9 October 2017

Good morning. It’s a holiday for $FIRM, in the midst of a five day weekend (for me), so I’ve only been doing email and tickets for an hour or so, and work is done for the day. A busy weekend. First up, Capclave.

Capclave is a small-ish literary SFF convention put on by the Washington Science Fiction Association. It’s been held at the Hilton Gaithersburg for at least the last several years, and I’ve attended several now. It’s simply lovely. Loads of writers, editors, publishers. I’ve been attending intermittently since 2012. It’s good to catch up with some prior acquaintances and friends, and meet new fans and authors, etc. And oh, yes, I have a stack of new (and old) books to read. I managed all of the Friday and Saturday programming, but skipped Sunday because…

Last night, we went to The Great American Songbook, another fun entry in the Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s Concert and Cabaret Series. Sally Boyett and a double handful of talented actors and singers entertained us for a couple of hours, singing mostly love songs from the golden age of American show tunes. Great fun, and nice to see several of the actors from the current production of Much Ado About Nothing in a different context. We’re looking forward to seeing that show one more time before the run ends on October 29th. Get thee to Annapolis Shakespeare – I promise you’ll love it.

Now, I have to clean my office and do some other chores.

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

  • Spc. Alexander W. Missildine, 20, of Tyler, Texas, died Oct. 1 in Salah ad-Din Province, Iraq, as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy.
  • Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington, died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger, as a result of hostile fire while on a reconnaissance patrol.
  • Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio, died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger, as a result of hostile fire while on a reconnaissance patrol.
  • Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia, died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger, as a result of hostile fire while on a reconnaissance patrol.
  • Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, died Oct. 4 in southwest Niger as a result of enemy fire.

1 October 2017

“Wouldn’t you prefer a nice game of chess?”

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I’ll just leave that there, okay? In other news, I just called my oldest best friend (I’ve known him since I was four) to wish him a happy birthday, which was pleasant and fun. I also left a voice mail for pater and mater, they’re probably out painting the town red. Some of our weekend was normal routine – shopping, roasting coffee, washing the car, going to the office to get some hardware maintenance done during off-hours, doing other chores, but…

Speaking of painting the town red, we had a pretty social weekend ourselves. Last night, we had neighbors in for supper and a board game. And on Friday night, we had a pre-show “Dinner with the Director”, followed by the opening night production of Much Ado About Nothing by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. What a joy! We enjoyed the lovely prix fixe menu at Luna Blu. Director Sally Boyett didn’t get much supper, she spent the evening at the head of the table regaling the 16 or so attendees with tidbits about the show, the design of the sets and costumes, and what to be looking for as sub-texts. She seemed a bit disappointed that none of us had recently read the text. The show itself was a wonderful production. Put Much Ado About Nothing in the context of “Mad Men” on an American Caribbean island in the late 1950’s. That’s how it was set. And wow, did the new theater impress. Sally managed to get a two-story set into place – very impressive. A cast of 17 actors, fully half of whom were debuting with ASC in this production. We were treated to some fancy period-correct dancing, a little bit of guitar and song, and the words of the Bard. That cast and director earned our standing ovation at the end of the show. Highly recommended.

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Lexi wants to know why she can’t have another treat, any time she’d like. What do you say?

Lexi, our mutt, sitting on the carpet in the living room, giving me a look that says, "I want a treat!"

Lexi wants a treat

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

25 September 2017

That was a chore-filled weekend. The lawns are all lovely and flat, and nearly the whole house is much, much cleaner. But I was bloody exhausted by the time last night rolled around. So sorry.

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Only big news is upgrading my MacBook Pro to the latest MacOS release: High Sierra. I’d popped for one of the Beta releases earlier in the Summer, and put in a few issue reports before reverting to Sierra. All of the issues I reported actually garnered responses from Apple, and they’ve all been remediated in the GA release of the OS. Frankly, it’s mostly an underpinnings and foundation release, which I find pretty cool, but doesn’t leave much to talk about. All of my regular use cases are fully functional, so I have no reason to revert and wait for the 11.1 release.

