28 July 2019

A Brief Respite

As far as I can tell, June and July weren’t as wet as last year, but we’ve had at least a bit of rain each week. Additionally, for most of the last week, we had mornings that were a lot more like mid-September than late July – temps in the morning in the low 60’s instead of the mid 70’s, and highs in the 80’s instead of high 90’s. I will note that, botanically, we got nearly four weeks out of our tiger lily bloom this year, instead of the usual two-ish weeks. The picture below is from about the peak of blooming. There are only seven blooms left now.

Tiger lilies in mid-July

The veggie garden, however, has been a bit disappointing. We only worked two of the six beds this year, and the zucchini only lived a few weeks. The tomatoes are a bit sad, but still doing better than the peppers, from which I expected a bit more robustness.

I’ve been busy with work, and relaxing in between. Friday I was off work, so I got caught up on the yard work and mowing before the heat returned properly (on Saturday). With luck, and a lack of rain, the lawns shouldn’t need much mowing for a couple of weeks – the one true upside of these hot days.

I cleaned the coffee roaster, and got a pound of Columbian from Sweet Maria’s roasted in the Behmor 1600+ today. I also managed to finish up the important work of reading, ordering, and placing my votes for the Hugo Awards, to be celebrated at WorldCon 2019, in Dublin, Ireland. Where I won’t be. So have fun, y’all!

Winding Down

  • Nothing new from DoD: good.
  • Plans for the upcoming week: stay in air conditioned comfort where possible.
  • Goal: wish an early, disfiguring disease upon the kids who ruined our early AM hours on Thursday with a 45 minute session of loud fireworks, terrifying Lexi (which keeps me awake in the night, and exhausted in the day).

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.

24 June 2018

We’re back! We had a two week vacation! Destinations: three days in Ithaca (NY), a drive-by for Ticonderoga (NY), three days in Stowe (VT), and a week in Winthrop (ME) at Cobbosseecontee Lake. We managed some hikes in Ithaca, along with visits to the gardens and arboretum at Cornell. On the drive to Stowe, we stopped in Ticonderoga, and beamed up to the Enterprise for a quick visit:

Marcia in the transporter room at the Star Trek Set Tour in Ticonderoga, NY.

Marcia after transport…

The Star Trek Original Series Set Tour is great fun. Licensed by CBS, the team at TOS Set Tour have put together most of the sets you saw through three seasons of TOS. We dropped Lexi off for a grooming, had pizza for lunch, did the tour, and back on the road to Stowe.

Stowe is lovely, although it rained much of our drive there, all of the first full day, and part of the second. But we did some driving tours around the area. Did a big circle drive including Smuggler’s Notch, saw some covered bridges, and made it down to Unilever Ben & Jerry’s for a tour and some ice cream. Saturday we drove up to Maine.

In an utterly surprising move, the weather was lovely for us. Last year, we did weeks in Maine in June and in September. Of those 14 days, 9 were rain-outs. All in, we had just one cloudy day last week on the lake, and it rained politely overnight that night. This picture exemplifies the  trip this year:

Cobbosseecontee Lake in Maine

Cobbosseecontee Lake

We also managed to get out fishing on the pontoon boat each day. On day one, I landed a large northern pike, probably about six pounds. But we didn’t have a keeper box, so I put it back.

Brian caught a northern pike

Brian caught a northern pike

Later in the week, I caught another, smaller (4#) pike – and we had a cooler and bag to bring the fish home, so I did. I followed some instructions from this Internet thingy to attempt to get some boneless fillets, but I made a hash of it. So no pike for us. Marcia was the tournament leader for the week, hauling in several fish, including a tasty 17″ 2# brown trout that we had for lunch on Thursday. Overall, we had a fun time, and wrapped with a 10 hour drive home yesterday.

Today: chores. They’re done.

*      *      *

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

  • Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad, 26, of Chandler, Arizona, died on  June 8, in Somalia, of injuries sustained from enemy indirect fire.
  • Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew I. Holzemer, of Tennessee, died on June 17 at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, as a result of a non-combat related incident.

30 July 2017

So, in the last eight days, we’ve had 6″ or so of rain in my part of the state. We’ve had a couple of intense pop-up storms that hovered and dumped huge amounts, along with the other storm lines that the whole state got. And miracle of miracles, it was 58 degrees outside when I woke up this morning. That’s unheard of in July in these parts – it was a truly gorgeous day today: low 80’s at the peak and but moderate humidity. Lexi was the beneficiary of that, with a couple of long walks to her credit. I say 6″ or so above because I noticed that the siting of my rain gauge is now in the wind shadow of a tree that’s grown and spread quite a bit in the last year or two.

I’m taking the upcoming week mostly off work (doing just a bit of email and ephemera each morning so that the return isn’t horrible) to burn up vacation hours that I’d otherwise lose at the end of the year. No real plans at this time, beyond roasting coffee and trying to relax a bit. Maybe planting a post in the middle of the yard for the rain gauge.

*       *       *

Here’s Lexi being cute to warm up your day:

Lexi being cute with her stuffed toy cow

*       *       *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. FSM be thanked. Ciao!

18 Dec 2016

‘Twas the week before Christmas,
And all through the town,The wind was a’blowin’,
And power was down.

Well, not for us, but lots of folks lost power around here today. Yesterday around noon, we finally emerged from an early cold blast that had us in the teens and twenties since Wednesday. This morning, it reached 62 degrees. Now it’s back down to freezing. All that atmospheric energy had to go somewhere, and wind was no surprise. We had perhaps a tenth of an inch of ice on Saturday morning:

Ice on the crepe myrtle seed pods

Ice on the crepe myrtle seed pods

Lexi seriously hates walking about on ice-crusted grass. She acts as if it’s much worse than snow. I’d guess so, it’s probably sharp and all of the smells are hidden.

