2016 Year in Review

2016 was a year of extremes for me. It didn’t start off great with the passing of my Aunt Lu, who was one of my favorite people. However, it also included my brother’s wedding which was the nicest wedding I’ve ever attended. Like most years it had good and bad parts.

I very much believe that you can’t change things you don’t measure. So I tend to track a lot of what I do throughout the year. Let’s see how well I did this year.

Calendar – I had intended to track four things on it, biking, working out, eating healthy and driving. I can tell you now, that was a ridiculous idea. Tracking healthy eating was dropped first because it was just too much of a pain to do. And working out was dropped soon after that. Tracking bike and driving were the only two I did because they took about one second each. Calendar tracking works best when it’s a simple yes/no answer and that you don’t have to think too long about this answer. Healthy eating was dropped because I had to think about each meal and if I ate ok at each. Working out was dropped because I would consider whether or not my bike ride was an actual workout. That was just too much thinking for me. The bike and car were easy. Did I bike or did I drive? Yes or no and mark the calendar. So that’s all I ended up tracking. I’ve also learned that I should really only track a single thing. I’ll take that into account next year.

Bike and Car – Looking at my Cyclemeter stats, I found that I biked 1,720 miles last year. That’s good, but quite a bit less than I did in 2015 (2,252 miles). Here’s the breakdown, month-by-month:

Bike Drive
January 18 days 14 days
February 6 days 22 days
March 17 days 18 days
April (thank you 30 Days of Biking) 30 days 14 days
May 25 days 16 days
June 23 days 14 days
July 14 days 14 days
August 22 days 14 days
September 17 days 18 days
October 12 days 20 days
November 7 days 25 days
December 4 days 25 days

I did ok during the summer months, but was a giant wuss when the weather got a little unpleasant. I really have no excuse for that. Clearly, I haven’t taken “Frostbike” to heart and celebrated winter. I need to dig out my winter riding clothes and try to make up for that in January.

I just checked the odometer on my car and it reads 44,416 miles. At the end of last year, my odometer was 33,788 miles, so I drove 10,628 miles for the year. I’m actually quite pleased with that. That seems reasonable to me. If I biked a bit more to work, I think I could get that down under 10,000 miles for the year.

Overall, I’m happy with my biking and driving amounts. I don’t think I do too much unnecessary driving (though I am being lazy about going to work in the cold) and I do usually grab my bike for short trips to the grocery store or library. I think that tracking this information over the past couple of years has changed my behavior and I don’t think I need to monitor it so much now. I’ll still use Cyclemeter on my phone to track my longer rides so I get an overall mileage count for the year, but I’m not going to worry about short trips or how many days I drive. Now that I have a target for my car mileage, I should be ok.

Health – I went to the doctor last January because my knee was really sore. My doc sent me to therapy for about eight weeks. That was great and it helped a lot. My knee is much better though not great yet. After I quit going to therapy, I got very lazy about doing all the stretching exercises. I need to come up with a way to make myself accountable without having a therapist to see. It would also definitely help my knee if I lost some weight. I have been weighing myself every morning as soon as I get up since 2011. I know many people say you shouldn’t do this, but I think it’s a good idea, as long as you don’t judge yourself on the number. My weight does fluctuate a lot and while some of it depends on what I’ve eaten, it can also move based on how late I ate dinner the previous night. Looking at my weight from January 1st until today, I see I’ve lost 4 lbs over the year. That’s going in the right direction, but it should be better. Below is a graph of my weight over the year. Earlier this month, I actually hit my low of the year. Interestingly, I quit eating sugar around the end of October and kept it up until Thanksgiving. I think that’s reflected in the downward slope of the line during that time. Anyway, I’m happy with the overall result, but I know I can do much better.

Build Up Savings – Here’s my one great success over the year. I use a program called Banktivity for my checking account and they have a summary page that compares your current savings rate with your previous year. This was great and very motivational. Here’s how it looks today.

I’m quite pleased with that. I’m also pleased because I don’t think that I was a freeloader in any way. I think I was generous with my family members and made all my usual donations to charity. I just didn’t do much frivolous spending. My largest category of expense this year was cash, which is probably something I should be tracking better. But the second one was my property taxes, which sounds about right to me.

