28 March 2021

Sprung

In our first week of spring, we had lows in the 30’s and highs in the 80’s. Fortunately, I’m using Fahrenheit rather than Celsius. I’ve managed a bit of yard work over a couple of weekends, and the first mowing of the (front) lawn was yesterday. Today? More rain… a nice follow-up to the 2.15″ of the moistness that visited us four days ago. (Sorry, California.)

Lexiversary

Lexi in her normal state of relaxation

This little cute chipuggle joined our household eleven years ago yesterday, having made a trip up to Maryland from a kill shelter in North Carolina the very day we brought her home. She’s now happy, spoiled, and wonderful.

Bird Condo

The bird condo I built, ready for occupation

The bird condo I built is now open for business, mounted on the fence line, below the oak tree at the base of the yard. It’ll be in shade much of the day, which is a good thing for not cooking baby birds.

Waiting for a shot

That’s what I’m doing, waiting for a vaccination. I’m told I’ll be able to sign up for an appointment a couple of weeks from now. Looking forward to that. Not least because we won’t have to get the alien nasal probing of a COVID-19 test prior to heading up to Maine, either for planned vacations, or on a whim… Yes, we’ll stay masked indoors in public for the next several months, at least. But a great stress will be relieved.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last several weeks, which is a good thing. The GOP, across the nation, are enacting voting rights restrictions among a plethora of other asshole moves. That’s not a good thing. Stay vigilant and motivated, folks. When they make it harder to vote, ensure that you jump through all the hoops needed to get to the poles and vote those jerks out of office and out of our lives. (I’m looking at the folks that sent Susan Collins back to the Senate for another six years, too… sigh.)

19 February 2021

Snow Day

Yep, we have ice and snow, but not anything like those folks that Ted Cruz abandoned when he went to vacation in Cancun. For one thing, after just a couple of days, we’re supposed to go above freezing for several hours today. Yesterday’s snow was a disappointment – we got a third of an inch of ice, instead of 4-6 inches of snow.

None of that stops folks around here from getting out in their cars and spinning about on the roadways, crunching into one another.

Lexi

Lexi usually goes upstairs to bed when we sit down to play a board game in the dining room.

Lexi the chipuggle mutt, settled in a chair in the dining room.
Lexi settled in the dining room

But last evening she broke with tradition, and settled in a chair next to me while we played Coldwater Crown (a fishing game). It’s got a lot more strategy to it than a game of Fish! Bass Lake

Woodshop

I’ve spent some time cleaning downstairs, both in the paint section, and dealing with the never-ending pile of scraps that I’m loath to toss. So I took a number of those scraps, and fabricated a bird condo.

Building a bird condo in the woodshop

It’s got room for four families of little tweet things, and the roof will be removable for cleaning, etc. I’ve still got a few coats of Spar Urethane to apply, to make it weather safe. But all the color coats on on and dry.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties since the last time we shared this time together.

Oh, hey – Marcia got her first dose of the Pfizer coronovirus vaccine the other week, and the second will be in early March. Yay!

Be well, be reasonably safe.

31 January 2021

Happy New Year, Belated

I’m counting from 20 January, with a tiny bit of hope in my heart.

Goings On

We’ve been staying busy, but some stuff has been going on.

Lexi being cute:
Lexi, the rescue dog, with her old stuffed bee (from our friend Linda Rose)
Lexi with her old stuffed bee (from Linda Rose)
I fabricated a new dog dish holder in the wood shop:
The new wooden dog dish holder I made in my woodshop for Lexi the rescue mutt.
The new dog dish holder I made for Lexi

The dog dish holder was a four day project. The actual cutting and assembly was a matter of a couple of hours. All the rest was staining, and coats of polyurethane, with drying and light sanding at intervals. It’s much nicer looking than the old one, and a couple of inches lower, which is good for a little dog.

I did the annual deep cleaning of the Behmor cofffee roaster:
Annual deep cleaning of the Behmor coffee roaster.

This is a two-to-three hour job, as I first do my normal inside-the-roaster cleaning that happens every 4-6 weeks. Then I dismantle a lot of panels and using a vacuum, compressed air, and a lot of cleaner, extract as much chaff dust and oily crap as I can, before reassembly. This isn’t much work to invest annually in a roaster that enters it’s twelfth year of service next month!

Winding down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Timothy Luke Manchester, 34, of Austin, Texas, who died on Jan. 20, 2021, in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in a non-combat related incident.

13 December 2020

Friday the 13th falls on a Sunday this month

That said, we’ve not experienced a significant run of ill luck yet this day, but then neither of us suffer from triskaidekaphobia.

