Rollerskating

With Meghan working at the Lego store for the afternoon, Alpha, Beta, and I decided to go roller skating.  I haven’t been since before I got married, Beta has only been once, and Alpha has never been.

We went to Roller World in Saugus, since Beta had been there once with friends and liked it.  It’s also not too far and had good reviews on Google.  They offer a choice of roller skates or -blades (for a few dollars more).  We elected to rent roller blades instead of skates, to make backwards tipping a little less likely.

Beta took off after a moment of getting used to the skates again, while Alpha spent a few minutes just trying to stand.  I had my own troubles but got going soon enough.

Alpha and Beta skating together

Alpha and Beta skating together

After a little while, the most amazing thing happened: the sisters started helping each other out.  Alpha was still a little unsteady on her skates, so Beta stepped up and tried to help her out.  They did a few laps around the floor together as Alpha slowly worked away from the wall.  I’ve seen the “sisters-against-the-world-thing” in other people, but I’ve had my doubts that these two would ever bond like that.  I’m glad to see that I was wrong.

After a couple of big spills (but no injuries) we decided to head out.  We were all surprised to find that we had been there for a couple of hours – even I could have sworn it had only been an hour.  Time flies when you’re having fun!  The girls spent the ride home talking about going back and buying roller blades for themselves.

Swimming in Beverly

On one of the last warm days in September this year, Beta asked me ever-so-sweetly to take her swimming.  Silver Lake smells terrible at the end of summer (and that day was no exception), and, though Beta insisted that she didn’t mind the smell, I refused to take her there.  The ocean was the only option!  Meghan had to work on a book and Alpha didn’t feel like swimming, so Beta and I piled into the convertible and headed out.

One the closest spots we can go to see the ocean is Lynch Park in Beverly, MA.  I picked it by browsing on Google Maps.  We’d never been there, and didn’t know what to expect.

Lynch Park Beach

The water was cold and a little dirty (natural dirt, not pollution) so I elected to stay out, but Beta (and some paddle-boarders) braved the water.  The park itself is gorgeous, with a spectacular view of Salem.  There’s an amphitheatre, a short walkway along the ocean, and a broad expanse of grass for people to plan on.

We spent a couple of hours there until the air started to turn chilly, and then took the long way home to avoid the traffic snarls on I-95.

Watching the Sox

To thank me for doing a great job on a gruelling project at work, I was offered tickets to see the Red Sox play at Fenway.  I don’t normally watch sports but hey, game on!  We live so close I should watch at least one game.  The game was played back on September 23.

I took my mother-in-law Joan, because she’s a fan-in-the-literal-fanatic-sense of the Sox.  It was also a way to thank her for all the times she’s helped us out.  She thought it was a hoot.

Fenway Park

Fenway, mid-game

I had an ‘oh-thats-so-quaint’ moment when I realized that the score board along the back of the field is updated by hand.  There’s a jumbotron too, but in between innings some dude goes out and hangs little panels on the scoreboard to provide scores for other games being played nationally.  The current score is updated by hand, too, but they stay inside to do that.

The Sox lost, in the end, but Joan and I had a great time!  I’m planning to take the girls next year for an afternoon game.

Jonesey’s Enchiladas

Quinn used to work at Margarita’s in Mystic. (Its a great place for pretty standard Mexican food. The stories that came out of that place are legendary.) He loves cooking Mexican food. I’m … okay at it. Tonight, we came up with something epic.

Ingredients:

  • hamburger (about a pound and  a half was pretty good)
  • two handfuls of cheese
  • two dollops of salsa
  • 12 tortillas
  • green enchilada sauce
  • sour cream and more cheese for garnishes
  • chilies for more garnishes

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Brown the ground beef. When it is cooked completely, remove it from the heat and drain the grease.
  3. Mix in the cheese and salsa.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the tortillas, rolling them and placing them in a 9×13″ pan. Keep going until the pan is full or you run out of filling.
  5. Pour the enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil when there is about 5 minutes left on the timer.
  6. Scoop out the enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese (and chilies if desired), and dump some sour cream on them for good measure.
  7. Eat!

The downside to moving

A quick “downer” note to our adventures in the north.

I realized today that one thing I actually miss is running into people I know.  We were back in Mystic for a couple of hours today and we ran into three people who know us and we hadn’t planned to see while we were in town, while in a huge crowd of tourists.  I haven’t lived there for over a decade but there were some smiling faces.  I wonder who else I knew in that crowd and just happened to miss?

Here, in our new home, I go weeks without meeting a friend out and about – even at the local grocery store.  I feel out of step with the people around me, I haven’t found a common rhythm with my neighbors.  It’s probably common for people who move to a completely new area but it sucks all the same.

Pirate Invasion!

Mystic, CT has an annual Pirate Invasion, where people dress up as pirates, the shops give away swag to the kids, and the Argia sails into the local dock and “invades” Mystic River Park.

