9 September 2019

Goodbye, Mikey

Our friend Michael Lindsay, husband to Linda Rose Payne, father to Dylan and Kiera, died on August 31, 2019. He was a talented voice actor, and a seriously funny and fun dude, even when in massive pain, which he was, a lot. I’m gonna miss him.

Mainly in Maine

Yes, again. With some lovely weather, visits with usually distant family members, and some moderately successful fishing.

Brian captured a small mouth bass on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Maine. Caught, weighed and released.
Brian captured a small mouth bass

We ended up with 6 or 7 bass between us, all weighed less than two pounds, all released back into the lake after getting weighed and measured. Eleven hours on the drive up (traffic problems), ten hours back home on Saturday. Lexi did really well this trip, and she went for a short swim in the lake, from and to shore. No jumping off of boats for that little dog anymore. Mostly, though, her job was to stand and watch, then run and bark, at the squirrels and chipmunks that frolicked tauntingly in front of her the whole time!

Lexi watching for squirrels and chipmunks out the windows and doors of the camp on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Maine.
Lexi watching for squirrels and chipmunks

Now back in the DC groove, and trying to get caught up. It’s amazing how much chaos an unmonitored week can generate.

Winding Down

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

  • Sgt. 1st Class Dustin B. Ard, 31, from Hyde Park, Utah, died on Aug. 29, 2019, as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations in Zabul Province, Afghanistan.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Morovis, Puerto Rico, was killed in action on Sept. 5, 2019, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan.

1 September 2019

Two Thirds Gone

The eighth month is over, and the hottest temps around here are beginning to fade. It’s a three day weekend, *and* I got out of the office a bit early on Friday. So I got the lawn mowed when I got home that day, leaving the weekend for relaxation and a bit of inside chores. Lexi, however…

Lexi the chipuggle mutt, lying on the bedspread wearing socks on her front paws. Her head rests on those paws, with a worried look on her face.
Lexi, socks, bed

Lexi just lays around on the bed, worrying about kids setting off firecrackers on holiday weekends, and wearing my socks to fend of the coming of Winter.

Still in holiday mode, but it’s going to be Labor day tomorrow. Is Labor paying attention to what’s being done to them, in their name?

Winding down

No new casualties on the DoD site, so that’s good. Back to reading for pleasure.

25 August 2019

September-ish

After several miserably hot days, we’ve had a couple of days transplanted from mid- to late September – highs in the mid 70’s. Lovely weather. Earlier in the week, we made it down into DC to meet up with Pat and Nathan. They were in town from California, and found some time in their family-full schedule for us. A lovely late afternoon and early evening, we had. First, a couple hours at the Philips Collection, including their wonderful, moving, and occasionally horrifying exhibition: The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement. The exhibition uses art and narrative to bring the migrant crisis to our first world senses in a very powerful way. We also got through part of the permanent collection before it was time to head over to supper at Urbana. Superb Italian and Italian-adjacent cuisine. Food and good company – what a joy!

While some of the heat returns, starting on Tuesday, we shouldn’t get back up into the 90’s according to the forecast. But then, forecast is an eight letter word meaning lie.

I took advantage of the cooler weather to get caught up on the mowing, this weekend.

Lexi Rests

Lexi the mutt, resting on the couch, eyes freshly opened due to preparation for a picture being taken.
“Why u wake me 4 a pic?”

Lexi basically has two speeds: on and off. The on state is hard to capture without significant motion blur, although sometimes she’s standing still at high alert, watching some article of wildlife invading our yard. (Note – our “yard” comprises all that she can see, and expands significantly when she’s looking out from the upstairs windows!) Then there’s off, or in the parlance of particle physics, “resting state.”

I use the physics terminology because sometimes it seems she can transition from one state to the other without passing through any intermediate stages. Impressive for a dog of 10 years or so…

Winding Down

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

  • Master Sgt. Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa, 31, of Chicopee, Massachusetts, died on August 21, 2019 in Faryab Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations.
  • Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez, 35, of La Puente, California, died on August 21, 2019 in Faryab Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations.

7 July 2019

An Eventful Fourth

As holidays go, this one was less than stellar. We started by trying to get out fishing early. Sadly, our local favorite hole had a “Gate is not operating” sign up. Perhaps they just didn’t want to deal with holiday crowds while on holiday staffing (it’s a pond on a local preserve, requires special permits, etc).

Meantime, right after breakfast, we’d found out that the flush mechanism on the main floor toilet was busticated, so a new flush handle was on our list. So we left the failed fishing hole, and dropped by the poor second choice hole. Once there, we threw lines in and were utterly untroubled by fish for the hour or so it took the humidity to rise to intolerable levels. To be clear, those levels are variable. They’d have been fine if we’d been catching fish or even getting bit. But no such luck. So off we went.

