31 July 2018

And that puts the fork into the seventh month of this dismal year.

In such good news as there is, I got the major yard work – lawns, etc. – done this last weekend, and several other chores to boot. Not much else to report. I did finish up the last few pages of that V.E. Schwab book, A Darker Shade of Magic. Fun tale, with the boring caveat that almost everyone lives, which seems unreasonably unrealistic. But the book is well written, and I’ve gotta find out what happens next… Now all I have to do is fit more of those books into my reading budget (money and time).

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In the boy-howdy-can-people-ever-be-shitty-to-other-people department, check out the recent Everywhereist (aka Geraldine DeRuiter) post What Happened When I Tried Talking to Twitter Abusers. Assholes on Twitter are just one of the many reasons we can’t have anything nice anymore.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last few days. Thank Cthulhu. Now it’s time to go roast some coffee: a Guatemalan from Sweet Maria’s.

26 July 2018

Well, I guess it’s been a bit. I participated in two long painting days at the theatre last week, and by Sunday, after chores, etc, I was plain tuckered out. Since then, I’ve just been either busy or forgetful … I can’t remember which.

Upcoming is the last weekend of Love’s Labour’s Lost presented by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company at St. John’s College in Annapolis. Also, still running through late September, The Miser is on in the courtyard at Reynold’s Tavern. We’ve seen and loved them both (and we would, even if Marcia wasn’t volunteering as a part time office manager, and I wasn’t on the Board). The next season is going to be a joy, too! Get tickets, bring your friends, see the work, love the work, become subscribers. That’s precisely how we got hooked!

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What I’m reading in my copious spare time: Fran Wilde’s Cloudbound (book two of her Bone Universe trilogy; I loved Updraft, and Horizon is on deck – she signed all three for me at Capclave last year, yay!). These are wonderful, extravagantly envisioned works of fantasy. Fran crafts characters that I care about immediately, and gives them a consistent place above (and in) the clouds for them to love, contend, and try in their own ways to save themselves and their society. Inevitable conflict is the main story. However, the little touches of side story show that this author is superb at building a universe much larger than we can see, and showing us just what’s necessary for the story. I love these books, and I think you will, too. You can find them at many booksellers.

I’m also reading V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, set mostly in three Londons. Magic missing, magic mostly in balance, and magic as weapon … then there’s Black London. I’m enjoying the tale a lot, and I’ll probably pick up the rest of the series. Then there’s my late night bedside re-reading of some of Iain M. Banks Culture novels – love those a lot.

I’ve been listening to a lot of David Bowie, The Eagles, and Amanda Palmer of several incarnations, of late.

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The garden has been producing a quart or so of cherry tomatoes every couple of days, which is delicious and wonderful. Last night I made a south-of-the-border-ish dish with pork, rice, shallots, a couple of serrano peppers and a double handful of halved cherry tomatoes. Yum.

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Recently roasted coffees include single origin beans from Guatemala and Burundi.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week and a half.

11 March 2018

The work week was productive. I’m planning a couple of patching and upgrade cycles that will call for a couple of weekend days work, and probably some travel in May. But the planning and prep documentation is coming along nicely. And, after last weekend’s excitement and manual labor filled days, I wanted to take it easy this weekend. So I did. Yesterday I dropped by the theater and had a long conversation with Sally Boyett that ended with me joining the Board. I sure hope that I can provide the type of input that she’s hoping for… one thing’s for sure, there’s always more to learn. Today was limited to shopping, roasting coffee (Ethiopian), putting up a lovely quilted (by Marcia, see below) wall hanging, and working on my Python chops.

Marcia quilted a new wall hanging

Marcia quilted a new wall hanging

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Upcoming at Annapolis Shakespeare: Tennessee Williams’s Glass Menagerie, directed by Donald Hicken, is opening on Friday evening, March 16. It’s a four week run for Glass Menagerie, shows on Friday and Saturday evenings, matinees on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Also, on Sunday the 18th, one night only: Broadway on Demand Cabaret night.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Maitland Deweever Wilson, 38, of Brooklyn, New York, who died onMarch 7 in Landstuhl, Germany from a non-combat related incident.

