9 September 2019

Goodbye, Mikey

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.

Brian captured a small mouth bass on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Maine. Caught, weighed and released.
Brian captured a small mouth bass

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!

Lexi watching for squirrels and chipmunks out the windows and doors of the camp on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Maine.
Lexi watching for squirrels and chipmunks

Now back in the DC groove, and trying to get caught up. It’s amazing how much chaos an unmonitored week can generate.

Winding Down

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.

25 August 2019

September-ish

After several miserably hot days, we’ve had a couple of days transplanted from mid- to late September – highs in the mid 70’s. Lovely weather. Earlier in the week, we made it down into DC to meet up with Pat and Nathan. They were in town from California, and found some time in their family-full schedule for us. A lovely late afternoon and early evening, we had. First, a couple hours at the Philips Collection, including their wonderful, moving, and occasionally horrifying exhibition: The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement. The exhibition uses art and narrative to bring the migrant crisis to our first world senses in a very powerful way. We also got through part of the permanent collection before it was time to head over to supper at Urbana. Superb Italian and Italian-adjacent cuisine. Food and good company – what a joy!

While some of the heat returns, starting on Tuesday, we shouldn’t get back up into the 90’s according to the forecast. But then, forecast is an eight letter word meaning lie.

I took advantage of the cooler weather to get caught up on the mowing, this weekend.

Lexi Rests

Lexi the mutt, resting on the couch, eyes freshly opened due to preparation for a picture being taken.
“Why u wake me 4 a pic?”

Lexi basically has two speeds: on and off. The on state is hard to capture without significant motion blur, although sometimes she’s standing still at high alert, watching some article of wildlife invading our yard. (Note – our “yard” comprises all that she can see, and expands significantly when she’s looking out from the upstairs windows!) Then there’s off, or in the parlance of particle physics, “resting state.”

I use the physics terminology because sometimes it seems she can transition from one state to the other without passing through any intermediate stages. Impressive for a dog of 10 years or so…

Winding Down

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

  • Master Sgt. Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa, 31, of Chicopee, Massachusetts, died on August 21, 2019 in Faryab Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations.
  • Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez, 35, of La Puente, California, died on August 21, 2019 in Faryab Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations.

24 March 2019

Sad News

My friend Mark Camack died this last week, after a battle with throat cancer. We’ve been in the exchange holiday cards / biannual phone call place for the last couple of decades, but I’d still have jumped up and headed out if he needed help. I didn’t hear about this until his wife Bonnie got in touch, the other day. My heart goes out to Bonnie and their extended families. Rest in peace, my friend.

New Beginnings, Old Endings

The big news is that I migrated all of the personal sites I manage from an old server to a new server. Not super-exciting from an external perspective, but I did manage to separate the WordPress instances from being embedded in the old sites far too deeply. We *should* have had them be something like blog.orbdesigns.com, but then the site was already a blog, just pre-dating WordPress. So, anyway, www.mumble is the wordpress site for this place, and for Marcia’s two sites. The older, more static sites are more easily accessible via legacy URLs, for example legacy.orbdesigns.com.

One of the links on the legacy site that I clicked in testing was from December 28, 2009. And that was the day we said goodbye to Lucy, our cocker spaniel. So, “Old Endings.” There’s plenty of stuff there in legacy land, from . I’m probably going to fix just a couple of top-level internal links that will make the site work better.

I’m also changing horses on the two-factor authentication tools I’m using, both on the device and on the sites. So, lots of behind-the-scenes technology updates. Drop me an email, or comment here if you find something that’s so deeply broken that I absolutely must fix it. Of course, I may choose to leave something broken, but that’s another story.

Winding down

I’ve got a busy week in front of me, so pardon if I’m even less loquacious than usual.

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

  • Spc. Joseph P. Collette, 29, of Lancaster, Ohio, died on March 22, 2019, in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, 33, of Cortez, Colorado, died on March 22, 2019, in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations.

27 January 2019

Weird Times

Because they are, just sayin’… So I’m going to ignore all of that for the moment. Marcia did a bunch of wonderful baking and cooking, so for supper with friends Saturday night we had scratch made: crackers, focaccia (two kinds: rosemary and olive), pasta, and cake. Carb-loading for the gluten gluttons only? Yup. But super-tasty!

The house got cleaned, too. Coffee from Kenya got roasted. And I did some intermittent remote work over the weekend, getting stuff done, which is good. Finally, I spent a bit of time playing around in Skyrim. Net result, there: I’m now the Arch Mage of the College of Winterholm. Yay?

Tired now and time to sleep, and if it gets real cold, I may just stay there until April or so…

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Joshua Z. Beale, 32, of Carrollton, Virginia, who died on Jan. 22, 2019, as a result of injuries sustained from enemy small arms fire during combat operations in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.

1 November 2018

Travel Time

Nope, this time I didn’t forget. I just planned on waiting until I got back from Nashville.

This was a 4 day trip to attend LISA 18, the USENIX Large Infrastructure Systems Administration conference. I think, though, that they dropped the long form a couple of years back. I hadn’t attended since it was last local, in 2015. This trip was great. The event itself is shorter, just three days of blended talks and short trainings, as opposed to the prior 6 day run. Looking back, I actually miss the dedicated training days, and the much more extensive training available in half- and full-day format.

That, however, is my only gripe. This event is organized and run with cheer and great professionalism. I attended programming continuously throughout the three days, and found nothing that disappointed me. Left me wanting more? Sure, why not.  Also, a conference full of people I either know and like, or will know and like … all good. Met some wonderful new folks this go round. Smart, funny, smart, eloquent, did I say smart? I love hanging out and learning new stuff from people.

And Nashville: What a lovely town. I got out and walked a bit, mornings and evenings (except this AM – it was bucketing down rain). The tiny bits I managed to make it to were full of friendly people. I will note that a lot of them seem to have an affinity for country music for some reason…

Downtown Nashville from 19 floors up...
Downtown Nashville from 19 floors up…

So, that was fun.

Vote

Have you voted already? THANK YOU!

Oh, yeah … and I made it home in time for us to get out for early voting, so  we don’t have to brave the crowds on election Tuesday. Early voting has ended in Maryland, but whether you can still early vote where you are, or get you and all your friends and all your frenemies and your families and everyone out … VOTE. Give someone a ride and help them vote. Thanks.

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.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last few days.

 

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.

*      *      *

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.

24 June 2018

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 in the transporter room at the Star Trek Set Tour in Ticonderoga, NY.

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:

Cobbosseecontee Lake in Maine

Cobbosseecontee Lake

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

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.

13 December 2017

Friday the 13th falls on a Wednesday this month. And yes, yes, it isn’t Sunday. Sunday we were out at Annapolis Shakespeare‘s A Broadway Holiday in Annapolis. They gave us holiday and seasonal standards, marvelous singing by the company and friends, including the extraordinary and talented Rachelle Fleming. Simply wonderful. And a late Sunday night out rather gets my week off on the wrong foot – not much energy at all the last couple of evenings. But I’m back … just in time to spend tonight patching systems remotely. Yay?

Bob Thompson is continuing to battle health issues, and we’re pulling for him.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. David Thomas Brabander, 24, of Anchorage, Alaska, who died on Dec. 11 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of a non-combat related incident.