A land title history of Oace Acres

PDF Images of Oace Acres Plat Maps. Thanks so much to Amanda and Jennifer at the Washington County Public Works Department for their help!

PDF: Oace Acres 1955

PDF: Oace Acres Second Addition 1956

PDF: Oace Acres Third Addition 1959

PDF: Oace Acres Fourth Addition 1969

Oace Acres Restrictive Covenants

From 1971 to 1978 I lived in an area in Lake Elmo, MN between lakes Olson, Demontreville, and Jane. The neighborhood had been mapped out and developed in stages, under the plat names of Oace Acres, Oace Acres Second thru Fifth Additions. The second plat is named ‘Oace acres second addition’. I believe this is better read as ‘Oace Acres second, addition’. What I am discussing here covers this inner area between the lakes and all the way to the end of Hidden Bay road, but does not extend to other neighborhoods that are considered part of the Tri-Lakes area such as lots on the ‘outer’ side of these lakes, so to speak. These were developed under different plats.

The process of filing a plat allows a developer to worth with local government to take an undivided parcel of land–often former farmland or woods–and divide it into residential lots. This process results in a plat map which is approved by local government and filed in the county real estate records as it defines lot boundaries and provides a convenient legal name for the lots. As is often the case, restrictive covenants were also filed and attached to the property. The purpose of these covenants was to ensure minimum levels of home quality and to preserve the natural surroundings of the wooded area.

The underlying land was granted to its first private owner from the federal government in 1854. These federal land grants are the first entry in the chain of title for most lands west of the areas of the east coast that were settled prior to the 1850s. In 1947, a plat called the ‘Three Lakes Farm Addition’ was filed covering an area where the northernmost boundary was along what became Windbreak Hill (road name), and extending down into the area where Deer Pond and Jack Pine Trail (road names) were placed. I don’t have any more information regarding the intents or ultimate use of this plat.

The first plat for Oace Acres was approved by the city of East Oakdale (presumably subsumed by Lake Elmo at some point) in September if 1955. It defined lots essentially on the ‘outside’ part of the curve of Hidden Bay Road, all of which lots were on Lake Olson, the channel between Olson and Demontreville, and on Lake Demontreville itself. Lot 1 is owned by the Carmelite Nuns, and I don’t think a dwelling was ever built on it.

Lot 13 was a large one, and faced the channel between the lakes and I believe it has been divided into 3 or 4 lots since the plat was filed.

In 1956, the Oaces initiated a judicial proceeding to adjudicate all property rights to the land underlying Oace Acres, and the land to the south what became Windbreak Hill. This placed the land into the Torrens Property records, and hence, Oace Acres receive a Torrens property certificate rather than the older abstract form of title. In Washington County property records, the judgement from this case is referred to as Torrens Case 334, and it granted Oaces title to the land, subject to property interests in the lots that had already been sold. Most homeowners of this plat purchased the land from the Oaces using contracts for deed.

The second plat filed was Oace Acres Second Addition, approved in October of 1956. It looks like Washington County had by then taken over the plat process from the cities. This plat created the remaining Hidden Bay lots that are north of an imaginary line extending east-west along Windbreak Hill. It included lots on the west end of Lake Jane, with lot 14 being set aside for recreational use for the landowners of this plat who did not get lake lots. The landlocked lots in this area were granted a lien on lot 14 for ‘boating and bathing purposes’ , with the leinholders liable in equal shares for the expenses of maintaining this lot.

Lots 24 and 25 were to the north of BirchBark Lane and were not developed until recent years. These are owned by the Carmelite Nuns. I understand that the houses on these lots are for the use of the Carmelite Nuns and the Jesuit Retreat House, both owning large land parcels bordering on the north east portion of Lake Demontreville.

Oace Acres Third Addition was approved in January of 1959 and covered the area to the east of Hidden Bay road and south of Windbreak Hill. It covered up Three Lakes Farm Addition, and I presume Three Lakes disappeared from a legal standpoint. The road that became Jack Pine Trail was called ‘Halfway Road’ in the plat.

Oace Acres Fourth Addition was approved in May of 1969 and defined lots on both sides of Hidden Bay road south of the Windbreak Trail intersection and running to the west end of Hidden Bay Road.

