17 December 2018

Winding Up

Almost nothing to report, other than the continuing deluge that is our weather this year. Over the weekend, we got ANOTHER 2.6″ of rain, as measured in my back yard. And more rain due on Thursday and Friday. Lovely. We’re up around 65-66″ on the year, smack between the record-breaking DC and Baltimore totals.

Marcia’s been baking some wonderful things, and we also attended a fun Broadway Holiday production at Annapolis Shakespeare on Saturday evening. That was a total hoot, and there are two more of those to go, running in rep with their stellar production of A Christmas Carol. Both highly recommended!

Lexi

Lexi, the dog, wrapped in a towel,  warm and looking worried...
Lexi, warm and worried…

Reading

I’ve just finished reading Fran Wilde’s Cloudbound, the second book in her Bone Universe series. Oooh, does that woman know how to craft a tale! Continuing to build on the events that started in her superb debut novel, Updraft, Cloudbound gives us Nat as our central character, being twisted and thrown down by people wanting power, and people wanting what’s best (usually also, power).  Dix made me so very angry, and still, how that ended made me a bit sad. Gosh, what a good writer Fran is. I’ve got a mystery to read, then I’m straight into Horizon, the trilogy closer. I know she’ll wrap it up real pretty, with a bow on and all … but it’s the getting there that has me on edge.

Computing

I picked up an Intel NUC, an inexpensive terabyte of SSD storage, and 32G of RAM to build a small VMware home lab. Next thing on that box: A FreeBSD 12 install.

Winding Down

Our condolences to the family and friends of Pfc. Joshua Mikeasky, 19, from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, who died on Dec. 13, 2018, at Bagram Airfield, Bagram District, Parwan Province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident.

18 November 2018

Holidays

Last week, Veteran’s Day. This week: Thanksgiving. So, food coma pending. Just sayin’ … not that I can really do that, I’m on call this upcoming week. Still, we bought an actual full turkey for this week. In recent years past, we’ve only roasted a turkey breast.

All in, it was a good week just past. I spent most of it puttering around in a BMW X2 M Sport. My car was in for servicing the headlights. They ended up replacing at least one of the assemblies, possibly both. Downside of computers and motors (in the headlights!!!). Had the car not been under warranty, this would have been bloody expensive. Those things go for between one and two grand each on eBay. Cthulhu knows how much BMW charges for them. Still, Tuesday through Friday noon for headlamps. Maybe it’s time to trade in for a ’68 Camero. No computers. No tracking devices. Hardly any effective driving around corners. Heh!

Much of the extra hours of the week were given over to patching assorted UNIX-like operating systems, rebooting, and testing them.

Technology

Marcia’s seven year old Windows 7 laptop finally gave up the ghost. She needs a small, relatively inexpensive machine to haul around when she’s getting training on the software she uses to run her assorted sewing devices. So I toddled down to Best Buy and picked her up a Dell touch screen Inspiron 13″ Windows 10 laptop. She’s smart, so Windows 10 won’t cause her a bunch of grief.

Also dropping this week: the Beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8. It’s been four years – a long time – since the last major release. I’m excited to see what’s new in this version.

Entertainment

The entertainment side of the ledger has two items of note. Well, three. First, we’re nearly done binging all of the modern era Doctor Who shows. It’s been really quite lovely.

Second, on the book front, I finished up J. L. Gribble’s Steel Victory. The first book in the author’s Steel Empire series, Steel Victory introduced me to  Toria (mage and mercenary-to-be), Victory (Toria’s mom (?) and an elder vampire, as well as a ‘retired’ mercenary). They’re in Limani, smack dab between British and Roman forces, with a few choice local folks who want nothing to do with anyone or anything that ain’t human. Oh, yeah, in a post-nuclear war world, somehow. Weird, but it works.

I met Ms. Gribble (What an interesting pseudonym!) at her reading at Capclave this year. I enjoyed the excerpt she read from the third book of the series, so I bought the first volume from her to give it a proper try, and really enjoyed it. Yes, yes, yes. Vampires. Magic. Were-beasts of virtually every species. Brian (you say), not really your wheelhouse? No, but the story hangs together, it is very well written, and I found I cared about the characters. So, yes, I enjoyed it and I’ll be reading the rest of the books in the series. Only question – why didn’t I get her to inscribe the book when I bought it from her. Sigh.

