7 Jan 2018

First post! Of 2018.

Lunacy continues in some quarters, in others, it’s just bloody cold. Yes, yes, 3°F is winter-time heatwave/shorts weather… in Fairbanks. Here, it a nuisance. But we’re due for some warming up this week, which I’m looking forward to.

We got a lot done this weekend, including the dismantling and boxing of the holiday paraphernalia. That buys me ten and a half months until I have to pull those out of the garage attic again! I roasted a pound of Kenyan beans from Sweet Marias, after picking up the mess left from a stack of trim falling off the wall in the woodshop:

The stack of wood trim fell off the storage at the top of the wall, leaving a mess of pickup sticks!

Pickup sticks: trim fell

Tonight we went over to Annapolis Shakespeare and enjoyed an evening of instrumental Broadway and jazz, with Marc Irwin (pianist and Musical Director of the Company) and guest Maeve Royce on the bass. Quite wonderful!

Also, I see from Barbara’s updates on Bob’s page that he’s finally due to leave the hospital and get into rehab (and hopefully soon from there to home)! We’re very glad to see Bob making progress!

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin, 34, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who died on Jan. 1 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while on a dismounted patrol.

24 December 2017

Merry Men’s Shopping Day, if you celebrate that… Me? Shopping and wrapping all wrapped up weeks ago.

Today, after the weekly shopping, I spent much of the day cleaning house, as one does on Christmas Eve. That and we had cookies and leftover mac’n’cheese for the celebratory supper. Yes, leftover. We have had lots of foodstuffs arrive here at the hovel as gifts of the season. The selection from my brother and his family included several delicious Spanish cheeses. We enjoyed them here and there on crackers and such, then decided yesterday to make an extravagant mac’n’cheese with them. So:

  • Saute on medium: 1/4# of thick cut applewood-smoked bacon, cut in 1/2″ strips, in a high-sided 12″ pan, with a splash of EVOO. Cook until all the bits are brown.
  • Deglaze the pan with a splash or two of chardonnay  (Glen Ellen, in this circumstance), then add 1 large yellow onion, chopped fine. Cook until translucent, stirring occasionally.
  • Add several tablespoons of additional EVOO and three+ tablespoons of butter, then perhaps 3/4 cup of AP flour. Lower heat and cook the flour down only to light brown. We’re going for getting rid of the flour taste from the roux, not to get additional color.
  • Bring the heat back up to medium high, and add milk (low fat, because that’s what I have). I started with about 3 cups, and stirred constantly until the sauce thickened. I added a bit more milk, and then a bit more, until sauce stayed at a consistency for a medium even coat on the back of a spoon
  • Then add all three of the cheeses, shredded, plus a little Mexican blend, and stirred until sauce was fully incorporated. Sample, then add salt, pepper  to taste. Remove from heat.
  • Cook noodles to al dente (we used elbow macaroni for that classic style), drain (but don’t rinse – leave the starch for the sauce to stick to) and put back into the pot.
  • Add sauce to the noodles. I made enough sauce for twice the amount of noodles, so that’s reserved for another night. Stir gently, and let rest for a few minutes, for the noodles to finish cooking and taking up some flavor from the sauce.
  • Serve and eat. I top with a twist or three of fresh cracked black pepper and a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan.
  • Stop eating before food coma sets in.

Nope, no pictures. It was too tasty to slow down and document at the time.

Enjoy your holidays, best as you can.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Avadon A. Chaves, 20, of Turlock, California, who died on Dec. 20 at Al Asad, Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident.

13 December 2017

Friday the 13th falls on a Wednesday this month. And yes, yes, it isn’t Sunday. Sunday we were out at Annapolis Shakespeare‘s A Broadway Holiday in Annapolis. They gave us holiday and seasonal standards, marvelous singing by the company and friends, including the extraordinary and talented Rachelle Fleming. Simply wonderful. And a late Sunday night out rather gets my week off on the wrong foot – not much energy at all the last couple of evenings. But I’m back … just in time to spend tonight patching systems remotely. Yay?

Bob Thompson is continuing to battle health issues, and we’re pulling for him.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. David Thomas Brabander, 24, of Anchorage, Alaska, who died on Dec. 11 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of a non-combat related incident.