We are having intermittent warm and cold stretches, with a possibility of some icy precipitation on Wednesday upcoming – Marcia’s looking forward to that. Lexi can do without the heat of summer or the cold of winter, but she does look forward to curling up on the electric blanket in the mid evening on cold nights…

Lexi, the chipuggle mutt, curled up on the electric blanket
Lexi curled up on the electric blanket

Not much else to report yet. I’m waiting to see what happens come Monday.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Captain Kelliann Leli, 30, of Parlin, New Jersey, who died on November 27 in a non-combat related vehicle incident at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

Meantime, please stay safe, mask when you need to be around people you don’t already live with, etc. The vaccinations are coming, but it’ll be months…

19 November 2020

The Other Shoe

The shoe that hasn’t dropped, yet. Is he just being a narcissistic asshole, or is he clawing at every possibility he can envision before becoming a private citizen again, and subject to the consequences and suits and indictments that are headed his way?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super pleased that Biden has won. I’m super disappointed that so many, many people still voted for the incumbent, and that’s going to be a deal for a long time.

So yeah, I’m still on edge, and that’s even without pandemic 2.0, and the idiots who STILL won’t wear masks or stay the hell home. Sigh.

Wood, continued

I’ve been doing a number of small projects, along with cleanup, in the wood shop. I finally broke down and took the small (12″ x 12″ x 1″) cutting board that sees the most action in our kitchen downstairs for refurbishing. I made that a dozen years ago or so, out of hard maple. The cutting surfaces are endgrain, and it’s a really nice small board. But one of the glued joints was delaminating, and that’s neither safe nor nice in a kitchen.

I cut the board in twain, following the line of impending doom. I flattened and dressed the mating surfaces on my jointer/planer. A liberal coating of Titebond III ™, a few clamps, and a couple of days yielded a nice solid board. I tuned the joint and the cutting surfaces with a hand plane, then sanded the thing using a progression of 60, 100, 150, and 220 grit using the orbital sander. A blast of air, a wipe down, and a coating of butcher block oil, and the work’s mostly done. All I’m doing now is letting the coating cure:

Hard maple cutting board refurbished
Hard maple cutting board refurbished

Winding Down

If I don’t wind down, I’ll surely continue to get wound up. So we keep trucking along, waiting for (more) good news. Two potentially effective vaccine candidates? That’ll be good news.

Lexi, our chipuggle mutt, laying on the carpet in the sun.
Lexi the sun dog

Lexi continues to be photogenic, but she’s falling into late-fall sun dog mode – not as interested in being outside in the cold.

25 October 2020

But First … for my friends and others in the US …

I don’t ask for a lot here, but I have one request to make of y’all – VOTE!

Democracy requires citizen participation: VOTE!

OFFS, just get out there and VOTE!

It’s probably too late for absentee/mail-in ballots, which is how Marcia and I have exercised our civic duty. But there’s early voting almost everywhere. Don’t sit home, don’t sit this out. VOTE!

Unless, of course, you’re offended when I ask that if you plan on voting for the incumbent, just keep your ass on the BarcaLounger ™ at home, in front of Fox and Friends. But even if you’re in that special camp, be smart enough to wear a mask, wash your hands, and avoid large gatherings. I do not wish illness or death on you and your family just because you’re … wrong.

Progress

Lexi guards me from my office window while I’m working. She sees squirrels on the deck, and barks. She sees squirrels on the far fence, and barks. She sees squirrels on the tennis court, several hundred feet away … and barks. Additionally, she barks at any other unexpected movement. So, leaves falling from the trees can mean that she’s hoarse for hours. Yay?

Lexi, the chippuggle mutt. at her guard post
Lexi at her guard post

Working with Wood

After doing some chores yesterday morning, I headed down to the woodshop to do a small project – it’s been a while. And as is often the case, the first thing I end up working on is something unrelated to the work I set out to do. In this instance, I ended up re-fabricating my cross-cut sled for the table saw. The first iteration of this handy shop fixture was a shade too big (and thus too heavy). Additionally, I’d gotten the tolerances between the two slide rails a bit too tight, so it was an effort to actually use.

New cross-cut sled on my tablesaw.

The new one is a bit smaller, a bit lighter, and a lot easier to use. Especially, I added lightness by hogging out much of the back fence of the sled, since it doesn’t need much besides center and side-to-side structure. I used the cut-outs to fabricate a couple of stops I can clamp to the front fence for repeatable operations.

The actual small project I wanted to work on took less time than the sled, although I did finish it up today, since I had just finished glue-ups before supper last night.

