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.

18 November 2018

Holidays

Last week, Veteran’s Day. This week: Thanksgiving. So, food coma pending. Just sayin’ … not that I can really do that, I’m on call this upcoming week. Still, we bought an actual full turkey for this week. In recent years past, we’ve only roasted a turkey breast.

All in, it was a good week just past. I spent most of it puttering around in a BMW X2 M Sport. My car was in for servicing the headlights. They ended up replacing at least one of the assemblies, possibly both. Downside of computers and motors (in the headlights!!!). Had the car not been under warranty, this would have been bloody expensive. Those things go for between one and two grand each on eBay. Cthulhu knows how much BMW charges for them. Still, Tuesday through Friday noon for headlamps. Maybe it’s time to trade in for a ’68 Camero. No computers. No tracking devices. Hardly any effective driving around corners. Heh!

Much of the extra hours of the week were given over to patching assorted UNIX-like operating systems, rebooting, and testing them.

Technology

Marcia’s seven year old Windows 7 laptop finally gave up the ghost. She needs a small, relatively inexpensive machine to haul around when she’s getting training on the software she uses to run her assorted sewing devices. So I toddled down to Best Buy and picked her up a Dell touch screen Inspiron 13″ Windows 10 laptop. She’s smart, so Windows 10 won’t cause her a bunch of grief.

Also dropping this week: the Beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8. It’s been four years – a long time – since the last major release. I’m excited to see what’s new in this version.

Entertainment

The entertainment side of the ledger has two items of note. Well, three. First, we’re nearly done binging all of the modern era Doctor Who shows. It’s been really quite lovely.

Second, on the book front, I finished up J. L. Gribble’s Steel Victory. The first book in the author’s Steel Empire series, Steel Victory introduced me to  Toria (mage and mercenary-to-be), Victory (Toria’s mom (?) and an elder vampire, as well as a ‘retired’ mercenary). They’re in Limani, smack dab between British and Roman forces, with a few choice local folks who want nothing to do with anyone or anything that ain’t human. Oh, yeah, in a post-nuclear war world, somehow. Weird, but it works.

I met Ms. Gribble (What an interesting pseudonym!) at her reading at Capclave this year. I enjoyed the excerpt she read from the third book of the series, so I bought the first volume from her to give it a proper try, and really enjoyed it. Yes, yes, yes. Vampires. Magic. Were-beasts of virtually every species. Brian (you say), not really your wheelhouse? No, but the story hangs together, it is very well written, and I found I cared about the characters. So, yes, I enjoyed it and I’ll be reading the rest of the books in the series. Only question – why didn’t I get her to inscribe the book when I bought it from her. Sigh.

Next up on the book front, I’m going to finish up Fran Wilde’s Cloudbound (Bone Universe book two), and jump right into Horizon, the third book in that series. I’ve had them in my stack for far too long (in hardbound, no less) and I only read hardbound at bedtime, so it takes me a long time. But I WILL get there, because these stories are great.

Upcoming – A Christmas Carol at Annapolis Shakespeare. Get your tickets today, we did already!

Lexi

Lexi (the dog), 'wearing' my sweatshirt
Lexi, ‘wearing’ my sweatshirt

Winding Down

Take good care of yourselves, enjoy time with family and friends, try to mend any fences that have been torn by the politics of this loony era. But first, be kind to yourself. Then you may find you have enough left over for those that need it.

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

11 November 2018

Veteran’s Day

Thank you for your service. All of you!

Closer to Winter

What with the northern half of the planet angling further away from the closest star, the light is weaker, and the cold is stronger. Tonight will be our second consecutive night in the mid-20’s. Even so, the dog finds a way to lay in the sun…

Lexi the sun dog
Lexi the sun dog

That said, she’s battling fairly severe arthritis, primarily in her left rear hip and knee. Poor pupper.

We’re at about 50% over normal rainfall for the year, with more still to come. I’ve simply got to get out and do some remedial grading along the side of the house – we’ve got just a bit of water intrusion into the basement, and grading should fix things up. I sure wish we could send a small fraction of the rain back over to California and dampen things up enough to get those fires calming down.

Winding Down

Monday is the holiday, observed, so I’ve stretched out the chores and did not as much today. I got in a few rare hours of game-play today, with Shadow Warrior 2, a silly, rude first person fighter. More house cleaning and the aforementioned outdoor work is on my queue for tomorrow.

Our condolences to the family and friends of Maj. Brent R. Taylor, 39, from Ogden, Utah, who died on Nov. 3, 2018, in Kabul Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire.

17 Octogre 2018

First

Y’all: VOTE! Where registration is still open, do that. Then vote!

Where registration is closed, many states offer on-site registration in concert with early voting, so check it out, carve out some time, and do that.

Failing everything else, if you’re unregistered, at least find out where your correct voting location is, and totter down there with ID and do a provisional ballot. Important to be at the right polling place, though.

