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High School Memories

A warning to my technical acquaintances who read this blog through syndication, this is a post targeted to the Highland High School Class of '95, so you will probably not understand any of this.

My 20 year reunion is coming up, and weird as it seems, through Facebook and other social media, I feel more connected to my classmates now than I did 20 years ago. Because of the buildup to the event (which, thanks to the cross country travel I've been doing for work over the last few years, I'll be able to attend), I've been feeling nostalgic.

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Moving a Paravirtualized EC2 legacy instance to a modern HVM one

I had to try a few things before I could get this right, so I thought I'd write about it. These steps are what ultimately worked for me. I had tried several other things to no success, which I'll list at the end of the post.

If you have Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances on the "previous generation" paravirtualization based instance types, and want to convert them to the new/cheaper/faster "current generation", HVM instance types with SSD storage, this is what you have to do:

You'll need a donor Elastic Block Store (EBS) volume so you can copy data from it. Either shutdown the old instance and detach the EBS, or, as I did, snapshot the old system, and then create a new volume from the snapshot so that you can mess up without worrying about losing data. (I was also moving my instances to a cheaper data center, which I could only do by moving snapshots around). If you choose to create a new volume, make a note of which Availability Zone (AZ) you create it in.

Create a new EC2 instance of the desired instance type, configured with a new EBS volume set up the way you want it. Use a base image that's as similar to what you currently have as possible. Make sure you're using the same base OS version, CPU type, and that your instance is in the same AZ as your donor EBS volume. I mounted the ephemeral storage too as a way to quickly rollback if I messed up without having to recreate the instance from scratch.

Attach your donor EBS volume to your new instance as sdf/xvdf, and then mount them to a new directory I'll call /donor
mkdir /donor && mount /dev/xvdf /donor

Suggested: Mount your ephemeral storage on /mnt
mount /dev/xvdb /mnt
and rsync / to /mnt
rsync -aPx / /mnt/
If something goes wrong in the next few steps, you can reverse it by running
rsync -aPx --delete /mnt/ /
to revert to known working state. The rsync options tell rsync to copy (a)ll files, links, and directories, and all ownership/permissions/mtime/ctime/atime values; to show (P)rogress; and to not e(x)tend beyond a single file system (this leaves /proc /sys and your scratch and donor volumes alone).

Copy your /donor volume data to / by running
rsync -aPx /donor/ / --exclude /boot --exclude /etc/grub.d ...
. You can include other excludes (use paths to where they would be copied on the final volume, not the path in the donor system. The excluded paths above are for an Ubuntu system. You should replace /etc/grub.d with the path or paths where your distro keeps its bootloader configuration files. I found that copying /boot was insufficient because the files in /boot are merely linked to /etc/grub.d.

Now you should be able to reboot your instance your new upgraded system. Do so, detach the donor EBS volume, and if you used the ephemeral storage as a scratch copy, reset it as you prefer. Switch your Elastic IP, or change your DNS configuration, test your applications, and then clean up your old instance artifacts. Congratulations, you're done.

Be careful of slashes. The rsync command treats /donor/ differently from /donor.

What failed:
Converting the EBS snapshot to an AMI and setting the AMI virtualization type as HVM, then launching a new instance with this AMI actually failed to boot (I've had trouble with this with PV instances too with the Ubuntu base image unless I specified a specific kernel, so I'm not sure whether to blame HVM or the Ubuntu base images.
Connecting a copy of the PV ebs volume to a running HVM system and copying /boot to the donor, then replacing sda1 with the donor volume also failed to boot, though I think if I'd copied /etc/grub.d too it might have worked. This might not get you an SSD backed EBS volume though, if that's desirable.

Profiteering and the singular ant problem

I found this video highly interesting. Why do we have to have such heavy blinders on about healthcare in this country? Regardless of the position you hold on the Affordable Care Act, everyone should understand the facts presented in this video:

As a summary:

  • We pay more per capita in taxes for healthcare than any other country, but only a few get the benefits of a single payer health system

  • We pay more as a percentage of GDP on healthcare than any other country

  • Our care is not better (as measured by outcomes) than any other country with socialized medicine

  • It's not one thing that causes high healthcare costs, but a variety of things, but the common causes dragged out for public vilification are not the most significant factors

  • One cannot negotiate for better prices for healthcare while receiving care, so prices will naturally increase to the level the market will bear, which is pretty high

I personally think it's unethical to profit by the treatment (or cause for that matter) of suffering. That doesn't mean the healthcare provider shouldn't be compensated for his or her time, equipment, and materials and that they shouldn't be allowed to expand their business or invest in research and development of new treatments, but the provider administrators shouldn't be beholden to stakeholders demanding higher profit margins, and administrators in turn demanding more high margin tests to be ordered by providers when deciding what care to give to a patient.

