Phoenix 2011 Day 4

Spent the day checking out condo units at the north end of the city. Saw a total of 13 units between yesterday and today, and they are becoming a bit of a blur so I created a spreadsheet to record their details, including pros and cons. No clear winner has emerged…

Went for lupper at TGI Fridays around 4pm, then drove downtown to the US Airways Center to watch the Suns squeak one out over the evil Spurs. The row 10 seats right behind the goal (Suns’ end) were awesome! The two meth-heads (speculation) sitting to my right were the only downer. They screamed at the top of their lungs all games for the Spurs, but during halftime, everyone around us decided to make the second half miserable for them. This was a lot of fun actually, and they actually got into arguments with several fans. At one point the guy beside me freaked out because I was clapping those irritating noise sticks too close to his face or something. I almost felt bad for them because people were clapping them right over their heads (from behind), in their faces (from in front), and on either side. We’re just happy the Suns hung on. Very entertaining game nonetheless. Barb spied the two of us on the scoreboard cheering during one of those “make noise!” rallies, but I didn’t see it. I bought a game jersey which I wore proudly. I figure over 50% of fans has Suns jerseys on, and probably 90% of them were Steve Nash #13 like mine.

Plan to relax by the pool tomorrow and discuss the candidate condos. Still pretty sore today from golfing, so I will probably wait until Friday to play again.

Phoenix 2011 Day 2

Woke up, ate leftover pizza for breakfast, then went to the golf course to hit some balls. We’re used to practicing at the Dome back home, and hitting off faux-grass mats. Switching to turf can be difficult because you can really chunk the club into the turn, whereas on the matt it will bounce back and keep moving, giving you a false sense of security. Need to practice more!

With a few of the cobwebs dusted off, we decided to golf this afternoon at a nice little 9-hole executive course called the Encanto 9. Encanto Park is a gorgeous facility, and this little course is adjacent to it. There were some longer 250+ yard par 4’s, which was nice because unlike most executive courses, I could actually hit my driver. I almost drove a couple of the greens too. Only a few pars and no birdies, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Barb had fun too and made some great shots. I loved it so much that I booked a 6:30am tee time at Legacy on Tuesday. So far it looks like I may be going out alone.

After golf we hit the pool area. It got up to 28C so it was very pleasant. The pool was fairly warm, and the sun felt great. We lounged around for 45 minutes or so before heading back to the room.

Had dinner at Aunt Chilada’s (no kidding!) which was FANTASTIC. Pretty spicy though! There were mallard ducks walking all over the place like they owned the joint. Afterwards I spied a mammoth Fry’s Electronics store across the road and we walked around for about an hour, and there was still much that we did not see. This place had everything imaginable, and much that wasn’t. There were computer components, electronic components (resistors, circuit boards, IC chips), a vast number of computers, more TVs than I have ever seen in one place, AV components, dozens of metres of DVDs, gaming consoles galore, it was just insane.

Phoenix 2011 Begins

We arrived in Phoenix this morning just before 9:45 local time after a 3.25h flight. After a long walk to the baggage claim area, and a longer shuttle ride to the rental car area, we drove to the resort which was just a few minutes from the airport.

The Legacy Golf Resort is quite the place. The on-site course is quite a ewel apparently, and green fees are priced accordingly. That said, there are deals to be had if one is patient and waits for the afternoon to tee off. We will probably play this course once or twice and try some other local offerings, including a simple par-3 executive-style course that Barb would feel more comfortable at.

The weather when we landed was barely warmer than what we left in Winnipeg, but it quickly rose from 10C to almost 20C by late afternoon. We checked out the mammoth Phoenix outlet mall which is a nice, air-conditioned venue replete with a food court and movie theatre multiplex

The forecast promises scorching temperatures later in the week, culminating at 36C on Saturday when we will be at Chase Field watching the Diamondbacks play on my birthday, no less.

Thursday we will watch the Suns play the evil Spurs from San Antonio. We also plan to go hiking in the mountains and maybe check out the local real estate market.