Next up on the book front, I’m going to finish up Fran Wilde’s Cloudbound (Bone Universe book two), and jump right into Horizon, the third book in that series. I’ve had them in my stack for far too long (in hardbound, no less) and I only read hardbound at bedtime, so it takes me a long time. But I WILL get there, because these stories are great.

Upcoming – A Christmas Carol at Annapolis Shakespeare. Get your tickets today, we did already!

Lexi

Lexi (the dog), 'wearing' my sweatshirt
Lexi, ‘wearing’ my sweatshirt

Winding Down

Take good care of yourselves, enjoy time with family and friends, try to mend any fences that have been torn by the politics of this loony era. But first, be kind to yourself. Then you may find you have enough left over for those that need it.

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

23 September 2018

The Weather!

More rain. Seriously. And we live close enough to DC that the rain-hole that exists there shadows us a bit – we got just a bit over half of the 22 inches that BWI got in the same time span, and that’s less than 30 minutes drive. We’re at 15 inches in the last two months. That’s four month’s worth of annualized rainfall. And I’m tired of it. Oh, yeah… the app on the phone says each one of the next 24 hours has rain due, better than 50% chance.

I count Fall as officially started on the first night that temps drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. We’re two days into Fall by the calendar, but I don’t even see overnights below 60 forecast in the next 10 days. Yikes!

I had a dream that while climate change in the form of global warming was happening, the “consensus” blame of rising temperatures on anthropomorphic causes was in fact a cover-up for a geo-solar interaction that wasn’t going to stop at two or three degrees Celsius of warming. But we have a couple of hundred years to go before things start becoming untenable, so the thinking at certain levels is that the hordes won’t panic and kill civilization just yet if they think that (a) there’s a happy ending possible, and (b) somebody will take care of it. A current day rocketry entrepreneur is enlisted to work towards getting some miniscule (rich) percentage of humanity off towards a healthier star before the world economy goes to hell.

Food and Friends

I started my Saturday at the theater, doing a couple of maintenance/setup tasks of the sort I’m useful for. Then I came back home to stay out of Marcia’s way, and clean house. The former was because Marcia was making lasagna. This began with making the fresh pasta, which happened while I was gone. She also made a pot full of something mostly resembling a bolognese sauce (okay, gravy) which made the house smell super-awesome. Oh, and enough for the Italian army, because reasons.

Mid afternoon, as my cleaning blitz was winding down, Marcia assembled a couple of trays of the lasagna, with the blanched and shocked pasta, a meat/herb blend, fresh mozzarella, and the gravy, in multiple delicious layers. Those heated in the oven, and came out just as Mike and Linda joined us for a lovely evening of food and Cards Against Humanity. And now you know why I was cleaning house, too!

Lexi, Because

Lexi, the chipuggle cuddle hound, relaxing while I work from home
Lexi relaxing while I work from home

Technology?

Speaking of the phone, I’ve taken an early plunge into IOS 12. I have nothing useful to report yet except the following:

  • This was one of the fastest updates I’ve applied to an Apple phone yet.
  • The phone was not bricked.
  • There have been reports of color/screen issues after update; This has not affected my phone (a year-old iPhone 8)
  • The apps I’ve used so far all still work as expected.

Seems like a low bar, doesn’t it? Well, sure. But one does “hear” reports of problems, and it’s easy to internally discount the unhappy customer bias of the news reporting cycle. Happy people just get on with their lives. Unhappy ones go on crusades.

Upcoming Events…

The Comedy of Errors opens with previews this Friday the 29th at Annapolis Shakespeare. The show runs for five weeks. Tickets available through the website, or call the box office. I can recommend the deal to be gotten by getting a season flex pass, though. Great value, and in so doing can get a 50% discount on the 12 (well, 11, now) Cabaret nights that are sprinkled through the year.

Capclave, a lovely small literary Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror conference, runs Friday through Sunday next. Not in Gaithersburg this year, but Rockville instead. So bypass the REM recommendation, do go back to Rockville, and enjoy a wonderful, small, inexpensive, respectful, and inclusive convention. Online registration via the website (https://www.capclave.org/) is now closed, but the walk-in price for the full three days is but $70.

Winding Down

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

9 September 2018

We’ve been home from Maine for about 30 hours. It’s been raining for approximately 36 of those hours. And I’m having fun with the french drains leading to the sump pump. I think one is mostly blocked … AND I’ve got some grading issues along that side of the house. Sigh. Today I back-filled and improved some of the grading. I also extended a couple of gutter drains a lot further away from the house. Hope it helps while I figure out what the next move is. After all, there’s rain in the forecast here for each of the next eight days. Sigh.

