17 July 2016

A long week, and not much in the way of exercise, either. I only got one proper day of exercise in, on Tuesday. The rest of the days were too busy, too hot, or both. But there was some good news:

First 2016 salsa

First 2016 salsa

Yup, first salsa! Huzzah! Still no jalapeños, so here’s the ingredients:

  • 2/3 of a bowl (that bowl, pre-chopping) of roma and sweet cherry tomatoes, chopped fine.
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced.
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced.
  • 1 immature red habañero.
  • 3 immature serrano peppers (to taste, natch).
  • cilantro to taste (a couple of tablespoons is my sweet spot).
  • 1 teaspoon cumin.
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes.
  • A couple of grinds of sea salt.
  • A few grinds of black pepper.
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.

That made a mighty fine salsa!

*       *       *

Of note, I went to a CALUG meeting on Wednesday, where Berend Tober spoke on his PostgreSQL-based trading game, Fairwinds. Interesting stuff, because I know less about PostgreSQL than several of the other database systems extant. Now I know a tiny bit more, thanks to Mr. Tober.

Friday I took the day off work, so that I could do chores, wash the car, etc.

Today I spent mostly doing remote work, with a long break in the middle. New production deployments require non-business hour work – that’s how the game is played, and it’s a joy to finally get some of these systems into production after long preparation and testing.

*       *       *

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

3 July 2016

Nearly happy Fourth of July, USAn’s!

*      *      *

In the garden this week, I pulled out some zucchini and broccoli on Tuesday. Yesterday, I hauled out half-a-dozen large zucchini, and weeded out the pepper bed. During that latter exercise, I made a horrifying discovery: I managed to plant a box full of pepper plants, and not a single Jalapeño among them. (I rectified that today.) Also today, I harvested another couple of zucchini before they got gargantuan, and ditto for a pair of cucumbers. And joy: The first tomato of the season.

2016 garden - first tomato

2016 garden – first tomato!

Being a reasonably nice guy, I gave the first tomato to my lovely bride.

Also yesterday, I got the lawns all caught up with the mowing, front and back. There are plenty more chores to go, but a nicely manicured lawn makes all the difference to the look of the yard.

Today, after the shopping, I went down to the woodshop and finished up the project for my dad with a couple of coats of polyurethane. That’ll get packed up tomorrow, so that Marcia can ship it in the week coming up. Then the shop needs a cleanup, along with the rest of the house.

*      *      *

Exercise – I managed to get the Fitbit to recognize two days of exercise this week, including yesterday’s stellar 25,000 step day, but I did no dedicated exercise during the week. Getting back into routine after vacation is challenging, and work/chores come first.

*      *      *

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!

29 May 2016

Exercise this weekend was due entirely to yard work. The Fitbit reports that I managed nearly 32,000 steps in the two days, and based on activity, gave me nearly an hour of heart rate + activity actual exercise time each day. So that counts.

The garden itself has really appreciated a week of sun and warmer temperatures. I lost a couple of squashes and all of the cantaloupe to the month of rain and lower-than-normal temperatures. The cantaloupe I replaced today, but here’s a snap from yesterday afternoon:

Garden : Late May 2016

Garden : Late May 2016

The tomatoes have gained a lot of ground in the last week and the broccoli look great. But the best that can be said for the peppers and the remaining squash and cucumber plants is this: Not Dead Yet.

Today, the morning was nice (hot, actually): we got the shopping done, then I pruned ivy along the fence line and got that staged for green pickup next week. Then I went to the nursery, picked up some replacement plants, got those installed, and weeded in the garden for an hour or so. Just in time for more rain, yay? We got half an inch or so today, and more expected over the next two days. So much for holiday Monday, eh?

We’ll celebrate anyway, both in remembrance of those who died in service to our country, and to enjoy our 18th wedding anniversary! Huzzah! Oh, yeah, I also picked up some lovely red roses for my bride and gave them to her today.

Reading this week: I enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. You will, too. Highly Recommended.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Gunner’s Mate Seaman Connor Alan McQuagge, 19, of Utah, who died on May 26 of a non-combat related injury while underway in the Red Sea.

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!

21 April 2016

RIP, Prince. Helluva musician and entertainer.

