23 Oct 2016

A good week for theater!

On Wednesday, we attended Poe… And All The Others, a new play by Tony Tsendeas, as presented at Reynold’s Tavern by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. Last year’s production of Poe was one of the first shows we saw from this company, and it was a good show. This year’s production, again featuring Brian Keith MacDonald and Renata Plecha, is simply superb! The new script is much stronger, but still works very well in the confines of a dining room at Reynold’s Tavern. We turned up at 6:45 or so, and enjoyed a good salad and supper (I had grilled salmon on pasta, and Marcia had a chicken breast) before the play started at 7:30. 40 enthralling minutes inside Poe’s head later, we had intermission and dessert service (we can recommend the tea cakes). The second act kept bringing the power of Poe’s writing, aptly adapted by Mr. Tsendeas, and brought thoroughly to life by Mr. MacDonald. All the while, Ms. Plecha played every other character in the show, often several within a matter of seconds, all flawlessly! Whew!

Then after a couple of days of rest (or, in my case, work), we attended Twelfth Night last night at the company’s intimate theater on Chinquapin Round Road. I’ve seen Twelfth night staged several times, here and there. Last night, though… The Bard’s words, set at the end of the Roaring Twenties, some set to music and dance! A forceful farce, flawlessly fulfilled by this wonderful group of actors! I’d call out especially good individual performances, frankly all were awesome, so special hats off to Olivia Ercolano, Renata Plecha, Brian Keigh MacDonald, Laura Louise Smith, and Jamison Foreman. How good? This show got the first standing ovation I’ve seen at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company! And they deserve every bit of it – especially Founding Artistic Director Sally Boyett, who directed both shows we saw this last week.

I’d go see both shows again, in a heartbeat … but we’re going to be out of commission for the next several weeks due to Marcia’s pending hip replacement surgery (Wednesday, 10/26). You should go see these shows, and anything else this Company puts on. Seriously.

*        *        *

Alongside all that fun, I fought a cold, had a productive work week, and helped get things organized for the post-surgical eventfulness to come. Wish us luck!

*        *        *

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

  • Sgt. Douglas J. Riney, 26, of Fairview, Illinois, died Oct. 19 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds received from encountering hostile enemy forces.
  • Michael G. Sauro, 40, of McAlester, Oklahoma, died Oct. 19 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds received from encountering hostile enemy forces.
  • Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan, 34, of Anaheim, California, died Oct. 20 in northern Iraq, of wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device blast.

19 Sept 2016

Yarrrr. Avast. Etc. Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day.

It was a busy week and a busy weekend. I fully intended to get something up here last night, but failed. Then I slept badly until the dog (accompanied by thunder and lightning) woke me and left me that way in the wee hours this morning. So I’m not in much better shape today, sadly. But moving along…

Work was work. On the weekend, the lawns got shaved, the dog got bathed, bathrooms were cleaned, and coffee was roasted, along with assorted other chores that escape me at the moment. Sunday we got over to Cash Lake. Lexi and I walked all the way around it while Marcia fished off the pier closest to the parking area.

Ooooh. Tuesday last, we went to see The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), staged by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company at the Reynolds Tavern courtyard. A lovely, riotous evening. Brian, Matt, and Johnny put on a hell of a show. It certainly helps to have seen a fair bit of Shakespeare, but a neophyte can enjoy this show. It’ll run again this week and next,  and that’s the end of a four month run. So go, GO! Next month, we’re seeing Poe and Twelfth Night.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Warrant Officer Travis R. Tamayo, 32, of Brownsville, Texas, who died on Sept. 16 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in a non-combat-related incident

12 Sept 2016

Welcome back, us. We hared off to Atlanta for the weekend to visit our friends Jen and Kris. We’ve not visited since their wedding, four or so years back, so this was lovely! We drove down on Friday (12 hours door to door). Saturday we went to the Chihuly in the Garden exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Chihuly in the Japanese Garden

Chihuly in the Japanese Garden

The installation in the Japanese Garden was my personal favorite. I’ve always had a soft spot for the suprises to be found in meticulously kept tiny gardens. Sunday we wandered around quaint downtown Roswell. There was shopping for some, and dogs to meet, and snacks to be had. That evening we watched Young Frankenstein, and bid Gene Wilder farewell.