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Nothing else of deep interest to discuss at this time. If you’re in the DC Metro area, tomorrow night is Annapolis Shakespeare‘s last production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged. We *did* go to that show a second time last week, because it’s a real hoot, and they’re not running it next summer. If you can, go. Links on the website. Also, opening this week is Much Ado About Nothing. Sally says, “Imagine Mad Men meets 50’s glam!” We’re so looking forward to this show!

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DoD reported no new casualties during the last week. Deo gratias.

17 September 2017

A busy week and weekend. We made it down to Melford Pond for a couple of hours of fishing on Saturday morning. Well, Marcia was fishing (and caught a decent-sized catfish that she put back, might I add!), while I walked the dog around the pond. It was a nice start to the weekend. Chores: Mowing the lawns, changing old, worn-out locksets out for new ones that work properly, etc, etc.

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Tech-side, I’ve been playing around with Flask (a Python web framework). Yeah, should I find something more bleeding edge? Probably. Maybe I’ll revisit Node shortly. Or write something slightly useful in Go, to get a feel for that language. Why is there always so much more to learn than I have hours in a year???

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Reading! You MUST go buy and read Robin Sloan’s Sourdough (Powell’s link here). Seriously. It can be found at your favorite online bookseller and if you ask, probably at the corner bookstore you hopefully still have near you! (Wish I did.) So, as one of the blurbs says, Sourdough does for food what (Robin’s first novel) Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore did for books. I loved that first novel, and I’ve been waiting with little patience for the second. Sadly, I’m neither a first reader nor an ARC recipient for him (yet). Sourdough is a journey for a programmer, Lois Clary, back from the land of code and Slurry™ to what’s important: Food and relationships.

I’d pre-ordered the book, and it arrived while I was in Maine. Not being an idiot, I didn’t start reading the book until yesterday. I finished late in the evening, having read in stretches between chores, and then because I couldn’t put the book down, all the way to the end. I grew up and worked for years in the stomping grounds of Robin’s characters, which adds to the appeal for me – I recognize places where the names have been changed and the lens covered with petroleum jelly to yield that sexy soft blur. And oh, yeah. I love me some sourdough. That there’s a starter, a culture, a mother prominently featured in the book … nay, a character in the book. Wonderful. Highly Recommended. I’d loan you my copy except that I’m going to be re-reading it sooner than you could get it back to me.

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More reading news: I’m a fan and supporter of Strange Horizons, which is a is a weekly magazine of and about speculative fiction. [They] publish fiction, poetry, reviews, essays, interviews, roundtable discussions, and art. They’re in their annual fund drive at the moment. I’d recommend supporting them through their Patreon page, if you like their sort of thing, and you want more of that. They’ve got a week or two to go, so please go support them!

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, but I’m still missing Jerry.

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.

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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.

 

4 September 2017

Hullo. Happity Labor Day, for US visitors. Happy first post in the final one third (not “two thirds”… sigh) of the year, for everyone else. Hurray for a three day weekend. I’ve celebrated by not checking email at all (for work), which means several hundred emails, mostly system generated, tomorrow. Oh, well.

Not much else to report – we went out fishing for a bit, but catching wasn’t on the menu. Otherwise a lovely weekend.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Emil Rivera-Lopez, who was declared deceased on Aug. 31 as a result of a training incident on Aug. 25, off the coast of Yemen, where he was supporting U.S. Central Command operations.

 

29 August 2017

Whoops. A call from a family member was required to help me notice I’ve not posted properly here. Argh!

I had a busy work week last week, then a bunch of yardwork on Saturday, leading to a very, very lazy Sunday with an early-to-bed addendum tacked on. Yay? But no post. Work is full of virtualization and SAN work and preparing for an upgrade cycle. Home is yard work and getting ready for a Fall fishing season (it’s too bloody hot here in the Summer, even in a relatively cool summer like this one). Lexi and Marcia are both well.

