12 Sept 2016

Welcome back, us. We hared off to Atlanta for the weekend to visit our friends Jen and Kris. We’ve not visited since their wedding, four or so years back, so this was lovely! We drove down on Friday (12 hours door to door). Saturday we went to the Chihuly in the Garden exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Chihuly in the Japanese Garden

Chihuly in the Japanese Garden

The installation in the Japanese Garden was my personal favorite. I’ve always had a soft spot for the suprises to be found in meticulously kept tiny gardens. Sunday we wandered around quaint downtown Roswell. There was shopping for some, and dogs to meet, and snacks to be had. That evening we watched Young Frankenstein, and bid Gene Wilder farewell.

This morning we were up well before dawn, and on the road by quarter to six.  Picked up the dog and home before six this evening. So, tired, but fun! Tomorrow, back to work.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of 1st Lt. Jeffrey D. Cooper, 25, of Mill Creek, Washington, who died on Sept. 10 in Kuwait, from a non-combat-related injury. Also not forgotten, our continued condolences to the families and friends of those who died fifteen years ago yesterday in New York City.

04 September 2016

Happy Birthday, Pete!

*      *      *

It’s been a fun week. It was a three day work week for me – I took off Thursday and Friday to burn some hours and make a five day weekend happen. I got some chores done. We went fishing (and Marcia caught a small-ish big mouth bass that we gave back to the lake):

Marcia caught a bass

Marcia caught a bass

And on a long walk around the neighborhood, Lexi was perplexed:

Two turtles fornicating

Two turtles fornicating

The Fitbit says I did five days of exercise, although I only did three dedicated exercise days, truth be told. But the work counts. Sadly, so do the muffins I bought during the shopping run today. I’ll have to work those off this week.

*      *      *

I didn’t make DragonCon this year. Okay, I’ve never made DragonCon, and my luck I probably won’t. But that’s okay. People I know and know of had a good time, and that’s a good thing.

I also finished my re-read of Anne Leckie’s Imperial Radch series: Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and Ancillary Mercy. I read these books as they came out, and it was good to read them again, binge-ish. Such good writing, compelling characters, and wonderful plotting. They continue to be Highly Recommended.

In my queue right now: The August eBook from Strange Horizons, the September issue of Clarkesworld, and Stephenson’s The Diamond Age is my bedside reader at the moment. I go to reading on dead trees when I wind down at night before sleep.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Grateful. Ciao!

14 August 2016

[Muttered, from the stack of bodies on the cart]: I’m not dead, yet!

In the week leading up to last Saturday, I had five good days of exercise: pushing pretty hard. Then on the Saturday, I spent most of the day working out in the sun on an August summer day, and I destroyed myself. Lawns, yardwork, and deck/furniture cleaning. All that I did on Sunday last was relax, and crawl up the stairs to bed. I also took it far too easy this last week: just work, no working out to speak of. It’s too hot for nearly everything. I could make the house a lot cooler, but it would cost us several hundred dollars a month to do so. This will be over soon…

*      *      *

Last night, we went to Turn of the Screw, another staged reading at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company! 70 minutes of harrowing horror, with shards of fun piercing the veil from time to time. The reading was superbly executed by Laura Rocklyn and Tony Tsendeas. I can’t exhort you to go – the Summer Staged Readings series is over, with the last of My Fair Lady on stage as I write these words. But there’s still time to see The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), and come October, the 2016/2017 season swings into action. I cannot recommend this company highly enough. I’ve been going to live theater (including LOTS of Shakespeare) over the last few decades, and I’m head-over-heels about this Company.

*      *      *

The weather has turned to thunder and lightning, and the dog needs my attention. There’s not much else to report, though. Be well.

*      *      *

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

  • Lt. Col. Flando E. Jackson, 45, of Lansing, Michigan, died Aug. 4 in Southwest Asia from a non-combat-related injury.
  • Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Wilbur, 36, of Granite City, Illinois, died Aug. 12 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, from a non-combat-related injury.

31 July 2016

Fun weekend! I took the day off on Friday, and we  went fishing (no fish, but fishing doesn’t require that) nearly first thing in the morning. In the afternoon, we went to see Star Trek Beyond. A good entertainment, that. I like this cast, and my worries about Justin Lin’s (ed: not Jason, sigh) direction were just that: worries. Good fun flick.

Saturday evening, we went to Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s staged reading (and singing) of My Fair Lady. I’ve seen this show twice, now. Once was with Rex Harrison, back in the 1980’s. I’ll tell you – for me, this one was better! And extraordinary: the show we saw was the result of 8 rehearsals and an opening night. Are you near Annapolis? Go see this show. Go see Turn of the Screw, which starts soon. Subscribe to the upcoming season, which looks wonderful!

Today, shopping and helping a friend fettle a new computer and get stuff copied off the old, likely powned old one.

Spots of exercise and days over 10K steps this week, but nothing to write home about. More, soon. Seriously.

*      *      *

I don’t like politics, and I’m not a fan of politicians. But anyone who’s not planning on voting this Fall needs to pay attention. Register. Vote. Even if you disagree with what I say next, please register and vote. Please. However much I’d like to vote for Gary Johnson this year, I can’t participate in nadering this election. I’m with Hillary this round, because the alternative would be worse than Nehemiah Scudder.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which I am glad. Ciao!

