21 July 2019

Short Take

There really isn’t much to report since a couple of days ago when I got around to posting (late). I got a bit of cleanup done in the garage, and put up all the tools in the woodshop. After all the assorted work, I’m only missing my socket wrench and one socket! They’re here, somewhere…

It’s been properly hot around here, but this is supposed to be another summer where it doesn’t actually reach 100F on the thermometer. Is it supposed to be scary and sell more advertising that they’ve been reporting on “feels like” rather than “is” for a few years now? Sigh. Publish the algorithm and specify the source data used to generate the “feels like” number, and back generate that for a bunch of years, so that we have a proper historical view. I imagine the “feels like” was pretty damn bad on those days the actual thermometer hit, say, 105…

I don’t dispute that the climate is changing. It always is, and always will. But let’s try for some proper continuity in reporting change, rates of change, etc. If you’re saying that you can’t effect change in society without lying shading the truth and continuously moving targets, goals, and units of measure … I just don’t feel obliged to listen.

Do people screw up the planet? Sure. Look at an open pit mine. Look at Chernobyl. Can change come, can we do better? Sure – look at the skies of Los Angeles now vs thirty or forty years back. Will change come? Yup. Still waiting for the next big impactor.

Cheery, ain’t I?

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. William Edward Friese, 30, from Rockport, West Virginia, who died on July 18, 2019 in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, from a non-combat related incident.

18 July 2019

Winding Up

Well, I came to my senses, realizing that leaving y’all with the impression that I was going to be doing something seen as dangerous (fixing garage door springs), then going dark-ish. Thanks for the kind thoughts, y’all!

First the good news – I’m fine, the garage door is working fine, and I had few issues with the DIY repair. Therein lies a tale.

I previously wrote, “I’ve ordered a pair that individually match the spec for balancing out my door. I’ll install both, and wind them with about half the turns that the single spring had, then adjust to the correct balance.” I’m sure that some of you spotted the error of my ways and were tittering up your sleeves, awaiting the denouement of this little vignette.

Here goes. Turns out winding two springs half as many turns works great to get a garage door about halfway up. That’s fine, as far as it goes (hur, hur, hur), but when you raise the garage door past that point, with the springs half wound, the cables on each side of the doors leap out of their guides and create weird metallic representations of a bird’s nest… AND the door is halfway up (or halfway down, depending on your viewpoint), and is unlikely to go to the fully up or fully down position without dismantling those bird’s nests. Hmmm. Once the bird’s nests have been detached and untangled, the door is halfway up (or down), with no counter-balancing spring to provide artificial assistance. Sigh.

So, I pulled the ladder over to centerline, rested the door on the ladder and untangled the messes. Then I supported the door, pulled the ladder back in, and muscled the door back down to fully closed. I re-strung and re-tensioned the cables, and started over.

I thought a little more carefully than I did when exhausted and pre-heat-stroke on 4 July. If I wind BOTH springs enough for the door to raise fully, the amount of spring force in the fully down position will be approximately double what’s needed to raise the door. I think that’s called Launch Mode. That’s going to be a different, but also bad problem. So, just use one spring…

This time, I wound one of the springs fully, which is necessary to ensure that the spring provides lift for the whole of the door’s travel, and a bit left over to keep tension on the cables in the fully up position. Yes, I did this carefully, with two winding bars, and my whole body carefully positioned to the side, away from both spring and winding bars. I coated both springs liberally with white lithium grease, which should decrease the chances of corrosion and early failure.

Net result: One functioning garage door, with a mounted, spare, non-tensioned spring awaiting the day the primary goes out. Then I can wind up the spare, and we’re back in business with very little delay!

Not much else exciting to report. We’re in the depths of summer: hot, humid, and hoping the A/C doesn’t fail. Of course, there are hotels for that sort of problem.

Fun things

I’ve been enjoying (on Twitter) @KatinOxford – she has an interesting perspective on many things, but she drew me in with her C. S. Lewis work, including How do you Solve a Problem like Susan Pevensie? – Wonderful stuff, and she posted that on my birthday this year, which means … something. There are regular twitter meetings on Narnia stuff, and it all makes me want to read the series again, with more adult and hopefully more thoughtful eyes. Kat has far more dimension than just that though, so I’ll simply recommend her to y’all, and keep going.

