It Will Come To You, This Love of the Land

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Okay, I'm not Irish, and it isn't quite Tara, but this little 0.57 acre lot is likely the closest we'll ever get to living on a plantation.

As some of you have read on our Facebook posts, my wife and I recently made an offer on a residential lot in Brownsburg -- and after a couple of back-and-forths, the offer was accepted. We have 60 days to determine if the site is suitable for our home-building desires. Since it is zoned residential and located in a platted subdivision, "site suitability" primarily revolves around water/sewer utilities or determining feasibility of well and septic.

In case this blog wasn't erratically eclectic enough, I will post our progress and trials and errors on here. Starting with this process of determining suitability, and assuming this leads to final closure on the deal, continuing with logging the process around building our "dream home" on this property.

Checking for septic essentially involves two steps -- both of which will cost us money on a property that could potentially be found unsuitable. The first step is getting health department approval for septic system in general -- this involves at least a couple of different soil tests (that we have to pay an engineer to perform). If anything in those tests are "iffy", the health department could require additional tests before making a determination. Then, we would need engineering work to determine the size and type of septic system we would need and whether or how it could physically fit on the lot and how big of a house we would then have room for.

So, ideally, we would prefer to get connected to municipal water and sewer utilities. While the approval process for municipal utilities shouldn't cost us anything (the actually connection will cost us plenty, if we get approved), the approval/denial process may take up to several weeks (depending on our timing and town countil agendas). In our original offer, we had specified 120 days for determining suitability, which would not only give us enough time to fully pursue utilities, but if that process fails to give satisfactory results, we would still have had plenty of time to perform the tests for septic/well. Unfortunately, the current owner did not want to leave the property off the market that long -- which we can fully understand, but the eventual compromise of 60 days cuts our options short. We will pretty much need to work down both routes at the same time, paying for the tests, even though we may potentially get utilities.

Easement: Good News, Bad News. There is a 45 foot deep easement running the entire length of the back of the property. This is one of the main reasons why we are unsure if a septic system will even fit on the lot -- once you subtract the 30-40 foot setback, 45 foot easement, and room for a house, that doesn't leave a huge amount of space for a sprawling septic system -- especially since any part of the septic system needs to be at least 50 feet away from the well. The good news is that this easement increases the likelyhood that we can get town utilities -- the easement runs along the backs of the adjacent properties as well, so it may make the extension of utility lines "easier".

I have spoken with both the Town Planning Director and Town Manager this week, and both seem optimistic that utility connectivity will be feasible, so we're keeping our fingers crossed, but there's still plenty of research to do before we know for sure.

Give Us a Few Minutes to Lock it Down. Large Leak, Very Dangerous.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In This Post:
  1. What is Lockdown mode?

  2. When would I want to use it and when would I Not?

  3. Caveats and quirks when switching Lockdown mode on/off (enabling/disabling).

  4. Doing a partial or custom Lockdown.


So I've been struggling for about a week trying to allow anonymous users to be able to post to a Sharepoint List.
The Site was already configured for anonymous access (TechNet article on configuring anonymous access), and anonymous users were successfully navigating throughout the site -- but try to go to a page with a form that posts to a list -- or even to the default List view itself, and it would prompt for credentials and deny access.

Lockdown Mode

Turns out there's this little hidden Feature (literally, the xml definition of the Feature marks it as hidden, so it won't show up on the Sharepoint Administration GUI for enabling/disabling installed Features), called "Lockdown". Most of the time, this Feature is disabled unless an administrator explicitly enables it -- the exception being if you base your site on the Publishing template, then it is enabled by default.
The purpose of this feature is to hide certain non-friendly/admin type pages from anonymous users. For the "official" details on Lockdown mode, including the stsadmin commands for enabling/disabling this feature, hit this TechNet article. So, for example, the "View all site Content" (ViewLsts.aspx) page -- under most circumstances, all users can see this page. If your site is configured for anonymous access, then even anonymous users can see this page. Permissions still work correctly, if the user clicks on a link from the All Site Content page to something they don't have permission for, it does correctly deny access -- but if you're really trying to make your site a public/anonymous access site, you probably wouldn't want them to even see this page. Hence the Lockdown feature, and hence why it is turned on by default on Publishing sites.
Unfortunately, this also has the side effect of blocking anonymous users from Lists. Arrg!