Government Social Programs vs. Private Charity

"Oh, if government didn't provide for the poor and needy, then charity would! Small local charities would be vastly more efficient than Government, and provide better services to boot!" This, first of all, ignores simple economies of scale; small local charities would have much more overhead/dollar and much less purchasing power than large national charities. Second, if natural charity worked with modern man, we'd still live in a Victorian era of asylums, orphanages, and debtors' prisons. It didn't. We don't, and we're better off today because we've recognized that fact. Could charity cover the gap if the Government closed down all it's social programs? My math says no. I wish I was wrong, but history has shown that the poor, diseased, or downdrodden are nearly universally ignored by society as a whole, so if we reduced taxes by the $1.3+ trillion spent every year on social programs, the $300 billion a year in charitable contributions wouldn't increase to cover the gap, even if we were able to get incredible efficiency gains. Charitable contributions nearly universally come from disposable income; we don't naturally sacrifice our own standard of living to raise another.

Not that Government run social programs are perfect: we waste tons of money by making Social Security payments mandatory, you receive them whether you really need them or not; by allowing welfare recipients to shop for themselves at retail (even at convenience store prices) vs. using the economies of scale to buy foodstuffs and other essentials at wholesale prices; using subsidies and tax credits instead of collective bargaining to make essential services (phone, water, power, housing) more affordable, etc; and paying most benefits out in CASH. There's even a measurable (sizeable even?) amount of graft and abuse. But despite their faults, and the levels of abuse, they provide some level of social safety net that didn't exist 30-80 years ago, and I think society is better for it.

An aside about the graft; Florida recently required all welfare recipients to take a drug test. They found that less than 2% of applicants failed the tests. From this we learned at least three things:
  1. that the 4th amendment doesn't allow the government to require invasive tests of worthiness for social programs.

  2. that contrary to popular belief, most welfare recipients are not drug addicts.

  3. that implementing bureaucracy to police graft may save some money, but not significant amounts.

So if you're going to propose to me that we "Abolish Social Security" or cut social services in some other way, you'd better be prepared to explain to me
  1. where those people will go for help when they need it.

  2. how those charities would receive the funding they would need to care for the large numbers of people who would need their services, and

  3. How that makes us a stronger society than the status quo.

Robin Hood Economics (or Hey Look Joseph's finally posting to his blog again!)

I find myself composing long replies to Facebook posts, but I feel Facebook is a poor medium for sharing such weighty ideas, so I'm going to start/resume posting here instead. Hopefully my friends and family recognize this as an opportunity to discuss civilly vs. as an attack on their deeply held political beliefs. I don't have all the answers, and I consider myself to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal, so none of the current political parties interest me much, and some of what's going on in Washington, D.C. and in Raliegh, N.C., really worries me.

Here's my rant for today:

Why is it that when we tax the poor to give to the rich it's called "social darwinism" or "lucrative government contracts" or "trickle down economics", and it's ok. But when we talk about taxing the rich to give to the poor it's "forced wealth redistribution", or "communism", (socialism doesn't mean what you think it means) and it's not ok? The former is really Prince John's feudalism, so wouldn't the latter be Robin Hood's economic policy? Which should we be cheering?

I guess my real point is: it's hard to have meaningful discussions about hot topics when the terms of the debate are set up to be so emotionally charged.

Just don't feel like bloggin'

So it isn't that we are totally boring and nothing exciting happens. Quite the opposite with 4 kiddos. It just as I've gotten older, I've gotten wiser. I've finally realized that try as I might, I just can't write. My humor can't seem to translate to writings, so I'm thinking it is more slap stick style. And things that I found well written, not so. So it has left me not wanting to blog, but wishing I could. So maybe I'll try again some time.