I’ll try to keep an eye out for more fun things to point out in the future. We need fun things – there’s a lot that’s pretty damn dire going on these days.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Maj. James G. Sartor, 40, of Teague, Texas, who died on July 13, 2019, in Faryab Province, Afghanistan, as a result of injuries sustained from enemy small arms fire during combat operations.

7 July 2019

An Eventful Fourth

As holidays go, this one was less than stellar. We started by trying to get out fishing early. Sadly, our local favorite hole had a “Gate is not operating” sign up. Perhaps they just didn’t want to deal with holiday crowds while on holiday staffing (it’s a pond on a local preserve, requires special permits, etc).

Meantime, right after breakfast, we’d found out that the flush mechanism on the main floor toilet was busticated, so a new flush handle was on our list. So we left the failed fishing hole, and dropped by the poor second choice hole. Once there, we threw lines in and were utterly untroubled by fish for the hour or so it took the humidity to rise to intolerable levels. To be clear, those levels are variable. They’d have been fine if we’d been catching fish or even getting bit. But no such luck. So off we went.

A stop to tank up Marcia’s car, then Home Depot for the toilet part, then back home. The fix for the toilet was quick and painless. After a boring lunch, we were relaxing in front of the TV when we both heard a weird noise. Hmmm. After a bit of exploration (it’s difficult to locate the source of a non-repeating noise), I found the cause: The garage door torsion spring had expired. Fortunately, there was just one shear point – the spring had NOT exploded into shrapnel peppering our cars.

Now let me describe the next three hours, with relative brevity:

  • I moved the cars a couple of feet toward the back of the garage, to make room for me and a ladder.
  • I disconnected the door opener, and freed the door from it.
  • I dismantled enough bits to extract the broken single spring from the bar, and put it back together without a spring for the time being.
  • I went to lift the garage door so that I could get the cars out, since we both needed to be out and about on Friday.

It’s about here that the story goes sideways.

Turns out that a well-insulated two-car garage steel sectional door is pretty damn heavy. And I didn’t have a handle installed, inside or out. Being handy, I have handles and self-tapping metal screws laying about in the basement. Bad news: A handle didn’t help. Even threading a towel through it to get a better grip and leverage only enabled me to raise the door only a couple of inches. I was on the path to kicking a two-by-four underneath and slowly raising the door when I realized two things: I was putting my back at risk doing this, and lowering it again, safely and without damaging the door, might be unlikely.

So instead I dismantled the door from the top segment on down (drill-mounted socket set for the win), stacked the segments up against the bumpers until done, then walked them all outside onto the lawn. Hmmm. Did I mention the torrential downpours combined with thunder and lightning? I though I might have missed conveying that little detail. Anyway, the path was clear and I pulled both cars down the driveway, moved the segments back into the garage, and reassembled the door.

Using the bits of spring, I identified the type and rating of the single right-wound spring that had been installed with my door. I’ve ordered a matching pair of them (right- and left-wound) and winding bars – they’ll be in on Tuesday. Why a pair? More to the point, why install just one? I’ve ordered a pair that individually match the spec for balancing out my door. I’ll install both, and wind them with about half the turns that the single spring had, then adjust to the correct balance. That’ll buy me two capabilities (with luck): less loaded springs should be less prone to catastrophic failure, and if one of them DOES fail, then I still have a backup already mounted, and should be able to wind it a bit more, and get the garage door open and shut while I wait for the next set of replacement springs.

Whew. A shower, a light supper, and I was ready for my “holiday” to be over. But instead, we had alternating thunder storms and idiots with fireworks keeping me awake, mostly by freaking out the dog, until the wee hours of the following morning. Yay?

Work on Friday, yardwork on Saturday, and a “five dog house cleaning” today filled out the balance of the week. What is a “five dog house cleaning,” you ask? It’s a count of the number of times I have to empty a full container of dog hair from the vacuum cleaner’s collection bucket. Each one is sufficient to construct at least the outside bits of another complete dog. Getting caught up on the cleaning is good. Getting this far behind is a bit sad.