When to Use (or Not) Lockdown

Now, some of you are reading this and saying
"Aha! Lockdown! Brilliant! That's exactly what I need!", and some of you are saying
"Arg! Lockdown! $@*{#&%! That's the source of all my problems!"
If you are using Sharepoint solely for its content management features for a public/anonymous site, then Lockdown from lists, admin pages, and other forms is exactly what you want -- but if you want to take advantage of some (or even just one) of Sharepoint's other features on your anonymous site, you'll probably want to ditch Lockdown (and yes, if you read further, I'll tell you how to do a kind of "partial" Lockdown).

Problems with the Lockdown Switch

So here comes the real fun part -- after disabling the Lockdown Feature, it didn't seem to take affect! Everything still acted as though it was in Lockdown. After trial and error and some Googling, I found that whenever you change this Feature, you have to then disable and then re-enable Anonymous access for the Site before the change takes affect (or use the brute force method and reboot your whole farm). Fine and dandy, but then it still didn't seem to affect List access -- which was the whole reason I wanted to disable this feature in the first place. This sent me back to just "playing" with permission settings, turning the Lockdown Feature on/off and just generally spinning my wheels, until, suddenly, something I did gave anonymous users access to the List. So then I started backtracking to figure out what I did. Turns out that if your List is NOT inheriting permissions from parent (i.e. you have customized the List permissions), then it does not pick up the change in the Lockdown Feature. Similar to the Site level anonymous access, you have to revert the permissions to "Inherit from Parent" before the change in the Lockdown Feature takes affect on that List. In my case, I want anonymous users to be able to Add to the List, so I have to break inheritance on permission in order to grant them write access, but if we change the Lockdown feature, we will have to once again revert the list to Inherit, and then back to customized permissions for the Lockdown change to take affect. So, finally, I had anonymous write access to my Lists.

Partial Lockdown

Trouble was, now anonymous users had access to ViewLsts.aspx, and a couple of other things we would rather them not. There's no configuration to the Lockdown Feature, it's either On or Off (If there's anyone from the MS Sharepoint Dev team that happens to stumble across this article, being able to configure which parts of Lockdown are enabled, and maybe even doing it through the GUI for those with command-line-aphobia would be a nice-to-have).
So I reverted to the "old fashioned" .Net technique: edit the web.config file. Within the configuration section, you can place a location element that specifies Deny access to unknown/anonymous users. If you search in your web.config, there is likely already similar entries made by Sharepoint.
  <location path="_layouts/viewlsts.aspx">
<deny users="?" />

In the path attribute, you can specify a specific page/file, or a whole directory (no trailing slash) -- although wildcard characters in the filename did not seem to work (actually caused parsing errors). All paths are relative to the root of the Site.
Use it with caution, and test the result -- I tried locking down the entire "_layouts" folder, since our custom form for the List resided with the rest of our content under Pages, but weird promptings for credentials occurred even on pages that did not exist under "_layouts".
Note that [users="?"] means unknown/anonymous users, [users="*"] means All users. Deny access in the web.config trumps any permissions/access configured in Sharepoint.
A slight drawback, note that if you have multiple front-end web servers hosting this Site in your Sharepoint infrastructure, you will need to copy the web.config file to each of them.

25 Random Things

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I've been tagged on this enough times, I decided to finally do it:

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (or however many friends you have...) then click publish.

  1. I am a father of a three-year-old and minus-one-month-old boys.

  2. I have been married for almost eleven years.

  3. I am not really comfortable talking about "me" -- at least not insightfully. I have a slight suspicion that one of the reasons my wife pestered me into joining Facebook was so that I would have to fill out things like this.

  4. I had never been good at, or enthused at partaking in, sports or athletic activities, until I became a running addict at 33 years old.

  5. I am a geek. My father brought home our first family computer (the original IBM PC) when I was seven, and I wrote my first computer program in BASIC when I was nine.

  6. Most of my family beat me to the social web -- my wife, my mother, my in-laws, my cousins, all were on facebook and myspace and twitter and had blogs long before me.

  7. The only posessions that I have ever been genuinely jealous of, or coveted, is other people's homes and their yards. I would be willing to drive a clunker, dress in rags, and give up tv for the rest of my life if it would help me afford to own a 8000 square foot home with a 20-acre yard.

