Monday, February 25, 2008

Shopping: LTO Tape Drive

Our LTO tape library took a dump a couple weeks ago, so I need to find a replacement. These are my notes while I look into the drives available to see what I'll recommend:

First, I started with a search for all LTO tape libraries sorted by lowest price first on

My requirements (in no particular order):
  • At least 100GB/200GB capacity
  • Backward compatible with our Ultrium 1 100GB/200GB tapes (in case we need to restore data from them)
  • We have about 12 hours to back up about 250GB of data, so we need a minimum of 6MB/sec but we'll double that to make room for expansion, so 12MB/sec. -Shouldn't be hard.
  • It's a small company, so price is a factor.
  • Our old library had a Ultra 160 connection, so that'd be the easiest to go with this time around although it (does/does not) have room for a (what kind?) card if we want to go with something better/faster.
  • Holds at least 7 or 8 tapes at a time.
So, here are our options:
  • The rest of the models aren't backward compatible with our Ultrium 1 tapes, so I guess our decision will be between these two.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Watching it doesn't work. Worrying about it doesn't work. Only paying it off without adding to it works. So, starting a couple days ago I've cut my ties with my credit cards!

It's just too hard to tell that you're debt is growing when you see yourself plunking down $1500 a month towards it -I figured I must be making progress. But since I used it every day to pay for meals out, groceries, gas, etc and after a few trips and big purchases as well, it's really not all that surprising to hear I was in a loosing battle -I should have known better. I blame denial -I don't think I really wanted to know. I worried about it enough as it was.

So, I'm on a fairly easy debt-diet. No more credit cards. Everything will be paid for in cash or with my debit card. I'm now on an allowance. When I run out of money, I get to wait until I get paid again. Remember that from college -yeah, I survived it then and surely I can do it again. I should be paid off in about 11 months without doing anything else, but I'm looking for good balance transfer incentives to use with my one $0-balance credit card to see if I can save a bit of money on interest and maybe even get it paid off a bit sooner.

Details on how I figured out what to do:

I took my monthly salary and subtracted the total amount of my bills per month. This tells me how much I really have to spend each month.

Then I took my last year's worth of credit card statements (from Discover's website since I've used that one card to pay for almost everything I've bought in the last year) and I added up the "New Purchases" total from each and divided by 12 to get my average monthly expenses for food, entertainment, gifts -basically everything I buy.

I subtracted my average monthly purchases from the amount of money I have after bills each month and found out that I have a surplus of only $483.42 a month. So, without changing my spending habits at all, I'm still ahead of the game. But...

I then used an online credit card calculator (Google "credit card calculator" -without the quotes) to figure out that at my current interest rates it'd take about 2 years to pay my bills off at that rate and I'd spend about $1772 in interest in the process. Not good.

So, I went back to those credit card statements and took out the "big months" -turns out that most months I got away with spending about half of what my average ended up being. I used that number instead (which should be completely doable) and found that if I curb the big purchases and trips I could have more like $983.42 in surplus, which means I could be paid off in 11 months instead. Much better!

So, that's the goal. We'll see how I do. I've set up an automatic payment to both cards for just after the first of the month since I don't have any bills in that half of the month. This way, my payments are just like another set bill and happen by default. Less effort = less chance of me fudging the numbers to get a new turbo or something. In other words, this makes it harder to cheat than to keep going with my new plan. ;-)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Making sure the ich is gone.

As of last night I couldn't stand how dirty the tank was any more. I did a 50% water change (I figured while I was at it I'd get rid of as many ich organisms as I could). After filling the tank back up I added a 1/2 dose of CopperSafe and 1/2 of my salt back in to replace what was taken out with the water. One hour later I tested both the copper levels and the salinity and found I needed a tad more salt, but the copper level looked good.

Still no signs of ich. My plans are to continue to treat with a full dose salt and copper as well as a temperature of 85*F for at least another week. After that I may begin lowering the temperature and decreasing the copper and salt via water changes (ie: change 25% of the water and not add back the salt and copper afterwards).

For some background: I got the ich originally from PetSmart with a batch of pictus catfish and rubbernose plecos. None of the fish survived it because I caught it way too late. I treated the tank with Aquari-Sol for 2 weeks after the last fish died, then added the cichlids and the large bristlenose pleco, which started showing signs of ich after about a week.

At the time of adding the cichlids I chose not to quarantine them because I had only one seemingly ich-resistant bushynose pleco in the tank at the time. But, even with having had the ich from PetSmart, I was fairly sure I wouldn't quarantine in the future either. The reason was that it is just so hard to set up a tank (including cycling) to run for 2-3 weeks, then have to break down and store it...

