Yard, Themes

This weekend, I was working in the yard. The garden beds, they are ready for plants:

Garden Bed Prep - 2015

Garden Bed Prep – 2015

That, along with mowing the lawns, twice, and cleaning out all of the front flower beds, took up most of Friday and Saturday. Sunday was rest (or its best friend, immobility).

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Theme update: The theme, it is currently a bit hideous, but now mobile friendly, due to changes in how Google search results will be ranked. Here’s a useful link on the topic from Digital Trends. Expect more work on this over the coming days.

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Tech. Sgt. Anthony E. Salazar, 40, of Hermosa Beach, California, died April 13, at an air base in southwest Asia in a non-combat related incident. Our condolences to his friends and family.

All About Security

I spent my weekend attending talks at the inaugural BSides Charm City. BSides puts on several regional security conferences, and I’m glad they expanded into this geographic. Two full days of security talks has made my head explode, and now I’m a full week behind the curve on getting the yards ready for spring, but all good. I learned a lot! The conference sold out this year, but I am given to understand that they’re moving to a larger venue next year, so if you’re in the area and want to spend a little bit of money on a whole lot of value, join me there in 2016.

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Spc. John M. Dawson, 22, of Whitinsville, Massachusetts, died April 8, in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he was attacked by small arms fire while he was on an escort mission. Our condolences to his family and friends.


Pushing harder

First, exercise. I’ve been pushing a lot harder the last couple of weeks. I’ll do 20-30 minutes of alternating stretches and exercise (squats, sit-ups, push-ups), followed by 45+ minutes on the elliptical. My “best” day of the week was yesterday: I managed 60 minutes, 8200 strides, 1000+ calories burned on the machine. I probably pushed too hard – it hurt when I did a normal workout today. But overall, I feel better, and I sleep better. Those are both good things.

I skipped a day on Wednesday. The body was demanding a short break, and the UP24 was mis-behaving. Taken together, those are good enough reasons – I only managed about a total of 4500 steps that day, which dragged my daily average for the week down to 13,500 steps a day. The week before was nearly at 15K steps daily.

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Turns out that among certain circles, last year’s Hugo winners were seen as an upsetting bunch of diverse and progressive upstarts. So this year, the upset ones decided to mount an outright campaign to return the awards to people they like (which appear to be mostly conservative/libertarian white folk). This, while playing within the rules of the Hugo nominations, has now upset a bunch of the progressive wing of SF&F (authors *and* fandom). Here’s an article on io9 that might bring you up to speed if you care to know more. Me? I liked many of the stories that were nominated last year.

More to the point, there are an unlimited amount of fucks I don’t give about the politics going on. There are lots of wonderful people and authors in SF&F. There are some who are … less wonderful. Some are outright assholes.  But, importantly, what I want is good stories. Since I’m not a good enough writer to make them myself, I want other people to write them. I don’t care (much, if at all) about the politics, gender/sex orientation, race, or anything else about an author. What I care about is that the author has one job. ONE JOB. Entertain me. For their sake, I hope there are lots of other people that they can entertain, too, or they won’t eat well.

So this year, for the first time ever, I’ve become a WorldCon Supporting Member. This means that I can vote for the Hugos in the way that’s most important to me: The stories. The stories. If it turns out that the stacking of the nominations means that the stories I like are written by people who dislike diversity and people having sex with some old white guy non-approved person … oh, well – I like the story and it will get my vote. IF, however, the stories suck … it doesn’t matter who wrote them. No vote for you.

If you’re a Science Fiction fan, and want to make a difference in the fiction that’s rewarded by fans, in a way slightly less important than, say, buying the author’s work, then register for this year’s WorldCon – Attending if you can, Supporting if you can’t. And vote. If you want to vote on the politics, fine. If you want to vote on the stories, well, that’s what the Hugo’s are for, and I’d like you to do that. But you can’t make a difference if you don’t register and vote.

