17 September 2017

A busy week and weekend. We made it down to Melford Pond for a couple of hours of fishing on Saturday morning. Well, Marcia was fishing (and caught a decent-sized catfish that she put back, might I add!), while I walked the dog around the pond. It was a nice start to the weekend. Chores: Mowing the lawns, changing old, worn-out locksets out for new ones that work properly, etc, etc.

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Tech-side, I’ve been playing around with Flask (a Python web framework). Yeah, should I find something more bleeding edge? Probably. Maybe I’ll revisit Node shortly. Or write something slightly useful in Go, to get a feel for that language. Why is there always so much more to learn than I have hours in a year???

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Reading! You MUST go buy and read Robin Sloan’s Sourdough (Powell’s link here). Seriously. It can be found at your favorite online bookseller and if you ask, probably at the corner bookstore you hopefully still have near you! (Wish I did.) So, as one of the blurbs says, Sourdough does for food what (Robin’s first novel) Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore did for books. I loved that first novel, and I’ve been waiting with little patience for the second. Sadly, I’m neither a first reader nor an ARC recipient for him (yet). Sourdough is a journey for a programmer, Lois Clary, back from the land of code and Slurry™ to what’s important: Food and relationships.

I’d pre-ordered the book, and it arrived while I was in Maine. Not being an idiot, I didn’t start reading the book until yesterday. I finished late in the evening, having read in stretches between chores, and then because I couldn’t put the book down, all the way to the end. I grew up and worked for years in the stomping grounds of Robin’s characters, which adds to the appeal for me – I recognize places where the names have been changed and the lens covered with petroleum jelly to yield that sexy soft blur. And oh, yeah. I love me some sourdough. That there’s a starter, a culture, a mother prominently featured in the book … nay, a character in the book. Wonderful. Highly Recommended. I’d loan you my copy except that I’m going to be re-reading it sooner than you could get it back to me.

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More reading news: I’m a fan and supporter of Strange Horizons, which is a is a weekly magazine of and about speculative fiction. [They] publish fiction, poetry, reviews, essays, interviews, roundtable discussions, and art. They’re in their annual fund drive at the moment. I’d recommend supporting them through their Patreon page, if you like their sort of thing, and you want more of that. They’ve got a week or two to go, so please go support them!

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, but I’m still missing Jerry.

10 September 2017

Sad. There’s a Jerry Pournelle-shaped hole in my personal Universe. Jerry passed away on September 8, 2017. I was a fan of Jerry’s fiction from early on, and additionally a huge fan of his Chaos Manor user technology columns in Byte Magazine. We met in person for the first time at a West Coast Computer Faire (1982, I think, at the San Francisco Civic Center). I’d previously corresponded with him via BIX (the Byte Information Exchange service) on a variety of technical and fictional topics. He was gracious enough to take the time to have lunch with me at that Faire. We crossed paths at a couple more of those, and at several SF cons and events over the years. For a decade or so from the late 90’s, I hosted his websites and email service. Jerry was a gracious and personally generous human being, with an occasionally crusty and cantankerous outer shell. I was blessed to have known him. All our condolences to Roberta, their kids, and the extended family.

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Large mouth bass

Large mouth bass

Yup. Large mouth bass: 17″ and 2# – My best catch of our second week on the lake in Maine. We drove back up to Maine for another week on the lake, with three goals: Fewer mosquitoes, less rain, and more fish. The only clear winner was on the mosquito goal. There were a few standing in for the millions we found in early June. This trip, like the last, had four days with rain. But even so, we had a couple of good half days out on the boat. And I’d say that for me, the fishing was more productive, though nothing I caught was a keeper. The bass pictured above had to go back – they have strict rules to keep the trophy fishing in reasonable fettle there.

Lexi came with us, and seemed to have a good time. Marcia and I both managed to relax pretty well, which is difficult for both of us.

We drove back home yesterday. Today was full of catch-up chores that I shan’t bore you with.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Our thoughts are with those in danger from the large hurricanes that are pounding and threatening Caribbean and US residents.

 

4 September 2017

Hullo. Happity Labor Day, for US visitors. Happy first post in the final one third (not “two thirds”… sigh) of the year, for everyone else. Hurray for a three day weekend. I’ve celebrated by not checking email at all (for work), which means several hundred emails, mostly system generated, tomorrow. Oh, well.

Not much else to report – we went out fishing for a bit, but catching wasn’t on the menu. Otherwise a lovely weekend.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Emil Rivera-Lopez, who was declared deceased on Aug. 31 as a result of a training incident on Aug. 25, off the coast of Yemen, where he was supporting U.S. Central Command operations.

