04 September 2016

Happy Birthday, Pete!

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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!

The Continuing Saga

I was back in the basement this weekend. Yesterday, I finished up the flooring install. There were a few long runs left, and some fiddly bits around doorways, cabinets, etc. that I had left until the end. All done, and caulked in the two doorways that won’t have a transition jam.

This morning, after shopping, I went out to get some of the materials needed for the next round of work. Primer, painters caulk, high gloss white for the trim, etc. While I was there, I looked at the shoe moulding. The closest I could find to what I wanted in size ran nearly a buck a linear foot. And it was still too thick. My goal was 3/8″ x 3/4″. I don’t need more than that because the flooring is pretty tight (but not SUPER tight) to the walls. I’m in general 1/8″ off each wall, so a 1/4″ overlap is more than sufficient. But raw select pine is a lot cheaper than processed shoe moulding, and I have tools…

Shoe moulding for the basement.

Shoe moulding for the basement.

So I bought some 1×6 select pine, and used the router table and table saw to mill my own shoe moulding. The “foyer” area of the basement is going to get the stuff on the left, which has a 45 degree chamfer on it. The bulk of the moulding is going around Marcia’s sewing area, and for that I did a quarter inch round over with a tiny reveal, less than a 16th of an inch. Frankly, if I could have gotten the plastic stuff, or even the primed poplar in 3/8″ width, I’d have gone for it. But wide shoe moulding irks me, and I might as well use my facilities.

Above, all of the moulding has been sanded and wiped down. Sometime in the next few days I’ll prime, then paint those.

*      *      *

During the upcoming week, I’ll be taking Marcia to physical therapy appointments. But thereafter, she’s on her own. She’s supposed to be driving by the 16. Yay! She is making great progress! The stairs are hard, but she’s doing them leg over leg, and they’re getting easier each day (or at least she’s making less noise!)

*      *      *

No new casualties were reported by DoD during the last week.


This weekend marks another transition for Marcia – she’s stopped taking the rat poison (Coumadin, aka Warfarin). That also means that she doesn’t have to wear the compression stockings anymore, which makes her very happy. She should sleep much better tonight. She’s solo’ing up and down the stairs, but not leg-over-leg yet. Progress is.

*      *      *

I spent the weekend on two different primary tasks. The first was a bit of patching of Linux production systems late last night and early this morning, during the appropriate maintenance windows for the systems in question. Much of the balance of the weekend was spent working on the basement floor.

I started working it in past the entry way to Marcia’s sewing area. I’d start by scraping and cleaning the concrete, sweep up and vacuum, then lay a chunk of flooring and move a cabinet over to the freshly laid area, rinse and repeat. At the end of Saturday, it looked like this:

Basement floor - Saturday

Basement floor – Saturday

Today, after the Linux patching and the weekly shopping, I got back to work. I moved all the stuff that was in the basement kitchen down into the area I’d gotten flooring into yesterday, then I cleaned up, shaved the edge of the linoleum to ease the transition, and started moving appliances and laying flooring. By the end of the day I’d gotten to about the 80% point on the entire floor – and the kitchen area looks like this:

Sunday - basement floor progress

Sunday – basement floor progress

I only wasted two full planks doing cuts wrong, and shaved the skin off of one knuckle doing the work. So, a net win. Another day to get the rest of the flooring down, then I can start working on walls and paint and moldings.

*      *      *

No new casualties were reported by DoD in the last week.

Rainy Days and Sundays

Well, they don’t get me down, but when it’s rain drops with little ice spears embedded in each one, it’s not a pleasant thing to be walking in (or loading the groceries into the car during, for one executed example). We had about 2cm of rain today – at peak, the sump pump was running every two minutes.

Today was productive on the home front: Shopping, Laundry, cleaned up my office. I also opened up Serenity, the home server, and replaced the back panel fan with one that has manual speed settings, so that I can knock down some of the noise in here. Works like a champ. The Asus board that had been in that chassis did a better job of controlling fan speeds. When I replaced it with a SuperMicro board (and a Xeon processor + 16G of ECC RAM) … well, the SuperMicro seemed to run that back fan at full throttle the whole time.

Yesterday was productive for work: I spent 6 hours at the front part of the day planning and scripting for some VMware updating work, and 5 hours executing on it last night from 8 PM to 1 AM. Tomorrow is a relax day, I plan. Plans always work out, right?

Marcia is doing great. She’s continuing to nail her PT goals, and we expect that I’ll be going to work for several hours each day this next week, barring any setbacks.

*      *      *

It’s been more than a month! DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. The most recent reported casualty was on 14 Dec 2014.