On the entertainment front, we’re excited to go see ASC’s Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged, (again!) in September, followed closely by Much Ado About Nothing in October. Find out more about these shows at the Annapolis Shakespeare website.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of GS-12 Daniel Hoadley, 54, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who died on Aug. 18 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from a non-combat related incident. Our hearts also go out to the families of those lost in the maritime collision suffered by the USS John S. McCain:

  • Nathan Findley, 31, Electronics Technician 1st Class Charles, from Amazonia, Missouri
  • Abraham Lopez, 39, Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class, from El Paso, Texas
  • Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26, Electronics Technician 2nd Class, from Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • Jacob Daniel Drake, 21, Electronics Technician 2nd Class, from Cable, Ohio
  • Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class, from Manchester, Maryland
  • Corey George Ingram, 28, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class, from Poughkeepsie, New York
  • Dustin Louis Doyon, 26, Electronics Technician 3rd Class, from Suffield, Connecticut
  • John Henry Hoagland III, 20, Electronics Technician 3rd Class, from Killeen, Texas
  • Logan Stephen Palmer, 23, Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class, from Decatur, Illinois
  • Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22, Electronics Technician 3rd Class, from Cherry Hill, New Jersey

20 August 2017

Well, we topped out the last four weeks at over 10″ of rain (I’ll only say ‘over‘ because I really need to re-site my rain gauge out of the wind shadow of the tree that’s doubled in size over the last few years).  And it looks like August is going to come and go with only 2 or 3 days above 90°F. Weird. Of course, what with excessive rain and relatively mild temperatures, the lawns which should all be brown and dormant at this time of year are growing madly. I had to double-cut the front yard yesterday, and the back yard needs a combine harvester, I think. Nothing else much exciting going on.

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

  • Sgt. Roshain Euvince Brooks, 30, of Brooklyn, New York, who died on Aug. 13 of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations in Iraq.
  • Spc. Allen Levi Stigler Jr., 22, of Arlington, Texas, who died on Aug. 13 of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations in Iraq.
  • Staff Sgt. Aaron R. Butler, 27, of Monticello, Utah, died Aug. 16 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations.

13 August 2017

We saw a wonderful play at Annapolis Shakespeare Company on Saturday evening: Alice and the Book of Wonderland. It’s a brand new show based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (well, duh, me), adapted by Sally Boyett and Donald Hicken.  Laura Rocklyn plays a marvelous Alice. The six remaining cast members: Ian Charles, Bill Dennison, Olivia Ercolano, Brian Keith MacDonald, Jackie Madejski, and Johnny Weisgerber – well, they cover the balance of the 24 characters in the show. Over time, each runs off, stage left, and seemingly moments later appeared stage right in fresh costume and makeup. Holy cow, do these folks work HARD to get us up and clapping!

Extra ovations for Mr. Dennison’s twitchy White Rabbit: by turns frightened and arrogant; Mr. MacDonald’s Knave, who clearly takes a page from the Book of Black Adder codpiece fashion; and the superbly evil Red Queen (Crash! Cringe!) played majestically by Ms. Ercolano. Also we were wowed by the costume wizardry of Sandra Spence!

It’s a magical show brought further to life by projections of artwork from Carroll’s original book, as well as a projected Cheshire Cat (portayed by the face of Mr. Weisgerber). From Rev. Dodgeson rowing with the girls to the Mad Hatter’s tea party to the Mock Turtle’s sad song, the show had us riveted throughout. This is a play that is child-friendly, but with sly adult references and pin-point precise topical political commentary.

There are FOUR MORE stagings of this production, next weekend (8/18 – 8/20/2017), before it goes back into the vault. If you’re DC-local, you really should go. Oh, yes. We also just ordered our flex passes for the upcoming 2017/2018 season, and we’re really looking forward to seeing all of these wonderful actors in new roles for another year. Join us, won’t you?

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, but our condolences to the family and friends of Heather Heyer, who died at the hands of an apparent domestic terrorist (in my opinion), James Alex Fields, Jr., in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017.

 

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.

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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.