  8. Upon waking, I almost never remember my dreams -- but when I do, its usually because they were either extremely bizzare or extremely disturbing, or both.

  9. If I could afford to travel, I would like to go (likely in this order): Germany, Ireland, England, Scotland, China, Australia, Italy, Spain, Egypt, and Antartica.

  10. I store all my blue and brown socks in one drawer, and the blacks and grays in a second, with white/casual socks split between them. This way I can grab the right socks in the dark without waking my wife.

  11. I was so thin for most of my childhood, even a bit into college, that when I started gaining weight, I considered myself a skinny guy with a just a bit of a "gut". It took several years of being overweight (and expanding) before I realized I was actually a fat guy. After a couple of years of roller coaster weight management attempts, I have since managed to return to my high school weight.

  12. I ran my first race in February of 2008, and have run numerous since, including three half-marathons. I have a goal of turning in a full marathon run this year that will qualify me for the 2010 Boston Marathon.

  13. Probably around 75% of the women I had dated in my life were in marching band. I met my wife through the Butler Marching Band -- she was playing Cymbals, I was marching Bass Drum (they had enough saxophones, but were short on percussion, and it stuck). Actually, we were initially introduced by Rachel Northcott, who I was dating at the time, and who was also in Marching Band.

  14. "My" first car was my parents' 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser Station Wagon. White with laminated "wood" panneling. My second was their gun-metal gray 1986 Dodge Caravan. The first car I ever owned myself was a gray 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis. My first truly New car, was a teal 1997 Geo Tracker.

  15. I was a newspaper carrier for six years.

  16. We are in the process of making an offer on a half acre lot, where we hope to build our "dream home" -- by doing the contracting, and much of the work ourselves.

  17. I consider "Die Hard" to be a classic Christmas movie.

  18. My wife and I discovered that we both were in Maui at the same time during high school, a couple years before we had met.

  19. I don't particularly like to drink pop (soda). I especially dislike basic colas (coke, pepsi, etc.). In general I prefer water and milk to most other non-alcoholic beverages. On the more leaded front, I prefer dry red wines, dark/stout/guiness-like beers, and jagermeister.

  20. I think our whole system of taxation is flawed. Income taxes, property taxes, capital gains, etc. -- all of it should be thrown away for the Fair Tax (see

  21. My wife and I lived in southern California (near LA) for two years. Although I like to travel and visit new places, those two years taught me that I want to live in Indiana. I love living near my family.

  22. My wife and I struggled with infertility for several years -- nearly every visit to a doctor had brought some more bad news about the likelyhood of conceiving. When my wife called me to meet at my workplace to talk with me about the OB appointment she had just had, all sorts of worst case scenarios played through my head, like cancer and hysterectomies and whatnot. When she pulled up and told me she was pregnant, the combination of shock, joy, and relief sent me into hysterical laughter.

  23. I love hot & spicy foods. At any given time, I have around 6-9 different types of hot sauces open in the fridge. I grow hot peppers in our little garden most years, and every few years get around to making and bottling my own hot sauces.

  24. Back in elementary school when we chose what instrument we wanted to play in band, my parents really wanted me to play trumpet, but I wanted to be "different", and chose the saxophone. After some grumbling, my parents supported my decision and got me a used saxophone and private lessons. I really enjoy playing the sax, but sometimes I have a tinge of regret and wish I could join my father, brothers, uncle, and cousins when they play trumpet ensembles at church and family gatherings.

  25. I usually gloss over the many web-based advertisements like wallpaper, but the various "Get Rich with Google" ads that keep showing up on the Facebook sidebar are really making me twitchy.

Why Am I Drippings With Goo?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This is why I don't like to bake. Somehow, I always end up with a much greater mess, both on myself and all over the kitchen, when engaged in baking, that in just about any other form of culinary jujitsu.

I actually do most of the cooking in our house, but I normally leave the baking to my wife. She has a much more defined sweet-tooth than I, and so thus appreciates the baked goods more than I as well. But she has reached a point in her pregnancy, combined with high blood pressure and pre-pregnancy-back-problems, that she can no longer stay on her feet long enough to complete a baking project.

And here we were stuck with two Amish Friendship Bread starters. And yes, before anyone mentions it -- I know that Amish Friendship Bread was not Actually started by the Amish.

