14 August 2016

[Muttered, from the stack of bodies on the cart]: I’m not dead, yet!

In the week leading up to last Saturday, I had five good days of exercise: pushing pretty hard. Then on the Saturday, I spent most of the day working out in the sun on an August summer day, and I destroyed myself. Lawns, yardwork, and deck/furniture cleaning. All that I did on Sunday last was relax, and crawl up the stairs to bed. I also took it far too easy this last week: just work, no working out to speak of. It’s too hot for nearly everything. I could make the house a lot cooler, but it would cost us several hundred dollars a month to do so. This will be over soon…

*      *      *

Last night, we went to Turn of the Screw, another staged reading at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company! 70 minutes of harrowing horror, with shards of fun piercing the veil from time to time. The reading was superbly executed by Laura Rocklyn and Tony Tsendeas. I can’t exhort you to go – the Summer Staged Readings series is over, with the last of My Fair Lady on stage as I write these words. But there’s still time to see The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), and come October, the 2016/2017 season swings into action. I cannot recommend this company highly enough. I’ve been going to live theater (including LOTS of Shakespeare) over the last few decades, and I’m head-over-heels about this Company.

*      *      *

The weather has turned to thunder and lightning, and the dog needs my attention. There’s not much else to report, though. Be well.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:

  • Lt. Col. Flando E. Jackson, 45, of Lansing, Michigan, died Aug. 4 in Southwest Asia from a non-combat-related injury.
  • Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Wilbur, 36, of Granite City, Illinois, died Aug. 12 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, from a non-combat-related injury.

31 July 2016

Fun weekend! I took the day off on Friday, and we  went fishing (no fish, but fishing doesn’t require that) nearly first thing in the morning. In the afternoon, we went to see Star Trek Beyond. A good entertainment, that. I like this cast, and my worries about Justin Lin’s (ed: not Jason, sigh) direction were just that: worries. Good fun flick.

Saturday evening, we went to Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s staged reading (and singing) of My Fair Lady. I’ve seen this show twice, now. Once was with Rex Harrison, back in the 1980’s. I’ll tell you – for me, this one was better! And extraordinary: the show we saw was the result of 8 rehearsals and an opening night. Are you near Annapolis? Go see this show. Go see Turn of the Screw, which starts soon. Subscribe to the upcoming season, which looks wonderful!

Today, shopping and helping a friend fettle a new computer and get stuff copied off the old, likely powned old one.

Spots of exercise and days over 10K steps this week, but nothing to write home about. More, soon. Seriously.

*      *      *

I don’t like politics, and I’m not a fan of politicians. But anyone who’s not planning on voting this Fall needs to pay attention. Register. Vote. Even if you disagree with what I say next, please register and vote. Please. However much I’d like to vote for Gary Johnson this year, I can’t participate in nadering this election. I’m with Hillary this round, because the alternative would be worse than Nehemiah Scudder.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which I am glad. Ciao!

24 July 2016

Not much to report – a busy week with friends in from out-of-town for several days. Temps steadily in the mid-90’s with humidity to match. Yardwork yesterday, and out for supper last night. Exhaustion today. Made more salsa, though, cut my hair and cleaned the coffee roaster. Good times.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of 1st Lt. Anais A. Tobar, 25, of Miami, Florida, who died on July 18 in Southwest Asia from a non-combat-related injury.

17 July 2016

A long week, and not much in the way of exercise, either. I only got one proper day of exercise in, on Tuesday. The rest of the days were too busy, too hot, or both. But there was some good news:

First 2016 salsa

First 2016 salsa

Yup, first salsa! Huzzah! Still no jalapeños, so here’s the ingredients:

  • 2/3 of a bowl (that bowl, pre-chopping) of roma and sweet cherry tomatoes, chopped fine.
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced.
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced.
  • 1 immature red habañero.
  • 3 immature serrano peppers (to taste, natch).
  • cilantro to taste (a couple of tablespoons is my sweet spot).
  • 1 teaspoon cumin.
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes.
  • A couple of grinds of sea salt.
  • A few grinds of black pepper.
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.

That made a mighty fine salsa!

*       *       *

Of note, I went to a CALUG meeting on Wednesday, where Berend Tober spoke on his PostgreSQL-based trading game, Fairwinds. Interesting stuff, because I know less about PostgreSQL than several of the other database systems extant. Now I know a tiny bit more, thanks to Mr. Tober.

Friday I took the day off work, so that I could do chores, wash the car, etc.

