24 April 2019

Hi!

I just stopped in to say Hi! Not dead yet, although it is my birthday today. So I took half of yesterday off to toddle down to the theater and help strike the set for Pride and Prejudice (which we saw twice and loved it). Then I came home and did yardwork: mowing and edging, mostly. That meant working a full day today to recover from physical labor.

Other than that, all is good.

See ya soon!

8 April 2019

Tooth

I’m on the recovery road. I was two hours in the chair this morning, getting a four-root canal job done on number 15, and there are two things that can be considered to be the best news. First best news – the tooth is saved. The worry was that there was a vertical crack in the tooth, invisible to the xray images, that would mean that the tooth would have to go. The second best news is that in the hours since the root canal, I’ve had my most comfortable eight hours out of the last three or so weeks. Yes, my jaw feels a bit jack-hammered, and the spots in my gum where all the Novocaine went in? It feels like I’ve been jabbed and perforated (big surprise, that!). And still it’s better than the ebb and flow between the always there throbbing mild pain and the every couple of hours peak of “hand me the damn pliers” agony that I’ve had. So, a good experience with Doctor Renie Gross and the excellent team at Endodontic Specialists. Highly recommended, should you need such treatment

Song and Dance

There was a bit of dance and a lot of songs from the 70’s last night at Annapolis Shakespeare. Unlike last month, when Marcia was in Utah for a training week, she was able to go to the show with me. What a hoot. Next month, the 1980’s. You should be there.

Winding Down

That’s really all I’ve got. I spent most of the past three weeks in a fog of intermittent pain and broken sleep. I expect things to be much improved Real Soon Now.

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

1 April 2019

Unplanned

I surely didn’t plan to have a Monday post, much less one with such an unfortunate date attached to it. But I’ve been in some toothy pain, and was focused on the weekend on … getting through the weekend. I visited the endodontic specialists today, and joy! I’m going to get another root canal, Monday a week. That is, unless the tooth is cracked vertically down one or more of the roots, in which case they’ll stop, pack the tooth with temporary filling, and tell me to schedule an extraction with yet another specialist. I’m in the market to trade upcoming weeks. Any takers? Meantime I’m on antibiotics to knock down the infection from the partial abscess.

In related reality, this means that I really have nothing of interest to report. We had one day of spring, on Saturday, when it was in the mid-70’s. But Sunday’s high was in the mid-40’s, and back below freezing overnights. Also yay?

Winding Down

DoD reported no new casualties in the last week.

Oh, hey … if you’re in area, Annapolis Shakespeare is putting on a 70’s music Cabaret Night on the 7th (Sunday) – they’re a blast, and you’ll have fun. Buy tickets and go! ALSO get tickets for Pride and Prejudice while you’re on the site. You are welcome.

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.

17 February 2019

Sheepishly

Yet utterly unlike a sheep. Last Sunday, we were out at Cabaret Night at Annapolis Shakespeare. It was song and dance and showtunes from the 50’s, and the joint was rockin’! So much fun I forgot to post. And as I remembered, each ensuing day, well, I was at work, not relaxing at home, so I kicked the can down the road and here we are. The cabaret was wonderful, as always. Up next at the theater, another Cabaret Night, 60’s this time, and then it’s time for Pride and Predjudice to open (runs for 6 weeks starting on March 15). So good, so looking forward to the work!

Computationally

I’ve been building out new infrastructure for this joint, and for the home server. FreeBSD 12 has been out for a while, and I wanted to upgrade at a reasonable pace, rather than waiting for the 11 branch to go out of support. Additionally, unlike the transition from 10 to 11, I’m not upgrading these systems, but building out fresh, and doing clean configurations of the services I really need (and leaving every prior experiment behind).

Additionally, for home backups, I’m migrating to using the Free edition of the Veeam Agent for Windows. I’m a big fan of Veeam, and there are features in the free agent that are perfect for my needs.