In December 2014, I opened an account with Betterment to try to save $10,000 as an emergency fund. I’m happy to note that as of Tuesday when my transfer goes in, I’ll have reached my goal. Yay! I’m much more prepared now if I need another emergency roof. đŸ˜‰

Travel – I think I did pretty well this year. I went to Nashville with friends for the Tour de Nash in May. I went to Vancouver and Washington state for my brother’s wedding in July. Took a quick trip to Pittsburgh for Pedal PGH in August. I visited some cousins in LA with my Mom and brother in November. And took a quick trip to Toronto to visit a friend in December. Aside from LA and Toronto, I biked around all those places, so I also met my goal of exploring by bike. (Though I didn’t get to MontrĂ©al which bums me out a little.)

House – I didn’t do much work on the house, except finish up the trim in my kitchen. I actually laughed out loud when I saw that my intention was to have a room upstairs done. Not only did I not do anything up there, I actually moved my bedroom up there, using it as is.
Welding – Nothing. Priced some welders, but didn’t do anything.
Map game – Didn’t even think about it.
Volunteering – I went to Working Bikes for a couple of months, but then stopped. It was fun, but I didn’t like that I always drove there. I gave them a donation yesterday because I do think they’re a great organization.
Book – I’ve thought about this a lot and even sort of started doing an outline. But it’s so little that I don’t think it should count.
Get out of the house more – I’m pretty much still a homebody.

That’s it. I’m writing this early in the morning on the 31st, so I could possibly still go for a bike ride today or drive my car. A good friend just got out of the hospital, so I may go and see him. If that’s the case, I’ll have to update this post a little. But for the most part, I think this is a pretty good summary of my year. I’m happy to say that I can still say “Life is good”. Here’s to 2017 being even better!

Things I’ve Learned About Myself This Year

Since I usually wrap my year up on the 31st and make my plans for the coming year on the 1st, I’ve been thinking about this past year. Know Thyself is a common saying, so I think I should take a somewhat critical look at me. So what have I discovered about myself this year?

1. Sugar has an effect on me and not in a good way. I know there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence around about sugar and I usually don’t give much credence to that. And all I’m really adding is more anecdotal evidence, so I don’t expect anyone else to take this as complete truth. However, I have definitely noticed some good things when I worked to avoid sugar for about a month and a half and I noticed some bad things when I started eating it again around Christmas. I basically decided to avoid it because I heard that it causes inflammation in joints. My knee, which was giving me a lot of grief about a year ago, is better, but every so often seemed to swell up for no real reason. So after quitting sugar for a short time, when I went back, I actually felt my knee throbbing when I hadn’t done anything. I know, just an anecdote. After about a month without sugar, I went to the dentist and all was ok. In fact, my dentist said my gums looked better than they had in a long time and asked if I started doing something new. I didn’t even think about the lack of sugar. And then in preparation of Christmas, I ate a bunch of things that had sugar. On Christmas Eve and for the next couple of days, I had a tooth that was killing me. After I quit sugar again, it felt better. Then to see if I wasn’t imagining it, I ate a big piece of candy and sure enough, the tooth started to hurt again. Not as bad as the first time, but I also didn’t eat as much sugar. So, yes, I realize that these could all be coincidences, but I don’t think so.

2. My arms are seriously weak. I can’t really do a decent pushup and even pushups on an incline are pretty difficult. I think that a really good workout for me is just doing pushups (what I can), squats, lunges and planks. Basically, exercises that just use my body weight.

3. I am having a really hard time sitting around watching tv shows. I don’t know why, but it’s rare that a show holds my interest. The only times I watch shows on tv are when I’m exhausted. And then, if I do watch a bunch of tv shows, I just feel gross for being such a slug. Interestingly though, I still do enjoy watching sports on tv. Go figure.

4. I have a tendency to do things by myself. Not necessarily because I want to do them by myself, but because I assume that no one else wants to do them. I’ve been told by a number of people quite close to me that I’m not fun. Guessing because I’ve enjoyed doing things like installing a sink in a bathroom, building things with wood or riding my bike. Based on reactions I’ve had from people when I mention this, I know that these are not necessarily popular activities. Related to this is the fact that in a group, you usually have to compromise. I’ve always taken that to be that we’re going to do whatever the loudest person in the group wants and that was usually not me. (Five siblings, go figure.) So in order to do what I enjoy, I just usually do things by myself.

5. I love my basement. It’s unfinished and a mess, but sometimes to relax I just go down there and breathe in the basement air. I find it incredibly calming, though I have no idea why.

6. I am not an animal person, never have been. I’ve recently looked at all of my friends growing up and just realized that they ALL had pets. Clearly, there is something wrong with me. (Either for not liking pets or for always hanging out with pet-lovers.)

