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).

3 February 2019

Weather, man…

It’s been an interesting week, weather-wise. For instance, it was properly cold for a couple of days, with lows in the single digits and highs in the mid-teens (ºF). And on Friday, when we were due an hour or two of snow flurries midday, Ullr sent us snow starting at 8 AM and lasting all day. It was light snow, but it all stuck, since everything was pre-frozen. I shoveled off the 2.5″ when I got home late afternoon:

Me heading back in after shoveling snow from driveway and sidewalks.

Me, after shoveling snow..

Two Men and a Boat

On the entertainment front, we enjoyed a superb opening night production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. Clay Vanderbeek and Nate Ruleaux handed out stellar performances as the titular characters, well supported by Conner Padilla (as Hamlet), Morganne Chu, Stephen Patrick Martin, Ian Charles, Dexter Hamlett (really), and Phil Bufithis. Sharp, intricately timed verbal jousting is at the core of this show, with Nate playing off of Clay’s occasional confusion perfectly. The players, lead with power and cynicism by Stephen Martin, are a joy, albeit an occasionally disturbing joy. The set was stark and verging on minimal, suiting this show perfectly. A fun romp on it’s own, Stoppard’s most famous work is best enjoyed with Hamlet fully in mind. Running about two and a half hours including intermission, this show was directed by Donald Hicken. Highly recommended.

Coffee

Today I roasted a pound of Kenya in the Behmor 1600+ coffee roaster. After recovering from math and email reading issues, I can confirm that I’m calling this roast the ninth birthday of my roaster. It just keeps trucking along, even though I thought it was a year older. The freshness of home roasted coffee is just the best. Ask my friends at Sweet Maria’s, if you don’t believe me.

Winding down

DoD announced no new casualties in the past week. Some political careers are still holding onto unwarranted life, too. Oh, yeah, and there’s a football game being played right now. Not watching – skipped the “sport” altogether this year. Be well.

21 January 2019

C-c-c-cold

Not properly cold, not in the ice moon Hoth sense of the word, anyway. But it was 11º Fahrenheit when I walked the dog early this morning, with winds gusting to 40 mph. I think that means a wind chill of minus one billion. As the day went on, it warmed a little bit, and the winds dropped to gentle breezes, which meant I could shed a layer or two for the later walks. It’d have been better if Lexi would simply walk, take care of her business, and be ready to head back in. But her idea of a walk is to spend half an hour inspecting and sniffing assorted clumps of (frozen) grass, (frozen) shrubberies, and (frozen) sidewalks, before grudgingly warming one or two of those items with bodily excretions. But we both lived, so there’s that.

Food

Marcia’s been baking wonderful things: Cakes and crackers and breads. I won’t torment you with descriptions of things you can’t have because they’re all gone, but I *can* tell you that if she keeps this up, I’m going to have to add some double doors to the house for the width I will achieve.

In coffee news, I roasted the second pound of Guatemalan beans this weekend. The first batch, roasted to a City+, was delicious, so I kept to that roast level again. Next up: Kenyan, and ordering more beans since I’m dropping below 4 pounds left in house.

Entertainment

We went to a 1940’s themed Cabaret evening last night at Annapolis Shakespeare. Big crowd, good energy, great entertainment! And their production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is just around the corner. I’m so looking forward to the show – I’ve not seen this play in 38 years.

Reading

Still holding Fran Wilde’s Horizon at night, reading the hardcover at night when I’m winding down. On the phone, I’m reading Kari Byron’s Crash Test Girl, which is a hoot of a read from a wonderful woman (Side note – the Kindle version is just $1.99 in the US store as I write these words).

I also just read this little treat from John Scalzi, over at The Verge: A Model Dog. Fun. Also fun and thought-provoking was this piece by Sarah Miller on Popula: The Why of Cooking.

Winding Down

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

  • Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, of upstate New York, died on Jan. 16, 2019, in Manbij, Syria, as a result of wounds sustained from a suicide improvised explosive device.
  • Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, died on Jan. 16, 2019, in Manbij, Syria, as a result of wounds sustained from a suicide improvised explosive device.
  • DOD civilian Scott A. Wirtz of St. Louis, Missouri, died on Jan. 16, 2019, in Manbij, Syria, as a result of wounds sustained from a suicide improvised explosive device.
  • Sgt. Cameron A. Meddock, 26, of Spearman, Texas, died on Jan. 17, 2019, in Landstuhl, Germany, as a result of injuries sustained from small arms fire during combat operations on Jan. 13, 2019, in Jawand District, Badghis Province, Afghanistan.

13 January 2018

Snow Day

Yup, our first major winter storm arrived yesterday late afternoon. We’ve so far got over 10″ here in my back yard. I shoveled the driveway and sidewalks just after 4 PM, when a mere 6.5 inches had fallen. By the time was done, I went back over the whole thing to quickly remove the next inch of snow that had fallen while I was shoveling. Yay?

It's still snowing, and there's about 2.5 inches since I shoveled last at about 7.5 inches. So that puts us at 10" of snow in this storm. Wow!
Still snowing…

Oh, yeah. The snow was supposed to be done by now … but it’s still falling. That explains the schools pre-announcing tomorrow’s closure. The Feds? Who knows, all of the OPM people who communicate such things appear to be furloughed, so it’s down to the individual agencies.

Aside from shoveling snow, I got some remote work done today, supporting a database migration/upgrade. I also roasted a pound of green coffee from Guatemala, via Sweet Maria’s.

Entertaining

We’ve been watching Black Adder and a show about the Le Mans car race on the streaming services, waiting for the boys to show up in this year’s edition of The Grand Tour. I’m reading Fran Wilde’s Horizon, Kari Byron’s Crash Test Girl, and a bit of light interstitial reading courtesy of one of Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld books.

