FTR 20061229

December 29, 2006

It’s been a busy week – left for California last Wednesday, and here’s a quick update on what’s gone down since then:


  • Direct flight from Newark to SFO, arrived around 9 p.m. Dad picked me up at the airport, and we chatted on the way home about life and family.
  • Stopped in at In-N-Out for a Double-Double with fries and a chocolate shake. Hey, I only get to splurg once a year!
  • Once to my Dad’s house, watched “The Day After” (an 80’s nuclear doomsday flick on ABC), and crashed upstairs in the spare bedroom.


  • Rose early, did the local crossword puzzle, and had Dad drive me to the DMV to apply for a replacement license.
  • Had Starbucks with Dad, and a chat about politics.
  • From there went to the Hertz and nailed down a Mazda 6, fully insured (you’d understand if you knew my driving record).
  • Visited Best Buy to get Christmas presents: XBox 360 for Jake and family.
  • Then it was off to Willits, and a quiet, sleepy night at home.


  • Had an early rise, chats with Mom, and then more shopping.  But not before dropping by Safeway and catching up with Denise, Sonya, Dale, Sarah, Dina, Theresa, and even Mona!
  • More shopping: record time at Wal-Mart (boo!) and Staples.  Hey, there aren’t many options, dammit.
  • And then Christmas came early.  So much fun, so many gifts, so much … wrapping paper!  Did I mention how adorable my niece and nephews are?


  • Lunch with Denise and Sonya, in the Safeway break room no less.
  • Dropped by Jim’s house, visited with him, Trevor, Gracie, and Sarah.  She looked especially good.
  • Lunch with Gracie, et al., at the Loose Caboose.
  • NPR radio puzzles with Will Shortz.  O.K., I admit, it’s just a book of reprints, but I love word play.
  • Finally, a quiet night at my parents’, watching “The Devil Wears Prada” with Mom


  • And I was off to the East Bay!  But first needed to lose $350 at an Indian casino.  Bad news, those places.  (Odds?  What odds?)  But my grandma, Mom, and Melissa enjoyed it, I think.  (I admit: it was fun, if hurtful to the pocketbook.  Note to self: avoid those $5 slots.)
  • Watched “Four Brothers” with Joe and hit the sack.

Monday – Christmas Day

  • Nothing like spending Christmas in a cramped bulkhead aboard a decrepit American Airlines Boeing, with a $5 snack box and a snooty stewardass.  (“Flight attendant” my ass.)
  • It was good to be home.  Very late.  But home.


  • Back to work (which felt good – my brain needed a boost), and a surprise: Erin’s in town, and needs a place to crash.  My sister is visiting!  Sweet.
  • Later it’s a quick gym workout, dinner at Zucchero e Pomodori, coffee at DTUT, and some friendly back-and-forth on the Middle East.


  • A mellow day at work.  Introduced Erin to the team, and then headed to DTUT after close of business to hang with Jeff and solve the Wednesday Times puzzle.
  • Katrina calls!  She’s coming into town tomorrow!
  • A stop at some random UES bar and “How to Play Pool 101” with Professor Bell.  So that’s how you nail those bank shots.
  • A couple West Wing episodes, and sleep.


  • Standard work day — a quiet week indeed — and then a much-needed run on the treadmill.
  • Dinner with Katrina (in my sweats no less) at Canyon Road.
  • A drink at Trash, introducing Katrina to the gang — Jeff was there too — and then a quit stopby at Mo’s for a second drink with my two Polish neighbors, Anna and Alexandrea.
  • Ta-ta, Katrina, and falling into bed, exhausted, around 2 a.m.


  • Fuck you and your 12 balls!
  • This week has been incredibly slow.  That holiday (read: relaxing) vibe is in the air.
  • Bully’s for lunch and a read through the Times and a stack of magazines.  Surprise: The Economist raised its prises.  Six bucks now.
  • Kerriann is around, and might be hanging out with her tonight.  But right now, time to publish this post and close the book on the pre-2007 day-to-day.

Time to Lose Time

December 27, 2006

“You”? Gimme a fuckin’ break.


December 18, 2006

Had my first post-concussion workout today, and didn’t push too hard.  But it went smoothly more-or-less, with only a few tinges of head pain, which I’m not sure were related to my earlier accident anyhow.

I’m hoping to run a bit tomorrow before I leave for a few days in California.  One week without a workout was one week too long!

Geek Humor

December 18, 2006

Line of the day: “I think the coder needs some 972346.”

C(an)T Scan

December 17, 2006

I went to the emergency room last night for a CT scan, and it came back negative.  Which is good, although it doesn’t help me feel any better right now.  The doctor observing me said I have what’s called post-concussive syndrome, which is short for “well, you’ll feel like shit but we don’t know for how long.”  Wonderful.

