3 April 2016

I survived another April Fool’s Day, mostly by staying away from the Internet except for specific purposes. Best tweet of the day, though, something like: “April Fool’s Day: The sole, single, solitary, only day when the Internet is full of lies.” That’s full of WIN, that’s what that is.

That said, two night’s of terrible, broken sleep mean that I’m pretty tired. I’m hoping for better tonight. Downside: I’m still on call, and will be for another three nights. Upside: We shouldn’t have gusts up to 50 mph tonight, so that the house makes massive amounts of noise, and keeps me awake that way.

Rain yesterday, cold and windy today, with a forecast four nights below freezing this week … glad I’ve got nothing in the garden yet!

Dod reported no new casualties in the latest week. Ciao!


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!

17 March 2016

There once was a service called FandangoNOW, ah, Fucking Bastards, the company formerly known as M-GO. I logged into it once, because it was a featured service on our Roku box. As of this morning, I had neither purchased nor rented any content from M-GO. This is a good thing, because it appears that with the acquisition of M-GO by Fandango, you can either accept their new Terms and Privacy Policy (including the privacy policies of their corporate parents, NBC Universal and Warner Brothers), OR YOU, THE CUSTOMER, CAN GO TO HELL. Well, not HELL, as such. But if you’d “purchased” content from M-GO, but you assert that you cannot accept the conditions of the change of ownership … you lose access to anything you’ve purchased. In my opinion, that’s called theft, but then I’m an old-fashioned bloke. Here’s a quote from the exact text from the email I received last night:

If you prefer to opt out of these changes, click here and follow the instructions on the resulting page. If you opt out, we will remove your information from our database, including movies you have purchased.

Fucking bastards. Yes, I’ve had my information removed from their database, and I’m glad of it. But I’m glad that they didn’t get to steal any of my money from me in the process. I’m assuming that most people will just roll over on this sort of thing, but if they’re up front about being willing to deprive you of stuff you’ve paid for now, I’m willing to guess (and it’s just my opinion, mind you) that they’d do it to you again and again, in a heartbeat. Bend over, FandangoNOW customers.

In other news, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day. May the Saint Piss Stale Beer All Over The FandangoNOW Business Plan.

21 Feb 2016

It’s been a busy week and weekend. Lots of fun stuff at work, including setup for production patching this weekend and a big physical-to-virtual migration of a production workload. Several of us worked on it for several hours today, but somehow most of the tasks on the spreadsheet had my name on it … funny how that happens. So my work day today started at 0700 and wrapped up at about 1300, with a bit more email and ticket work late in the afternoon.

*      *      *

Additionally, it was unseasonably warm this weekend, with temps in the mid-to-high 50’s. Nice for walking the mutt. And it let me do some work in my spare time in the garage and shed – replacing 7 fluorescent fixtures holding a total of (11) 4o watt 4′ tubes. All that has been replaced by two 4700 lumen, 40 watt LED fixtures. One each in the garage and shed. I may add one more in the garage, just to bump up the lighting over the back bench. Even so – cutting the load from 440 watts to 80 or 120 is a big win. And those fluorescent fixtures didn’t much like being cold. When the temps are in the mid-30’s or lower, it was a crapshoot whether I’d get light or not when the switch was flipped.

*      *      *

Marcia spent much of the weekend baking, making beautiful things. More details there once they can be revealed.

*      *      *

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

14 Feb 2016

Happity Saint Valentine’s Day. Did y’all have a nice massacre?

To pre-celebrate the day, we went out to supper and the theatre last night. The show was Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s production of Anton Chekov’s Three Sisters. It was a crowded main stage (20′ x 25’), between set dressing and at times all eleven cast members at once!

Three sisters is a melancholy and ever-so-slightly depressing drama about the titular sisters and their brother, trapped far from the desired Moscow in a semi-rural backwater of Russia. As the play opens, with their father the General dead a year past, the family’s slow slide into resentment, and the eventual acquiescence to their fates is just picking up speed. Well-played by Teresa Spencer, Olivia Ercolano, and Chelsea Mayo, the sisters Olga, Masha, and Irina, play off the poisonous Natasha (another excellent performance by  Renata Plecha) as she seduces their brother Andrei (James Carpenter) and slowly takes over their household. Natasha also is a barometer for the dreams of the sisters, large and small. From love to Moscow, all are dashed in the end. Even Brian Keith MacDonald’s fine portayal of Baron Tuzenbach, who remains stoutly optimistic in the face of all that turn of the century Russia doesn’t have to offer … well, no spoilers.

So you’d be surprised to hear me say that this cast made us laugh, from time to time. The wincing faces of Ms. Spencer and Ms. Mayo as they waited for their sister’s confession of her love for Colonel Vershinin (perfectly pompously played by Steven Hoochuk) had everyone giggling, as did the Colonel himself, from time to time. And to be sure, the blind optimism (or cynicism, in the case of Michael Reid’s Solyony) of some of the characters passed straight through tragic and into comedy. This did for me what a good, well-staged and excellently acted play should do – I cared about the characters and their fates, even when the outcomes were so clearly written in the stars. Highly recommended!

We’ve got our tickets for the next few productions lined up, too! Importance of Being Earnest as well as Romeo and Juliet are upcoming.

*      *      *

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

11 Feb 2016

Lexi under a shawl

Lexi under a shawl

Yeah, Lexi is a spoiled dog and she knows it, but all on her own, she’ll go find something a bit like a blanket, on whatever piece of furniture is convenient. She’ll burrow in, then turn a couple of times and end up with her face poking out so that she can see what’s going on. Just in case we’re doing anything interesting, don’t you know? This time, it was Marcia’s red shawl, draped (for a while) on the back of the sofa. Lexi hauled that down, and draped herself. Cute as beans.

