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.

Rainageddon

Rain: an inch and a half since 11 AM, and lots more on the way. The sump pump is firing out about 2 gallons US every thirty seconds or so (2′ diameter sump, about 6″ at a time). We’re going to get a fair bit more rain, and if we’re unlucky lose power … but that’s about it unless Irene changes course drastically to the west. Right now we’re outside the projected pattern for even tropical storm winds.

I’ve been up the ladder once, unclogging one downspout. I also neglected to consider the angle of attack for this storm – wind-driven rain from the east/northeast. I just now swapped out the screen insert for the glass insert on our back storm door – it was driving rain through the screen and making a pool between the doors. So it was leaking in, of course.

More later if anything interesting happens. Ciao!

Incoming!

Or another starts-with-an-`I`, like Irene (and a bit like another `I`-storm: Isabel of 2003) … regionally, we’re sure taking it on the chin. Earthquakes (okay, a tiny one by left coast standards, but still), now hurricanes. Plague of locusts, anyone?

School-wise, I’m still waiting for the second grade to drop, the instructor promises tomorrow afternoon. Next class starts on or about 12 September: a class on Gerontology. It’s one of a few that fulfill a specific general education requirement I’m lacking. Later in the Fall session, I’ll be taking a class on Java programming. That should be fun.

I think I’ll walk the dog and collapse. It’s been a long week. Ciao!

Condolences, belated…

I don’t know what got into me (or out of me) – Sunday was a total wipeout, and the last two days at work have been busy. Not an excuse, I just have hardly been in my home office in days.

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

  • 2nd Lt. Joe L. Cunningham, 27, of Kingston, Oklahoma, died Aug. 13 at Laghman province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident.
  • Master Sgt. Charles L. Price III, 40, of Milam, Texas, died Aug. 12 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Sgt. Matthew A. Harmon, 29, of Bagley, Minnesota, died Aug. 14 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, while conducting vehicle recovery operations, and encountered a secondary explosion while dismounted.
  • Spc. Joseph A. VanDreumel, 32, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, died Aug. 14 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, while conducting vehicle recovery operations, and encountered a secondary explosion while dismounted.
  • 1st Lt. Damon T. Leehan, 30, of Edmond, Oklahoma, died Aug. 14 in Laghman province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Spc. Dennis G. Jensen, 21, of Vermillion, South Dakota, died Aug. 16 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.
  • Spc. Joshua M. Seals, 21, of Porter, Oklahoma, died Aug. 16 in Paktia province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.
  • Lance Cpl. Travis M. Nelson, 19, of Pace, Florida, died Aug. 18 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Pfc. Douglas L. Cordo, 20, of Kingston, New York, died Aug. 19 in Zabul, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Productivity

Well, that’s summer session done. By noon this morning, I’d taken both finals, come back home and mowed the lawns front and back. Then I replaced Marcia’s broken fan/light in the sewing area. A productive day. I should have grades in a few days, but I think I did well enough to get the A in both courses. Eight more classes and I’ll be done (unless I’ve counted/calculated wrong – hard to know until I file for graduation in late Fall, 2012).

Anyway, slept badly last night (pre-test jitters, weird), and busy today: very tired now. Ciao!

Culture Shock

Left over from yesterday: A bit of link-love for MIT’s OpenCourseware. ‘Cause they’re totally worth it. I was told that using my Xoom to watch MIT Chemistry courses while working out on the elliptical was a bit … nerdy. SRSLY? Oh, yeah, and bonus link for people wondering how homeopathy works: http://www.howdoeshomeopathywork.com/. I promise that’s no Rick-roll.

*     *     *

So, Culture shock. How, you ask? More specifically (since the topic even needs disambiguation at Wikipedia), I’m talking about The Culture – the pre-Sublimation galaxy-spanning “civilization” spawned from the mind of Iain M. Banks. I’ve read eight books from the Culture series, from Consider Phlebas through Surface Detail. I finished the latter last night.  I enjoyed some of the books more than others, but taken as a body of work, I’m deeply impressed.

I love the depth of detail in all of the books. I especially love that I can’t always see what’s coming, but once I’m there, it’s been an obvious possible outcome all along. Mostly I’m used to authors telegraphing their moves so far ahead that all I can do is see what color the bride wears to the wedding, because that’s all the mystery that’s left.

Banks’ blend of intelligent hedonistic humanity and the post-AI Mindsof the culture surprised me at many turns, and left me thoughtful often as not. They’re in dead tree format, and they’re on the keeper shelf – I’ll be reading them again one day. There are too many books to say that about many of them. Thanks, Iain!

*     *     *

Next up from the TBR stack? Some pTerry. I’ve got A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight all queued up.

