17 Octogre 2018

First

Y’all: VOTE! Where registration is still open, do that. Then vote!

Where registration is closed, many states offer on-site registration in concert with early voting, so check it out, carve out some time, and do that.

Failing everything else, if you’re unregistered, at least find out where your correct voting location is, and totter down there with ID and do a provisional ballot. Important to be at the right polling place, though.

Running Late

I haven’t forgotten, I’ve just been busy. Especially Sunday, which had an evening full of song and a bit of dance at Cabaret Night at the Annapolis Shakespeare  Company. And coming up soon, an actual two week run of the musical Cabaret! Also, two more weekends to see and love the Comedy of Errors.

To make up for my failings, here’s a picture of Lexi with a body pillow:

Lexi the dog, with a body pillow
Lexi with a body pillow

That’s a Wrap

We’re still on the fence about seeing CoE another time – it’s a wonderful show, but I’ve been really busy, and it’d be nice to have a weekend or two without having to be “on”.

No other news to speak of, and no casualties reported by DoD since last I posted.

8 Octogre 2018

For Starters

A day late and a dollar short. Well, one of those, anyway. Yesterday was a half-day at work, updating firmware versions and upgrading hypervisor versions on the fleet at $FIRM HQ. When I say half-day, I mean in the CEO-sense: 12+ hours… long day. But it all got done, and everything was still working when the ball dropped. That’s not always guaranteed when working with systems that get rebooted and/or power cycled with no regularity at all. And BIOS updates are a feature in one of the special circles of Hell.

Since I was planning on a long Sunday, I took Friday off. I’d started my week with reasonably comprehensive plans about what and how much I would accomplish on the home front over the three day weekend-with-a-one-day-interruption, but that was not to be. I felt a bit peaky on Thursday, and got my annual flu shot that afternoon. Friday morning, I decided to take the day as it came, and hang the chores. And Saturday. And today. So, we did get a lot of Tennant-era Doctor Who watched, which was great fun. And via DVR, we watched the season opener of the new Doctor Who, starring Jodie Whittaker. She’s brilliant. I’m excitedly anticipating how  Whittaker and fresh showrunner Chris Chibnall move the character and the show forward.

Not Talkin’ Politics

No sirree, not a all. There is nothing good I have to say about how the Senators treated Dr. Ford. There is nothing good to say about the mockery made of her by the holder of the highest office in the land. There is nothing good to say about … anything that went down in Swamplandia in the last couple of weeks. So I have nothing to say. Yet … I believe her.

Unwinding

Seriously, perhaps it’s the events of the last couple of weeks that are leaving me queasy and unsettled. I need to unwind. But also, tomorrow, work.

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. James A. Slape, 23, from Morehead City, North Carolina, who died on Oct. 4, 2018, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device.

30 September 2018

This has been a busy, busy weekend. Two words: Capclave, Theatre.

Capclave

First up: Capclave. This is a lovely small literary SF/F/H/etc. conference run and sponsored by the WSFA (Washington Science Fiction Association). They’re a wonderful, motivated, well-organized group who’ve been putting on Capclave annually for a long time – Hat’s off to the team and organizers!

The Guests of Honor (usually GoH) this year were Alyssa Wong and Nancy Kress. I was, frankly, embarrassed to know not very much about the work of either, for very different reasons.

Alyssa writes superb, award-winning short stories, most of which may be considered horror, for the purposes of conversation with those of us who aren’t Alyssa.  See her Bibliography, read the stories, decide for yourself. She’s a smart writer with a strong voice and great personal presence. Heck, she won the Nebula in 2016, and was a John Campbell Best New Writer finalist the same year. Why hadn’t she gotten onto my radar??? She’s working on her first novel, and I’m looking forward to reading her work for decades to come.

