28 May 2017

In entertainment news, we attended the theater last night. Annapolis Shakespeare’s Donald Hicken gave us a superbly directed production of Richard III. Visiting actor Kurt Elfmann was wonderful as the murderous, treacherous, and slimy Richard. His introspective Richard was for me most compelling. ASC company member Brian Keith MacDonald played both Brakenbury and a strong, well-executed (heh) Buckingham. It’s tough playing second fiddle to an erratic schemer. I don’t but wonder what sort of role models he had for that, these days?

Also ASC regulars: Olivia Ercolano and Laura Rocklyn (Lady Anne and Queen Elizabeth, respectively) lent strength and passion to their portrayals. Doomed in their interactions with Richard, the women in this play do their best to survive at the cost of horrid compromise. Dexter Hamlett’s George (Duke of Clarence) also stood out for me, playing out his character’s fate and pain with dignity and power.

The whole cast, some eleven in all, built an exquisite mind palace for this play, making do with but three pieces of furniture in the black box of the company’s education stage. Well-designed  and executed (there’s that word again!) music, drums, and lighting provided the necessary complement to this powerful Shakespeare history. Runs at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company through June 11, 2017. Highly Recommended.

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It’s a holiday weekend. So of course it’s been raining straight through. We just cracked a year’s worth of rain, some 44″ worth, since I last changed the battery in my backyard rain gauge. That year’s worth of rain did, however, take 15 months to fall. So we’re still a bit short. Friends over for supper and games tonight, and anticipation of a relaxing day, possibly with some wood-working thrown in, for the actual Memorial day. Here’s how Lexi handles a rainy holiday weekend:

Rainy Day Lexi

Rainy Day Lexi

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Etienne J. Murphy, 22, of Loganville, Georgia, who died on May 26, in Al-Hasakah, Syria, of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover related incident.

14 May 2017

First: She’s a good dog, Brent – 42/10.

Lexi

Lexi

Lexi, above, at one of her favorite activities: watching DogTV ™ from an ottoman at my upstairs office window.

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Second: Happy Mother’s Day, y’all. You know who you are! My personal celebration in honor of mothers everywhere is listening to a lot of Bangles music tonight. Yay!

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Our second streak of Seattle weather in May finally broke today, after several grey days and a couple of inches of rain. We reached the mid-70’s. That meant I could get out and take care of the mowing, and do some weeding out of the front flower beds. I’ve still not cleaned out the main veggie beds in back, for a variety of reasons. I’m leaning hard towards giving the garden a pass this year. We had such a bad year last year…

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Penultimately: Today is 10 years with my current employer. Please note that I’m still nowhere near the median tenure for the firm, which is currently hovering around 17 years, IIRC. What a wonderful bunch of folks to work with.

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In local entertainment news, The Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s production of Richard III opens on Friday. It’s the first production in their new 99 seat black box theater. We’re looking forward to the show, and if you’re in the area, you should join us. We love this team of creative folks and are sure you will, too!

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

8 May 2017

A good week, past. Got lots done at work, including some annual testing that went as well as can be expected from a technical perspective, and finished an hour ahead of schedule, which is wonderful, for weekend work. The balance of the weekend went to chores: from roasting coffee to cutting the hay in the front and back 40’s. Seriously, about halfway through the back yard I stopped and sent a text to Marcia asking her where she was with the baler, because stuff was piling up…

Oh, I also managed a couple of hours back on the coast road to Nova Prospekt, playing the Half Life 2: Update release. Much better visuals, etc – it’s basically Half Life 2, remastered. See this article from GameSpot for more details.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, 38, of Falmouth, Maine, who was killed during an operation against al-Shabaab on May 5, in a remote area approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu.

23 April 2017

Hullo. For my birthday this year, we went to Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s Cabaret 2.0. A fund raiser for the theatre that’s still a-building, we had a lovely evening of song, mostly Broadway musicals in origin. Wonderful. Upcoming: Richard III, Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), The Miser, and Alice and the Book of Wonderland (an original work). That wraps the current season, and we’re *also* really looking forward to the next year’s shows, too. But we can’t get our tickets for that, just yet. Are you in the DC area? Visiting? You *really* should treat yourself to a show. You’ll love the Company and their work. Seriously.

