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.

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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.

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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.

17 December 2017

Friday was a snow day. Well, it *did* snow, and I was off work … but those were unrelated events. I did get some home office change work done. Last weekend, I hung up the skeletal F6F3 Hellcat in the corner of the room. I’m still occasionally flinching as I see it out of the corner of my eye as I walk past:

Skeletal F6F3 Hellcat model hanging from the ceiling in my home office.

Skeletal F6F3 Hellcat

On Friday, I spent twenty minutes and built a laptop stand for my MBP so that I could set it up dual screen with the HDMI monitor I use for several systems here:

My Macbook Pro on a home-built stand for dual monitor use

MBP on home-built stand

Saturday evening, we re-attended A Christmas Carol at ASC. As with previous shows, seeing opening night, then another run a couple of weeks later lets us watch the fine and talented actors settle into their roles and adapt to audience reactions. What fun!

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which we are grateful.

13 December 2017

Friday the 13th falls on a Wednesday this month. And yes, yes, it isn’t Sunday. Sunday we were out at Annapolis Shakespeare‘s A Broadway Holiday in Annapolis. They gave us holiday and seasonal standards, marvelous singing by the company and friends, including the extraordinary and talented Rachelle Fleming. Simply wonderful. And a late Sunday night out rather gets my week off on the wrong foot – not much energy at all the last couple of evenings. But I’m back … just in time to spend tonight patching systems remotely. Yay?

Bob Thompson is continuing to battle health issues, and we’re pulling for him.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. David Thomas Brabander, 24, of Anchorage, Alaska, who died on Dec. 11 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of a non-combat related incident.


3 December 2017

Oh, hey, we put up the festive artificial tree last weekend:

Christmas tree is up - 2017

Christmas tree is up – 2017

Someone said that it had probably been up all year. When I pointed out that Marcia’s hip surgery and recovery therefrom precluded much decoration last year, the reply was that it must have been up for a couple of years then. I then noted two things. First, we picked up this fake tree half-price in the after-season sales in January of this year. Secondly, if I had to have the Christmas stuff up year ’round, I’d go find someone with Ebola to cough on me. Bah Humbug.

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I also recently picked up the model plane project that I started a few years back, but put up in the closet while other tasks took center stage: It’s an F6F3 Hellcat.

F6F-3 Hellcat balsa model

F6F-3 Hellcat balsa model

I’ve been occasionally posting pictures of progress over the last few weeks on the twitters, but I’m close to done now. I’m going to paint it out and display it as is (no tissue skin on it) – I like the architectural feel of it as a skeleton of the plane. Also, I’ve had a cutting mat and a real mess all over my desk for the last few weeks. It’s quite nice to recover all that space.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Cpl. Todd L. McGurn, of Riverside, California, who died on Nov. 25, 2017, in Baghdad, Iraq as a result of a non-combat related incident.



26 November 2017

For those in the US, I hope y’all had a lovely Thanksgiving. We enjoyed a wonderful evening and repast with friends and (their) family. Then it was back to work for me on Friday. Then, yesterday evening, we attended the glorious opening night premiere production of A Christmas Carol at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company! Highly recommended.

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On the side, I’m spending some time working with/learning more about Django. And I’m still working on that balsa model. The tail surfaces are affixed, and shaping of the wing continues.

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DoD announced no new casualties in the most recent week, for which we are thankful. Ciao!


19 November 2017

Whelp. I see from Barbara’s postings that Bob is being cranky in the ICU, which is a pretty reasonable response, IMO. Pulling for a speedy recovery for him!

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A busy work week, full of tasks, a holiday pot luck luncheon, and a lot of after-hours patching. All-in-all, productive and successful. I’ve also been working on the balsa model  of the F6F-3 Hellcat fighter, you can find pictures of that over on my twitter feed (@bilborg).

On the entertainment front, coming up soon from the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, we have the premiere of a new production of A Christmas Carol, from a story written by some bloke named Dickens. Yep, we’re looking forward to seeing that show, plus more from their continuing cabaret series!

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I’d like to report that this Paperclip AI game is indeed addictive, precisely as reported in The Verge. If true, the universe is indeed paperclips, all the way down. And it’ll be our fault.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. 1st Class Hughton O. Brown, 43, of Brooklyn, New York, who died on Nov. 14 in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, as a result of a non-combat related incident.


13 November 2017

We’re pulling for Bob Thompson (site), who is having a particularly rough stretch with heart issues. We count on the doctors to find a way to safely treat what’s ailing him.

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Our thanks to each and every veteran who fought to uphold our constitution.

*       *       *

A busy three day weekend is behind us. I got some holiday shopping done, and did some chores around the house, as well as remote work for $FIRM.

We got to spend another lovely Broadway show tunes cabaret evening Sunday night with our friends from Annapolis Shakespeare. We were treated to Marc Irwin, the new Musical Director, on piano backing up Sally, Ian, Olivia, and the guest opera singer: Madeline Miskie. Coming up, they’ve got the premiere of a newly written show from the Dickens novel: A Christmas Carol. We are so looking forward to that!

We’re also trying to plan some sort of travel in celebration of our twentieth anniversary, which is next year. We’ll probably manage a couple of shorter trips throughout the year, instead of one big long one. Meantime, take care of each other out there. It’s a dangerous world.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lee M. Smith, 35, of Arlington, Texas, who died on Nov. ‎11 at Camp Taji, Iraq, due to injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.

Also, our condolences to the Buckley’s, the Weber’s, and the Bevis’s, all of whom have suffered the loss of a loved one in recent days.

6 November 2017

Yup, this should have been yesterday, but I was busy, then I was tired.  I had a good week last week. Productive at work, got most of the important chores done at home, and we went to a wedding on Friday. It was lovely. But there’s not much else to report, and I have more to do this evening. Enjoy yourselves.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. First Class Stephen B. Cribben, 33, of Simi Valley, California, who died on Nov. 4 in Logar Province, Afghanistan as a result of wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations.


29 October 2017

Boo! Ha Ha Ha!

There. That’s the extent of my seasonal participation in the upcoming Day of the Dead celebration.

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This last week, we went to see POE… And All The Others, put on by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. As with last year’s production, Poe was played with power and sensitivity by Brian Keith MacDonald. This year’s Muse (and all the others) was played by Olivia Ercolano. Olivia’s performance seemed to be informed, nay, infused, with the imperious strength of her Red Queen role from Alice, earlier this year. What a joy! There are still two chances to see this wonderful production – Monday and Wednesday of this week.

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Work was work: Mostly devoted to monitoring systems this week. Some chores got done this weekend, but the rain came in today, and I had a lazy, lazy time of it.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Chief Warrant Officer Jacob M. Sims, 36, of Juneau, Alaska, who died Oct. 27 in Logar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of wounds sustained when he was involved in a helicopter crash.