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.

Orchid in bloom

The orchid is blooming

The orchid is blooming

A few years back … three, I think, I got Marcia an orchid as part of my anniversary gift to her. It was in bloom at the time, and stayed that way for quite a while. Wonder of wonders, although the flowers eventually faded and the stalks withered away, the plant itself has been pretty hardy. I keep up with the watering, and it sits by a window in the library, so it gets some afternoon light. But it hasn’t bloomed since there.

Late this summer, I read someplace that orchids need some cooler overnights in order to stimulate flower blooming. Yeah, well, whatever. But as we rolled into Fall, I put the orchid outside, and left it there for a few weeks, with overnight temps between 45 and 60 fahrenheit. As the temps headed quickly towards freezing in early October, I brought the plant back in, and thought nothing further of it. By the middle of November, though, it was clear that what I read was right – the plant was blooming. Only one of the orchids actually threw up a stalk, but still a good thing.

And finally, in the last couple of days, the flower is starting to bloom. We’ll see how long this lasts…

On the value of shorter class sessions

With this Fall Semester, UMUC fully transitioned all of their classes to an 8-week format. Most classes previously had been 12 or 13 weeks in length. The price is the same, and the number of units granted for completing the class are the same, but the material, and time, there is less. Here’s the pertinent commentary from one of the course evaluations I’ve written this Fall:

This course suffers from the shorter (8 week) session length. The ONE value of the shorter courses is that they’re shorter. It’s like 1.5 quart ice cream for the same price as the old half gallons. They’re lighter, but that’s it. Otherwise, only value had been subtracted from the courses, but they still cost the same.

Not much more to say, really. I’m still making big efforts to get as much as I can out of this work, but the school isn’t making it any easier with this Education-Lite policy. I’m sure they’ve got some perfectly rational explanation for what they’re doing, and probably some education theoretician backing up the move with brilliant data, but that only works in the computer models. Like with climate, and unlike the world for practitioners of Null-A, the map is NOT the world.

Hah!

The formerly missing screwdriver.

The formerly missing screwdriver.

Remind me not to attempt brain surgery this week.

I ended up remounting the Windows drive into the chassis, and booting there for the financial management software. Hard mounted to metal, so it’s noisy as hell. But it got the job done, and I was able to boot back into hellboy shortly thereafter.

It was opening the chassis to pop in the drive that revealed the missing screwdriver. Hmmm.

Transitions

Another busy week, another year nearly wound all the way down. Work was assisting in proposal writing, preparing for a big weekend systems test, and ten hours yesterday working remote on said test. In between, a bunch of reading and some coding and conference participation for my Java programming class, a bit of left-over turkey for noshing, and sleep when it was able to fit into the schedule.

Oh, yeah. “Transitions”, eh? So I stripped out all the installed games off of the Windows box, and got that all winnowed down just the small-ish C-drive. Then I pulled the drive out of the system and plopped in spare terabyte drives from here and there, as well as a 500G boot drive. All that was in support of installing the latest version of OpenIndiana – build 151a. OpenIndiana is the illumos-based operating system that is the inheritor of the OpenSolaris code base. So I’ve got a UNIX platform now that I can use for all the stuff I’ve been doing with Ubuntu, only it’s got ZFS, and dtrace, and all sorts of happy stuff to experiment in my copious spare time. I’ve named the box hellboy. Easy to remember, and easier to type than Slartibartfast, the name held by the Ubuntu box.

That install was done before I retired Friday evening. Saturday, during periods where all I was responsible for was keeping an eye on my email box, I got BIND9 (for home DNS services) and Dovecot (for home IMAP services) installed, configured and running properly. I started experimenting with ZFS sharing and ACLs, too. Keeps the mind nimble, change does. I’m going to attempt putting that Windows disk into the external eSATA chassis from Antec, and see if I can boot from it for those occasions when I need Windows. If not, then once the Linux box is done with, I’ll mount the Windows disk in there instead. I need to get a low-end video card for hellboy, too – a top-notch gaming card is too good (and sucks down too much juice) for a UNIX server/utility system. I’d run it headless, or just use the motherboard video, but the latter isn’t recognized by OIb151a drivers.

Today so far: Walking the mutt, shopping, walking the mutt, roasting some Yemeni coffee, and (whoops!) this post. I should have gotten out some things to thaw for cooking, starting shortly. Be right back…

*     *     *

We’re glad to see the last of the troops are headed home from Iraq. It’ll be even nicer to have all of our people home from Afghanistan, sooner than later. I’m sure that the efforts of our men and women in uniform in pursuit of policy will make that happen. Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Cpl. Adam J. Buyes, 21, of Salem, Oregon, died Nov. 26 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Dennis R. Murray, 38, of Red Broiling Springs, Tennessee, died Nov. 21 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Staff Sgt. Vincent J. Bell, 28, of Detroit, Michigan, died Nov. 30 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

For those that celebrated the holiday, or for those that just like to give thanks, and belatedly, Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a quiet week at home. We were both off work for the whole week. I gave a fair bit of time to school work, and a few hours to Skyrim. Marcia quilted and ripped and quilted. We did a big bird for the day itself: 23 pounds. We’ve now got a pot full of yummy turkey soup, a week’s worth of turkey tetrazzini, and more meat left. So, a good week overall. We hope that everyone else enjoyed theirs, as well.

