Monthly Archives: September 2006

OBX 2006 #2

Our trip last week to the Outer Banks was a blast. We had a great time with the McCubbin clan and their extended family. The giant beach house was awesome and not too far from the beach. When you have three toddlers in a house at the same time (four toddlers when the Bromhals visited), it helps to have a large house to spread out some of the chaos. And the chaos was appropriately honored by vacationing with Iris’ friend Eris, namesake of the goddess of chaos.

Some of the fun things we were privileged with:

  • Air tour of the Outer Banks.
  • Visiting and climbing to the top of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. I am still amazed that the lighthouse, consisting of around 1,250,000 bricks, was physically moved intact over a distance of 2870 feet to protect it from the encroaching sea (pics of the relocation effort; here you can see the lighthouse being rolled along).
  • Chris made some excellent BBQ ribs (and helped me make homemade clam chowder out of leftover clams he cooked up the previous night) and Angel made delicious black-bottomed cupcakes (link to similar recipe). Chris and Angel are important to bring along to any vacation because they are such good cooks. I highly recommend them. Book them for your trip today. But beware; they actually like scrapple and may try to get you to eat some.
  • Going to the beaches, of course. Flying kites. Flying kites again, but with a video camera attached. Finding crabs. Digging up sand fleas. Watching the kids go nuts. Building sandcastles. Jumping into the water and fighting against the surf. Boogieboarding. Walking to Nag’s Head Pier and watching the fishermen.
  • Mini-golfing in Nag’s Head.
  • Visiting the uber-cheesy beach junk shops.
  • Playing Apples to Apples with everyone at the beach house. And playing some of Chris’ massive assortment of PS2 games (mmm, Guitar Hero).
  • Visiting the Elizabethan Gardens.
  • Hitting up some of the great restaurants.
  • Visiting the Bromhals, who by sheer coincidence were vacationing the exact same week as us, at their beach house in Nag’s Head. They also came over to our beach house one night to enjoy the big home-prepared seafood dinner buffet. Iris and Meg had a lot of fun catching up with each other. They used to play together quite often when the Bromhals still lived in Roanoke.

Here are some photo highlights:

IMG_4131.JPG Iris and Eris enjoying the brief 50 cent ride in front of K-Mart in Kill Devil Hills.
IMG_4125.JPG Restaurant with a cool motto. And their food is really good. Great service. We like to eat here for breakfast on our way out of the Outer Banks. While waiting to pay for the meal, I overheard the boss (Bob, presumably) ragging on a waitress for her slowness to pick up two orders of hash browns. “Those hash browns have been there for two hours; what, you wanna serve frozen food?” he exaggerated. We also had the disturbing experience of seeing an old woman enter the restaurant wearing a tacky, oversized nude-colored shirt with a small black bikini top and bottom illustrated upon it. The restaurant also seems to attract the mulleted.
IMG_4122.JPG A great smile from Iris on a carousel ride after our ice cream break with the McCubbins at Cold Stone Creamery in Kill Devil Hills.
IMG_4049.JPG Eris and Iris enjoying the Elizabethan Gardens.
IMG_4002.JPG HULK SMASH TOYS! Especially Thomas the Tank Engine toys. Him think Thomas is creepy.
IMG_3999.JPG Iris dragging Eris from the Hatteras lighthouse. They were holding hands and running, but since Iris runs faster, poor Eris got dragged along.
IMG_3958.JPG Family shot at the Hatteras lighthouse.
IMG_3944.JPG Our bigass beach house!
IMG_3871.JPG We rode on an airplane tour of the Outer Banks via Barrier Island Aviation. We had so much fun doing this in May that we had to do it again.
IMG_3847.JPG Some law of the universe states that any time we drive to the Outer Banks, cheesy truck artwork will appear. I believe it is the same phenomena that attracts mulleted folks to restaurants such as Bob’s Grill. In May we saw the beach batmobile on our way down:

Beach Batmobile

DSCF1313.JPG Eris and Iris having fun at mealtime.
DSCF1304.JPG Chris shot a cool lens flare effect at the Hatteras lighthouse
DSCF1294.JPG The McCubbin clan at Hatteras lighthouse.
DSCF1286.JPG Joy (Angel’s sister), Rett (her husband), and Ethan (their son) at the Bodie Island lighthouse.
100_3055.JPG Great shot of Ethan that Joy and Rett took at the Elizabethan Gardens.
100_2922.JPG Eris decided her stuffed Totoro needed to be spirited away to the potty.
IMG_4143.JPG Nice sunset we were treated to on the drive home at the end of our vacation

And below are the kite-flying videos, whereby I attached my Canon digital camera to the kite string with a dowel and duct tape, put the camera in video mode, hit Record, and sent it flying. The result is a somewhat unstable video but a lot more stable than my previous attempt, in which I had strapped the camera directly to the kite itself (bad idea).