Today I spent mostly doing remote work, with a long break in the middle. New production deployments require non-business hour work – that’s how the game is played, and it’s a joy to finally get some of these systems into production after long preparation and testing.

*       *       *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which we’re grateful. Ciao!

10 July 2016

Let’s work the week backwards, just for fun.

Today was all about the mowing. The weather was not as hot as most of the week, so I had that going for me. But it was still a miserable sweatball of a day. But the lawns have been sheared, and I did some weeding as well. Bell peppers out of the garden today, a few tomatoes, and a couple of cucumbers. Here’s how the garden looks as of today:

Bilbrey garden - July 10, 2016

Bilbrey garden – July 10, 2016

*      *      *

Last night, we went up to Annapolis to see ASC‘s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented outdoors in the gardens of the Charles Carroll House. It was a wonderful production, and cool enough by the harbor to be tolerable, even for July weather. This company continues to impress me. If you’re in the DC area, look into going to some Annapolis Shakespeare Company productions, and supporting them if you can, as well.

*      *      *

The four day work week was busy and productive. On the exercise front, I’m moving back into the groove.

(Legend: Sit  ups / Squats / Push ups :: Elliptical steps / in Minutes)

Monday:  Holiday – just over 7k steps logged on the Fitbit.

Tuesday:  40 / 20 / 21 :: 5350 / 39 – 18k+ steps logged.

Wednesday:  60 / 30 / 27 :: 7400 / 54 – 17k+ steps logged.

Thursday:  80 / 40 / 32 :: 5350 / 38 – 15k+steps logged.

Friday:  Recovery, nearly 11k steps logged.

Saturday:  No specific exercise, but 15k+ steps logged.

Sunday: No specific exercise, but yardwork, leading to 15k+ steps logged.

Last week’s total steps logged (Sunday through Saturday): 97,000.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

3 July 2016

Nearly happy Fourth of July, USAn’s!

*      *      *

In the garden this week, I pulled out some zucchini and broccoli on Tuesday. Yesterday, I hauled out half-a-dozen large zucchini, and weeded out the pepper bed. During that latter exercise, I made a horrifying discovery: I managed to plant a box full of pepper plants, and not a single Jalapeño among them. (I rectified that today.) Also today, I harvested another couple of zucchini before they got gargantuan, and ditto for a pair of cucumbers. And joy: The first tomato of the season.

2016 garden - first tomato

2016 garden – first tomato!

Being a reasonably nice guy, I gave the first tomato to my lovely bride.

Also yesterday, I got the lawns all caught up with the mowing, front and back. There are plenty more chores to go, but a nicely manicured lawn makes all the difference to the look of the yard.

Today, after the shopping, I went down to the woodshop and finished up the project for my dad with a couple of coats of polyurethane. That’ll get packed up tomorrow, so that Marcia can ship it in the week coming up. Then the shop needs a cleanup, along with the rest of the house.

*      *      *

Exercise – I managed to get the Fitbit to recognize two days of exercise this week, including yesterday’s stellar 25,000 step day, but I did no dedicated exercise during the week. Getting back into routine after vacation is challenging, and work/chores come first.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

26 June 2016

A week off, and away … in Maine, visiting with Marcia’s sister.

We brought Lexi with us, and actually took her out on the boat on Sunday. She and I were out on the front deck of the pontoon boat (aka “party barge”) when she decided something in the water looked interesting and leapt into the water, while the boat was underway. Good thing I had her leash on – she would have been canine frappé before Nancy cut the prop power, otherwise. I leaned forward to find the little dog swimming forward for all she was worth, trying to keep up with being dragged through the water by the leash. But other than that excitement, she was a good girl, and seemed to enjoy the trip.

For us, we were fishing.

Marcia caught fish

Marcia caught fish –  a large mouth bass

Brian caught fish

Brian caught fish – a northern pike

We fished every day, and overall catch was about a dozen fish, about half of that northern pike (which were fun fish to fight!). But they all went back to the lake. It was a pretty lake.

Lake beautiful by night

Lake beautiful by night

and lake beautiful by day

and lake beautiful by day

And today, after shopping and washing all the bugs and dust off of the Volvo, it was time to visit the garden, which has been doing well since we left it on the 18th:

Zucchini and cucumber

Zucchini and cucumber

Oh, and no exercise to speak of: Vacation, yo.

Now to deal with several hundred accumulated emails..

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew J. Clement, 38, of Peabody, Massachusetts, who died on June 21 of a non-combat related injury, while deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

16 June 2016

Friday last, while at the office, I patched and rebooted the server this site and others runs on. That’s not totally uncommon: unlike most of the servers I manage for work purposes, I had no remote console access to my server. And since $FIRM kindly gives me power and pipe for this place, that’s just fine. Sadly, upon reboot, I waited … and waited, and finally went into the data center and connected the crash cart to the system. Um, kernel panics and NMI (non-maskable interrupts) all over the screen – it appears I had a hardware problem. Finally the system finished booting, and surprisingly it was working. I didn’t, however, expect it to remain in that state for long.

Come Monday, I went shopping in the recycle stack for a slightly newer retired server, finding a freshly-out-of-warranty R710, not much RAM, but two quad-core Xeons. Permission attained, I then racked the box, cabled it, and started thinking hard about how I was going to get everything migrated. I’ve done it before, but configuration from scratch is hard and prone to errors, since I don’t have this one artisanally crafted host under any sort of configuration management. Yes, yes, the cobbler’s child has no shoes, I understand. I have good backups, but I’d still rather not rebuild the whole system from scratch.

And I shouldn’t have to. I’m using FreeBSD 10.x as my server OS, which brings me a couple of strong advantages: good support for server-grade hardware, and ZFS, the best filesystem on the planet. So I spent a little while poking around the Internet, and formulating a plan, which combined elements from these two sites:

http://daemon-notes.com/articles/system/zfs-maintenance/clonezfs, courtesy of ‘ken’, and

https://forums.freebsd.org/threads/49702/, thanks to Farioko and the FreeBSD forums.

The former helped me get the initial copy over to the new system, and the latter provided guidance in properly configuring the second disk to mirror all that stuff over. Grand total of actual time working on the transfer and getting the mirrors setup: About 45 minutes. Then I had a full copy of the old machine’s system running on the new hardware. Finally, I moved the ethernet  cable over, and wiped the old system’s drives clean with DBAN.

*      *      *


Monday – 80 sit-ups, 40 squats, 32 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 7000 strides on the elliptical in 50 minutes.

Tuesday – Off. I pushed really hard Monday.

Wednesday – 100 sit-ups, 50 squats, 40 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6400 strides on the elliptical in 46 minutes.

Thursday – I substituted yard work for exercise this evening, getting the lawn mowed before big rains move in tonight.


12 June 2016

My heart goes out to all affected by the terrorist attack in Orlando.

*      *      *

Four days ago it was 47° F on my drive in, before 7 AM. This morning before 7 AM, it was 30 degrees warmer than that, and consequently a lot warmer today. Still, I got a few chores done. There wasn’t a need to mow this weekend – we’d had no rain in the last week, and so the lawns pretty much stopped growing. I got some weeding done in the garden beds. And today I got the front automated watering setup working, and added the potted roses to the rotation. In summer’s past, I’d count on being able to remember to water the roses manually. That hasn’t worked out too well. I expect the roses to do a lot better this summer, and be in much better shape come Fall.

No veggies out of the garden this weekend but for one small green pepper. I didn’t want a small plant to put energy into growing a single pepper, so I had two halves of a tiny pepper with lunch yesterday. There are tomatoes appearing on those plants, which is a good sign. A few more weeks and we’ll be eating salsa!

*      *      *


Thursday – 80 sit-ups, 40 squats, 28 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6300 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

Friday – None. Work, followed by an evening out at a birthday party.

Saturday and Sunday – yard work and house chores counted as “walks” for exercise by the FitBit. But no formal exercise.

*      *      *

This week I read Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders. Such a joyously talented writer. I also read last month’s ePub edition of Strange Horizons, an online SFF venue that I support. Again, great stuff. Online, there’s fiction every week, reviews, poetry, and other features. Highly recommended. I’m currently reading this month’s ;Login: magazine from USENIX, and also this month’s Clarkesworld, which I subscribe to via Kindle. For winding down at bedtime reading, I’ve got a couple of Pratchett’s Discworld paperbacks at the bedside.

Also, recently, I finally finished reading In the Shadow of the Master, a collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s work, interspersed with essays from some of the best mystery and horror writers of the last few decades. This reading was inspired by our attendance last year production of Poe, an original play staged by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. For some reason, Poe’s works eluded me throughout most of my education, probably because I was taking some specialty English courses at the same time as the sophomores and juniors in my high school were reading Poe. So, while I appreciated the play, I didn’t have much of a grounding in his works or his life. I know a lot more now, and am eager to attend this year’s production, with a fresh script!

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!