Oace Acres Fifth Addition was approved in 1971, I think, and covered the development done to the west of Deer Pond Road.

Some historical documents relating to the study of law

The other evening, my son Tony and I watched The Paper Chase, a melodramatic movie plotted over the course of a first year of law school at Harvard in the 1970s. Setting aside the childish outbursts in class by the protagonist and the pretentious enunciation of the contracts professor, Kingsfield, there were many elements familiar to my own first year of law school at a somewhat less prestigious university. Among them were the tensions caused by the fear of being called on randomly and without warming to ‘present’ a case, the study group and petty squabbling thereof, the grouping of students into those who choose to participate in classroom discussion and those that don’t, contract law, and not least among these, the 4 hour essay exam using Blue Books by which one’s grade for the entire year is determined.

I must confess that having watched the movie prior to attending law school, I copied the ritual of ditching the dorms and spending a weekend of intensive study in an off-campus motel. The movie also motivated me to fully study any readings assigned prior to the first day of class. In contrast to the movie, my own beloved Contracts professor, Bill Martin, was a gentle soul, not given to theatrics. In an official nod to the movie, during an orientation lecture one of the professors archly recited the ‘Skull full of mush’ lecture, much to our amusement.

So, I dug through my old files and scanned a few interesting tidbits. First, is my LSAT answer sheet and score. I don’t have the questions, regrettably.

LSAT Answer Sheet and Score

I thought it would be amusing to take a look at textbook price inflation since the fall of 1982. Since all first year students in a section (our class was divided into three sections each of which took the same classes the entire first year) had the same textbooks, the school was kind enough to present us with our foot and a half tall pile of books, pre-selected and stacked, and a bill for the princely sum of over $400, if I recall correctly. As you can see, I was in section 1. All of the classes were full year except for Criminal Law which was a semester long and was replaced by a semester of Property Law in the spring. One thing new to me in law school was the practice professors had of referring to the textbooks by the last name of the author. I think there were a couple of reasons for this. First, we might have multiple textbooks, and second, the professor might actually know or have met the authors of the book. So for instance in Torts class, the professor might say “Please turn your attention to the footnotes on page 127 of Prosser.” It also struck me as pretentious, so I promptly adopted this practice in my own conversation.

First Year Law Books

And since Tony is taking exams around this time of year, I included my exam schedule. While the only final grade at mid-term was Criminal Law, we worked pretty hard to master the other subjects as well. For the year long classes, the mid term weighed 1/3 of the grade or less, with there being some suspicion that some professors ignored mid-term results completely as one’s knowledge at end of course was the only thing of interest. Looking at this at the beginning of school, I thought December was going to be a breeze, with an apparently leisurely exam schedule. In fact, I prepared myself intensely and was able to place myself in an extremely focussed state for each exam. During the exam weeks, I thought longingly of how relieved I would feel after exams were over. But after the last exam, I was so fried, that I was incapable of maintaining any sort of feeling whatsoever. In retrospect a sub-optimal practice, but I must confess to loosening the bonds of mental discipline by imbibing alcoholic beverages for a short period of days, and in adopting this practice I was by no means unique among my class.

Exam Schedule, December 1982

Respectfully submitted, Mark C. Knutson

Of limited functionality legacy code and virtualization

One thing I am noticing with virtualization is that from a fully virtualized physical environment, the boundary between the hardware and the virtualized object is moving to higher levels of software abstraction(vm/host boundary) as the technology advances. For instance, a step preliminary to this is an announced version of windows server 2016 that is skinnied way down, and comes with only the drivers for virtual hosted devices, and no GUI, greatly reducing the disk footprint, and to some degree the memory footprint. Microsoft claims that this sort of server would require perhaps 1/10 of the patching and rebooting of the full server version.

This sort of thing brings to mind an evolution whereby all windows server instances share this common set of drivers on disk and memory and in doing so, moving the VM/host boundary a bit away from the hardware. Doubtless many similar opportunities exist to perform other optimizations, further increasing the abstraction of the host machine until its something more like a container than a physical machine.

(I noted that VMware, even today, recognizes which parts of Windows Server memory are common among instances and keeps only one copy of said memory to share among virtual machines. This sort of optimization clearly points the way toward a more formal optimization in the Windows Server architecture).

 I thought about this when reading the article below, which discusses Microsoft responding to the ‘docker’ concept–a higher level of virtualization abstraction. To my thinking, the whole server multiplication process, whereby each application/function required a new Windows server, was due to limitations of the windows implementation such as a single registry per computer and inadequate isolation between processes—many versions of Windows server ago. Absent these limitations, a single Windows instance could have run multiple applications without the need for the boundaries of separate computers—performing the resource sharing that virtualization would provide.

 Given the universality of the installed base of Windows applications, its mostly too late to re-architect this installed code base with improved versions of Windows Server, hence the need for a virtual machine to support the installed base and do the optimizations under the covers. But based on this article, and others, it looks to me like the number and success of virtualized servers is leading Microsoft to evolve the application API a bit, leading to more efficient virtualization.

In any case I commend you to this article as you ponder the future of Windows virtualization. 



What is a Server?

I was surprised to find myself struggling with this concept a bit the other day, since I have spent many years around servers, and have some running at home as well. There’s kind of a feelings answer and a precise answer. Let’s start with the feelings one. A server:

  • Is rack mountable and shaped like a pizza box.
  • Is the kind of computer they use at work in the server room.
  • Has redundant things like dual power supplies and NICs.
  • Has a raid card with battery powered cache.
  • Has a Xeon CPU.
  • And so on…

While these sort of definitions are attributes of many, perhaps most, servers, I realized they were inadequate, as they really do not get at the functional aspect of servers–the reason they get purchased.

What got me really thinking about a specific definition of a server was the availability of versions of Windows Server (and Linux from day 1) that do not have support for a Graphical User Interface. So, I got to thinking about the notion of a desktop computer being primarily a visual server for the user–either GUI or character based as in the heyday of the DOS based personal computer.

And by sort of considering the inverse of this, I conceived a more precise definition of a server as being a computer that listens on a given IP address and port and responds to queries or service requests sent in from the network. This helped me understand why the Apple Server software is simply an add-on that provides various TCP accessible services without the need for a distinct operating system. Needless to say, by this definition a desktop computer can act as a server as well.

Naturally, all desktop computers act as servers in at least a minor respect, such as being an ICMP server and responding to pings. But obviously its more significant protocols that we traditionally think about when setting up a server: DHCP, FTP, Database, SMB, NFS, AFP, Web, DNS and the 600 pound gorilla of large organization services–utilizing a variety of ports and protocols–Active Directory. Any useful server probably ought to have remote administration capability by providing a Telnet or SSH service, though such service is not typically considered useful beyond administering a server. To the extent that a server provides a visual server–a GUI interface, it is extremely helpful if said server can operate well in “headless” mode; not requiring a physically attached keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

Beyond servers simply responding to network traffic, I will to add another class of server to my definition–kind of a server server–the Virtual Machine Host. Revolutionary in its ability to blur the lines between hardware and software, and bring economies of administration and hardware to organizations.

Just some thoughts I found interesting. I was surprised to find my thinking as fuzzy as  it was on these concepts.

Adventures in NAS-Land: Freenas

A trite narrative device that seems obligatory for every police procedural tv show I watch is the opening scene where the protagonist is in great peril, seemingly with no chance of escape, and then the scene cuts to a scene labelled “36 hours earlier”. Cut to the opening music and credits, and in the fullness of time we see the protagonist easily escape from said peril and turn the tables on the bad guys. Alfred Hitchcock pioneered this narrative device to create suspense in the 1930s, and presumably its novelty and suspense generating powers didn’t become tiresome until the 1940s. Having said all that, I thought perhaps it wouldn’t be so trite if I applied it to network attached storage. 😉

Cue suspense music: “I powered down the NAS using its web-based administrative interface and installed the new disk drives. This involved plugging all of the drives into different SATA slots. When the time came to power it back on, I didn’t know whether Freenas would be able to find the mirrored pair on its new sata ports, whether it would be able to bring the pair back online, whether it would lose my data…”

36 hours earlier:

I had been running my Freenas based NAS for a week or so, and decided I needed to upgrade the disk drives. It was running a mirrored pair of 1.5 TB drives that were manufactured in 2009, and aside from the potential for running out of space, I had been wringing my hands quite a bit about the age of the drives. I picked up a pair of 4 TB drives and commenced the upgrade. When I first set up the NAS, I had plugged the two 1.5 TB drives into the two 6 TB ports on the motherboard. After doing some reading, I learned that no spinning platter drive is going to find 3 GB SATA a bottleneck and only solid state storage will be able to take advantage of the 6 GB ports. So, I decided that when I upgraded the disks, I would use the 4 3 GB sata ports for the spinning platter drives.

I will note that while I believed the case and motherboards to be excellent choices when I purchased them, when put together the multiple power supply cables, SATA sockets on the motherboard, and placement of the 3.5 inch drive bays lead to an extreme and undesirable degree of crowding in the sata socket area.

After booting the NAS back up, I was not able to contact it through the web based administrative port. As it was a headless server, I had to bring it upstairs and plug a keyboard and monitor in to see what was going on. I was specifically wondering if the sata cable moving had confused Freenas as to the location of the solid state sata boot drive. It turned out, the NAS had booted properly and I had simply plugged the ethernet cable into the wrong RJ45 port (the motherboard has 3 RJ45 ethernet sockets). Once I tried a different port, the administrative web page appeared in all its glory.

At this time, I noted that Freenas had sent me an email indicating the 1.5 TB mirrored volume was missing one drive and running in a ‘degraded’ state. I also noted the ‘alert’ button in the upper right hand side of the web page was showing red rather than its usual green, and I was able to determine that the mirrored pair was missing one if its drives. I checked and I was able to access the CIFS share from this volume, so I was impressed.

As is my normal practice in these matters, I had the case open and I upon examination, I saw that during the plugging in of new drives and wrestling with the power supply cables hanging over the sata sockets, the power plug on one of the disk drives had become unplugged. Without turning off the PC, I plugged it back in. Freenas reported that the second disk was present and the volume was no longer running in a degraded state. Since there had been no updates to the volume while it was running in single disk mode, there was no syncing up process to be performed. I was really impressed.

Freenas can be frustrating to work with, mostly when one is deep in the weeds trying to connect to the shares from other computers and wrestling with permissions issues. I had been toying with the idea of converting the computer over to a virtual host and running some sort of linux variant as the NAS host. After seeing Freenas gracefully handle a missing disk drive, I decided that it would be better to stick with it. Admittedly I didn’t test its ability to put in a fresh drive and watch Freenas copy the data over to make it part of the mirrored pair, but I will take that on faith.

Whence Freenas?

My objectives when setting up a computer as a NAS for my home network included raid-like protection from a single disk failure, and the ability to expose CIFS (a fancy re-branding of the good old Microsoft SMB), NFS (The unix file sharing protocol), and iSCSI. While not on my wish list, Freenas also provides AFS (Apple File Sharing) which enables the device to be used as a Time Machine repository–just remember to set a quota lest Time Machine consumes your entire volume.

I did a fair amount of reading and tried a few different open source (free) NAS programs. I would install them and once I encountered either too many hassles setting them up, or they didn’t work properly, I discarded them. Sorry, but I don’t recall any details except that Nas4Free simply would not boot on my pc.

Another factor in favor of Freenas is that it supports ZFS, a journaling file system developed by Sun which is a software “raid” type filesystem that maintains checkdigit type hashes of files and directories whereby a worker process can “scrub” the drives and upon identifying corruption in the form of a file no longer matching its hash, the worker process will replace the data from another drive provided its hash indicates it is not corrupted. Enthusiasts claim this is better than raid due to its ability to detect and cure corruption due to disk errors. All this is not free, however, as all of that magic slows down the performance of the NAS.

Another nice thing about Freenas is that the administrative web page allows one to check for update packages and install them. The updates I applied did not incur any downtime–I don’t know if sometimes updates require a re-boot.

