Archive for April, 2010

New York City


Since the girls were tracked out for all of April, we decided to take a short trip somewhere, but we were not sure where we wanted to go. Audrey said that she had always wanted to go to New York City, so we pointed the van north and made our way to the Big Apple.

We made reservations at the “Holland Motor Lodge” in Jersey City… it was every bit of classy as it sounds. We could open our window and see the traffic going into the Holland Tunnel.

As we pulled into the hotel, we stopped at the gas station next door to fill up, and a bright yellow Lamborghini pulled up next to our junky old minivan. Look, kids, you don’t see that at home!


We arrived on Wednesday afternoon, so we went on into the city for a first glimpse.  This was our chance to figure out the mass transit system to and from the hotel. Somehow, I managed to get talked into eating at the worst Pizza Hut I have ever been to… blasphemy, in the city with world-famous pizza. As it was getting dark, we made our way to Times Square and inside the huge Toys R Us store.


Thursday was an absolutely beautiful sunny day.

We planned to start Thursday off at the Statue of Liberty, and that’s where we discovered the “City Pass” ticket books, the best deal of our trip: admission to six major attractions for one decent price.  Our tickets included going inside the Statue of Liberty monument, that big block that she stands on (you can forget the crown — that’s a several month long waiting list). The view from the pedestal was great, and it was just enough stairs to be rewarding, and not so much that you felt it later.

Next, we took a subway to the World Trade Center site. To be honest, it was a disappointment. There is not much to see there, and there is no organized guide (maps on street corners, etc) to tell you where you are or what is being built.  For now, it’s just a big construction site. Sad that after nine years, there is still no proper memorial.

We spent the rest of Thursday riding a bus up to Central Park, and then exploring that for a while. The girls enjoyed climbing on the rocks, and I found a geocache.


Friday was significantly cooler than the day before.

First on our agenda was the Empire State Building. Our City Pass got us right past the ticket sales area and up to the observation deck. It was CHILLY up there, but the view was worth it. We spent a long time up there, sometimes coming inside to warm up, and later going back out to look at the city from 1000 feet up.

We had lunch at a nice little deli across from the ESB, and then we headed off to the Museum of Modern Art. I was happy that Audrey recognized a few paintings and artists (most notably, “A Starry Night” and Picasso).

We did not have tickets to get in to the special exhibit of Tim Burton’s work, but the lady at the entrance thought the girls might enjoy it, so she let us in. How nice! But her niceness was complemented by the mean woman who later started yelling at no one in particular (me) about not standing (or letting your kids stand) in the middle of the hallway… duh, then why did they put TV’s showing cartoons on the hallway walls?

My cousin Allison lives and works in Manhattan, and she agreed to meet us and show us around. First up was her office, an advertising firm on 7th Avenue. From there, we took a subway ride and short walk to her apartment on the East side. And last, she took us to John’s Pizzeria in Greenwich Village for a proper NY pizza.

After dinner, we had to part ways. We had tickets to see the Blue Man Group. The show was crazy, and the girls just loved it. You know how, at any show, there’s always some person in the audience with a loud and infections laugh? That person was Sydney. She had a bad case of the giggles that night, and the BMG kept her giggling all night.

Getting home was more of an adventure than it should have been. The show got out at midnight, and we SHOULD have just taken a cab. But we tried our luck with the subway and then the PATH to Jersey City. But the schedules change on the weekends, and it can be difficult to find where to make the transfers, and it looked like we were in for a long wait, and everyone was tired. So I flagged down a cab and $51 later, we were in the luxurious comfort of the Holland Motor Lodge.


We still had a few tickets in our City Pass books, so we knew exactly where to go. First stop was the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This one was larger and had a wider focus than MoMA, so we were a little overwhelmed. After wandering a bit through a maze of European art, we found the cafeteria. I ordered a crappy cheeseburger and fries, and only then noticed that they had the most wonderful salad bar — so I got one of those, too. Acting on a suggestion from one of the museum volunteers (and because some of us can be somewhat obsessive), we spent the better part of our afternoon trying to find Hatshepsut, the Egyptian Queen. She did not disappoint.