So, my wife suggested that I make bread out of our two starters. Knowing that I have a tendency to "stray" from recipes and conduct "experiments" when I cook, she thought I would be more inclined to bake if I knew that there were countless variations to the original Amish Friendship Bread that I could attempt.

Well, she was right. When I first heard her suggestion to make the bread myself, I mustered just enough enthusiasm to not sound like the ungrateful-husband-of-a-pregnant-lady-who-still-thinks-his-wife-should-be-in-the-kitchen-kind-of-guy. But upon her suggestion, I Googled for "Amish Friendship Bread Variations".

Ah, the beauty.

With several thousand resources returned for ways to make "unique" Amish Bread, I was more intrigued. Unfortunately, while we had the basic necessary ingredients (eggs, flour, sugar, etc.), we did not just happen to have all the ingredients necessary for many of these variations -- at least not the most interesting sounding ones. So after comparing what we did have in the pantry with numerous variations, true to form, I decided to experiment.

That's one more thing I don't like about baking. If I'm cooking something on the stove-top, and I throw in a little of this and some more of that, I can taste it as I am going to ensure that its not entirely awful. Unfortunately, when baking, I will just have to wait 'til it comes out to see if its edible or not.

The loaves of Bread are baking as I type. I might be tempted to taste-test when they emerge from the oven, but it's already way past my bedtime, so it is likely that they won't be quality controlled until morning. Besides, my wife (who crashed two hours ago) is much more the connoisseur of these sorts of things, and can give a much better assessment than I. We will be sure to leave comments to this post after giving the Breads due consideration.

For the record (in case it turns out worth repeating - or if not, then perhaps a warning of what not to try), here is what I did to the Bread:

Quadruple Chocolate
Amish Friendship Bread

  • Omit the cinnamon

  • Omit the Vanilla Extract

  • Substitute 1 box of Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix instead of the Vanilla

  • add 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • add 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder

  • After mixing up the batter, instead of sprinkling cinnamon-sugar on the bottom and sides of the greased loaf pans, sprinkle 1/4 of a jar of Chocolate Jimmies on the bottom and sides of each pan (using a total of 1/2 of the jar)

  • Pour in the batter, and sprinkle the remaining Chocolate Jimmies on the tops of the two loaves.

White Chocolate Raspberry
Amish Friendship Bread

  • Omit the Cinnamon

  • Substitute a box of White Chocolate Instant Pudding for the vanilla

  • add 1 cup mini-marshmallows

  • After mixing up the batter, instead of sprinkling cinnamon-sugar on the bottom and sides of the greased loaf pans, sprinkle 1/2 box of raspberry jello powder on the bottom and sides of the greased loaf pans (using the whole box between the two pans)

  • Pour in the batter, and sprinkle another box of raspberry jello over the tops of the two loaves.

My Crazy Loaves of Amish Friendship Bread

Paper Anniversary

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Today is the annivesary of the first official running race I competed in. I ran that first 5K a year ago in 32:06 for a pace of 10:20 per mile. That was the beginning of an addiction -- I ran 14 different races in 2008, including four 10K races and three half-marathons.

I ran today's 5K in 21:14, for a pace of 6:50 per mile. That was about 40 seconds per mile slower that my original goal for this race (a goal that I set last fall), but I suppose considering the illnesses I've battled this winter combined with difficulty of getting outside in the ice and cold, I shouldn't be too disappointed.

My goal is still to turn in a time that will qualify me for the top starting corral for the 500 festival mini-marathon in May. I have two more races for that attempt before the seeding cut-off date. I can achieve that goal by running either a 6:18 mile in the Polar Bear five-mile on February 21, or a 6:26 mile in the 500 festival 10K training run on March 7. Hopefully with the weather getting better, I can get back to full training schedule.

It Has to Hurt if it's to Heal

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

There's No Such Thing as an Organization That is Too Big to Let Fail ...
... what's more dangerous is helping a cancerous growth stay alive.

I am sure there are plenty of people out there who will disagree with this post, so feel free to rant-back in your comments...

Enough with the stupid Stimulus and Bailout packages already -- after the hundreds of Billions of dollars we've already thrown at the ailing economy, has it not gotten through someone/anyone's thick skull yet that bailouts are not going to solve the problem?

