The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, June 03, 2019

It's time for another trip to Brevard

There are four ways to get to Brevard. One way is to head north along US-276 from Greenville, South Carolina. It's mostly a nice, leasurely drive with the exception of a 1,500′ (460m) elevation change over five miles (8km) of switchbacks and blind curves through the Caesars Head State Park (straight as the cardinal flies it's two miles (3km)). We took this route once (note the emphasis)—while I had a blast driving, Bunny lamented the lack of strong sedatives and refused to even look as I drove this section (even my Dad commented on the drive—“You took that route?”).

This route is no longer under consideration for us.

The second way is to head south along US-276 towards Brevard. We don't take this route mainly because we're not north of Brevard, and secondarily because of the 2000′ (600m) elevation change over eight miles (13km) of switchbacks and blind curves (also two miles (3km) as the cardinal flies).

The third way is to head east along US-64. This is a nice road, no excessive elevation changes, no switchbacks, and once you hit Rosman, the road widens into a fast, four lane highway running along the Proclamation Line of 1763 right up into Brevard from the southwest. We don't take this route because we aren't west of Brevard.

We take the final option—west along US-64 into Brevard. The road along this stretch is two lanes, running through an area that's too built up to be rural, yet not built up enough to be suburban (much less urban)—perhaps “ruburban?” For us, this is the easiest option as it's also very simple—I-95 North to I-26 West to US-64 West.

The only issue we had this year in driving was mostly in South Carolina, For some reason, every semi-truck driver in South Carolina was headed north along I-95, then west along I-26 and trying to pass each other.

[Cause we got a little convoy / Rockin' through the night. / Yeah, we got a little convoy, / Ain't she a beautiful sight? / Come on and join our convoy / Ain't nothin' gonna get in our way. / We gonna roll this truckin' convoy / 'Cross the U-S-A. / Convoy!]

This wouldn't be that bad except that both I-95 and I-26 are only two lanes in each direction, and the traffic would pile up behind two semis as one would s-l-o-w-l-y pass the other. This was just in South Carolina (more like “Slow Carolina”). Florida, Georgia and North Carolina did not have this issue.

Go figure.

But twelve hours and 750 miles later, we're safely ensconsed at The Red House Inn and had an okay dinner at The Square Root, as is tradition when we roll into town.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Extreme pay phones, Brevard edition

Bunny and I had lunch at Rocky's Grill and Soda Shop, and while there, I noticed this little bit of history:

[Wow! A phone you can really dial!  So that's where the term “dialing” came from!]

The fact that the sign says “temporarily out of serice” implies they think it can be fixed at some point in the future. I sure hope they do—it would be cool to use just for the novelty of it.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Extreme cheese, Brevard edition

Bunny wanted to stop by Ingles to pick up some items and while there, I came across this lovely product:

[“It's cheese, Grommit! Cheese … ah, on second thought, maybe not.”]

Bunny and I like cheese. Bunny and I like chocolate. We both agreed we both don't like chocolate cheese.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Extreme nightmare fuel, Brevard Edition

Bunny and I ate lunch at Hawg Wild BBQ, and right in the lobby was a totem the likes of which nightmares are made:

[The scariest thing about this is the white squirrel controlling this abomination—they really are trying to take over the world.]

Only by sharing can I rid myself of this image.


Acclimating

We've been here for only a few days and we're still trying to acclimatize to the area. It has nothing to do with the climate—the mid-70s at noon, low-to-mid 60s at midnight are a given. No, what has us screwed up is the time! It doesn't start to get dark until near 9:00 pm and that's messing us up, given that Brevard rolls up the sidewalks at 9:00 pm. It's like, “No! Wait! It's just now getting dark! You can't be closing up shop! Wait!”

Another oddity to get used to—the local UPS driver constantly honks the horn at anything moving. Cars, people, white squirrels dashing across the road—if it moves, the driver honks at it. Quite odd indeed.

The third item is only affecting me, but man, is it annoying. I use my iPad as a laptop while on vacation (it helps that I have a keyboard for it—one that sucks but then again, any keyboard that isn't a full sized clicky IBM keyboard sucks so take that observation for what it's worth). But I've been noticing over the past few days it's having issues with browsing the web. Web sites these days are so XXXXX­XX bloated that anything short of a multicore computer with a browser that's been updated in the last ten minutes stands to crash more often that not. Just trying browse the website of a local restaurant stands a 50/50 chance of crashing Safari on the iPad.

Sigh.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Extreme social clubs, Brevard edition

[The officer selection process tends to go overboard at times.]

It was Captain Bligh who experienced the mutiny, not Captian Ahab, and certainly not Moby Dick who (if I may spoil a 168 year old book) did not die.

Still a cool sign, though.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Extreme travel posters, Brevard edition

[Bigfoot and el Chupacabra vacation in Scotland. And then they get photobombed by the Creature from the Black Lagoon.]

I guess they're going to hang out with Elvis.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Extreme table tops, Brevard edition

Bunny and I had dinner at El Ranchero, a Mexican restaurant just down the street from The Red House Inn (literally—it's at the bottom of a hill). The place has good food for the price (seriously—the prices are incredible for what you get) but I don't recall them having art on the table in years past.

