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.

23 September 2018

The Weather!

More rain. Seriously. And we live close enough to DC that the rain-hole that exists there shadows us a bit – we got just a bit over half of the 22 inches that BWI got in the same time span, and that’s less than 30 minutes drive. We’re at 15 inches in the last two months. That’s four month’s worth of annualized rainfall. And I’m tired of it. Oh, yeah… the app on the phone says each one of the next 24 hours has rain due, better than 50% chance.

I count Fall as officially started on the first night that temps drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. We’re two days into Fall by the calendar, but I don’t even see overnights below 60 forecast in the next 10 days. Yikes!

I had a dream that while climate change in the form of global warming was happening, the “consensus” blame of rising temperatures on anthropomorphic causes was in fact a cover-up for a geo-solar interaction that wasn’t going to stop at two or three degrees Celsius of warming. But we have a couple of hundred years to go before things start becoming untenable, so the thinking at certain levels is that the hordes won’t panic and kill civilization just yet if they think that (a) there’s a happy ending possible, and (b) somebody will take care of it. A current day rocketry entrepreneur is enlisted to work towards getting some miniscule (rich) percentage of humanity off towards a healthier star before the world economy goes to hell.

Food and Friends

I started my Saturday at the theater, doing a couple of maintenance/setup tasks of the sort I’m useful for. Then I came back home to stay out of Marcia’s way, and clean house. The former was because Marcia was making lasagna. This began with making the fresh pasta, which happened while I was gone. She also made a pot full of something mostly resembling a bolognese sauce (okay, gravy) which made the house smell super-awesome. Oh, and enough for the Italian army, because reasons.

Mid afternoon, as my cleaning blitz was winding down, Marcia assembled a couple of trays of the lasagna, with the blanched and shocked pasta, a meat/herb blend, fresh mozzarella, and the gravy, in multiple delicious layers. Those heated in the oven, and came out just as Mike and Linda joined us for a lovely evening of food and Cards Against Humanity. And now you know why I was cleaning house, too!

Lexi, Because

Lexi, the chipuggle cuddle hound, relaxing while I work from home
Lexi relaxing while I work from home

Technology?

Speaking of the phone, I’ve taken an early plunge into IOS 12. I have nothing useful to report yet except the following:

  • This was one of the fastest updates I’ve applied to an Apple phone yet.
  • The phone was not bricked.
  • There have been reports of color/screen issues after update; This has not affected my phone (a year-old iPhone 8)
  • The apps I’ve used so far all still work as expected.

Seems like a low bar, doesn’t it? Well, sure. But one does “hear” reports of problems, and it’s easy to internally discount the unhappy customer bias of the news reporting cycle. Happy people just get on with their lives. Unhappy ones go on crusades.

Upcoming Events…

The Comedy of Errors opens with previews this Friday the 29th at Annapolis Shakespeare. The show runs for five weeks. Tickets available through the website, or call the box office. I can recommend the deal to be gotten by getting a season flex pass, though. Great value, and in so doing can get a 50% discount on the 12 (well, 11, now) Cabaret nights that are sprinkled through the year.

Capclave, a lovely small literary Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror conference, runs Friday through Sunday next. Not in Gaithersburg this year, but Rockville instead. So bypass the REM recommendation, do go back to Rockville, and enjoy a wonderful, small, inexpensive, respectful, and inclusive convention. Online registration via the website (https://www.capclave.org/) is now closed, but the walk-in price for the full three days is but $70.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

10 September 2018

Lexi (the dog) stays in bed

Lexi stays in bed

I think this dog either…

  1. Doesn’t want to get out of bed.
  2. Is hoping that being well hidden will keep her from surgery tomorrow.
  3. All of the above.

9 September 2018

We’ve been home from Maine for about 30 hours. It’s been raining for approximately 36 of those hours. And I’m having fun with the french drains leading to the sump pump. I think one is mostly blocked … AND I’ve got some grading issues along that side of the house. Sigh. Today I back-filled and improved some of the grading. I also extended a couple of gutter drains a lot further away from the house. Hope it helps while I figure out what the next move is. After all, there’s rain in the forecast here for each of the next eight days. Sigh.

Maine. We did another week up at Cobbosseeconte Lake, and got some fishing in each day. I caught a few undersized, malnourished specimens, but Marcia had a spectacular week:

Tuesday: 19.5", 3.5# Large mouth bass caught by Marcia

Tuesday: 19.5″, 3.5# Large mouth bass

Thursday: 19", 3# Large mouth bass caught by Marcia

Thursday: 19″, 3# Large mouth bass

Both of those went right back into the water and swam off after their photo opp. No matter that bass is tasty, regulations for the lake require bass between 16 and 20 inches to go back in the water. One presumes that this is to protect some of the trophy-size fish for the regular tournaments that grace those Maine waters. It was a good week, very quiet and lovely once the holiday weekend folks were gone.

