system admin log entries

When I’m doing maintenance on my computer systems, I sometimes find myself wondering what I was thinking when I made a configuration change, (un-)installed a package, etc. At one point, I attempted to keep a log in a text file that I could refer to later so that, in case there was an undesirable behavior observed, I could correlate the timing of the disturbance with intentional system changes. My attempt failed due, in part, to lack of discipline, but in many cases the changes I make are so incremental and sometimes arbitrary that it seems like overkill to record the change at all. The issue is really one of convenience though: If I got prompted to enter a message when I installed or removed packages, it would make it far more likely that the messages were actually recorded for my future self’s benefit. I think for the use-case of package management, at least, it should be simple to add hooks or wrappers on command line tools I already use for package management to issue a “log entry” prompt.

I should emphasize, that I’m not talking about a declarative configuration and change management system like with, say Ansible + Git . My system is, effectively, single-user and otherwise not volatile enough to justify such detailed records — a log in my own words generally describing what I did along with key details would suffice.

Teriyaki Flounder

Fillets of skinless flounder, a white meat, brown in some areas from the teriyaki sauce, overlaid with black flecks of pepper. Crowning the fish is a pile of golden-brown onion slices. Bright green cilantro garnish nestles up against the fish on the right. A fork lies in wait in the background.
The first time I cooked flounder, it was alongside salmon, which I already knew I liked. I was struck by how unpleasantly fishy it was and delayed cooking the rest of what I had. Now, however, I’ve found a preparation of flounder that I like. The fillets are placed in a baking pan, lined with foil, atop one half of a sliced onion in a thin pool (about the height of the onions) of teriyaki sauce. These are sprinkled with garlic salt and pepper, then another layer of foil is placed over the top. The fish cooks at 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, then it’s ready to serve, topped with the sliced onions.

The fish had good flavor with a bit of spice and the fishy taste from before was virtually gone. It may be possible to cook for a shorter period of time, but I err on the side of caution for fear of food-borne illness.