VMware ESXi Corrupted iSCSI Datastore

Terrible scare yesterday. I rebooted my ESXi server, which hosts several critical systems, and ESXi didn’t recognize the iSCSI datastore. It could see the iSCSI LUN, but attempts to add it as a new datastore warned that all data would be destroyed. Backups were available but I’d rather have (a) found out what the problem was/why it occurred and (b) fixed the problem. So started my 12-hour learning process.

This all came about because I rebooted the host in an attempt to get new vNICs working under a VLAN. Yes, holidays are a great time to play and learn, it would seem. As a consultant, I should spend even more time doing this sort of thing.

So why couldn’t VMware mount the datastore? Did something happen to it? I tried all manner of fixes, including ultimately reconfiguring my host from scratch to wipe out any traces of the old datastore in the hope that some config was corrupted, but no go. The last resort, it would seem, would be to repartition the iSCSI LUN, which to me seemed a last-gasp effort. Since I was at that stage, I followed the following instructions:

esxcfg-scsidevs -c (take note of the disk device)
fdisk -l /dev/disks/t10.F405E46494C4540096D427739387D25525F4A5D245638787

Hmmm, this didn’t show “fb VMFS” like it should, but rather “SFS”. A quick search told me that this indicated a Windows dynamic disk. Uh oh… Rewinding a bit, a couple of weeks ago a Hyper-V Windows Server of mine had lost its iSCSI connection. The disk was there but it couldn’t access it. I saw that it was marked as, you guessed it, Dynamic! Does that mean everything is toast? I can only guess that ESXi saw the disk as VMFS since it was first created, and continued to access it as such even once Windows had marked it as dynamic. Since the Windows server didn’t really use it, odds are that the two didn’t interfere with each other except for the partition table.

Only one way to find out. I continued with the terrifying process of repartitioning the datastore:

fdisk /dev/disks/t10.F405E46494C4540096D427739387D25525F4A5D245638787
d (deletes the partition: gulp!)
n (create new partition)
p (make primary)
enter (accept default)
enter (accept default again)
t (change partition type)
fb (VMFS)
X (expert mode)
b (change beginning of partition)
1 (first partition)
128 (select secdtor)
W (write changes and exit: double gulp!)
vmkfstools -V (discover the VMFS)

At this point, in vShpere I did a Rescan on the Storage Adapters, and after clicking on Storage, to my amazement, my iSCSI datastore was there! I added my VMs to the inventory and started them up, and all was fine. Very cool.

To finish things off, I disconnected the LUN from that rogue Windows server and removed the LUN from OpenFiler so this can’t happen again. While it’s fine for different ESXi hsots to share a LUN, it’s clearly a bad idea for Windows and ESXi to try and play together…

Mexico: Day Eight

7:30 alarm was set but unnecessary. We had trouble falling asleep for some reason, but ended up with a great rest and were both awake and up by 7:20. We ordered room service and showered, then ate breakfast on the patio one more time before returning to brush our teeth and finish packing the remainder of our items. We called for the bellboy at 8:30 then went to the Preferred Club to check out and print our boarding passes. After a short wait in the lobby, our van arrived to take us to the airport.

Check-in went smoothly with a short line, and we naturally took the express line since we had out boarding passes already. This was pointless since they line for normal passengers emptied out faster than ours! But no matter. A quick run through the security gates and Barb went duty-free shopping while I waited around for her.

Once she was done, we decided to try for a quick bite at TGI Fridays, even though we only had 20 minutes until boarding was to begin. While waiting for our snack, we saw the schedule board change to show that our flight was boarding, so we asked them to please hurry, and within a minute we were shoveling back some excellent potato skins at a record pace. We scurried across the airport and arrived just as the last few passengers were boarding, so no problem. There were even a few that boarded after us. We left about 10 minutes ahead of schedule and took off. Once again, the plane was far from full so we got to sit with a space between us. This won’t happen when it’s January or February, but it makes the flight a lot more comfortable.

Mexico: Day Seven

Last day!