Shop-built drawer trays for my home office
Shop-built drawer trays for my home office

What I made were a pair of identical trays for the top drawer in the home office I built 7 years ago. This has all been functionally fine, but as the drawer closest to hand when sitting at the desk, it’s become a bit of a catch-all. And it’s really deeper than it needed to be. So I tacked in a slide rail of pine on each interior drawer side, and fabricated two trays. They’re 1-5/8″ deep internally, and 14″ x 7″ each. Assembly with rabbited corner joints, glue, and pin-nails.

The trays are sub-divided by a central rail that rises above the level of the drawer (still clears the opening in the cabinet carcass) and provides an easy way to keep stuff separate, and I can easily lift the front tray out and slide the back one forward. I reinforced the dividers and the tray corners with small, nearly full height corner blocks.

I didn’t put much of a finish on the trays – just a quick coat of paste wax to seal the wood. I’m pretty happy with the completed project. Small enough in scope to see through in a weekend, including the bonus sled rebuild.

Winding Down

We’re coming up on an important election, so VOTE!

28 June 2020

A Month!!!

We hope that all of you are keeping well and in reasonable health.

Yes, yes, it’s been a month. Sorry to those of you who worry. We’re all okay here. And for a couple of weeks, we were okay up in Maine, too!

The view of the lake from the door of the camp, in the middle of Maine.
The view of the lake from the door of the camp

Three days before we left for Maine, we learned that they had updated the rules for out-of-state visitors. If we could show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of arriving in Maine, we could forego the otherwise mandatory two week strict quarantine. We found a clinic, got a test each, and on Friday evening we got our negative test results. 12 hours later, we were on the road to Maine.

Lexi  (our chipuggle mutt) likes hanging out in Maine, too!
Lexi likes hanging out in Maine, too!

It was a lovely two weeks, the best run of weather we’ve had in our many trips up there. The fishing was fun, the catching was … sparce, at best. The best bit about not needing to quarantine is that we could spend time with Marcia’s sister. We didn’t do much in the way of tourist-ish stuff, out of an abundance of caution. But it was really quite relaxing.

The garden lives, that’s good, and I’ve weeded them out. The lawns are now mowed again. And I’m back to work, mostly remote as before, tomorrow morning.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Nick Bravo-Regules, 20, from Largo, Florida, who died on June 23, 2020, in Jordan while supporting operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, from a non-combat-related incident.

17 May 2020

Spring, huh?

So, since we last were here together, we had several more overnight freezes. Sadly, at least one of them was a surprise. So one night I didn’t tarp the garden beds, and everything died. Yup, all of it. So I started over. Rototilled again, raked it all out flat again, bought new plants again, and got ready to put them in the ground, again:

Two garden beds ready for planting... again. Tomatoes and peppers in ready for transplanting into the soil.
Two garden beds ready for planting… again.

We’re not due for anything below 48F in the next ten days, so I expect that we’re actually done with overnight frosts. (Famous last words). But the plants look good, and since I did that work yesterday, everything is still alive:

Plants in the ground
Plants in the ground

Right now I’ve just got a variety of tomatoes and peppers, since those are what I want most. I’ll probably pick up some herbs and some beans to go in, in the next few days.

Lexi the mutt at my office window (Lexi TV)
Lexi at my office window (Lexi TV)

While it remains spring-ish, Lexi likes watching “Lexi TV”, quivering and growling at the vicious bushy-tailed rats (squirrels) invading her back yard.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Christopher Wesley Curry, 23, from Terre Haute, Indiana, who died on May 4, 2020 in Erbil, Iraq, from a non-combat-related incident.

Marcia has been baking up a storm, and, well, I love it. I’m ordering some double doors to install in all the door frames, and getting pricing information on the necessary permits…. but it’s all delicious!

We continue, reasonably healthy, mostly home-bound, wondering what the idiots are going to say next.

The bright spot is that our state, in the process of putting off the primary, did so to ensure that this was a vote-by-mail election. We received our ballots, and our instructions in Spanish, completed and mailed them. Yesterday, the instructions in English arrived. Ah, well. We were able to figure it out. Pleased that unlike some Republican-led states, ours was sane enough to ensure that people didn’t have to stand in close proximity to each other to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Yay, Maryland!

Be safe, stay home as much as possible, mask and socially distance when you must be out. Please. If not for yourself, then for the people who love you and will miss you when you die of covid-19, with complications of politics and lack of sanity.

20 April 2020

Fun with WordPress

Note – this is a discussion and solution for a technical problem for a WordPress instance that uses an SSL certificate signed by a non-public CA. If you don’t care about this sort of thing, please move your eyes down to the next section.