10 July 2016

Let’s work the week backwards, just for fun.

Today was all about the mowing. The weather was not as hot as most of the week, so I had that going for me. But it was still a miserable sweatball of a day. But the lawns have been sheared, and I did some weeding as well. Bell peppers out of the garden today, a few tomatoes, and a couple of cucumbers. Here’s how the garden looks as of today:

Bilbrey garden - July 10, 2016

Bilbrey garden – July 10, 2016

*      *      *

Last night, we went up to Annapolis to see ASC‘s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented outdoors in the gardens of the Charles Carroll House. It was a wonderful production, and cool enough by the harbor to be tolerable, even for July weather. This company continues to impress me. If you’re in the DC area, look into going to some Annapolis Shakespeare Company productions, and supporting them if you can, as well.

*      *      *

The four day work week was busy and productive. On the exercise front, I’m moving back into the groove.

(Legend: Sit  ups / Squats / Push ups :: Elliptical steps / in Minutes)

Monday:  Holiday – just over 7k steps logged on the Fitbit.

Tuesday:  40 / 20 / 21 :: 5350 / 39 – 18k+ steps logged.

Wednesday:  60 / 30 / 27 :: 7400 / 54 – 17k+ steps logged.

Thursday:  80 / 40 / 32 :: 5350 / 38 – 15k+steps logged.

Friday:  Recovery, nearly 11k steps logged.

Saturday:  No specific exercise, but 15k+ steps logged.

Sunday: No specific exercise, but yardwork, leading to 15k+ steps logged.

Last week’s total steps logged (Sunday through Saturday): 97,000.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

12 June 2016

My heart goes out to all affected by the terrorist attack in Orlando.

*      *      *

Four days ago it was 47° F on my drive in, before 7 AM. This morning before 7 AM, it was 30 degrees warmer than that, and consequently a lot warmer today. Still, I got a few chores done. There wasn’t a need to mow this weekend – we’d had no rain in the last week, and so the lawns pretty much stopped growing. I got some weeding done in the garden beds. And today I got the front automated watering setup working, and added the potted roses to the rotation. In summer’s past, I’d count on being able to remember to water the roses manually. That hasn’t worked out too well. I expect the roses to do a lot better this summer, and be in much better shape come Fall.

No veggies out of the garden this weekend but for one small green pepper. I didn’t want a small plant to put energy into growing a single pepper, so I had two halves of a tiny pepper with lunch yesterday. There are tomatoes appearing on those plants, which is a good sign. A few more weeks and we’ll be eating salsa!

*      *      *

Exercise:

Thursday – 80 sit-ups, 40 squats, 28 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6300 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

Friday – None. Work, followed by an evening out at a birthday party.

Saturday and Sunday – yard work and house chores counted as “walks” for exercise by the FitBit. But no formal exercise.

*      *      *

This week I read Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders. Such a joyously talented writer. I also read last month’s ePub edition of Strange Horizons, an online SFF venue that I support. Again, great stuff. Online, there’s fiction every week, reviews, poetry, and other features. Highly recommended. I’m currently reading this month’s ;Login: magazine from USENIX, and also this month’s Clarkesworld, which I subscribe to via Kindle. For winding down at bedtime reading, I’ve got a couple of Pratchett’s Discworld paperbacks at the bedside.

Also, recently, I finally finished reading In the Shadow of the Master, a collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s work, interspersed with essays from some of the best mystery and horror writers of the last few decades. This reading was inspired by our attendance last year production of Poe, an original play staged by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. For some reason, Poe’s works eluded me throughout most of my education, probably because I was taking some specialty English courses at the same time as the sophomores and juniors in my high school were reading Poe. So, while I appreciated the play, I didn’t have much of a grounding in his works or his life. I know a lot more now, and am eager to attend this year’s production, with a fresh script!

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

15 May 2016

According to the record books, this last stretch of rainy days ended at 15. But that was measured at a local airport. MY backyard meter got measurable rain on 18 consecutive days, with today being the first rain-free day. Yowza! And let me tell you how unhappy my plants are! They’re not as unhappy as they might have been with a late hard frost, but too much water stunts and kills. The tomatoes haven’t grown, and continuous moisture encourages early rust, which would be … bad. The cantelope seedlings are dead. The happiest looking plants in my backyard (aside from the lawn, which is very happy indeed) are the broccoli. We’ll see how that plays out over the next few weeks.

*      *      *

Huh. Video games leaking out into real life, much? I snapped this shot off the telly screen last night from the Science channel show What On Earth? :

Is this Cave Johnson?

Is this Cave Johnson?

Hmmm.

*      *      *

Yesterday, I cleaned most of the coffee-related apparatus in the house, roasted a pound of Costa Rican green beans from Sweet Maria’s in my Behmor 1600 Plus roaster, mowed the lawns, and weeded out the veggie beds.

