Setting 503 response code for Apache default virtual host

I know I promised my next post would be a tutorial on Chef, but this is kinda related. When new Rails servers are spinning up, I want Apache to respond to any requests with 503, both for SEO purposes in case I get my DNS wrong, and to tell load balancers that the node isn’t ready yet. It took me a while to grok the Apache docs to understand how to do this, as it is a bit counterintuitive (see the bit headed “‘redirect|R [=code]’ (force redirect)”). Please let me know if there’s a better way that perhaps doesn’t involve turning on RewriteEngine.
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Cheffin ain’t EZ for beginners

When I first set out to learn Chef I found that most of the blog posts, tutorials and even the Opscode Help pages themselves were a bit difficult to understand, to say the least. The ontology surrounding Chef is pretty hard to grasp for beginners: Resources, Clients, Nodes, knife, chef, Chef Server, Shef, Cookbooks, Recipes and so on. What I really needed when I started out was a specific walk-through of anything so long as it worked. And a lot of stuff doesn’t.
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