So the biggest change with having four, it that life never ends. Though that could be due to always having to either take kids to school or pick them up, so every three hours (or at least it feels like that) I'm back in the van picking up a kid. The house is always in a state of chaos, and there are random wet spots on the carpet. Callan is STILL a big spit- upper and he leaves his mark everywhere, I smell like yo baby yogurt right now. And I must admit banana yogurt doesn't make a very nice perfume.

Joseph is still super busy with work, so busy I don't know how he can survive on average 4 hours a sleep a day, and that is if he is lucky. I'm kept busy with the kids and my huge list of crafts to do before Christmas, hopefully everyone's present will be on time. Alex is doing very well in school, though his fine motor skills are challenging and frustrating him. Hopefully we will be able to get him some help from Occupational Therapy. Teagan has overdosed on button pushing pills and annoyance pills, so there are days that I'm ready to leave him somewhere. I think it is cause he is so darn cute, he thinks he can get away with it. And he usually sneaks by, and I've not left him anywhere, preschool doesn't count. Teagan is slowly learning how to read, he just can't sit still very long.

Abby Sue loves to sing and "dance." Though her dancing is more running or walking in circles. She has turned into an assistant chef, and I have to be extra careful about knives and even spoons. If she sees a spoon near by she will try and stir whatever it is I'm cooking. She is also too "loving" to Callan. Though I'm sure Callan thinks she is annoying not loving. Callan crawls everywhere! He does have a "croc" type of crawl, his arms are out and squared instead of under and straight. Fortunately, it slows him down. He is presently crawls over small things and climbs up things. He uses the climbing up things to sit, he is still figuring all the different ways to get into a sitting position. It is hard for him with a sister smothering him with "love" all the time.

We are very excited about this time a year. October was full of fun adventures! My sister and her hubby were able to visit with us for a week! We had loads of fun at the State Fair with aunt and great aunt too! And Abby Sue would NOT be left out of any ride, no matter what. And she loved them all, except the bumper cars which I'm sure she'll love next year when she is a bit bigger. And then Halloween and costumes and candy! November will be busy with helping Great Grandma settling into this chapter of her life, a few birthdays and an anniversary (9 years) and the biggest cooking holiday! So it might be a while before I'm back to report about life and load a few pictures too.

Labor Day

For Labor Day we went to the lake and went fishing and swimming, or at least that was the goal. While Joseph and the threesome did these things, Callan and I wrestled trying to get him to take his naps. Those four did have a lot of exhausting fun, and fortunately it wasn't super hot so I survived holding Callan the whole time. Here is our catch for the day. She even took it off the hook by herself.

Goodbye Newborn

I'm so excited and sad. Callan is showing signs of growing out of the newborn stage. This is very exciting because he is becoming social, smiling, laughing and playing with toys. It also mean sleep will be an event I'll be able to attend more often. But at the same time it means I looking whatever little bit of newborn I had. Yes I know, he was nearly 12 and half pounds so there was very little there to start with, but I had a little. (PS milk issue is no more!)

In other news, Abby Sue and Teagan are love to fight each other. Which usually ends with screams and corner time. I hope they learn to get along soon cause it will be a long 3 months till preschool starts.

Dulcinea ran away yesterday, but Joseph was able to find her at 3am this morning. Now we worry about the babies. Did she have then? Are they alive? Was she even pregnant? So when Joseph wakes up we are going to dig up the borrow to see.

Swimming is full on, which highs around 98 help. So the kids have been loving swimming, though we have had to throw Teagan in the water a few times to get him in. But we are having to drag him out when it is time to go.

Lessons taught by a 12 pounder

I must admit Callan is teaching me lots.

Lesson 1.) A 12 pound baby needs LOTS of milk from their first breath or their bodies start shutting down and then barely gain weight. Oh and they are very cranky. Unfortunately we had to learn this the hard way for three weeks before we figured it out. Now to bring in more milk...

Lesson 2.) He might think he has too many siblings, he startles very easily.

Lesson 3.) It is harder for him to figure out the night and day thing.

Lesson 4.) He is trying to monopolize my time and arms which makes life a challenge with three kids.

Lesson 5.) Naps are more fun when you cuddle. I did learn this one a while ago, but it is one you always need a refresher course on. Especially after being pregnant, it was so hard to cuddle with that huge bump in the way.

Lesson 6.) There is always something new to learn even if it is your 4th kid.

Lesson 7.) Despite it all, he is still sweet angel that I am truly blessed to have in my life.