24 November 2019

Pizza Night

After shopping and cleaning house today, we had wonderful home-made pizza AND watched Chicken Run. Now, instead of being able to concentrate on the world-shaking revelations that were to appear in this space, all I can do is type sentences that run on and on without any appearance of termination in sight, if indeed such sentences as typed could be said to have visual acuity of any sort at all.

Disturbing

Nearly every damn political story I read. Disturbing. Politest word I can think of in the circumstances. I’ve got nothing else to say on the subject at this time.

2020 Race

Warren.

A Cute Dog

This is the cute Lexi dog we all need right now:

Lexi the chipuggle mutt, lap adjacent, getting belly scritches.
Lexi getting belly scritches

Winding Down

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

  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, 33, from Tarrant, Texas.
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr., 25, from Keaau, Hawaii.

Both soldiers died on Nov. 20, 2019, in Logar Province, Afghanistan, when their helicopter crashed while providing security for troops on the ground.

17 November 2019

Paperwork

As we wind our way through open enrollment season and clarifying what things are still eligible for reimbursement, I’m have such fun with sorting through the paperwork and ensuring that we’re getting back all the pennies on the dollar that we have coming. It’s one of those things I should do with more regularity, but since interest rates suck so hard, it really doesn’t make sense to do the dance too often. Anyway, I’m almost done, having figured out we should spend a bit more on vision care in the next two weeks, to maximize our return.

Woodworking Prep

In advance of the planned kitchen cabinet work, I’ve done some more cleanup and prep in the wood shop, cleaning up so that I can make a whole new mess. But there’s nothing else done there yet, other than a couple of sketches for materials planning. Soon, though, bunches of plywood and vast lengths of 1×4 poplar will be making their way into my cottage industry cabinetry empire. Soon.

Weather

If it matters to y’all how cold we are, you can start giggling now. We have not had any accumulating snow yet, although slow rain was observed falling a couple of times in the last week. In general, we’re dropping a bit below 32°F each night, and went down to 17 or so once. That’s pretty low for an early November night.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Nothing else to report.

11 November 2019

Honor to Our Veterans

The women and men who put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf get precious little of the respect and care that we should give them each day. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

Change Is

Some things change slowly, some so fast one hardly notices the thing itself as the blur as it goes by. A person I work with is moving on, after a lunatic number of years (by today’s standards), and I’m going to miss them a lot. No blur here, but a lot of individual moments that together are a big part of the most recent third of my working life.

Lexi Fix

Lexi the mutt managed to wind herself into Marcia's sweatshirt on the bed, and I'm getting a look when I catch her at it with the camera.
Lexi in a sweatshirt cave

In case you’d forgotten that we share our lives with this funny little rescue mutt, here’s another of her cold days tricks – climbing under a sweatshirt on the bed.

Winding Down

DoD reported no casualties in the last week, in a rare spot of good news these days.

3 November 2019

Take Two

I was four paragraphs into the first pass on this post when I managed to hit a stupid combination of keys on the Apple keyboard and moved backwards three links. Whoops, I thought, and went looking for the auto-saved draft. Um, not there? Sigh. Okay, take two – I wonder how much this iteration is going to vary from the last?

Fallen

Fall is finally, properly, here. Six weeks in, and we finally got two consecutive nights below freezing. We’re due for another frost tonight before it warms up just a shade. Also, for the first time, the snow icon made it into the long range forecast on my phone. Of course, “long range forecast” is just an effusive waste of characters when what you want to say is “lie.”

I got the outdoor water delivery systems winterized today. Yesterday, I repaired the motion detecting light outside the garage door. Wait, did I say “repair?” I mean replaced, with modifications. The old fixture wasn’t new when we bought this house in 2003. And it was hardwired. And it was positioned badly, in the far corner of the front of the garage, where it was partially blocked by the substantial crepe myrtle. Additionally, a moderate wind would use that tree to continuously fire the motion detection. So, due for work even before I learned that the plastics were going and one of the two light sockets was gone, on Hallowe’en evening.

In replacing the fixture, I moved it to front and center on the garage. I mounted a switch in the garage so that we could turn it off entirely without going to the breaker panel in the basement. And bonus – the LEDs draw 25 watts when active, as opposed to the dual 100 watt halogens that were continuously cycling in the elder unit.

Kitchen progress

Little progress, but: I’m going to be fabricating one new bank of cabinets whole, and I’ve got the measurements for those, so I can do some sketches and gin up a material’s list in prep for purchasing, then fabrication.