The error text that I saw in the new-to-me Site Health page following upgrading to WordPress 5.4:

cURL error 60: SSL certificate problem: unable to get local issuer certificate

The error above was generated because WordPress/PHP couldn’t verify the site certificate. When this is broken, the impact can be significant on a WordPress instance. Some features just don’t work quite right. Auto updating can fail, and so on.

The context here is that for a variety of internal and external sites, I use site-specific SSL certificates that are signed by our internal CA. That’s a good thing, because prior to Let’s Encrypt, it was easy to spend a bunch of money on SSL certificates from a reputable source. We won’t discuss the non-reputable sources. Since I’m using an external resource for caching and web app firewalling, I am able to use the internally signed certificate for several external sites as well.

With the most recent update adding Site Health as a core feature, this error surfaced for me on a couple of sites. It took a couple of hours and some false starts before I found this solution.

In the WordPress file tree, there’s a file at wp-includes/certificates/ca-bundle.crt (using UNIX-style slashes). This is the file of CA certificates that WordPress and the PHP functions use to verify a certificate is valid. Tryijg to get WordPress and PHP to use the system CA certs file (which has my Root Certificate added as a trust source) was a non-starter, although I tried. So I copied the text of my Internal Root Certificate into thewp-includes/certificates/ca-bundle.crt file. Boom! Problem solved … for now.

The downside of this solution is that any given WordPress update in the future may (will?) overwrite that file with newer info, and will once again exclude my Internal Root Certificate. So I created a text file that contained an identifying header string and the Internal Root Certificate. I then wrote a shell script to check thewp-includes/certificates/ca-bundle.crt for that header string, and if not found, adds the content of the text file to the ca-bundle.crt file. That shell script runs once a day in the wee hours of the morning.

Now, anytime there’s a WordPress update that overwrites ca-bundle.crt, by the next morning, the Internal Root CA certificate will be back in place, and things will continue humming along nicely.

Staying at Home

We continue to stay at home, which is a good thing.

I’ll ask you to determine for yourself if it’s a good thing that some people who, for reasons of politics, mistrust etc., continue to gather in groups, putting themselves and their loved ones at heightened risk of severe illness and death. I personally would rather that people be sane and safe. But bailing any water at all from the deeply stupid side of the gene pool can only be for the good of humanity, in the long term.

I didn’t do any yardwork this weekend. We did a number of other inside chores, including re-loading shelves and such after dealing with a multi-phased ant invasion.

Additionally, on the yardwork front, I will point out that planting veggies HAS brought the usual effects on to our region: We had two overnight frosts in the last week, and we’re due for one more on Tuesday night. I’ve been tarping the veggie beds for those events, and so far haven’t lost plants to them.

Happy Dog

While I was dealing with a training event late last week, I ran across the first picture we took of Lexi on her gotcha date in March 27, 2010:

Our first picture of Lexi the chipuggle mutt, taken on March 27, 2010.
Lexi’s First Photo Op

Winding Down

Nothing particular to report here. Be well, okay?

April 13, 2020

Health and Safety

We’re continuing on the bored, stir-crazy, and physically healthy trend here. We hope that all is well with you and yours.

Yard Work

Aside from working from home, and some indoor chores, most of my “spare” time has been given over to further yard work. During the week, I took half a day off. The first hour of that was conveying the dog to her second round of annual shots at the veterinary clinic. The rest involved picking up some veggies and a tray of flowers, then getting the veggies into the raised beds.

I started by removing last year’s landscape fabric and preparing the beds for tilling:

Two garden beds ready for tilling

Turning over the soil in those two beds, with a bit of amendment in the form of sterilized manure, was a matter of barely 15 minutes. That was followed by raking out and leveling the beds, and getting the plants installed.

Veggies installed in garden beds.

I haven’t yet setup the watering – it really isn’t needed at this time of year. And from today’s vantage, several of those tomato seedlings (in the near box) are already failing. I’ll have to pick up some more robust ones soon.

On the weekend, I continued working on the front yard. My primary focus was making that bed where the extracted tree once lived nice again. So on Saturday, I used the pick axe to turn over the soil in large chunks, and remove as many of the roots as I might. Then I used the tiller to turn the soil over and make it manageable. I raked and shaped the bed, then covered the back section with landscape fabric to keep the weeds down. Finally I mulched the whole bed. I continued with a few more bedding sections, with the eventual goal of getting the front yard in shape. I’m about half done. But here’s how that mound came out:

Mound, made pretty

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

Side note – I was up for a few hours during the night, comforting a dog terrified by the intermittent thunder. She’d just start to settle down, then another boom would wind her up again. Now, of course, I’ve got to work, and she’s curled up in a ball beside my chair, asleep and snoring. Sigh.