  This past weekend I happened to catch a black bear poking around the garbage and managed to capture some video from the encounter.

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Thomas 4 Months

Hard to believe this "little" guy is 4 months old already.  It turns out Thomas was more than ready to start eating some real food.  Hopefully, this jump to cereal will result in him sleeping through the night.

Faster Than Fast

Owen is a huge fan of the movie Cars so I took a little time to throw together this quick video of him cruising in the Jeep that Uncle Pete and Aunt Sarah got him for his birthday.  I hope you like it...  Owen sure did.

Got My First Smile

What a great start to the day.  Thomas and I were hanging out in the office when he started smiling away.  Check out some of these great shots.

Thomas 1 Month

It is hard to believe that Thomas is already 1 month old.  He just got back from the doctor last week and is weighing in close to 11 pounds already!!!  I have to say that he has been a very good baby and is only waking "us" up once in the night to eat.  Here are some pictures of the big guy.

Happy Easter!

We had a wonderful Easter up in Syracuse this year.  The weather was great and Owen got a chance to hang out with some of his cousins.  Here are some pictures from this year's Easter egg hunt.

Thomas Patrick

At 7:18 PM this past Sunday following a rather short time in the delivery room we were blessed with the birth of our 2nd son, Thomas Patrick.  Thomas weighed in at 8 pounds 12 ounces and was 21 1/2 inches long.  Everyone is doing great!

The Cat in the Hat

Owen celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday today at school.  Check out the great hat that he helped make.

Hitting the Ice

Owen got his first taste of the ice today when we took him to the local hockey rink.  It was only a matter of time before he was able to easily walk with the skates on and he was loving it once he got on the ice.

Entry Way Renovations

The entryway renovations started last week and the progress has been amazing.  It has completely changed the entire look of the house.  Here are some pictures of the progress.

Christmas Tree 2009

This year we headed back out to Holiday Farms in New Hartford, CT to cut down The Seidel Family Christmas Tree.  The weather turned out to be perfect with snow on the ground and a chill in the air that helped to set the holiday mood.  Here are some pictures from the weekend.  We are looking forward to seeing everyone over the holiday's.

Merry Christmas

Happy Halloween

This Halloween started off with the usual last minute pumpkin picking as we rushed to get to the Pickin' Patch before they closed on Friday night.  Hopefully, next year we will have enough time to actually carve the pumpkins rather than just pick them.  Saturday morning we all got up early and headed into West Hartford to go trick or treating around Blue Back Square.  We managed to get just enough treats before the rain came and sent us all running for cover.  Later on in the night we made the usual stops around the neighborhood and then back to our house where Owen kept his costume on to personally deliver treats to all those that knocked at the door.  Despite the weather we all had a great time and have come to the realization yet again that our little man is getting so big.  Enjoy a few pictures from this weekend's festivities.


A Day at Lyman Orchards

Maggie, Owen and I got to spend our day off at Lyman Orchards enjoying what turned out to be one beautiful day despite the weather forecast.  Owen had a great time running around picking apples, pears, peaches, and raspberries for his teachers and our neighbors.  I have to say I was pretty impressed by the orchard which not only has plenty of trees to pick from but also a sunflower and a corn maze for the kids to run around in.  Here are a few pictures from the trip.  It is hard to believe that last year at this time Owen wasn't really able to pick on his own...  Time is flying by!


First Day of School

It's hard to believe that the summer is already over and Owen has started at his new school.  The transition has been pretty smooth and he just loves his new teacher and friends.  Check out the pic of him sporting the new Elmo backpack...

First Day of School

Owen's 3rd Birthday

Owen celebrated his 3rd birthday this weekend and despite the fact that the weather would not cooperate we still managed to have a good time. With Hurricane Bill on his way towards New England we suffered some pretty nasty tropical weather that forced us to cancel the party. After all, what were we going to do with 20+ people sitting in house with humidity levels through the roof? Despite the cancellation we still managed to throw something together with family and enjoyed some time out at the pool in between rain showers. Hopefully, next year the weather will hold up...

Finally a Finished Basement

After over a year in the making we finally finished the basement. Owen has officially moved in all his toys and we finally have a living room free of clutter. It took a little longer than we would have hoped but when there are only a few hours to spend on the project during the weekend it makes for a lengthy time line. All-in-all I am very pleased with the result and Maggie can't wait to move into her new scrapbook room. I think I am going to take the rest of the summer off and relax by the pool until a get another project underway...

Basement Ceiling

We managed to tackle the entire basement ceiling this weekend and despite some very sore shoulders it went significantly faster than expected (thanks for the help Doug). Throughout the course of this project there have been many clutch purchases that have made tasks a bit easier (framing nailer, electric stapler, rotozip, etc.). If anyone ever has to cut out more than one hole in drywall for recessed lighting go spend the $30 and buy a recessed lighting hole saw. It saved up so much time and we nailed a perfect fit with each cut.

Basement Walls and Soffit

Each weekend we get closer and closer to finishing the basement. The heat, electric, walls, windows are all done and I just finished framing out the soffit. There are only a few more small things to take care of before we install the ceiling and roll in some carpet. Hopefully, it will only take a few more weeks tie up these loose ends; although the amount of time required to maintain the property this time of year will surely cut into my free time.

Bob The Builder

Here is a short video of Owen dancing to his new favorite song... I swear we don't normally dress him like this :-).

Basement Windows and Heat!!!

Finally this damp and dreary basement has new windows and heat... All this progress has gotten me motivated to try and get the rest of the drywall done this weekend. I just got back from depot with my brother-in-law who helped my lug in 28 sheets of drywall. Wish me luck...

Basement Progress

Over the last few weeks we have made a ton of progress on the basement. We were able to pull all the new electrical circuits, finish the majority of the framing, rough in the plumbing, and put up the first few pieces of drywall. It is really starting to come together and we hope to have it 75% done by the end of the month so that Owen can enjoy a place to play until it gets nice out. There is still a lot to do but we are making good headway.

Time is flying by…

Isn't it scary how fast time goes by these days? It feels like just yesterday we were in college and now I look up and Owen is already 2 years old. Here is a short little video that I put together chronicling his first year. Enjoy!

Christmas Tree Hunt

Today we spent the afternoon out searching for the perfect Christmas tree.  Aside from the cold it was a beautiful day to be outside.  We all had a great time and actually got the chance to get some great pictures. I also took a few minutes to put together a quick slide show.

Basement Framing Underway

I finally got around to working on the basement and have actually made a decent amount of progress over the past few weeks.  I was able to get the unfinished side of the basement all framed out and the electric pulled for the receptacles.  There is still a lot of work to do but here are a few pictures from the project.

First Snowfall

We had the first snowfall of the year this weekend and Owen had a blast playing out there.  There wasn't much for accumulation but it was the perfect amount for him to get out with the sled and play on his play scape.  I put together a quick video so click the "read more" link below if you are interested in watching.