Monday, July 17, 2017

Capitals, Delays and Nuclear Medicine

I had an opportunity to visit two nation's capitals this last week. Washington DC and Ottawa Canada. I have been to these cities before, but never in the same week.  The bustle of the two cities is very similar as everywhere you turn there is another government building, memorials, constant construction and lots of people from all over the world.

Washington DC

My flight from Sacramento to Washington DC went through Houston and was without incident except for the delay from Houston to BWI (Baltimore). About 30 minutes late.  That would not have been a big deal but I was already getting in at midnight. This caused a cascade of delays that put me at my hotel about 1:30 am. I had about 4 hours of sleep before I had to wake up and make my early morning meeting. The meeting went great and gave me the afternoon before I had to catch another flight to Ottawa. I looked at getting an earlier flight but to no avail. I had to wait until 9pm to catch my flight out of DCA (Reagan National).

So I had the afternoon to take a nap or walk around DC. Since I was tired and it was hot outside (95 degrees with 80% humidity) I was prepared to get a nap, but Paige convinced me to go see the new Spiderman movie. I walked over to the nearest movie theater and for an afternoon matinee I paid $15 to see the movie. At least it was in a nice air-conditioned theater. There were only 5 other people in the movie (it was the middle of the day on a Tuesday). The movie was great, but it was eerie with the theater being so quiet.


After my movie I hustled back to the hotel and drove my car to the airport. With plenty of time I was able to get some work done at the airport. I was also watching as my flight was delayed 10 minutes, then 30, 60 then back to 20. I knew I might get stuck in Washington DC for the night. Luckily I was only delayed 30 minutes and arrived in Ottawa at 11pm. 

Every time I go to Ottawa it is an adventure to get through immigration. They are in the process of changing their process and procedures to make getting through immigration quickly. One of the new changes is putting in self-service kiosks that make it easy to process people. Since these are new they are still working out the kinks in the system. I ended up being red flagged for additional screening. Joy.

After waiting 30 minutes to talk to an immigration officer, I was asked a series of questions about why I am visiting, if I have ever been arrested, who I live with, and what I was doing in Toronto in 1994. Wow, they remembered that I worked in Toronto for a year and that Dallin was born there. I quickly finished all of their questions and headed to the hotel. Another late night with a little bit of sleep for the next day. Luckily I didn't have a meeting first thing in the morning and had a chance to sleep in.

I had  several meetings over the next couple of days but had some time to see parts of Ottawa. Some
of the things that caught my eye was the Changing of the Guard. I had the chance to see this from one of the buildings along the street of the marching path. I had know idea that Canada had a changing of the guard much like what I have seen in England. It reminded my that the US and Canada both had roots from England. Canada embraced more of their roots, while the American Revolutionaries did everything they could to cast off the oppression of the Kind. Funny how much we are the same and different at the same time.

Coming Home

After two days of meetings I was anxious to get home. I went to the airport with time to get through immigration before I got on my airplane. This is a nice perk of leaving from Ottawa. I go through US immigration before I get on the airplane. Luckily no incidents.  When I got through immigration I heard my flight from Ottawa to New Jersey had been delayed. This meant that I was going to miss my connection to Sacramento. I went to the flight counter and they had already booked me on another flight that went through Chicago. I actually got me home 1 hour earlier. I was very happy about that.  I caught my flight after feasting on fries with poutine and bacon. I had to have fatty foods for my HIDA scan the next day. That is my excuse and I am sticking with it. 

Nuclear Medicine

After arriving home, I looked at my original flight from Jersey and saw that it was delayed until 3am in the morning. Boy am I glad I got on a different flight. This actually gave me time to irritate my gall bladder a little bit more. I stopped at In and Out on my way home and picked up a Double-Double at 11pm at night. You got to love that In and Out stays open until 1am.

The next morning Paige took me to the doctor to get my HIDA scan done to figure out what is going on with my gall bladder. The whole week I actually felt pretty good. I was anxious to find out what was really going on with my "gut".  A HIDA scan basically injects a radioactive isotope into your blood stream and then they give you drugs that mimic eating fatty foods filling up your gall bladder and then giving you more drugs to force your gall bladder to empty. They take pictures and movies watching the function of the gall bladder.

