How to Mirror a Boot Drive in a ZFS Root Configuration

I wrote about how replace a failed disk in a zpool, but never got around to writing up the process for a boot disk. In this case, I’m just creating a bootable mirror, but the process is pretty much the same for replacing a disk. Generally, just think of /dev/rdsk/c3t4d0s0 as a replacement. You can follow the directions in http://spiralbound.net/blog/2012/01/09/how-to-replace-a-failed-drive-in-a-zfs-pool/ to find the commands to replace the physical disk.

Copy the partition table from the working disk to the new disk:
prtvtoc /dev/rdsk/c3t1d0s0 | fmthard -s - /dev/rdsk/c3t4d0s0

Attach the new disk to the root pool:
zpool attach rpool c3t1d0s0 c3t4d0s0

Install the boot blocks on the new disk:
installgrub /boot/grub/stage1 /boot/grub/stage2 /dev/rdsk/c3t4d0s0

Wes Anderson Parodies

Courtney points out that urlesque has a post entitled “7 Great Wes Anderson Parodies“. I found Wes’ work through Rushmore and he immediately became my favorite film director of all time! Having joined the creative ranks of Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Mike Nichols, imagining what movies like Spiderman or The Lord of the Rings may have been like under his unique style of direction is really quite fun!

Anyhow, visit the Urlesque post for a complete list… My favorite is the Spiderman parody.


The Banana Slug is not a Mythical Creature

OK, so I never actually believed that they were a mythical creature, but it took me so long to actually find one after moving to Santa Cruz that I had great fun telling those who didn’t know better that they were figment of the collective local imagination. Courtney, who had seen them before, always sighed, rolled her eyes, and reassured whatever unwitting soul I happened to be talking with at the moment that they did exist, and that I should absolutely not be taken seriously. On this point, I cannot disagree with her, but I must have been somewhat convincing because her mom actually sounded surprised when a friend finally pointed one out to me and I managed to snap a picture of it. She actually made me send her the picture because she didn’t believe me.

A few banana slug facts:

  • They are native to the Northwest
  • The are HUGE! Some have reached 10 inches in length, and weights of a quarter of a pound.
  • They were almost the official mollusk of California. Yes, the legislature actually voted in the noble slug, but the Governor vetoed it.
  • They are the official mascot of UC Santa Cruz.

Banana Slug

Banana Slug


Best of the Santa Cruz City Council

She may not the the world’s angriest woman, but the lady in this video may very well be the biggest airhead! The rest of the characters in the last one are pretty good too. It turns out that you don’t have to live in Santa Cruz very long before you start running into these folks. What can I say… It’s a crazy place.

Santa Cruz lady at city council meeting:

Santa Cruz Lady Vs. Sarah Palin:

The whole Santa Cruz City Council Mashup:

Move to Santa Cruz

Well, after five years living in Vermont, and something like thirteen years living in New England, Courtney and I have gone and moved to Santa Cruz, CA. There are a lot of reasons for this; the very hard winters and extremely rainy summers in Vermont were starting to wear on us, but mostly we just wanted to live in a young and vital place that has a larger population. Courtney had some experience with the area during her brief stint working at Land of Medicine Buddha, and I had always enjoyed The Monterey Bay area when my family and I would camp here as a kid, so Santa Cruz seemed the perfect place for us.

I applied for a UNIX Systems Engineer position at the University of California Santa Cruz, and was offered the job back in July. After some serious soul searching, I decided to accept, and we started the process of relocating a full 3,000 miles from home, which I can assure you is no simple task! I’ve been here just under two weeks, but Courtney is still tidying up our affairs in Vermont before she starts the long journey out here in our car. Yep… That’s car, not cars. The public transportation system is so good out here that we can finally be a single car family. For my part, I’ve managed to move clear across this country twice and not driven it a single time. This is fine with me, however, since I have very little interest in seeing middle America.

Casey and I managed to find Paula’s Breakfast Shack while he was out for WordCamp 08. Home of the $1.99 Basic Breakfast, this place is so good, that I simply can’t imagine going anywhere else for eggs and home fries! I’ve tried a number of taquerias, but the jury is still out on which one is best. Once I find it I’ll have to freeze some tacos and burritos and send them out to Matt, who has strongly indicated that he hates me for having such easy access to good Mexican Food.

Mallard Duck FAQ

I get quite a few questions about ducks every year. Since I answer these questions if the form of comments, many times people don’t read all the other questions and answers and end up asking about things that have been addressed elsewhere. The recent comment threading has helped a little, but it can still be tough to wade through the hundreds of questions and answers that have accumulated over the years. In the interest of not typing answers over and over again, I have created this FAQ.

Answer: How old do ducks have to be before they will fly

If you have true flying mallards, they should start flying between five and six weeks of age. In most cases, however, you will have domestic Mallards which have been selectively bred over the years to be larger. These birds will never fly as you expect from a duck, but will instead stay close to the ground, avoiding any dramatic flight. They can fly a little, but generally just in a straight line and close to the ground.

How can I keep my ducks safe from predators?

Most people who keep ducks have some form of duck yard that is fenced in with chicken wire on the sides and top. Mine is about 8 feet X 20 feet. The wire is dug into the ground so animals can’t dig under it, and it is entirely closed in on the top. Inside that, I have a duckhouse which is a 4X8 plywood box lined with hay and secured with a door that is closed at night. Even if an animal could get into the duckyard, there is absolutely no way it could invade the duckhouse.