A stop to tank up Marcia’s car, then Home Depot for the toilet part, then back home. The fix for the toilet was quick and painless. After a boring lunch, we were relaxing in front of the TV when we both heard a weird noise. Hmmm. After a bit of exploration (it’s difficult to locate the source of a non-repeating noise), I found the cause: The garage door torsion spring had expired. Fortunately, there was just one shear point – the spring had NOT exploded into shrapnel peppering our cars.

Now let me describe the next three hours, with relative brevity:

  • I moved the cars a couple of feet toward the back of the garage, to make room for me and a ladder.
  • I disconnected the door opener, and freed the door from it.
  • I dismantled enough bits to extract the broken single spring from the bar, and put it back together without a spring for the time being.
  • I went to lift the garage door so that I could get the cars out, since we both needed to be out and about on Friday.

It’s about here that the story goes sideways.

Turns out that a well-insulated two-car garage steel sectional door is pretty damn heavy. And I didn’t have a handle installed, inside or out. Being handy, I have handles and self-tapping metal screws laying about in the basement. Bad news: A handle didn’t help. Even threading a towel through it to get a better grip and leverage only enabled me to raise the door only a couple of inches. I was on the path to kicking a two-by-four underneath and slowly raising the door when I realized two things: I was putting my back at risk doing this, and lowering it again, safely and without damaging the door, might be unlikely.

So instead I dismantled the door from the top segment on down (drill-mounted socket set for the win), stacked the segments up against the bumpers until done, then walked them all outside onto the lawn. Hmmm. Did I mention the torrential downpours combined with thunder and lightning? I though I might have missed conveying that little detail. Anyway, the path was clear and I pulled both cars down the driveway, moved the segments back into the garage, and reassembled the door.

Using the bits of spring, I identified the type and rating of the single right-wound spring that had been installed with my door. I’ve ordered a matching pair of them (right- and left-wound) and winding bars – they’ll be in on Tuesday. Why a pair? More to the point, why install just one? I’ve ordered a pair that individually match the spec for balancing out my door. I’ll install both, and wind them with about half the turns that the single spring had, then adjust to the correct balance. That’ll buy me two capabilities (with luck): less loaded springs should be less prone to catastrophic failure, and if one of them DOES fail, then I still have a backup already mounted, and should be able to wind it a bit more, and get the garage door open and shut while I wait for the next set of replacement springs.

Whew. A shower, a light supper, and I was ready for my “holiday” to be over. But instead, we had alternating thunder storms and idiots with fireworks keeping me awake, mostly by freaking out the dog, until the wee hours of the following morning. Yay?

Work on Friday, yardwork on Saturday, and a “five dog house cleaning” today filled out the balance of the week. What is a “five dog house cleaning,” you ask? It’s a count of the number of times I have to empty a full container of dog hair from the vacuum cleaner’s collection bucket. Each one is sufficient to construct at least the outside bits of another complete dog. Getting caught up on the cleaning is good. Getting this far behind is a bit sad.

Gratuitous Lexi Photo

Lexi acting as a head rest - the dog is laid out across the top of the sofa cushion behind me.
Lexi acting as a head rest

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class. Elliott J. Robbins, 31, from Ogden, Utah, who died on June 30, 2019, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.

5 May 2019

Window Week

We had all of the above grade windows in our house replaced on Friday. It’s been a really busy week.

I came home Thursday after a half work day, and spent the balance of my waking hours preparing the house for window replacement to start early Friday morning. All the window coverings (but for the master suite, which I held up until 7 AM Friday) were remove, cataloged and set aside (there’s a story there, hang on…) Everything not nailed down was mostly moved at least three feet away from all the window openings, to facilitate the work. A fragile cabinet in the dining room was left in place, but I removed the glass doors and covered it with cardboard. My home office cabinetry is in a fairly permanent state, so they just had to work around that. Still, a sweaty, sweaty few hours. Good workout. Lexi’s normal look-out chair was moved, but that didn’t stop her from following her watch dog routine…

Lexi on watch: right perch in the wrong place.

Friday, we were up at the normal work day alarm time of 0545. Brewed the coffee, walked the dog and got a bite of breakfast, then it was time to do the last of the window coverings, and patrol the house for things that needed to be secured and/or gotten out of the way. Cars out of the garage and out of the way, parked on the street. We were ready! Spot at 0900, the crew from Window Nation showed up. Those five guys started right in, tarping things and setting up – they worked their asses off for 10 hours with a short break for the pizza we had delivered for lunch. Nineteen windows replaced, insulated, wrapped in bent-on-site-to-fit aluminum, and caulked. Impressive amount of work. This would have taken me a year of Sundays to do on my own, and I might have started getting good at it by the end, then I’d have to go back and do most of them over, right. So, winner.