Good news is that there is nothing wrong with my gall bladder. Bad news is they don't know where the pain in my gut is coming from. That means more tests. We will have to wait and see. In the meantime I am actually feeling pretty good.


Finding peace in the big cities (Church in London and Paris)

Another trip abroad and another chance to go to church on Sunday. This time we included 3 of our
Hyde Park Ward
girls on this trip. This was the first time that my daughters have left the country and attending church in a foreign land is something they really wanted to do.

Our first Sunday was right off the 11 hour flight from the US to London. We drove from the airport to downtown London. I knew that Sunday’s in London where pretty quiet and we could easily drive downtown, find a place to park and enjoy some of the museums and parks on a nice quiet Sunday. Our first stop was a Hotel near Hyde Park. Although we were not staying in downtown London, we found a Marriott near Hyde Park to change our clothes from the long flight from the US. It was nice to get some clean clothes on and get ready for church.

Church started at 10am and we had enough time to change, eat and find the church. It was an interesting ward. It was the Hyde Park ward and consisted mostly of older people and college students from Queen’s College or study abroad programs from BYU. The church was also a visitor center and was swarming with missionaries which is always great to see. We talked to several people that were there like us, tourist traveling in the area. We even saw one of Paige’s mom’s friends from Southern California that was there traveling. Small world we live in.

Notre Dame
The following week we were in Paris. We found a church that was walking distance from the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. I had told the girls about an Easter Mass that Paige and I saw a couple years ago and   how incredible it was. So the girls wanted to attend a Mass in Notre Dame while we were there. We decided to attend the 8:30am Morning Mass in French. They have a 10:30am Mass (Gregorian Mass) that I think is in Latin, which would have been really cool. But we had tickets to the Louvre at 11am so we decided to attend the early Mass and then go to our church down the street at 9:30am.

Rose Window NotreDame
First I have to say the best time to visit Notre Dame is first thing in the morning. You get to feel the reverence of the place because the number of people mulling around and making noise is much less than the normally crowded afternoon. With very few people and fairly quiet, I could actually feel the importance and reverence of this magnificent cathedral. Even if you aren’t religious or spiritual you would be able to feel something for this building. I could feel the over 800 years of religious worship where millions of people have
worshipped thru the centuries. What a great experience and one that I hope my girls never forget.

After a great experience at Notre Dame, we headed to our church for sacrament meeting. This was an interesting experience. Since Paris is a huge tourist destination, the sacrament meeting was held in the chapel and the overflow room. The overflow room had a TV with a live feed from the Chapel. In the overflow room everything was translated into English from the missionaries.
Paris France Ward
It made the meeting interesting as I think there was probably more English speakers in the overflow than French speakers in the chapel. Singing the hymns in English and French at the same time was amusing, as well as the harmonizing melody sung to different words. We kept in sync most of the time, but there were some awkward moments when one group finished before the other.  We met several people from all over the world that had traveled to Paris to see the sites.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Week in Hell

Pulsipher Clan 2017
Family reunions are always a time to reflect, dig up old memories, relive the fight you and your
brother had when you were 10 years old, and lots of just plain fun. When you come from a large family (close to 50 people) getting everyone together for a family reunion can be a logistical nightmare. Especially when the location of the family reunion has to change last minute due to forest fires.  Several things at this family reunion where great and overall it was a wonderful time had by all. The highlight of the reunion for me was seeing old pictures of our youth and of our parent’s youth. Especially when we all saw pictures of my mom in a bikini and she would not admit it was a bikini. (she called it a 2 piece, picture not included to protect the family secret)  Laughs all around and great to reminisce about our childhood.

Now for the part that didn’t go quite as planned....

  • My Mom and Dad’s Cabin (The original destination of the reunion) was not available for the reunion. It was custom made (Thanks Dad) for the reunion now and in the future. We were all bummed that we could not stay there. Mostly because the weather was perfect. 70 degrees instead of 110 degrees in St George. Instead we ended up at my sister’s house, my parents house and some of the in-law’s house. It was still fun, but we were all looking forward to the “Legacy Cabin” my dad has built.
  • St. George weather was hot. Not just hot, but Super Hot! Every day over 110 degrees. Many people have said that Hell was not as hot as St. George. And boy we felt it. But we had plenty of time in the pool, inside and on hikes up in the mountains when we could. So even though it was “Hotter than Hell” we still had a fun time.
  • Trip to the Emergency Room was not in the plans, but it happened. I was not feeling well due
    Faking Death for the kids