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That was the fun part of the weekend. The rest involved:

  • Fixing a leaking toilet.
  • Replacing the bits of drop ceiling affected by said leak.
  • Patching a raft of production systems.
  • Bathing the dog.
  • Mowing the front yard once.
  • Mowing the backyard for the first time of the year. Twice. It was nearly knee high. Sigh.

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

19 March 2017

It was a fairly uneventful work week, if by uneventful you mean a snow-day in mid-March. Three people made it to the office on Tuesday: I was one of them. We have an external vendor event on Tuesdays, and while it *can* be put off in an emergency, an inch or three of snow doesn’t stop me from getting the job done. I did my early morning work remotely, then spent about 45 minutes shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. Then off to work, and stayed there from 9 to 12.

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The weekend, though, has been fun. I started out Saturday with a few chores and coffee roasting. Then I went over to one of the local lumberterias to pick up the materials I needed to build Marcia’s new closet system. Clearly, I chose the right transport for the job:

The right tool for the job - BMW M235i for the lumber run.

The right tool for the job

I unloaded the car, and broke down the long boards in the garage to rough design length before hauling downstairs. That pine is going to be the slats on the shelves, eventually.

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Yesterday evening, we went over to Annapolis Shakespeare, in their new digs, for an evening cabaret of show tunes and sonnets. It was a lovely two hours of show, followed by a spot of mingling with cast, crew, and audience. Great fun. Next up with ASC: Alice In Wonderland (I think. It may be Richard III, in May … getting a new theatre operational is challenging).

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Today, after the shopping, I went down to the woodshop and started making jigs, in order to repeatably make the parts that will end up being part of Marcia’s new closet:

Fabricating main supports using a 30° jig

Fabricating main supports

Much of the initial work was done on the table saw, for both the main supports and the backing wall attachments. Eventually I also hauled out the mitre saw for some angle cuts and working with the poplar I used for creating the supports for the hanger bars. Those got a through-hole put in them with a 1.32″ Forstner bit (in a specific location via stops), then cut to the right size on the miter saw, then a bunch of slots, etc. cut in batches on the table saw. The final bit before assembly was to round over all the outward facing corners, freehand, with a round-over bit on the router table.

Hanger bar supports in process

Hanger bar supports in process

I finished up the day gluing, pinning, and screwing the main support assemblies together. Here they are with spare parts: When I make a batch of identical parts, I’ve found it’s a good idea to make a spare or two while the setup is together. That way, if I ruin a piece, I don’t have to setup to make just one more. It costs little bit in materials, but saves a bunch of time in case of mistakes. Not to mention I’ve got templates to work from if I decide to build something similar again.

Support assemblies completed

Support assemblies completed

What’s next for those is to cut and add some slat attachment surfaces along the top edge of those supports, then sand and finish them. Then I’ll make the slats themselves. Everything will get sanded, stained, and a coat or three of poly. THEN we can dismantle Marcia’s closet, patch the walls, sand, paint, and assemble the new closet system. It’ll be a while, yet. But the job is finally started, so we’ve got that going for us.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. We are grateful for that. 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.

4 Dec 2016

We had a lovely supper tonight at Seasons 52 in Columbia – a holiday dinner with my co-workers and plus ones. I had half a chicken, Marcia had some seared cow, both were delicious. Dessert: tiny, delicious, and overpriced. Still, we’ll go there again: Recommended.

Marcia continues to make great progress in her hip replacement recovery. She’s been driving for a week now, and spending a fair bit of time standing, walking, and working on stuff in the house each day. Huzzah!

The week was weird. I took a couple of vacation days on Thursday and Friday. Got a few things done around the house, but mostly relaxed and tried to unwind a bit. I roasted a pound of an Ethiopian SO, cleaned the roaster, etc. It’s almost time to build something in the woodshop – I’m getting that familiar itch.

I’m also getting used to my early Festivus present: an Apple Watch. I like it very much, and it’s hugely more comfortable to wear (as well as much better for my eyes) than the FitBit Charge it replaced. But it doesn’t replace all of that functionality – the biggest lack for me: no sleep tracking, which I really appreciated on the FitBit. That said, I’m provisionally happy with the change, and getting used to the features and integration of this device.