Another use for the Xoom

Motorola Xoom + MIT OpenCourseware + NordicTrack mashup

Motorola Xoom + MIT OpenCourseware + NordicTrack mashup

It turns out that the Xoom fits right nicely in the book-holder slot on the elliptical machine. But I really can’t read while I’m exercising … and I’ve never gotten the knack of listening to audio books. But hey! There’s a lot of video lectures out of MIT and elsewhere. That’s one of my biggest problems with exercise – I get bored. This has possibilities! No, there’s no woman with improbably blue contacts and a glass of some liquid fiber product lurking just outside of the frame. Multi-tasking has its advantages, though.

Passages

Thursday: Oh, right, you heard from me on Thursday, at least to show you the yummy chili.

Friday: Work, then I wrote that 600 word paper that came out to 840 or so words, and turned it in. Shortly thereafter, I noticed that the instructions didn’t just say must be 600 words, but also included the “must not be over 800 words” category. Really? The prose that described the topic to be addressed was 534 words. Why can’t I use as many words as I want? F#@(*U&. So I pulled the paper back, then edited down to 783 words, by dropping some impactful but ultimately unnecessary verbiage from from the introductory paragraph. It no longer read as well, but it was under the arbitrary limit.

Saturday: I weeded and mowed in front and in back. About 4 hours worth, for the first time in over a month. We’ve been getting a bit of rain recently, and the lawns had transitioned from mostly dead to zombie:Mostly dead, but with a mullet of green here and there.

Sunday: Shopping and cooking, mostly.  A bit of catch-up reading from the 18″ tall stack of periodicals that have accumulated while this database class took every non-paid waking moment. Supper (chili, duh) with Linda and Marcia, and an episode from Season 5 of Babylon 5. And in other good news, I got all the available points for that paper.And now we’re caught up.

*     *     *

The duty: I’m unhappy about this. It’s going to be an f’ed up week, with that chopper downed eight days ago… Our condolences to the families and units of these forty one fallen warriors:

Sgt. Daniel J. Patron, 26, of Canton, Ohio, died Aug. 6 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Sgt. Adan Gonzales Jr., 28, of Bakersfield, California, died Aug. 7 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Sgt. Joshua J. Robinson, 29, of Omaha, Nebraska, died Aug. 7 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Sgt. Alessandro L. Plutino, 28, of Pitman, New Jersey, died Aug. 8 in Paktia province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.

Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, Louisiana, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Santa Barbara, California, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Arkansas, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers 36, of Kokomo, Hawaii, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Connecticut, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston, 35, of West Hyannisport, Massachusetts, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Missouri, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist/Diver) Nicholas H. Null, 30, of Washington, West Virginia, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, Louisiana, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson, 34, of Detroit, Michigan, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Darrik C. Benson, 28, of Angwin, California, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Parachutist) Christopher G. Campbell, 36, of Jacksonville, North Carolina, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville, Utah, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) John Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Nebraska, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Cryptologist Technician (Collection) Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) Michael J. Strange, 25, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) Jon T. Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Florida, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman, 27, of Ukiah, California, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar, 24, of Saint Paul, Minnesota, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter, 47, of Centennial, Colorado, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kansas, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Staff Sgt. Patrick D. Hamburger, 30, of Lincoln, Nebraska, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Washington, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Spc. Spencer C. Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kansas, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Tech. Sgt. John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Florida, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, California, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pennsylvania, died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.

Cpl. Nicholas S. Ott, 23, of Manchester, New Jersey, died Aug. 10 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Hospitalman Riley Gallinger-Long, 19, of Cornelius, Oregon, died Aug. 11 while conducting a dismounted patrol in the Marjah district, Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Sgt. Edward J. Frank II, 26, of Yonkers, New York, died Aug. 11 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Spc. Jameel T. Freeman, 26, of Baltimore, Maryland, died Aug. 11 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Spc. Patrick L. Lay II, 21, of Fletcher, North Carolina, died Aug. 11 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Spc. Jordan M. Morris, 23, of Stillwater, Oklahoma, died Aug. 11 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Pfc. Rueben J. Lopez, 27, of Williams, California, died Aug. 11 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

Down to the wire

Summer session is wrapping up for me pretty quickly. Final assignments for both classes are due this weekend, so I’m taking a day off work to work on school. I’ve got to do a PowerPoint (blargh!), and normalize a data set, as well as write a 600 word paper. In a perfect, undistracted world, I could accomplish all that today. I hold out hope…

The Fall session starts for me in mid-September, with a course on Gerontology, which fulfills one of the remaining general education requirements. I finally got around to buying the book today, and the list price aged me considerably: $157.00! Seriously? I guess that’s how much you have to charge for the book you write when you’ve got a PhD in Gerontology and no real other source of income, eh?