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.

2 December 2018

Another Week

This was a productive week, but nothing especially outstanding. We’re mostly recovered from Thanksgiving, and getting ready to decorate for the Christmas period. We watched series four of Fake or Fortune, a show that works to establish attribution and provenance of artwork, presented by Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould. Great fun, for those who love Brits, European art, and art controversy.

I’ve got a lot of paperwork to do, wrapping up some stuff in advance of year end, both personal and work related, so that’s coming up this next week. Nothing else super exciting on the calendar yet.

Lexi

Lexi the mutt guarding her pillow fort.
Lexi and the pillow fort

Winding Down

Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors, who died on Nov. 27, 2018, from injuries sustained when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Andar, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan:

  • Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, Virginia.
  • Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Washington.
  • Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pennsylvania.

Additionally, I’d like to lower the flag in honor of the passing of former President George H. W. Bush.

4 November 2018

Vote

I’m getting caught up around here, but there’s only one important message this week. Vote on Tuesday, 11/06/2018.

Please.

Help a neighbor vote, give them a ride to the polling place. Remind a friend to vote. Email. Tweet. Call. Post. Whatever. Vote and get out the vote.

If you don’t vote, you’ve made an affirmative choice for more of the same.

Please vote.

22 Octogre 2018

Mondays

It was Thursdays that Arthur Dent could never get the hang of. For me? Mondays. We slept in Sunday morning, a bit, and it pushed the whole day. Oh, well.

Got lots done over the weekend. The last of the parts arrived Friday, and I repaired my snow blower, thus staving of the return of Snowmageddon this winter. While I roasted some SO coffee beans from Burundi, I cleaned up the workshop and gave myself a haircut. I also made a delicious batch of chili with hot italian sausage, ground turkey, fire roasted tomatoes, kidney and black beans, and the very last of the bedraggled peppers from the garden. Yummy, and enough for an army (or us for a week).

Channeling Ed Sullivan

I’ve got my bit to do for a presentation this week, we’ve been in prep for the last week or so, and it’s coming down to suit and tie time. So of course I’ve lost track of the one proper tie tack I have, and while I can cope, I’d like a fall back for the next time I can’t find it. But I’ve searched, and no one is selling Weeping Angel tie tacks. I wonder why?

Winding Down

No other news of note, and thankfully, DoD has no new casualties to report. Be good to each other, and make sure to vote!

9 September 2018

We’ve been home from Maine for about 30 hours. It’s been raining for approximately 36 of those hours. And I’m having fun with the french drains leading to the sump pump. I think one is mostly blocked … AND I’ve got some grading issues along that side of the house. Sigh. Today I back-filled and improved some of the grading. I also extended a couple of gutter drains a lot further away from the house. Hope it helps while I figure out what the next move is. After all, there’s rain in the forecast here for each of the next eight days. Sigh.

Maine. We did another week up at Cobbosseeconte Lake, and got some fishing in each day. I caught a few undersized, malnourished specimens, but Marcia had a spectacular week:

Tuesday: 19.5", 3.5# Large mouth bass caught by Marcia

Tuesday: 19.5″, 3.5# Large mouth bass

Thursday: 19", 3# Large mouth bass caught by Marcia

Thursday: 19″, 3# Large mouth bass

Both of those went right back into the water and swam off after their photo opp. No matter that bass is tasty, regulations for the lake require bass between 16 and 20 inches to go back in the water. One presumes that this is to protect some of the trophy-size fish for the regular tournaments that grace those Maine waters. It was a good week, very quiet and lovely once the holiday weekend folks were gone.

   *      *      *

For the upcoming week, Lexi is getting surgery to deal with some gum issues, and a tooth cleaning as long as they’re putting her out. I’ve got a large backlog of work to deal with. And maybe continuing water problems. We’ll see what’s next.

   *      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last few days.