Bookish

I’ve been reading the Liaden Universe books from Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. I’d read some of them in the past, out of order. I now have ALL of the books (21 of them, I think), and I’m following one of the many suggested reading orders (this one’s from Baen, and probably originates with the authors, so there’s that. I like them a lot.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Nathaneil G. Irish, 23, of Billings, Montana, who died on Oct. 27, 2019, of a non-combat related incident at Camp Taji, Iraq.

27 October 2019

Capclave

I missed y’all last weekend because I was at Capclave 2019. This year’s Guests of Honor were Robert Sawyer and Martha Wells. They’re both authors whose work I love a lot, and I enjoyed hearing from them both in multiple panels. The three day weekend was full of author interviews and readings, celebrations and analysis of much loved works, and much on the minutiae of the SFF writing, editing, and publishing biz. My two favorite things were these: the panel for 25 Years of Babylon 5, and seeing all the wonderful folks I get to spend a few days with each year.

Next year is going to be a big shindig – the 20th anniversary of Capclave, with lots of extra special guests, many of whom I’ve seen over the past few years. Should be a hoot. I also learned that the 2021 WorldCon, host to the Hugo Awards, etc. will be held locally (in DC)! Yay! The web site: https://discon3.org/.

Homework

The two weeks, and parts of this weekend have been filled with paying-the-bills work, but there’s more to come on the home front: We’re going to do some remodeling in the kitchen. I’m going to build a couple of new bits of cabinetry, and new doors and drawers for the whole of the kitchen. Then we’ll paint out the lowers in a royal blue, and the uppers in a light tone of some type. Pictures as they’re worth sharing (but the work hasn’t started yet, so there’s not much to see, yet.

Winding Down

DoD reported no new casualties in the last week. That’s the only good news I’ve got from downtown.

14 October 2019

Columbus Day

Yup, like it or not, the questionable “discovery” of the “new world” by Columbus is still a Federal holiday here in the land where some are free, and some are brave. Since my employer follows that holiday schedule, I was off work today. Yay? Certainly, especially since I didn’t have to travel to Columbus, Ohio, to celebrate. Don’t get me wrong – I’m in Columbus a couple of times a year for work, and enjoy the friendly people and good food a LOT! But it’s a long drive, and I do have to be in the office bright and early tomorrow morning.

We marked the day by going fishing at Centennial Lake over in Ellicot City. No actual fish disturbed the act of fishing, but it was a really nice early Fall day. Overnight lows in the mid-40’s (F) mark this time of year – it’s just possible we’ll see a high 30 before next weekend.

The Other Part

The other part of the weekend was cleaning. I did a major cleanup in the workshop side of the basement. There’s still more to do, but piles of wood dust and shavings in dark corners on concrete eventually lead to bad smells and mold. Mostly remediated at this point. Yesterday I cleaned much of the top floor of the house, and it’s better now, too. I’m just too cheap to turn to a service.

Now, my office is still a mess, but a light dusting and vacuum pass did wonders there, too.

Capclave 2019

Capclave is just about here – it starts on Friday afternoon and runs through Saturday. Our small literary SF/Fantasy/Horror conference is in it’s … twentieth year next year, it appears! But that’s next year. This year we have Martha Wells and Robert Sawyer as Guests of Honor, and a bunch of other authors, editors, and publishers in attendance. Capclave has always had a wonderful feel for me, and it makes me happy every year. Can you join us? Please do!

Winding Down

Whew. DoD reported no casualties in the last week. I expected some, given the ill-advised “decisions” issuing from the “chief of state” affecting parts of the world where our troops are in harm’s way.

6 October 2019

Continuation

Yep, it’s been two weeks since last time. A week ago Saturday we went out to Centennial Lake and spent the morning fishing. I caught one small bass, 13-14″ long:

A small bass (fish), caught on Sept. 28, 2019 at Centennial Lake in Maryland
A small bass, caught on Sept. 28, 2019 at Centennial Lake

I’ve also been doing a lot of reading: Clarkesworld, Forever Magazine, Alan Dean Foster’s Icerigger Trilogy, Neil Gaiman’s Don’t Panic, and not least: everything I can reasonably lay hands on by Martha Wells and Robert J. Sawyer in advance of this year’s Capclave (where Wells and Sawyer are GoH!!!).