Since the Met is on the east side of Central Park, and our next stop was on the west side, we decided to take a meandering walk through the middle of the park. Once again, the girls enjoyed climbing on the rocks. In fact, it was difficult to pull them away.

Finally, we made it to the Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately, the MoNH closes at 5pm (the Met closes at 9pm — we did that backwards). So we did not have much time to see anything. The charismatic man at the ticket booth spent half of our available time telling me his life story, and then he suggested that we spend the rest of our time at the planetarium show. We did, and it was awesome. Whoopi Goldberg told us all about stars and the sun.

We made our way south, through more of Central Park (and over more and more rocks). We found a little Jewish deli on 7th Avenue where we ordered some supper, but then were told by our very snotty waiter that we ordered all of the wrong things. We made amends by ordering cheesecake. If that guy ever visits NC, I hope he gets the royal Yankee treatment!

By that time, it was dark, and that meant it was time to use our last City Pass ticket at the Top of the Rockefeller Center. Apparently, they were filming Saturday Night Live as we passed by to take the elevator up. The view of the city at night was pretty cool (although I think I like Friday’s daytime view better).

As we were coming down from our high of being in the city for three fun-filled days, the sudden reality hit Sydney that our time was up, and that she was not going to be able to visit the candy store that my cousin had recommended. However, armed with his iphone, Daddy came to the rescue, looking up the store hours, flagging a cab and giving directions to Dylan’s Candy Bar, just 30 minutes before it closed.

The trip home was uneventful. And seeing our own driveway was second only to the warm welcome we had received at the luxurious Holland Motor Lodge.

Installing Ubuntu on LVM


I am a big fan of LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager. It allows me to create, resize and delete disk partitions very easily. That comes in handy when you’re trying new things out. And it also has a nice snapshot feature, which I use when I am making a backup of a partition… while it is still in use.

If you use the Ubuntu alternate install CD, it gives you menu options for using and configuring Logical Volume Manager. But if you’re using the normal Live installation CD, you have to do it manually. Fortunately, this is not too hard. Below, I will tell how I do it.

  • Boot the Live CD and open a shell.
  • Install the LVM package in the Live CD environment:
    apt-get install lvm2
  • Tell LVM to look for existing volumes, and make them active:
    vgchange -ay
  • You may need to mark one or more physical volumes as being LVM pv’s:
    pvcreate /dev/sdX1
  • You may need to create a volume group:
    vgcreate vglaptop /dev/sdX1
  • Create the volumes that you want to use:
    lvcreate vglaptop --name=ubuntu --size=10G
  • Put a filesystem on the new volume:
    mkfs.ext4 /dev/vglaptop/ubuntu
  • Run the installer and do “manual partitioning”.
  • Use the menus to match up the newly formatted filesystems with the different mount points(root, home, etc).
  • When the installer finishes, tell it to “keep on testing”. Do not reboot.
  • Mount the new root filesystem:
    cd /mnt ; mkdir u ; mount /dev/vglaptop/ubuntu u
  • Mount any other partitions below that:
    mount /dev/sda1 u/boot ; mount /dev/vglaptop/home u/home

    (actually, you only need the root filesystem and /boot — you won’t need /home and others)

  • Mount the “special” filesystems:
    mount --bind /dev u/dev ; mount -t proc proc u/proc
  • Start up a “change root”:
    chroot u

    A new shell will start, using the new root filesystem as its root.

  • Install the LVM package inside the chroot:
    apt-get install lvm2
  • Re-build the initial RAM disk:
    update-initramfs -u -k all

    (this step may be done for you when you install LVM)

  • You may need to update grub:
  • Exit the chroot shell:
  • Cleanly unmount everything:
    umount u/dev ; umount u/proc ; umount u/home ; umount u
  • Reboot:

And when it boots up, it will load the kernel and initramfs, and then it will mount the root filesystem, which is on your new logical volume!

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