First, the backups can be encrypted. Do that. Keep the credentials in a password manager software, use a good passphrase, and secure your backups. Why? Because you plug in the disk, run the backup, unplug it and take it offsite (like to work, or keep it in the glove box of your car). Because the backup might be in a less-than-secure environment, encrypt that backup.

Secondly, by default Veeam runs backups based upon changed blocks in the volume, rather than changed files. So if you edit a few bytes of a huge document, you may only have to back up a few tens of kilobytes instead of the whole file.

Finally (for me, there are lots of features), while Veeam defaults to configuring a job with a calendar schedule, that doesn’t make much sense when you’re backing up to media (say, a 1TB USB3 mobile disk) that only gets plugged in when you remember to bring it home. The answer is to change the job schedule to simply run automatically when the media is plugged in, then eject the media when the backup is done. That’s about the best you’ll be able to do. Why is this important? If you click on a malicious link in an email, and your AV solution lets you down, some jerk’s ransomware will encrypt or wipe every file on your system. Your backup won’t help you IF it’s also attached to the system, encrypted or not. Only attach your backup disks for as long as you need to run the backup.

One last point – every once in a while, plug up the backup disk, and restore a file or two and check them. Backups are wonderful, but you don’t know if they’re good unless you test them, regularly. You don’t want an emergency restore to be the time you find out that the backup wasn’t really working because you misconfigured the job, or the disk has errors, or whatever.

Bottom line: Make backups. Encrypt the backups. Test the backups. Only leave them connected for as long as needed for backups and testing. Store your backups offsite – a disaster that takes your house shouldn’t take your precious data, too!

Winding Down

It’s been a slightly busy weekend – we celebrated Marcia’s birthday on Friday, so I took off work that day. We hung out, did stuff together, and went out to supper in the evening. Saturday was a total write-off. I relaxed. Today was shopping and remote work and haircut and coffee roasting, oh my! Tomorrow’s a holiday, so it’s a four day weekend, but I have an office that needs cleaning, yet.

DoD announced no new casualties in the last two weeks.

13 January 2018

Snow Day

Yup, our first major winter storm arrived yesterday late afternoon. We’ve so far got over 10″ here in my back yard. I shoveled the driveway and sidewalks just after 4 PM, when a mere 6.5 inches had fallen. By the time was done, I went back over the whole thing to quickly remove the next inch of snow that had fallen while I was shoveling. Yay?

It's still snowing, and there's about 2.5 inches since I shoveled last at about 7.5 inches. So that puts us at 10" of snow in this storm. Wow!
Still snowing…

Oh, yeah. The snow was supposed to be done by now … but it’s still falling. That explains the schools pre-announcing tomorrow’s closure. The Feds? Who knows, all of the OPM people who communicate such things appear to be furloughed, so it’s down to the individual agencies.

Aside from shoveling snow, I got some remote work done today, supporting a database migration/upgrade. I also roasted a pound of green coffee from Guatemala, via Sweet Maria’s.

Entertaining

We’ve been watching Black Adder and a show about the Le Mans car race on the streaming services, waiting for the boys to show up in this year’s edition of The Grand Tour. I’m reading Fran Wilde’s Horizon, Kari Byron’s Crash Test Girl, and a bit of light interstitial reading courtesy of one of Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld books.

Winding down

Lots to do this week upcoming, but some of that depends on timing of storms, road conditions, etc. I’ve got to get Marcia’s car in for the emissions check, for one thing.

DoD reported no casualties in the last week.

6 January 2019

First Post

Of the new year, anyway. Not much of external interest happened in the last week – work was work, I got some chores done over the weekend, including the first coffee roasting of the new year. We’d been drinking from a couple of different batches of Rise Up coffee for a while, courtesy of a Christmas gift from the St. Germain’s. But that’s now running low, so it was time to get a pound of Sweet Maria’s Ethiopian roasted and resting in anticipation of Wednesday or Thursday brewing.

Reading

I am finally down to reading the wonderful Fran Wilde’s Horizon, the closing novel in her Bone Universe series. Updraft and Cloudbound were so, so good – I can’t wait to see how some of these story arcs end.