 

29 August 2017

Whoops. A call from a family member was required to help me notice I’ve not posted properly here. Argh!

I had a busy work week last week, then a bunch of yardwork on Saturday, leading to a very, very lazy Sunday with an early-to-bed addendum tacked on. Yay? But no post. Work is full of virtualization and SAN work and preparing for an upgrade cycle. Home is yard work and getting ready for a Fall fishing season (it’s too bloody hot here in the Summer, even in a relatively cool summer like this one). Lexi and Marcia are both well.

On the entertainment front, we’re excited to go see ASC’s Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged, (again!) in September, followed closely by Much Ado About Nothing in October. Find out more about these shows at the Annapolis Shakespeare website.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of GS-12 Daniel Hoadley, 54, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who died on Aug. 18 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from a non-combat related incident. Our hearts also go out to the families of those lost in the maritime collision suffered by the USS John S. McCain:

  • Nathan Findley, 31, Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles, from Amazonia, Missouri
  • Abraham Lopez, 39, Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class, from El Paso, Texas
  • Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, Electronics Technician 2nd Class, from Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, Electronics Technician 2nd Class, from Cable, Ohio
  • Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class, from Manchester, Maryland
  • Corey George Ingram, 28, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class, from Poughkeepsie, New York
  • Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, Electronics Technician 3rd Class, from Suffield, Connecticut
  • John Henry Hoagland III, 20, Electronics Technician 3rd Class, from Killeen, Texas
  • Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class, from Decatur, Illinois
  • Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, Electronics Technician 3rd Class, from Cherry Hill, New Jersey

20 August 2017

Well, we topped out the last four weeks at over 10″ of rain (I’ll only say ‘over‘ because I really need to re-site my rain gauge out of the wind shadow of the tree that’s doubled in size over the last few years).  And it looks like August is going to come and go with only 2 or 3 days above 90°F. Weird. Of course, what with excessive rain and relatively mild temperatures, the lawns which should all be brown and dormant at this time of year are growing madly. I had to double-cut the front yard yesterday, and the back yard needs a combine harvester, I think. Nothing else much exciting going on.

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

  • Sgt. Roshain Euvince Brooks, 30, of Brooklyn, New York, who died on Aug. 13 of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations in Iraq.
  • Spc. Allen Levi Stigler Jr., 22, of Arlington, Texas, who died on Aug. 13 of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations in Iraq.
  • Staff Sgt. Aaron R. Butler, 27, of Monticello, Utah, died Aug. 16 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations.

13 August 2017

We saw a wonderful play at Annapolis Shakespeare Company on Saturday evening: Alice and the Book of Wonderland. It’s a brand new show based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (well, duh, me), adapted by Sally Boyett and Donald Hicken.  Laura Rocklyn plays a marvelous Alice. The six remaining cast members: Ian Charles, Bill Dennison, Olivia Ercolano, Brian Keith MacDonald, Jackie Madejski, and Johnny Weisgerber – well, they cover the balance of the 24 characters in the show. Over time, each runs off, stage left, and seemingly moments later appeared stage right in fresh costume and makeup. Holy cow, do these folks work HARD to get us up and clapping!

Extra ovations for Mr. Dennison’s twitchy White Rabbit: by turns frightened and arrogant; Mr. MacDonald’s Knave, who clearly takes a page from the Book of Black Adder codpiece fashion; and the superbly evil Red Queen (Crash! Cringe!) played majestically by Ms. Ercolano. Also we were wowed by the costume wizardry of Sandra Spence!

It’s a magical show brought further to life by projections of artwork from Carroll’s original book, as well as a projected Cheshire Cat (portayed by the face of Mr. Weisgerber). From Rev. Dodgeson rowing with the girls to the Mad Hatter’s tea party to the Mock Turtle’s sad song, the show had us riveted throughout. This is a play that is child-friendly, but with sly adult references and pin-point precise topical political commentary.

There are FOUR MORE stagings of this production, next weekend (8/18 – 8/20/2017), before it goes back into the vault. If you’re DC-local, you really should go. Oh, yes. We also just ordered our flex passes for the upcoming 2017/2018 season, and we’re really looking forward to seeing all of these wonderful actors in new roles for another year. Join us, won’t you?

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, but our condolences to the family and friends of Heather Heyer, who died at the hands of an apparent domestic terrorist (in my opinion), James Alex Fields, Jr., in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017.

