13 January 2018

Snow Day

Yup, our first major winter storm arrived yesterday late afternoon. We’ve so far got over 10″ here in my back yard. I shoveled the driveway and sidewalks just after 4 PM, when a mere 6.5 inches had fallen. By the time was done, I went back over the whole thing to quickly remove the next inch of snow that had fallen while I was shoveling. Yay?

It's still snowing, and there's about 2.5 inches since I shoveled last at about 7.5 inches. So that puts us at 10" of snow in this storm. Wow!
Still snowing…

Oh, yeah. The snow was supposed to be done by now … but it’s still falling. That explains the schools pre-announcing tomorrow’s closure. The Feds? Who knows, all of the OPM people who communicate such things appear to be furloughed, so it’s down to the individual agencies.

Aside from shoveling snow, I got some remote work done today, supporting a database migration/upgrade. I also roasted a pound of green coffee from Guatemala, via Sweet Maria’s.

Entertaining

We’ve been watching Black Adder and a show about the Le Mans car race on the streaming services, waiting for the boys to show up in this year’s edition of The Grand Tour. I’m reading Fran Wilde’s Horizon, Kari Byron’s Crash Test Girl, and a bit of light interstitial reading courtesy of one of Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld books.

Winding down

Lots to do this week upcoming, but some of that depends on timing of storms, road conditions, etc. I’ve got to get Marcia’s car in for the emissions check, for one thing.

DoD reported no casualties in the last week.

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.

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.

17 September 2018

It was a busy week. As I tell Marcia every evening … I worked on computers. It was an even busier weekend. I mowed. And mowed. And mowed. The front yard still needed a double cut, just to catch up from the two weekends away while we were in Maine. The back yard … Shudder. Well, it’s much, much flatter now, but the yard looks like it’s been shaved by a great grandfather with the shakes! Between rain and travel, I’d not mowed for six weeks. Yikes!

Other accomplishments over the weekend included working on the donor plaques on the chairs in the theater. I’d originally affixed them using the small brass screws provided, late last year (?). But it turns out that small straight blade brass screws mar easily, and they can catch on clothing and cause issues. So I backed out every one of the screws, re-drilled all of the pilot holes out to 5/64″ diameter by 5/8″ deep, and used some decorative brass plated #13 twist nails to replace those screws. They look great, and they’ll be much kinder to skin and clothing.

Last night was the first Cabaret night of the new season at Annapolis Shakespeare Company. This one was from the Roaring 20’s … you can already see where the Cabaret theme is going to lead, next month we’ll be in the 1930’s. Great fun with Muscial Director Marc Irwin on the ivories, and regulars Sally Boyett, Joe Rossi, Christine Asero joined by new (to me) vocal talent Annie Gill. Wonderful songs from No No Nanette, Lady Be Good, and Showboat, as well as some popular tunes of that era. Staged as a radio show replete with advertisements for Ivory Soap and humor courtesy of  George Burns and Gracie Allen. Wonderful evening! That was true even though when Christine noted that I’d caught a lot of sun while on our trip to Maine, I replied with, “Might as well catch some sun, Marcia was catching all the fish!” Christine laughed and laughed. Harumph.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last few days.

 

26 August 2018

Well. By this time next week, we’ll be two thirds of the way through the year. Whew! While it’s been a relatively cool summer for us, there have been plenty of storms with lots of flash and bang. Not really Lexi’s favorite. Last weekend, she came down to the basement and barked at me until I let her sit in my lap while the storm boomed outside and the coffee was roasting inside:

Lexi: The thunder always wins, so she sits in my lap and shivers..

Lexi: The thunder always wins…

Speaking of Lexi, she’s got a couple of growths on her gums. We spotted one of them while prying her mouth open to put in a few drops of mutt anti-anxiety meds, a week back. The vet isn’t worried about malignancy, but she wants them excised, so Lexi gets to visit anesthesia land next month, and is going to have her teeth cleaned in the bargain. Note: I don’t think Lexi is going to regard this as a bargain in any sense of the word.

*      *      *

The commutes around here are always … I’l be honest, I’ve got a great commute: 22 minutes when it’s great, and a bit over 30 when I miss a couple of lights. But even with my lovely, mostly back road drive, there are a couple of choke points, and choke points are known for bringing out the special drivers:

 

Special driver, wrong side, on-coming traffic. 'nuff said.

Special driver, wrong side…

*      *      *

Yesterday, I spent the day painting at the Annapolis Shakespeare theatre, helping to make the public spaces prettier. It’s mostly down to trim now, with a couple of walls needing a second coat of the field color.  I brought the box office window doors home to trim them down a bit – they were perfectly sized for their openings … before paint was applied to all the surfaces. This morning, after early remote work at the office and shopping, I went back to the theater, installed the box window doors, sanded and painted out a couple of ventilation grates, and prepared for some future work. Then back home to do more remote work, roast coffee, walk the dog, etc. A productive weekend, IMO.

Theatre note: there are 5 more weeks of The Miser playing Tuesdays at Reynold’s Tavern, and Comedy of Errors previews starting on September 28, and officially opens with the third production the following night. It’s set in 1890’s steam punk London. So, so looking forward to this.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Taylor J. Galvin, 34, from Spokane, Washington, who died on Aug. 20, 2018, in Baghdad, Iraq, as a result of injuries sustained when his helicopter crashed in Sinjar, Ninevah Province, Iraq.

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…