11 March 2018

The work week was productive. I’m planning a couple of patching and upgrade cycles that will call for a couple of weekend days work, and probably some travel in May. But the planning and prep documentation is coming along nicely. And, after last weekend’s excitement and manual labor filled days, I wanted to take it easy this weekend. So I did. Yesterday I dropped by the theater and had a long conversation with Sally Boyett that ended with me joining the Board. I sure hope that I can provide the type of input that she’s hoping for… one thing’s for sure, there’s always more to learn. Today was limited to shopping, roasting coffee (Ethiopian), putting up a lovely quilted (by Marcia, see below) wall hanging, and working on my Python chops.

Marcia quilted a new wall hanging

Marcia quilted a new wall hanging

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Upcoming at Annapolis Shakespeare: Tennessee Williams’s Glass Menagerie, directed by Donald Hicken, is opening on Friday evening, March 16. It’s a four week run for Glass Menagerie, shows on Friday and Saturday evenings, matinees on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Also, on Sunday the 18th, one night only: Broadway on Demand Cabaret night.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Maitland Deweever Wilson, 38, of Brooklyn, New York, who died onMarch 7 in Landstuhl, Germany from a non-combat related incident.

4 March 2018

A fairly calm work-week, until the big winds came. We didn’t lose power at the office, nor at home. But plenty of blinking lights and brown-outs, at both locations. ‘Round about 1 PM, Marcia called and said there were bits blowing off the house, and … problems with the fence. There was plenty of coverage at the office, so I came home. The house issue was limited to some segments of the aluminum soffit under the second story eaves in front. The fence issues, however… On the southeast perimeter, some fencing had come loose from one post, and another post is failing. I’ve got that braced pending further work, later in the spring. The northwest segment of fence saw a more dramatic failure:

Fence failed during windstorm - a post snapped off, and one 8' section blown about 35 feet into the yard.

Fence failed during windstorm

There, the fence failed during windstorm – a post snapped off, and one 8′ section blown about 35 feet into the yard. Not much I could do about that until the winds died down. Saturday, we were already committed to helping out with spring cleaning and reorganization down at the theatre. That left today for repairs.

This morning, after shopping, I headed down to the Home Depot to get what I needed: a couple of bags of concrete and six eight-foot long 2×4 pressure treated. I had a spare post, and just enough fence uprights left over from the big fence project of a couple of years back. Once home, I geared up and started by cutting the two old fence sections in half, for later ease of handling. Then I started working with the shovel, pick axe, and trowel, clearing enough of the minimal concrete and mucky clay from around the stump of the old post, that I might extract said stump. All in on that part of the work – just over an hour. Using my post hold digger, I got down to about 36″ of clear hole, and prepared for the new post. Marcia came out and held it while I trued up the post using a small level and string line. Then I braced the post, and got ready to fill with concrete and backfill from the hole digging process.

New fence post in hole, ready for concrete.

Post in hole, ready for concrete.

Once I’d set the post, I left it to set up for a bit, and got the ladder out to go deal with the soffit issue. The soffit panels were interesting in their storm dispersal. Four of them had blown into the yard of the house just south of us, were collected by that neighbor and saved for us. The fifth segment had executed a Mary Poppins maneuver: Across the street and about 4 houses up – three to four hundred feet away. I spotted it by accident while walking the dog on Saturday. But all in, an easy fix. It was trivial for me to reach the place where the panels needed to be, while standing on the front porch roof. 45 minute put that chore to bed, and I was back at the fence work.

Using a string and measuring tape, I set the top, middle, and bottom rails for the two new 8′ sections of fence. They’re well secured with angle brackets and 3″ coated screws. Then I started setting up for nailing up the fencing proper. By 3:50 PM, I was attaching the first board. By 4:45, the work was done, except for the cleanup.

New fence sections done

New fence sections done

A pneumatic nail gun loaded with 1-3/4″ galvanized 18 gauge stock makes quick work of the job. A couple of pieces needed trimming at the end of each section. All-in-all, a good day’s work. Exhausting, but good.

