10 Oct 2016

A day late, but a full weekend nearly behind me, so that’s a good thing. Not much on the exercise front last week though, sad to report.

I had a wonderful time at Capclave this year. Y’all may recall that I missed last year entirely due to food poisoning. This year I met new authors, discovered new works, and really enjoyed myself. The Guests of Honor were Sara Beth Durst and Tim Powers – talented writers both, expressive about their craft and the passion they have for their books. Lovely, lovely weekend. And as we were asked in at least one panel, “If you’re not writers, why are you here?” I find it fascinating to see how this particular sausage is made. So there you go.

And for the icing on the event-filled weekend’s metaphorical cake, my brother and his wife were in town for the Annapolis Boat Show (Sail), so we got to see them for a while and go out to supper. Excellent!

Books I picked up this weekend: Cherie Priest’s The Family Plot, Unidentified Funny Objects 4 and 5, edited by Alex Shvartsman, Find the Changeling by Greg Benford and Gordon Eklund, Tales of Time and Space by Allen Steele, A Legacy of Stars by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, and the first bits of Backstage by Joan Wendland. I’ve already started reading The Family Plot (I’ve been waiting for this one).

Coming up on the entertainment dance card: We’re seeing Poe and Twelfth Night this month at Annapolis Shakespeare. They’re running the latter play from this upcoming weekend through mid-November, and Poe is playing from tomorrow through late November. If you’re in area, or going to be visiting, this company is superb: you should get tickets and enjoy one play or many! For us, we’re seeing the shows back-to-back before Marcia’s hip replacement surgery late this month. That gives her several weeks of recovery time before we’ll be attending It’s a Wonderful Life in December.

Today is a Federal holiday, so I’m off work. That means that I slept in a bit, relaxed this morning, and now it’s time to plow through the email and tickets so that my workday tomorrow isn’t ruined. I’d best get to that, in just a moment…

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Adam S. Thomas, 31, of Takoma Park, Maryland, who died on Oct. 4 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device that exploded during dismounted operations.

 

04 September 2016

Happy Birthday, Pete!

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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.

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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.

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

26 June 2016

A week off, and away … in Maine, visiting with Marcia’s sister.

We brought Lexi with us, and actually took her out on the boat on Sunday. She and I were out on the front deck of the pontoon boat (aka “party barge”) when she decided something in the water looked interesting and leapt into the water, while the boat was underway. Good thing I had her leash on – she would have been canine frappé before Nancy cut the prop power, otherwise. I leaned forward to find the little dog swimming forward for all she was worth, trying to keep up with being dragged through the water by the leash. But other than that excitement, she was a good girl, and seemed to enjoy the trip.

For us, we were fishing.

Marcia caught fish

Marcia caught fish –  a large mouth bass

Brian caught fish

Brian caught fish – a northern pike

We fished every day, and overall catch was about a dozen fish, about half of that northern pike (which were fun fish to fight!). But they all went back to the lake. It was a pretty lake.

Lake beautiful by night

Lake beautiful by night

and lake beautiful by day

and lake beautiful by day

And today, after shopping and washing all the bugs and dust off of the Volvo, it was time to visit the garden, which has been doing well since we left it on the 18th:

Zucchini and cucumber

Zucchini and cucumber

Oh, and no exercise to speak of: Vacation, yo.

Now to deal with several hundred accumulated emails..

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew J. Clement, 38, of Peabody, Massachusetts, who died on June 21 of a non-combat related injury, while deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

Vacation Over

So… the big deal is that we were in California for purposes of vacation and only vacation – 15 days worth. We visited family in the SF Bay Area, in San Diego, and near Sacramento. We visited friends in Saratoga (SF South Bay) and Dillon Beach (North coastal Marin). What a wonderful, wonderful trip. Oh, oh – AND I got to make it to Maker Faire Bay Area 10th Anniversary. That was fun and awesome, too. I could give you the full rundown on the trip, but it’s a lot like inviting you over and showing you slides, so I won’t. But it was a pleasant trip, and great to see everyone on one fell swoop. Here’s one glimpse of beauty – fog rolling east in the early morning, over the Berkeley hills:

Fog over the Berkeley hills

Fog over the Berkeley hills

We got home in time for two things:

One – The seventeenth anniversary of our wedding. That was yesterday. Seventeen years and I’m still giddy in love. Joy.

