25 February 2018

Okay, all good. Two three day weekends are now done.

Eight days ago, I started a house cleaning binge on the Saturday morning, expecting to get the house caught up so that I could do some other projects and have some relax time over the ensuing days. About midway through, I got to the living room, and decided it was time to swap out a couple of the pictures on the wall with more recent acquisitions. One of them needed hanging wire, so I went down to the wood shop to paw through my stacks of stuff and find the wire. I did find the wire, but first I found a lump of drywall laying in a puddle of water on the shop floor, with a slow drip continuing from above. Argh!

I’ll summarize the next couple of hours for you. Turns out that in the furnace area, a former whole-house humidifier (long since gone) had been supplied from a saddle valve, and connected with plastic tubing. The valve at the far end of the tubing had been shut off when the humidifier had been removed, but that’s it. Sigh. Plastic tubing *always* fails, sooner or later. A pinhole leak in the tubing was spraying into the insulation above a main HVAC trunk (square). The water ran along the top of the trunk for a few feet, then dripped into the trunk airway. It then continued running along the trunk, until it dripped out again, and onto some drywall. By the time the drywall failed, there was a couple of gallons on it, so splash. It did take a while to track down the source of the leak, and with some contortions, was able to get to the saddle valve and cut the water off at it’s source. That left a little time to get ready for attending Blithe Spirit again, that Saturday evening. Lovely fun show, better the second time around – it’s a fast paced show, and having it fresh in mind when seeing it the second time getting the lines and the beats a lot easier. Talented cast did stellar work, and the show closed today.

Sunday I spent getting bits, properly capped off that saddle valve, and removed the plastic line from service entirely. Monday was spent cleaning up the shop, and building a wall-mounted necklace storage thing for Marcia’s closet:

Marcia's new necklace hanger

Marcia’s new necklace hanger

I had a moderately busy, moderately successful 3-day work week, with an evening of Linux infrastructure and non-production system patching smack in the middle. This three day weekend was lovely. I would have liked to get out and start prepping the yard … but it rained all weekend. So I got some more of the cleaning done, gave the dog a bath, and sundry other chores, along with production Linux patching this morning starting at 0700. But we ended on a high note. Tonight was Cabaret night at Annapolis Shakespeare, “Broadway and Beyond”. Cast was Sally and four folks who are all going to be in the upcoming production of Kiss Me Kate. Good fun.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. Christina Marie Schoenecker, 26, of Arlington, Kansas, who died on Feb. 19 in Baghdad, from a non-combat related incident.

11 February 2018

Howdy. I had a decent work week, and a pretty full weekend. I’m not sure where yesterday went, entirely, though it was a lovely Saturday evening out to supper with my co-workers at a nearby brew pub. Good food and good times.

Today was chock-a-block: shopping, then for work: tickets, email, and some production system patching, reboots, and testing. Then I installed a replacement sump pump, since the old one wasn’t working so well anymore (short cycling). Then lunch, a spot of recorded TV, then exercise, an early supper, a shower, and off to the show. Tonight in the ASC Cabaret Series, we enjoyed an evening of That’s Amore (Opera’s Greatest Arias) with Madeline Miskie, Madelyn Wanner, and Mandy Brown singing, accompanied by Joy Mentzel.  We certainly aren’t deep opera fans of any sort, but their voices were lovely, and they took the time to set the scene and our expectations so that we could interpret *some* of the action, even though we have not a stitch of Italian between us. Yep, all Italian.

Speaking of which, the only thing I didn’t get done this weekend was coffee roasting. I absolutely MUST roast tomorrow night or … buy some coffee. <shudder>

Anyway, all good fun, a successful week and weekend, and time to get some sleep, and start all over again.

DoD announced no new casualties in the most recent week.

4 February 2018

There’s a football game going on now, just after a halftime show of some sort. If history is any guide, then losing badly is where the Pats want to be right now. That said, ahead by a considerable margin is where the Eagles want to be, too. So … win/win?

I had a productive work week that lasted all seven days. Well, not seven full days, just five of those. But remote work to do things outside of business hours both yesterday and today, both days successful. Huzzah!

On the off-hours, I’ve been spending more time with Python. It’s a useful language for a number of projects and OS management tools I either use or am interested in, so I’d like to have stronger skills there. Working on it.

Reading: I finished up Jennifer Foehner Wells’s Confluence Series … well, at least the four books that are out in that universe. I’m hoping for more. Great fun: Recommended!

Now: Eagles up by 10 after a couple of possessions in the third quarter. Maybe an exorcism is called for. Anyway, time to walk the dog for the last time, and get back to Python for a bit.

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last week.

28 Jan 2018

Good evening. Bob Thompson is still much on my mind. I’m going to miss him.

*      *      *

Work-wise, it was a productive week. But the weekend, ah, it was good:

Friday evening, we attended opening night for the Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit. Spiritedly directed by ASC Founder and Artistic Director Sally Boyett, thc cast romped through this classic drawing room comedy like they’d been working together for ages, and were still having marvelous fun while doing it. Kurt Elftmann, whom we last saw with ASC as Richard III, plays the novelist Charles Condomine magnificently. He’s ensconced in his country home with his second wife, Ruth, executed adroitly by Jessica Hannah Fraser. Natasha Preston is Edith, the maid, who still bears the rushing-about demeanor of her navy training. As the show opens, our host prepares to welcome neighbors Doctor (Phil Bufithis) and Mrs. (Nancy Blum) Bradman to join them for supper, along with spiritualist Madame Arcati (enthusiastically played by Barbara Pinolini).