But after this round I'm done. All of the fish I purchase from now on will be quarantined!

Speaking of which, I may go get the other half of my planned cichlid purchase this weekend. That way, by the time I'm sure the tank will be completely cured of ich, the new cichlids will be done with their quarantine period, and then I'll be done for awhile! :-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Grandma, Molly, and the last bite of cake.

I can't describe what it's like being a member of a family who stops talking to each other at the drop of a hat, but I can describe the events surrounding it to some degree.

Some background first: My Aunt and my Grandma had a very close relationship throughout my childhood. I believe they went to church together every Sunday, then spent the rest of the day together as well. But...

About 20 years ago a decision was made. My Aunt's house was said to be too small to hold the entire family for Xmas. So, Xmas was moved to the clubhouse at my Grandma's condo instead. From that year on my immediate family also stopped visiting my Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin.

10 years ago or so the first steps were made to re-establish communication with them. The step was small, awkward, and behind my Grandma's back. From that point on written communication continued in a polite way, but in-person visits did not.

Skip ahead to my Grandma's 90th birthday party. I wasn't told that my Aunt was going to be there. But, as I stood talking to a group of people, I saw her face outside the window. I couldn't believe it. My chin hit the floor. What was she doing here? Was the feud over? ...When they entered my Aunt said "Erica?" and I said "Yes" and went over and hugged her. My Uncle and Cousin looked elsewhere around the room obviously not looking to be next in the hug line... Then my Aunt asked where my Grandma was, I pointed her out, and that was it. For the rest of the evening we didn't talk. I felt like I was the one that angered them and caused the feud...

What kind of family cuts ties for 20 years? And what kind of family has such a cold reaction after not seeing each other for so long?

The end of the ich?

As of Sunday Ed and I noticed that the big pleco who I doubted would survive this round with ich was pretty much free of the ich dots. The water chemistry looked good (about 10ppm of NitrAte, no ammonia, no NitrIte), so I skipped my Saturday water change since the levels of copper and salt seem to be right-on for getting rid of the ich.

...but as of yesterday the tank was disgusting. I really, really want to do a vacuum in there. I think I'm going to do it tonight...

In a week or so I'll consider the ich gone and I'll stop adding copper and salt when I do a water change, and I'll start lowering the temp back down to 80*F.

Now I just have to watch out for fungus and bacterial infections since the fish will be healing from the ich now... I hope I'm out of the woods with this, though...

Friday, February 08, 2008

Ich continued...

So, I still have ich in my tank. The new pleco's been getting worse and worse in fact today I noticed that his eyes are now cloudy and the right one looks like it's peeling -ew!

The cichlids are still active. The acei may have fewer spots on them, but all-in-all they are looking fairly good. The original pleco, for the past couple days, has looked like it's been breathing fast. I'm a bit concerned (paranoid?) about that because everything I'm doing to combat the ich is reducing the oxygen levels in the tank as well, so hopefully I don't kill them with the treatment...

But Wednesday I ran out of Aquari-Sol after adding a 1/2 dose in the morning, so after work I went to pick up another bottle and some salt to add as well. Unfortunately, they didn't have Aquari-Sol... So, I spent about 20min looking at all my different options. It seems Machalite Green is the medication of choice, but I'm pretty sure I've used that before and it turned all my decorations green. It wasn't a big deal back then, but now I have a big, expensive piece of WHITE limestone holey rock in my tank that's too heavy to take out and I'd really rather not have it turn green... So, I was left with copper-based meds (similar to Aquari-Sol) or Formalin (formaldehyde). I decided to stick with copper meds and ended up choosing Mardel CopperSafe based on dosage since I have a large tank and the Aquari-Sol's dosing of 12 drops per gallon meant I had to count out 12 x 72 drops a day >:-P.

I didn't notice until I got home that the instructions on the CopperSafe say 1tsp for every 4 gallons treats a tank for a month. Call me skeptical, but... a month!?! That actually creates a problem for me -when I do a water change, how do I know how much to add back in? ...So, tonight I went back to the store and bought an Instant Ocean copper test kit and I also got their hydrometer as well to test the salt level. The copper tested out at about 0.20 and the salinity came out to be about 5 or a specific gravity of 1.002. So now I know.

I'll do a water change this weekend with a good gravel vac. Last weekend I did an over 50% water change, I'll probably do the same again this weekend. Other options are dips (I'd rather not) or maybe setting up my 10gal as a quarantine tank for at least the big guy and treating it bare-bottomed with the stainy green stuff to see if I can get rid of it before he dies (or kill him in the process, which almost seems merciful at this point).