Saturday and Sunday have been full of me putting things back inside. Some notes about that: Turns out that getting things down and out of the way is easy compared to putting them back. First of all, when putting back, cleaning should be done. So, as I did each room, cleaning came first, middle, and last. Mostly vacuum and dust rag work, but occasional cleaning products were brought to bear on the issues at hand. Then there’s the minor flaws that really should have been dealt with years ago, but there’s no time like the present. For example, that filing cabinet in Marcia’s office always should have been affixed to the wall via a bracket. It is now. Last, but certainly not least – window coverings.

Turns out that the vinyl replacement windows, while better in every way than the builder grade aluminum ones from the late 1980’s, fit into the opening in such a way as to make the interior window well a lot shallower than before. Too shallow to use almost all of the blinds we had in place. Now, to be fair, some of the blinds we installed when we moved in 15+ years ago. And some of them were … older than that. So they were crufty, crusty, and a lot of them were malfunctioning a bit, just like the windows that we replaced. So Saturday morning we went off to a big box store and spent several hundred dollars on assorted window blind products for the twelve upstairs windows. The downstairs ones didn’t have inset blinds and for the most part we could reuse the prior curtains (for the time being). Almost all of those, and almost all of the rooms have been reassembled now. And I’m tired.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Pfc. Michael A. Thomason, 28, from Lincoln Park, Michigan, who died on April 29, 2019, in Kobani, Syria, of wounds sustained from a non-combat incident.

17 March 2019

Entertaining

But first, here’s hoping that St. Paddy’s Day brought you joy today, whether you’re Irish, Irish-adjacent, or just … I dunno … human.

On the entertainment front, we attended opening night for Pride and Prejudice at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company last night. The show is a real joy, and introduced us to some new actors, including a superb Mr. Darcy being portrayed by Daniel Beason. Old friends on stage included the marvelous Laura Rocklyn as Elizabeth Bennet, Dexter Hamlett as Mr. Bennet, and Ian Charles playing the unpleasant Mr. Wickham. My secret joy of the show was Kitty Bennet, played by Molly McIntyre. The way Kitty’s inner responses to the main action of each scene made it onto her face and physical reactions added much to the play. The hard set is minimal. matching vertical flats running floor to ceiling, draped in yellow chiffon. Scenes are set mostly with Regency period-correct images projected on the back screen on stage, and the actors bringing chairs on and off stage as needed. I’m fond of a well-done play that doesn’t need a lot of set dressing. Running time about 2:45, Pride and Prejudice is a wonderful production. Highly Recommended.

Along with being subscribers and patrons, Marcia and I both contributed to this show with a bit of skill-appropriate assistance – I helped with set load in, and Marcia helped out with some of the costume work.

The Rest of the Time

Well, the rest of the time this week was mostly spent patching systems and testing them. Really. Pretty boring work unless things go horribly wrong … so boring is good. Boring is also Lexi’s natural state of being:

I woke Lexi the chipuggle mutt up to take this picture.
Lexi being disturbed while napping

This is about the last weekend for several months that doesn’t include yard work of some kind or another, so I had that going for me.

Winding Down

DoD reported no new casualties in the last week. Now, on to reading.

10 March 2019

And Back

It was an interesting week. I skipped last Sunday for a variety of reasons. The most important is that we were up early that day, to get Marcia onto a plane for Salt Lake City, Utah. She was there for a few days doing Handi Quilter factory training on her software and machine. She learned a lot, and is now taking advantage of some superior features in the new motor control software.

I worked short days for most of the week, to burn a few hours of vacation time and reduce stress on a little Lexi that was missing her mum.

Lexi  the mutt wanted lots of attention while Marcia was travelling.
Lexi wanted lots of attention…

Marcia flew back late Thursday, and we’ve been trying to settle into normal, only to have AN HOUR STOLEN FROM US. WHERE DID OUR HOUR GO?

Entertainment

(Sadly for Marcia) I had a wonderful time last Sunday evening at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, attending a Cabaret Evening featuring 60’s popular music performed by Sally Boyett, Christine Asero, and Joe Rossi. My favorite bit was at the beginning of the second act, when Joe and Christine did “I Got You, Babe”, and Christine nailed the Cher hair flip. All music I knew, all fun

Pride and Prejudice is opening this next weekend at ASC, too. We know a lot of the actors in this one, which always makes the show more fun for me. You should see it, too. Are you anywhere nearby? Go to the site linked above, and get thee some tickets. I promise you’ll enjoy yourself

I’ve been reading the Frontlines series from Marko Kloos. So good so far. Grunt in interstellar conflict unexpectedly lived through sequential should-have-died events, while traveling between stars in the appropriately unexplained (the math is too hard) method. But I’m enjoying the books (currently in Angles of Attack, book 3).

