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!

6 March 2016

Not much to report – it’s not Spring yet, though it’ll be trending that way in the week to come, with temps in the mid-70’s.  We had a couple of inches of snow on Friday, though. Soon it’ll be time for the garden. So the days are getting longer, and the Sun is working its way north again, which means more sunning spots for Lexi, like this one in the front foyer:

Lexi sunning in the foyer

Lexi sunning in the foyer

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the most recent week, for which I am grateful. Ciao!

Returns with a Vengeance

Summer, that is. We’re in a pattern of high heat and humidity right now, which makes working outside (and walking the dog) less than utterly pleasant activities. I strive, however, to not let that stop me. Today, after shopping and such, I managed a 3-gallon harvest out of the garden, much of which turned into the contents of these jars:

Mmmmm. Salsa.

Mmmmm. Salsa.

Yep, there’s still salsa coming out of the garden. It’s been winding down for a week or more, but there may be one more batch before the year’s production is done.

*      *      *

My dance card was full last week because Marcia was travelling. She did an eight day trip to Michigan, spending time with family and going to a quilt show in Grand Rapids. She tells me she had a good time. I won’t know how good a time until I’ve seen the credit card bill, however (grin).

*      *      *

DoD has reported no new casualties in the last few days. Ciao!

Tiring

It was a good week. I pulled out another five gallons of mostly tomatoes on Tuesday, and made a pot of red sauce with most of them. Others I took to work and assorted other Friends of Tomatoes. Then there was Saturday…

Saturday started off with Marcia having decided that since she had terrible luck fishing at Centennial  Lake, nearby, we should BOTH go, early on a Saturday. Early, in my case, meant waking up not before seven – it was a long week. So, out of the house before eight, and at the water’s edge casting by about 0830. This, however, pissed Marcia off righteously:

A small bass on my second cast

A small bass on my second cast

Yeah. Marcia still has caught nothing but weeds at Centennial, but now at least we know there’s fish there.

Once back home, a bit before noon, I got out into the back yard and pulled in TWO bloody five gallon buckets of mostly tomatoes. Here’s what the haul looked like after I’d washed it up:

Ten gallons of veggies

Ten gallons of veggies

The pyramid of larger tomatoes on the left has already been rendered into another full pot of red sauce, including sage, rosemary, and thyme (also from the garden). The only other ingredients in the pot of sauce are a couple of diced yellow onions and a head of garlic, minced, some olive oil, and about a teaspoon of salt. The whole house smells of delicious right now.

Last night was work: about five hours of supporting onsite network upgrades that got me home about 0245 this morning. But the work was, in the end, successful. So we’ve got that going for us.

Today: shopping, replacing a broken faucet, working on that red sauce, and still to come: a haircut.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

Summer’s Back

After a couple of unusually cool weeks to start out July, we’re into Summer normal for the DC ‘burbs: 90’s for heat and humidity. Yesterday, silly me, I did yardwork anyway. That broke me, but I did get in another 5 gallon bucket of (mostly) tomatoes:

5 gallons of tomatoes, etc.

5 gallons of tomatoes, etc.

I think that’s going to end up being a red sauce. Time will tell.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!