Today is the first time this year (actually, probably since 2019) that we ate out at a restaurant … indoors. We went over to Mi Casita over in Gambrills, and had our fill of yummy Mexican cuisine. Today is also the first time this year that we celebrated our twenty third wedding anniversary. That’ll be the only one, too, but when one is only counting to “one”, it’s easy.
Lexi Being Cute
Because that’s what she does:
Y’all. Care for our democracy. Be vocal about these voting restrictions being put in place at the state levels all over the country. Put your money and your time into candidates that are in favor of expanding voting rights, caring for all people, and putting country and citizens over party.
Well, it’s been nearly two months since we last chatted, sorry for the inconvenience (as the Creator said to his Creation (in the fifth (I think) book of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy)). A fair bit has happened in the interim.
I am no longer a callow youth. I’m now less than four years away from 0x40. Yes, that’s right, I turned 0x3C this year. Admittedly, people make a big deal of turning 0x3C, but I don’t know why. After all, The Beatles didn’t write a song about that, they wrote “When I’m 0x40”.
I am fully vaccinated against Coronavirus Disease 2019 (aka COVID-19), via a two shot Pfizer regimen. I’ll note that, unlike some other folks I know, my second shot was followed by 12 hours of sore shoulder, followed by 36 hours of feeling pretty lousy. Frankly, it’s as sick as I’d felt in 5 years or so, and that was just my immune system letting me know it learned an awful lot from the first vaccination, thank you very much.
I completed my 14th year of employment with my current $FIRM. Still learning new things, still having (some) fun. So I’ve got that going for me. That tenure of employment almost reaches the median tenure for the firm, if that tells you anything.
We did a road trip up to Maine one Friday to take care of important family business… then drove back home the next day, because I had work obligations on the Sunday. Twenty hours of driving in two days is a lot, but this was totally worth it.
I have four ladders.
A 6 foot step ladder.
A 12 foot folding aluminum ladder.
A 24 foot fiberglass/aluminum extension ladder.
A pull-down garage attic ladder that has two hinge points.
This is a story about the fourth ladder. A couple of weeks ago, I was putting some items up in the garage attic. Two or three trips up and down the ladder. All done, I came down the ladder and it failed on me as I reached the third step. The wood broke away from the metal hinges on the bottom section at the left and the ladder torqued to the right, trying to pitch me off.
The ladder failed in it’s nefarious plot, as I always retain at least two points of contact on short ladders (and three on tall). So I merely executed a rapid, controlled vertical descent, and incurred just a slight scratch on my left arm for my troubles. The ladder was… less well. However, I had other things to do, and no time to deal with making the repair-or-replace decision. So I bent the hinged area back to moderately straight, folded the ladder up, and put it out of my mind for a couple of weeks.
Today, after the shopping, it was time. So I placed one of the garbage totes in position to support the busticated ladder, and had a look:
You can see where the wooden side of the ladder catastrophically failed. However, there was also a missing nut, and one missing metal ‘L’ strap (another one is shown above sitting in the place where it, and the missing nut, should have been). All that being so, upon examination, I felt that I had the materials, tools, and skills to repair this $300 US ladder, in less time that it would take me to unmount the broken one, and mount a new one. So overall, this would be a net win.
At the point shown in the picture above, I was actually well along in the repair process. But this was the point at which I laid out all the old parts to ensure I had everything I needed to re-assemble the ladder. Shown above is the slightly brighter ‘L’ bracket I fabricated from a bit of strapping I had laying about. You’ll note the extra chamfered hole in that strap, not needed in this application, but not critical for its presence, either.
Because I had one unbroken ladder side, and they’re mirror images of each other, it was easy to use the one side as a template to replace both.
Why both? Because the wood is old and if one side was brittle enough to fracture like that, I expect the other side is too.
What about the rest of the ladder? Another good question. I thought about it, and frankly, it wouldn’t be hard, just time consuming. And its the uprights on the lowest section of the ladder that take the greatest strain and beating. So I made a decision to just replace those.