That’s basically it for now. Tomorrow I’ll look at my plans for this year and see how things turned out.

Adding a Windows Computer to an Openldap-Samba Primary Domain Controller

For a number of years, I’ve used a linux computer running openldap and samba as the primary domain controller for my windows computers. This works great in that we can have a single sign-on for all of our windows and linux computers and use the same account for logins to websites. I’ve had an old piece of paper in my office with the changes that are needed on Windows to be able to get it to join this pdc. Thought I’d finally put them online in case something ever happens to my paper. (#2 below is really the only required step, but I always do all of them.)

1. Add the ip address of the new computer to /etc/samba/smb.conf. This is optional, but I do it so that only computers I know about are allowed to access anything in our setup.

2. Add two DWORDS in the registry:

      Services \

DomainCompatibilityMode = 1
DNSNameResolutionRequired = 0

3. gpedit.msc

Computer Configuration -
  Administrative Templates -
    System -
      User Profiles
Set maximum wait time for the network if a user has a roaming profile or remote home directory = 0

4. secpol.msc

Local Policies -
  Security Options
Interactive logon: Do not display last user name: ENABLED

Now join the computer to the domain.

Mariadb (Mysql) Setup

I wrote these instructions years ago, but couldn’t find them the other day. So I’m updating a few things and reposting here.

Make sure you have mysql in /etc/group. Normally the gid is 27.

It wants to put a file in /var/run/mariadb. Remember that this is a tempfile on rhel7. So you need to remake this directory on every boot. Create /etc/tmpfiles.d/mariadb.conf with:

# mariadb needs a directory in /var/run to store its pid file and args file
d /var/run/mariadb 0755 mysql mysql

After installing mariadb-server, need to set a password and delete all the default users that have no password.

# systemctl start mariadb
# mysqladmin -u root password 'new_password'

# mysql -u root -p
mysql> show databases;
| Database           |
| information_schema |
| mysql              |
| test               |
3 rows in set (0.00 sec)

mysql> use mysql;
Reading table information for completion of table and column names
You can turn off this feature to get a quicker startup with -A

Database changed

mysql> select Host,User,Password from user where user='';
| Host      | User | Password |
| comp      |      |          |
| localhost |      |          |
2 rows in set (0.00 sec)

mysql> select Host,User,Password from user where Password='';
| Host      | User | Password |
| comp      | root |          |
| comp      |      |          |
| localhost |      |          |
3 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Now need to delete those empty users.

mysql> delete from user where User='';
Query OK, 2 rows affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> select Host,User,Password from user where Password='';
| Host | User | Password |
| comp | root |          |
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

mysql> delete from user where Password='';
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)

mysql> select Host,User,Password from user;
| Host      | User | Password         |
| localhost | root | 1e3392c069a69a58 |
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Filtering with procmailrc

I have an email account that I forward to a gmail account so that I can use google’s spam filtering. One thing that google does is limit the size of mail messages to 25mb. If someone sends me a mail message with an attachment greater than 25mb, google will bounce it back to my server, which will then forward it to google, who will then bounce it back to me… you get the picture. I had this happen today and while nothing crashed, it did slow my server to a crawl. So I thought that I’d put a rule in my .procmailrc file before the forward to the gmail account that moves the large file to a local mailbox. This is easy to do, I’d just add a section like this:

 * > 25000000

This will put any mail message greater than 25mb into the bigfiles folder. The problem though is I also want to send a message to me, telling me to look in my bigfiles folder to find out what this is. That’s a little more complicated, but basically, you just put the rules in order. This works for me:

 * > 25000000
    | mail -s "You've received a mail message larger than 25mb" me < /var/adm/bigfiles

The first condition (outside the brackets) tells me to look for messages greater than 25mb. If I find one, then first I send myself ([email protected]) a message that says I've received a big message. The /var/adm/bigfiles file just has text saying that google won't accept this large file and that I should check my bigfiles folder. Then the next section just moves the message to the bigfiles folder.

Random Thoughts

It’s an early Sunday morning and I’m relaxing with a cup of coffee when I thought I’d post some random thoughts I’ve been having.

