2017 June 18

Most of a post-vacation work week gone by – I’ve just been dropping back into the groove. We’ve got patching and virtualization updates scheduled for the near future, so I’ve got a fair bit of planning to do to pull it off without causing unplanned downtime. This weekend was … hot, mostly, and humid. It’ll take me a while to drop into summer accommodation mode. We did celebrate a friend’s birthday this weekend, and we’re going to help a neighbor celebrate a birthday next weekend.

I made the Father’s Day phone call today, it was nice chatting with my folks – their weather is right now as hot as ours, but the humidity is much, much lower. Yay, California!

Here’s a happy Lexi who spent a couple of hours snoring on my chest yesterday:

Lexi snoozing on me

Lexi snoozing on me

*      *      *

Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors – I mentioned the initial notification last week, now we know who we mourn:

  • Sgt. Eric M. Houck, 25, of Baltimore, Maryland, died on June 10 in Peka Valley, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of gunshot wounds sustained there.
  • Sgt. William M. Bays, 29 of Barstow, California, died on June 10 in Peka Valley, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of gunshot wounds sustained there.
  • Corporal Dillon C. Baldridge, 22 of Youngsville, North Carolina, died on June 10 in Peka Valley, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of gunshot wounds sustained there.

11 June 2017

A week in Maine

A week in Maine

We had a nice week in Maine – two 10+ hour driving days, two sunny days, and a fair bit of Seattle-influenced weather. But a relaxing, wonderful trip. A few small fish caught – all sent back to eat healthy and grow bigger. Pictured above is the camp (the word for house on a lake, in Maine) we were staying at. No, you can’t build that close to the water anymore. Yes, we did bring Lexi with us. And yes, there were more than a trillion mosquitoes around, just lurking around the camp waiting to feed on Marcia and I.

Today: chores, shopping, etc. Tomorrow: TBD. I’ll be back at my desk at work on Tuesday morning.

*      *      *

DoD announced three US casualties in Afghanistan yesterday, but no further details are available yet. Our condolences.

 

28 May 2017

In entertainment news, we attended the theater last night. Annapolis Shakespeare’s Donald Hicken gave us a superbly directed production of Richard III. Visiting actor Kurt Elfmann was wonderful as the murderous, treacherous, and slimy Richard. His introspective Richard was for me most compelling. ASC company member Brian Keith MacDonald played both Brakenbury and a strong, well-executed (heh) Buckingham. It’s tough playing second fiddle to an erratic schemer. I don’t but wonder what sort of role models he had for that, these days?

Also ASC regulars: Olivia Ercolano and Laura Rocklyn (Lady Anne and Queen Elizabeth, respectively) lent strength and passion to their portrayals. Doomed in their interactions with Richard, the women in this play do their best to survive at the cost of horrid compromise. Dexter Hamlett’s George (Duke of Clarence) also stood out for me, playing out his character’s fate and pain with dignity and power.

The whole cast, some eleven in all, built an exquisite mind palace for this play, making do with but three pieces of furniture in the black box of the company’s education stage. Well-designed  and executed (there’s that word again!) music, drums, and lighting provided the necessary complement to this powerful Shakespeare history. Runs at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company through June 11, 2017. Highly Recommended.

*      *      *

It’s a holiday weekend. So of course it’s been raining straight through. We just cracked a year’s worth of rain, some 44″ worth, since I last changed the battery in my backyard rain gauge. That year’s worth of rain did, however, take 15 months to fall. So we’re still a bit short. Friends over for supper and games tonight, and anticipation of a relaxing day, possibly with some wood-working thrown in, for the actual Memorial day. Here’s how Lexi handles a rainy holiday weekend:

Rainy Day Lexi

Rainy Day Lexi

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Etienne J. Murphy, 22, of Loganville, Georgia, who died on May 26, in Al-Hasakah, Syria, of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover related incident.

14 May 2017

First: She’s a good dog, Brent – 42/10.

Lexi

Lexi

Lexi, above, at one of her favorite activities: watching DogTV ™ from an ottoman at my upstairs office window.

*      *      *

Second: Happy Mother’s Day, y’all. You know who you are! My personal celebration in honor of mothers everywhere is listening to a lot of Bangles music tonight. Yay!

*      *      *

Our second streak of Seattle weather in May finally broke today, after several grey days and a couple of inches of rain. We reached the mid-70’s. That meant I could get out and take care of the mowing, and do some weeding out of the front flower beds. I’ve still not cleaned out the main veggie beds in back, for a variety of reasons. I’m leaning hard towards giving the garden a pass this year. We had such a bad year last year…

*      *      *

Penultimately: Today is 10 years with my current employer. Please note that I’m still nowhere near the median tenure for the firm, which is currently hovering around 17 years, IIRC. What a wonderful bunch of folks to work with.