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On the exercise front, I had a good, good February. I met all the goals for exercise, workouts, and active calorie burn, every day of the month. Hard to do, but making progress feels good.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

25 February 2018

Okay, all good. Two three day weekends are now done.

Eight days ago, I started a house cleaning binge on the Saturday morning, expecting to get the house caught up so that I could do some other projects and have some relax time over the ensuing days. About midway through, I got to the living room, and decided it was time to swap out a couple of the pictures on the wall with more recent acquisitions. One of them needed hanging wire, so I went down to the wood shop to paw through my stacks of stuff and find the wire. I did find the wire, but first I found a lump of drywall laying in a puddle of water on the shop floor, with a slow drip continuing from above. Argh!

I’ll summarize the next couple of hours for you. Turns out that in the furnace area, a former whole-house humidifier (long since gone) had been supplied from a saddle valve, and connected with plastic tubing. The valve at the far end of the tubing had been shut off when the humidifier had been removed, but that’s it. Sigh. Plastic tubing *always* fails, sooner or later. A pinhole leak in the tubing was spraying into the insulation above a main HVAC trunk (square). The water ran along the top of the trunk for a few feet, then dripped into the trunk airway. It then continued running along the trunk, until it dripped out again, and onto some drywall. By the time the drywall failed, there was a couple of gallons on it, so splash. It did take a while to track down the source of the leak, and with some contortions, was able to get to the saddle valve and cut the water off at it’s source. That left a little time to get ready for attending Blithe Spirit again, that Saturday evening. Lovely fun show, better the second time around – it’s a fast paced show, and having it fresh in mind when seeing it the second time getting the lines and the beats a lot easier. Talented cast did stellar work, and the show closed today.

Sunday I spent getting bits, properly capped off that saddle valve, and removed the plastic line from service entirely. Monday was spent cleaning up the shop, and building a wall-mounted necklace storage thing for Marcia’s closet:

Marcia's new necklace hanger

Marcia’s new necklace hanger

I had a moderately busy, moderately successful 3-day work week, with an evening of Linux infrastructure and non-production system patching smack in the middle. This three day weekend was lovely. I would have liked to get out and start prepping the yard … but it rained all weekend. So I got some more of the cleaning done, gave the dog a bath, and sundry other chores, along with production Linux patching this morning starting at 0700. But we ended on a high note. Tonight was Cabaret night at Annapolis Shakespeare, “Broadway and Beyond”. Cast was Sally and four folks who are all going to be in the upcoming production of Kiss Me Kate. Good fun.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Christina Marie Schoenecker, 26, of Arlington, Kansas, who died on Feb. 19 in Baghdad, from a non-combat related incident.

11 February 2018

Howdy. I had a decent work week, and a pretty full weekend. I’m not sure where yesterday went, entirely, though it was a lovely Saturday evening out to supper with my co-workers at a nearby brew pub. Good food and good times.

Today was chock-a-block: shopping, then for work: tickets, email, and some production system patching, reboots, and testing. Then I installed a replacement sump pump, since the old one wasn’t working so well anymore (short cycling). Then lunch, a spot of recorded TV, then exercise, an early supper, a shower, and off to the show. Tonight in the ASC Cabaret Series, we enjoyed an evening of That’s Amore (Opera’s Greatest Arias) with Madeline Miskie, Madelyn Wanner, and Mandy Brown singing, accompanied by Joy Mentzel.  We certainly aren’t deep opera fans of any sort, but their voices were lovely, and they took the time to set the scene and our expectations so that we could interpret *some* of the action, even though we have not a stitch of Italian between us. Yep, all Italian.

Speaking of which, the only thing I didn’t get done this weekend was coffee roasting. I absolutely MUST roast tomorrow night or … buy some coffee. <shudder>

Anyway, all good fun, a successful week and weekend, and time to get some sleep, and start all over again.