Condomine hopes to mine the planned seance for material to use in his forthcoming novel. Instead, the evening’s doings result in the arrival of the marvelous Kay Kerimian as the shade of Condomine’s first wife, Elvira. (Side note – a woman named Kay played Elvira in the 1945 film of the play! That’s suitably creepy!) In the balance of the first act, and through the second and third, Elvira vexes and disrupts the household. Edith is an unlikely lynchpin to apparently resolve the resulting furor, and things only really end well for the witty and erudite Condomine.

This play is a real joy, and we’re looking forward to seeing it again before the run closes on February 25. You really should go. Highly Recommended!

*      *      *

 Saturday, I washed all the crap and salt off of both cars, as well as getting some other chores done, including roasting a pound of Honduran coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s.  It rained today (Sunday), but that was my fault (obviously). We got the shopping and the rest of the weekly chores done, and a friend came over to have me assist in de-crapping her phone (removing all the useless apps) and recovering the password for her main account on her Windows 10 laptop.

Finally, I managed to get my sump pit monitoring system working again. It had been on the fritz for a few weeks, and there were always more important things to do. I was able to safely put it off, because I know that the sump pump is in good condition, but I’d like warnings to be working for the day when it isn’t, anymore. Turned out that I just needed to reseat the connectors between the distance sensor and the Raspberry Pi that runs the software.

*      *      *

Reading:

Upstairs, in hardback: Fran Wilde’s Cloudbound. This is book two of her Bone Universe series, and as with book one, it’s wonderful. Right below it on the stack at my bedside is the third novel in the series: Horizon. Fran is a smart, talented writer who manages to create worlds and characters that get under my skin and inside my head. Highly Recommended.

Downstairs, in paperback: Iain Banks’s Excession. One of the Culture novels, and a re-read for me. I’ve been working my way through the books again, off and on, since he died back in 2013. Today I learned that some of that story was inspired by Sid Meier’s Civilization video game. You should read everything Banks wrote. For me, he’s reminiscent of Philip Jose Farmer.

On the phone via the Kindle app: Jennifer Foehner Wells’s Valence (Book 4 of the Confluence series). I’ve read and enjoyed the first three enough to keep on with the fourth, which is enough of a reccommendation. I read on the phone whenever I have time to spare, because reading is always wonderful.

*      *      *

DoD announce no new casualties in the last week.

21 January 2018

My friend Bob Thompson died last night of complications from heart and lung issues. We hadn’t traveled to see Bob and Barbara for a few years, and I’m a bit sad about that, just now. We’d speak on the phone or via email a few times a year, though. Bob was a smart, smart guy, pleasant to converse with, and uniformly helpful to folks: family, friends, and neighbors. We’re going to miss him. Here’s his obituary on the funeral home site.

16 January 2018

G’day. Yep, I was busy. Sunday we did the shopping, then I started in on chores and such. About halfway through the afternoon, I saw an email that Annapolis Shakespeare Company needed a hand. It was the first load-in day for the set of the next play, and the expected carpenters had bailed on them. So I gathered some tools and went off to Annapolis to help out for several hours. I got home before 10, though… I went back the next day and gave a hand for another few hours. When I wrapped up my participation, all the walls and bracing that could be done were done. Glad to be of service. Still taking ibuprofen, though. And the extra holes in my skin (mostly hands) are beginning to heal. Yay! Good to have spent MLK Day doing volunteer service for our favorite 501(c)3, as well.

I’m not sure I’d be good at set design. I’m a build-to-last kind of guy. Sets are designed to look great for 6 weeks, and be rapidly dismantled before they fall apart of their own volition. Heh.

Not much else to report. I did get some coffee roasted – a Tanzanian from Sweet Maria’s. It’s resting, and I’ll start brewing from that in another couple of days.

*      *      *

I recently finished reading Fluency (Confluence Book 1) (at this writing: $0.00 for Kindle) by Jennifer Foehner Wells. I’ll admit to a fair reluctance to dive headllong into the new wave of Speculative Fiction – there’s so much unevenly edited crap out there… But I can usually tell within a few pages whether I’ll be swiping the book to the archives, or reading it through. Fluency got a read-through. I enjoyed Ms. Wells’s writing style. The premise of an insectile spacefaring enemy that hasn’t arrived yet, a ship whose only remaining crew is the squid-ish navigator, and a human team of folks who might be able to get along and complete their mission, if it weren’t for the space slugs and the rogue nanotech… Okay, it’s a bit of a mashup, with shades of Red Dwarf and a few special easter eggs. I enjoyed reading it through, and more importantly, I am going to read the next book in the series. That doesn’t happen much, so can count as a reasonable recommendation. I could wish for two lead characters who weren’t starved for the physical attentions of the other, unrequited except in alien-mediated virtual reality. I’ll see how the second book stacks up. Recommended.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Javion Shavonte Sullivan, 24, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, who died on Jan. 8 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident.

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!

*      *      *

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.

31 December 2017

And that’s a wrap on 2017. We’re doing okay, I guess. I’d like to see a little more sanity coming from the government, but that’s as it may be. We vote, and support candidates that reflect the direction we’d like to see.

My favorite things from 2017: Marcia and I celebrated 19 years of marriage! Everything else is gravy. Lexi is having fun with her new Lambchop™ toy:

Lexi playing with Lambchop toy.

Lexi playing with Lambchop toy.

In other news, our high temperature today was brought to us by the numbers 2 and 0. It’s supposed to be another week at least before we come back above freezing. Yay? However, we’re not as cold as Omaha, nor as snow-bound as Erie. So, small favors.

We wish for y’all to have a Happy New Year.

*       *       *

DoD announce no new casualties in the last week.

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.

*      *      *

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.