    to problems with my gall bladder. I had been in pain for the last couple of weeks and actually went to the doctor the Thursday before our trip to get things checked out. Come Sunday I was feeling nauseous, light headed and was in pain. The doctor suggested I go to the ER if I had those symptoms. So After Family pictures on Sunday, I headed to the ER. A couple of hours of fluids, nausea medicine and a slew of tests, they sent me home and told me to relax and follow up with my doctor when I got home. No blockage in the gall bladder. My youngest brother and sister came to the hospital to visit to give support to my wife and give me a hard time for skipping out on the family reunion. I know I can always count on them for fun.
  • Ruby died on Monday in the parking lot of Costco. Don’t worry we did not have to call the police. Ruby is our 11 year old Suburban. The 115 degree heat finally got to her. She was already having problems with a small leak in the cooling system. Right in the parking lot the water pump let go and wiped out the starter, part of the belt and who knows what else. I had AAA come pick her up and take her to the nearest auto dealer. The total bill was $2000 minimum and we made a decision to try and sell her to the dealer. She was so old and duck taped together, the Dealer would not take her. We called Make and Wish and donated her for parts. (We love you Ruby, duct tape and all!) Check out my Ode to Ruby Post.
  • No Rental Car big enough for all of us and our stuff. We called around St. George to find a rental car for all 7 of us and our luggage. No go. We ended up renting two cars to take all of us home on July 5th. It ended up being a great drive home and we got to see some beautiful part of the country we have not seen before.
  • Death Valley was 120 Degrees. We decided to take a little bit longer drive than normal to
    go home. Basically extend our vacation and see a beautiful part of the country. We went to Death Valley where it was 120 Degrees and we got to see Badwater (The lowest point in the Americas), The Devil’s Golf course, Furnace Creek the hottest place in the world, and sand dunes that look like they came from the Sahara desert.
  • Long Drive home turned out to be a beautiful drive along the east side of the Sierra  Nevadas. Starting at Lone Pine and driving up Hwy 395. Within about 1 ½ hours we drove from the lowest place in North America to one of the highest, Mt Whitney. What an amazing place that we live. On our drive from Death Valley to Lone Pine we came to the top of a ridge of a canyon and a F16 or F34 came right over the top of use at less than 100 feet and dropped down in the canyon below vertical to the car. What an amazing sight and sound.

Overall the Week in Hell was just that it was Hot, and we made a potentially horrible week into a great fun time together. Even in the Emergency Room in St. George.


Ode to Ruby

Over the last 11 years you have endured two large families with so many trips to Utah and Southern
California it is hard to count. You endured dirty little kids jumping over your middle seat to “get in the back”; spilled milkshakes, fries, chicken nuggets, and that one time we had Chinese food on a long road trip.  You have been reliably taking us to WinCo, swim, school, church and work for countless number of trips. You have been dinged and dented by too many people to mention, but every scrape and dent reminds us of the efforts you made for our family.

But it has not all be work for you or us. You enjoyed several trips camping, skiing, Boy Scout trips, Girls Camp and  trips to the Aquatic Center for a day of fun on the lake. Not to mention the number of times you have been to the drive-in theater to “watch movies”.  You have also been known to play your music loud with a car full of kids hanging out of windows driving in the neighborhood. Not only have you been there for happy times but you have been there for sad times as well. You were always the “go to” place when someone needed to be alone, to vent, cry or just yell at the top of their lungs.

The comfort and security that you gave us over the years will always bring great memories for those that you served. You truly will be missed by all.

The Pulsipher Families

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Skinny dipping in the Cloud

On a recent trip to the beach with my family, I noticed something very interesting. Not everyone was wearing the same swim suit. I saw every size, shape and color: itsy bitsy bikinis, wetsuits, boardshorts, and sun suits.

