We find ourselves a day into Winter, thus Beginnings. We’ve had mornings in the teens (Fahrenheit) fairly often for the last couple of weeks, so sliding formally into Winter seems the merest formality. More fun, we had guests up from Atlanta, and, well, it’s properly cold here, for them. But they’re driving further north, more power to them. It was a joy to have some time with Jen and Chris, though. And Lexi got lots of attention from them, too. Linda was over for supper, too. We enjoyed a properly garlic-y chicken supper, a holiday film from Mel Brooks, and some pressies were exchanged to much fun and excitement.
On the other side of the scale, the decade is about done. Sometimes Endings are good. I’ve always said that the problem is politicians, of whatever stripe. But I think we’ve had a properly shitty few years, and maybe it’s because the root cause isn’t really a politician, after all (not this time). One hopes for hope in the coming year, we’ll see how that works out. Personally, as awful as some things have been, we’ve had a pretty decent 10 years. It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out, going forward.
Work has been work, and I’ve been really, really busy. Tired, frankly, and that’s not looking to end, as a trend, for the next short while, but we have plans to remediate that soon. Marcia finished up a collection of memorial quilts which have made their way out into the world, so she’s looking forward to doing some of her own quilt projects that have gotten backed up.
DoD announced no new casualties in the last couple of weeks. That’s good.
Be good to each other, enjoy your families and your holidays, however you celebrate. Merry Whatever!
Our friend Michael Lindsay, husband to Linda Rose Payne, father to Dylan and Kiera, died on August 31, 2019. He was a talented voice actor, and a seriously funny and fun dude, even when in massive pain, which he was, a lot. I’m gonna miss him.
Mainly in Maine
Yes, again. With some lovely weather, visits with usually distant family members, and some moderately successful fishing.
We ended up with 6 or 7 bass between us, all weighed less than two pounds, all released back into the lake after getting weighed and measured. Eleven hours on the drive up (traffic problems), ten hours back home on Saturday. Lexi did really well this trip, and she went for a short swim in the lake, from and to shore. No jumping off of boats for that little dog anymore. Mostly, though, her job was to stand and watch, then run and bark, at the squirrels and chipmunks that frolicked tauntingly in front of her the whole time!
Now back in the DC groove, and trying to get caught up. It’s amazing how much chaos an unmonitored week can generate.
Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:
Sgt. 1st Class Dustin B. Ard, 31, from Hyde Park, Utah, died on Aug. 29, 2019, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations in Zabul Province, Afghanistan.
Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Morovis, Puerto Rico, was killed in action on Sept. 5, 2019, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Well, away, but with leave. We spent the last week enjoying company with family, lovely weather, and intermittently successful fishing in Maine. The camp is on Cobbosseecontee Lake, near Augusta. Here’s a view from next to the lake-side of the camp:
We drove up Saturday a week ago. Per my usual routine, I threw a line in the water within about half an hour of arrival, from that very dock. A couple of dozen casts got one solid bite from a bass that squirmed off the hook, then a few minutes later, another bass that stayed on the line for me. Small-ish, perhaps 14″ long.
We enjoyed brunch out at Slates in Hallowell on Sunday morning with Nancy and Marla – always a joy – they have super food and service. Recommended!
Much of the week was then taken up with relaxing and reading at the camp, and fishing up and down the lake, while Lexi guarded the camp from chipmunks and squirrels. We did a lot more targeted fishing this time, as opposed to trolling. I’ll grant you, Marcia’s first two fish of the week were on our one trolling run back from the south end of the lake; She caught a small bass, and a keeper lake trout that we put on a stringer and gave to Nancy’s friend Myra to have for supper (it wasn’t big enough for more than one decent serving).
On Thursday morning, before the rains came to visit, we headed straight across the lake, to the near bank of Horseshoe Island (behind the party barge in the picture above). We drifted along the bank towards the north (left, above), fishing the banks and submerged cover with various baits. Marcia had success with a Sexy Dog top water bait, and I landed our big bass of the week with a 1.5oz deep crank bait in light blue and chartreuse. Both fish were in the catch-and-release category by regulation.
On Friday we did a bit of dock fishing, undisturbed by actual fish. I did a few small chores around the camp to help Nancy get the place ready for summer, and we packed up and relaxed. Out the door and on the road at 0540 Saturday morning, we were home about 10.5 hours later. Lovely trip, very glad to be home. Did a couple of chores around here, but mostly unwound from the drive, today.
Along with assorted less-than-memorable works, I read the three books from the top of my TBR pile:
Both of the Scalzi books are sequels, and I’ve been putting them off for far too long. I would strongly suggest reading the first book for both, especially go for The Collapsing Empire (precursor to Consuming Fire) – the story is continuing. Head On can be read as a standalone, but it’s better as a second course. I enjoyed both of those a lot.
The stand-out read for me is Fran’s Riverland. A tale of two sisters coping with an abusive home environment as best they can, including telling each other tales of “house magic”. But when Father breaks the fishing float (aka the Witch Ball), the boundary between reality and the world of dreams begins to break down, and it’s up to the sisters to save each other, and rebuild the walls that protect reality from the river of dreams. The story transfixed me. Fran is a weaver of tales who has taken her third drink from the spring of Hippocrene. She’s a Grand Mistress of climbing inside your head and telling you about broken families, loyalty, and hard decisions, all wrapped up in a pretty story so that you’ll stick around for the important bits. Highly Recommended.
DoD announced no new casualties in the last couple of weeks. Tomorrow, back to work for me. Ciao!
Our family said their goodbyes to Dennis yesterday. He’s resting by his grandparents now. Sadly, I didn’t know him as well as I’d have liked, and we didn’t make the trip for his memorial, because it was a small affair, and nobody needed out-of-towners to deal with on top of everything else. He’ll be missed, rest in peace.
Work was a week like so many others, not worth remarking on. However, on the home front, the computing environment continues to have drastic changes.
Yesterday, I pulled the final backup from my FreeBSD 11 server, Serenity. After that, I shut it down. Later in the evening, I went to spin it up in prep for putting VMware ESXi 6.7 on the hardware. But it stayed dark. Hmmm. Power supply bad? Dunno. Left that for today.
Today: Same thing. Swapped power supply to my backup Antec. Still no joy. Plopped in the emergency Corsair PS. Still no joy. Okay. the hardware is actually dead. This chassis has seen 3 or 4 motherboards, several different Linuxen, FreeBSD 10 and 11. It’s been the home server and primary home workstation for a long time. But lately it’s ONLY been the home server, which is asking not very much for a server motherboard with a Xeon and ECC RAM. And I was burning 100W continuously keeping that system online. So it was time for a re-purpose.
The little NUC box is now running FreeBSD 12, disk mirrored on a couple of 1TB drives. I’ve got too much RAM in it, 32G, because I planned on something different. Best part: 11W draw in normal operations. So, a good home server.
But it isn’t a good VMware host for a couple of reasons. So I wanted to use the Xeon box for that. Nope. I’ve got another NUC8 Performance on order, and that’ll be the VMware box.
Not much to promote – we’ve not got a show at Annapolis Shakespeare until next weekend. And I’ve not had much time for reading. Pretty boring, outside of my normal tech routine.
We’re back! We had a two week vacation! Destinations: three days in Ithaca (NY), a drive-by for Ticonderoga (NY), three days in Stowe (VT), and a week in Winthrop (ME) at Cobbosseecontee Lake. We managed some hikes in Ithaca, along with visits to the gardens and arboretum at Cornell. On the drive to Stowe, we stopped in Ticonderoga, and beamed up to the Enterprise for a quick visit:
Marcia after transport…
The Star Trek Original Series Set Tour is great fun. Licensed by CBS, the team at TOS Set Tour have put together most of the sets you saw through three seasons of TOS. We dropped Lexi off for a grooming, had pizza for lunch, did the tour, and back on the road to Stowe.
Stowe is lovely, although it rained much of our drive there, all of the first full day, and part of the second. But we did some driving tours around the area. Did a big circle drive including Smuggler’s Notch, saw some covered bridges, and made it down to Unilever Ben & Jerry’s for a tour and some ice cream. Saturday we drove up to Maine.
In an utterly surprising move, the weather was lovely for us. Last year, we did weeks in Maine in June and in September. Of those 14 days, 9 were rain-outs. All in, we had just one cloudy day last week on the lake, and it rained politely overnight that night. This picture exemplifies the trip this year:
We also managed to get out fishing on the pontoon boat each day. On day one, I landed a large northern pike, probably about six pounds. But we didn’t have a keeper box, so I put it back.
Brian caught a northern pike
Later in the week, I caught another, smaller (4#) pike – and we had a cooler and bag to bring the fish home, so I did. I followed some instructions from this Internet thingy to attempt to get some boneless fillets, but I made a hash of it. So no pike for us. Marcia was the tournament leader for the week, hauling in several fish, including a tasty 17″ 2# brown trout that we had for lunch on Thursday. Overall, we had a fun time, and wrapped with a 10 hour drive home yesterday.
Today: chores. They’re done.
* * *
Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:
Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad, 26, of Chandler, Arizona, died on June 8, in Somalia, of injuries sustained from enemy indirect fire.
Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew I. Holzemer, of Tennessee, died on June 17 at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, as a result of a non-combat related incident.
Well. That was one of the longest breaks I’ve had in posting since I started 18 years and change ago. Reasonable reason: We went out to California to visit family. Other than puttering about working on Python a bit here and there, I was offline most of the time. A very relaxing trip, but hard to jump back into the groove.
We got back near midnight Wednesday. Thursday was shopping, picking up the dog from the boarding kennel, and (apparently) sleeping much of the rest of the day (but a couple of hours patching systems remotely in the mid-evening hours).
Friday we had an appointment to keep, but I got to work around 1:30 in the afternoon, in time to take care of a monthly task that’s normally mine. Then we slept another long night – 12 hours abed!
Saturday after slug-a-bed: a bit of outside work, including staining the fence sections I built after the windstorm a few weeks back. Alternating crouch and stretch – that was enough for me, yesterday.
Today, though, was full up. The alarm went off at 0645. I made the coffee and started patching production systems – about an hour’s work. Walk the dog, breakfast, and out for the weekly shopping. Then I mowed the lawns front (second of the season) and back (first). The front yard also got an insect treatment to keep down the grubs. A brief lunch, and it was time to wash both cars. After that, the outside work was done. I came in, and finished some systems patching processes. Then it was time to roast coffee and cut my hair. THEN I was done with chores at 17:15, so just enough time for a shower before feeding and walking the dog. Whew.
Tomorrow: back to the full tilt boogie at work.
* * *
Two pictures from our travels:
Orinda Community Center
The building that is now the Community Center in Orinda, California, used to house Orinda Union School. It was either K-8 or K-6 … I don’t recall. I was there K-2, when that school was closed. I shifted over to the brand new elementary school campus at Wagner Ranch. That was an awesome, innovative, experimental school. Orinda Union lay fallow for a couple of years, I think , then got refurbished into the Community Center.
A REAL Iron Chef!
We spotted this metal sculpture at Mankas Steakhouse in Suisun Valley, California. Excellent food, and a lovely day with my folks, and most of my sister’s family (excepting Alex). We also had a superb supper at RÊVE Bistro in Lafayette, California, the night before returning home. Both places: Highly Recommended!
* * *
DoD announced no new casualties in the last three weeks.
We had a nice week in Maine – two 10+ hour driving days, two sunny days, and a fair bit of Seattle-influenced weather. But a relaxing, wonderful trip. A few small fish caught – all sent back to eat healthy and grow bigger. Pictured above is the camp (the word for house on a lake, in Maine) we were staying at. No, you can’t build that close to the water anymore. Yes, we did bring Lexi with us. And yes, there were more than a trillion mosquitoes around, just lurking around the camp waiting to feed on Marcia and I.
Today: chores, shopping, etc. Tomorrow: TBD. I’ll be back at my desk at work on Tuesday morning.
* * *
DoD announced three US casualties in Afghanistan yesterday, but no further details are available yet. Our condolences.
A day late, but a full weekend nearly behind me, so that’s a good thing. Not much on the exercise front last week though, sad to report.
I had a wonderful time at Capclave this year. Y’all may recall that I missed last year entirely due to food poisoning. This year I met new authors, discovered new works, and really enjoyed myself. The Guests of Honor were Sara Beth Durst and Tim Powers – talented writers both, expressive about their craft and the passion they have for their books. Lovely, lovely weekend. And as we were asked in at least one panel, “If you’re not writers, why are you here?” I find it fascinating to see how this particular sausage is made. So there you go.
And for the icing on the event-filled weekend’s metaphorical cake, my brother and his wife were in town for the Annapolis Boat Show (Sail), so we got to see them for a while and go out to supper. Excellent!
Books I picked up this weekend: Cherie Priest’s The Family Plot, Unidentified Funny Objects 4 and 5, edited by Alex Shvartsman, Find the Changeling by Greg Benford and Gordon Eklund, Tales of Time and Space by Allen Steele, A Legacy of Stars by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, and the first bits of Backstage by Joan Wendland. I’ve already started reading The Family Plot (I’ve been waiting for this one).
Coming up on the entertainment dance card: We’re seeing Poe and Twelfth Night this month at Annapolis Shakespeare. They’re running the latter play from this upcoming weekend through mid-November, and Poe is playing from tomorrow through late November. If you’re in area, or going to be visiting, this company is superb: you should get tickets and enjoy one play or many! For us, we’re seeing the shows back-to-back before Marcia’s hip replacement surgery late this month. That gives her several weeks of recovery time before we’ll be attending It’s a Wonderful Life in December.
Today is a Federal holiday, so I’m off work. That means that I slept in a bit, relaxed this morning, and now it’s time to plow through the email and tickets so that my workday tomorrow isn’t ruined. I’d best get to that, in just a moment…
* * *
Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Adam S. Thomas, 31, of Takoma Park, Maryland, who died on Oct. 4 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device that exploded during dismounted operations.
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
And on a long walk around the neighborhood, Lexi was perplexed:
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!
A week off, and away … in Maine, visiting with Marcia’s sister.
We brought Lexi with us, and actually took her out on the boat on Sunday. She and I were out on the front deck of the pontoon boat (aka “party barge”) when she decided something in the water looked interesting and leapt into the water, while the boat was underway. Good thing I had her leash on – she would have been canine frappé before Nancy cut the prop power, otherwise. I leaned forward to find the little dog swimming forward for all she was worth, trying to keep up with being dragged through the water by the leash. But other than that excitement, she was a good girl, and seemed to enjoy the trip.
For us, we were fishing.
Marcia caught fish – a large mouth bass
Brian caught fish – a northern pike
We fished every day, and overall catch was about a dozen fish, about half of that northern pike (which were fun fish to fight!). But they all went back to the lake. It was a pretty lake.
Lake beautiful by night
and lake beautiful by day
And today, after shopping and washing all the bugs and dust off of the Volvo, it was time to visit the garden, which has been doing well since we left it on the 18th:
Zucchini and cucumber
Oh, and no exercise to speak of: Vacation, yo.
Now to deal with several hundred accumulated emails..
* * *
Our condolences to the family and friends of Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew J. Clement, 38, of Peabody, Massachusetts, who died on June 21 of a non-combat related injury, while deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.