This was the first attempt. I let the kite string out all the way; I’m guessing the kite is at least 300 to 400 feet up. Toward the end, you can see some of the beach houses. Around 27 seconds into the video, there is a weird musical chime sound that repeats later in the video. You can hear kids voices and more chimes at around 1:16 into the video. I did not hear these noises from the ground. The kite is a poor man’s spy camera!

Second attempt. Max altitude at about 1:00 into the video. Wind a-howling.

This attempt yielded an interesting variety of angles. And the camera does a 360 degree flip due to the high wind at around 2:33 into the video.

Bad winds on this day made it hard to get any decent height. Meanwhile, you can see Chris trying to make himself visible on the video. Angel and Eris can be seen nearby. Towards the end of the video, witness the gruesome crash of the kite and camera into the sand. Luckily, the camera survived.

More of the same. *Yawn*! And for some reason, Youtube did a crappy job with the encode.

Great-Uncle Gus

My Great-Uncle Emil “Gus” Oranchak, who served in the 11th Airborne Division during WWII, passed away over the weekend and his funeral is tomorrow. I went to to order and ship some sympathy flowers, and I noticed a curious entry in the choices for “Name of the deceased”:

Picture 8.jpg


It gave me chuckle in the midst of the bad news.

Interesting searches’s web logs have interesting info on what search terms people are using in Google and other search engines to get to my site. Last month somebody browsed to my site by searching for this text:

what does a smudge on a window on a skyscrapper mean

Makes me wonder what was going through this person’s mind as he stared at the window smudge with a puzzled look on his face. “Is it a sign? Is somebody trying to contact me? Perhaps it is a message from the FUTURE!”

There are also a surprising number of searches for “sea monster”. I did not know my site was a reference point for such things. And for some reason I get a lot of searches for “i want to be a hulkamaniac”. That phrase very dependably continues to appear in the logs.

Other noteworthy search phrases:

not the smartest peanut in the turd

i get red splotches on my chest and back after showers

But Clint by far wins the award for the most bizarre search phrase used to get to a personal blog.

The ever-tiny blockade

We’re on our insane crunch period trying to push out the latest release of our case management software for the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy. We finally got a build together after many long hours, late nights, and weekend toil. A very frustrating and work-intensive time. So, today we finally start deploying our software to the client’s SQL Server environment, and all is going very well. The software is prepped, the environment is set up, files are transfered, and the databases are installed. We are moments away from showing the customer the software they’ve been patiently waiting on for many months.

Then, as is typical in software development, the last minute blockade appears. In this case, it was TCP port 1433. The SQL Server instance, despite being rigged to listen to TCP port 1433, would not listen to TCP port 1433. Was it the firewall? No. Some kind of network configuration error? No. SQL Server’s error logs show nothing. I keep looking, and looking, and still nothing. Valuable time drips away. The customer’s still waiting. I conference in with their network administrators, who are as baffled as me about what could possibly be causing this problem. I read several troubleshooting guides. Nothing. Then, I decide to look in the Event Viewer, and I find this gem:

You are running a version of Microsoft SQL Server 2000 or Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (also called MSDE) that has known security vulnerabilities when used in conjunction with the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 family. To reduce your computer’s vulnerability to certain virus attacks, the TCP/IP and UDP network ports of Microsoft SQL Server 2000, MSDE, or both have been disabled. To enable these ports, you must install a patch, or the most recent service pack for Microsoft SQL Server 2000 or MSDE from

Our little software development army was pressed up against tiny, insignificant port 1433, simply because Microsoft had enough foresight to realize that maybe they shouldn’t allow their own virus-vulnerable product to sit naked on port 1433 inviting malware to feast on the server. Which, of course, made it useless to our app, since we need to connect to that port.

We lick our wounds and carry on, waiting for the next inevitable encounters with Murphy’s Law and Hofstadter’s Law.