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!

16 June 2016

Friday last, while at the office, I patched and rebooted the server this site and others runs on. That’s not totally uncommon: unlike most of the servers I manage for work purposes, I had no remote console access to my server. And since $FIRM kindly gives me power and pipe for this place, that’s just fine. Sadly, upon reboot, I waited … and waited, and finally went into the data center and connected the crash cart to the system. Um, kernel panics and NMI (non-maskable interrupts) all over the screen – it appears I had a hardware problem. Finally the system finished booting, and surprisingly it was working. I didn’t, however, expect it to remain in that state for long.

Come Monday, I went shopping in the recycle stack for a slightly newer retired server, finding a freshly-out-of-warranty R710, not much RAM, but two quad-core Xeons. Permission attained, I then racked the box, cabled it, and started thinking hard about how I was going to get everything migrated. I’ve done it before, but configuration from scratch is hard and prone to errors, since I don’t have this one artisanally crafted host under any sort of configuration management. Yes, yes, the cobbler’s child has no shoes, I understand. I have good backups, but I’d still rather not rebuild the whole system from scratch.

And I shouldn’t have to. I’m using FreeBSD 10.x as my server OS, which brings me a couple of strong advantages: good support for server-grade hardware, and ZFS, the best filesystem on the planet. So I spent a little while poking around the Internet, and formulating a plan, which combined elements from these two sites:

http://daemon-notes.com/articles/system/zfs-maintenance/clonezfs, courtesy of ‘ken’, and

https://forums.freebsd.org/threads/49702/, thanks to Farioko and the FreeBSD forums.

The former helped me get the initial copy over to the new system, and the latter provided guidance in properly configuring the second disk to mirror all that stuff over. Grand total of actual time working on the transfer and getting the mirrors setup: About 45 minutes. Then I had a full copy of the old machine’s system running on the new hardware. Finally, I moved the ethernet  cable over, and wiped the old system’s drives clean with DBAN.

*      *      *

Exercise:

Monday – 80 sit-ups, 40 squats, 32 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 7000 strides on the elliptical in 50 minutes.

Tuesday – Off. I pushed really hard Monday.

Wednesday – 100 sit-ups, 50 squats, 40 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6400 strides on the elliptical in 46 minutes.

Thursday – I substituted yard work for exercise this evening, getting the lawn mowed before big rains move in tonight.

Ciao!

12 June 2016

My heart goes out to all affected by the terrorist attack in Orlando.

*      *      *

Four days ago it was 47° F on my drive in, before 7 AM. This morning before 7 AM, it was 30 degrees warmer than that, and consequently a lot warmer today. Still, I got a few chores done. There wasn’t a need to mow this weekend – we’d had no rain in the last week, and so the lawns pretty much stopped growing. I got some weeding done in the garden beds. And today I got the front automated watering setup working, and added the potted roses to the rotation. In summer’s past, I’d count on being able to remember to water the roses manually. That hasn’t worked out too well. I expect the roses to do a lot better this summer, and be in much better shape come Fall.

No veggies out of the garden this weekend but for one small green pepper. I didn’t want a small plant to put energy into growing a single pepper, so I had two halves of a tiny pepper with lunch yesterday. There are tomatoes appearing on those plants, which is a good sign. A few more weeks and we’ll be eating salsa!

*      *      *

Exercise:

Thursday – 80 sit-ups, 40 squats, 28 push-ups, assorted stretches, and 6300 strides on the elliptical in 45 minutes.

Friday – None. Work, followed by an evening out at a birthday party.

Saturday and Sunday – yard work and house chores counted as “walks” for exercise by the FitBit. But no formal exercise.

*      *      *

This week I read Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders. Such a joyously talented writer. I also read last month’s ePub edition of Strange Horizons, an online SFF venue that I support. Again, great stuff. Online, there’s fiction every week, reviews, poetry, and other features. Highly recommended. I’m currently reading this month’s ;Login: magazine from USENIX, and also this month’s Clarkesworld, which I subscribe to via Kindle. For winding down at bedtime reading, I’ve got a couple of Pratchett’s Discworld paperbacks at the bedside.

Also, recently, I finally finished reading In the Shadow of the Master, a collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s work, interspersed with essays from some of the best mystery and horror writers of the last few decades. This reading was inspired by our attendance last year production of Poe, an original play staged by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. For some reason, Poe’s works eluded me throughout most of my education, probably because I was taking some specialty English courses at the same time as the sophomores and juniors in my high school were reading Poe. So, while I appreciated the play, I didn’t have much of a grounding in his works or his life. I know a lot more now, and am eager to attend this year’s production, with a fresh script!

*      *      *

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