About bilborg

I am who I am, there's plenty of data on this site to tell you more. Briefly, I'm a husband, computer geek, avid reader, gardener, and builder of furniture.

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.

25 August 2019

September-ish

After several miserably hot days, we’ve had a couple of days transplanted from mid- to late September – highs in the mid 70’s. Lovely weather. Earlier in the week, we made it down into DC to meet up with Pat and Nathan. They were in town from California, and found some time in their family-full schedule for us. A lovely late afternoon and early evening, we had. First, a couple hours at the Philips Collection, including their wonderful, moving, and occasionally horrifying exhibition: The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement. The exhibition uses art and narrative to bring the migrant crisis to our first world senses in a very powerful way. We also got through part of the permanent collection before it was time to head over to supper at Urbana. Superb Italian and Italian-adjacent cuisine. Food and good company – what a joy!

While some of the heat returns, starting on Tuesday, we shouldn’t get back up into the 90’s according to the forecast. But then, forecast is an eight letter word meaning lie.

I took advantage of the cooler weather to get caught up on the mowing, this weekend.

Lexi Rests

Lexi the mutt, resting on the couch, eyes freshly opened due to preparation for a picture being taken.
“Why u wake me 4 a pic?”

Lexi basically has two speeds: on and off. The on state is hard to capture without significant motion blur, although sometimes she’s standing still at high alert, watching some article of wildlife invading our yard. (Note – our “yard” comprises all that she can see, and expands significantly when she’s looking out from the upstairs windows!) Then there’s off, or in the parlance of particle physics, “resting state.”

I use the physics terminology because sometimes it seems she can transition from one state to the other without passing through any intermediate stages. Impressive for a dog of 10 years or so…

Winding Down

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

  • Master Sgt. Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa, 31, of Chicopee, Massachusetts, died on August 21, 2019 in Faryab Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations.
  • Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez, 35, of La Puente, California, died on August 21, 2019 in Faryab Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations.

19 August, 2019

Dog Days

So, mid-August, and we’re in the “dog days of summer”. It’s been humid, hot, and unstable. How unstable? A storm that blew through last night racked up over 70K electrical discharges over a single hour. Most of those were elsewhere, but enough were nearby to freak out the little disturbed dog. Also with the heat, and fitting in with the origins of the phrase, I spent much of the weekend entrapped by lethargy.

Yes, yes, I was up early doing patching work for production systems on Sunday. But outdoor chores? Not this last weekend. It was just … miserable. Theoretically, it should be much better starting on Friday (which is its own brand of unusual for mid-August, but oh, well, any port in a heatwave). I did roast coffee and make a batch of killer salsa (thanks, Kat, for the peppers to fill in the role that our garden failed this year)!

Hugo

So, every vote counts, right? For both the novel and novella categories, I voted for the well-deserved winner. Seriously, congrats to all the nominees, finalists, and winners in the Hugo Awards, celebrated last night at Worldcon 2019 in Dublin, Ireland. I did a LOT of reading in the last year, and before I nominated and before I voted. None of the wonderful writing disappointed me.

But I have a LOT of fondness for the superb wordsmithing skills of Mary Robinette Kowal (Best Novel, The Calculating Stars, in the Lady Astronauts series) and Martha Wells (Best Novella, Artificial Condition, in the Murderbot series). Just wow. Read ANYTHING by these talented people and enjoy. No. Let me amend that. Read everything they’ve written, and everything they will write in the future. I know, I know. You can thank me later. See this Hugo site link for all the winners.

Winding Down

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

  • Gunnery Sergeant Scott A. Koppenhafer, 35, of Mancos, Colorado, died on August 10, 2019, in Iraq, after suffering fatal wounds while supporting Iraqi Security Forces.
  • Specialist Clayton James Horne, 23, of Atlanta, Louisiana died on August 17, 2019 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as a result of wounds sustained by a noncombat related incident.

11 August 2019

Better Than The Alternative

Still busy, that is, and that’s better than the alternative. Yesterday was given over mostly to food work – a new big batch of salsa, with only tomatoes out of the garden. Everything else came from the store, sadly. I roasted a pountd of coffee. I also made a batch of my potato/spicy sausage concoction, 10 meals worth. That’ll see me through the week.

Today: shopping, clean the shower, patching day for some systems at work, lunch, and lawn. And I’m a bit whacked. Time to get back to the office tomorrow, and spend the week recharging for the next weekend’s worth of chores.