My embarrassment regarding Nancy is something else entirely. She’s a writer of hard SF, which is totally in my wheelhouse. And she’s been writing for a lot of years, and winning bunches of awards. And the only thing I know I’ve read of hers is Dear Sarah (the one she read to us this afternoon in her GoH Reading session). She’s fun, smart, talented, and I’m looking to catching up on a lot of her work. Additionally, her GoH interview session was done by her husband, Jack Skillingstead, and that was a hoot of an hour!

I also became acquainted with the author who goes by the name of J. L. Gribble. I did this totally on purpose. One of the key features (for me) of Capclave is the nearly continuous string of author readings. Much as I want to sit in on every panel (up to 5 in any given hour) and attend every reading, I always make time to sit in on at least a couple of readings from authors I either don’t know, or haven’t read recently. Hanna (of J.L. fame) was my new-to-me author this time. She read from her latest work, Steel Time.

There’s so much more that’s awesome about Capclave. I was there Friday, Saturday, and today. But I missed the mass signing event, and the WSFA Small Press Awards ceremony last night, because Theatre.

Comedy of Errors

So, last night at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, it was the Press Opening for The Comedy of Errors. Staged primarily in an 1890’s steampunk Paris, this Sally Boyett designed and directed production also featured a time travel twist, from “time to time” through the production. Also, clearly influenced by the Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton, and other past masters of slapstick comedy, this show was a joy for me. The Antipholus twins were played with verve by Matthew Murry and Morgan Hooper. The Dromio twins were executed with humor and an excruciating lack of grace by Clay Vanderbeek and Joe Leitess.

A tarnished brass set was alternately the streets of Syracuse, and the inside of the household of Antipholus of Syracuse. Adorning the back wall, a clock hovered in front of a projection wall that was used to enhance the time shifting scenes. The clocks hands were moved forward through the day of the events in question by the town gypsy, later to be revealed as Emelia, mother of the Antipholii (?), played by Christine Asero.

In all, a cast of thirteen played nineteen roles, but for me, Shubhangi Kuchibhotia as The Mime steals the show. Occasionally, she’s on stage, as a part of the chorus, moving around and through the main characters. Mostly, though, she’s in a mock Foley booth in the corner up in the seats, stage left. There she operates assorted sound effect devices to add comedic flare to the often violent interactions between the assorted Antipholii and Dromios. And throughout, she’s acting and reacting to the action on the stage, with face and body. I told Sally and Shubhangi that I was going to have to come back to see the play again, to just watch her throughout and enjoy the play that way.

Please, are you in the area? Are you going to be in the area? Go to the website, follow the links, buy the tickets, see the work. I promise you’ll laugh, love it, and have a wonderful time.

Lexi, Because

Lexi, our dog, sleeping curled u0p beside me, head tucked against the arm rest of the sofa, as I watch the telly.
Lexi, sleeping beside me as I watch the telly

Winding Down

I’m now a full weekend behind on Fall yardwork. Now, that previously may not have been an issue, because it’s been too wet to be outside, but we’ve now had three continuous days of no rain. Things are drying out, and I need to get some work done. But next weekend, I’m working (at work) on Sunday, all day, at least. I’m going to have to make time somewhere. Perhaps I’ll take Friday for yardwork.

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

17 September 2018

It was a busy week. As I tell Marcia every evening … I worked on computers. It was an even busier weekend. I mowed. And mowed. And mowed. The front yard still needed a double cut, just to catch up from the two weekends away while we were in Maine. The back yard … Shudder. Well, it’s much, much flatter now, but the yard looks like it’s been shaved by a great grandfather with the shakes! Between rain and travel, I’d not mowed for six weeks. Yikes!

Other accomplishments over the weekend included working on the donor plaques on the chairs in the theater. I’d originally affixed them using the small brass screws provided, late last year (?). But it turns out that small straight blade brass screws mar easily, and they can catch on clothing and cause issues. So I backed out every one of the screws, re-drilled all of the pilot holes out to 5/64″ diameter by 5/8″ deep, and used some decorative brass plated #13 twist nails to replace those screws. They look great, and they’ll be much kinder to skin and clothing.

