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

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.

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!

23 June 2019

AWOL

Well, away, but with leave. We spent the last week enjoying company with family, lovely weather, and intermittently successful fishing in Maine. The camp is on Cobbosseecontee Lake, near Augusta. Here’s a view from next to the lake-side of the camp:

Cobbosseecontee Lake view

We drove up Saturday a week ago. Per my usual routine, I threw a line in the water within about half an hour of arrival, from that very dock. A couple of dozen casts got one solid bite from a bass that squirmed off the hook, then a few minutes later, another bass that stayed on the line for me. Small-ish, perhaps 14″ long.

We enjoyed brunch out at Slates in Hallowell on Sunday morning with Nancy and Marla – always a joy – they have super food and service. Recommended!

Much of the week was then taken up with relaxing and reading at the camp, and fishing up and down the lake, while Lexi guarded the camp from chipmunks and squirrels. We did a lot more targeted fishing this time, as opposed to trolling. I’ll grant you, Marcia’s first two fish of the week were on our one trolling run back from the south end of the lake; She caught a small bass, and a keeper lake trout that we put on a stringer and gave to Nancy’s friend Myra to have for supper (it wasn’t big enough for more than one decent serving).

On Thursday morning, before the rains came to visit, we headed straight across the lake, to the near bank of Horseshoe Island (behind the party barge in the picture above). We drifted along the bank towards the north (left, above), fishing the banks and submerged cover with various baits. Marcia had success with a Sexy Dog top water bait, and I landed our big bass of the week with a 1.5oz deep crank bait in light blue and chartreuse. Both fish were in the catch-and-release category by regulation.

Marcia’s Thursday catch
Brian’s Thursday catch

On Friday we did a bit of dock fishing, undisturbed by actual fish. I did a few small chores around the camp to help Nancy get the place ready for summer, and we packed up and relaxed. Out the door and on the road at 0540 Saturday morning, we were home about 10.5 hours later. Lovely trip, very glad to be home. Did a couple of chores around here, but mostly unwound from the drive, today.

Reading

Along with assorted less-than-memorable works, I read the three books from the top of my TBR pile:

Both of the Scalzi books are sequels, and I’ve been putting them off for far too long. I would strongly suggest reading the first book for both, especially go for The Collapsing Empire (precursor to Consuming Fire) – the story is continuing. Head On can be read as a standalone, but it’s better as a second course. I enjoyed both of those a lot.

The stand-out read for me is Fran’s Riverland. A tale of two sisters coping with an abusive home environment as best they can, including telling each other tales of “house magic”. But when Father breaks the fishing float (aka the Witch Ball), the boundary between reality and the world of dreams begins to break down, and it’s up to the sisters to save each other, and rebuild the walls that protect reality from the river of dreams. The story transfixed me. Fran is a weaver of tales who has taken her third drink from the spring of Hippocrene. She’s a Grand Mistress of climbing inside your head and telling you about broken families, loyalty, and hard decisions, all wrapped up in a pretty story so that you’ll stick around for the important bits. Highly Recommended.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last couple of weeks. Tomorrow, back to work for me. Ciao!

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.

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.

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.