This blog post best read while listening to this playlist.
I keep trying to figure out how to start this blog post. I've started, stopped, pondered, and taken a shower while thinking about it off and on ever since my last post went live back in February. Unfortunately, life in the twenty-first century is.. well, being life in the twenty-first century. The laundry list of things that have taken up most of my time is unfortunately way too long: Java and log4j have cost me more nights of sleep and almost-but-not-quite migraines in the last month or so than I care to think about, mostly because I lost track. It feels like it's been a never-ending cycle of "get a vulnerability report," "patch shit," "get another vulnerability report because we just realized that our patch management system missed a couple of dozen machines," rinse, repeat. When you factor in working for a megacorp, immense scale is not conducive to one's mental health or getting any sleep when a perfect storm of security vulnerability comes along.
Unfortunately, information security is not all cracking networks and sneaking into buildings. In fact, most of the time it's reading reports, updating spreadsheets, sitting in meetings, and deploying patches. Maybe I'll write about the awesome stuff one day, perhaps in a memoir. Anyway.
My birthday came and went on 15 February, as it always does once a year. This was the first one without my mom, who was born on the same day as me 29 years and 12 hours previously. I think I've reached the point where I no longer catch myself wanting to call her every weekend, like I used to do. Instead I'm fighting with her tax preparer about getting her final tax return finished, because of course the IRS wants one last dig (no pun intended). I've been trying to get through to anyone there since then with no luck. Needless to say it's been frustrating because I can't even get to the "here's all the estate paperwork" part of the show. After exhausting just about every avenue open to me I finally broke down and sent an e-mail to my estate attorney asking for help. We'll see what happens next.
I'm trying to fix what my website looks like on mobile devices. I think I defuckulated (thanks for the word, Deev) the menu on mobile devices (just tap the icon and it'll unroll or roll up) but it doesn't show the whole thing because it gets cut off, and I've gotten a couple of complaints about the text being harder to read on mobile devices. I haven't really had the compute cycles to work on that part.
Unless you've been completely off the grid for the last couple of weeks you've heard about the situation with Russia invading Ukraine. And it's bad. Very bad.
Why am I putting it this way?
Because I know jack about Ukrainian politics, Russian foreign policy or military doctrine or anything like that. And I'm not afraid to admit it, unlike most of the tweeting heads on Birbsite. As Sarah Smith so succinctly put it, "Congratulations to all newly minted foreign policy experts." Point being, there's no shortage of folks who claim they know what's going on, speak authoritatively, and talk a good game from their swivel chairs but in point of fact they know dick. There is also a flood of straight-up disinformation about the invasion of the Ukraine, covering the entire spectrum of "random guy claiming he's US intel" (who, if he wasn't full of it would be in very deep shit for violating his security clearance by posting classified material) to impressively subtle and well done disinformation. As thegrugq so succinctly put it once upon a time, "the fog of cyberwar is the war."
So, what I'm trying to say is, I don't know what's going on. There's way too much going on in my life right now to do the necessary background research from verifiable primary sources to catch up. I definitely don't have the time to figure out what news sources are trustworthy and accurate, fact check every last little thing that comes my way, and generally play keyboard warrior. I deactivated many of my news agents a while back, not only to free up time but because my mental health was starting to suffer. And setting boundaries is both good and healthy. It doesn't mean you don't care, it doesn't mean you lack compassion (though compassion is steadily being ground out of the people on this world, which is a separate issue), it means that sometimes you have to say "I have to stay out of this."
Which pretty much brings me around to the generation X part of this post. As I've mentioned in the past I grew up in the 1980's, during the Cold War. We had duck and cover drills in school up until fifth grade, maybe sixth grade, until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Also, I think that they finally realized that the last steel mills closed in Pittsburgh a few years previously (Internet Archive) (archive.ph) so the city was probably not a strategic target anymore in the event World War III started. Not that it would have mattered, anyway - just about any larval nerd at the time had checked at least one book about physics or nuclear energy (on the high end of age appropriate, of course), read about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and knew that hiding under a desk would do sweet fuck all in the event The Bomb dropped. It's been quite a few years but I'm fairly sure that the non-larval nerds also probably came to the same conclusion through other means.
So, I look at the tweeting heads clutching their pearls about the prospect of World War III finally starting... and yawn. Welcome to my childhood in the 80's. These folks seem to have finally realized just how much power we don't have, just how much we don't matter in the grand scheme of politics. The politicians calling the shots have their agendas and their plans and their foreign policies, and we don't actually get any say in any of it. Sure, we can write to our congresscritters or our representatives or a leader of a country or whatever, but what can that actually do? Asking nicely to not press the Big Red Button sure won't work. If it's decided that nuclear war has to start, it's going to start and there isn't a single thing that any of us can realistically do to stop it, on any side of the conflict. So, please.. chill out. Kick back, get your beverage of choice, put on some music (if you haven't already), and read a book or play a game or something. Or go look at this Twitter conversation about using Unicode to draw dicks using other languages' character sets. If nothing else it'll be far better for your mental and physical health than worrying about the prospect of nuclear war. The best thing any of us can do is worry about what we can actually change and let slide as best we can the stuff that we can't do anything about.
And, as I've said earlier under other contexts, treat every day as if it's your last. If you have something to say, say it. Kiss your family before you leave. Say "I love you" and "goodbye" and mean it. Because none of us know what's going to happen, so try to keep the list of things you'll feel regret for as short as possible. If nothing else, you'll sleep better at night.
I guess I'm out of stuff to write about. I've gotten off my chest what I wanted to get off my chest and processed it a little in so doing. I wish I had some fun stuff to write about but I really don't right now. I have a few projects in various states of completion right now but nothing really worth writing about just yet. Supply line and shipping problems have caused some of the components I need to be (as I write this) anywhere from a couple of weeks to over a month late. One or two other things are still being debugged. I have another search project that seems like it should be working but is doing something really strange on Windbringer yet working more or less as expected on my work laptop. Anyway, I think I've vented my spleen sufficiently for a single post.
If you need something to cheer you up after that mess pretending to be a coherent blog post, here's Tiny Toon Adventures parodying 2 Live Crew.