This weekend I managed a fair bit of yardwork out front – cleaning out the beds and preparing to winterize the whole joint. Fall is here, overnight temps are going to be regularly in the low 50’s and high 40’s now.

Computing

I’ve been spending a fair bit of time diving into the depths of Red Hat’s latest Enterprise Linux offering, and wrapping my head around more effective automation using Ansible. Good fun, but after a fairly static run of years (in terms of system management), a lot of things have changed under the hood, and there’s a bunch to learn. So I’m reading a bunch of manual pages to supplement the formal documentation.

All the while, I’m still running FreeBSD, Ubuntu (on PC and ARM hardware), CentOS, Windows 10, and MacOS. So I keep all the mad skillz sharp by changing up platforms several times a day. Assume nothing!

Winding Down

No new casualties were reported by DoD in the last two weeks.

22 September 2019

Last of Summer

According to the calendar, tomorrow is Fall. According to the forecast, Summer looks to be in an extended run. We did have two nights last week drop into the high 40’s overnight – but highs for the next 10 days are supposed to be in the mid- to high 80’s. So, summer, still. Unless, y’know, the forecasters are wrong. That would be so unusual!

Mysterious Absence

So, yeah … no post last week. I’ve got no explanation but sheer laziness. This weekend was a bit more of the same. We did make it out fishing at Cash Lake yesterday morning for a few hours. No fish, of course. But relaxing right up until I cast while twisting my torso. That gave me a muscular tweak under the lower left scapula that continues to vex me.

Reading

My read of the last week is the biographical Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams & the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by some bloke named Neil Gaiman. At the moment, it’s free for $AMZN Prime members. And it’s a jolly good read, full of stuff I knew about Adams and H2G2, and MUCH other stuff that I didn’t. Fun.

On dead trees, I’m most of the way through a long-delayed re-reading of Cliff Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg. Good stuff if you like 80’s computers and tracking down a cracker with a penchant for military computers that have crappy security policies applied to them.

Winding down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 40, from Greenbrier, Tennessee, who was killed in action on Sept. 16, 2019, by small arms fire when his unit was engaged in combat operations in Wardak Province, Afghanistan.

9 September 2019

Goodbye, Mikey

Our friend Michael Lindsay, husband to Linda Rose Payne, father to Dylan and Kiera, died on August 31, 2019. He was a talented voice actor, and a seriously funny and fun dude, even when in massive pain, which he was, a lot. I’m gonna miss him.

Mainly in Maine

Yes, again. With some lovely weather, visits with usually distant family members, and some moderately successful fishing.

Brian captured a small mouth bass on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Maine. Caught, weighed and released.
Brian captured a small mouth bass

We ended up with 6 or 7 bass between us, all weighed less than two pounds, all released back into the lake after getting weighed and measured. Eleven hours on the drive up (traffic problems), ten hours back home on Saturday. Lexi did really well this trip, and she went for a short swim in the lake, from and to shore. No jumping off of boats for that little dog anymore. Mostly, though, her job was to stand and watch, then run and bark, at the squirrels and chipmunks that frolicked tauntingly in front of her the whole time!

Lexi watching for squirrels and chipmunks out the windows and doors of the camp on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Maine.
Lexi watching for squirrels and chipmunks

Now back in the DC groove, and trying to get caught up. It’s amazing how much chaos an unmonitored week can generate.

Winding Down

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

  • Sgt. 1st Class Dustin B. Ard, 31, from Hyde Park, Utah, died on Aug. 29, 2019, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations in Zabul Province, Afghanistan.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Morovis, Puerto Rico, was killed in action on Sept. 5, 2019, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan.

1 September 2019

Two Thirds Gone

The eighth month is over, and the hottest temps around here are beginning to fade. It’s a three day weekend, *and* I got out of the office a bit early on Friday. So I got the lawn mowed when I got home that day, leaving the weekend for relaxation and a bit of inside chores. Lexi, however…

Lexi the chipuggle mutt, lying on the bedspread wearing socks on her front paws. Her head rests on those paws, with a worried look on her face.
Lexi, socks, bed

Lexi just lays around on the bed, worrying about kids setting off firecrackers on holiday weekends, and wearing my socks to fend of the coming of Winter.

Still in holiday mode, but it’s going to be Labor day tomorrow. Is Labor paying attention to what’s being done to them, in their name?

Winding down

No new casualties on the DoD site, so that’s good. Back to reading for pleasure.