mauling mystery solved
Wednesday, July 21 2010
Today was a rainy one, and I busied myself mostly with loose-end web development projects. I've been trying to perfect the code that forks the data into two different databases in David's (of Penny and David) website. Today, though, I discovered yet another glitch I hadn't anticipated, and I can't even blame this one on Microsoft. It turns out that in the PHP implementation of the ODBC API (which allows it to communicate with Microsoft databases), there is a setting called defaultlrl which, in its default state, trims all text fields at 4096 characters. David's website is an article syndication site, and you can imagine my horror when I saw that all the long articles in the MySQL database (which had been migrated by a script from ODBC) were truncated! The way the MySQL version of the tool works is to copy altered data back to the MSSQL database (the one with the original untruncated fields). But when I'm editing truncated articles, it's the truncated versions that end up back in the MSSQL database, that is, back on the live site. I'd fucked up at least one live article this way just by testing the tool's functionality, and I hadn't even been aware. Who, after all, checks to see that a long article survives an edit untruncated? Fortunately, there is an easy way to modify the defaultlrl setting to something really high. But it seemed like a late stage in the process to discover that this was something that I needed to worry about. To fix the MySQL version of the data, I had to include this line in the script that does non-realtime synchronization.
And then I had to blow away the entire MySQL article table and redo the synchronization. Since the sync script can only handle 200 rows of data at a time (to avoid timeouts), I had to run it about 90 times (manually) to reimport some 18,000 articles. At this point I've become a serious expert on the pitfalls of moving data from Microsoft to MySQL databases.
In the evening Ray's wife Nancy arrived from the city today to spend the night in our basement with Ray. Tomorrow morning the two would be closing on their new house, which is only three miles away in Old Hurley. Nancy had brought a bottle of wine, which we sat around drinking. Ray got off work kind of early and so then there was also a certain amount of beer drinking going on.
At about 9:30pm we heard barking outside and then a sharp squeal. We ran downstairs just as Eleanor burst in through the pet door, her tail between her legs. Somebody had tried to sink its teeth into her haunch again like on that frightful night back in early June, but this time all that had been left was saliva. There was also a small injury on one of her hind feet.
I grabbed a flashlight and ran out into the night, determined to find her attacker. It wasn't very hard. Two pairs of eyes were shining back at me from the end of our driveway. They were different colors, and despite this difference I was worried they might be a pair of very belligerant coyotes. But as I drew closer, I saw that the eyes belonged to Kate (a large sheep-dog terrier) and Ally (a large short-haired mutt), the two dogs who belong to Tom a quarter mild up Dug Hill Road. (Tom is a nice guy and is the brother of the guy who sold us our house.) Initially Kate came towards me acting friendly, but I was having none of it. Not knowing what else to do, I barked at her like a dog and made aggressive gestures with my hands. Eventually she and Ally headed off.
This incident pulled the shroud from a number of mysteries. I'd seen Kate acting aggressively with Eleanor in the past; I'd even broken up a fight that had, at the time, seemed like play that had spiralled out of control. But Kate has a history with other dogs; some years ago she'd attacked the dog belonging to Rachæl and Zelig (living in Tom's back apartment at the time) and had inflicted injuries that had required stitches. But until tonight I would have never thought her capable of inflicting the kind of hateful injuries she had on Eleanor back in June. Tonight's attack had played out exactly like this one, the only difference being that it had taken place closer to our house and so Eleanor could get away. And the one bit of non-blood evidence I'd found at the site of Eleanor's mauling was a tuft of hair that was consistent with Kate's off-white (and often filthy) sheepdog coat.
So back in the house, Gretchen called Tom about it. He was really nice and apologetic, expressing certainty that it had been Kate who had mauled Eleanor back in June and offering to pay the vet bills from that incident. He also said he'd be keeping Kate and Ally home from now on. Something Tom said indicated that this wasn't the first incident resulting from his canine dynamic duo, but that it would also be the last.
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next