28 June 2020

A Month!!!

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!

The view of the lake from the door of the camp, in the middle of Maine.
The view of the lake from the door of the camp

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.

Lexi  (our chipuggle mutt) likes hanging out in Maine, too!
Lexi likes hanging out in Maine, too!

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.

Winding Down

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.

30 March 2020

Healthy and Cooped Up

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…

Lexi on guard duty

22 December 2019

Beginnings and Endings

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.

Winding Down

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!

11 November 2019

Honor to Our Veterans

The women and men who put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf get precious little of the respect and care that we should give them each day. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

Change Is

Some things change slowly, some so fast one hardly notices the thing itself as the blur as it goes by. A person I work with is moving on, after a lunatic number of years (by today’s standards), and I’m going to miss them a lot. No blur here, but a lot of individual moments that together are a big part of the most recent third of my working life.

Lexi Fix

Lexi the mutt managed to wind herself into Marcia's sweatshirt on the bed, and I'm getting a look when I catch her at it with the camera.
Lexi in a sweatshirt cave

In case you’d forgotten that we share our lives with this funny little rescue mutt, here’s another of her cold days tricks – climbing under a sweatshirt on the bed.

Winding Down

DoD reported no casualties in the last week, in a rare spot of good news these days.

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.