4 March 2018

A fairly calm work-week, until the big winds came. We didn’t lose power at the office, nor at home. But plenty of blinking lights and brown-outs, at both locations. ‘Round about 1 PM, Marcia called and said there were bits blowing off the house, and … problems with the fence. There was plenty of coverage at the office, so I came home. The house issue was limited to some segments of the aluminum soffit under the second story eaves in front. The fence issues, however… On the southeast perimeter, some fencing had come loose from one post, and another post is failing. I’ve got that braced pending further work, later in the spring. The northwest segment of fence saw a more dramatic failure:

Fence failed during windstorm - a post snapped off, and one 8' section blown about 35 feet into the yard.

Fence failed during windstorm

There, the fence failed during windstorm – a post snapped off, and one 8′ section blown about 35 feet into the yard. Not much I could do about that until the winds died down. Saturday, we were already committed to helping out with spring cleaning and reorganization down at the theatre. That left today for repairs.

This morning, after shopping, I headed down to the Home Depot to get what I needed: a couple of bags of concrete and six eight-foot long 2×4 pressure treated. I had a spare post, and just enough fence uprights left over from the big fence project of a couple of years back. Once home, I geared up and started by cutting the two old fence sections in half, for later ease of handling. Then I started working with the shovel, pick axe, and trowel, clearing enough of the minimal concrete and mucky clay from around the stump of the old post, that I might extract said stump. All in on that part of the work – just over an hour. Using my post hold digger, I got down to about 36″ of clear hole, and prepared for the new post. Marcia came out and held it while I trued up the post using a small level and string line. Then I braced the post, and got ready to fill with concrete and backfill from the hole digging process.

New fence post in hole, ready for concrete.

Post in hole, ready for concrete.

Once I’d set the post, I left it to set up for a bit, and got the ladder out to go deal with the soffit issue. The soffit panels were interesting in their storm dispersal. Four of them had blown into the yard of the house just south of us, were collected by that neighbor and saved for us. The fifth segment had executed a Mary Poppins maneuver: Across the street and about 4 houses up – three to four hundred feet away. I spotted it by accident while walking the dog on Saturday. But all in, an easy fix. It was trivial for me to reach the place where the panels needed to be, while standing on the front porch roof. 45 minute put that chore to bed, and I was back at the fence work.

Using a string and measuring tape, I set the top, middle, and bottom rails for the two new 8′ sections of fence. They’re well secured with angle brackets and 3″ coated screws. Then I started setting up for nailing up the fencing proper. By 3:50 PM, I was attaching the first board. By 4:45, the work was done, except for the cleanup.

New fence sections done

New fence sections done

A pneumatic nail gun loaded with 1-3/4″ galvanized 18 gauge stock makes quick work of the job. A couple of pieces needed trimming at the end of each section. All-in-all, a good day’s work. Exhausting, but good.

*       *       *

On the exercise front, I had a good, good February. I met all the goals for exercise, workouts, and active calorie burn, every day of the month. Hard to do, but making progress feels good.

*       *       *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

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.

16 Jan 2017

Martin Luther King, Jr. Today we have a national holiday to celebrate his birth, and to remember his words and his deeds on behalf of Civil Rights for African Americans.  Today, even with the advent of Trump, the US is a better place than it was in King’s time. This should not be taken to mean that there isn’t far more work to do. Continued racial and religious profiling by law enforcement, and well-documented police brutality that is far more often inflicted on people of color are just the visible tip of the social/cultural iceberg that is inequality in the U.S. today.

How we treat our neighbors first is the most important step we can make in the right direction. I’m very happy that we have a wide diversity of neighbors. I think it makes the neighborhood stronger, and teaches the children of our neighbors that everyone can live together. This is true even though there are people who are unhappy with a well-integrated neighborhood. That’s okay. They’ll live with it, and learn, or they’ll leave. Their loss.

Today, also, we remember that Dr. King was assassinated for his beliefs, and for his work, his speeches, his marches, his arrests in the cause of Civil Rights in America. I will remember that his death does not mark the end of his work. It is up to us to continue it, as best we can, each in our own way.

*      *      *

I had another good week of exercise last week, and I’m currently down 5# since the first of the year. I’m gunning for five to six days a week of explicit exercise, and planning to continue that regime. I’m back up over 40 minutes per session on the elliptical machine, and approaching my “good” pace: 2000 strides / 15 minutes. I also value what the Marines have to say on the topic: Pain is weakness leaving the body.