Gratuitous Lexi Photo

Lexi acting as a head rest - the dog is laid out across the top of the sofa cushion behind me.
Lexi acting as a head rest

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class. Elliott J. Robbins, 31, from Ogden, Utah, who died on June 30, 2019, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.

30 June 2019

Half a Year

That’s half a year gone already. But, thankfully, it’s been a relatively quiet time for us. Not much upheaval in life, which is a good thing.

It was also a quiet week at work, and with a major holiday, I expect much the same for the next few days. Yesterday was catch-up-on-yardwork day for me, so I did. Tiring, but effective. Tonight we had first fruits of the garden – a zucchini and a jalapeño. Marcia sautéed the sliced zucchini in olive oil and herbs, and I topped a grilled burger with the sliced jalapeño and some sharp cheddar. Yum.

Lexi (our chipuggle mutt) has been relaxing... (shown reclining next to me)
Lexi has been relaxing…

Winding down

I’ve actually been doing that all day today, but…

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

  • Master Sgt. Micheal B. Riley, 32, of Heilbronn, Germany, died on June 25, 2019, in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations.
  • Sgt. James G. Johnston, 24, of Trumansburg, New York, died on June 25, 2019, in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations.

23 June 2019

AWOL

Well, away, but with leave. We spent the last week enjoying company with family, lovely weather, and intermittently successful fishing in Maine. The camp is on Cobbosseecontee Lake, near Augusta. Here’s a view from next to the lake-side of the camp:

Cobbosseecontee Lake view

We drove up Saturday a week ago. Per my usual routine, I threw a line in the water within about half an hour of arrival, from that very dock. A couple of dozen casts got one solid bite from a bass that squirmed off the hook, then a few minutes later, another bass that stayed on the line for me. Small-ish, perhaps 14″ long.

We enjoyed brunch out at Slates in Hallowell on Sunday morning with Nancy and Marla – always a joy – they have super food and service. Recommended!

Much of the week was then taken up with relaxing and reading at the camp, and fishing up and down the lake, while Lexi guarded the camp from chipmunks and squirrels. We did a lot more targeted fishing this time, as opposed to trolling. I’ll grant you, Marcia’s first two fish of the week were on our one trolling run back from the south end of the lake; She caught a small bass, and a keeper lake trout that we put on a stringer and gave to Nancy’s friend Myra to have for supper (it wasn’t big enough for more than one decent serving).

On Thursday morning, before the rains came to visit, we headed straight across the lake, to the near bank of Horseshoe Island (behind the party barge in the picture above). We drifted along the bank towards the north (left, above), fishing the banks and submerged cover with various baits. Marcia had success with a Sexy Dog top water bait, and I landed our big bass of the week with a 1.5oz deep crank bait in light blue and chartreuse. Both fish were in the catch-and-release category by regulation.

Marcia’s Thursday catch
Brian’s Thursday catch

On Friday we did a bit of dock fishing, undisturbed by actual fish. I did a few small chores around the camp to help Nancy get the place ready for summer, and we packed up and relaxed. Out the door and on the road at 0540 Saturday morning, we were home about 10.5 hours later. Lovely trip, very glad to be home. Did a couple of chores around here, but mostly unwound from the drive, today.

Reading

Along with assorted less-than-memorable works, I read the three books from the top of my TBR pile:

Both of the Scalzi books are sequels, and I’ve been putting them off for far too long. I would strongly suggest reading the first book for both, especially go for The Collapsing Empire (precursor to Consuming Fire) – the story is continuing. Head On can be read as a standalone, but it’s better as a second course. I enjoyed both of those a lot.

The stand-out read for me is Fran’s Riverland. A tale of two sisters coping with an abusive home environment as best they can, including telling each other tales of “house magic”. But when Father breaks the fishing float (aka the Witch Ball), the boundary between reality and the world of dreams begins to break down, and it’s up to the sisters to save each other, and rebuild the walls that protect reality from the river of dreams. The story transfixed me. Fran is a weaver of tales who has taken her third drink from the spring of Hippocrene. She’s a Grand Mistress of climbing inside your head and telling you about broken families, loyalty, and hard decisions, all wrapped up in a pretty story so that you’ll stick around for the important bits. Highly Recommended.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last couple of weeks. Tomorrow, back to work for me. Ciao!