*      *      *

In local entertainment news, The Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s production of Richard III opens on Friday. It’s the first production in their new 99 seat black box theater. We’re looking forward to the show, and if you’re in the area, you should join us. We love this team of creative folks and are sure you will, too!

*      *      *

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

16 April 2017

Oh, first: Release your tax info, President Trump. Note: No one paid me to say that. Just do the right thing, please. Just this once…

*      *      *

Here’s a happy dog:

Lexi relaxing on my lap

Lexi relaxing on my lap

This dog had to deal with Marcia’s trip, immediately followed by mine. About 16 hours after Marcia got home, Saturday last, I hopped onto a plane headed for Denver. There, I spent a week in a Red Hat Automation with Ansible class, wrapping up with a brutal four hour practical exam. I learned a bunch of stuff, and I passed the exam. That also extended my RHCE/RHCSA certs into 2020, which is good.

The weekend was full of chores. I’m full of tired.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland, who died on April 8 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations.

9 April 2017

G’day. Lexi was a happy puppy, yesterday late afternoon. That’s when Marcia got back home from a 9 day trip up to Maine, where she was spending time with her sister. This is a dog waiting for his mistress to come home:

Lexi waiting for Marcia to come home from Maine

Lexi waiting for Marcia

For the duration, I was bailing out of work early, coming home to walk the dog and work on fitting out Marcia’s closet. Every time I’d go down to the basement workshop, Lexi would eventually follow, and sit on her perch in Marcia’s sewing room (as above), and look a bit pathetic.

Here’s how the closet came out:

Marcia's closet completed

Marcia’s closet completed

So that, and getting the watering system setup for the hanging flower baskets on the front porch, pretty much ate my non-work week. This upcoming week will be fun – I’m spending some significant focused time on a configuration management tool chain.

*      *      *

What I’ve been reading: Born to Run: Bruce Springsteen by The Boss, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, 3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, and Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson. Note, those are all in-process books and I’m enjoying all of them. Additionally, I just finished reading The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. That was good fun and a great read. Wanting more and I have to wait for it…

Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire

Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire

You can see I’ve got James S. A. Corey’s Caliban’s War waiting in the wings. But I’m not, not going to pick up another book until I’ve got one or more of the currently-reading tomes done with…

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Gratitude.

7 Feb 2017

Wow. Am I a slacker, or what? I’ve been really busy. Work is keeping me on my toes, and (wonderfully), we’re finally cooking with gas!

Cooking with gas: Our new KitchenAid Dual Fuel range

Cooking with gas

We got a KitchenAid Dual Fuel range – a natural gas range (that could be converted to LP if needed) with two electric ovens. Yay! Getting the range was Marcia’s birthday present, and she got the gasfitter to run the line for Valentine’s Day. No massacres yet!

*      *      *

On the professional front, I’m working on the options for extending my Red Hat Certified Engineer status. I’m probably going down the automation path, with Ansible, for a variety of reasons. So I’ve got to spend a fair bit of time building test environments and building my skill set with the range of capabilities that Ansible offers today. I’ve been using it for a few years now, but not taking advantage of all that the tool suite has to offer. Should be fun.

*      *      *

Books: I finally finished reading Leviathan Wakes – Book One of The Expanse by James S. A. Corey. Wonderful space opera set believably in our solar system (so, no light speed drives required to move the action along). Miller and Holden. Holy cow. If you’ve not read, you should. I’ll be reading the books before I start watching the series, which I hear is also seriously awesome. Next up, Born To Run, by the Boss.

*      *      *

Lazy lookout guard - Lexi has to rest her head

Lazy lookout guard

Lexi had her annual check-up last weekend, and flew through with flying colors. The nail trimming and first round of shots didn’t make her very happy, though. She’ll be even less happy when she goes back for two more shots in a couple of weeks. The rabies vaccine booster was part of this year’s regimen, so the vet likes to split up the shots when there are a bunch, for a little dog like Lexi.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Pfc. Brian. P. Odiorne, 21, of Ware, Massachusetts, who died on Feb. 20, in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident.

19 Feb 2017

Well, here we are, barely a month into this Republican Administration. How do you think it’s going. I’m pretty disappointed. By now, I was sure we’d ALL have gold-plated hotels of our very own. Sad!