*      *      *

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

  • Spc. Isiah L. Booker, of Cibolo, Texas, died Jan. 7, in Jordan, in a non-combat related incident.
  • Spc. John P. Rodriguez, of Hemet, Calif., died Jan.12, in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in a non-combat related incident.

8 Jan 2017

One down, 51 to go.

A good week for exercise – I managed five days of workouts in the last seven. Today was good: 60/40/22/41(5200/635).

Work was productive and fun, and I got caught up on some technical reading. Oh, yeah. Snow. Predicted: 2-4 over Friday/Saturday. Actual: a little under 3/4″. Ah, well.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!

1 Jan 2017

Happy New Year. Observe that I am expressing a hope, rather than a prediction. The good thing about expecting a depressingly awful sequel to last year’s trash fire is that, while it CAN be worse than I imagine, it MIGHT also be better than I expect. Pleasant surprises may ensue.

Things that continue to be true:

  1. I’m  thrilled to continue walking through life with my lovely bride. This will always be number one for me.
  2. I’m bloody lucky to live in a time and place where, today, I know where food, shelter, and toilet paper are coming from. Many folks don’t, and I’ll look to make a difference there, this year.

That’s enough of a list for me. The more I take on, the less I may accomplish. So, today was good. And this wasn’t on that list, but it’s a (re-)start: 6/11/4270(35m/604c).

The BEST list I saw today is this one: Elizabeth (@twoscooters) Sampat’s 100 tweet list here. Note that you’ll have to click Show More a few times in the web UI to see the whole thing. It’s worth it.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. I’m glad of that. Ciao!



2 October 2016

A good week: At work, I got several long-term tasks completed. Things went well enough that I took Friday off. To celebrate that banner event, I spent the morning cleaning the main floor of the house, then went out to lunch with a friend from NFR days. It was great to see Sharon, and we had a nice chat while enjoying an excellent meal at Woodmont Grill. From there, she went back to her office, and I headed up the road to the Apple Store in Columbia. I now have a new small tablet, and it’s ALSO a phone! The 7+ is working well for me so far, and given my common use cases, the larger screen is better.

I got some further household chores done over the weekend, including replacing the screening on a few windows. In my spare time, I’m mucking about with node.js. It’s pretty cool, and seems like a reasonable tool for rapidly building small web applications, of which I have a few in mind. Also, Fitbit says I got five days of exercise in. I say that I got three. Oh, well. An exciting life, I know!

Fun stuff coming up this month, though, so stay tuned…

Recent Listening: Dresden Dolls Live from Coney Island and lots of Pink Floyd from my collection

Recent Reading: Iain M. Banks: Consider Phlebas, Smithsonian magazine, assorted ACM and IEEE publications.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao.

04 September 2016

Happy Birthday, Pete!

*      *      *

It’s been a fun week. It was a three day work week for me – I took off Thursday and Friday to burn some hours and make a five day weekend happen. I got some chores done. We went fishing (and Marcia caught a small-ish big mouth bass that we gave back to the lake):

Marcia caught a bass

Marcia caught a bass

And on a long walk around the neighborhood, Lexi was perplexed:

Two turtles fornicating

Two turtles fornicating

The Fitbit says I did five days of exercise, although I only did three dedicated exercise days, truth be told. But the work counts. Sadly, so do the muffins I bought during the shopping run today. I’ll have to work those off this week.

*      *      *

I didn’t make DragonCon this year. Okay, I’ve never made DragonCon, and my luck I probably won’t. But that’s okay. People I know and know of had a good time, and that’s a good thing.

I also finished my re-read of Anne Leckie’s Imperial Radch series: Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and Ancillary Mercy. I read these books as they came out, and it was good to read them again, binge-ish. Such good writing, compelling characters, and wonderful plotting. They continue to be Highly Recommended.

In my queue right now: The August eBook from Strange Horizons, the September issue of Clarkesworld, and Stephenson’s The Diamond Age is my bedside reader at the moment. I go to reading on dead trees when I wind down at night before sleep.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Grateful. Ciao!

28 Aug 2016

Well, another busy week gone.

Sadly, I’m a cranky bastard today because they had a late-night party at the pool last night that ran until midnight (a bit later, actually) with loud music. It was a neighborhood-approved event, so I didn’t set the cops on them, but I’ll bitch about it to the management and the board. If they can’t control the volume, I don’t want my HOA fees going to that sort of event. The restless first part of the night leaves me feeling altogether unrested. Sigh. The good news is that next weekend is the last weekend for the pool season. Yay!

Exercise for the week was acceptable – 5 days with more than 10K steps, 4 days with significant exercise including the normal stretching and calisthenics followed by 35-45 minutes on the elliptical. So I’ve got that going for me. It’s still quite warm and humid in these parts. I’m hoping that fades out over the next week. Where I exercise, in the top floor, has been pretty warm. It’s a good workout, but too draining.

On the computing side of the ledger, I spent part of the weekend (for work) migrating a legacy system to a virtual environment, and patching another one. On the home front, I’ve got a test system with FreeBSD 11 RC2 installed and I’m doing some ports builds to exercise the OS. Since I use FreeBSD for both home and website, it seems fair that I not only kick the Project a few bucks a year (I do), but also test the latest and provide feedback as necessary, as a service to the OS and dev team that serves me well.

I harvested half a basket of assorted bell peppers out of the garden today.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson, 28, of Irvine, California, who died on Aug. 23 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, of injuries caused by an improvised explosive device that detonated near his patrol while conducting dismounted operations.

17 July 2016

A long week, and not much in the way of exercise, either. I only got one proper day of exercise in, on Tuesday. The rest of the days were too busy, too hot, or both. But there was some good news:

First 2016 salsa

First 2016 salsa

Yup, first salsa! Huzzah! Still no jalapeños, so here’s the ingredients:

  • 2/3 of a bowl (that bowl, pre-chopping) of roma and sweet cherry tomatoes, chopped fine.
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced.
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced.
  • 1 immature red habañero.
  • 3 immature serrano peppers (to taste, natch).
  • cilantro to taste (a couple of tablespoons is my sweet spot).
  • 1 teaspoon cumin.
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes.
  • A couple of grinds of sea salt.
  • A few grinds of black pepper.
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.

That made a mighty fine salsa!

*       *       *

Of note, I went to a CALUG meeting on Wednesday, where Berend Tober spoke on his PostgreSQL-based trading game, Fairwinds. Interesting stuff, because I know less about PostgreSQL than several of the other database systems extant. Now I know a tiny bit more, thanks to Mr. Tober.

Friday I took the day off work, so that I could do chores, wash the car, etc.

Today I spent mostly doing remote work, with a long break in the middle. New production deployments require non-business hour work – that’s how the game is played, and it’s a joy to finally get some of these systems into production after long preparation and testing.

*       *       *

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

10 July 2016

Let’s work the week backwards, just for fun.

Today was all about the mowing. The weather was not as hot as most of the week, so I had that going for me. But it was still a miserable sweatball of a day. But the lawns have been sheared, and I did some weeding as well. Bell peppers out of the garden today, a few tomatoes, and a couple of cucumbers. Here’s how the garden looks as of today:

Bilbrey garden - July 10, 2016

Bilbrey garden – July 10, 2016

*      *      *

Last night, we went up to Annapolis to see ASC‘s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented outdoors in the gardens of the Charles Carroll House. It was a wonderful production, and cool enough by the harbor to be tolerable, even for July weather. This company continues to impress me. If you’re in the DC area, look into going to some Annapolis Shakespeare Company productions, and supporting them if you can, as well.

*      *      *

The four day work week was busy and productive. On the exercise front, I’m moving back into the groove.

(Legend: Sit  ups / Squats / Push ups :: Elliptical steps / in Minutes)

Monday:  Holiday – just over 7k steps logged on the Fitbit.

Tuesday:  40 / 20 / 21 :: 5350 / 39 – 18k+ steps logged.

Wednesday:  60 / 30 / 27 :: 7400 / 54 – 17k+ steps logged.

Thursday:  80 / 40 / 32 :: 5350 / 38 – 15k+steps logged.

Friday:  Recovery, nearly 11k steps logged.

Saturday:  No specific exercise, but 15k+ steps logged.

Sunday: No specific exercise, but yardwork, leading to 15k+ steps logged.

Last week’s total steps logged (Sunday through Saturday): 97,000.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Ciao!