The Jackson File

A place to share professional, personal, and policial views - and maybe even indulge in a little shameless self-promotion.

Monday, November 07, 2005

blogDecatur takes another hit!

Talk about a bad weekend!

The thunderstorms that rolled through Saturday night whacked the poor little computer again. As a result, I’ll be rebuilding the site pretty much from scratch – on a different machine, with totally new hard drives and everything…

I really like linux - it’s put up with a lot of ups and downs (that’s power up’s and downs in 5-45 second intervals) It’s a real bummer though that while I was able to find a back up superblock that looked good, the lightning storm came along right in the middle of the restore and *pop* no more restore!

Lol – doubtless some of the *other* bloggers out there will say blogDecatur is suffering the wrath of God (I’m wondering about that myself!!!) ;) But never fear – it’ll be back – with all new and improved hardware!!!!

Seriously, I’ve got to go by the City Council meeting tonight (Near Westside TIF being discussed in the study session – and I really want to be in on that), but I’ll be going by Cerro Gordo tomorrow evening (putting in storm windows on my parent’s house) and pulling seeing if either of the hard drives are salvageable HDD’s to use in a RAID setup…

So…BD should be up within a couple of days now – barring more lighting, floods, plagues of locusts, etc….

Matthew

Friday, November 04, 2005

The trouble with blogDecatur…

My empire is actually based in the basement of a “secure undisclosed location” in Cerro Gordo. As fate would have it, as close as I can tell at about 2pm on Friday, November 4, Ameren saw fit to rapidly flip the power on and off for an extended period of time, then rounded the day out by giving the town (or my parent’s half of it) a nice little surge. Bottom line – the surge protector blogDecatur was hooked up to wasn’t good enough (I bought a new on from Best Buy in Bloomington at lunch today), and I hadn’t *quite* gotten around to setting up that RAID 1 setup I keep talking about….Bottom line: my little linux box boots, but the disk partition that holds blogDecatur has a corrupted superblock (that’s bad, but not necessarily fatal). I didn’t have a big enough hard drive handy last night when I started troubleshooting, so I couldn’t fix it on the spot, but I should have everything I need now.

Since it looks like it will be down for a little while (today and tomorrow, at least), I’m going to use this opportunity to tidy up the server, update the OS (I think there’s a new version of CENT OS out), and get the latest version of Scoop & mySQL.

If I can, I’ll transfer over all the previous posts/comments and accounts…If I can’t get the superblock back, we’ll have a completely fresh look on Monday! ;)

And yes, on Monday, I *will* have RAID 1 (that’s redundant hard disks for you non technical folks) working; along with a shiny new UPS!!!!!

Thanks for your patience,

Matthew

Monday, August 08, 2005

What’s still going on at DMH?

The original thread had so many messages in it, blogspot was having major problems posting it (I’m sure you’ve noticed!). Their soloution: “start another thread”. So here goes –

What’s going on at DMH now?

ps - thanks to watcher2300 for getting a full page load of the 688 messages - I'been trying to get that for the past week!

Matthew

Saturday, May 28, 2005

blogdecatur.com

blogDecatur.com
I'll shamelessly flog the new site here.
I'll be positng more and more on www.blogdecatur.com and encourage you to do the same!

It's centered on Decatur and it's environs, and I'd like to see it be a blog-hub for everyone in central-illinois.

Come on over, take a look, and start a bolg (diary) of your own!

Matthew

Monday, May 02, 2005

What's going on at DMH?

I'm curious about this one.
I know the physicians in Decatur are considering circling the wagons, and bracing for some sort of federal investigation - so far I haven't been able to figure out exactly what is being investigated! As far as I can tell, the doc's themselves don't know what's up, either.
Subpoenas are flying right and left (120 is the number I've heard). It does seem a little odd that DMH, being a major employer and a major player in the city, isn't doing all they can to get out in front of this issue.

Anybody have ideas on what's up?
Is DMH building a Carle-style empire?
What are the fed's looking into?

Friday, April 29, 2005

To lower the price of gas, we need to build more nuclear power plants; to lower the price of food, we need to all plant chives.

Makes sense, right?