I do know that I feel sore in every area of my body; my head is aching (here comes the Vicodin); my mind isn’t clear; and I haven’t been to the gym in a week.  It’s really horrible to not have anything specific to point to, but to know the cause.  And it rather freaks me out, the picture of my brain rocking in its cradle, who knows how many neurons knocked out of place.  Am I even the same person afterward?  Given my mental rigidity, I’m thinking no.  Even my teeth hurt.

I feel the panic coming on.  Need to go home and rest.

Headaches and Brainaches

December 16, 2006

I managed to somehow slip and bang my head last Saturday, knocking myself unconscious briefly, and then waking in a slight daze but otherwise unscathed.

Or so I thought.

Here it is a week later, and I’m still feeling unfocused and fatigued. My doctor looked and said it didn’t seem anything to be concerned about, but I went to the ER anyhow to check that my mind isn’t frayed – but had to leave early as I hadn’t anticipated an extended stay. (Wishful thinking in New York!) The doctor’s recommendation there was for blood work, a lumbar puncture, and a CT scan. All of which I left before having performed.

So now I’m ruminating – headache firmly installed, sleepy, wondering how much damage, exactly, I did do, and worried it’s getting worse. And thinking: do I go back to the ER tonight, or wait it out until Sunday.

In the meantime, visions of a debiliated, hobbled amd invade my mind, and I worry that the culmination of my years thus far have been squashed by this one incidient. Or hampered in a permanent way.

I’m a ball of anxiety.

Perhaps the ER it is – but it’s the weekend. I want to relax.

Or is relaxing a mistake – am I forgoing a needed check for one or two nights inside on the couch? Will this one weekend of not following up on the head rattling mean several more of pain in the future?

ORACLE-L: On ZFS & Snapshots

December 12, 2006

I posted the following to oracle-l earlier today, in reference to a discussion I’d started about using Solaris 10’s ZFS filesystem (particularly its snapshotting ability) in tandem with an online Oracle instance for use in refreshing a copy of that instance on a development server.

ZFS Snapshot-Based Refreshes

The goal is to find a fast way to periodically update a pre-prod environment using a copy of the current production database, and to do so with minimal production outage and without requiring a long restore, recover operation.

So we have a production environment, running on ZFS, from which we take a base snapshot and populate the target server. (This is effectively an entire copy of the filesystem, and will thus take some time, but will only need to be performed once.) Note that the copy of the snapshot is never opened by Oracle – it’s merely a backup of the production database as of a point in time.

Going forward, we periodically snapshot production (without needing to bring it down) and applying that snapshot incrementally to the most recent target snapshot copy. If we do this frequently enough we end up with a series of small updates to the copy.

And all of this, for our use case, is to simplify the occasional rebuilding of the pre-production database. To do the rebuild, we simply clone the latest ZFS snapshot on the target, freeing us from the need to restore (duplicate) from RMAN, and allowing us to avoid any production down time. It’s just a clone of the most recent snapshot on the target.

But, of course, that clone is inconsistent, in that the snapshot was taken when the datafiles may have been in an inconsistent state (SCN wise). Because we took the datafile snapshot first, though, we can recover them using the snapshotted logs, allowing us to open the database. Voila!

(In case it’s not clear, pre-production will diverge from production at times, hence the need for the refresh. This is an operational requirement here.)

I haven’t yet heard an argument as to why this wouldn’t work, and I’m fairly convinced, indeed, that it will.


I posited that a hot backup via BEGIN BACKUPEND BACKUP would not allow one to recover the associated datafile(s) to a point in time between those calls.

I found this note in the Oracle documentation that led me to that hypothesis (emphasis mine):

Like any other backup, an online backup is composed of image
copies of all the datafiles that make up a tablespace. The point to
remember is that as these files are being backed up they may also be
in the process of being written to by the detached process DBWR. Some
characteristics of an online backup are

    o  users are allowed normal access to all online tablespaces;
    thus, users can access the tablespace being backed up.

    o  when used for recovery the backup can only be used to return
    to the most recent state of the database, not to a previous

    o  only the database files comprising a tablespace are backed
    up; the log files are being archived and the control file
    does not need to be backed up if there had been no
    structural change to the database since the last control file

Yet if every change during the hot backup copies the changed block to the log, I’m not exactly clear why PITR wouldn’t be possible. It’s a lot more data in the log, sure, but the implication is that every SCN reflected in the redo stream is associated with the block that changed, indeed, the entire block change.

So perhaps I am misinterpreting that statement.

[Note that the statement The point to remember is that as these files are being backed up they may also be in the process of being written to by the detached process DBWR does not apply to the ZFS scenario I outlined above, hence my conclusion we could do without ever having the bring the datafiles into backup mode.]