*      *      *

I’m taking a couple of days off “work”, so that I can get some work done around the house. This kind is much more tiring. Today:

80# manure in each bed

80# manure in each bed

Manure turned in by hand

Manure turned in by hand

Full rototilling

Full rototilling

Install ~70 veggies

Install ~70 veggies

This year’s mix – 28 tomato plants: Rutgers, Better Boy, Sweet 100’s + two other varieties. 16 pepper plants: sweet bell, cayenne, habanero, jalapeño. Cucumbers. Zucchini. Butternut squash. Cantelope. Broccoli.

Hmmm. I may be missing jalapeño, I’ll have to check. I *do* have four varieties of pepper…

So, that was a pretty full day, and my back kind of hates me right now. But that garden will make me happy (and salsa) all summer! Ciao!

17 April 2016

This was a good week. Not a great week – that would have required all seven days to have been above 32° F for the full 24 hours each. That only happened four times. That said, work was good and productive, including the weekend work that ate half of yesterday, as well as patching last night and this morning.

The rest of the weekend was given to yard work of assorted types. I mostly did lawn care, but we did get a couple of new rose bushes for the front porch pots, a couple of herbs for the herb box in back, and I’ve stocked up on mulch (for yard bed dressing) and manure (for garden bed amendments). I’ll probably take a couple of days off this week to get the beds turned over and that manure turned in, so that it can rest for a week before I start planting veggies in the last week of April.

Oooh. Marcia made a couple of superbly yummy apple pies yesterday. We might have completely demolished one of them already. I’m taking the second one to work, tomorrow.

*      *      *

Technology update: I’ve gotten OrbDesigns.com setup with SSL, finally. This long-overdue development is courtesy of letsencrypt.org: “Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority brought to you by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).”

I’d always been a bit of a cheapskate about SSL on the sites, mostly because I don’t do any financial or personal transactional business here. And an SSL certificate for  just orbdesigns.com would have cost me more than the annual domain registration fees. I’d been following the progress of Let’s Encrypt with some interest, and jumped on the bandwagon, totally by chance, the day after the public Beta ended. I’m pleased that the service is available, and that there’s a couple of options for FreeBSD. I took advantage of the directions on Bernard Spil’s blog on the topic at wiki.freebsd.org/BernardSpil/LetsEncrypt.

I’ve still got to setup auto-deploy to accompany the automatic renewals that are already configured. And I’ve got certs for Marcia’s two main sites already: I just have to configure and deploy to those.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Airman First Class Nathaniel H. McDavitt, 22, of Glen Burnie, Maryland. He died on April 15 in Southwest Asia as a result of injuries sustained after extreme winds caused structural damage to the building in which the airman was working.

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!

13 March 2016

Friday the thirteenth falls on Daylight Stealing Time Sunday this month. Yay?

*      *      *

A good week and a productive weekend. Yesterday I got the spring fertilizer down on the lawn (in time for today’s rain-in), and got the garden beds cleared of all the fall and over-winter cruft. I still have to turn over and amend the beds, but a start is a start, so I’ll take it. I also did some aggressive pruning of the crepe myrtles in the front of the house, and weeded some of the beds there, too. Today? Well, I’m a bit sore today.

And I was up before the crack of Daylight Stealing Time dawn to do a small amount of early remote work – putting monitoring systems into maintenance so that someone else could do their job without waking half the world with pager alerts. We broke our fast, then headed out to do the shopping.

This afternoon, I did my (speculative fiction) civic duty and got all of my Hugo nominations entered in. Why bother having the vote if you don’t use it. But because this is the Hugos, everyone who had a vote last year is the electoral equivalent of a delegate this year, too! So my nominating is done. If you love Science Fiction and/or Fantasy genre fiction, you should become a  member of WorldCon and nominate and vote! Note – to vote for the Hugo’s, you need to be a member of MidAmeriCon II this year. You needn’t attend – there’s a supporting membership option that is a quarter of the cost. I will point out that as a part of the Hugo Voting Packet, there’s usually MOST of the works that are up for the Hugos available to read. Purchased, that would come out to considerably more than the cost of the supporting membership. So a good deal all around for the fans and fannish. Yes, I’m a supporting member of MidAmeriCon II this year, as I was a supporting member of Sasquan last year.

*      *      *

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