DoD announced no new casualties in the most recent week.

4 February 2018

There’s a football game going on now, just after a halftime show of some sort. If history is any guide, then losing badly is where the Pats want to be right now. That said, ahead by a considerable margin is where the Eagles want to be, too. So … win/win?

I had a productive work week that lasted all seven days. Well, not seven full days, just five of those. But remote work to do things outside of business hours both yesterday and today, both days successful. Huzzah!

On the off-hours, I’ve been spending more time with Python. It’s a useful language for a number of projects and OS management tools I either use or am interested in, so I’d like to have stronger skills there. Working on it.

Reading: I finished up Jennifer Foehner Wells’s Confluence Series … well, at least the four books that are out in that universe. I’m hoping for more. Great fun: Recommended!

Now: Eagles up by 10 after a couple of possessions in the third quarter. Maybe an exorcism is called for. Anyway, time to walk the dog for the last time, and get back to Python for a bit.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

28 Jan 2018

Good evening. Bob Thompson is still much on my mind. I’m going to miss him.

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Work-wise, it was a productive week. But the weekend, ah, it was good:

Friday evening, we attended opening night for the Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. Spiritedly directed by ASC Founder and Artistic Director Sally Boyett, thc cast romped through this classic drawing room comedy like they’d been working together for ages, and were still having marvelous fun while doing it. Kurt Elftmann, whom we last saw with ASC as Richard III, plays the novelist Charles Condomine magnificently. He’s ensconced in his country home with his second wife, Ruth, executed adroitly by Jessica Hannah Fraser. Natasha Preston is Edith, the maid, who still bears the rushing-about demeanor of her navy training. As the show opens, our host prepares to welcome neighbors Doctor (Phil Bufithis) and Mrs. (Nancy Blum) Bradman to join them for supper, along with spiritualist Madame Arcati (enthusiastically played by Barbara Pinolini).

Condomine hopes to mine the planned seance for material to use in his forthcoming novel. Instead, the evening’s doings result in the arrival of the marvelous Kay Kerimian as the shade of Condomine’s first wife, Elvira. (Side note – a woman named Kay played Elvira in the 1945 film of the play! That’s suitably creepy!) In the balance of the first act, and through the second and third, Elvira vexes and disrupts the household. Edith is an unlikely lynchpin to apparently resolve the resulting furor, and things only really end well for the witty and erudite Condomine.

This play is a real joy, and we’re looking forward to seeing it again before the run closes on February 25. You really should go. Highly Recommended!

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 Saturday, I washed all the crap and salt off of both cars, as well as getting some other chores done, including roasting a pound of Honduran coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s.  It rained today (Sunday), but that was my fault (obviously). We got the shopping and the rest of the weekly chores done, and a friend came over to have me assist in de-crapping her phone (removing all the useless apps) and recovering the password for her main account on her Windows 10 laptop.

Finally, I managed to get my sump pit monitoring system working again. It had been on the fritz for a few weeks, and there were always more important things to do. I was able to safely put it off, because I know that the sump pump is in good condition, but I’d like warnings to be working for the day when it isn’t, anymore. Turned out that I just needed to reseat the connectors between the distance sensor and the Raspberry Pi that runs the software.

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Upstairs, in hardback: Fran Wilde’s Cloudbound. This is book two of her Bone Universe series, and as with book one, it’s wonderful. Right below it on the stack at my bedside is the third novel in the series: Horizon. Fran is a smart, talented writer who manages to create worlds and characters that get under my skin and inside my head. Highly Recommended.

Downstairs, in paperback: Iain Banks’s Excession. One of the Culture novels, and a re-read for me. I’ve been working my way through the books again, off and on, since he died back in 2013. Today I learned that some of that story was inspired by Sid Meier’s Civilization video game. You should read everything Banks wrote. For me, he’s reminiscent of Philip Jose Farmer.