Also remember – the most sincere way you can register your love of an author’s work is to support their anti-social writing habit by buying the stories they produce. If you like short fiction, subscribe to those markets (I’m a fan and subscriber of Clarkesworld, myself). If you like novel-length work, buy the books. Support the authors so that they can write more. Hugos are nice on the mantle, but royalty checks can feed the family.

Oh, yeah: As a favor to me, if you do register, remember that I’d like it very much if you voted to bring the WorldCon to Washinton DC in 2017. Just sayin’.

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Last week, I impact tested one of my remote backup disks to the point of failure. So I bought a new 1TB drive, which should arrive tomorrow. I’ll talk soon about how I’m encrypting these backups.

Also coming up, a new table is getting ready to emerge from the woodshop. I’m also putting another new handle on one of our kitchen knives, since the plastic is crap was cracking.

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No casualties were announced by DoD in the last week. Yay. Ciao!

Staying Busy

It’s a long list of small-ish chores that got done this weekend, too dull to enumerate. But lots got done, which is good. We’re hopeful that by next weekend, Marcia will have the sewing room and fabric room reassembled and nice enough to show y’all a picture or two of how it came out. But right now it’s a slice of Hell for the compulsive tidier…

It was pretty cold this weekend – hovering around freezing. So, no yard work (not that I had time for any). On the exercise front, I’m back in full swing, however. According to my Jawbone UP24, I did a shade over 100000 [Corrected to 100K+ on 3/30] steps in the last 7 days: Monday through Sunday. Whoa!

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Still no new casualties to report, according to DoD.

Spring Snows

Yep. On the day that encompassed the Spring Equinox, we had an inch of snow. Lovely, really. More to the point, it never really shifted over to warmer rain and melt away before Spring proper. So, Winter, still, then. Lovely. A couple of school districts closed, several were delayed by a couple of hours (until the snow started falling … odd, that), but other than that, nothing too exciting.

My week was full of working each day on things that I hadn’t planned on doing. Like most weeks, really. The weekend, though, went exactly as planned. Several hours of remote work getting things done, and the balance of the time in the basement, helping Marcia move stuff back in, or building additional bits for storage of stuff for Marcia’s sewing room. Pictures when it’s done – now it is a right mess.

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Gladly, still no new casualties reported by DoD since 14 December 2014. Ciao!

Making Do…

Sewing room, reassembling

Sewing room, reassembling

I’m still recovering from a weekend of painting and remote work … but Marcia’s sewing room is coming back together. Saturday I did the walls and bulkheads, cutting in by hand then rolling out the flats. Sunday, after several hours of remote work, I crawled about on the floor, painting the trim. Sunday evening, I moved some of the cabinets in, and started moving in tables and equipment. Marcia’s happy, I think. Me? I’m just tired. Sorry for missing last night.

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Three months with no casualties reported by DoD. Huzzah!


Spring coming; International Women’s Day

But let’s do this the other way around: International Women’s Day. The joke du’jour involves “of course it’s the day with just 23 hours” (in most of the US, anyway). But frankly, with women being treated badly in every old way, and in the various new ways that the Internet has spawned, it needs more than a day.

Women are people. All people deserve respect. That’s the bottom line. And when people like Brianna Wu (Chief Panjandrum of Development at Giant Spacekat, @spacekatgal on teh twitters, outstanding geek feminist, and recipient of death, rape, and family threats daily) continually has to deal with shitty Internet trolls and modify her agendas and lifestyle because at least one of those trolls might be a for-reals psycho … well, that sucks.

For every woman who speaks up about the unconscionable behavior she endures (one way or another), there are many, many who don’t speak up. To keep the job, to keep the family together, or because there aren’t any other alternatives. It shouldn’t suck to be a person, to be a woman. It also shouldn’t suck to be differently gendered, or developmentally challenged, or any of the other divisive modes that people (and most easily, the anonymous angry denizens of the Internet) use to spew hatred upon others for “fun.”