 

6 August 2017

Well, Marcia’s home from Michigan. She went up for the week to visit family, and had fun. Lexi spent the week eyeballing me and asking when Marcia was going to be back. This is that look:

Lexi wants Marcia home

Lexi wants Marcia home

Along with doing a bit of remote work each day (and going to the office for a few hours on Tuesday), I got a lot of chores done around the homestead. Garage clean up. Mowing. A couple of days of pressure washing the deck and stamped concrete pad. All-in-all, a fairly productive week. Today we did the shopping, then I roasted coffee and relaxed. No bad thing.

Also, I read a wonderful short story by Chris Pourteau called Unconditional: A Tale of the Zombie Apocalypse. All I can tell you without spoilers is that this is told from the viewpoint of the family dog. Oh, and it’s my current favorite short story of the year. I was getting ready to put on my short list for a Hugo nomination when I learned that the story is from 2015. Ah, well. Good news: I get to go find more of Chris’s work and see if I enjoy it as much. I found the story in At The Helm: Volume 1: A Sci-Fi Bridge Anthology.

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

  • Tech. Sgt. David Board, 49, of Barboursville, West Virginia, died on August 2 in Kuwait in a non-combat-related incident while deployed in support of combat operations.
  • Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter, 23, of Columbus, Indiana, died on Aug. 2 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a result of injuries sustained when a vehicle-borne improved explosive device detonated near his convoy.
  • Spc. Christopher Michael Harris, 25, of Jackson Springs, North Carolina, died on Aug. 2 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a result of injuries sustained when a vehicle-borne improved explosive device detonated near his convoy.

 

30 July 2017

So, in the last eight days, we’ve had 6″ or so of rain in my part of the state. We’ve had a couple of intense pop-up storms that hovered and dumped huge amounts, along with the other storm lines that the whole state got. And miracle of miracles, it was 58 degrees outside when I woke up this morning. That’s unheard of in July in these parts – it was a truly gorgeous day today: low 80’s at the peak and but moderate humidity. Lexi was the beneficiary of that, with a couple of long walks to her credit. I say 6″ or so above because I noticed that the siting of my rain gauge is now in the wind shadow of a tree that’s grown and spread quite a bit in the last year or two.

I’m taking the upcoming week mostly off work (doing just a bit of email and ephemera each morning so that the return isn’t horrible) to burn up vacation hours that I’d otherwise lose at the end of the year. No real plans at this time, beyond roasting coffee and trying to relax a bit. Maybe planting a post in the middle of the yard for the rain gauge.

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Here’s Lexi being cute to warm up your day:

Lexi being cute with her stuffed toy cow

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

24 July 2017

Not a huge update this week. Work was fine. House cleaning on Saturday, followed by supper guests in the evening, which was lovely.  A few more chores on Sunday. About three inches of rain over the weekend, joined by a couple of hours of intense thunder and lightning from just before midnight last night until nearly two. Yay? So I’m a tire mess this morning. Oh well.

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

16 July 2017

I guess I’ll just start with the bad news, and get that out of the way. RIP George Romero and Martin Landau. I’ve been a modest fan of George Romero’s work over the years, although I’ll grant that his influence on many of the directors and actors I enjoy most was huge! I am gutted, though, to hear the news of Martin Landau. Yes, yes, yes: we get old, we die. I’ve loved Landau since Mission: Impossible and Space 1999. His skill as an actor was consummate and I mourn his passing.

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On the “Ooooh. Interesting!” front, I’m pleased to see that BBC revealed that Jodie Whittaker is to be the thirteenth Doctor. (Apparently) unlike a bunch of johnny-come-lately dudebros, I’m content to see a good actor take a long-established role and stretch the boundaries once again. Yup, I’ve been sad knowing that Peter Capaldi is done, because I’ve enjoyed his Doctor quite a lot. Now: rooting for Jodie, I am.

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Next up: great fun. Last night, we saw the Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s production of The Tempest for a second time. We already had these tickets when we got invited to Opening Night, and frankly, both Marcia and I can’t get enough of this wonderful groups work. For me, I enjoyed being able to focus this performance on some of the side action going on around the main characters in each scene. Bill Dennison gave us Antonio with a deep lack of conscience, portrayed with an extra (and poignantly current) opportunism. Does that come naturally, Bill? Also, new company member Ian Charles’s  Trinculo gave good exasperation in the face of abuse by the sprites, Tony Tsendeas’s Stephano, and John Bellomo’s Caliban. Not least, Jurden Payne’s Ferdinand played marvelously as he fell like a rock for Olivia Ercolano’s Miranda. All such wonderful actors. The direction. The setting. (The humidity and mosquitoes, oh my!) There’s one more week to go, if you’re local or visiting, try to get tickets!

Oh, hey: this ASC Tempest page has several pictures from Opening Night. You can even play Spot the Brian!

Next up: Alice and the Book of Wonderland.

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