All I know is that instead of my tank being relaxing, fun, or pretty to look at, I can't even look at it anymore. I go out of my way to capture spiders in the house and take them outside instead of killing them and here I am causing pain and suffering to these fish with my ineptitude. And to make matters worse the information online is contradictory and generally unhelpful. ...blah.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Election Day!

For the November 2008 election I've gone back to documenting candidates on my other site here:

I've been so busy following the Presidential Primary that I lost track of time and failed to research what other offices are being voted on! So, here's my notes on who's running where I'm at and whatever I find about the candidates until I figure out who I'm voting for:

FYI: Blue is the candidates who are only on the Democratic ballot. Red is the candidates who are only on the Republican ballot. Purple are the candidates who are on both ballots.

Presidential Primary:
...I think we'll skip this one. If you don't know by now, you probably shouldn't vote.

13th Congressional District:
Delegate to the National Nominating Convention 13th Congressional Dist (Vote for 5) (Vote for 4):
  • There are the same number of delegates running to vote for each candidates as the number you are supposed to pick and since I don't know or care about the delegates, personally, I'm moving on...
State Senator 42nd Legislative District:
Representative in the General Assembly 84th Representative Dist:
Clerk of the Circuit Court:
  • Chris Kachiroubas
County Auditor:
  • Bob Grogan
County Coroner:
  • Pete Siekmann
County Recorder:
  • Fred Bucholz
States Attorney:
  • Joe Birkett
County Board District 5 (full 4 year term, vote for 2):
Commissioner of the Forest Preserve District 5:
  • Carl Schultz
Judge of the Circuit Court 18th Judicial Circuit (to replace Edward Duncan, Jr):
Judge of the Circuit Court 18th Judicial Circuit (to replace Kenneth Moy):
Precinct Committeeman Naperville 034:
  • No Candidates!?!

Shall DuPage County be authorized to impose a public safety tax at the rate of $0.0025 upon all persons engaged in the business of selling tangible personal property at retail in the county on gross receipts from the sales made in the course of their business?

Shall the Fox Valley Park District in Kane, DuPage, Kendall and Will Counties, Illinois, acquire and protect land for nature areas, open space and for park and recreation purposes, including along the Fox River; improve and develop trails and fishing access; improve and renovate neighborhood and community parks and playgrounds, sports fields and facilities, and Blackberry Farm; and issue its bonds in an amount not to exceed $44,850,000 for the purpose of paying the costs thereof?

  • Yes
  • No

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Ich! (or "Ick")

Flameback (Pundamilia nyererei), Juvenile Male

I keep recording my fish stuff in various notebooks, then I loose them or they get wet and it's no longer usable or congruent. So, why not record it here on the blog that changes week-to-week. Will I forget and go back to my notebook tomorrow? Who knows, but for now I'll pretend like this will be permanent...

So, after Xmas I lost my fantail goldfish and was left with 2 goldfish and a pleco in a 72 gallon tank. It seemed like a waste, so I got some pictus catfish and a couple more plecos to try to battle the algae problem that's developed since I got a stronger light system (for my real plants). A couple days later my goldfish started getting really listless and the one who's had fin rot for quie some time was doing really poorly, so I moved the goldfish back into their original 20 gallon tank and started treating them with Maracyn II and then Jungle All-In-One. They started getting better, but the new catfish and plecos started dropping one-by-one. I didn't figure out why until late (they had ich), so my treatment (Aquari-Sol) was late and I lost every one of them. I then had only the one original pleco in a 72 gallon tank.

I continued treating for ich since I knew the parasites were still in there. I treated for 1 week solid, then a half ("maintenance") dose for another week. At the same time I researched cichlids and decided to get some once the tank was clear. After 2 weeks, I figured I'd be good, so I picked up a 4-inch bushynose pleco and 6 cichlids -all juveniles: 2 yellow labs, 2 acei, and 2 Pundamilia nyererei. For a week they were fine, but starting yesterday I'd see them brushing up against the rocks to scratch an itch and I also started seeing the tell-tale little white dots on them (it looks like salt).

So today I did a water change, increased the temperature from 27.2*C to 29.4*C (by 1 degree an hour), and started the Aquari-Sol treatment as well. The new pleco is the worst off as far as I can tell -he's got dots everywhere (but they are spaced out) and he's been leaping to the surface and getting air (although they say plecos do that, he had't been before). Not sure if that's an ich thing or because of the temperature increase, but so far it's only been increased 1 degree C, so...? Other fish have only a few dots that I can see, but like I said, they've been scratching, so they are definitely infested. I really hope I'm treating early enough this time! :-(