11 February 2018

Howdy. I had a decent work week, and a pretty full weekend. I’m not sure where yesterday went, entirely, though it was a lovely Saturday evening out to supper with my co-workers at a nearby brew pub. Good food and good times.

Today was chock-a-block: shopping, then for work: tickets, email, and some production system patching, reboots, and testing. Then I installed a replacement sump pump, since the old one wasn’t working so well anymore (short cycling). Then lunch, a spot of recorded TV, then exercise, an early supper, a shower, and off to the show. Tonight in the ASC Cabaret Series, we enjoyed an evening of That’s Amore (Opera’s Greatest Arias) with Madeline Miskie, Madelyn Wanner, and Mandy Brown singing, accompanied by Joy Mentzel.  We certainly aren’t deep opera fans of any sort, but their voices were lovely, and they took the time to set the scene and our expectations so that we could interpret *some* of the action, even though we have not a stitch of Italian between us. Yep, all Italian.

Speaking of which, the only thing I didn’t get done this weekend was coffee roasting. I absolutely MUST roast tomorrow night or … buy some coffee. <shudder>

Anyway, all good fun, a successful week and weekend, and time to get some sleep, and start all over again.

DoD announced no new casualties in the most recent week.

28 Jan 2018

Good evening. Bob Thompson is still much on my mind. I’m going to miss him.

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Work-wise, it was a productive week. But the weekend, ah, it was good:

Friday evening, we attended opening night for the Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. Spiritedly directed by ASC Founder and Artistic Director Sally Boyett, thc cast romped through this classic drawing room comedy like they’d been working together for ages, and were still having marvelous fun while doing it. Kurt Elftmann, whom we last saw with ASC as Richard III, plays the novelist Charles Condomine magnificently. He’s ensconced in his country home with his second wife, Ruth, executed adroitly by Jessica Hannah Fraser. Natasha Preston is Edith, the maid, who still bears the rushing-about demeanor of her navy training. As the show opens, our host prepares to welcome neighbors Doctor (Phil Bufithis) and Mrs. (Nancy Blum) Bradman to join them for supper, along with spiritualist Madame Arcati (enthusiastically played by Barbara Pinolini).

Condomine hopes to mine the planned seance for material to use in his forthcoming novel. Instead, the evening’s doings result in the arrival of the marvelous Kay Kerimian as the shade of Condomine’s first wife, Elvira. (Side note – a woman named Kay played Elvira in the 1945 film of the play! That’s suitably creepy!) In the balance of the first act, and through the second and third, Elvira vexes and disrupts the household. Edith is an unlikely lynchpin to apparently resolve the resulting furor, and things only really end well for the witty and erudite Condomine.

This play is a real joy, and we’re looking forward to seeing it again before the run closes on February 25. You really should go. Highly Recommended!

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 Saturday, I washed all the crap and salt off of both cars, as well as getting some other chores done, including roasting a pound of Honduran coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s.  It rained today (Sunday), but that was my fault (obviously). We got the shopping and the rest of the weekly chores done, and a friend came over to have me assist in de-crapping her phone (removing all the useless apps) and recovering the password for her main account on her Windows 10 laptop.

Finally, I managed to get my sump pit monitoring system working again. It had been on the fritz for a few weeks, and there were always more important things to do. I was able to safely put it off, because I know that the sump pump is in good condition, but I’d like warnings to be working for the day when it isn’t, anymore. Turned out that I just needed to reseat the connectors between the distance sensor and the Raspberry Pi that runs the software.

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Reading:

Upstairs, in hardback: Fran Wilde’s Cloudbound. This is book two of her Bone Universe series, and as with book one, it’s wonderful. Right below it on the stack at my bedside is the third novel in the series: Horizon. Fran is a smart, talented writer who manages to create worlds and characters that get under my skin and inside my head. Highly Recommended.