Woke up a little late, so we started with an excellent room-service breakfast. Barb went to get chairs by the ocean, while I grabbed towels. We baked in the sun for a bit, watch an argument between some Germans and Quebecois over reserving chairs with towels, then went for a long walk on the beach. The Mexican who showed us the condos for sale asked us half-jokingly as we walked by, “have you made a decision on my house?” As if he remembers us, that was almost a week ago!

We returned and went for lunch at the poolside patio where I had my staple, Tex-Mex nachos. Excellent as usual. Barb enjoyed her won-tons and steak. My arm got pooped on by a bird that was walking on the open-air roof over us, so we left before it found a better target.

We returned to the room for a break from the sun and to call home. Stephie and Sara said that Molly was doing a little better (she was acting sick, lying around and doing nothing, not even eating, so we suspected another bladder infection) so we were relieved. We called Lisa and Mike, but Mike and Amy were arguing so we had a quick chat with Emily. Then Barb called her parents who told us about the cruise ship incident and how her sister Betty went with her daughter and grandkids to Jamaica on a last-minute seat sale. How nice! Maybe now that Betty is retiring, she can accompany us on some trips.

We went back to the beach for the rest of the afternoon and grabbed what sun remained. Barb bought some jewelry from beach vendors, then we went upstairs to shower. Before dinner, Barb went and did some more shopping while I chilled in the room. We ordered room service for dinner instead of going to the Italian restaurant again. It was excellent. Room service is definitely underrated!

We spent the rest of the evening variously writing blogs and researching future trips! Oh and we started packing. Our bus comes at 9:30am tomorrow to take us to the airport for our 12:30 flight home.

It was an excellent vacation. With Stephanie, Eric sand Chloe living with us, and with me being crushed with work for the past many months, it was great for me and Barb to be able to spend some quiet time together. At the same time, we are missing our family and our puppies, and they are missing us, so it will be nice to go home.

Mexico: Day Six

Preferred Club breakfast no more! There were no eggs or French toast for Barb today, and apparently there were no eggs yesterday and she got the last piece of French toast, so that’s that. We went to the World Café for buffet breakfast, and we liked the impressive selection. Plus it was all fresh.

To the beach! It was overcast all morning, but warm, so we stayed under a palapa and read our books. Mine btw is another outlaw motorcycle gang-oriented read called Dead Man Running which is about a Bandito hang around who turns informant to Australia’s various law enforcement agencies and the obstacles, including political and bureaucratic, that intercede to put his life in danger, causing him to flee the country. Quite interesting, and quite different than what I read here last winter, No Angel, which details an FBI undercover agent’s two year operation. The former is about a  bad guy turning good, while the latter is about a good guy turning bad (almost).

We went for another kayak ride in the afternoon. It was rougher out there but still very nice. After returning we went for a drink in the infinity pool to cool off, then sat on the boardwalk lounge chairs to catch more sun. As the afternoon sun started to fade, we went back to the room and enjoyed a relaxing hot tub on the balcony.

After a shower and siesta, we got ready for Mexican night. They had set up for a big dinner by the pool, but sadly then had to cancel because it started to rain (lightly) just before it was about to begin. We headed to the World Café which is where they moved the dinner. Perhaps not surprisingly, there wasn’t much on the menu that I was into…

Mexico: Day Five

It was hot early. Ate at the Preferred Club again, then got a spot at the beach just like yesterday. After an hour or so in the hot sun, we went for a kayak paddle which was very nice and offered some amazing underwater sights with the crystal clear water.

We returned, swam in the ocean, then went to the pool for a swim and drinks. The sun was gone by this point but it was still nice and warm, so we read our bookstand dried off before going for lunch. Back to the room for a soak in the balcony jacuzzi, which was very relaxing. We showered and walked to the lobby to get our ticket home, then shopped briefly in the silver store. We got dressed for dinner and went to the Italian restaurant where we had the world’s record fastest three-course dinner, but mmm it was good. We were going to watch a movie back in the room but we’re essentially asleep right now so that’s not going to happen…

Mexico: Day Four

It was very warm to start the day and virtually clear, so we secured a palapa and chairs at the beach. Yet another breakfast in the Preferred Club started the day nicely, then we applied sunscreen and soaked up some rays. After a couple hours, we took a nice stroll north along the beach to see some other resorts, then returned and went for a swim in the ocean. Despite the jellyfish warning flag at our resort, there were plenty of others swimming and no warning flags were up at other resorts, and it turned out nice. That water is sure beautiful! There are some sharp-ish rocks in the water, unlike the beach, which makes it a bit unpleasant at times, but it’s a small price to pay.