Two – A desire to have applied a fast-acting popular herbicide to my entire yard before departure. Yeah, I’ve been doing yardwork for three straight days. Mowing, weeding, pruning, weeding, etc. Both flower beds and garden beds. All my relaxation up in a puff of 90 degree days and high humidity, doing yardwork. Any weight I gained on travel is long gone.

The veggie garden is doing nicely, though:

Bilbrey Veggie Garden - 31 May 2015

Veggie Garden – 31 May 2015

That garden picture from “two weeks ago”? Yeah, that was a three-week old picture. I don’t like talking about travel until it’s done. I don’t do foursquare, either.

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On the subject of Science Fiction, I’ve managed now to get my Site Selection Voting Fee paid, and I’ve got my envelope set to mail in – Go DC17! See http://dc17.org/ and http://sasquan.org/site-selection/ for details. Paying and voting also gives you a supporting membership in the 2017 WorldCon, which, should it be in DC (Go DC17!), you could convert to an attending membership with the addition of more funds, and join in all the fun. It’d be a blast, and if it comes to DC (Go DC17!), I’ll be there, too! The least of attractions, surely, but I’d enjoy meeting any of y’all there.

Further, I’ve gotten the Hugo Nomination packet, and am working my way through the nominees. It’ll take me a while to read and vote. If I could trivially do so, I’d try to manage a blind reading and rating (no names attached), then vote the way my heart desires. But some things can’t be unseen, sadly. I’ll do my best to vote the work and not the personalities and politics. That’s what the Hugos are for.

Other factors can’t be ignored, either. For example, ESR is up for the Campbell this year (Note – the Campbell Award is NOT a Hugo). As Eric notes in his post Me for a Campbell Award? Huh? : “I’d probably say something encouraging about it being a solid, craftsmanlike first effort that delivers what its opening promises and suggests the author might be able to deliver quality work in the future.” I can but agree with that. Eric Raymond is one of my role models in a number of ways. But I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction over the last few decades, and much as I approve of Eric breaking into this field of endeavor, he’s not leader of this pack. OTOH, he’s not going to succumb to the politically popular “No Award” either, at least from me. On the gripping hand, I’m glad I read his story, and I’m looking forward to his future efforts.

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No new casualties have been announced by DoD in the last five days. Ciao!

Wotcher, World

Well, I *intended* to put up at least a brief post last night, but the world conspired against me. Or Jack Frost did. Hard to tell, really.

Marcia is doing well. Her surgery last Monday went off without a hitch, and she’s plowing through her Physical Therapy goals without hardly blinking an eye. Of course, when she plows through those goals, she reaches points of real pain pretty quickly. That’s what the pain meds are for – to control things while she does the necessary work.

Speaking of work, other than a couple of hours worth of email, I haven’t done any remunerative work to speak of since the second day of this year. So this morning I was up at my usual time, got Marcia rolling, then settled and fed, and started working (from home) myself. This is now possible because our routine is stable enough, and Marcia’s recovered enough, that I can get an hour or more of continuous time in. There’s not much point if I can’t get at least a clear half hour, since the productivity ramp-up from interruptions is a killer.

More when there’s more to tell.

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DoD reported no new casualties in the last week. Militant Islam continues to be a global problem, though.

Travels done

And we’re back!

Nine days in California and in the air are done: We flew out to SFO on the 22nd, and flew back through DFW on the 30th. We visited with my folks for about three days, then headed over to SF and stayed there while I attended VMworld 2013. I attended three general sessions and 19 technical sessions in four and one-half days … my brain nearly exploded. I watched countless demos, met many wonderful and smart people, and acquired enough t-shirts to last me until the next millennium. The weather was lovely, and Marcia split her time between the City and learning some design software.

While in the air, I was reading a couple of Liaden Universe novels by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Agent of Change and Fledgling are both available for free at both the Baen Free Library and on Kindle for the time being. You can consider those to works to be a gateway drug, since the writing is wonderful. You’ll spend some more of your time and money on their books, because you should. Learn more at http://korval.com/.

I’m not sure, but I’d guess that the authors get more of your money if you purchase through Baen … you can always ask them. It’s certainly worth encouraging the Baen Free Library when you buy from Baen, too.