They do now, though, and …

[Do you mind? I'm busy here!]

… wow. Just … wow.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Extreme excitement, Brevard edition

So this is happening, right across the street from where we are staying:

[Burning down the house!] [And you thought it was bad from the front!]

And now, some background.

Bunny and I arrived back at The Red House Inn late afternoon to find a letter slipped under the door. It read:

Dear Local Resident,

The City of Brevard Fire Department will be conducting a training exercise in your neightborhood on Monday, June 10th from 6:00pm through 11:0pm. Specfically, the house located at the following address will be demolished through the use of controlled burns within the structure. Ultimately, the house will be leveled to the ground.

The house is located at 279 Probart Street.

Many tasks have to be …

If you would like to see what's all involved in the training exercise, we will have a designated area where family and friends are able to watch. We greatly appreciate your support during this valuable training exercise. If you have any qustions …

There was also a handwritten addition:

Received June 10, 2019 9 a.m.

So sorry for the late notice. I
hope it will not be disruptive to
your stay. Please call us
with any concerns. Thank you,
Tracie
XXX-
XXX-
XXXX

At the time, we had no idea where 279 Probart Street was. We do now, though. And we had to modify our dinner plans a bit, given that our ability to drive anywhere was seriously curtailed.

[Not shown is the popcorn vendor setting up shop.]

It seems a developer bought several pieces of property and was in the process of clearing it to build more homes in Brevard. The house in question was bought several months ago and was going to be knocked down anyway.

[West Main Street—9 new homes!]

And here it is, a bit past 11:00 pm and the fire rages on …

[… and the beat goes on.]

First watching a total eclipse from the front porch, and now a house fire from the front porch. I have to wonder what we'll see from the front porch next time we come!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

“Well, that's one way to renovate a house”

Bunny managed to get a picture of the house across the street before yesterday's training exercise:

[One moment a two story home in need of a bit of work.]

Photo by Bunny

And the house as it “stands” today (pun intended):

[The next moment, a former two story home in need of a lot of work.]

We're told it should all be gone by Saturday. We'll see.


Extreme church, Brevard edition

You can't throw a stone around here without hitting a church. As a result, some of them have a very unique design:

[Very daring interpretation of the Cross iconography for a Baptist chuch.]

It's either a very daring design, or they'll turn anything into a church around here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Extreme doorway, Brevard edition

Walking along Main street I came across this odd doorway:

[It's the entrance to the Narnia Travel Agency. They explained that having the entrance in a seldom used wardrobe in a seldom used room in a large English manor during WWII was not the best of ideas.]

If you look closely, you can see some trees on the other side of the door. Intrigued, I went around to the other side of the building and found it was just a front:

[It was nothing more than just a front for the Narnian Liberation Party.]

I guess it makes Main Street look better if there isn't an obviously missing building.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Extreme contradiction, Brevard edition

So Bunny and I came across this lovely bit of signage in downtown Brevard:

[“The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone.” / “The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the white zone.” / “No, the white zone is for loading of passengers and there is no stopping in a RED zone.” / “The red zone has always been for loading and unloading of passengers. There's never stopping in a white zone.” / “Don't you tell me which zone is for loading, and which zone is for stopping!”]

So which is it? Loading, or parking? Or loading of wheelchairs for parking? Or parking for wheelchairs to be loaded? I'm so confused!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Extreme bongs, Sevierville edition

Bunny and I made the trek out to Sevierville, TN to visit Tennessee's largest flea market. Overall, it was “meh” and nothing at all what we were expecting. I'm not sure what we were expecting, but what we found wasn't quite it.

But that's not to say it wasn't amusing, like this interesting gask mask:

[“Dude!  I just turned this gas mask into a bong!” / “Dude!”]

And just a few booths down from that, we hit a bookstore with both kinds of fuction, westerns and Amish:

[Mennonite fiction is just a bit outré for these folks.]

And no, I am not making that bit about “both kinds of fiction” up—the clerk explicitly stated that as a direct quote. I did not handle any of the fiction, lest it burst into flames upon my touching it. The Amish theme kept going with this booth:

[There's a joke just trying to get out about “bitches-n-hoe's” but man does it feel sacrilegious to even think of it.  Besides, what a weird combination for a store—hitches?  Honey?  Amish Jams?  Actually, “Amish Jams” would be a cool name for an Amish rap group.  Come on!  Even Sweden has rap artists these days, so why not the Amish?  I mean, besides Weird Al.]

Yes, this booth would supply your trailer hitching and Amish honey and jam needs. Need I say more? Well, I could but I'm not sure if I should. And when did Tennessee become such a hotbed of Amish activity? Did I not get the memo? I must not have gotten the memo.

Just randomly, I saw several of these signs hanging from the ceiling:

[They turned down my application for a wombat.  No reason given.  Sigh.]