I got some house cleaning done, roasted some coffee, and did a bit of remote work. All in all, a productive week and weekend.

*      *      *

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

20 March 2016

It must be Spring. We’ve been in the 30’s all weekend, and it’s currently dropping what’s quaintly called a “wintery mix” on us from low, leaden skies. Bah!

*      *      *

We’ve lost a lot of the roadside trees in our neighborhood in the last couple of years. The HOA’s landscaping service took out a bunch this winter, and replaced them with … some other kind of tree, I’ll guess. They didn’t get all of the dead trees yet, and from the tracks on the barkless trunk, you can probably see the reason behind the death:

Bug 1, Tree 0

Bugs 1, Tree 0

Yup, some kind of insect really loves the trees we’ve got in the upper part of the neighborhood. The lower is full of bradford pears, which are lovely in the spring, and as fragile as a vase, on a candlestick table, in a windstorm, on a concrete patio, surrounded by disturbed bison. The trees that are dying are less physically prone to splitting in half at the drop of a hat, but they’ve apparently appeared on the menu for some bug.

*      *      *

I got a variety of things done this weekend. After Marcia and I went up to Hobby Works this afternoon, I dug out the Hellcat model I’ve been working on for the last few years. Okay, I haven’t worked on it in a couple of years, but it’s still a fun project. I got the rest of the stringers laid onto the main part of the airframe today.

Hellcat model

Hellcat model in progress

Next up: wings.

*      *      *

I did run into an interesting problem this weekend. Firefox was auto-updated to version 45.mumble, and when that was done, I could no longer browse to any site that wasn’t https. After a while trying to fix things with my existing profile, I threw in the towel and built a clean new profile, and migrated some of the key configurations from the old. All’s right with the world again, at least in Firefox, for the moment.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, of Temecula, California, who died on Mar. 19 in northern Iraq, from wounds suffered when the enemy attacked his unit with rocket fire.

Foxy

Fox at the roadside

Fox at the roadside

This gal was standing in the middle of the road on my back-road drive home today. I gave him a couple of blasts on the horn, which sent him scampering off the right side of the tarmac. But as I pulled up even with that spot, there she was, standing 15 or so feet off the roadway, staring up at me. I stopped, and brought my phone up, opening the camera app. I got the picture. Throughout, I expected the fox to bolt … but it didn’t. The area where I was is a blend of crop fields and woods – nice terrain for this animal. Fun to see, and to have been seen. Ciao!

Lexi at work

My work and week was relatively uneventful: just computers, patching, rebooting, yardwork, and shopping, so I’ll share Lexi’s work week with you instead.

Lexi helping me exercise

Lexi helping me exercise

Before I get onto the elliptical, I’ll generally do a repeating series of stretches, alternating with exercises like squats, sit ups, and push ups. Above, you can see how helpful and encouraging Lexi is during this phase of my workout. Her prone position, her near-perfect lack of motion is extraordinarily motivational. Frankly, I couldn’t do it all without her.

*      *      *

Lexi on guard

Lexi on guard

When she’s not “helping” me exercise, or outright sleeping, Lexi likes to guard the house. Anything that she sees may be a threat, and she can warn us appropriately. Coming into Fall, she becomes a more effective guard beast. As the leaves drop from the trees, her detection range increases, and her blind spots drop to nearly nil. Soon, she’ll be able to warn us of automobiles driving on a nearby street, over a quarter of a mile away, on the other side of the community pool. She might also be able to spot a cat or dog or that most dangerously evil of animals – the hideous squirrel – as far off as the community playground, just this side of the afore-mentioned pool. We also sometimes refer to this as “Lexi TV.”

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Kyle E. Gilbert, 24, of Buford, Georgia, who died on Sept. 21, in Bagram, Afghanistan, in a non-combat related incident.

A Princess and her Pea

Lexi, protected from peas

Lexi, protected from peas

There’s better be a pea under there…

*      *      *

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Last night, when all was quiet, I finally got a around to putting together the Metal Earth Dragonfly model that I picked up from Amazon weeks ago on a whim, inspired by Jenny’s 1000 Ferris Wheels post. It’s good to have a focused distraction from time to time. The work took me away from myself for a double handful of minutes, and reminded me that I can focus when I make the effort. There’s been so much going on that I’m spending more time putting out fires than planning and tending what is needed, long term. But all will come right again.

*      *      *

Yesterday: more plumbing – I replaced the last of the original faucets in the house. The master bathroom was the sole holdout with a builder-grade piece of crap. But now I’ve got a shiny new two-handle Kohler in its place, and I replaced the drain as well, since that was past due, too. Today: shopping, harvesting tomatoes, making salsa, and attending a birthday barbequeue for a friend was the fullness of the day.

*     *      *

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

Dreaming of a White St. Paddy’s Day

Echoes of Bing Crosby chasing around my head as I look outside:

House in gray and white

House in gray and white

Very pretty, though

Very pretty, though

A downside is that there’s a couple more inches of the stuff headed our way, so I’ll be waiting to clear the driveway and sidewalks until mid-afternoon. And I’ll just have to assume that the snow peas are happy as clams in a snow-covered planting bed.

*      *      *

Here’s the laptop pedestal I built and finished over the weekend. It’s designed to sit on top of a regular desk, to be a stylish standing desktop for laptop and mouse. It can also move down to floor level, and be a foot-rest or stool. But mostly it’s a standing desk. Someone I know needs this (not me!)…

Standing desk

Standing desk