Winding down

Lots to do this week upcoming, but some of that depends on timing of storms, road conditions, etc. I’ve got to get Marcia’s car in for the emissions check, for one thing.

DoD reported no casualties in the last week.

31 July 2018

And that puts the fork into the seventh month of this dismal year.

In such good news as there is, I got the major yard work – lawns, etc. – done this last weekend, and several other chores to boot. Not much else to report. I did finish up the last few pages of that V.E. Schwab book, A Darker Shade of Magic. Fun tale, with the boring caveat that almost everyone lives, which seems unreasonably unrealistic. But the book is well written, and I’ve gotta find out what happens next… Now all I have to do is fit more of those books into my reading budget (money and time).

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In the boy-howdy-can-people-ever-be-shitty-to-other-people department, check out the recent Everywhereist (aka Geraldine DeRuiter) post What Happened When I Tried Talking to Twitter Abusers. Assholes on Twitter are just one of the many reasons we can’t have anything nice anymore.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last few days. Thank Cthulhu. Now it’s time to go roast some coffee: a Guatemalan from Sweet Maria’s.

26 July 2018

Well, I guess it’s been a bit. I participated in two long painting days at the theatre last week, and by Sunday, after chores, etc, I was plain tuckered out. Since then, I’ve just been either busy or forgetful … I can’t remember which.

Upcoming is the last weekend of Love’s Labour’s Lost presented by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company at St. John’s College in Annapolis. Also, still running through late September, The Miser is on in the courtyard at Reynold’s Tavern. We’ve seen and loved them both (and we would, even if Marcia wasn’t volunteering as a part time office manager, and I wasn’t on the Board). The next season is going to be a joy, too! Get tickets, bring your friends, see the work, love the work, become subscribers. That’s precisely how we got hooked!

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What I’m reading in my copious spare time: Fran Wilde’s Cloudbound (book two of her Bone Universe trilogy; I loved Updraft, and Horizon is on deck – she signed all three for me at Capclave last year, yay!). These are wonderful, extravagantly envisioned works of fantasy. Fran crafts characters that I care about immediately, and gives them a consistent place above (and in) the clouds for them to love, contend, and try in their own ways to save themselves and their society. Inevitable conflict is the main story. However, the little touches of side story show that this author is superb at building a universe much larger than we can see, and showing us just what’s necessary for the story. I love these books, and I think you will, too. You can find them at many booksellers.

I’m also reading V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, set mostly in three Londons. Magic missing, magic mostly in balance, and magic as weapon … then there’s Black London. I’m enjoying the tale a lot, and I’ll probably pick up the rest of the series. Then there’s my late night bedside re-reading of some of Iain M. Banks Culture novels – love those a lot.

I’ve been listening to a lot of David Bowie, The Eagles, and Amanda Palmer of several incarnations, of late.

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The garden has been producing a quart or so of cherry tomatoes every couple of days, which is delicious and wonderful. Last night I made a south-of-the-border-ish dish with pork, rice, shallots, a couple of serrano peppers and a double handful of halved cherry tomatoes. Yum.

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Recently roasted coffees include single origin beans from Guatemala and Burundi.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week and a half.

11 March 2018

The work week was productive. I’m planning a couple of patching and upgrade cycles that will call for a couple of weekend days work, and probably some travel in May. But the planning and prep documentation is coming along nicely. And, after last weekend’s excitement and manual labor filled days, I wanted to take it easy this weekend. So I did. Yesterday I dropped by the theater and had a long conversation with Sally Boyett that ended with me joining the Board. I sure hope that I can provide the type of input that she’s hoping for… one thing’s for sure, there’s always more to learn. Today was limited to shopping, roasting coffee (Ethiopian), putting up a lovely quilted (by Marcia, see below) wall hanging, and working on my Python chops.

Marcia quilted a new wall hanging

Marcia quilted a new wall hanging

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Upcoming at Annapolis Shakespeare: Tennessee Williams’s Glass Menagerie, directed by Donald Hicken, is opening on Friday evening, March 16. It’s a four week run for Glass Menagerie, shows on Friday and Saturday evenings, matinees on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Also, on Sunday the 18th, one night only: Broadway on Demand Cabaret night.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Maitland Deweever Wilson, 38, of Brooklyn, New York, who died onMarch 7 in Landstuhl, Germany from a non-combat related incident.

11 February 2018

Howdy. I had a decent work week, and a pretty full weekend. I’m not sure where yesterday went, entirely, though it was a lovely Saturday evening out to supper with my co-workers at a nearby brew pub. Good food and good times.

Today was chock-a-block: shopping, then for work: tickets, email, and some production system patching, reboots, and testing. Then I installed a replacement sump pump, since the old one wasn’t working so well anymore (short cycling). Then lunch, a spot of recorded TV, then exercise, an early supper, a shower, and off to the show. Tonight in the ASC Cabaret Series, we enjoyed an evening of That’s Amore (Opera’s Greatest Arias) with Madeline Miskie, Madelyn Wanner, and Mandy Brown singing, accompanied by Joy Mentzel.  We certainly aren’t deep opera fans of any sort, but their voices were lovely, and they took the time to set the scene and our expectations so that we could interpret *some* of the action, even though we have not a stitch of Italian between us. Yep, all Italian.

Speaking of which, the only thing I didn’t get done this weekend was coffee roasting. I absolutely MUST roast tomorrow night or … buy some coffee. <shudder>

Anyway, all good fun, a successful week and weekend, and time to get some sleep, and start all over again.

DoD announced no new casualties in the most recent week.