 

3 December 2017

Oh, hey, we put up the festive artificial tree last weekend:

Christmas tree is up - 2017

Christmas tree is up – 2017

Someone said that it had probably been up all year. When I pointed out that Marcia’s hip surgery and recovery therefrom precluded much decoration last year, the reply was that it must have been up for a couple of years then. I then noted two things. First, we picked up this fake tree half-price in the after-season sales in January of this year. Secondly, if I had to have the Christmas stuff up year ’round, I’d go find someone with Ebola to cough on me. Bah Humbug.

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I also recently picked up the model plane project that I started a few years back, but put up in the closet while other tasks took center stage: It’s an F6F3 Hellcat.

F6F-3 Hellcat balsa model

F6F-3 Hellcat balsa model

I’ve been occasionally posting pictures of progress over the last few weeks on the twitters, but I’m close to done now. I’m going to paint it out and display it as is (no tissue skin on it) – I like the architectural feel of it as a skeleton of the plane. Also, I’ve had a cutting mat and a real mess all over my desk for the last few weeks. It’s quite nice to recover all that space.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Cpl. Todd L. McGurn, of Riverside, California, who died on Nov. 25, 2017, in Baghdad, Iraq as a result of a non-combat related incident.

 

 

19 November 2017

Whelp. I see from Barbara’s postings that Bob is being cranky in the ICU, which is a pretty reasonable response, IMO. Pulling for a speedy recovery for him!

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A busy work week, full of tasks, a holiday pot luck luncheon, and a lot of after-hours patching. All-in-all, productive and successful. I’ve also been working on the balsa model  of the F6F-3 Hellcat fighter, you can find pictures of that over on my twitter feed (@bilborg).

On the entertainment front, coming up soon from the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, we have the premiere of a new production of A Christmas Carol, from a story written by some bloke named Dickens. Yep, we’re looking forward to seeing that show, plus more from their continuing cabaret series!

*      *      *

I’d like to report that this Paperclip AI game is indeed addictive, precisely as reported in The Verge. If true, the universe is indeed paperclips, all the way down. And it’ll be our fault.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Hughton O. Brown, 43, of Brooklyn, New York, who died on Nov. 14 in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, as a result of a non-combat related incident.

 

13 November 2017

We’re pulling for Bob Thompson (site), who is having a particularly rough stretch with heart issues. We count on the doctors to find a way to safely treat what’s ailing him.

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Our thanks to each and every veteran who fought to uphold our constitution.

*       *       *

A busy three day weekend is behind us. I got some holiday shopping done, and did some chores around the house, as well as remote work for $FIRM.

We got to spend another lovely Broadway show tunes cabaret evening Sunday night with our friends from Annapolis Shakespeare. We were treated to Marc Irwin, the new Musical Director, on piano backing up Sally, Ian, Olivia, and the guest opera singer: Madeline Miskie. Coming up, they’ve got the premiere of a newly written show from the Dickens novel: A Christmas Carol. We are so looking forward to that!

We’re also trying to plan some sort of travel in celebration of our twentieth anniversary, which is next year. We’ll probably manage a couple of shorter trips throughout the year, instead of one big long one. Meantime, take care of each other out there. It’s a dangerous world.

*       *       *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lee M. Smith, 35, of Arlington, Texas, who died on Nov. ‎11 at Camp Taji, Iraq, due to injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.

Also, our condolences to the Buckley’s, the Weber’s, and the Bevis’s, all of whom have suffered the loss of a loved one in recent days.

6 November 2017

Yup, this should have been yesterday, but I was busy, then I was tired.  I had a good week last week. Productive at work, got most of the important chores done at home, and we went to a wedding on Friday. It was lovely. But there’s not much else to report, and I have more to do this evening. Enjoy yourselves.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. First Class Stephen B. Cribben, 33, of Simi Valley, California, who died on Nov. 4 in Logar Province, Afghanistan as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations.

 

29 October 2017

Boo! Ha Ha Ha!

There. That’s the extent of my seasonal participation in the upcoming Day of the Dead celebration.

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This last week, we went to see POE… And All The Others, put on by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. As with last year’s production, Poe was played with power and sensitivity by Brian Keith MacDonald. This year’s Muse (and all the others) was played by Olivia Ercolano. Olivia’s performance seemed to be informed, nay, infused, with the imperious strength of her Red Queen role from Alice, earlier this year. What a joy! There are still two chances to see this wonderful production – Monday and Wednesday of this week.

