10 September 2017

Sad. There’s a Jerry Pournelle-shaped hole in my personal Universe. Jerry passed away on September 8, 2017. I was a fan of Jerry’s fiction from early on, and additionally a huge fan of his Chaos Manor user technology columns in Byte Magazine. We met in person for the first time at a West Coast Computer Faire (1982, I think, at the San Francisco Civic Center). I’d previously corresponded with him via BIX (the Byte Information Exchange service) on a variety of technical and fictional topics. He was gracious enough to take the time to have lunch with me at that Faire. We crossed paths at a couple more of those, and at several SF cons and events over the years. For a decade or so from the late 90’s, I hosted his websites and email service. Jerry was a gracious and personally generous human being, with an occasionally crusty and cantankerous outer shell. I was blessed to have known him. All our condolences to Roberta, their kids, and the extended family.

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Large mouth bass

Large mouth bass

Yup. Large mouth bass: 17″ and 2# – My best catch of our second week on the lake in Maine. We drove back up to Maine for another week on the lake, with three goals: Fewer mosquitoes, less rain, and more fish. The only clear winner was on the mosquito goal. There were a few standing in for the millions we found in early June. This trip, like the last, had four days with rain. But even so, we had a couple of good half days out on the boat. And I’d say that for me, the fishing was more productive, though nothing I caught was a keeper. The bass pictured above had to go back – they have strict rules to keep the trophy fishing in reasonable fettle there.

Lexi came with us, and seemed to have a good time. Marcia and I both managed to relax pretty well, which is difficult for both of us.

We drove back home yesterday. Today was full of catch-up chores that I shan’t bore you with.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week. Our thoughts are with those in danger from the large hurricanes that are pounding and threatening Caribbean and US residents.

 

6 August 2017

Well, Marcia’s home from Michigan. She went up for the week to visit family, and had fun. Lexi spent the week eyeballing me and asking when Marcia was going to be back. This is that look:

Lexi wants Marcia home

Lexi wants Marcia home

Along with doing a bit of remote work each day (and going to the office for a few hours on Tuesday), I got a lot of chores done around the homestead. Garage clean up. Mowing. A couple of days of pressure washing the deck and stamped concrete pad. All-in-all, a fairly productive week. Today we did the shopping, then I roasted coffee and relaxed. No bad thing.

Also, I read a wonderful short story by Chris Pourteau called Unconditional: A Tale of the Zombie Apocalypse. All I can tell you without spoilers is that this is told from the viewpoint of the family dog. Oh, and it’s my current favorite short story of the year. I was getting ready to put on my short list for a Hugo nomination when I learned that the story is from 2015. Ah, well. Good news: I get to go find more of Chris’s work and see if I enjoy it as much. I found the story in At The Helm: Volume 1: A Sci-Fi Bridge Anthology.

*      *      *

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

  • Tech. Sgt. David Board, 49, of Barboursville, West Virginia, died on August 2 in Kuwait in a non-combat-related incident while deployed in support of combat operations.
  • Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter, 23, of Columbus, Indiana, died on Aug. 2 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a result of injuries sustained when a vehicle-borne improved explosive device detonated near his convoy.
  • Spc. Christopher Michael Harris, 25, of Jackson Springs, North Carolina, died on Aug. 2 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as a result of injuries sustained when a vehicle-borne improved explosive device detonated near his convoy.

 

9 April 2017

G’day. Lexi was a happy puppy, yesterday late afternoon. That’s when Marcia got back home from a 9 day trip up to Maine, where she was spending time with her sister. This is a dog waiting for his mistress to come home:

Lexi waiting for Marcia to come home from Maine

Lexi waiting for Marcia

For the duration, I was bailing out of work early, coming home to walk the dog and work on fitting out Marcia’s closet. Every time I’d go down to the basement workshop, Lexi would eventually follow, and sit on her perch in Marcia’s sewing room (as above), and look a bit pathetic.

Here’s how the closet came out:

Marcia's closet completed

Marcia’s closet completed

So that, and getting the watering system setup for the hanging flower baskets on the front porch, pretty much ate my non-work week. This upcoming week will be fun – I’m spending some significant focused time on a configuration management tool chain.

*      *      *

What I’ve been reading: Born to Run: Bruce Springsteen by The Boss, The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, 3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, and Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson. Note, those are all in-process books and I’m enjoying all of them. Additionally, I just finished reading The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi. That was good fun and a great read. Wanting more and I have to wait for it…

Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire

Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire

You can see I’ve got James S. A. Corey’s Caliban’s War waiting in the wings. But I’m not, not going to pick up another book until I’ve got one or more of the currently-reading tomes done with…

*      *      *

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

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!