*      *      *

It was roasting day today.

Roasting a Columbian coffee

Roasting a Columbian coffee

I generally roast about once a week, a pound at a time. This morning I put the last half pound of beans into the burr grinder hopper, so tonight is a good time to roast. That gives the freshly roasted beans a few days to rest before they’re up to bat, which is a good thing. Roasted beans should always rest first.

It was 6 years ago this week that I got my Behmor 1600 Roaster from Sweet Maria’s. I’ve upgraded the panel to the 1600 Plus version, last year, for $50. Including original shipping, I’m all in on this roaster for $375, and at 52 roasts a year, yielding 7 pots of coffee each … why that’s a cost of under 20 cents a pot against the roaster. Given my travel mug and Marcia’s soup tureens (yeah, she uses very large coffee beakers), it’s under a nickel a pop amortized. Good value for money, and still going strong! Behmor coffee roasters: Highly Recommended!

I will say, I take good care of it, including cleaning it well, on schedule. I’ve also taken the whole thing apart a couple of times to clear all the chaff and cruft out of the gears and the electronics and whatnot. Handy to have a shop, and an air compressor with a good nozzle on the end of the hose.

9 Feb 2016

Disappointing. Snow fell for about 18 hours, leaving a total accumulation of … nothing. A smattering on the grass, a damp road surface. It was just too darn warm coming into this event – the storm never had a chance. It didn’t even frighten the schools in my county into closing – and they frighten real easy!

*      *      *

A challenging day at work, with Internet issues external to our sphere of control, but massively annoying, taking center stage. That, plus a failed piece of hardware, made the first half of my day disappear. I’ll get caught up, somehow (although there’s a replacement piece of hardware that’s in flight and will need fettling and installation tomorrow).

*      *      *

I also finally figured out how to get the six tracks of AFP’s Strung Out in Heaven onto my iPhone. I’d had iTunes setup to do conversions to Apple’s lossless format, because why not? Well, why not appears to be: iTunes won’t transfer those tracks to the iPhone, being afraid I’ll be angry that they’re so big. So I dumped everything I did the other day, re-imported the WAV masters, then converted them to AAC format, which then synced to the iPhone just fine. I suppose I ought to figure out how many other things I’ve got sitting on this box in a frantically high bitrate. Just not tonight.

*      *      *

New Hampshire? #WTF

7 February 2016

I see that I missed y’all last week. No particular reason, at first, I was just busy. But as I broke into the last week, a strong cold hit me like a tonne of bricks, then morphed into the flu. Today was my first properly upright day since Tuesday last. I’m gonna have to talk to the doc about this shizzle at my next physical (a couple of months 0ff). After a good couple of years, I’ve been running into a bad stretch of health, and I can’t figure why. Oh, well. Life goes on, until it doesn’t.

*      *      *

Speaking of which, David Bowie. David Bowie.

David Bowie made a HUGE impression on me with his music, from early on. Certainly Space Oddity was my first impression of the dude, but thereafter he never, ever failed to impress me with his talent, his ability to rebuild himself and his art around new platforms, new audiences, new everything. I’d hear a song on the radio, scratch my head and think, “That sounds a bit like David Bowie, but he doesn’t do this style.” Yeah, well, now he does. I saw the Thin White Duke but once, at the Oakland Coliseum for a Day on the Green Event. September 17, 1983 (I can trust Wikipedia for that, right?) It was a stop on the Serious Moonlight tour (SRV wasn’t playing in the band, sadly), and it was a rockin’ night. Some nobodies opened the show in the late afternoon, The Tubes put on a stellar set, then Bowie and the band played for a couple of hours with a grand stage show. By then, I was about 40 feet away from the stacks on stage, left center. Amazingly loud.

David Bowie knew how to put on a show. He was a proper artist, musician, human being. We were blessed by his presence. If you haven’t yet, then get his last album, Blackstar. Yeah, he worked the last months of his life to give us one more album. Videos, too, you can find them on the Tube of You. Deeply excellent and moving work, as usual.

*      *      *

In related news, Amanda Palmer and Jherek Bischoff were working on a track one long day a couple of weeks back when the news of Bowie’s death dropped. Blink. It’s two weeks later and those to amazing people along with other musicians and artists have put together, recorded, mixed, mastered, and released a Bowie string quartet tribute EP: Strung Out in Heaven. I’ve got the tracks because I support Amanda on Patreon, there are many paths to get the music beyond that one, follow the link. The Blackstar cover is right there. Six tracks, strings and vocals with Anna Calvi, John Cameron Mitchell, and some bloke named Neil Gaiman contributing vocals, along with a bunch of artists doing up track artwork backing up Sarah Beetson’s wonderful album cover. Also highly recommended!

*      *      *

Our condolences to the families and friends of these fallen warriors:

  • Sgt. Joseph F. Stifter, 30, of Glendale, California, died Jan. 28, at Al Asad Airbase, Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from wounds suffered when his armored HMMWV was involved in a roll-over accident.
  • Blane D. Bussell, 60, of Virginia, died Jan. 26 in Manama, Bahrain, of non-combat related causes.

25 Jan 2016

Snowzilla, revisited. Here’s the “view” of the mailbox on sunny Sunday morning at 10° F, 12 hours after the storm ended. The driveway and sidewalk I’d cleared out had refilled pretty well:

After Snowzilla

After Snowzilla