Fabrication itself wasn’t hard. I find myself wishing I actually had a T-bevel gauge. I always end up cobbling something together that can do the job (as I did this time), but a bevel gauge would be a better choice. It’s on my list.
Here’s what I used/did:
Spare dry pine in 1×4, of sufficient length to make the parts, plus spare if I screwed one up.
Miter saw for the ends.
Mocked up bevel gauge to mark the boundaries of the step slots.
3/4″ bit in the router to make the step slots.
Clearance holes drilled for the #10 bar that goes under each step, and for the 1/4-20 hardware for the hinges.
A bit of light sanding, and a few passes with the block plane to ease the corners on all the long edges.
Re-assembly tool less than 10 minutes. I also checked/tightened all the rest of the hardware. Then I executed a brief test climb, and a couple of well-braced bounces on the ladder to ensure it is once again sturdy. All good.
Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Christopher F. Pantos, 55, of Richmond, Virginia, who died on Apr. 26, 2021, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, as the result of a non-combat related incident.
We also hope that all y’all are doing okay. It’s been a long string of stress-full years hereabouts, and the pandemic made it all worse. In this small part of the world, today things seem a bit better. The big deal now is to protect Democracy and throw and/or keep the Trumpublicans out of office. Seriously. Job One.
We hope that all of you are keeping well and in reasonable health.
Yes, yes, it’s been a month. Sorry to those of you who worry. We’re all okay here. And for a couple of weeks, we were okay up in Maine, too!
Three days before we left for Maine, we learned that they had updated the rules for out-of-state visitors. If we could show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of arriving in Maine, we could forego the otherwise mandatory two week strict quarantine. We found a clinic, got a test each, and on Friday evening we got our negative test results. 12 hours later, we were on the road to Maine.
It was a lovely two weeks, the best run of weather we’ve had in our many trips up there. The fishing was fun, the catching was … sparce, at best. The best bit about not needing to quarantine is that we could spend time with Marcia’s sister. We didn’t do much in the way of tourist-ish stuff, out of an abundance of caution. But it was really quite relaxing.
The garden lives, that’s good, and I’ve weeded them out. The lawns are now mowed again. And I’m back to work, mostly remote as before, tomorrow morning.
Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Nick Bravo-Regules, 20, from Largo, Florida, who died on June 23, 2020, in Jordan while supporting operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, from a non-combat-related incident.
As such things go these days, that’s not a bad combination. I’m one of about three people going into my office for a few hours one day a week, to manage one part of our “essential” business that requires physical presence. I’m trying to keep the grocery runs to once every two weeks if I can manage it. Just about the time the weather gets nice enough that Marcia could consider going fishing, at least, the stay home order drops. A pretty good thing, frankly, but it’s hard for her, I know.
The extended family is, to the best of our knowledge, also healthy and cooped up. That’s a happiness, too.
Be safe as reasonable, my friends. Lexi will keep guard…
We had a lovely 3 day weekend hereabouts. We started a bit early with a pleasant evening at home for Valentine’s Day. This was followed by Marcia’s birthday. We relaxed, watched shows as she wanted, played a few games, and I “cooked” dinner, using some of the meatballs she’d made up earlier in the week. Then shopping and some chores on Sunday, and more relaxation today for the holiday. Tomorrow, back to work.
Not much else to report but for the seasonally inappropriate weather – it’s too damn warm. I’m going to have to start doing yardwork really soon unless we get back to some correctly freezing weather.
Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:
Sgt. 1st Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio, Texas, died on February 8, 2020 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations.
Sgt. 1st Class* Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, died on February 8, 2020 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations.
Spc. Branden Tyme Kimball, 21, from Central Point, Oregon, died on Feb. 12, 2020, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.
Pfc. Walter Lewark, 26, from Mountainair, New Mexico, died on Feb. 13, 2020, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, from a non-combat related incident.
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.