 

 

4 Dec 2016

We had a lovely supper tonight at Seasons 52 in Columbia – a holiday dinner with my co-workers and plus ones. I had half a chicken, Marcia had some seared cow, both were delicious. Dessert: tiny, delicious, and overpriced. Still, we’ll go there again: Recommended.

Marcia continues to make great progress in her hip replacement recovery. She’s been driving for a week now, and spending a fair bit of time standing, walking, and working on stuff in the house each day. Huzzah!

The week was weird. I took a couple of vacation days on Thursday and Friday. Got a few things done around the house, but mostly relaxed and tried to unwind a bit. I roasted a pound of an Ethiopian SO, cleaned the roaster, etc. It’s almost time to build something in the woodshop – I’m getting that familiar itch.

I’m also getting used to my early Festivus present: an Apple Watch. I like it very much, and it’s hugely more comfortable to wear (as well as much better for my eyes) than the FitBit Charge it replaced. But it doesn’t replace all of that functionality – the biggest lack for me: no sleep tracking, which I really appreciated on the FitBit. That said, I’m provisionally happy with the change, and getting used to the features and integration of this device.

Also from the week past, as posted on teh twitters, where I can be found as @bilborg: Best thing I read in November, BTW: Sarah Tolmie’s The Dancer on the Stairs, in @strangehorizons. Support speculative fiction mags, authors Please do visit Strange Horizons, read, enjoy, and support them if you can.

And with that, and no casualties reported by DoD in the last few days, Ciao!

20 Nov 2016

Windy, cold day today. Quite a shift from yesterday’s 70° loveliness. That’s okay. I stayed busy all week and all weekend. Today, for example:

  • 0645-0800 – Start laundry, start coffee, then patching a set of production linux systems
  • 0800-0845 – Walk dog, breakfast
  • 0845-1030 – Shopping, food organization
  • 10:30-1200 – Email, patching another set of production linux systems
  • 1200-1300 – Walk dog, lunch
  • 1300-1400 – Roast coffee (an Ethiopian SO bean from Sweet Maria’s)
  • 1400-1600 – Putter about, relax for a couple of hours
  • 1600-1800 – Cooking
  • 1800-1845 – Feed and walk dog
  • 1845-2000 – Dinner, make bed, email, blog time…

Marcia is doing great. She’s done with the cane, mostly. She did most of the laundry work today, other than the “carry bits up and down the stairs” part. Strength is going up, pain is going down, and she’s weening off the last of the heavy pain killers in the next couple of days. Next up: Driving!

We enjoyed watching the first episode of Amazon’s new car show: The Grand Tour this week! I’d missed having those blokes doing new, fun things with cars. Sorry, BBC – your B-Team isn’t nearly good enough!

*      *      *

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

  • Sgt. John W. Perry, 30, of Stockton, California, died on Nov. 12 of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device in Bagram, Afghanistan.
  • Pfc. Tyler R. Iubelt, 20, of Tamaroa, Illinois, died on Nov. 12 of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device in Bagram, Afghanistan.

13 Nov 2016

Friday the thirteenth falls on a Sunday this month. And it’s nigh unto first “supermoon” (the concurrence of the moon’s orbital perigee and the sun/earth/moon syzygy) in 68 years (although the moon won’t be actually full until tomorrow at around 9AM EST). We have a nice view of that large, bright moon on this cloudless evening – very cool.

Meantime, when I’m not actively taking care of Marcia in her hip-replacement recovery routine, Lexi is filling in – keeping chairs warm, for example:

Lexi the chair warmer

Lexi the chair warmer

I managed several hours at work this week, and I have also been making progress on a Django-based project, in and around keeping up with the chores, etc here at the homestead.

*      *      *

RIP – Leonard Cohen. Turns out I haven’t listened to NEARLY enough of his work. Here’s a good snippet of a recent interview (From September 2016): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4PqY-VgSsI.

*      *      *

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

  • Capt. Andrew D. Byers, 30, of Rolesville, North Carolina, died Nov. 3 in Kunduz, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained while engaging enemy forces.
  • Sgt. 1st Class Ryan A. Gloyer, 34, of Greenville, Pennsylvania, died Nov. 3 in Kunduz, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained while engaging enemy forces.
  • Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Lewellen, 27, of Lawrence, Kansas, died Nov. 4 in Jafr, Jordan, of wounds sustained when his convoy came under fire entering a Jordanian military base.
  • Staff Sgt. Kevin J. McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, Arizona, died Nov. 4 in Jafr, Jordan, of wounds sustained when his convoy came under fire entering a Jordanian military base.
  • Staff Sgt. James F. Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas. died Nov. 4 in Jafr, Jordan, of wounds sustained when his convoy came under fire entering a Jordanian military base.
  • Ronald L. Murray Jr., of Bowie, Maryland, died Nov. 10, in Kuwait in a non-combat related incident.