Last night was the first Cabaret night of the new season at Annapolis Shakespeare Company. This one was from the Roaring 20’s … you can already see where the Cabaret theme is going to lead, next month we’ll be in the 1930’s. Great fun with Muscial Director Marc Irwin on the ivories, and regulars Sally Boyett, Joe Rossi, Christine Asero joined by new (to me) vocal talent Annie Gill. Wonderful songs from No No Nanette, Lady Be Good, and Showboat, as well as some popular tunes of that era. Staged as a radio show replete with advertisements for Ivory Soap and humor courtesy of  George Burns and Gracie Allen. Wonderful evening! That was true even though when Christine noted that I’d caught a lot of sun while on our trip to Maine, I replied with, “Might as well catch some sun, Marcia was catching all the fish!” Christine laughed and laughed. Harumph.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last few days.

 

26 August 2018

Well. By this time next week, we’ll be two thirds of the way through the year. Whew! While it’s been a relatively cool summer for us, there have been plenty of storms with lots of flash and bang. Not really Lexi’s favorite. Last weekend, she came down to the basement and barked at me until I let her sit in my lap while the storm boomed outside and the coffee was roasting inside:

Lexi: The thunder always wins, so she sits in my lap and shivers..

Lexi: The thunder always wins…

Speaking of Lexi, she’s got a couple of growths on her gums. We spotted one of them while prying her mouth open to put in a few drops of mutt anti-anxiety meds, a week back. The vet isn’t worried about malignancy, but she wants them excised, so Lexi gets to visit anesthesia land next month, and is going to have her teeth cleaned in the bargain. Note: I don’t think Lexi is going to regard this as a bargain in any sense of the word.

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The commutes around here are always … I’l be honest, I’ve got a great commute: 22 minutes when it’s great, and a bit over 30 when I miss a couple of lights. But even with my lovely, mostly back road drive, there are a couple of choke points, and choke points are known for bringing out the special drivers:

 

Special driver, wrong side, on-coming traffic. 'nuff said.

Special driver, wrong side…

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Yesterday, I spent the day painting at the Annapolis Shakespeare theatre, helping to make the public spaces prettier. It’s mostly down to trim now, with a couple of walls needing a second coat of the field color.  I brought the box office window doors home to trim them down a bit – they were perfectly sized for their openings … before paint was applied to all the surfaces. This morning, after early remote work at the office and shopping, I went back to the theater, installed the box window doors, sanded and painted out a couple of ventilation grates, and prepared for some future work. Then back home to do more remote work, roast coffee, walk the dog, etc. A productive weekend, IMO.

Theatre note: there are 5 more weeks of The Miser playing Tuesdays at Reynold’s Tavern, and Comedy of Errors previews starting on September 28, and officially opens with the third production the following night. It’s set in 1890’s steam punk London. So, so looking forward to this.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Taylor J. Galvin, 34, from Spokane, Washington, who died on Aug. 20, 2018, in Baghdad, Iraq, as a result of injuries sustained when his helicopter crashed in Sinjar, Ninevah Province, Iraq.

5 August 2018

Cleaning yesterday; shopping, mowing, and roasting coffee today. So that’s a productive weekend. On the way to shopping, I stopped at the local family-owned nursery we use for plants, etc. I needed some fresh tomatoes to supplement what little is coming out of the large tomato end of my garden. With those, a lime, some garlic, a couple of small yellow onions, and a handful of mixed peppers from the garden, I made a small artisanal batch of salsa – no more than four or five cups worth. Yup, we finished that all, with chips, as a mid-afternoon snack.

Part of the reason the larger tomatoes aren’t happy is that we’re up to over 8″ of rain in my back yard since July 20.  Depending on the next couple of weeks, we could end up with 1/4 of a year’s average rainfall in less than a month. Not that any of the folks around here that are suffering through the aftereffects of flash flooding are very happy about any of this.