Every time you jump into a pool or ocean you have several decisions you need to make, but the most
important decision is what to wear. If you live in Northern California, like I do, you would be crazy to get in the water without a wetsuit. It is just too cold. But on the beaches in Hawaii in the summer wearing a wetsuit you would over heat not to mention be laughed off the beach from the locals. Then can you imagine what would happen if you showed up to a nudest beach in a wetsuit. You might even get arrested. :)

It is important to pick the right apparel for the right location, weather and occasion.  Not doing so could be embarrassing or land you jail. The same might be true of building out infrastructure in your Data Center. Many technologies claim theirs is the best and that is all you need. I would say it completely depends. It is naive  to think that containers or VMs should be the only technology in your data center. Just like the person that shows up to a nudist beach in a wetsuit.

So why are Private and Public Cloud vendors pushing Virtualization or Containers everywhere? There isn't one technology that solves all of your problems. It is important to understand the benefits of each of the technologies and how best to use them. With a large number of technologies I will  focus on compute technologies: Virtual Machines(VMs), Containers, and Bare Metal.

Virtual Machines - VMs (Wetsuits) 

Virtual Machines have been around since the 2000s. The largest vendor being VMWare. The technology has a rich ecosystem that has been established over the last 20-30 years. Most organizations have years of experience using VMWare in parts of their data center infrastructure. Here are some of the benefits of using VMs in your data center:

  • Isolation - The complete stack for the application is installed on the virtual machine. OS, Bin/Libs/Data, and applications. 
  • Compaction - Multiple VMs can run on the same machine at the same time, increasing utilization and efficiency in the data center.
  • Portability - Ability to move VMs from machine to another even on different underlying hardware architectures.
  • Migration - Ability to move running VMs from machine to machine to have fault tolerances and disaster recovery.
  • Management Infrastructure - There is a rich ecosystem that has been built over decades to manage, monitor and secure VMs across data centers.
Basically VMs give you protection and the ability to move applications quickly. Just like a wetsuit that protects against cold and rocks and coral at the beach, VMs can be flexible, give you security, isolation and protection.

Containers (Speedo)

Container technology has been around for about the same time as VMs. But they have really not taken off until the 2013 when Docker made using container easier to use. Docker made containers easier for developers to "spin up" new containers to service applications. Not only did they make them easier to use, but they made them "spin up" faster and consume fewer resources. The key behind the technology is sharing an operating system, at the same time giving some sort of process group isolation.
Some of the benefits of Containers are:
  • Process Isolation - Containers are created by creating process groups in the Operating System. Isolating process spaces from each other.
  • Compaction - 100s of containers can run on a single machine depending on the size of the application. Because they share the OS they don't care about the OS overhead.
  • Application Deployment - Docker has made it easy to deploy applications in containers. It has made it easy to repeatably deploy applications over and over again.
  • Spin up speed - Containers can spin up new instances in a matter of seconds, in some cases milliseconds.

The two most visible benefits of containers is speed of spin up, and the small memory footprint for each container giving the ability to put more compute instances on the same machine. In many cases 100s of containers can be put on a single machine where 10s VMs can be put on a machine. Container are just like a speedo. If you are in a swim meet you want the least amount of drag and you want to be fast. So you pick a speedo to where not a pair of board shorts. Containers are great when you need quick spin up and a smaller memory footprint.

Bare Metal (Skinny Dipping) 

Bare Metal means a computer without an intervening abstraction layer. Basically you are running your application on the hardware. Many times the Operating System is chosen based on the type benefits of the operating system and the application working together for optimizations for the application. Latency or speed sensitivity applications typically run on Bare Metal.
The benefits of Bare metal applications are:
  • Optimization  - Applications can be optimized to run on specific Si features (CPUs, or Chip Sets).  The same can be true for the Operating Systems.
  • No overhead - Since there is no abstraction layer or virtualization layer, there is no overhead layer using resources that are not being used for the application.
  • Custom Hardware - Ability to utilize custom hardware with the application is much easier than with containers and VMs.
  • Control - Because you are dealing with the hardware specifically you have complete control of the hardware and its components.
So with bare metal there is nothing between your application and the hardware. Much like skinny dipping in the ocean. You have total freedom. But you may lack protection from sun, sand and surf. These are things you have to take care of yourself. It is not built into the system.

Plan ahead

So why is it that when we talk to Private Cloud Vendors they are trying to sell us a wetsuit (Virtualization) for all of our computing needs. It is because that is how they grew to the size they are today. Virtualization and Containerization gave Cloud vendors the ability to overprovision their machines and get the most $$ for each machine. It is important for you to understand the benefits of each of the technologies and be smart about how you use them. 

