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.

30 March 2020

Healthy and Cooped Up

As such things go these days, that’s not a bad combination. I’m one of about three people going into my office for a few hours one day a week, to manage one part of our “essential” business that requires physical presence. I’m trying to keep the grocery runs to once every two weeks if I can manage it. Just about the time the weather gets nice enough that Marcia could consider going fishing, at least, the stay home order drops. A pretty good thing, frankly, but it’s hard for her, I know.

The extended family is, to the best of our knowledge, also healthy and cooped up. That’s a happiness, too.

Be safe as reasonable, my friends. Lexi will keep guard…

Lexi on guard duty

15 March 2020

Ides of March

Happy Birthday, Alex!

What’s new?

The good news is that we already practice social distancing a lot. Hope y’all can manage that, too! Wash your hands a lot, keep the people around you healthy by keeping yourself as isolated as is reasonable and possible.

We’re both healthy at this time, and we’ll do our best to keep it that way!

I did get the shopping done today, which took a while, since there were lines. I also roasted coffee.

Lexi

Relaxing:

Lexi the mutt relaxing on her back, on the sofa.
Lexi relaxing…

Winding Down

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

  • Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo, 34, of Simi Valley, California died on March 8, 2020 while supporting Iraqi Security Forces in north central Iraq.
  • Capt. Moises A. Navas, 34, of Germantown, Maryland died on March 8, 2020 while supporting Iraqi Security Forces in north central Iraq.
  • Army Spc. Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias, 27, of Hanford, California died March 11, 2020, when his unit was engaged by enemy indirect fire at Camp Taji, Iraq.
  • Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts, 28, of Owasso, Oklahoma, when his unit was engaged by enemy indirect fire at Camp Taji, Iraq.

3 March 2020

Super Tuesday

Enough said.

Eyeballs

Marcia’s cataract surgery went off without a hitch, and she is really happy with both her current improved vision and the progress she’s making. It’s frustrating that she has to sleep with a pirate patch each night, and endure a month of eyedrops, but all realize that compared to progressively worsening functional blindness in one eye, she’s a winner.

Entertainment

We got out and about this weekend, heading over to Ram’s Head On Stage, over in Annapolis, for a lovely matinee show with Zoë Keating.

Zoë Keating playing her cello at Ram’s Head

Zoë’s music is a joy! We saw her last at the same venue a few years ago. She’s had a rough road dealing with the illness and death of her husband in the interim. Her fans (Marcia and I among them) supported her as best we could, as Zoë would allow. I’m selfishly glad she’s back to composing and performing her own music.

Zoë did note and “appreciate” the “Vermont spring weather” that greeted her – it had only climbed up to freezing by noon on Saturday!

Dog

Lexi, being weird

Winding Down

No other significant news to report from this end of the world. After the weekend chill, we’re back to unseasonably warm weather. Did I mention daffodils? Yeah, in bloom for a week or more already. Sigh.

27 January 2020

Tick Tock

Yes, yes, yes. It’s been many days since Friday the Thirteenth fell on a Monday this month. I’ve been busy, but that’s all, just busy. All is otherwise well. Roasting coffee. Chores. Dinner guests. Work. Sleep. And the clock, it keeps ticking. So, thank you for your patience. Your reward is a winterized Lexi photo:

Lexi in Winter Relaxation mode

Not much else to report. Be well.

22 December 2019

Beginnings and Endings

We find ourselves a day into Winter, thus Beginnings. We’ve had mornings in the teens (Fahrenheit) fairly often for the last couple of weeks, so sliding formally into Winter seems the merest formality. More fun, we had guests up from Atlanta, and, well, it’s properly cold here, for them. But they’re driving further north, more power to them. It was a joy to have some time with Jen and Chris, though. And Lexi got lots of attention from them, too. Linda was over for supper, too. We enjoyed a properly garlic-y chicken supper, a holiday film from Mel Brooks, and some pressies were exchanged to much fun and excitement.

On the other side of the scale, the decade is about done. Sometimes Endings are good. I’ve always said that the problem is politicians, of whatever stripe. But I think we’ve had a properly shitty few years, and maybe it’s because the root cause isn’t really a politician, after all (not this time). One hopes for hope in the coming year, we’ll see how that works out. Personally, as awful as some things have been, we’ve had a pretty decent 10 years. It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out, going forward.

Work has been work, and I’ve been really, really busy. Tired, frankly, and that’s not looking to end, as a trend, for the next short while, but we have plans to remediate that soon. Marcia finished up a collection of memorial quilts which have made their way out into the world, so she’s looking forward to doing some of her own quilt projects that have gotten backed up.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last couple of weeks. That’s good.

Be good to each other, enjoy your families and your holidays, however you celebrate. Merry Whatever!

24 November 2019

Pizza Night

After shopping and cleaning house today, we had wonderful home-made pizza AND watched Chicken Run. Now, instead of being able to concentrate on the world-shaking revelations that were to appear in this space, all I can do is type sentences that run on and on without any appearance of termination in sight, if indeed such sentences as typed could be said to have visual acuity of any sort at all.

Disturbing

Nearly every damn political story I read. Disturbing. Politest word I can think of in the circumstances. I’ve got nothing else to say on the subject at this time.

2020 Race

Warren.

A Cute Dog

This is the cute Lexi dog we all need right now:

Lexi the chipuggle mutt, lap adjacent, getting belly scritches.
Lexi getting belly scritches

Winding Down

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

  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, 33, from Tarrant, Texas.
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr., 25, from Keaau, Hawaii.

Both soldiers died on Nov. 20, 2019, in Logar Province, Afghanistan, when their helicopter crashed while providing security for troops on the ground.