28 May 2017

In entertainment news, we attended the theater last night. Annapolis Shakespeare’s Donald Hicken gave us a superbly directed production of Richard III. Visiting actor Kurt Elfmann was wonderful as the murderous, treacherous, and slimy Richard. His introspective Richard was for me most compelling. ASC company member Brian Keith MacDonald played both Brakenbury and a strong, well-executed (heh) Buckingham. It’s tough playing second fiddle to an erratic schemer. I don’t but wonder what sort of role models he had for that, these days?

Also ASC regulars: Olivia Ercolano and Laura Rocklyn (Lady Anne and Queen Elizabeth, respectively) lent strength and passion to their portrayals. Doomed in their interactions with Richard, the women in this play do their best to survive at the cost of horrid compromise. Dexter Hamlett’s George (Duke of Clarence) also stood out for me, playing out his character’s fate and pain with dignity and power.

The whole cast, some eleven in all, built an exquisite mind palace for this play, making do with but three pieces of furniture in the black box of the company’s education stage. Well-designed  and executed (there’s that word again!) music, drums, and lighting provided the necessary complement to this powerful Shakespeare history. Runs at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company through June 11, 2017. Highly Recommended.

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It’s a holiday weekend. So of course it’s been raining straight through. We just cracked a year’s worth of rain, some 44″ worth, since I last changed the battery in my backyard rain gauge. That year’s worth of rain did, however, take 15 months to fall. So we’re still a bit short. Friends over for supper and games tonight, and anticipation of a relaxing day, possibly with some wood-working thrown in, for the actual Memorial day. Here’s how Lexi handles a rainy holiday weekend:

Rainy Day Lexi

Rainy Day Lexi

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Spc. Etienne J. Murphy, 22, of Loganville, Georgia, who died on May 26, in Al-Hasakah, Syria, of injuries sustained during a vehicle rollover related incident.

21 May 2017

A good week. I made progress on a couple of projects at work, patched a bunch of systems, and this weekend, patched another bunch of systems. Best of all, they’re all still running and doing their assigned tasks. The lawns are mowed, the coffee is roasted, Marcia’s new office fan/light is installed, and my energy: it is gone. But the wheel keeps turning. Three day weekend coming up next, that’s a good thing.

Oh, yeah, about that new office fan/light? I had tucked the receipt into the box when I bought it … five years ago. Sigh. New means newly installed, I guess.

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Huh. For some reason I’d never run across the term “short ton” before. 2000#, aka “a ton” in US measurements. Apparently all the other usages: “long ton”, “metric ton”, and “tonne” refer to  1000 kilograms (around 2200 pounds). Apparently that’s also the common usage in Britan, where I might have expected a larger unit of measure. After all, the weight of many heavy things is measured in “stones.” A stone ton would be about 28000 pounds. Now that’s a useful unit of measure, especially when referring to chocolate, or bacon. Sadly, though, the UK banned stone-based units of measure for commercial purposes back in 1985. This from the country that kept its national currency even after joining the EU. I say, upon Brexit, bring back the stones!

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DoD reported no new casualties in the last week, for which we are grateful. Ciao!

14 May 2017

First: She’s a good dog, Brent – 42/10.



Lexi, above, at one of her favorite activities: watching DogTV ™ from an ottoman at my upstairs office window.

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Second: Happy Mother’s Day, y’all. You know who you are! My personal celebration in honor of mothers everywhere is listening to a lot of Bangles music tonight. Yay!

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Our second streak of Seattle weather in May finally broke today, after several grey days and a couple of inches of rain. We reached the mid-70’s. That meant I could get out and take care of the mowing, and do some weeding out of the front flower beds. I’ve still not cleaned out the main veggie beds in back, for a variety of reasons. I’m leaning hard towards giving the garden a pass this year. We had such a bad year last year…

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Penultimately: Today is 10 years with my current employer. Please note that I’m still nowhere near the median tenure for the firm, which is currently hovering around 17 years, IIRC. What a wonderful bunch of folks to work with.

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In local entertainment news, The Annapolis Shakespeare Company‘s production of Richard III opens on Friday. It’s the first production in their new 99 seat black box theater. We’re looking forward to the show, and if you’re in the area, you should join us. We love this team of creative folks and are sure you will, too!

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DoD announced no new casualties in the last week, for which we’re grateful. Ciao!

8 May 2017

A good week, past. Got lots done at work, including some annual testing that went as well as can be expected from a technical perspective, and finished an hour ahead of schedule, which is wonderful, for weekend work. The balance of the weekend went to chores: from roasting coffee to cutting the hay in the front and back 40’s. Seriously, about halfway through the back yard I stopped and sent a text to Marcia asking her where she was with the baler, because stuff was piling up…

Oh, I also managed a couple of hours back on the coast road to Nova Prospekt, playing the Half Life 2: Update release. Much better visuals, etc – it’s basically Half Life 2, remastered. See this article from GameSpot for more details.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, 38, of Falmouth, Maine, who was killed during an operation against al-Shabaab on May 5, in a remote area approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu.