In the evening, we went to Annapolis Shakespeare to see their production of Romeo and Juliet. The costume and musical designs reflected the late 1940’s, but the language was the Bard’s. The show is directed with a fine touch by the company’s Founding Artistic Director, Sally Boyett. I’ll admit to my weakness for this play – I *love* Mercutio’s monologue on dreams. And Brian Keith MacDonald’s rendition stole the show, for me. Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of the show. Brendan McMahon and Olivia Ercolano as Romeo and Juliet were fun, and completely perfect in their roles. And the rest of the cast, superb as usual, with a special note to the talented and hard-working Renata Plecha, who always seems to have more roles to learn than anyone! Wonderful! Go, see it. There are two more weeks of production!

Today, I cleaned out my office closet. I generated a box of working gadgetry that’s going to the donate stack at work. I generated a can full of trash. I generated a can full of recycle. And I sanitized three phones of elderly provenance:

Secured data.

Secured data.

I carefully secured the data on these three old phones. Out of juice, power adapters long gone, I needed a solution, and Art is the answer.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

10 April 2016

A good week, overall. I was on-call for the first half, which is tiring, even when nothing happens. Yep, I sleep a lot more lightly when responsibility requires it. But one week out of every few weeks ain’t bad – and our monitoring and remediation are in a state of continuous improvement, so we get far fewer alerts and calls than in years past. All to the good.

I also executed terminal retirement on a stack of former virtualization hosts. Spin down, uncable from last network connections and from the SAN, spin up again with a DBAN disk in the optical drive: boom. No more data. Some may be repurposed as a lab environment, but the decision hasn’t been taken yet.

*      *      *

It was a fairly relaxing weekend, since the house is fairly clean, and it’s too darn cold to do any yardwork … Hey, did I mention that we had sleet, graupel, and snow on Saturday morning? Did I also mention that four days in the last week started off below freezing? So much for Spring. It had been warming up, and everything started to bloom, then BOOM: be cold and die, little plants! Good thing I’d not planted any veg in the garden yet, eh?

So we had Linda and Mike over to supper last night. Marcia made a wonderful, hearty, chicken stew, complemented by Asiago wheat bread and a green salad. Desert was a shortbread laden with blueberries. A good game of Ticket to Ride followed … good because against all odds, I won.

Both weekend days, I gave a few hours to playtime in the world of The Talos Principle (which I finished), and the Road to Gehenna DLC (which I started). Fun puzzle game: Recommended.

*      *      *

I’m currently reading Cordwainer Smith’s The Rediscovery of Man collection, along with last month’s Strange Horizons. I finished up the April edition of Clarkesworld earlier in the week, too. And I’m continuing to work my way through Learning Ruby the Hard Way, 3E. I’ve been spending years getting just enough knowledge to get the job done, but I want some more depth on something, anything. So, before I work on a substantial project, best to begin at first principles. That’s what I’m doing.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which we are grateful. Ciao!

27 March 2016

Boring, I’m sure. First mowing of the year, yesterday. The front lawn is looking lush – that’s normal for this time of year. Today, no shopping because the store was closed for Easter Sunday. But since Easter is also a sigil of Spring, I used the day to clean house. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than it was before I started.

Oh, oh, we saw a WONDERFUL Annapolis Shakespeare Company production of The Importance of Being Earnest. The excellent company cast was superbly directed by Founding Artistic Director Sally Boyett. It’s a great play, Oscar Wilde was such a joy as a writer and playwright. If you’re in our area, it’s on for just another couple of weeks and you really, really should go.

That’s really all I’ve got. I’m working on learning Ruby, because it’s been a long while since I’ve picked up a new language. It’s slower going than I’d like, frankly. But probably to be expected. Good to exercise the gray cells, no doubt.

DoD reported no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

17 March 2016

There once was a service called FandangoNOW, ah, Fucking Bastards, the company formerly known as M-GO. I logged into it once, because it was a featured service on our Roku box. As of this morning, I had neither purchased nor rented any content from M-GO. This is a good thing, because it appears that with the acquisition of M-GO by Fandango, you can either accept their new Terms and Privacy Policy (including the privacy policies of their corporate parents, NBC Universal and Warner Brothers), OR YOU, THE CUSTOMER, CAN GO TO HELL. Well, not HELL, as such. But if you’d “purchased” content from M-GO, but you assert that you cannot accept the conditions of the change of ownership … you lose access to anything you’ve purchased. In my opinion, that’s called theft, but then I’m an old-fashioned bloke. Here’s a quote from the exact text from the email I received last night:

If you prefer to opt out of these changes, click here and follow the instructions on the resulting page. If you opt out, we will remove your information from our database, including movies you have purchased.

Fucking bastards. Yes, I’ve had my information removed from their database, and I’m glad of it. But I’m glad that they didn’t get to steal any of my money from me in the process. I’m assuming that most people will just roll over on this sort of thing, but if they’re up front about being willing to deprive you of stuff you’ve paid for now, I’m willing to guess (and it’s just my opinion, mind you) that they’d do it to you again and again, in a heartbeat. Bend over, FandangoNOW customers.

In other news, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day. May the Saint Piss Stale Beer All Over The FandangoNOW Business Plan.