This morning we were up well before dawn, and on the road by quarter to six.  Picked up the dog and home before six this evening. So, tired, but fun! Tomorrow, back to work.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of 1st Lt. Jeffrey D. Cooper, 25, of Mill Creek, Washington, who died on Sept. 10 in Kuwait, from a non-combat-related injury. Also not forgotten, our continued condolences to the families and friends of those who died fifteen years ago yesterday in New York City.

04 September 2016

Happy Birthday, Pete!

*      *      *

It’s been a fun week. It was a three day work week for me – I took off Thursday and Friday to burn some hours and make a five day weekend happen. I got some chores done. We went fishing (and Marcia caught a small-ish big mouth bass that we gave back to the lake):

Marcia caught a bass

Marcia caught a bass

And on a long walk around the neighborhood, Lexi was perplexed:

Two turtles fornicating

Two turtles fornicating

The Fitbit says I did five days of exercise, although I only did three dedicated exercise days, truth be told. But the work counts. Sadly, so do the muffins I bought during the shopping run today. I’ll have to work those off this week.

*      *      *

I didn’t make DragonCon this year. Okay, I’ve never made DragonCon, and my luck I probably won’t. But that’s okay. People I know and know of had a good time, and that’s a good thing.

I also finished my re-read of Anne Leckie’s Imperial Radch series: Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and Ancillary Mercy. I read these books as they came out, and it was good to read them again, binge-ish. Such good writing, compelling characters, and wonderful plotting. They continue to be Highly Recommended.

In my queue right now: The August eBook from Strange Horizons, the September issue of Clarkesworld, and Stephenson’s The Diamond Age is my bedside reader at the moment. I go to reading on dead trees when I wind down at night before sleep.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Grateful. Ciao!

26 June 2016

A week off, and away … in Maine, visiting with Marcia’s sister.

We brought Lexi with us, and actually took her out on the boat on Sunday. She and I were out on the front deck of the pontoon boat (aka “party barge”) when she decided something in the water looked interesting and leapt into the water, while the boat was underway. Good thing I had her leash on – she would have been canine frappé before Nancy cut the prop power, otherwise. I leaned forward to find the little dog swimming forward for all she was worth, trying to keep up with being dragged through the water by the leash. But other than that excitement, she was a good girl, and seemed to enjoy the trip.

For us, we were fishing.

Marcia caught fish

Marcia caught fish –  a large mouth bass

Brian caught fish

Brian caught fish – a northern pike

We fished every day, and overall catch was about a dozen fish, about half of that northern pike (which were fun fish to fight!). But they all went back to the lake. It was a pretty lake.

Lake beautiful by night

Lake beautiful by night

and lake beautiful by day

and lake beautiful by day

And today, after shopping and washing all the bugs and dust off of the Volvo, it was time to visit the garden, which has been doing well since we left it on the 18th:

Zucchini and cucumber

Zucchini and cucumber

Oh, and no exercise to speak of: Vacation, yo.

Now to deal with several hundred accumulated emails..

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew J. Clement, 38, of Peabody, Massachusetts, who died on June 21 of a non-combat related injury, while deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

29 May 2016

Exercise this weekend was due entirely to yard work. The Fitbit reports that I managed nearly 32,000 steps in the two days, and based on activity, gave me nearly an hour of heart rate + activity actual exercise time each day. So that counts.

The garden itself has really appreciated a week of sun and warmer temperatures. I lost a couple of squashes and all of the cantaloupe to the month of rain and lower-than-normal temperatures. The cantaloupe I replaced today, but here’s a snap from yesterday afternoon:

Garden : Late May 2016

Garden : Late May 2016

The tomatoes have gained a lot of ground in the last week and the broccoli look great. But the best that can be said for the peppers and the remaining squash and cucumber plants is this: Not Dead Yet.