1. What’s the point of this blog?
So, I really don’t have a point. I love to read other people’s blogs, so I thought I’d make my own. At first, it was just to learn how to set it up. But now, it’s because I like having it. The most successful blogs have a general theme that they follow. Either most of the posts are about personal finance/becoming financially independent, woodworking, making, sewing, etc. My blog is not like that. I guess my entire blog is just a collection of random thoughts. More accurately though, I look at my blog as a place to put things that I want to remember. Since I only eat oatmeal when the weather gets cold, every fall I’m trying to remember how I made it the last year. Thus, I posted my recipe for oatmeal. If I spent a long time at work or at home, figuring out how to configure something on my computer, I’ll write a post about it. It’s a very satisfying feeling when I then google that same problem a year or two later and my own blog post shows in the results. This is also why I have the comments turned off. This is really just for me. The information here might be helpful to other people, which is why I let anyone read it. I have had a couple of people send me a tweet that they found something here useful and that’s pretty cool. But I’m really not trying to build a community or gather people to a cause. And I find it hard to believe that anyone is really interested in what I’ve written here. Checking the analytics for my site, over the past month, I’ve averaged around 500 unique visitors per day. I’m guessing that the majority of these are bots for search engines. However, if you are a real person reading this blog, welcome! I hope you find something useful here.

(Nuts, it took me so long to login to my account to check the anayltics that I forgot what my other points were going to be. I’ll see if I can jar the old memory to get the back to the front.)

Oh, right.
2. Cars. Since I’ve been tracking my expenses in software since 2004, I have a lot of information about where my money has gone. I was shocked to find out that since 2004, I’ve spent over $53,000 on cars. Ok, yes, if I average that over 12 years, it’s only around $4400 per year. And two big chunks of that were in 2012, when I started getting a bunch of repair bills on my van and then sold it and used my sister’s car (and made her car payment) while she was in Germany and then 2013 when she came back and I bought myself a car. But still, seeing that much money go to cars sort of bugs me. I’m happy to say that as of right now, in 2016, my car expenses are under $1800. I think I have to pay insurance at the end of the month, so I’ll probably end up just under $2500 for the year, which does not sound too bad. I’d like to think that I’m getting more reasonable in driving. I have been biking a lot more. Though I will admit that I gave up biking to work somewhat early this year just because I didn’t feel like doing it in the colder weather. Yes, I am a big wuss.

3. Gratitude. In addition to this blog, I also have been keeping a written journal. I’m doing this because I like the physical act of writing on paper. I also enjoy working with paper. I made personalized stationery as gifts a couple of years ago and recently I bound my own book. These were totally fun projects. So I decided to use a blank book that I had as a sort of journal. When I remember, I’m trying to include something I’m grateful for. I’ve read that keeping a gratitude journal helps with happiness and I’m inclined to agree. I haven’t been doing this too long (a little over a month), but I am happier when I remember that life is good and I have a lot to be grateful for.

4. Cashflow. I’ve been increasing the contributions to my retirement accounts steadily over the past couple of years. It’s been good because I’ve felt that I haven’t really noticed that I’m bringing how less each month. However, over the past two months, I have felt like I’ve been a running out of cash a lot quicker than normal. Starting in January, I’ll finally be maxing out what I can contribute. While I’ll only be bringing home a couple of hundred dollars less than I am now, I have a feeling that it’s finally going to start hurting a bit more. So one thing that I’m going to have to look at in my yearly review is what other expenses I can cut a little. I think I’m doing ok, but I feel like I’m still wasting a little money in certain places.

5. Election. I was hugely disappointed with the outcome, but I have accepted that Trump is the president. I don’t think he’ll be good for anyone in the world, but I’m hoping that he’ll surprise me. And I’ve already made a contribution to the ACLU because I’m thinking they’re going to be busy for the next few years.

This post is now long enough, so I’ll stop. It’s sort of blowing my mind that it’s already December and that the year will be over soon. And while I still think that life is good, I’ll be happy to see 2016 end.

Delete a command from the history

If I run a command that, maybe shows a password in it, I’d like to delete that command from my command history. Say I this shows when I run history:

494  ping pint
  495  ssh pint
  496  ssh trust
  497  ssh carvo
  498  exit
  499  host smithfest
  500  ssh egg

And say that I want to delete the line “host smithfest” from that list. Do this:

yo:~ $ history -d 499
yo:~ $ history -w
yo:~ $ history
  494  ping pint
  495  ssh pint
  496  ssh trust
  497  ssh carvo
  498  exit
  499  ssh egg
  500  history
  501  history -d 499
  502  history -w
  503  history

If you don’t run the history -w command, it won’t write the change and the line would still be present if you logged out and back in.