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.

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.

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.

5 August 2018

Cleaning yesterday; shopping, mowing, and roasting coffee today. So that’s a productive weekend. On the way to shopping, I stopped at the local family-owned nursery we use for plants, etc. I needed some fresh tomatoes to supplement what little is coming out of the large tomato end of my garden. With those, a lime, some garlic, a couple of small yellow onions, and a handful of mixed peppers from the garden, I made a small artisanal batch of salsa – no more than four or five cups worth. Yup, we finished that all, with chips, as a mid-afternoon snack.

Part of the reason the larger tomatoes aren’t happy is that we’re up to over 8″ of rain in my back yard since July 20.  Depending on the next couple of weeks, we could end up with 1/4 of a year’s average rainfall in less than a month. Not that any of the folks around here that are suffering through the aftereffects of flash flooding are very happy about any of this.

Oh, hey – we had a lovely time at Linda and Mike’s last night: being ignored by their new-ish cat Kafka, eating a lovely supper, and playing a deeply inappropriate game of CAH. Much laughter ensued.

In my copious spare time, I’ve been working on learning a bit more about containers, with Docker on deck. I haven’t had to use them professionally, but they’re important technologies that underpin a lot of what’s going on in cloud these days. So, I’ll learn more. Key to long life, learning more.

DoD reported no new casualties in the last few days. Now, back to reading…

 

28 May 2018

Memorial Day for those in the US. All respect and honor to those who gave their lives in service to our Country and Constitution.

*      *      *

A busy week last week, building new systems for new services, retiring old systems, and generally doing modern system administration stuff. Continuing to build out the configuration management system to improve system repeatability, reliability, security, and availability. So there’s that. The three day weekend had a bit of lawn work, a bit of garden work, coffee roaster maintenance and roasting, etc. Oh, and a bit of old-school wood working:

Breaking out the block plane to smooth a small cutting board glue-up.

Breaking out the block plane

 

*      *      *

I’m also signed up for this year’s Capclave. Such an awesome small literary speculative fiction (F/SF/etc) convention. Wonderful, supportive, inclusive, and diverse … and such a deal: 3 days of convention for $55 currently (it goes up in $5 increments as the last weekend in September 2018 approaches, but even at the door, it’s only $65!) Are you in the DC Metro area? Can you be, in late September? Join us!

Oh, hey: Annapolis Shakespeare‘s production of Molière’s The Miser opens tomorrow night for an 18 week run in the courtyard at Reynold’s Tavern in Annapolis. Exceptionally, for us, we’re going to miss an opening night, but we’ll see it soon. Gonna be fun! Dinner. A show. You should go!

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Robinson, 36, of Los Angeles, California, who died on May 24 at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, from a non-combat related incident.

29 April 2018

Fun weekend. After the first full week back from vacation, I put in a grueling day and a half at BSidesCharm. Talks and panels all day and into the evening on Saturday, then I came back for half a day today. I missed a couple of afternoon talks and the closing ceremony so that I could catch up on the mowing, etc. Favorite talks: OSX/Pirrit by Amit Serper on Saturday,  and Effective Monitoring by Russell Mosley and Ryan St. Germain on Sunday (yep, I’m biased about that one). The Saturday evening Straight Up panel was a lot of fun, only slightly affected by all the folks who wanted to sit in the panel room but talk among themselves instead of being quiet so that others could enjoy the panel.

*      *      *

Upcoming this week, Kiss Me Kate opens at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. Get your tickets now!

*      *      *

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry over mowed lawn

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry over mowed lawn

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

4 February 2018

There’s a football game going on now, just after a halftime show of some sort. If history is any guide, then losing badly is where the Pats want to be right now. That said, ahead by a considerable margin is where the Eagles want to be, too. So … win/win?

I had a productive work week that lasted all seven days. Well, not seven full days, just five of those. But remote work to do things outside of business hours both yesterday and today, both days successful. Huzzah!

On the off-hours, I’ve been spending more time with Python. It’s a useful language for a number of projects and OS management tools I either use or am interested in, so I’d like to have stronger skills there. Working on it.

Reading: I finished up Jennifer Foehner Wells’s Confluence Series … well, at least the four books that are out in that universe. I’m hoping for more. Great fun: Recommended!

Now: Eagles up by 10 after a couple of possessions in the third quarter. Maybe an exorcism is called for. Anyway, time to walk the dog for the last time, and get back to Python for a bit.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

28 Jan 2018

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

*      *      *

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!

*      *      *

 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.

*      *      *

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.

*      *      *

DoD announce no new casualties in the last week.

17 December 2017

Friday was a snow day. Well, it *did* snow, and I was off work … but those were unrelated events. I did get some home office change work done. Last weekend, I hung up the skeletal F6F3 Hellcat in the corner of the room. I’m still occasionally flinching as I see it out of the corner of my eye as I walk past:

Skeletal F6F3 Hellcat model hanging from the ceiling in my home office.

Skeletal F6F3 Hellcat

On Friday, I spent twenty minutes and built a laptop stand for my MBP so that I could set it up dual screen with the HDMI monitor I use for several systems here:

My Macbook Pro on a home-built stand for dual monitor use

MBP on home-built stand

Saturday evening, we re-attended A Christmas Carol at ASC. As with previous shows, seeing opening night, then another run a couple of weeks later lets us watch the fine and talented actors settle into their roles and adapt to audience reactions. What fun!

*      *      *

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

26 November 2017

For those in the US, I hope y’all had a lovely Thanksgiving. We enjoyed a wonderful evening and repast with friends and (their) family. Then it was back to work for me on Friday. Then, yesterday evening, we attended the glorious opening night premiere production of A Christmas Carol at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company! Highly recommended.

*      *      *

On the side, I’m spending some time working with/learning more about Django. And I’m still working on that balsa model. The tail surfaces are affixed, and shaping of the wing continues.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the most recent week, for which we are thankful. Ciao!