Today, the morning was nice (hot, actually): we got the shopping done, then I pruned ivy along the fence line and got that staged for green pickup next week. Then I went to the nursery, picked up some replacement plants, got those installed, and weeded in the garden for an hour or so. Just in time for more rain, yay? We got half an inch or so today, and more expected over the next two days. So much for holiday Monday, eh?

We’ll celebrate anyway, both in remembrance of those who died in service to our country, and to enjoy our 18th wedding anniversary! Huzzah! Oh, yeah, I also picked up some lovely red roses for my bride and gave them to her today.

Reading this week: I enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. You will, too. Highly Recommended.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Gunner’s Mate Seaman Connor Alan McQuagge, 19, of Utah, who died on May 26 of a non-combat related injury while underway in the Red Sea.

10 April 2016

A good week, overall. I was on-call for the first half, which is tiring, even when nothing happens. Yep, I sleep a lot more lightly when responsibility requires it. But one week out of every few weeks ain’t bad – and our monitoring and remediation are in a state of continuous improvement, so we get far fewer alerts and calls than in years past. All to the good.

I also executed terminal retirement on a stack of former virtualization hosts. Spin down, uncable from last network connections and from the SAN, spin up again with a DBAN disk in the optical drive: boom. No more data. Some may be repurposed as a lab environment, but the decision hasn’t been taken yet.

*      *      *

It was a fairly relaxing weekend, since the house is fairly clean, and it’s too darn cold to do any yardwork … Hey, did I mention that we had sleet, graupel, and snow on Saturday morning? Did I also mention that four days in the last week started off below freezing? So much for Spring. It had been warming up, and everything started to bloom, then BOOM: be cold and die, little plants! Good thing I’d not planted any veg in the garden yet, eh?

So we had Linda and Mike over to supper last night. Marcia made a wonderful, hearty, chicken stew, complemented by Asiago wheat bread and a green salad. Desert was a shortbread laden with blueberries. A good game of Ticket to Ride followed … good because against all odds, I won.

Both weekend days, I gave a few hours to playtime in the world of The Talos Principle (which I finished), and the Road to Gehenna DLC (which I started). Fun puzzle game: Recommended.

*      *      *

I’m currently reading Cordwainer Smith’s The Rediscovery of Man collection, along with last month’s Strange Horizons. I finished up the April edition of Clarkesworld earlier in the week, too. And I’m continuing to work my way through Learning Ruby the Hard Way, 3E. I’ve been spending years getting just enough knowledge to get the job done, but I want some more depth on something, anything. So, before I work on a substantial project, best to begin at first principles. That’s what I’m doing.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which we are grateful. Ciao!

28 Feb 2016

One more day to go … in February. So very odd.

Did I mention that Marcia baked and decorated a wonderfully delicious cake for me to take to work in celebration of a recent parenthood event? Yeah, this is it:

The Cake Marcia made

The Cake Marcia made

Well, that’s part of the cake. We’d already started digging into it before I was thoughtful enough to take pictures of my own. Delicious: chocolate in many ways, plus raspberry compote layers in between. And I’m told there are very few calories involved. I should believe that, I think.

*      *      *

Yesterday, I got the new over-the-range microwave oven installed, replacing the one that died a few weeks back. Today, some cleanup, some freshly roasted coffee (a Java from SweetMarias.com, and a bit of relaxation. Back to the mines tomorrow.

*      *      *

DoD reported no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

Magic Blue

Or some silly color name like that. Anyway, that’s the exterior color of Marcia’s new car. She decided that hauling around her quilting friends and her quilting stuff in a low-slung, two door convertible was getting less and less convenient. So after driving a few different vehicles, she ended up with a Volvo V60T5 – one of their little sport wagons. Nice lines, I think, and she’s happy, which is a good thing.