You need to defend against the predators in your area. If you have mink or weasels, you need to keep things very tight since they can get through holes as small as one inch. If your biggest worry is coyotes, chicken wire protected by heavy gating is preferable. I prefer to keep my ducks close to home, so I only let them out of the duckyard when I am going to be home for extended periods. Other people simply let them run free and try to get them in at night, while still others allow them to roam free all night as well.

The decision of how to house your ducks is your, and there is no right answer. If they are going to be beloved pets and you can’t stand the thought of loosing a single one, it’s best to keep them in an enclosure. If you want them to live a more wild life and understand that nature is cruel and you will loose some of them to predators, you can leave them out. Below is a picture of my duckyard. Multiple coyotes and raccoons have tried without success to get in. This is because of the heavy gating combined with chicken wire.

Duck Coup

Duck Coop

What should I feed my ducklings / ducks?

When your ducklings first hatch or arrive, the first thing you should do is get them drinking. Make sure they all know where the water is, and where to find it. This will help prevent choking once they start eating. Once you are certain that everyone knows how to drink, start them off on a high quality, unmedicated game bird starter crumble. Mash will also work, but is less desierable because it tends to clog up their bills. The most important thing is that the food is unmedicated. Ducks eat a lot more than chickens, and will overdose on medicated food. Supplementing their food with fresh greens and vegetables is always appreciated, especially if given to them directly in their water.

Once your ducks are three to four weeks old, you will want get them started on an unmedicated game bird pellet. Game bird maintainer feed is best, but regular poultry feed will also work provided it is not medicated. This will be their staple for life, with the exception of Spring. When hens start laying eggs, you will want to feed them layer pellets so provide them with the calcium they need to produce eggs. This will not harm the drakes, but you don’t want it to be a permanent feed. Get them back on the maintainer pellets once the laying season is over.

You will find your local farm and garden store to be an excellent source of high quality feeds. Feel free to take their advice as well, but do NOT let them talk you into medicated food for ducks.

Will my ducks fly away for the winter?

Generally, no. In the same way that your domestic dog does not behave like a coyote of wolf, your ducks are domesticated, and will not behave like a wild duck. The look to you for food and safety, and will not know how to migrate unless they have been able to join in with a flock of wild ducks during the summer months. They can tolerate very cold temperatures provided they are given shelter from the wind, liquid water to drink and plenty of high quality food. Even though Mallard ducks are typically a wild bird, those raised by humans are tame, and generally not able to migrate or care for themselves in the wild.

It’s also important to realize that most mallards sold by feed and pet stores are not “True Flying Mallards”. They are hybrids that have been raised for meat production and are too heavy to migrate even if they wanted to.

I want to raise baby ducks and release them when they are adults. Is this possible?

See Q4. Ducklings are cute, but they grow into large, messy birds. I can’t stress this enough… Do not raise ducklings and expect them to fly away or live in the wild when they are adults. If you raise ducklings be prepared to care for them for their five to eight year lifespan. Even though Mallard ducks are typically a wild bird, those raised by humans are tame, and not able to care for themselves in the wild. If you abandon them and expect them to fend for themselves, they are likely to die a very slow and horrible death. There are methods of getting ducks to integrate into the wild, but this requires the special skills and training of a wild bird rehabilitator.

I rescued a baby duck that was all by itself. What do I do now?

You probably heard the duckling cheeping. This noies was the duckling calling its mother. Most likely she was hidden, but close by. For future reference, you have to be very careful about rescuing baby ducks in this way. Most states have laws against taking animals from the wild, so you could get yourself into a lot of trouble. The only time “rescuing” them is appropriate is if they are very obviously not going to survive unless you do. An example of this might be a situation in which you saw the mother get hit by a car and all her ducklings are wondering around in the middle of the road.

That said, your heart was most certainly in the right place. You now have a baby duck, and need help with it. Let me see what I can do. The first thing I would do is search all the local bodies of water to find the mother and other ducklings. If you can, try to reunite them. If not, the absolute best thing to do would be to call a wild bird rehabilitator. They have the skills and training to raise ducklings in such a way that they can be integrated into the wild when they are adults.

Answer: How can I tell if my duckling is a male or a female?

Everyone wants to know the gender of their ducklings before they get their voice. Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure is through a procedure called “vent sexing” whereby you stretch open the vent and look inside to find the duckling’s sex organs. This procedure is not only very traumatic for the duckling, but potentially dangerous as well. Without having someone who is experienced to train you, you can very easily hurt or even kill the duckling.

The best way for you to tell the gender of your ducklings is to wait until they are four or five weeks old when they get their voice. Drakes will develop a soft “whrack” sound, while hens will produce a loud “QWACK”. Check out the recordings below:

Mallard Hen
Mallard Drake

Many people make the mistake of thinking they have only hens because they all look like hens. It is important to remember that Mallard drakes don’t get their nuptial plumage (green heads, red chest, etc) until they are one year old. All juvenile Mallards look more or less like hens for their entire first year.

Girl in Clinton’s “Red Phone” Ad Supports Obama

It turns out that the sleeping little girl in Hillary Clinton’s “Red Phone” TV advertisement is supporting Barack Obama. The Clinton campaign used stock footage of the girl who is now of voting age and calls “Red Phone” ad “Fear Mongering”. I guess the Clinton crew should have thought about that.