31 Oct 2016

Hallowe’en, such as it is. Between the way the dog reacts to activity at the door, and Marcia’s hip: we turned out the front lights before dusk to keep things quiet on our front porch. It worked. Shouting kids on the sidewalks, parents  curb-crawling with their cars because they’re too damned lazy to walk with their kids, etc.

Marcia’s progress is good. At her first PT evaluation today, Andrew said she was doing great, and to be cautious not to push too hard, too fast. Note: SportsPro Physical Therapy, Marcia’s go-t0 PT team for the last decade – we can HIGHLY recommend them.

I managed to squeak about three remote working hours in today. We’re hopeful that by next week, Marcia will be doing enough for herself that I can go to the office for a few hours each day. Not much else to report on the home front. We’re sending our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Roberta Pournelle, who suffered a stroke over the weekend.

*      *      *

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

 

28 Oct 2016

A Marcia update:

On Wednesday morning, she had her right hip replaced. The surgeon said that things went well, and that the right hip was not as far gone as the left hip had been, but that it was past time for the surgery anyway.  She was up in her room on the fifth floor of the hospital by a bit past noon.

On Wednesday afternoon, she managed 80-100 steps with a walker around the Joint Center floor.

On Thursday morning, she aced her physical therapy (PT) – breezing through all of the exercises, then accomplishing the release goals: steps, curb, and car transfer (getting in and out of a mock car). After release from the hospital around 11 AM, we had her home by noon.

Thursday afternoon: rest and a bit of PT downstairs. Slept in the recliner overnight. Pain meds at 4 hour intervals.

Friday morning: Breakfast, then up the stairs for a shower. PT (some upstairs, some back downstairs). Lunch. Naptime. Pain meds at 6 hour intervals.

Her first formal PT isn’t until Monday due to scheduling issues, by which time she may have already kicked the walker to the curb (I’m only half-joking, there).

That’s all the news.

23 Oct 2016

A good week for theater!

On Wednesday, we attended Poe… And All The Others, a new play by Tony Tsendeas, as presented at Reynold’s Tavern by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. Last year’s production of Poe was one of the first shows we saw from this company, and it was a good show. This year’s production, again featuring Brian Keith MacDonald and Renata Plecha, is simply superb! The new script is much stronger, but still works very well in the confines of a dining room at Reynold’s Tavern. We turned up at 6:45 or so, and enjoyed a good salad and supper (I had grilled salmon on pasta, and Marcia had a chicken breast) before the play started at 7:30. 40 enthralling minutes inside Poe’s head later, we had intermission and dessert service (we can recommend the tea cakes). The second act kept bringing the power of Poe’s writing, aptly adapted by Mr. Tsendeas, and brought thoroughly to life by Mr. MacDonald. All the while, Ms. Plecha played every other character in the show, often several within a matter of seconds, all flawlessly! Whew!

Then after a couple of days of rest (or, in my case, work), we attended Twelfth Night last night at the company’s intimate theater on Chinquapin Round Road. I’ve seen Twelfth night staged several times, here and there. Last night, though… The Bard’s words, set at the end of the Roaring Twenties, some set to music and dance! A forceful farce, flawlessly fulfilled by this wonderful group of actors! I’d call out especially good individual performances, frankly all were awesome, so special hats off to Olivia Ercolano, Renata Plecha, Brian Keigh MacDonald, Laura Louise Smith, and Jamison Foreman. How good? This show got the first standing ovation I’ve seen at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company! And they deserve every bit of it – especially Founding Artistic Director Sally Boyett, who directed both shows we saw this last week.

I’d go see both shows again, in a heartbeat … but we’re going to be out of commission for the next several weeks due to Marcia’s pending hip replacement surgery (Wednesday, 10/26). You should go see these shows, and anything else this Company puts on. Seriously.

*        *        *

Alongside all that fun, I fought a cold, had a productive work week, and helped get things organized for the post-surgical eventfulness to come. Wish us luck!

*        *        *

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

  • Sgt. Douglas J. Riney, 26, of Fairview, Illinois, died Oct. 19 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds received from encountering hostile enemy forces.
  • Michael G. Sauro, 40, of McAlester, Oklahoma, died Oct. 19 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds received from encountering hostile enemy forces.
  • Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan, 34, of Anaheim, California, died Oct. 20 in northern Iraq, of wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device blast.