3 Feb 2017

Another interesting week near the heart of power. Well, when I say “heart”, I mean corroded hunk of radioactive tin encased in an orange waste of skin. Ah, well. One does what one can while watching the wreck of trains, above and below.

In the meantime, I managed to get Kubuntu installed on my old Mac Air (2011). The install was fairly trivial, just a couple of trips to the search engines to get me over the occasional install hump. Everything but the thunderbolt port works flawlessly, and here it sits next to it’s new big brother:

AirBuntu next to the new-ish MPB

AirBuntu next to the new-ish MPB

The primary failing of the Air was one of battery life – it had a semi-useful 2 hours worth, which sucked when I found myself stranded in Columbus without a power brick last Fall. The other main issue is the screen. In the last 6 years, my eyes appear to have aged about 10, and with the amount of information I like to keep on screen, the larger, higher resolution MBP is just better. Let’s be clear: compared to the Air, the Retina screen on the MacBook Pro is glorious. Oh, and a much faster processor doesn’t hurt at all either. The air will serve well as a conference laptop. The MBP is a superb work machine for me. All I have to do is get used to floating my palms off that bloody huge touchpad.

30 Jan 2017

My gast is utterly flabbered. Donald of Orange, elected as President, signs his name and commits his office to actions I find reprehensible. More evil is coming, of that I am sure. We donated tonight to Planned Parenthood and to the ACLU, both doing good work in “interesting times.”

*      *      *

I had a busy weekend. Okay. I had a lazy Saturday, and a Sunday filled with shopping and housecleaning, followed by dinner out with the cow-orkers. Lovely food and evening at Seasons 52 up at the Columbia Mall. Recommended.

*      *      *

Our condolences to the family and friends of Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois, who died on Jan. 28 in the Arabian Peninsula of Yemen, of wounds sustained in a raid against al-Qaida.

22 Jan 2017

It’s a hell of a thing. But let’s be clear. I’m not really an optimist. Most days, I plan for the worst. In the end, most days I’m pleasantly surprised by how well things went. Given my imagination, really, I’m not going to actually have the worst day I can envision.

Sadly, I don’t think the President has the chops or the self-control to build a team that will give us good government. For me, this makes bad days more likely. I think it’s the absolute unpredictability of the man that is most bothersome. Well, that and the sycophants that parrot and back up whatever shiny lunatic lies pops out of his mouth. I suspect our best hope in the short term will be an adversarial press, and an active electorate.

It was awesome to watch the crowds come together yesterday for the Women’s March. I was an event chauffeur, driving Marcia and a neighbor down to the Metro early, and picking them up in the afternoon. You can (and people do) pick apart any agenda, but I’m impressed with the general direction and motivation from the Women’s March. The big take-away is to be active. Become and stay involved in politics. Watch how your local, state, and national representatives act on your behalf, and let them KNOW you’re watching. Let them know when you don’t approve, AND when you do. Both are important. Actively support the groups doing good work: the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, etc. Stay active and be ready when it’s time to go to the polls again. If you don’t like how things work, and you don’t vote … well, that’s just sad.

The man who is President won, I believe, due to electorate lethargy and apathy. These are fatal to a Democracy. In the year to come, his actions and our level of activity will distinctly influence mid-cycle elections. Our Legislative Branch will then have to shit or get off the pot. Be part of the solution, make a difference. That’s my take.

Of course, as a died-in-the-wool pessimist, I expect none of this to make a difference. And there’s still a rock out there with our name on it. But maybe not tomorrow.

*      *      *

Lexi doesn't want a walk...

Lexi doesn’t want a walk…

I asked, really I did. It was an unusual Monday for the dog, because I was home all day on MLK Day. That sort of thing messes with her expectations of how life should go. I should be home for two days, then gone for most of the next five.

“Do you want to go for a walk, Lexi?”

That usually elicits an excited tail-wagging response that leads directly over to the leash. But on Monday last, the answer was clear:

“Nope. Belly scritch. Now.”

*      *      *

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

16 Jan 2017

Martin Luther King, Jr. Today we have a national holiday to celebrate his birth, and to remember his words and his deeds on behalf of Civil Rights for African Americans.  Today, even with the advent of Trump, the US is a better place than it was in King’s time. This should not be taken to mean that there isn’t far more work to do. Continued racial and religious profiling by law enforcement, and well-documented police brutality that is far more often inflicted on people of color are just the visible tip of the social/cultural iceberg that is inequality in the U.S. today.