OS News

On the computing front, I’m starting to move on to Red Hat Enterprise Linux version 8 (RHEL8). There don’t seem to be the same underlying massive changes that version 7 brought – no amount of sheer disruption similar to that brought by systemd. Note about that – I can (and must) live with it. There are even features that I shudder to say that I like. But it breaks the UNIX “small tools doing things well” paradigm so very, very much. Anyway, back to RHEL8 – it has a better built-in system for keeping optional subsystems — from the Apache webserver, to PHP, to Python, etc., etc. — more current and easier to work with. I have work to do…

Reading

I just finished up Charlie Jane Anders’ All The Birds In The Sky – it’s a complex story that includes some comfortable old ideas, just to suck you into the story, but then it gets weird (in a good way). Magic vs. technology, and not in a good way. Some of the sub-plots resolve precisely as telegraphed, but I didn’t see that ending coming, so … good? Recommended.

In other venues, I’m waiting to see how my voting aligned with the Hugo Awards. Tick, tock.

Winding Down

No new news from DoD – good. News from most of the rest of the world: floating between weird and sucks. But Al Yankovic is touring, so something is going right.

7 August 2019

Busy days

I’m feeling a bit broken, with the shootings of recent days, and the inflammatory rhetoric of the GOP and their Beloved Leader. Sorry.

The garden is two thirds dead. No peppers. No zucchini. But the tomatoes, they are in full production. We had salsa this weekend, and I’m going to make more tomorrow night, since Marcia pulled out a bushel of red fruit today.

I did manage to find time to roast some coffee the other night. Here I’m pre-heating the roaster before doing the actual deed…

Pictured: In the background, my @behmor 1600+ coffee roaster, pre-heating (the elements are glowing red). In the foreground, a bag containing the remaining pound of Colombian green coffee beans from @sweetmarias, about to be roasted.
Pre-heating before roasting the coffee…

We’re drinking that coffee, and it is super tasty.

I’ve got a new home firewall I’m ready to install and test out, except that brilliantly, I no longer have any VGA cables here at home. I disposed of the last one a couple of years ago, because … why not, I’m not going to have any more gear that doesn’t have HDMI or DisplayPort or … this firewall appliance that only has a VGA output. Sigh.

To be honest, it also has a COM port, and with some little effort I could manage to get a system with a COM port running around here. But the main home server these days is an Intel NUC, with no COM ports. The Macs … no COM ports. I have gear with COM ports, but they’re running Windows, and I just can’t be bothered. I’ll snag a spare VGA cable from work, use it to do what’s needed, then store it with a BIG note saying KEEP ME, YOU REMEMBER WHY!

Winding Down

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

  • Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Slayton Saldana, 24, had been listed Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN) following a July 17 non-combat, man overboard incident while underway onboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in the Arabian Sea.
  • Pfc. Brandon Jay Kreischer, 20, of Stryker, Ohio, died on July 29, 2019, in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained in a combat related incident.
  • Spc. Michael Isaiah Nance, 24, of Chicago, Illinois, died on July 29, 2019, in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained in a combat related incident.

28 July 2019

A Brief Respite

As far as I can tell, June and July weren’t as wet as last year, but we’ve had at least a bit of rain each week. Additionally, for most of the last week, we had mornings that were a lot more like mid-September than late July – temps in the morning in the low 60’s instead of the mid 70’s, and highs in the 80’s instead of high 90’s. I will note that, botanically, we got nearly four weeks out of our tiger lily bloom this year, instead of the usual two-ish weeks. The picture below is from about the peak of blooming. There are only seven blooms left now.

Tiger lilies in mid-July

The veggie garden, however, has been a bit disappointing. We only worked two of the six beds this year, and the zucchini only lived a few weeks. The tomatoes are a bit sad, but still doing better than the peppers, from which I expected a bit more robustness.

I’ve been busy with work, and relaxing in between. Friday I was off work, so I got caught up on the yard work and mowing before the heat returned properly (on Saturday). With luck, and a lack of rain, the lawns shouldn’t need much mowing for a couple of weeks – the one true upside of these hot days.

I cleaned the coffee roaster, and got a pound of Columbian from Sweet Maria’s roasted in the Behmor 1600+ today. I also managed to finish up the important work of reading, ordering, and placing my votes for the Hugo Awards, to be celebrated at WorldCon 2019, in Dublin, Ireland. Where I won’t be. So have fun, y’all!

Winding Down

  • Nothing new from DoD: good.
  • Plans for the upcoming week: stay in air conditioned comfort where possible.
  • Goal: wish an early, disfiguring disease upon the kids who ruined our early AM hours on Thursday with a 45 minute session of loud fireworks, terrifying Lexi (which keeps me awake in the night, and exhausted in the day).

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.