My niece, whom I recently set up with email through jonesling.us, invited us down to enjoy the event.  She’s been so very excited about email, about chatting with me, and about the invasion, that we couldn’t say “no,” even though Megh had a ton of work to do by Monday.

Sadly, I didn’t get any photos of the event – I was watching all four Joneslings (ours, plus our nephew and the aforementioned niece) and Butter.

Email for Joneslings

At my brother’s request, I recently set up an email address for my niece through jonesling.us, just like our own kids do.

She’s so excited about email.  She checks it multiple times per day and sends me emails as fast as I can reply.  We’ve been having a very slow conversation for a couple of weeks now, which is really pretty cool because I didn’t get a chance to talk with her much before.

Now, if I could just get my own kids interested in email again.  They mostly ignore it, probably because the used to sign up for everything under the sun and they now experience the scourge of the internet: spam.

Adventures in WiFi

Apple and hostapd

The problem

I set up my fileserver to be a router and wireless gateway using hostapd and dnsmasq, after I got fed up with Verizon’s crappy Actiontec router.  Works great, except for Apple products.  Neither Megh’s Mac nor my iPad would connect.

The various Linux boxes, Android devices, Nintendo Wii, and HP printer connected to it without a problem, so I held out hope that this was a solvable configuration problem and not some fundamental hardware incompatibility.  I’ve been running both routers for weeks while I tried to figure this out.

My iPad has been prompting for a username and password to log into wifi, even though I’m only using WPA Personal.  Megh’s Mac refused to connect at all.

Logging hasn’t been much help, as it fills with messages like this, over and over:

Oct  3 21:30:02 dandelion hostapd: wlp3s6: STA 01:02:03:04:05:06 IEEE 802.11: authentication OK (open system)
Oct  3 21:30:02 dandelion hostapd: wlp3s6: STA 01:02:03:04:05:06 IEEE 802.11: authenticated
Oct  3 21:30:02 dandelion hostapd: wlp3s6: STA 01:02:03:04:05:06 IEEE 802.11: association OK (aid 2)
Oct  3 21:30:02 dandelion hostapd: wlp3s6: STA 01:02:03:04:05:06 IEEE 802.11: associated (aid 2)
Oct  3 21:30:11 dandelion hostapd: wlp3s6: STA 01:02:03:04:05:06 IEEE 802.11: deauthenticated due to local deauth request

Not much indication of what’s wrong there.

The Server

Wireless is provided by an Ralink RT61-based card.  I’ve used the same hardware to set up wireless networks before, because I know this chipset can enable master mode.  Not all wireless chipsets can.  This is the first where I know Apple hardware is in use, though.

Googling gave me some ideas, but nothing that I found solved the problem.  Various posts pointed fingers at hostapd’s integrated EAP server, AES, the wireless hardware itself (oh noes!), and more.

I started with a basic hostapd config file, no encryption, to rule out hardware issues.

/etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf

driver=nl80211
logger_syslog=1
logger_syslog_level=0
logger_stdout=-1
logger_stdout_level=2
dump_file=/tmp/hostapd.dump
ctrl_interface=/var/run/hostapd
ctrl_interface_group=0
ssid=My crappy wifi name
country_code=US
hw_mode=g
channel=1
macaddr_acl=0
deny_mac_file=/etc/hostapd/hostapd.deny
auth_algs=3
wmm_enabled=0
ap_max_inactivity=600
ieee8021x=0
eap_server=1
own_ip_addr=127.0.0.1

/etc/conf.d/modules

Apparently, the hardware crypto can be a little flaky with rt61 cards so it’s safer to load it as a module (instead of compiling it into the kernel, so you can unload/reload it) and disabling hardware crypto at run time.

modules="rt61pci"
module_rt61pci_args="nohwcrypt=1"

Like that, everything connected.  Hallelujah.

Now came the fun (if tedious is fun) process of enabling and modifying options until we get an encrypted signal that everything can connect to.  The linux-based devices, bless their little electronic souls, seem to be very tolerant about network settings and kept reconnecting no matter what the encryption config was.

Here’s my final configuration:

interface=wlp3s6
driver=nl80211
logger_syslog=1
logger_syslog_level=0
logger_stdout=-1
logger_stdout_level=2
dump_file=/tmp/hostapd.dump
ctrl_interface=/var/run/hostapd
ctrl_interface_group=0
ssid=My crappy wifi name
country_code=US
hw_mode=g
channel=1
macaddr_acl=0
deny_mac_file=/etc/hostapd/hostapd.deny
auth_algs=3
wmm_enabled=0
ap_max_inactivity=600
ieee8021x=0
eap_server=1
own_ip_addr=127.0.0.1
wpa=2
wpa_passphrase=My crappy wifi password
wpa_key_mgmt=WPA-PSK
wpa_pairwise=CCMP

Notes:

  • wpa_key_mgmt=WPA-PSK WPA-EAP does NOT work with Apple devices, though it does work in general
  • wpa_pairwise=TKIP DOES seem to work, but AES probably provides safer encryption