*       *       *

We’re also thankful for the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make on our behalf. Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Corral, 19, of Danville, California, died Nov. 18 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Pvt. Jackie L. Diener II, 20, of Boyne City, Michigan, died Nov. 21 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.
  • Cpl. Zachary C. Reiff, 22, of Preston, Iowa, died Nov. 21 of wounds suffered Nov. 18 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Continued Woodshop Reorganization

The “cart” I use for the jointer and the router table was empty space at the bottom, and when stored against the wall, I kept the compressor in the niche. But I had to move the compressor every time I wanted the cart out in the middle. Now the compressor rolls with the cart!

Compressor shelf added

Compressor shelf added

Previously seen on that shelf: an Aiwa boom box. This new setup uses the old Logitech system from my office desktop, providing an audio input for the iPhone, which also can charge (which is good in the low-signal environment in the basement):

New Woodshop Media Center

New Woodshop Media Center

Being a wood-hoarder, I broke down and chopped up two trash cans full of scrap lumber that was really never going to be used for anything ever again. I kept cherry, walnut, and maple strips that might suit for an inlay later, etc. But most of the crap wood is now in the trash, and I’ve cleared two corners. Lots accomplished today!

Now for the normal Monday chores. Ciao!

New Coffee Roasting Cart

So, I’ve got the week off, this week. And we’re not going anywhere, so I have time for projects, mixed in with the schoolwork. The first project is to clean up and reorganize the woodshop a bit. To do that, I need to get the coffee roaster and vent hood off of my workbench, where it’s lived for the last two years. I haven’t minded much, because I’ve been too busy to do much woodworking, but you never know.

Sitting in a box. I had components for a 6′ tall slender rack, rolling or standing. An alternative is to build two half-racks: one rolling, one standing. So I did, and the rolling cart, with a top applied, is the new roasting cart:

Coffee Roasting Cart

Coffee Roasting Cart

In a minute, the maintenance guy for our HVAC is going to be here, then I’ll continue with working in the shop. Ciao!

 

 

What happens at UC Davis

is what happened at Kent State, and many other places. Democracy and peace and plenty is a momentary aberration: blind cruelty and painful existence is the normal human condition, and I think this experiment is almost over. Our republic’s evolution into a police state is progressing, inch by inch. The beatings will stop when everything is safe. I wonder who it’s safe for?

In much less important news, I finished up the week’s project for class and turned it in. Marcia returned from a weekend-long quilting retreat, and we watched the final Potter film tonight. I enjoyed it.

*     *     *

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

  • Sgt. 1st Class Johnathan B. McCain, 38, of Apache Junction, Arizona, died Nov.13, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered after encountering an improvised explosive device while on mounted patrol.
  • Spc. Calvin M. Pereda, 21, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, died Nov. 12, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered after encountering an improvised explosive device while on dismounted patrol.
  • Spc. David E. Hickman, 23, of Greensboro, North Carolina, died Nov. 14, in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered after encountering an improvised explosive device.
  • Spc. James R. Burnett Jr., 21, of Wichita, Kansas, died Nov. 16, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Pfc. Matthew C. Colin, 22, of Navarre, Florida, died Nov. 16, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Spc. Sean M. Walsh, 21, of San Jose, California, died Nov. 16, in Khowst province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained after encountering indirect fire.
  • Pfc. Adam E. Dobereiner, 21, of Moline, Illinois, died Nov. 18 at Kandahar province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Another week spins by

Whoa! Really? Mid-November? Where are the years going?

This week the ‘A’ for my Social Gerontology course landed at the Academic Records Office at UMUC (I made that name up, but it sounds good). Of course, the class wasn’t about whole societies getting older, civilizations dying, etc. Mostly it was an overview of the field of research into anything nontechnical on the subject of aging. You could, I guess, call it Gerontology for non-science majors. As usual, I learned some stuff anyway. The biggest thing I learned, though, was this: To do well in school (as I didn’t do the first time around, and as I am doing this time around), work to excel in the boring classes as well as the interesting ones, too. In 1981, I was politely asked to leave, since I wasn’t passing enough classes. I passed every course… every course I was interested in. Now I’m getting an ‘A’ in every course. Motivational rockin’.

*      *      *

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

Lance Cpl. Nickolas A. Daniels, 25, of Elmwood Park, Illinois, died Nov. 5 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Pfc. Cody R. Norris, 20, of Houston, Texas, died Nov. 9 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.

Pfc. Theodore B. Rushing, 25, of Longwood, Florida. died Nov. 11, in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Thank You!

It’s Veteran’s Day here in the US. While I didn’t serve(*), I have nothing but boundless gratitude to and pride in our warriors! My thanks to those that serve now, that served in the past, and my moment of silence goes out to those who have fallen while in service to our country.

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Thank you!

 

[*] – I was a couple of hundred spots shy of getting into the Air Force Academy following high school, and college, rather than service, was the encouraged thing to do at my school. Things would have likely been different if there’d been a hot conflict at the time.