In your datacenter you will see a mixture of these technologies. So you want to find a tool that helps you manage VMs, Containers and Bare Metal at the same time. We are starting to see many of the "Cloud Vendors" (OpenStack, VMWare, AWS, IBM Cloud, GCE) to offer management tools for all three. These tools are still in their infancy stage but it is a most welcome change in the industry.


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Am I a Foodie?

Wikipedia definition of Foodie
A foodie is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages. A foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger. 
Google Dictionary Foodie
a person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet.
synonyms: gourmet, epicure, gastronome, gourmand 
During lunch last week someone at work asked me if I had any food aversions. I said I would pretty much eat anything. Then I was asked if I was a foodie. I did not know what to say. I have never considered myself a foodie. Mostly because when I think of foodie I think of men in black turtlenecks drinking wine and eating expensive small plated meals. The Google definition of Foodie is definitely not me.  But Wikipedia describes me perfectly.

I have eaten $1.50 Van De Camp Fish sticks and a meal at a Michelin Star restaurant.

So you decide. These are some of the great meals I have had over the last month.
Van de Camp Fish Sticks with Ketchup @ Home
Brings back memories of being a kid.

Sashimi @ Kinoshita Restaurant in Sao Paulo Brazil

Wagyu Beef @ Kinoshita Restaurant in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Lamb Osso Bucco @ Josephine's in Sao Paulo Brazil

Gnocchi Ragu @ Josphine's in Sao Paulo Brazil

Tempura Soft boiled egg in Tokyo, Japan

Raman Noodles with Boiled Egg and Pork in Tokyo Japan

Traditional Japanese Lunch in Tokyo, Japan.

BBQ Beef, Poutine and Fries @ Montreal Airport, Canada

Cheese Potatoes and beef Foil Dinner
@ 11 year old scout campout

Monday, May 15, 2017

Tokyo 1st Ward - An Expat story

Another trip abroad and another visit to church on Sunday. I am so grateful that I have the Church in my life. I enjoy attending church when I travel; it gives me a feeling of belonging no matter where I am. This time I am in Tokyo, Japan. I got onto and found the nearest church building to my hotel. It was Tokyo 1st Ward, an English speaking expat Ward. Expat Wards are very different from the typical Ward because of their transient nature. Most Expats are in country for 2-3 years and then go back home to the United States or their home country. That means that there is a 1/3 turn over every year in the Ward. Imagine being the Bishop in a Ward like that when all of your volunteers for teachers, youth programs and music are changing every year. Must be hard to have any consistency in the Ward.

I sat next to a family and started talking about their experience in Tokyo. This time a young family with four little kids under the age of 10. They love Tokyo, so much so that they want to extend their stay from 2 years to 3 years. They said the city is clean, very safe and the people are very nice and friendly. Especially helping them figure out the basic day to day things in life, like grocery shopping.  One of the biggest changes has more to do with Suburban American living compared to Urban living in Japan. "Driving a Car".

As a west coast American, driving is like breathing. We have to do it to survive. We love our cars in California's central valley. And not having a car would be very difficult. I even have a hard time when I travel and don't rent a car. No I did not rent a car in Tokyo. :( I found out from this family that they felt the same way and originally got a car when they got here to Tokyo. But quickly returned it after a couple of weeks. A couple of things caused them to stop driving and start riding bikes and taking the trains.

First, they drive on the left hand side of the road. Thanks to the British, the Japanese drive on the "wrong" side of the road. Second, Tokyo is an ancient city and was designed to confuse and disorient invading armies. So the streets are more like a maze than a grid of streets like we have in the western United States. The labyrinth of one way single lane roads is hard to navigate. Tokyo's subway system is extensive and easy to access any part of the city. Therefore, taking the subway and riding bikes is the way that this family has decided to go.  Can you image going to the local grocery store on your electric bike with two kids in tow? That is what happens in Tokyo. :)

Overall, another great visit to church. And I got a bonus. The church I went to was right next to the Tokyo Temple so I got to see the small but impressive Temple Grounds.

I hope to calm down the travelling the next couple of months. I don't want my home ward (or my wife for that matter) to think I have disappeared.