I’ve spend a number of hours this weekend working on a project for $OFFICE, and got the front yard brown stuff mowed a bit flatter, too. Mostly brown, anyway: we’re hoping for some more rain sooner or later. We wrapped up June with about 14 inches of rain, which is about 4 month’s worth. Since then, only a couple of inches all told, and everything is dry. The trees are dropping leaves, too.

In entertainment news, Marcia and I are watching the modern Doctor Who series front to back, working on catching up to today by sometime in the middle of the coming current season. We started off with Eccleston’s 2005 doctor, and we’re a couple of episodes into Tennant run. Additionally, I finished a play-through of Witcher 3. Fun game.

Labor Day weekend here, so tomorrow’s a day off, and I plan on doing not much of anything, if I have any say in the matter. Wish me luck with that.

*      *      *

DoD has reported no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

Vacation Over

So… the big deal is that we were in California for purposes of vacation and only vacation – 15 days worth. We visited family in the SF Bay Area, in San Diego, and near Sacramento. We visited friends in Saratoga (SF South Bay) and Dillon Beach (North coastal Marin). What a wonderful, wonderful trip. Oh, oh – AND I got to make it to Maker Faire Bay Area 10th Anniversary. That was fun and awesome, too. I could give you the full rundown on the trip, but it’s a lot like inviting you over and showing you slides, so I won’t. But it was a pleasant trip, and great to see everyone on one fell swoop. Here’s one glimpse of beauty – fog rolling east in the early morning, over the Berkeley hills:

Fog over the Berkeley hills

Fog over the Berkeley hills

We got home in time for two things:

One – The seventeenth anniversary of our wedding. That was yesterday. Seventeen years and I’m still giddy in love. Joy.

Two – A desire to have applied a fast-acting popular herbicide to my entire yard before departure. Yeah, I’ve been doing yardwork for three straight days. Mowing, weeding, pruning, weeding, etc. Both flower beds and garden beds. All my relaxation up in a puff of 90 degree days and high humidity, doing yardwork. Any weight I gained on travel is long gone.

The veggie garden is doing nicely, though:

Bilbrey Veggie Garden - 31 May 2015

Veggie Garden – 31 May 2015

That garden picture from “two weeks ago”? Yeah, that was a three-week old picture. I don’t like talking about travel until it’s done. I don’t do foursquare, either.

*      *      *

On the subject of Science Fiction, I’ve managed now to get my Site Selection Voting Fee paid, and I’ve got my envelope set to mail in – Go DC17! See http://dc17.org/ and http://sasquan.org/site-selection/ for details. Paying and voting also gives you a supporting membership in the 2017 WorldCon, which, should it be in DC (Go DC17!), you could convert to an attending membership with the addition of more funds, and join in all the fun. It’d be a blast, and if it comes to DC (Go DC17!), I’ll be there, too! The least of attractions, surely, but I’d enjoy meeting any of y’all there.

Further, I’ve gotten the Hugo Nomination packet, and am working my way through the nominees. It’ll take me a while to read and vote. If I could trivially do so, I’d try to manage a blind reading and rating (no names attached), then vote the way my heart desires. But some things can’t be unseen, sadly. I’ll do my best to vote the work and not the personalities and politics. That’s what the Hugos are for.

Other factors can’t be ignored, either. For example, ESR is up for the Campbell this year (Note – the Campbell Award is NOT a Hugo). As Eric notes in his post Me for a Campbell Award? Huh? : “I’d probably say something encouraging about it being a solid, craftsmanlike first effort that delivers what its opening promises and suggests the author might be able to deliver quality work in the future.” I can but agree with that. Eric Raymond is one of my role models in a number of ways. But I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction over the last few decades, and much as I approve of Eric breaking into this field of endeavor, he’s not leader of this pack. OTOH, he’s not going to succumb to the politically popular “No Award” either, at least from me. On the gripping hand, I’m glad I read his story, and I’m looking forward to his future efforts.

*      *      *

No new casualties have been announced by DoD in the last five days. Ciao!