Stand-up kids

Lost dog spurs action

Last night we had an unexpected guest as a dog followed Hallie home from her neighborhood run. It was a pitbull-looking dog named Dexter who turned out to live at a home just down the street.

When we first were presented with Dexter, the excited pup was all over the place, barely sitting still for me to take a photo. His excitement was contagious, it seems. As I scrambled to photograph the dog and then to ask the neighborhood for advice, both Hallie and Travis were excitedly barking out suggestions for what we should do.

I had to ask them to stop so I could think clearly but this morning I began to appreciate how awesome this really was. We were presented with an emergency event – a strange dog needed rescuing – and both kids jumped in right away with ideas for what to do. I’d seen them do this before – that time when Hallie jumped into gear when a classmate had a seizure, for instance – but it was great to see it demonstrated again.

The world won’t change unless there are people willing to change it. I’m super-proud that I’m helping raise two who won’t pass up the opportunity.

Reading about Ulysses S. Grant

I’m spending less time at the keyboard lately and more with good old-fashioned low-tech entertainment: a book! I checked out Grant, Ron Chernow’s biography of Ulysses S. Grant, back in November and have been working my way through this 1,000+ page tome. Yes, it’s way overdue back to the library but I can’t put it down and – good Lord – who can finish a thousand-page book within the skimpy time frame that Wake County Public Library provides its borrowers?

I’ll have more to say about the book and Grant when I finish it but so far I like how Grant faced failure after failure in life until the war broke out and he found his place.

So, if you wonder why I’m not busier here at the moment, you know I have my nose in a book!

Forty-nine trips around the sun

Birthday volunteering at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina

Yesterday was my 49th birthday. I spent it being celebrated by my family, catching up on well wishes from Facebook, eating a birthday brunch with Kelly at 18 Seaboard, and going on a fun bike ride with Kelly and Travis down to Lassiter Mill dam and back. A sunny, spring-like day warmed to 65 degrees and rapidly melted away the last piles of snow from last week’s snowfall.

As part of my birthday weekend, the whole family and I volunteered for four hours at the nearby Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, where we sorted potatoes along with about 30 other volunteers. It felt good to help out, and Kelly and the kids enjoyed it, too.

Life at 49 is pretty good, I have to say. While my body is starting to show some signs here and there of being ancient, overall I’m in excellent health. I’m loving my family, enjoy my job, and have countless friends near and far whom I’m honored to call friends. While my life isn’t perfect I am learning how to enjoy the things I have and to help others as well.

Spoken stats from my weather station

Last Christmas (2016), I got an AcuRite weather station from Costco as a gift to replace my falling-apart Oregon Scientific station. It’s a decent little setup, with wireless transmission from a multi-sensor box outside to the panel inside. For the longest time my biggest complaint was its need to use Windows software to archive its data.

Acurite weather station

Then early last year I hooked up the open source weather software weewx to my station. Weewx creates a nice (if simple) graph of weather data (as seen at and also kicks the data over to my MySQL database so I can save and query those stats. Last month I was able to create a fancy Grafana dashboard that dynamically displays that data in a beautiful format. Now I had taken a $75 weather station and made it much more useful!
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The leadership itch returns

Last Thursday, I attended an RPD Community Meeting at Lions Park Community Center. It was a meeting to answer neighborhood concerns about the recent incident of delayed police response as well as answer any questions about crime in the area. A handful of neighbors attended, the usuals I’ve become used to seeing at CAC meetings, and a bevy of police officers, detectives, and representatives from the Communications Center.

I have two pages of notes on that meeting that I would like to type up into a report, but the point of this post is how at home I found myself feeling in that room. After three years of conducting CAC meetings, I was all too happy to volunteer questions when the presenters asked for them. I didn’t organize the meeting nor was I in charge of it but I certainly felt right at home quizzing these people for things I wanted to know.

In short, I may indeed miss being a CAC chair. More than that, I miss that I wasn’t able to run for City Council. I have not forgotten how absolutely jazzed I used to feel after my CAC meetings. The small taste I got of it Thursday reminded me that this is where I’m in my element. I hope some day I can get there.

Hello, 2018

New Years 2018 arrives in Raleigh City Plaza during the First Night Raleigh celebration

It’s New Years Day 2018 and I sit in my comfortable home office, coffee in hand and a pile of technology surrounding me. The weather is a brisk 22 degrees Fahrenheit as we’re in the middle of a brutal cold spell. I’ve been spending the past week and change catching up on home projects, mostly of the indoor variety.

When it was still warm enough to feel one’s limbs outside I worked more on our fence, digging up more than half of our old fenceposts. The ones that are left are anchored by concrete and not as eager to be ripped from the ground. On a future warmer weekend I will pry these out as well. For now, we have a mostly-open yard for the first time in a while.
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Broken DHCP on the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite

The Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite (ERL), an amazing little networking box.

Back in October I finally squeezed gigabit speeds out of my AT&T Fiber connection by switching from my old OpenWRT-based TP-Link Archer C7 routers to an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite (ERL). The Archer hardware could not keep up with gigabit speeds but the ERL can.

I love the ERL! It’s only about $100 but it’s a very powerful device! Previous versions of the firmware were a bit cryptic (at least in the UI area) but the latest one provides a lot of functionality (and wizards).

I had followed one such wizard to do my initial setup with the ERL back in October, after upgrading it from version 1.9.1 of EdgeOS to EdgeOSv1.9.7+hotfix.4. All seemed to work … except for it properly pulling a DHCP address from AT&T. See, I have bypassed AT&T’s PACE router in favor of my own and the ERL now does everything but the initial 802.1x authentication that opens the port on AT&T’s switch.

Why do you need to use DHCP on your AT&T link? You can put a static IP on your end of the link but AT&T offers DHCP leases of 14 days and expects you to use them. If your box (i.e., my ERL) doesn’t renew its IP near the end of those 14 days, AT&T considers the link to be dead and shuts down the connection. At this point, the only way you’ll get it going again is to reconnect the AT&T router and let it do its 802.1x authentication again. This is a pain, so avoiding it is very useful.
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