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As a very-nearly unrelated side note, I’m generally not much of a casual gamer. I’m more on the hours-at-a-time solo FPS or RPG on the PC gamer. But I downloaded Giant Spacekat’s game Revolution 60 (free to start), and purchased the full game. I’ve been enjoying the gameplay. As usual, I don’t choose a single path, but somehow I always end up either chaotic good or chaotic neutral. Just who I am, I guess. If you play games on the iPhone or iPad, give the game a try. I think you’ll like it.

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Spring may, in fact, be approaching. Temps got up above 50 today, and a lot of the snow from this last week … Well, did I mention that we had 8 inches of snow on Thursday. Um, yeah. Well, anyway, much of that snow melted off today. On a walk, Lexi has places to sniff and pee, again. Tonight is supposed to just edge below freezing. But for the next week, nothing below freezing is predicted. How nice that will be.

I’ll need to get the spring fertilizer put down on the lawns, and turn over the garden beds pretty soon. But what to plant? More when I know more.

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I spent a fair bit of time this weekend working on the walls and ceiling in the basement. I ripped out a crappy electrical fixture box, and cut a large enough hole in the drywall to put a much sturdier mount in, for the fixture that goes over Marcia’s sewing table. Patching and painting finished up that job. I also got all of the wall and trim caulking done today. During the week, priming and painting, if I can find the energy after work. Otherwise Marcia waits another week for her sewing room.

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Still no new casualties reported by DoD in the latest week. Ciao!


The weather liar says this is the first day of meteorological Spring. The weather itself says, “ICE!” They’ve been treating the roads and such, but there’s an eighth to a quarter inch of ice on lots of the rest of our area. Trees are deeply unhappy, with branches coming off due to weight. Lovely, really. And such a pleasure when taking the dog for a walk.

Today: Patching systems remotely for work, weekly food shopping, roasted coffee:

Roasted a Columbian today

Roasted a Columbian today

I generally roast early enough that the beans have enough time to rest for at least three days (and outgas most of the CO2) before first grind and brew. No different today: We’ll probably be drinking off of this Columbia SO coffee by Thursday.

I also cleared most things out of Marcia’s front sewing room, and did wall work: sanding and re-spackling. Later in the week, I should be able to get the shoe moulding installed, do the final sanding, and get some primer on the walls with the intention of color coat on the weekend. We know where intentions lead, yes?

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In computing news, I puzzled my way through getting bhyve (the BSD Hypervisor) running on Serenity, the FreeBSD workstation/home server. It’ll be better to experiment with things in a virtual machine, than directly on the host. What I wasn’t able to do was get the tap and bridge networking up and running while *also* using PF, the host-based firewall. I like using firewalls as one layer in a robust security posture … but for now, not so much. The first experiment: PostgreSQL. I’ve worked some with Oracle’s database, and with MySQL (and the MariaDB fork thereof). But there are capabilities in PostgreSQL that I want to explore, and a small Python based project I’d like to write to spend some time with both the language and the database. More if there’s more to report at a later date.

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Gladly observed: still no new casualties announced by DoD in the most recent week. Ciao!

Shoveling S…

Yesterday we were due for 1-3 inches of snow during the day. Late in the afternoon, I took care of the first four inches of that snowfall. Early this morning I shoveled off the last inch and a half, which was lovingly topped with a freezing rain crust. Weirdly, by 1 PM, I was walking the dog while wearing just a light jacket – temps had ramped up to nearly 40° F.

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In the afternoon, I painted:

Cutting in: basement foyer

Cutting in: basement foyer

What I’m calling the basement foyer is a tiny little space, with a doorway (visible) through to Marcia’s sewing areas, a set of louvered doors to the furnace/AC, and the doorway to my woodshop. There’s structure, and cut-ins, and storage, and bulkheads. It took a stunning amount of time to do all of the cutting in. Rolling out the rest of the paint is going to take about 15 minutes, I think.

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No new casualties were announced by DoD in the previous week.