Maine. We did another week up at Cobbosseeconte Lake, and got some fishing in each day. I caught a few undersized, malnourished specimens, but Marcia had a spectacular week:

Tuesday: 19.5", 3.5# Large mouth bass caught by Marcia

Tuesday: 19.5″, 3.5# Large mouth bass

Thursday: 19", 3# Large mouth bass caught by Marcia

Thursday: 19″, 3# Large mouth bass

Both of those went right back into the water and swam off after their photo opp. No matter that bass is tasty, regulations for the lake require bass between 16 and 20 inches to go back in the water. One presumes that this is to protect some of the trophy-size fish for the regular tournaments that grace those Maine waters. It was a good week, very quiet and lovely once the holiday weekend folks were gone.

   *      *      *

For the upcoming week, Lexi is getting surgery to deal with some gum issues, and a tooth cleaning as long as they’re putting her out. I’ve got a large backlog of work to deal with. And maybe continuing water problems. We’ll see what’s next.

   *      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last few days.

15 August 2018

Busy times – I managed a fair bit of yardwork this last weekend, and we wrapped with Sunday at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s August Cabaret Night, featuring Christine Asero. What a talented, lovely lady. From show tunes to her own country songs, she put on a hell of a show.

Marcia got herself a pasta accessory for our Kitchen Aid stand mixer. She put it to good use yesterday:

Homemade pasta, garden tomato and chili

Homemade pasta, garden tomato and chili

Marcia made the fettuccine pasta, we got the sauce out of a jar, adding sauteed chicken. A tomato from the garden, shared, and a serrano chili for me. Yum!

Note to self – arrange to go to WorldCon someday. Today, however, is not that day.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Reymund Rarogal Transfiguracion, 36, from Waikoloa, Hawaii, who died on Aug. 12, 2018, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near him while he was conducting combat patrol operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

3 June 2018

Well, another wet week. We had, today alone, way more than the 1.5 inches the gauge shows. Over 12 inches of rain in the last month if my rain gauge (and memory) can be trusted. The good news is that, while muggy and warm yesterday, I managed to get all of the required outdoor work done: mowing, pruning, weeding, fertilizing.

Today, shopping and a couple of hours of remote work (patching) took up the morning. The afternoon … well.

Marcia’s been providing an extra bunch of hours to the theater for the last couple of weeks, what with people out on vacation, etc. Between the shows we saw on our own, and her seatings as House Manager, she ended up seeing Kiss Me Kate seven times. I broke down and joined in for this afternoon’s matinee – we saw the show close, and got to give all of these wonderful actors a big hug and congrats on a great, great show. What fun!

Thank you to the actors: Matt, Zach, Dexter, J.B., Nate, Robin, Christine, Julie, Drew, Allie, Ben, Jennie, Ian, Bethany, Joe, Alex, and Laura … as well as everyone behind the scenes: Sally, Marc, Jacob, Nancy, Sandra, Nate (again!), and Caitlin.

*      *      *

Oh, hey. Did I mention that we celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary this last week? Yup. Clearly, she’s a saint! And I’m a lucky, lucky bloke.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

 

11 March 2018

The work week was productive. I’m planning a couple of patching and upgrade cycles that will call for a couple of weekend days work, and probably some travel in May. But the planning and prep documentation is coming along nicely. And, after last weekend’s excitement and manual labor filled days, I wanted to take it easy this weekend. So I did. Yesterday I dropped by the theater and had a long conversation with Sally Boyett that ended with me joining the Board. I sure hope that I can provide the type of input that she’s hoping for… one thing’s for sure, there’s always more to learn. Today was limited to shopping, roasting coffee (Ethiopian), putting up a lovely quilted (by Marcia, see below) wall hanging, and working on my Python chops.

Marcia quilted a new wall hanging

Marcia quilted a new wall hanging

*      *      *

Upcoming at Annapolis Shakespeare: Tennessee Williams’s Glass Menagerie, directed by Donald Hicken, is opening on Friday evening, March 16. It’s a four week run for Glass Menagerie, shows on Friday and Saturday evenings, matinees on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Also, on Sunday the 18th, one night only: Broadway on Demand Cabaret night.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Maitland Deweever Wilson, 38, of Brooklyn, New York, who died onMarch 7 in Landstuhl, Germany from a non-combat related incident.

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.

*      *      *

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.