30 April 2017

I spent two awesome days attending BSidesCharm this weekend (not an HTTPS link, odd for a security conference, eh?). I was there from morning keynote through final talk both days, and I learned something from every speaker. So, big win. If you’re in (or interested in) InfoSec, and you’re local to the Baltimore/DC area, you really should be going to this conference. The tickets sell out fast, so keep your eye on things for next year.

That said, I got absolutely nothing else done this weekend. As it should be. Catching up should be fun… NOT!

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

  • Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Illinois, died on April 27 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of small arms fire while engaged in dismounted operations.
  •  Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas, 23, of Kettering, Ohio, died on April 27 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, as a result of small arms fire while engaged in dismounted operations.
  • 1st Lt. Weston C. Lee, 25, of Bluffton, Georgia, died on April 29, in Mosul, Iraq, from injuries while conducting security as part of advise and assist support to partnered forces.


28 Apr 2017

Ubuntu upgrade news:

I upgraded a Kubuntu 16.10 workstation to 17.04 this week. I ran into just one big issue. I’d previously been running the open source nouveau driver for the nVidia card in that system. After the upgrade, I could not keep the desktop running for more than about 5 minutes before the screen would freeze. After a bit of search-engine foo, I found that the recommended solution was to use the nVidia binary driver instead. As sad as that makes RMS, I went back down that rabbit hole. A brief visit via remote connection (unaffected by the frozen GUI):

apt install nvidia-375 nvidia-settings
shutdown -r now

Poof, the problems were solved. I have other issues with fonts now, in the terminal windows, but that’s minor stuff, easily fixed.

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In other computer-related news, I’ll be at the BSidesCharm security conference this weekend. See you there?

23 April 2017

Hullo. For my birthday this year, we went to Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s Cabaret 2.0. A fund raiser for the theatre that’s still a-building, we had a lovely evening of song, mostly Broadway musicals in origin. Wonderful. Upcoming: Richard III, Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), The Miser, and Alice and the Book of Wonderland (an original work). That wraps the current season, and we’re *also* really looking forward to the next year’s shows, too. But we can’t get our tickets for that, just yet. Are you in the DC area? Visiting? You *really* should treat yourself to a show. You’ll love the Company and their work. Seriously.

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That was the fun part of the weekend. The rest involved:

  • Fixing a leaking toilet.
  • Replacing the bits of drop ceiling affected by said leak.
  • Patching a raft of production systems.
  • Bathing the dog.
  • Mowing the front yard once.
  • Mowing the backyard for the first time of the year. Twice. It was nearly knee high. Sigh.

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

16 April 2017

Oh, first: Release your tax info, President Trump. Note: No one paid me to say that. Just do the right thing, please. Just this once…

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Here’s a happy dog:

Lexi relaxing on my lap

Lexi relaxing on my lap

This dog had to deal with Marcia’s trip, immediately followed by mine. About 16 hours after Marcia got home, Saturday last, I hopped onto a plane headed for Denver. There, I spent a week in a Red Hat Automation with Ansible class, wrapping up with a brutal four hour practical exam. I learned a bunch of stuff, and I passed the exam. That also extended my RHCE/RHCSA certs into 2020, which is good.

The weekend was full of chores. I’m full of tired.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland, who died on April 8 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations.

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.

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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…

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

2 April 2017

A busy week and weekend – I got lots of things started, and a number of them finished. Along with shopping, laundry, front yard edging and mowing, and a car wash … I made progress both days on the closet project for Marcia: After taking down the old wire racks, I removed the anchors and started the wall patching process.

starting the patching process in Marcia's closet

Starting the patching process

Meanwhile, in the woodshop, I :

  • pre-sanded all of the component parts with 150 grit
  • wiped them down with a damp rag
  • let them dry, then resanded with 180 grit
  • coated them with a pre-stain sealer (drying, below), and
  • final sanded them with 220 grit.
Closet components drying, after pre-stain sealer application.

Drying after pre-stain sealer application.

My next steps are to final coat on the wall patching, sand and paint in the closet proper. Then for the components … I’m not sure. Probably just polyurethane for the slats and the rods, and wall-color paint for the brackets. I was going to stain some parts, but time is my enemy.

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Our condolences to the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Austin Bieren, 25, of Umatilla, Oregon, who died on March 28 in northern Syria in a non-combat-related incident while deployed in support of combat operations.