At first, I thought that anyone wanting to buy an animal had to obtain permission from the office, so they could make sure the customer is capable of taking care of marmosets, sloths or whatever other livestock was being sold, but upon reflection, this sign could be a notice for the sellers, to make sure they aren't selling illegal wolverines, pangolins or alligators.

I also found amusing the number of booths selling cleaning products. We got accosted early on by one woman hawking a cleaning product. She mostly talked to Bunny, and every other word out of her mouth was “ma'am.” Every other sentance was “You can drink this stuff, but it wouldn't taste very good.” Nice to know, I guess (and it turned out, every cleaning product being hawked at the half dozen or so other booths were all “drinkable, but you wouldn't like the taste”). And I have no idea if the Amish would use such products.


Fur Ball at the Waffle House

Because of our little jaunt into Tennessee we ended up having a late dinner in Brevard, where “late” is “after 9:00 pm when the sidewalks roll up.”

The late-evening eating establishments are rather limited, which is why we found ourselves eating at The WaffleHouse at 11:30 pm on a Friday night. I swear, I never thought I would have the following coversation:

“Ooh, it looks busy.”

“Do you think we'll have to wait for a seat?”

“I hope not.”

We did not have to wait, as we grabbed the only two seats left at the counter.

There, we met with our waitresses, Kloey, with a “K” and Fur Ball (yes, “Fur Ball” was the name on her tag), which is a nickname given to her when she was 15 years old. I kid you not.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Extreme nightmare fuel part II, Brevard edition

It's bad enough when the white squirrels are using abominations to take over the world, but now Slenderman is in town:

[Run!  Just run!  Don't ask!  Start running!  Oh wait …  too late!]

Then again, this is Transylvania County …

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Exteme friendly pets, Brevard edition

[“Scoobie snacks?  You have Scoobie snacks?  Scoobie snacks, Scoobie snacks, Scoobie snacks, Scoobie snacks!  Please can I have a Scoobie snack?  You have one, right?  Scooooooobie snaaaaaaaack!”] [“Really?  You expect me to to act all undignified just for a Scoobie snack?  You aren't serious, are you?”]

Monday, June 17, 2019

There and back again

We are home.

We missed my ETA by one minute—had a driver not cut in front of us and slowed down to 40mph on I-95 just as we were approaching our final exit, we would have arrived home at 10:20 pm instead of 10:21 pm. Stupid slow driver! Other than that, it was an uneventful 12 hour drive, give or take a few minutes.

Anyway, a picture of the former house at 279 Probart Street as of yesterday:

[Alas, poor 279 Probart Street! We hardly knew you.]

I do say, it's largely gone.

And thus ends our yearly adventure in Brevard. (As a side note—man is it nice to get back to a real keyboard again.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Notes about a broken menu system

I am partaking a local quick, consumable, gustatory establishment whereupon I spied a problematic carte du jour:

[Of the three screens, one is a noticable blue: “♫One of these things is not like the others / One of these things just doesn't belong / Can you tell which thing is not like the others / By the time I finish my song?♫”]

Methinks the local proprietor requires consultation with the originating equipment manufacturer to resolve the current conundrum.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Those deployment blues

My department at The Corporation had a deployment this morning (2:00 am). These deployments don't happen that often (the last one happened in January of this year; last year we had a total of four deployments) but usually there are no problems afterwards.

This time we weren't so lucky.

It wasn't a problem with our code, but with a vendor our customer, The Monopolistic Phone Company, uses. The vendor in question wasn't sending some critical information we were sending back to The Monopolistic Phone Company. We didn't notice this initially since our testing just happened to use the other vendor The Monopolistic Phone Comapny uses. So while it technically wasn't our problem, getting that particular vendor to even look at a problem, much less solve it, is a multi-month and multi-money problem, practically it is our problem.

The base problem is that one vendor who shall rename nameless is supposed to forward all SIP headers that start with a common prefix, but they have a limit to the number of non-standard SIP headers they'll forward and we've exceeded said limit. Apparently, a new feature we added, plus moving some existing data to its own header, bumped the number of headers past this limit. The fix was easy (just put the existing data we moved back in the old header while keeping it in the new header) but there was a bit of concern about installing it into production.

You see, because our customer is The Monopolistic Phone Company, and they have regulartory issues with respect to reliability to contend with, there's a whole process involved with deployment. Just for starters, we have to give them a 10-business day notice of any changes, which they can veto …

Oh, and have I mentioned the very scary SLAs we have with them? Where vast amounts of money start flowing to The Monopolistic Phone Company for violations of said SLAs? So you can see why it takes a significant amount of time to get deployed, and why we have so few.

Fortunately, we're given a number of emergency deployments we can use and thus, we used one of them today.

All told, from initial bug fix to re-deployment took a total of three hours. That is the fastest deployment I've seen of our department's code.

Friday, June 28, 2019

“Will someone please rescue me from this Chinese fortune cookie factory?”

Tonight's fortune cookie is amusing in the way that only fortune cookies can be.

[A fortune cookie says “Actions speak louder than talks” And Ahhhhhnold will kill you with quips.]

The other fortune cookie fortune was not nearly as interesting.

Obligatory Picture

[It's the most wonderful time of the year!]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

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