Oh, hey – we had a lovely time at Linda and Mike’s last night: being ignored by their new-ish cat Kafka, eating a lovely supper, and playing a deeply inappropriate game of CAH. Much laughter ensued.

In my copious spare time, I’ve been working on learning a bit more about containers, with Docker on deck. I haven’t had to use them professionally, but they’re important technologies that underpin a lot of what’s going on in cloud these days. So, I’ll learn more. Key to long life, learning more.

DoD reported no new casualties in the last few days. Now, back to reading…

 

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.

15 July 2018

Another productive week, and a much more productive weekend. Saturday was for detailing cars and seeing Annapolis Shakespeare’s lovely outdoor production of Love’s Labour’s Lost. Superb! We saw it with some friends after a nice supper at Luna Blu, an excellent restaurant serving Italian cuisine, walking distance from the show on the lawn under the trees at St. John’s College in Annapolis. All highly recommended.

Today: shopping, coffee roasting (a Burundi from Sweet Maria’s), and house cleaning. Enough, I think.

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

  • Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Andrew Celiz, 32, from Summerville, South Carolina, died on July 12, in Afghanistan, of wounds sustained as a result of enemy small arms fire while conducting operations in support of a medical evacuation landing zone in Zurmat district, Paktiya province.
  • Staff Sgt. James T. Grotjan, 26, of Waterford, Connecticut, died on July 12 at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, from injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident July 8 at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

1 July 2018

Half of the year is gone, and all things considered for us, things could be worse. But between the political situation and all the shitty men doing shitty men things to women, things could certainly be a lot better. Additionally, we were touched by the tragic shooting in Annapolis – Marcia and I know a couple of the Capital Gazette folks, and Wendi Winters was one, now gone. Also killed were Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, John McNamera, and Rebecca Smith. Rest in peace. Our condolences to the affected families, friends, and coworkers.

Other than that sad news, it was a productive week, fully back in the saddle at work, with 5 days regular and supporting/patching work both days this weekend. I did get the front yard mowed early on Saturday before the heat moved in. All the rest of my planned chores are also done and I had some time to relax.

At the Annapolis Shakespeare  Company, The Miser is running Tuesday evenings in the Courtyard at Reynolds Tavern on Church Circle in Annapolis, through September 25. We saw the show before we left for vacation and it was a joy. We’ll be back to see it again, for another fun date night! Opening July 13 at St John’s College in Annapolis: Love’s Labour’s Lost. High expectations for this one, and with just nine shows over three weekends, get thee to the site and buy your tickets before they’re all gone!

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

3 June 2018

Well, another wet week. We had, today alone, way more than the 1.5 inches the gauge shows. Over 12 inches of rain in the last month if my rain gauge (and memory) can be trusted. The good news is that, while muggy and warm yesterday, I managed to get all of the required outdoor work done: mowing, pruning, weeding, fertilizing.

Today, shopping and a couple of hours of remote work (patching) took up the morning. The afternoon … well.

Marcia’s been providing an extra bunch of hours to the theater for the last couple of weeks, what with people out on vacation, etc. Between the shows we saw on our own, and her seatings as House Manager, she ended up seeing Kiss Me Kate seven times. I broke down and joined in for this afternoon’s matinee – we saw the show close, and got to give all of these wonderful actors a big hug and congrats on a great, great show. What fun!

Thank you to the actors: Matt, Zach, Dexter, J.B., Nate, Robin, Christine, Julie, Drew, Allie, Ben, Jennie, Ian, Bethany, Joe, Alex, and Laura … as well as everyone behind the scenes: Sally, Marc, Jacob, Nancy, Sandra, Nate (again!), and Caitlin.

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Oh, hey. Did I mention that we celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary this last week? Yup. Clearly, she’s a saint! And I’m a lucky, lucky bloke.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.