The best thing I read this week was Anne Helen Peterson’s How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation. I’ve been following @annehelen on Twitter for a while, and getting her weekly newsletter for a shorter period of time … she’s a thoughtful, deep writer on issues that are important. This piece on burnout has generated a lot of good conversation, and I commented:

I find that it’s often both more of an effort *and* more rewarding to read a piece (like yours) and find what I have in common with it, rather than to read dismissively with a “that’s not me” bias. Your writing pushes for a better me, so thank you for that.

@bilborg on Twitter

Winding down

DoD reported no casualties (on the assumption the people watching for and posting such things are still working/being paid during this recurrent inane “shutdown”).

Y’all have a great week.

30 December 2018

Year, Gone

We enjoyed a quiet Christmas at home, mostly binge-watching The Great British Baking Show. In the evening, we watched the Springsteen Broadway special. The dog got a couple of new toys, as did I. Marcia was surprised to get a couple of things, too, since we’d already got her “Christmas presents” a couple of months ago.

With Christmas gone and New Year’s Eve tomorrow, another year’s gone by, and each goes faster than the one preceding. But here at Hovel Bilbrey, we’re continuing to do okay. The big changes of the year involved first ramping up our involvement with the theater company, then backing off to just enthusiastic patrons and subscribers. Too much sausage making, relative to the amount of sausage. Marcia’s ramped up her quilting, and is enjoying that a lot.

Speaking of sausage, I have a chili and another dish that I like making from a hot Italian sausage. But two weeks in a row, no hot Italian at the food warehouse. But there was picnic shoulder there, so I’ve made my own sausage. Here was the setup:

Prep for grinding pork shoulder at home, using the meat grinder accessory for the Kitchen Aid.
Prep for grinding pork shoulder

We’ve had the meat grinder accessory for our Kitchen Aid forever. But I’ve used it only rarely. So I ground once, seasoned the grind, and reground it. Now it’s resting in the fridge, and I’ll cook from it on New Year’s Day. I’m very pleased with the results.

Winding Down

No new casualties were reported by DoD. Elsewhere, I hold out hope for either an outbreak (a tiny one at least) of sanity in our nation’s capital … or a giant asteroid strike. So, win-win.

25 December 2018

Merry Chistmas, y’all

Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, with or without family, with or without larger significance, please let it give you and yours both joy and peace.

I had a lovely few days off work. We spent a not-inconsiderable amount of time binge-watching The Great British Baking Show, and to join us in our turkey dinner today, we were joined by a Mister Bruce Springsteen, shown in the production filmed over a couple of nights of his Broadway run. What a lovely show.

We leapt out of bed this morning at the crack of 8:41, and once the dog was walked and breakfast/coffee consumed, we did the rending of paper and revealing of gifts thing. Marcia’s “big” presents had already been around for a bit, but I still had a couple of things under the tree to surprise her. She managed to steal the list I sent to Santa, and all of that was there too. Lexi even got a couple of new toys to abuse.

Winding down

This space is usually reserved for showing respect and final farewells for our troops dying in harms’ way, on our behalf. But today I wish to offer our deepest condolences and regrets to the family and friends of eight year old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, who died today in CBP custody, separated from his family. This follows the death of seven year old Jakelin Caal Maquin on December 8, also in CBP custody.

Incompetent and irresponsible, this agency is. When your agency is given unethical and immoral policies to implement, consider pushing back. If you (being the agents and bureaucrats of DHS/CBP) don’t challenge this, I hold you personally responsible, along with the administration that issued the orders. This misguided policy of detaining asylum seekers at the border and breaking apart families must not stand.

9 December 2018

A Tree…

Our Christmas tree is decorated
Our Christmas tree

Don't Blink (a Doctor Who reference) - the tree topper this year is a Weeping Angel.
Tree topper is a Weeping Angel

Me, I had a busy week and a busy weekend.

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Jason Mitchell McClary, 24, from Export, Pennsylvania, who died on Dec. 2, 2018, in Landstuhl, Germany, as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device on Nov. 27, 2018, in Andar District, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan.