Christmas Wonton Soup

For the last few years, having wonton soup has become a bit of a Christmas tradition for us. Not going out for wonton soup, but making it at home from the wontons themselves to the broth.

The first year I made a whole bunch of wontons and broth, and left it in the slow cooker while we were out for the midnight Christmas Mass. It ended up being way too much and turned into a big (but still tasty) mess in the slow cooker. In retrospect, I probably should have anticipated that.

Over the years, the wonton making and cooking process has been refined. This year we made fewer wontons and cooked them when we got back home from the 10AM Christmas Mass.

A tray of wontons

The filling mixture was made the day before. The Sunday before Christmas, we roasted a chicken and the bones were supposed to have been saved to make the wonton broth with, but I forgot this year. Fortunately there was some leftover broth from another batch in the freezer.

Christmas wontons turned out pretty good this year.

A bowl of wonton soup

Christmas Nativity 2023

Everybody piled into the Ark to make the journey to visit the new baby.

Stuffed animals in a woven basket making their way to see the Baby Jesus.

Meanwhile, Cmd Data was organizing the away team of Wise Men from the East. He’ll make sure the Wise Men get to where they need to go.

A Data Star Trek ornament leading an away team of ceramic wise men figurines.

Shepherds from the countryside have arrived with their sheep and cows to marvel at the new baby.

Christmas nativity scene with ceramic figurines.

The Ark has arrived, and it didn’t take long for everybody to disembark.

A new visitor this year is Smok the Dragon, from Krakow Poland.

A small figurine of the Wawel Dragon stopping by to see the new baby.

Update 2024-01-06: The wise men from the east made it thanks to Data’s skillfull navigation.

CPU cooler upgrade

A couple months ago, the CPU cooler (one of those closed loop liquid cooling systems) started making weird noises intermittently. Being one of the few original parts left in my computer, I figured that meant it was time for a replacement. There’s not much of a selection for LGA1366 sockets left out there, but I managed to find a NZXT Kraken 120 that worked.

Replacing the cooler was also a good opportunity to give the computer a long overdue cleaning, so out came the air compressor and out went the dust bunnies.

Inside my computer after blowing out the dust.  Visible is the power s upply at the bottom, video card, hard drives and the CPU cooler.
Inside my computer after blowing the dust out.

Undoing the four screws releases the retaining ring that clamps the cooler to the CPU, and out it comes. Pretty easy.

The removed CPU cooler and very dusty radiator
The removed CPU cooler and very dusty radiator
The uncovered CPU
The uncovered CPU

After removing the retaining ring, the old thermal paste got cleaned off and fresh thermal paste was applied. The cooling block went on and the radiator was attached.

New cooling block and radiator installed
New cooling block and radiator installed

(Yes, there are two fans on either side of the radiator in a push-pull configuration.)

Unlike the original cooler, the pump for the new one looks to be embedded in the radiator. The CPU cooling block has RGB lighting on it, but my motherboard doesn’t have any headers to plug it in to, so I just zip tied the wire to the hoses to keep them out of the way. Total installation time was about 30 minutes once I figured out which bits I needed to use.

The cooler works pretty well. Under load, the CPU temperatures are about 10°C cooler than they were with the old cooler. I’m quite pleased with the way the new cooler is working.

Wrestling with Fedora


Fedora 39 installer kept hanging the computer. Adding uefi="no" to a dracut config file let the install finish successfully on my BIOS-based (non-UEFI) computer.

In which I try to reinstall Fedora on my computer

The computer has been having a few strange issues recently so a few weeks ago, with Fedora 39 going into beta, I decided it was time to do a reinstall.

It turned into a several weeks long and unexpected ordeal.

The install process worked fine up until the Fedora installer was saying “Installing bootloader”, at which point the computer froze before getting to the next stage. I could reboot the computer, and Fedora would start up fine but the user accounts hadn’t been created yet so there was no way to log in.

Booting up the live image and using a chroot to create the user accounts worked, but the system was still behaving abnormally. Tried a few other Fedora versions going back all the way back to Fedora 35, but the installer would still always hang the computer at the same place, somewhere during the bootloader installation.

I ended up going to KDE Neon, and then settling on Kubuntu for a bit just to get the computer working again so I could figure out what was going on. Had no problems installing either and both of them ran fine, so that gave me some confidence that my Fedora installation issues weren’t hardware related.

Finally, going all the way back to Fedora 33, I was able to get Fedora reinstalled on the system.

Yay! Cue celebration! Now I can upgrade my way to Fedora 39!

Hold up there bubba, not so fast.

The first upgrade step (33->35) went fine up until the kernel install scripts ran, at which point the computer froze up again. All the packages had installed at this point, so I rebooted and promptly got an error because the initramfs file for the Fedora 35 kernel wasn’t there.

Frustrating, but a valuable clue. Something must be happening to cause the computer to hang before or while creating the initramfs.

Fortunately I could still boot into the Fedora 33 kernel. Kicked off another upgrade step (35-37) and again, the computer froze up when the kernel install scripts ran. Again, the initramfs for the Fedora 37 kernel hadn’t been generated.

Dracut, what you doing?

The initramfs file is generated by dracut. Booting into the Fedora 33 kernel again, I tried to manually generate the missing initramfs files (dracut --kver <kernel>). In the middle of the process, the computer froze again. Now I had my culprit, dracut. But what was different about dracut that let it work on my computer with Fedora 33, but not after that?

Going through the dracut man page, the --uefi/--no-uefi options stood out to me. The computer is BIOS-based and doesn’t have UEFI, so I gave dracut --no-uefi --kver <kernel> a try. It worked! The initramfs was generated where the computer previously froze, and rebooting into the newly generated kernel worked without any problems.

Generated a few more missing initramfs files, and those also booted up without problems.

According to the dracut.conf man page, the uefi option can be set in a config file. It’s supposed to default to “no”, but it seemed like that either wasn’t the case, or the Fedora installer sets it to “yes” somewhere. Creating a dracut config file (/etc/dracut.conf.d/00-nouefi.conf) with just uefi="no" let dracut --kver <kernel> run successfully again.

Now that I had a potential solution, I booted up the Fedora 39 beta live image again, created the /etc/dracut.conf.d/00-nouefi.conf file, and started up the installer. This time the installer made it past the point it used to freeze and finished successfully!

Woohoo! Cue celebration! Now the computer is back to running Fedora!

An interesting light fixture failure

We had an interesting failure in one of the closet light fixtures. We flipped the light switch, heard a loud pop, and the bedroom went dark and the emergency flashlight came on because the breaker tripped. When we looked at the light (because who looks at the light fixture every time they turn the light on?), it was just dangling from the ceiling.

Ceiling light fixture dangling from the ceiling.

When I got up there to investigate, it seemed pretty clear why the light was dangling. When I got the light fixture down, these two blue pieces fell down.

Two broken blue pieces of plastic

These had broken off the plastic electrical box for the lighting fixture wiring. It’s where the bracket for the light fixture screws in to. You can see where the pieces broke off in the areas circled in red.

Broken electrical box for the light fixture

The electrical box looks cracked and broken in a few other places along the top and sides as well. It’s looking pretty bad.

I also found a tiny piece of melted metal and a little bit of exposed wire poking out of one of the wire nuts. So it looks like what happened was when the plastic broke, the light fixture fell, and the small strands of wire poking out of the wire nut and the ground wire were touching the bracket that held everything up. When we flipped the switch, there was loud pop from the short circuit, and the breaker tripped. Fortunately nothing smoked or caught fire.

After seeing the condition of this box, now I kind of want to look at all the other electrical fixture boxes in the house to see how they look.