Downstairs, in paperback: Iain Banks’s Excession. One of the Culture novels, and a re-read for me. I’ve been working my way through the books again, off and on, since he died back in 2013. Today I learned that some of that story was inspired by Sid Meier’s Civilization video game. You should read everything Banks wrote. For me, he’s reminiscent of Philip Jose Farmer.

On the phone via the Kindle app: Jennifer Foehner Wells’s Valence (Book 4 of the Confluence series). I’ve read and enjoyed the first three enough to keep on with the fourth, which is enough of a reccommendation. I read on the phone whenever I have time to spare, because reading is always wonderful.

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DoD announce no new casualties in the last week.

16 January 2018

G’day. Yep, I was busy. Sunday we did the shopping, then I started in on chores and such. About halfway through the afternoon, I saw an email that Annapolis Shakespeare Company needed a hand. It was the first load-in day for the set of the next play, and the expected carpenters had bailed on them. So I gathered some tools and went off to Annapolis to help out for several hours. I got home before 10, though… I went back the next day and gave a hand for another few hours. When I wrapped up my participation, all the walls and bracing that could be done were done. Glad to be of service. Still taking ibuprofen, though. And the extra holes in my skin (mostly hands) are beginning to heal. Yay! Good to have spent MLK Day doing volunteer service for our favorite 501(c)3, as well.

I’m not sure I’d be good at set design. I’m a build-to-last kind of guy. Sets are designed to look great for 6 weeks, and be rapidly dismantled before they fall apart of their own volition. Heh.

Not much else to report. I did get some coffee roasted – a Tanzanian from Sweet Maria’s. It’s resting, and I’ll start brewing from that in another couple of days.

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I recently finished reading Fluency (Confluence Book 1) (at this writing: $0.00 for Kindle) by Jennifer Foehner Wells. I’ll admit to a fair reluctance to dive headllong into the new wave of Speculative Fiction – there’s so much unevenly edited crap out there… But I can usually tell within a few pages whether I’ll be swiping the book to the archives, or reading it through. Fluency got a read-through. I enjoyed Ms. Wells’s writing style. The premise of an insectile spacefaring enemy that hasn’t arrived yet, a ship whose only remaining crew is the squid-ish navigator, and a human team of folks who might be able to get along and complete their mission, if it weren’t for the space slugs and the rogue nanotech… Okay, it’s a bit of a mashup, with shades of Red Dwarf and a few special easter eggs. I enjoyed reading it through, and more importantly, I am going to read the next book in the series. That doesn’t happen much, so can count as a reasonable recommendation. I could wish for two lead characters who weren’t starved for the physical attentions of the other, unrequited except in alien-mediated virtual reality. I’ll see how the second book stacks up. Recommended.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Javion Shavonte Sullivan, 24, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, who died on Jan. 8 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident.

7 Jan 2018

First post! Of 2018.

Lunacy continues in some quarters, in others, it’s just bloody cold. Yes, yes, 3°F is winter-time heatwave/shorts weather… in Fairbanks. Here, it a nuisance. But we’re due for some warming up this week, which I’m looking forward to.

We got a lot done this weekend, including the dismantling and boxing of the holiday paraphernalia. That buys me ten and a half months until I have to pull those out of the garage attic again! I roasted a pound of Kenyan beans from Sweet Marias, after picking up the mess left from a stack of trim falling off the wall in the woodshop:

The stack of wood trim fell off the storage at the top of the wall, leaving a mess of pickup sticks!

Pickup sticks: trim fell

Tonight we went over to Annapolis Shakespeare and enjoyed an evening of instrumental Broadway and jazz, with Marc Irwin (pianist and Musical Director of the Company) and guest Maeve Royce on the bass. Quite wonderful!