Winding Down

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

  • Sgt. Holli R. Bolinski, 37, of Pinckneyville, Illinois, died on March 5, 2019, as a result of a non-combat related incident.
  • Spc. Jackson D. Johnson, 20, of Hillsboro, Missouri, died on March 5, 2019, as a result of a non-combat related incident.

Oh, hey. It got up to nearly 60ºF today. Fishing is JUST AROUND THE CORNER, FOLKS!

21 January 2019

C-c-c-cold

Not properly cold, not in the ice moon Hoth sense of the word, anyway. But it was 11º Fahrenheit when I walked the dog early this morning, with winds gusting to 40 mph. I think that means a wind chill of minus one billion. As the day went on, it warmed a little bit, and the winds dropped to gentle breezes, which meant I could shed a layer or two for the later walks. It’d have been better if Lexi would simply walk, take care of her business, and be ready to head back in. But her idea of a walk is to spend half an hour inspecting and sniffing assorted clumps of (frozen) grass, (frozen) shrubberies, and (frozen) sidewalks, before grudgingly warming one or two of those items with bodily excretions. But we both lived, so there’s that.

Food

Marcia’s been baking wonderful things: Cakes and crackers and breads. I won’t torment you with descriptions of things you can’t have because they’re all gone, but I *can* tell you that if she keeps this up, I’m going to have to add some double doors to the house for the width I will achieve.

In coffee news, I roasted the second pound of Guatemalan beans this weekend. The first batch, roasted to a City+, was delicious, so I kept to that roast level again. Next up: Kenyan, and ordering more beans since I’m dropping below 4 pounds left in house.

Entertainment

We went to a 1940’s themed Cabaret evening last night at Annapolis Shakespeare. Big crowd, good energy, great entertainment! And their production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is just around the corner. I’m so looking forward to the show – I’ve not seen this play in 38 years.

Reading

Still holding Fran Wilde’s Horizon at night, reading the hardcover at night when I’m winding down. On the phone, I’m reading Kari Byron’s Crash Test Girl, which is a hoot of a read from a wonderful woman (Side note – the Kindle version is just $1.99 in the US store as I write these words).

I also just read this little treat from John Scalzi, over at The Verge: A Model Dog. Fun. Also fun and thought-provoking was this piece by Sarah Miller on Popula: The Why of Cooking.

Winding Down

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

  • Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, of upstate New York, died on Jan. 16, 2019, in Manbij, Syria, as a result of wounds sustained from a suicide improvised explosive device.
  • Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, 37, of Boynton Beach, Florida, died on Jan. 16, 2019, in Manbij, Syria, as a result of wounds sustained from a suicide improvised explosive device.
  • DOD civilian Scott A. Wirtz of St. Louis, Missouri, died on Jan. 16, 2019, in Manbij, Syria, as a result of wounds sustained from a suicide improvised explosive device.
  • Sgt. Cameron A. Meddock, 26, of Spearman, Texas, died on Jan. 17, 2019, in Landstuhl, Germany, as a result of injuries sustained from small arms fire during combat operations on Jan. 13, 2019, in Jawand District, Badghis Province, Afghanistan.

17 December 2018

Winding Up

Almost nothing to report, other than the continuing deluge that is our weather this year. Over the weekend, we got ANOTHER 2.6″ of rain, as measured in my back yard. And more rain due on Thursday and Friday. Lovely. We’re up around 65-66″ on the year, smack between the record-breaking DC and Baltimore totals.

Marcia’s been baking some wonderful things, and we also attended a fun Broadway Holiday production at Annapolis Shakespeare on Saturday evening. That was a total hoot, and there are two more of those to go, running in rep with their stellar production of A Christmas Carol. Both highly recommended!

Lexi

Lexi, the dog, wrapped in a towel,  warm and looking worried...
Lexi, warm and worried…

Reading

I’ve just finished reading Fran Wilde’s Cloudbound, the second book in her Bone Universe series. Oooh, does that woman know how to craft a tale! Continuing to build on the events that started in her superb debut novel, Updraft, Cloudbound gives us Nat as our central character, being twisted and thrown down by people wanting power, and people wanting what’s best (usually also, power).  Dix made me so very angry, and still, how that ended made me a bit sad. Gosh, what a good writer Fran is. I’ve got a mystery to read, then I’m straight into Horizon, the trilogy closer. I know she’ll wrap it up real pretty, with a bow on and all … but it’s the getting there that has me on edge.

Computing

I picked up an Intel NUC, an inexpensive terabyte of SSD storage, and 32G of RAM to build a small VMware home lab. Next thing on that box: A FreeBSD 12 install.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Pfc. Joshua Mikeasky, 19, from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, who died on Dec. 13, 2018, at Bagram Airfield, Bagram District, Parwan Province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.

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.