9 June 2019

Hullo

Yes, I know. But me IRL has a lot going on. I’ve been doing a lot of home maintenance work lately, and not a lot of energy for things Internet-ish. Last weekend, along with the never-ending yardwork of Spring through Autumn, I managed to get nearly all of the bi-annual pressure washing done. This weekend, I did some sanding and started painting front trim. I got perhaps 60% of the way through. I might have finished today, but exterior painting and rain rarely mix well (or rather, mix far too well!).

So that’s waiting for another day. I have similar work to do on the back of the house, but that will be done over the next few weeks.

RHEL 8

In what little spare time I do have, I’ve started exploring the recently released next version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. They’ve done some interesting things to manage the fact that we want the operating system to be stable yet secure, for a long, long time… and we also want the most secure, feature-full, and latest tools available to us to support modern workloads. Just for example, until recently, it was fairly difficult to get a supported recent version of PHP that would run on Red Hat. So, I’ve more to learn, which is always a good thing.

Entertainment

We’ve been watching Good Omens on Amazon Prime. Highly Recommended.

Winding down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last couple of weeks. Now, to rest…

May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

While I didn’t lose any close family members in wars ongoing, recent, or past, many of my family and friends have served our Country and Constitution with honor, and are now beyond the veil. And so, so many have paid for their service with their lives. Today is a day to honor those women and men, to honor the sacrifices that our warriors make on our behalf. This they are due, and deserve, regardless of the politics of the day.

The Home Front

OTOH, some of us (me, for example) took care of a lot of chores over the weekend, from mowing and pruning and pressure washing, to setting up the garden watering system, to finishing up the installation of window treatments in three rooms here. So, there’s that done, and it’s paltry in comparison, but that’s all I’ve got. Oh, and roasting coffee, and cutting my hair. And a day of business travel in the week just past. So, busy, but nothing life threatening.

Entertaining

What I’m most looking forward to in the short term is Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prhopecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. Yes, yes, but not the book – the Amazon Prime six episode series. Terry Pratchett is sadly moved on, but co-author Neil Gaiman carries the load well, according to all reports. I am on pins and needles!

Soon, from Annapolis Shakespeare, we have Tartuffe, and The Winter’s Tale. Looking forward to those, too!

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Lexi continues to be a spoilt little dog. Finally, Marcia and I will celebrate this week our 21st wedding anniversary. Yay, us!

20 May 2019

Whew!

There are pictures, but I haven’t downloaded them yet. The weekend was full of yardwork. Saturday was a full front/back mowing and some other front yard tasks. Sunday both Marcia and I worked on fully preparing two of the raised beds for pepper, tomato, and zucchini plants. This year, we’re lining the beds with weed block fabric to attempt to make the fight a bit fairer to us.

In and around the yardwork, we had a game night over at Linda and Mike’s place, where much laughter accompanied a session of Cards Against Humanity. Sunday night was 80’s music Cabaret night at Annapolis Shakespeare. What fun.

Still so tired, though. I’ll try to catch up with y’all later.

13 May 2019

Friday the Thirteenth

Friday the Thirteenth falls on a Monday this month. Triskaidekaphobia is a terrible thing, fortunately something I don’t suffer from. So, Monday after a busy, busy weekend. Mowing the back yard for the first time since August took up much of Saturday, and all of my energy.

Big Fun Mowing Day!

We still made it out to Opening Night for Oliver! at Annapolis Shakespeare Company on Saturday night. What a wonderful fun show. The actors had fun, a group that we knew from prior shows along with many newcomers (mostly kids, for some reason…? Grin!). Much fun, Highly Recommended!

Sunday was rained out, so indoor chores and setting up some new electronic entertainment options.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Miguel L. Holmes, 22, from Hinesville, Georgia, who died on May 6, 2019, in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from a non-combat incident.

This is going to be a busy couple of weeks, with a day of business travel somewhere along the line.