About bilborg

I am who I am, there's plenty of data on this site to tell you more. Briefly, I'm a husband, computer geek, avid reader, gardener, and builder of furniture.

25 November 2018

Coma

Turkey coma, that is. We roasted a full bird for the first time in a few years, and it was certainly one of our best. We started with a fresh Butterball, and Marcia dressed it and put it in the roasting pan with a cup of water to keep the humidity up. That trick worked a treat, and the bird was flavorful and moist. The other winner of the evening was also of Marcia’s concocting: a wonderful apple pie. Since then, leftovers, including a turkey tetrazzini that I made this evening, using … the pasta that Marcia made yesterday. So good!

Apple pies that Marcia made for Thanksgiving.
Apple pies by Marcia

We did make a few phone calls here and there, to family and friends. Happily, everyone seems to be in good health and spirits.

Lexi the chipuggle mutt on watch
Lexi on watch

Theater

Saturday evening, we attended the official opening night (and press opening) of this year’s production of A Christmas Carol at Annapolis Shakespeare. Wonderfully, even better than last year! The marvelous Dexter Hamlett took Scrooge and made the character his own. The whole cast brought the show to life with a minimal set, and superb mood setting with judicious use of a smoke machine and back-screen projections to set the place for each scene. Highly Recommended!

Next up from ASC: A Broadway Holiday: song and dance on the main stage.

Work

I’ve wrapped up patching for the month, and I’m in the middle of my on-call week. One thing I’m looking forward to is spelunking through the Beta of the new Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8. The thing they refer to as App Streams interests me most, I think, as it should permit use of newer applications than the RHEL series have been able to provide in the past. More when I know more.

Reading

On dead trees, I’m still reading Cloudbound, from the splendid Fran Wilde.  On the phone, I’ve been reading The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of Holmes stories intersecting with multiple genres, written over the last 25 years, and edited by John Joseph Adams.

On the “other entertainment as required” front, our background noise over the last week or so is binging the first two seasons of Amazon’s The Grand Tour, in preparation for a probable early December start to Season 3.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Leandro A.S. Jasso, 25, from Leavenworth, Washington, who died on Nov. 24, 2018, in Garmsir District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained while engaging enemy forces in Khash Rod District, Nimruz Province, Afghanistan.

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.

4 November 2018

Vote

I’m getting caught up around here, but there’s only one important message this week. Vote on Tuesday, 11/06/2018.

Please.

Help a neighbor vote, give them a ride to the polling place. Remind a friend to vote. Email. Tweet. Call. Post. Whatever. Vote and get out the vote.

If you don’t vote, you’ve made an affirmative choice for more of the same.

Please vote.

1 November 2018

Travel Time

Nope, this time I didn’t forget. I just planned on waiting until I got back from Nashville.

This was a 4 day trip to attend LISA 18, the USENIX Large Infrastructure Systems Administration conference. I think, though, that they dropped the long form a couple of years back. I hadn’t attended since it was last local, in 2015. This trip was great. The event itself is shorter, just three days of blended talks and short trainings, as opposed to the prior 6 day run. Looking back, I actually miss the dedicated training days, and the much more extensive training available in half- and full-day format.

That, however, is my only gripe. This event is organized and run with cheer and great professionalism. I attended programming continuously throughout the three days, and found nothing that disappointed me. Left me wanting more? Sure, why not.  Also, a conference full of people I either know and like, or will know and like … all good. Met some wonderful new folks this go round. Smart, funny, smart, eloquent, did I say smart? I love hanging out and learning new stuff from people.

And Nashville: What a lovely town. I got out and walked a bit, mornings and evenings (except this AM – it was bucketing down rain). The tiny bits I managed to make it to were full of friendly people. I will note that a lot of them seem to have an affinity for country music for some reason…

Downtown Nashville from 19 floors up...
Downtown Nashville from 19 floors up…

So, that was fun.

Vote

Have you voted already? THANK YOU!

Oh, yeah … and I made it home in time for us to get out for early voting, so  we don’t have to brave the crowds on election Tuesday. Early voting has ended in Maryland, but whether you can still early vote where you are, or get you and all your friends and all your frenemies and your families and everyone out … VOTE. Give someone a ride and help them vote. Thanks.

22 Octogre 2018

Mondays

It was Thursdays that Arthur Dent could never get the hang of. For me? Mondays. We slept in Sunday morning, a bit, and it pushed the whole day. Oh, well.

Got lots done over the weekend. The last of the parts arrived Friday, and I repaired my snow blower, thus staving of the return of Snowmageddon this winter. While I roasted some SO coffee beans from Burundi, I cleaned up the workshop and gave myself a haircut. I also made a delicious batch of chili with hot italian sausage, ground turkey, fire roasted tomatoes, kidney and black beans, and the very last of the bedraggled peppers from the garden. Yummy, and enough for an army (or us for a week).

Channeling Ed Sullivan

I’ve got my bit to do for a presentation this week, we’ve been in prep for the last week or so, and it’s coming down to suit and tie time. So of course I’ve lost track of the one proper tie tack I have, and while I can cope, I’d like a fall back for the next time I can’t find it. But I’ve searched, and no one is selling Weeping Angel tie tacks. I wonder why?

Winding Down

No other news of note, and thankfully, DoD has no new casualties to report. Be good to each other, and make sure to vote!

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.

8 Octogre 2018

For Starters

A day late and a dollar short. Well, one of those, anyway. Yesterday was a half-day at work, updating firmware versions and upgrading hypervisor versions on the fleet at $FIRM HQ. When I say half-day, I mean in the CEO-sense: 12+ hours… long day. But it all got done, and everything was still working when the ball dropped. That’s not always guaranteed when working with systems that get rebooted and/or power cycled with no regularity at all. And BIOS updates are a feature in one of the special circles of Hell.

Since I was planning on a long Sunday, I took Friday off. I’d started my week with reasonably comprehensive plans about what and how much I would accomplish on the home front over the three day weekend-with-a-one-day-interruption, but that was not to be. I felt a bit peaky on Thursday, and got my annual flu shot that afternoon. Friday morning, I decided to take the day as it came, and hang the chores. And Saturday. And today. So, we did get a lot of Tennant-era Doctor Who watched, which was great fun. And via DVR, we watched the season opener of the new Doctor Who, starring Jodie Whittaker. She’s brilliant. I’m excitedly anticipating how  Whittaker and fresh showrunner Chris Chibnall move the character and the show forward.

Not Talkin’ Politics

No sirree, not a all. There is nothing good I have to say about how the Senators treated Dr. Ford. There is nothing good to say about the mockery made of her by the holder of the highest office in the land. There is nothing good to say about … anything that went down in Swamplandia in the last couple of weeks. So I have nothing to say. Yet … I believe her.

Unwinding

Seriously, perhaps it’s the events of the last couple of weeks that are leaving me queasy and unsettled. I need to unwind. But also, tomorrow, work.

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. James A. Slape, 23, from Morehead City, North Carolina, who died on Oct. 4, 2018, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device.

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.