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

  • 1st Lt. Jason Togi, 24, of Pago Pago, American Samoa, died Aug. 26, in Hasan Karez, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Ricardo D. Young, 34, of Rosston, Arkansas, died Aug. 28, in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.
  • Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis, 24, of Staten Island, New York, died Aug. 28, in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device, small arms and indirect fire.
  • Staff Sgt. Joshua J. Bowden, 28, of Villa Rica, Georgia, died Aug. 31, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire while on dismounted patrol.

1400 miles later …

Saturday last we departed for the big vacation of the summer, and spent a week in Saugatuck, Michigan, with family from Marcia’s side of the tree. Good times, picnic with grand-nieces and -nephews, etc. Oh, yeah, and three days of fishing. We did some shore fishing on Kalamazoo Lake, and managed a couple of dozen fish between us – all catch and release. Here’s one of the carp that Marcia reeled in:

Marcia's carp

Marcia’s carp

The drive was 700 miles each way, taking about 10 hours and change on each of the Saturdays. Overall, we got 34.8 MPG out of the 328i for this trip, which isn’t too shabby.

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Back due to popular request, the back yard rain gauge stands at 37.50″ fallen since just before Sandy came ashore last fall.

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Our condolences to the family, friends, and unit of Specialist Welch:

  • Spc. Nickolas S. Welch, 26, of Mill City, Oregon, died Aug. 6, in Bethesda, Md., of injuries sustained July 23, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Soltan Kheyl, Wardak Province, Afghanistan.

Counting down…

Twelve weeks of instruction left to my collegiate days. Sunday evening was full of final composition and review for a couple of things due … and I flat forgot my duty. But here I am!

Before I proceed, however, I’d like to point you in the direction of Marcia’s new (old) site: Marcia’s Makings. She’s been making lots of wonderful things, and just knows that you need to buy them for holiday gifts, or to keep yourself warm as Fall arrives… So visit

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

  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jose L. Montenegro Jr., 31, of Houston, Texas, died Sept. 5, in Logar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when his aircraft crashed.
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thalia S. Ramirez, 28, of San Antonio, Texas, died Sept. 5, in Logar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when his aircraft crashed.
  • Sgt. Kyle B. Osborn, 26, of Lafayette, Indiana, died Sept. 13 in Muqer, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire.
  • Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible, 40, of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, died Sept. 15, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, 27, of Kokomo, Indiana, died Sept. 15, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Happy Thanksgiving

For those that celebrated the holiday, or for those that just like to give thanks, and belatedly, Happy Thanksgiving!

We had a quiet week at home. We were both off work for the whole week. I gave a fair bit of time to school work, and a few hours to Skyrim. Marcia quilted and ripped and quilted. We did a big bird for the day itself: 23 pounds. We’ve now got a pot full of yummy turkey soup, a week’s worth of turkey tetrazzini, and more meat left. So, a good week overall. We hope that everyone else enjoyed theirs, as well.

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We’re also thankful for the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make on our behalf. Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Corral, 19, of Danville, California, died Nov. 18 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Pvt. Jackie L. Diener II, 20, of Boyne City, Michigan, died Nov. 21 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.
  • Cpl. Zachary C. Reiff, 22, of Preston, Iowa, died Nov. 21 of wounds suffered Nov. 18 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Triskaidekaphobia

Not really. But it is our thirteenth wedding anniversary. Marcia and I were married in Sunnyvale back in ’98, and we’re pleased to have surprised almost everyone with the longevity of our second date, errr, marriage. My present to her this year was to wake her up and tell her that she could go ahead and get the Handi Quilter HQ24 Fusion system with something called ProStitcher (which means that Marcia hands the computer a design, the computer stitches the quilt). It doesn’t even sparkle and I got her to cry. Yeah, it’s a few years earlier than we originally planned, but with her car paid off, we can afford  to do this now, so that she can start getting the experience with this that she needs to make money with it down the road. Me, I got a quilt – a wall hanging that Marcia made for me. Turns out my gift to her is super-appropriate for the occasion: the thirteenth anniversary is traditionally to be celebrated with Lace, Textiles, or Furs. Well, she can work on that middle thing with my gift, so I’m in the groove. And I guess I’m glad she didn’t get me something made of lace … I might be required to wear it.