After the ocean, we went to the infinity pool and guzzled back several drinks in rapid succession which, combined with a generous exposure to the baking sun, left us feeling a little tipsy. Plus we were well past lunch time, so after drying off, we went the poolside Ocean restaurant where I had Tex-Mex nachos (again) while Barb had won-tons and a steak (again). We went back to our beach chairs and rested before giving way to another wedding at the beach and heading back to our rooms for more rest and to prepare for dinner at the Italian restaurant (again!) while there I checked email and attended to a work issue!

Today was definitely the hottest and nicest day so far. As an aside, my skin, not the muscles beneath, was quite sore from the vigorous massage yesterday. Maybe I’ll take a rain check on the other massage I was considering…

Update: got lazy and ordered room service instead of going out for dinner. It was excellent!

Mexico: Day Three

Today we decided to visit the town of Puerto Moreles. We walked there in February from this resort but it seemed like a struggle, probably because I had terrible blistering from my sunburn. In any case, we didn’t feel much like walking around the town so we saw the leaning lighthouse and walked back.

We had another quick but pleasant breakfast at the Preferred Club (the bacon was far from crispy, unfortunately) then walked to the lobby to catch a cab to PM. We thought we’d walk around and shop, see the town, and then walk back along the beach. I took my new Samsung Captivate phone with the intention of using its GPS to track our walk.

We shopped at the limited stores. Pretty much the same stuff was available at every place: t-shirts, jewelery of questionable constitution, ponchos, hats, domino sets (!), and the like. We bought a few items including a cute little Corona cowgirl hat for Barb. Then we walked out on the pier to get a view of the town from the ocean. It’s a very nice little place and we quite enjoyed ourselves out there, until we saw a large fishing boat come back and dock. That’s when we noticed some poor sap making some horrible sounds as he sat on the boat puking his guts out! I felt bad for the others on the boat, including a couple ladies, who didn’t seem to have any trouble with the relatively calm sea. Put a bit of a damper on the pier walk.

As we made our way back to the resort by way of the beautiful sandy coastline, the waves were sometimes working their way up our legs to our shorts. That’s when I though I should move my cell phone to the bad so it’s protected from water. But I was unable to locate the phone anywhere! The thought of the cabbie or a subsequent passenger finding it and selling it on e-bay taunted me. Once we returned to the resort, which didn’t seem to take nearly as long as I’d remembered it would, I went to the front desk to report the loss and they said they would talk to the cab drivers. I was surprisingly optimistic, in (predictably) stark contrast to Barb, that it would be returned, and sure enough, after waiting 30-some minutes, the call came in that the driver had returned it to the resort. I claimed the phone and left a nice little reward for the concierge who orchestrated the search and the driver who was honest enough to return it.

By this time, it was early afternoon. The skies turned dark so we grabbed a quick lunch (pizza and a burger) then went to the on-site spa for a massage and facial. I had a 50-minute back and shoulders massage, and was astonished at the sort of pressure the tiny little Mexican woman was able to apply. Barb liked her facial too, and even fell asleep she found it so relaxing. Afterward we did the hydrotherapy circuit, had a hot tub and steam bath, relaxed in some lounge chairs, then had a nice outdoor shower. Extremely relaxing!

After a snack by the pool, we returned to the room to relax and read since the skies were quite menacing at sundown. Not sure if we’ll bother going for dinner tonight given that we ate our snack at around 5pm, but we’ll probably wander around and have a drink in the lobby before we retire.

Update: we ended up at the world cafe restaurant for a late-night dinner and returned with a DVD to watch in our room, but alas, I was unable to get the DVD to show up on the tv. It played sound but no picture, and yes, I checked the cables…