Hmmm… The trouble with everyone planting chives is, while they’re edible, and tasty in their own, strange way, they don’t make a full meal. The same is true with nuclear power. Now, I can speak with some experience on this topic, so I apologize in advance if what you are about to read seems a little dry. Sometimes the truth is that way.

With few exceptions, power plants come in two flavors: those that make a steam generator turn by burning fossil fuels (usually *coal* or *natural gas*), or those that do the same thing by generating heat through controlled nuclear fission reaction. Not surprisingly, the way the power plants (generating units) operate fall into three distinct categories, too. Nuclear generating units are wonderful at supplying “base load”, coal plants are good at meeting, predictable energy demand in a fairly cost-effective manner, and (natural) gas plants are excellent as short-term, high-demand “peaking” units. One interesting thing I learned while I was on a project was that the cost of energy fluctuates widely throughout the day, as demand on the system changes. In the middle of the night, for instance electricity is incredibly cheap, while in the late afternoon, especially on hot, muggy days in the summer, power can cost an amazingly high price. Why? Well, it turns out while you can turn natural gas generating units off (very quickly – they’re pretty-much jet-engines hooked up to a generator!) and you can “ramp-down” coal plants over a few hours, you really can’t do much to a nuclear plant. Once the reaction is started, the system generates what it generates – for the most part, it’s a “use it or lose it” affair. In Central Illinois, our power producing neighbor to the north, Commonwealth Edison, is nuke-heavy. So, in low-demand periods, CE can pretty much supply all of Illinois’ power from their “base” generation. In effect, the *Chicago* area’s daytime “base” load is almost equal to the *whole State’s* nighttime “base” load.
Sooo right now - It’s cheaper for CE to sell the power they generate at incredibly low prices than is to ramp-down their nuclear generating units overnight (if that’s even possible – arguably it’s not, - or at very least it’s more dangerous than leaving them alone)
Which begs the question – why would anyone argue the need for more Nuclear generating units? Answer: we don’t!!!! I’d say we’re pretty much in the perfect position right now: Lowest demand periods are served almost 100% by “base” generators at a very low cost per MW, so we’re not wasting any energy we can’t turn off. And when we need it, we ramp up more expensive and more immediately noxious coal units. Finally if we really have to, we spin up the peaking units – they’re expensive, noisy, and thankfully only there for short-term use. It’s a pretty well balanced system right now.
Personally, I’d like to see large, distributed wind-farms eventually the place of the base load plants (it’s always windy somewhere – insert your own joke here!), but that’s another conversation.

Bottom line: Nukes are here, and we can use what we’ve got, but we don’t need any more!

Hey! So far, I’ve not mentioned how any of this relates to the price of crude oil. Well, strangely enough it doesn’t. Gas-powered generators of any serious size are fired by *natural gas* - you know, that stuff that smells bad and comes out of the ground right here in the US? There are smaller emergency/backup generators that run on diesel or gasoline, but they’re relatively small in the first place. Your power company isn’t using 87 octane gasoline – really! It’s a simple trick of the English language that most of us think of “Gasoline” when we hear “Gas” or “fossil fuel”. And that’s the point! The high price of crude oil is simply meant to raise outrage among the people…It’ll drop once the President gets his way – funny how that works! I’m sarcastic, I know, but deep down you know it’s true.

On the “new refinery on military bases” issue – I simply take this as a hint that in 2009 we’ll discover Halliburton is building a new refinery for Unocal. What’s the nearest accessible military base to ANWR? No surprise there. The administration has to thank those who made it all possible, after all. I’m sure the President thinks of it as his own “retirement savings account”.

So what is the “energy bill” all about? Taking care of the President’s friends, of course! What – you expected something else?

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Trouble with blogspot

This post may not make it out, but is anyone else having trouble with blogspot?
I have a high-speed connection that allows me to run servers, and I'm tempted to move to my own host. Anyone else interested in following? It might be a good weekend exercise - just to see what is involved in runnin a blog-host. I don't expect it's much harder than running a shoestring website. lol - I don't think I'm going to get a million hits a second any time soon!

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Update: I just noticed several of my problems go away when I use IE (I usually use Firefox at home) - anyone else notice this?