How we treat our neighbors first is the most important step we can make in the right direction. I’m very happy that we have a wide diversity of neighbors. I think it makes the neighborhood stronger, and teaches the children of our neighbors that everyone can live together. This is true even though there are people who are unhappy with a well-integrated neighborhood. That’s okay. They’ll live with it, and learn, or they’ll leave. Their loss.

Today, also, we remember that Dr. King was assassinated for his beliefs, and for his work, his speeches, his marches, his arrests in the cause of Civil Rights in America. I will remember that his death does not mark the end of his work. It is up to us to continue it, as best we can, each in our own way.

*      *      *

I had another good week of exercise last week, and I’m currently down 5# since the first of the year. I’m gunning for five to six days a week of explicit exercise, and planning to continue that regime. I’m back up over 40 minutes per session on the elliptical machine, and approaching my “good” pace: 2000 strides / 15 minutes. I also value what the Marines have to say on the topic: Pain is weakness leaving the body.

*      *      *

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

  • Spc. Isiah L. Booker, of Cibolo, Texas, died Jan. 7, in Jordan, in a non-combat related incident.
  • Spc. John P. Rodriguez, of Hemet, Calif., died Jan.12, in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in a non-combat related incident.

8 Jan 2017

One down, 51 to go.

A good week for exercise – I managed five days of workouts in the last seven. Today was good: 60/40/22/41(5200/635).

Work was productive and fun, and I got caught up on some technical reading. Oh, yeah. Snow. Predicted: 2-4 over Friday/Saturday. Actual: a little under 3/4″. Ah, well.

*      *      *

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

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!

 

 

26 Dec 2016

I hope y’all had a Merry Christmas, at least those of you that recognize the holiday. For the rest, I hope you enjoyed your weekend. We had a quiet holiday at home. I baked a ham and we added mashed red potatoes and broccoli to the plates. Lexi got the best under-the-tree gift this year – a tin of dog treats from her Auntie Tae! Marcia and I had done our gift exchange earlier, and mostly in support of the Annapolis Shakespeare Company.

Lexi on Christmas Day

Lexi on Christmas Day

*      *      *

DoD announced no new casualties in the last 8 days. Glad of that, too. Ciao!

18 Dec 2016

‘Twas the week before Christmas,
And all through the town,The wind was a’blowin’,
And power was down.

Well, not for us, but lots of folks lost power around here today. Yesterday around noon, we finally emerged from an early cold blast that had us in the teens and twenties since Wednesday. This morning, it reached 62 degrees. Now it’s back down to freezing. All that atmospheric energy had to go somewhere, and wind was no surprise. We had perhaps a tenth of an inch of ice on Saturday morning:

Ice on the crepe myrtle seed pods

Ice on the crepe myrtle seed pods

Lexi seriously hates walking about on ice-crusted grass. She acts as if it’s much worse than snow. I’d guess so, it’s probably sharp and all of the smells are hidden.

I got some house cleaning done, roasted some coffee, and did a bit of remote work. All in all, a productive week and weekend.

*      *      *

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

11 Dec 2016

G’day. What a lovely day. Well, not temperature-wise, as it was 24F when I got up and walked the dog this morning, and had barely crept up to the freezing point by noon. But, still a nice day. We took Linda and Mike to see the matinee showing of It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, staged by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company. It’s running through Christmas Eve, so you have plenty of time to go see it yourself! This is the second year we’ve enjoyed this production. While some might say it’s not the cheeriest of stories, it is indeed a wonderful show. And there’s plenty of humor in the actors interacting in their “radio studio” as the play goes on. And as usual, towards the end, something manages to get into my eyes. Sally Boyett and her team put on a great show, and you’d love it. Go. GO!

Beyond that, a busy work week behind, another one in front. Other than roasting a pound of Honduras coffee yesterday, there’s not much to report.

*      *      *

A moment of silence to mark the passing of John Glenn.

He was heroic, in the best sense of that word. He flew and fought in two wars. He went to space and into orbit, in a tin can perched atop a tube of high explosives in 1962. Then did it again in 1997 (at age 77!) on the space shuttle. He was a US Senator from Ohio for a quarter century. He’d been a hero of mine for decades, and the world is a poorer place without him in it.l

Our condolences to the family and friends of Sgt. First Class Allan E. Brown, 46, of Takoma Park, Maryland, who died on Dec. 6 at Walter Reed National Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device in Bagram, Afghanistan, that occurred on Nov. 12.

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!