25 Sept 2016

By the calendar, it’s Fall. By my reckoning, we’re really close. I count “Fall” as the first morning below 50° F. Close, today, at 52°. A busy work week, productive but long after several “short” weeks under my belt. I also went to the office yesterday to do some work that required off-business hours AND onsite for “just in case the SAN firmware update fails.” All went smoothly this time, thank FSM.

The big events of the weekend were yard work ones. I used the hedge trimmers and the electric chainsaw to clear out the front garden beds and rid us of an elderly and crufty forsythia. I’m going to have to find something else to plant in that corner, but not immediately. Then I used a hoe and finished cleaning up the beds, a de-thatching rake to clean up some of the weedier areas of lawn (more to be done there) and got everything necessary out to the curb for tomorrow’s green waste pickup.

Tonight: ibuprofin.

This evening I composed a dish of red potatoes, mild Italian sausage, a yellow onion, some garlic (to taste, and I like a lot), several green bell and hot peppers (from the garden), and green beans. While the four pounds of potatoes boiled, I browned the 2 pounds of sausage in a sauce pan. Once the potatoes and the meat was drained and combined, I deglazed the sauce pan with a splash of chardonnay, then dropped in the  onion, garlic, and peppers. After a couple of minutes, I added the 2 pounds of frozen green beans and let everything veggie steam for a couple of minutes. All that went in on top of the sausage and potatoes, along with a liberal helping of additional dried red pepper flakes. Fold to combine, and enjoy! The pot contained enough to feed a small army, or me for most of the upcoming week.

This Tuesday is your last chance to see The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), staged by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company at the Reynolds Tavern courtyard. Just sayin’ …

Current (re)reading: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Tenth Anniversary Edition

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) Airman Devon M. Faulkner, 24, of North Carolina, who died on Sept. 20 of a non-combat-related injury while underway.

12 Sept 2016

Welcome back, us. We hared off to Atlanta for the weekend to visit our friends Jen and Kris. We’ve not visited since their wedding, four or so years back, so this was lovely! We drove down on Friday (12 hours door to door). Saturday we went to the Chihuly in the Garden exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.

Chihuly in the Japanese Garden

Chihuly in the Japanese Garden

The installation in the Japanese Garden was my personal favorite. I’ve always had a soft spot for the suprises to be found in meticulously kept tiny gardens. Sunday we wandered around quaint downtown Roswell. There was shopping for some, and dogs to meet, and snacks to be had. That evening we watched Young Frankenstein, and bid Gene Wilder farewell.

This morning we were up well before dawn, and on the road by quarter to six.  Picked up the dog and home before six this evening. So, tired, but fun! Tomorrow, back to work.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of 1st Lt. Jeffrey D. Cooper, 25, of Mill Creek, Washington, who died on Sept. 10 in Kuwait, from a non-combat-related injury. Also not forgotten, our continued condolences to the families and friends of those who died fifteen years ago yesterday in New York City.

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!

3 July 2016

Nearly happy Fourth of July, USAn’s!

*      *      *

In the garden this week, I pulled out some zucchini and broccoli on Tuesday. Yesterday, I hauled out half-a-dozen large zucchini, and weeded out the pepper bed. During that latter exercise, I made a horrifying discovery: I managed to plant a box full of pepper plants, and not a single Jalapeño among them. (I rectified that today.) Also today, I harvested another couple of zucchini before they got gargantuan, and ditto for a pair of cucumbers. And joy: The first tomato of the season.

2016 garden - first tomato

2016 garden – first tomato!

Being a reasonably nice guy, I gave the first tomato to my lovely bride.

Also yesterday, I got the lawns all caught up with the mowing, front and back. There are plenty more chores to go, but a nicely manicured lawn makes all the difference to the look of the yard.

Today, after the shopping, I went down to the woodshop and finished up the project for my dad with a couple of coats of polyurethane. That’ll get packed up tomorrow, so that Marcia can ship it in the week coming up. Then the shop needs a cleanup, along with the rest of the house.

*      *      *

Exercise – I managed to get the Fitbit to recognize two days of exercise this week, including yesterday’s stellar 25,000 step day, but I did no dedicated exercise during the week. Getting back into routine after vacation is challenging, and work/chores come first.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. 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!

29 May 2016

Exercise this weekend was due entirely to yard work. The Fitbit reports that I managed nearly 32,000 steps in the two days, and based on activity, gave me nearly an hour of heart rate + activity actual exercise time each day. So that counts.

The garden itself has really appreciated a week of sun and warmer temperatures. I lost a couple of squashes and all of the cantaloupe to the month of rain and lower-than-normal temperatures. The cantaloupe I replaced today, but here’s a snap from yesterday afternoon:

Garden : Late May 2016

Garden : Late May 2016

The tomatoes have gained a lot of ground in the last week and the broccoli look great. But the best that can be said for the peppers and the remaining squash and cucumber plants is this: Not Dead Yet.

Today, the morning was nice (hot, actually): we got the shopping done, then I pruned ivy along the fence line and got that staged for green pickup next week. Then I went to the nursery, picked up some replacement plants, got those installed, and weeded in the garden for an hour or so. Just in time for more rain, yay? We got half an inch or so today, and more expected over the next two days. So much for holiday Monday, eh?

We’ll celebrate anyway, both in remembrance of those who died in service to our country, and to enjoy our 18th wedding anniversary! Huzzah! Oh, yeah, I also picked up some lovely red roses for my bride and gave them to her today.

Reading this week: I enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. You will, too. Highly Recommended.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Gunner’s Mate Seaman Connor Alan McQuagge, 19, of Utah, who died on May 26 of a non-combat related injury while underway in the Red Sea.

15 May 2016

According to the record books, this last stretch of rainy days ended at 15. But that was measured at a local airport. MY backyard meter got measurable rain on 18 consecutive days, with today being the first rain-free day. Yowza! And let me tell you how unhappy my plants are! They’re not as unhappy as they might have been with a late hard frost, but too much water stunts and kills. The tomatoes haven’t grown, and continuous moisture encourages early rust, which would be … bad. The cantelope seedlings are dead. The happiest looking plants in my backyard (aside from the lawn, which is very happy indeed) are the broccoli. We’ll see how that plays out over the next few weeks.

*      *      *

Huh. Video games leaking out into real life, much? I snapped this shot off the telly screen last night from the Science channel show What On Earth? :

Is this Cave Johnson?

Is this Cave Johnson?

Hmmm.

*      *      *

Yesterday, I cleaned most of the coffee-related apparatus in the house, roasted a pound of Costa Rican green beans from Sweet Maria’s in my Behmor 1600 Plus roaster, mowed the lawns, and weeded out the veggie beds.

In the evening, we went to Annapolis Shakespeare to see their production of Romeo and Juliet. The costume and musical designs reflected the late 1940’s, but the language was the Bard’s. The show is directed with a fine touch by the company’s Founding Artistic Director, Sally Boyett. I’ll admit to my weakness for this play – I *love* Mercutio’s monologue on dreams. And Brian Keith MacDonald’s rendition stole the show, for me. Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of the show. Brendan McMahon and Olivia Ercolano as Romeo and Juliet were fun, and completely perfect in their roles. And the rest of the cast, superb as usual, with a special note to the talented and hard-working Renata Plecha, who always seems to have more roles to learn than anyone! Wonderful! Go, see it. There are two more weeks of production!

Today, I cleaned out my office closet. I generated a box of working gadgetry that’s going to the donate stack at work. I generated a can full of trash. I generated a can full of recycle. And I sanitized three phones of elderly provenance:

Secured data.

Secured data.

I carefully secured the data on these three old phones. Out of juice, power adapters long gone, I needed a solution, and Art is the answer.

*      *      *

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

21 April 2016

RIP, Prince. Helluva musician and entertainer.

*      *      *

I’m taking a couple of days off “work”, so that I can get some work done around the house. This kind is much more tiring. Today:

80# manure in each bed

80# manure in each bed

Manure turned in by hand

Manure turned in by hand

Full rototilling

Full rototilling

Install ~70 veggies

Install ~70 veggies

This year’s mix – 28 tomato plants: Rutgers, Better Boy, Sweet 100’s + two other varieties. 16 pepper plants: sweet bell, cayenne, habanero, jalapeño. Cucumbers. Zucchini. Butternut squash. Cantelope. Broccoli.

Hmmm. I may be missing jalapeño, I’ll have to check. I *do* have four varieties of pepper…

So, that was a pretty full day, and my back kind of hates me right now. But that garden will make me happy (and salsa) all summer! Ciao!