Also from the week past, as posted on teh twitters, where I can be found as @bilborg: Best thing I read in November, BTW: Sarah Tolmie’s The Dancer on the Stairs, in @strangehorizons. Support speculative fiction mags, authors Please do visit Strange Horizons, read, enjoy, and support them if you can.

And with that, and no casualties reported by DoD in the last few days, Ciao!

20 Nov 2016

Windy, cold day today. Quite a shift from yesterday’s 70° loveliness. That’s okay. I stayed busy all week and all weekend. Today, for example:

  • 0645-0800 – Start laundry, start coffee, then patching a set of production linux systems
  • 0800-0845 – Walk dog, breakfast
  • 0845-1030 – Shopping, food organization
  • 10:30-1200 – Email, patching another set of production linux systems
  • 1200-1300 – Walk dog, lunch
  • 1300-1400 – Roast coffee (an Ethiopian SO bean from Sweet Maria’s)
  • 1400-1600 – Putter about, relax for a couple of hours
  • 1600-1800 – Cooking
  • 1800-1845 – Feed and walk dog
  • 1845-2000 – Dinner, make bed, email, blog time…

Marcia is doing great. She’s done with the cane, mostly. She did most of the laundry work today, other than the “carry bits up and down the stairs” part. Strength is going up, pain is going down, and she’s weening off the last of the heavy pain killers in the next couple of days. Next up: Driving!

We enjoyed watching the first episode of Amazon’s new car show: The Grand Tour this week! I’d missed having those blokes doing new, fun things with cars. Sorry, BBC – your B-Team isn’t nearly good enough!

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

  • Sgt. John W. Perry, 30, of Stockton, California, died on Nov. 12 of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device in Bagram, Afghanistan.
  • Pfc. Tyler R. Iubelt, 20, of Tamaroa, Illinois, died on Nov. 12 of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device in Bagram, Afghanistan.

23 Oct 2016

A good week for theater!

On Wednesday, we attended Poe… And All The Others, a new play by Tony Tsendeas, as presented at Reynold’s Tavern by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. Last year’s production of Poe was one of the first shows we saw from this company, and it was a good show. This year’s production, again featuring Brian Keith MacDonald and Renata Plecha, is simply superb! The new script is much stronger, but still works very well in the confines of a dining room at Reynold’s Tavern. We turned up at 6:45 or so, and enjoyed a good salad and supper (I had grilled salmon on pasta, and Marcia had a chicken breast) before the play started at 7:30. 40 enthralling minutes inside Poe’s head later, we had intermission and dessert service (we can recommend the tea cakes). The second act kept bringing the power of Poe’s writing, aptly adapted by Mr. Tsendeas, and brought thoroughly to life by Mr. MacDonald. All the while, Ms. Plecha played every other character in the show, often several within a matter of seconds, all flawlessly! Whew!

Then after a couple of days of rest (or, in my case, work), we attended Twelfth Night last night at the company’s intimate theater on Chinquapin Round Road. I’ve seen Twelfth night staged several times, here and there. Last night, though… The Bard’s words, set at the end of the Roaring Twenties, some set to music and dance! A forceful farce, flawlessly fulfilled by this wonderful group of actors! I’d call out especially good individual performances, frankly all were awesome, so special hats off to Olivia Ercolano, Renata Plecha, Brian Keigh MacDonald, Laura Louise Smith, and Jamison Foreman. How good? This show got the first standing ovation I’ve seen at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company! And they deserve every bit of it – especially Founding Artistic Director Sally Boyett, who directed both shows we saw this last week.

I’d go see both shows again, in a heartbeat … but we’re going to be out of commission for the next several weeks due to Marcia’s pending hip replacement surgery (Wednesday, 10/26). You should go see these shows, and anything else this Company puts on. Seriously.

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Alongside all that fun, I fought a cold, had a productive work week, and helped get things organized for the post-surgical eventfulness to come. Wish us luck!

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

  • Sgt. Douglas J. Riney, 26, of Fairview, Illinois, died Oct. 19 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds received from encountering hostile enemy forces.
  • Michael G. Sauro, 40, of McAlester, Oklahoma, died Oct. 19 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds received from encountering hostile enemy forces.
  • Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan, 34, of Anaheim, California, died Oct. 20 in northern Iraq, of wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device blast.