Also, I see from Barbara’s updates on Bob’s page that he’s finally due to leave the hospital and get into rehab (and hopefully soon from there to home)! We’re very glad to see Bob making progress!

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin, 34, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who died on Jan. 1 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while on a dismounted patrol.

12 March 2017

Wednesday, I attended an Ansible Automates event downtown. I’ve been making use of Ansible for configuration management for nearly three years now, but the rate of change and new capabilities since the project was purchased by Red Hat about 18 months ago is stunning. There’s a lot I have to learn to find out what else I should be automating with this tool.

A good weekend: got assorted things done, including roasting some delicious-smelling Tanzania Mbozi – Iwezya Station beans from Sweet Maria’s. We (mostly Marcia) cooked a lovely salmon supper followed by a blueberry pie for dessert last night. I had one responsibility: the garlic bread. It was all gone, so i guess I did my part okay, too.

Up next: Getting my Hugo nominations in, that closes on Friday, so I’d better be getting to that… Done. And I got my driver’s license renewed for another seven years.

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No new casualties were reported by DoD in the last few days. Ciao!

5 Feb 2017

A good weekend, as such things go. Saturday, I roasted some coffee. In the evening, we headed over to the Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s new digs, and enjoyed a superb performance of Thorton Wilder’s Our Town. Not a play I’d seen before. Excellent direction by founder Sally Boyett, and powerfully performed.  Patrick Ryan Sullivan takes a very pleasing and strong turn as the Stage Manager, but my personal favorite for this show has to be the tender  and heart-rending Emily Webb as given to  the audience by the talented Laura Rocklyn. As each season with this company progresses, I see new depths in each of the Resident Company Actors – frankly I love them all – and I’m already looking forward to Alice In Wonderland! Aaaand, I just scored our tickets to see The Tempest in July, in the gardens at the Charles Carroll House. We saw Midsummer Night’s Dream in that venue last year – a great place for a show!

Today, shopping, 2016 taxes, and associated year-end paperwork. All done and submitted. Not the most pleasant of chores, to be sure, but done for the moment. Just a couple of missing bits of paper to add to the documentation pile – I know what the numbers are, but I want hardcopy of the things just to be safe.

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For many people, these past weeks have brought about a great deal of uncertainty and trepidation. In the face of such circumstances, clearly a diversified portfolio is the correct strategy. When you don’t know what’s going to succeed, through the spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks…

Diversify your portfolio!

Diversify your portfolio!

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Alternatively, just lick your nose and hope for the best, as Lexi does:

Is my nose okay?

Is my nose okay?

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

11 Dec 2016

G’day. What a lovely day. Well, not temperature-wise, as it was 24F when I got up and walked the dog this morning, and had barely crept up to the freezing point by noon. But, still a nice day. We took Linda and Mike to see the matinee showing of It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, staged by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. It’s running through Christmas Eve, so you have plenty of time to go see it yourself! This is the second year we’ve enjoyed this production. While some might say it’s not the cheeriest of stories, it is indeed a wonderful show. And there’s plenty of humor in the actors interacting in their “radio studio” as the play goes on. And as usual, towards the end, something manages to get into my eyes. Sally Boyett and her team put on a great show, and you’d love it. Go. GO!

Beyond that, a busy work week behind, another one in front. Other than roasting a pound of Honduras coffee yesterday, there’s not much to report.

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A moment of silence to mark the passing of John Glenn.

He was heroic, in the best sense of that word. He flew and fought in two wars. He went to space and into orbit, in a tin can perched atop a tube of high explosives in 1962. Then did it again in 1997 (at age 77!) on the space shuttle. He was a US Senator from Ohio for a quarter century. He’d been a hero of mine for decades, and the world is a poorer place without him in it.l

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. First Class Allan E. Brown, 46, of Takoma Park, Maryland, who died on Dec. 6 at Walter Reed National Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device in Bagram, Afghanistan, that occurred on Nov. 12.