   *      *      *

For the upcoming week, Lexi is getting surgery to deal with some gum issues, and a tooth cleaning as long as they’re putting her out. I’ve got a large backlog of work to deal with. And maybe continuing water problems. We’ll see what’s next.

   *      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last few days.

26 August 2018

Well. By this time next week, we’ll be two thirds of the way through the year. Whew! While it’s been a relatively cool summer for us, there have been plenty of storms with lots of flash and bang. Not really Lexi’s favorite. Last weekend, she came down to the basement and barked at me until I let her sit in my lap while the storm boomed outside and the coffee was roasting inside:

Lexi: The thunder always wins, so she sits in my lap and shivers..

Lexi: The thunder always wins…

Speaking of Lexi, she’s got a couple of growths on her gums. We spotted one of them while prying her mouth open to put in a few drops of mutt anti-anxiety meds, a week back. The vet isn’t worried about malignancy, but she wants them excised, so Lexi gets to visit anesthesia land next month, and is going to have her teeth cleaned in the bargain. Note: I don’t think Lexi is going to regard this as a bargain in any sense of the word.

*      *      *

The commutes around here are always … I’l be honest, I’ve got a great commute: 22 minutes when it’s great, and a bit over 30 when I miss a couple of lights. But even with my lovely, mostly back road drive, there are a couple of choke points, and choke points are known for bringing out the special drivers:

 

Special driver, wrong side, on-coming traffic. 'nuff said.

Special driver, wrong side…

*      *      *

Yesterday, I spent the day painting at the Annapolis Shakespeare theatre, helping to make the public spaces prettier. It’s mostly down to trim now, with a couple of walls needing a second coat of the field color.  I brought the box office window doors home to trim them down a bit – they were perfectly sized for their openings … before paint was applied to all the surfaces. This morning, after early remote work at the office and shopping, I went back to the theater, installed the box window doors, sanded and painted out a couple of ventilation grates, and prepared for some future work. Then back home to do more remote work, roast coffee, walk the dog, etc. A productive weekend, IMO.

Theatre note: there are 5 more weeks of The Miser playing Tuesdays at Reynold’s Tavern, and Comedy of Errors previews starting on September 28, and officially opens with the third production the following night. It’s set in 1890’s steam punk London. So, so looking forward to this.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Taylor J. Galvin, 34, from Spokane, Washington, who died on Aug. 20, 2018, in Baghdad, Iraq, as a result of injuries sustained when his helicopter crashed in Sinjar, Ninevah Province, Iraq.

1 April 2018

I don’t have anything particularly amusing going on just now that is pertinent to April Fool’s Day, but there’s always an RFC, so here’s one of two from this very day: Internationalizing IPv6 Using 128-Bit Unicode. If those terms aren’t in your weekly vocabulary, then you’re probably not going to find much distressingly funny about the other end of the link, but I had a chuckle or two.

We had a lovely week, with my niece Alex joining us for much of it. She got some quality museum time in, and saw some friends from elsewhere. She also joined us at The Glass Menagerie Friday night at Annapolis Shakespeare. She found the play to be as powerful and strongly performed as we did. Still highly recommended, and there are eight shows left over the next two weekends! Alex also kicked our butts playing assorted board games (it’s good to be young, eh?). We also ate well this week: Shrimp scampi, chicken and 40 cloves,  spicy marinated pork chops … and pizza. Today we did an Easter brunch, which was also tasty. All good things come to an end, though: we put her on the plane this afternoon.

I spent a fair bit of time trying to migrate an old interactive site to a new platform last week, to no avail. Now I’ve got to figure out what Plan B is, since leaving it on the old platform for much longer isn’t really an option.

I did get the front gardening cleanup done, and first mowing of the lawn, too.

From last weekend:

Lexi, after vet visit

Lexi, after vet visit

Yep, betrayed, she mopes all the way home.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Master Sgt. Jonathan J. Dunbar, 36, of Austin, Texas, who died on March 30 in Manbij, Syria as a result of injuries [caused by] an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near his patrol.

31 December 2017

And that’s a wrap on 2017. We’re doing okay, I guess. I’d like to see a little more sanity coming from the government, but that’s as it may be. We vote, and support candidates that reflect the direction we’d like to see.

My favorite things from 2017: Marcia and I celebrated 19 years of marriage! Everything else is gravy. Lexi is having fun with her new Lambchop™ toy:

Lexi playing with Lambchop toy.

Lexi playing with Lambchop toy.

In other news, our high temperature today was brought to us by the numbers 2 and 0. It’s supposed to be another week at least before we come back above freezing. Yay? However, we’re not as cold as Omaha, nor as snow-bound as Erie. So, small favors.

We wish for y’all to have a Happy New Year.

*       *       *

DoD announce no new casualties in the last week.