*      *      *

Work was work: Mostly devoted to monitoring systems this week. Some chores got done this weekend, but the rain came in today, and I had a lazy, lazy time of it.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Chief Warrant Officer Jacob M. Sims, 36, of Juneau, Alaska, who died Oct. 27 in Logar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained when he was involved in a helicopter crash.

9 October 2017

Good morning. It’s a holiday for $FIRM, in the midst of a five day weekend (for me), so I’ve only been doing email and tickets for an hour or so, and work is done for the day. A busy weekend. First up, Capclave.

Capclave is a small-ish literary SFF convention put on by the Washington Science Fiction Association. It’s been held at the Hilton Gaithersburg for at least the last several years, and I’ve attended several now. It’s simply lovely. Loads of writers, editors, publishers. I’ve been attending intermittently since 2012. It’s good to catch up with some prior acquaintances and friends, and meet new fans and authors, etc. And oh, yes, I have a stack of new (and old) books to read. I managed all of the Friday and Saturday programming, but skipped Sunday because…

Last night, we went to The Great American Songbook, another fun entry in the Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s Concert and Cabaret Series. Sally Boyett and a double handful of talented actors and singers entertained us for a couple of hours, singing mostly love songs from the golden age of American show tunes. Great fun, and nice to see several of the actors from the current production of Much Ado About Nothing in a different context. We’re looking forward to seeing that show one more time before the run ends on October 29th. Get thee to Annapolis Shakespeare – I promise you’ll love it.

Now, I have to clean my office and do some other chores.

*      *      *

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

  • Spc. Alexander W. Missildine, 20, of Tyler, Texas, died Oct. 1 in Salah ad-Din Province, Iraq, as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy.
  • Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington, died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger, as a result of hostile fire while on a reconnaissance patrol.
  • Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio, died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger, as a result of hostile fire while on a reconnaissance patrol.
  • Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia, died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger, as a result of hostile fire while on a reconnaissance patrol.
  • Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger as a result of enemy fire.

17 September 2017

A busy week and weekend. We made it down to Melford Pond for a couple of hours of fishing on Saturday morning. Well, Marcia was fishing (and caught a decent-sized catfish that she put back, might I add!), while I walked the dog around the pond. It was a nice start to the weekend. Chores: Mowing the lawns, changing old, worn-out locksets out for new ones that work properly, etc, etc.

*      *      *

Tech-side, I’ve been playing around with Flask (a Python web framework). Yeah, should I find something more bleeding edge? Probably. Maybe I’ll revisit Node shortly. Or write something slightly useful in Go, to get a feel for that language. Why is there always so much more to learn than I have hours in a year???

*      *      *

Reading! You MUST go buy and read Robin Sloan’s Sourdough (Powell’s link here). Seriously. It can be found at your favorite online bookseller and if you ask, probably at the corner bookstore you hopefully still have near you! (Wish I did.) So, as one of the blurbs says, Sourdough does for food what (Robin’s first novel) Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore did for books. I loved that first novel, and I’ve been waiting with little patience for the second. Sadly, I’m neither a first reader nor an ARC recipient for him (yet). Sourdough is a journey for a programmer, Lois Clary, back from the land of code and Slurry™ to what’s important: Food and relationships.

I’d pre-ordered the book, and it arrived while I was in Maine. Not being an idiot, I didn’t start reading the book until yesterday. I finished late in the evening, having read in stretches between chores, and then because I couldn’t put the book down, all the way to the end. I grew up and worked for years in the stomping grounds of Robin’s characters, which adds to the appeal for me – I recognize places where the names have been changed and the lens covered with petroleum jelly to yield that sexy soft blur. And oh, yeah. I love me some sourdough. That there’s a starter, a culture, a mother prominently featured in the book … nay, a character in the book. Wonderful. Highly Recommended. I’d loan you my copy except that I’m going to be re-reading it sooner than you could get it back to me.

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More reading news: I’m a fan and supporter of Strange Horizons, which is a is a weekly magazine of and about speculative fiction. [They] publish fiction, poetry, reviews, essays, interviews, roundtable discussions, and art. They’re in their annual fund drive at the moment. I’d recommend supporting them through their Patreon page, if you like their sort of thing, and you want more of that. They’ve got a week or two to go, so please go support them!

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, but I’m still missing Jerry.