The economy doesn't want an extended recession, it just wants to "correct itself" -- or at least it would if we would quit screwing with bailouts.

Yes the economy had been "growing healthily" until the "banking crisis", but at least part of that growth was illusionary. What led to the "banking crisis" was years of bad loans and irresponsible debt being allowed. That was artificially propping up the continual rises in consumer spending, and consumer price indexes, and what not. If you keep loaning money to individuals/institutions who don't have the collateral or the means to pay it back, then you are artificially providing a means for them to "spend" and grow the economy with money they should not have had.

Eventually, that artificial growth would have imploded on itself, and the market would have gradually returned to the (slightly slower) growth rate that it should have had.

Yes, that implosion would have hurt. Yes, lots of people would have lost their jobs. Yes, corporations would have been shut down. BUT, then the healing would have started and the economy would right itself as everything slowly (maybe still a little painfully) recovered. Unfortunately, we decided that if we threw 700 Billion dollars at the problem, we could prohibit the implosion and save the world. But you know what? We needed that implosion! Those stupid stimulus packages are just gradually peeling the bandage off millimeter by millimeter instead of just ripping it off. And you know what, people are losing their jobs anyway, corporations are shutting down anyway -- it isn't helping anything, but we just keep dragging it on and on by wastefully throwing money at the organizations that should just be allowed to implode.

It we had not started down the road of stimulus packages and bailouts, we would have already seen the worst and already be on the road to recovery. At this point we have only postponed the inevitable. The economy can't even begin to heal itself yet, because we've haven't let it implode yet. We just keep playing with the gangrenous economic tissue and keep hoping we can halt the necrotic spread -- it's time to let that limb go!

We need to stop picking the scab on the economy, and let it heal.

Social Evolution

Monday, February 2, 2009

So I cracked under the peer pressure and joined Facebook.

My family (mostly my wife) have been bugging me for several months to get on Facebook. Even my mother mentioned yesterday that of all the first cousins in my family, my brother and I are the only ones Not on Facebook.

I am not a social creature by nature, I much prefer to stay in my own little Geek world, and occasionally poke my head out of my shell for close friends and family. But becoming more extroverted (or pretending to be more extroverted) is something I have worked on over many years, and so I finally decided the Social Web was the next step. Who'd have thought that something as geeky and technical as the Internet would actually encourage people to interact socially.

I guess there's just something appealing in being able to socialize without actually being around people.

The First Transport is Away

Sunday, February 1, 2009

So, I've finally broken down and started a blog.

Yes, I know I'm arriving about five years late to the whole Social Web party -- you'd think I was geeky enough to have hopped on this train long before it left clarksville. Problem was, every time over the years that I planned on starting a blog, I'd start considering what "kind" of blog I should write: should I write one of those technical blogs like many of my collegues with lengthy diatribes on the benefits of the Boolean Anti-Binary Least-Square Approach? Should I write about the adventures of family life and fatherhood and struggling-to-fix-the-jiggling-toilet-handle problem? Since I'm involved in Brownsburg Politics, perhaps I should write a Political Blog? Since I've taken up Running, maybe I should have a blog about my trials and errors with training regimens and chafing problems and muscle pains? Now that I am the director of the Handbell Choir at our church, perhaps a blog centered around the fine art of handbell ringing would be just the thing?

The list would go on and on, depending on where I was at that point in my life, and what my major focuses were at the time. I would come to the conclusion that I needed to start like seven or eight different blogs for all the topics I wanted to cover. And of course, the thought of having to keep up with posting on so many different blogs was so daunting, that the whole project would just get shoved aside until I had "some free time".

So I am starting one (1) blog. Just one. One day you may see a funny story about something my son and I did. The next you may see a lengthy rant about something in Brownsburg Town Government. And then you might find a bunch of .Net Code posted asking if anyone knew how to apply the Abstract Geometric Strategic Command Adapter architectural design pattern.

But I promise to Label/Tag every post as accurately as possible. I have organized the layout so that Labels for the post appear immediately under the title, so you can quickly leave my blog if you find that my most recent post is a topic that is of no interest to you, and I have provided quick links on the left hand side to the most popularly used labels (yes, I know its kinda bare right now, there's only one label so far).

In the end, this whole thing may be about as useful and constructive as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie, but at least I can now hold my head up high because I have a blog too, just like the rest of the world.
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