On the phone via the Kindle app: Jennifer Foehner Wells’s Valence (Book 4 of the Confluence series). I’ve read and enjoyed the first three enough to keep on with the fourth, which is enough of a reccommendation. I read on the phone whenever I have time to spare, because reading is always wonderful.

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DoD announce no new casualties in the last week.

21 January 2018

My friend Bob Thompson died last night of complications from heart and lung issues. We hadn’t traveled to see Bob and Barbara for a few years, and I’m a bit sad about that, just now. We’d speak on the phone or via email a few times a year, though. Bob was a smart, smart guy, pleasant to converse with, and uniformly helpful to folks: family, friends, and neighbors. We’re going to miss him. Here’s his obituary on the funeral home site.

16 January 2018

G’day. Yep, I was busy. Sunday we did the shopping, then I started in on chores and such. About halfway through the afternoon, I saw an email that Annapolis Shakespeare Company needed a hand. It was the first load-in day for the set of the next play, and the expected carpenters had bailed on them. So I gathered some tools and went off to Annapolis to help out for several hours. I got home before 10, though… I went back the next day and gave a hand for another few hours. When I wrapped up my participation, all the walls and bracing that could be done were done. Glad to be of service. Still taking ibuprofen, though. And the extra holes in my skin (mostly hands) are beginning to heal. Yay! Good to have spent MLK Day doing volunteer service for our favorite 501(c)3, as well.

I’m not sure I’d be good at set design. I’m a build-to-last kind of guy. Sets are designed to look great for 6 weeks, and be rapidly dismantled before they fall apart of their own volition. Heh.

Not much else to report. I did get some coffee roasted – a Tanzanian from Sweet Maria’s. It’s resting, and I’ll start brewing from that in another couple of days.

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I recently finished reading Fluency (Confluence Book 1) (at this writing: $0.00 for Kindle) by Jennifer Foehner Wells. I’ll admit to a fair reluctance to dive headllong into the new wave of Speculative Fiction – there’s so much unevenly edited crap out there… But I can usually tell within a few pages whether I’ll be swiping the book to the archives, or reading it through. Fluency got a read-through. I enjoyed Ms. Wells’s writing style. The premise of an insectile spacefaring enemy that hasn’t arrived yet, a ship whose only remaining crew is the squid-ish navigator, and a human team of folks who might be able to get along and complete their mission, if it weren’t for the space slugs and the rogue nanotech… Okay, it’s a bit of a mashup, with shades of Red Dwarf and a few special easter eggs. I enjoyed reading it through, and more importantly, I am going to read the next book in the series. That doesn’t happen much, so can count as a reasonable recommendation. I could wish for two lead characters who weren’t starved for the physical attentions of the other, unrequited except in alien-mediated virtual reality. I’ll see how the second book stacks up. Recommended.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Javion Shavonte Sullivan, 24, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, who died on Jan. 8 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident.

7 Jan 2018

First post! Of 2018.

Lunacy continues in some quarters, in others, it’s just bloody cold. Yes, yes, 3°F is winter-time heatwave/shorts weather… in Fairbanks. Here, it a nuisance. But we’re due for some warming up this week, which I’m looking forward to.

We got a lot done this weekend, including the dismantling and boxing of the holiday paraphernalia. That buys me ten and a half months until I have to pull those out of the garage attic again! I roasted a pound of Kenyan beans from Sweet Marias, after picking up the mess left from a stack of trim falling off the wall in the woodshop:

The stack of wood trim fell off the storage at the top of the wall, leaving a mess of pickup sticks!

Pickup sticks: trim fell

Tonight we went over to Annapolis Shakespeare and enjoyed an evening of instrumental Broadway and jazz, with Marc Irwin (pianist and Musical Director of the Company) and guest Maeve Royce on the bass. Quite wonderful!

Also, I see from Barbara’s updates on Bob’s page that he’s finally due to leave the hospital and get into rehab (and hopefully soon from there to home)! We’re very glad to see Bob making progress!

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin, 34, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who died on Jan. 1 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while on a dismounted patrol.