Running Late

I haven’t forgotten, I’ve just been busy. Especially Sunday, which had an evening full of song and a bit of dance at Cabaret Night at the Annapolis Shakespeare  Company. And coming up soon, an actual two week run of the musical Cabaret! Also, two more weekends to see and love the Comedy of Errors.

To make up for my failings, here’s a picture of Lexi with a body pillow:

Lexi the dog, with a body pillow
Lexi with a body pillow

That’s a Wrap

We’re still on the fence about seeing CoE another time – it’s a wonderful show, but I’ve been really busy, and it’d be nice to have a weekend or two without having to be “on”.

No other news to speak of, and no casualties reported by DoD since last I posted.

30 September 2018

This has been a busy, busy weekend. Two words: Capclave, Theatre.

Capclave

First up: Capclave. This is a lovely small literary SF/F/H/etc. conference run and sponsored by the WSFA (Washington Science Fiction Association). They’re a wonderful, motivated, well-organized group who’ve been putting on Capclave annually for a long time – Hat’s off to the team and organizers!

The Guests of Honor (usually GoH) this year were Alyssa Wong and Nancy Kress. I was, frankly, embarrassed to know not very much about the work of either, for very different reasons.

Alyssa writes superb, award-winning short stories, most of which may be considered horror, for the purposes of conversation with those of us who aren’t Alyssa.  See her Bibliography, read the stories, decide for yourself. She’s a smart writer with a strong voice and great personal presence. Heck, she won the Nebula in 2016, and was a John Campbell Best New Writer finalist the same year. Why hadn’t she gotten onto my radar??? She’s working on her first novel, and I’m looking forward to reading her work for decades to come.

My embarrassment regarding Nancy is something else entirely. She’s a writer of hard SF, which is totally in my wheelhouse. And she’s been writing for a lot of years, and winning bunches of awards. And the only thing I know I’ve read of hers is Dear Sarah (the one she read to us this afternoon in her GoH Reading session). She’s fun, smart, talented, and I’m looking to catching up on a lot of her work. Additionally, her GoH interview session was done by her husband, Jack Skillingstead, and that was a hoot of an hour!

I also became acquainted with the author who goes by the name of J. L. Gribble. I did this totally on purpose. One of the key features (for me) of Capclave is the nearly continuous string of author readings. Much as I want to sit in on every panel (up to 5 in any given hour) and attend every reading, I always make time to sit in on at least a couple of readings from authors I either don’t know, or haven’t read recently. Hanna (of J.L. fame) was my new-to-me author this time. She read from her latest work, Steel Time.

There’s so much more that’s awesome about Capclave. I was there Friday, Saturday, and today. But I missed the mass signing event, and the WSFA Small Press Awards ceremony last night, because Theatre.

Comedy of Errors

So, last night at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, it was the Press Opening for The Comedy of Errors. Staged primarily in an 1890’s steampunk Paris, this Sally Boyett designed and directed production also featured a time travel twist, from “time to time” through the production. Also, clearly influenced by the Marx Brothers, Buster Keaton, and other past masters of slapstick comedy, this show was a joy for me. The Antipholus twins were played with verve by Matthew Murry and Morgan Hooper. The Dromio twins were executed with humor and an excruciating lack of grace by Clay Vanderbeek and Joe Leitess.

A tarnished brass set was alternately the streets of Syracuse, and the inside of the household of Antipholus of Syracuse. Adorning the back wall, a clock hovered in front of a projection wall that was used to enhance the time shifting scenes. The clocks hands were moved forward through the day of the events in question by the town gypsy, later to be revealed as Emelia, mother of the Antipholii (?), played by Christine Asero.

In all, a cast of thirteen played nineteen roles, but for me, Shubhangi Kuchibhotia as The Mime steals the show. Occasionally, she’s on stage, as a part of the chorus, moving around and through the main characters. Mostly, though, she’s in a mock Foley booth in the corner up in the seats, stage left. There she operates assorted sound effect devices to add comedic flare to the often violent interactions between the assorted Antipholii and Dromios. And throughout, she’s acting and reacting to the action on the stage, with face and body. I told Sally and Shubhangi that I was going to have to come back to see the play again, to just watch her throughout and enjoy the play that way.

Please, are you in the area? Are you going to be in the area? Go to the website, follow the links, buy the tickets, see the work. I promise you’ll laugh, love it, and have a wonderful time.

Lexi, Because

Lexi, our dog, sleeping curled u0p beside me, head tucked against the arm rest of the sofa, as I watch the telly.
Lexi, sleeping beside me as I watch the telly

Winding Down

I’m now a full weekend behind on Fall yardwork. Now, that previously may not have been an issue, because it’s been too wet to be outside, but we’ve now had three continuous days of no rain. Things are drying out, and I need to get some work done. But next weekend, I’m working (at work) on Sunday, all day, at least. I’m going to have to make time somewhere. Perhaps I’ll take Friday for yardwork.

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.