The Freenas administrative interface is nice in that it is entirely web based and works on Safari and Internet Explorer. In addition to managing volumes, shares, and the operational aspects of a NAS, it provides a view into the busyness/use of the system components like CPU, RAM, Disk, and Network interface. While running a 600 GB data transfer from the old volume to the new, a task which took over 8 hours, I noted the CPU usage rarely exceeded 20%, so I believe I bought too much CPU for the task and will look into BIOS settings to see if the CPU can be slowed down a bit as a power-saver during times of no NAS usage.

The drawback in my mind, to Freenas, comes when one is having difficulty getting a client to connect to one of the shares. When attempting to connect to a NFS share, the VMware Free iSXI virtual host would return a cryptic “cannot connect” message, and lacking the knowledge to drill into operating system logs and the like, I either failed to get a connection working, or used much internet surfing and trial and error to get things going. Folks on the web anecdotally note that permissions are often the problems of connection issues, and I had more success once I learned how to enable guest access and the like. For my home network/lab this is not a concern. To be fair, a lot of this can be laid at the feet of the folks writing the client software for not providing better diagnostics for connection problems.

So, in conclusion, I found Freenas to be free software that provides enterprise quality NAS features, multiple sharing protocols, and a convenient web based interface that enables headless server operation. There may be better packages out there, but this one worked for me and I am going to stick with it for the time being. My impression, from web surfing, is that Freenas isn’t too picky about which hardware devices it supports (unlike Vmware iSXI), but I will list my hardware for those interested. In an effort to maintain data integrity, I chose hardware that supports ECC (error correcting) memory that is normally used only on servers. It turns out that Intel 4th generation Core i3 processors support ECC, so I used one of those. As I said, one could probably find one with half of the horsepower and do just as well with their NAS.

2X: HGST DeskStar 4TB 7,200 RPM SATA III 6.0Gb/s 3.5″ NAS Internal Hard Drive. I spent much time looking at reviews on websites like Amazon and Newegg to get a better idea of the reliability of different drive models. This one seemed to have less ‘disk failed’ reviews and was in stock at Microcenter, so that is what I went with. Running on freenas as a mirrored pair, I have a slightly less than 4 TB volume. This should cover my needs for quite some time.

Intel Core i3 3.7 GHZ LGA 1150. Nothing scientific in my methods here. I just looked at benchmarks and tried to find a good price/performance compromise. I chose this rather than a Xeon which also supports ECC memory but is more expensive per unit of performance (to the best of my knowledge).

Supermicro X10-SLL-F LGA 1150 Intel mATX motherboard. Nothing magic here, its just what Microcenter had in stock for LGA 1150 and ECC. One nice surprise is the fact that it has a little cpu on the side of the main one that exposes and administrative web page for the motherboard–one can look at the console, install BIOS upgrades, and monitor device temperatures if one wants. A very useful feature for one running a headless server configuration. As I said, the placement of the USB sockets was inconvenient, but I chalk that up to me buying a case with too short of a distance between the hard drive bay and the motherboard.

EVGA 500B Bronze 500 watt power supply. While my setup does not need 500 watts, the reading I have done indicates that these sort of switching power supplies are most efficient when running at about 1/2 rated power. The “Bronze” designation indicates it is 80% efficient–so easier on the electric bill. From what I have read and seen in my career, all power supplies are not created equal, and it is prudent to spend a bit more than the cheapest one to avoid problems in the future.

NZXT Classic Series Source 210 Mid Tower ATX computer case: As I said, this one got a bit crowded if one wants to use the higher up 3.5 inch slots which can abut the SATA socket block. To address this, since I am using only two hard drives, I will place them lower in the case to keep them out of this crowded area. Also, the case has its power supply at the bottom rather than the top. That leads to really great cable management and air flow for the motherboard, but as I said, the cables tend to pass over the SATA socket area. I wish it had a cross bar I could zip tie the cables to and keep them away from the hard drives. The Intel CPU fan doesn’t have much of a cage on it, and once a stray cable touches a fan blade and stops it, the CPU will overheat and one is out of business at that point. The case has one built in fan on the top of the back, and spaces for many more fans to be installed. I would like a fan in the front of the case to vent the disk drives better, but I don’t think they will have any trouble without one as the case is spacious and the drives are mounted about an inch and a half apart.