*      *      *

I was helping Marcia box up some stuff in her sewing area in the basement, and I may have gone overboard:

Lexi's ready to go!

Lexi’s ready to go!

Of course I blamed the dog for this. Why wouldn’t one?

*      *      *

We’ve had an unseasonably lovely President’s Day weekend so far. Unlike the heavy snows of the last few years, we’re up into the 60’s and 70’s for highs. That’s probably going to end in sorrow (and snow) though, because I washed both cars this weekend. We all know that car washing beats forecasts, every day of the week. That, with other chores and remote work for the office has meant a full weekend so far. Tomorrow’s moderate temperatures are indicative of yard work, more’s the pity.

*      *      *

DoD has reported no casualties in the last week, for which we are grateful. We can but hope that this Republican Administration doesn’t lead us into new wars. Ciao!

 

 

5 Feb 2017

A good weekend, as such things go. Saturday, I roasted some coffee. In the evening, we headed over to the Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s new digs, and enjoyed a superb performance of Thorton Wilder’s Our Town. Not a play I’d seen before. Excellent direction by founder Sally Boyett, and powerfully performed.  Patrick Ryan Sullivan takes a very pleasing and strong turn as the Stage Manager, but my personal favorite for this show has to be the tender  and heart-rending Emily Webb as given to  the audience by the talented Laura Rocklyn. As each season with this company progresses, I see new depths in each of the Resident Company Actors – frankly I love them all – and I’m already looking forward to Alice In Wonderland! Aaaand, I just scored our tickets to see The Tempest in July, in the gardens at the Charles Carroll House. We saw Midsummer Night’s Dream in that venue last year – a great place for a show!

Today, shopping, 2016 taxes, and associated year-end paperwork. All done and submitted. Not the most pleasant of chores, to be sure, but done for the moment. Just a couple of missing bits of paper to add to the documentation pile – I know what the numbers are, but I want hardcopy of the things just to be safe.

*      *      *

For many people, these past weeks have brought about a great deal of uncertainty and trepidation. In the face of such circumstances, clearly a diversified portfolio is the correct strategy. When you don’t know what’s going to succeed, through the spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks…

Diversify your portfolio!

Diversify your portfolio!

*      *      *

Alternatively, just lick your nose and hope for the best, as Lexi does:

Is my nose okay?

Is my nose okay?

*      *      *

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

22 Jan 2017

It’s a hell of a thing. But let’s be clear. I’m not really an optimist. Most days, I plan for the worst. In the end, most days I’m pleasantly surprised by how well things went. Given my imagination, really, I’m not going to actually have the worst day I can envision.

Sadly, I don’t think the President has the chops or the self-control to build a team that will give us good government. For me, this makes bad days more likely. I think it’s the absolute unpredictability of the man that is most bothersome. Well, that and the sycophants that parrot and back up whatever shiny lunatic lies pops out of his mouth. I suspect our best hope in the short term will be an adversarial press, and an active electorate.

It was awesome to watch the crowds come together yesterday for the Women’s March. I was an event chauffeur, driving Marcia and a neighbor down to the Metro early, and picking them up in the afternoon. You can (and people do) pick apart any agenda, but I’m impressed with the general direction and motivation from the Women’s March. The big take-away is to be active. Become and stay involved in politics. Watch how your local, state, and national representatives act on your behalf, and let them KNOW you’re watching. Let them know when you don’t approve, AND when you do. Both are important. Actively support the groups doing good work: the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, etc. Stay active and be ready when it’s time to go to the polls again. If you don’t like how things work, and you don’t vote … well, that’s just sad.

The man who is President won, I believe, due to electorate lethargy and apathy. These are fatal to a Democracy. In the year to come, his actions and our level of activity will distinctly influence mid-cycle elections. Our Legislative Branch will then have to shit or get off the pot. Be part of the solution, make a difference. That’s my take.

Of course, as a died-in-the-wool pessimist, I expect none of this to make a difference. And there’s still a rock out there with our name on it. But maybe not tomorrow.

*      *      *

Lexi doesn't want a walk...

Lexi doesn’t want a walk…

I asked, really I did. It was an unusual Monday for the dog, because I was home all day on MLK Day. That sort of thing messes with her expectations of how life should go. I should be home for two days, then gone for most of the next five.

“Do you want to go for a walk, Lexi?”

That usually elicits an excited tail-wagging response that leads directly over to the leash. But on Monday last, the answer was clear:

“Nope. Belly scritch. Now.”

*      *      *

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