Orienteering in life.

14 June 2023

"Don't follow me, I don't know where I'm going either."


Since I got my last big project finished up I've been trying to figure out what to do with myself. A certain amount of debugging was involved (as one might reasonably expect), culminating with the microSD card in my weather station tanking with terminal corruption (such that the card's on-board controller permanently locked it read-only). I'm fairly sure this was due to the card being used outside; enclosure aside the thermal cycling of the natural day/night cycle probably wrecked the silicon. I've since replaced it with an industrial-grade microSD card which seems much more stable. Since that time I've tinkered a bit with adding support for logging data to InfluxDB so I can build a historical dashboard using Grafana. That is a fairly popular and widely used combination of software these days, and I don't know anything about it so I figured it'd be a good excuse to experiment with it.

But, per usual, life throws the occasional curveball and I've been handling things as well as I can. About three weeks ago I recieved an unwelcome and unwanted surprise just after lunch: Somebody had stolen all four wheels off of my car. I went outside and found it resting on a pair of bricks. The wheels, tire pressure sensors, and even the factory-standard wheel locks had vanished some time in the previous 48 hours. I don't drive much during the week, which is why I hadn't noticed. I found out from the dealership that this is a thing that's been happening lately, and I wasn't the first person to get their car towed to the dealership for new wheels in recent memory. More like the twelfth or thirteenth that month.

This is apparently a common enough thing that the tow truck driver had a set of more or less universal temporary wheels on board, specifically so that cars in the same state could be raised onto a flatbed and driven away. I also found out that keys (more like specially machined sockets) for the factory wheel locks are available on Ali Baba for about $0.72us each. Total time for a pair of folks who know what they're doing to jack the car up, unlimber the wheels, and abscond: Maybe five minutes. Ten if they're new at it. No, I'm not going to tell you how to do it, you're more than capable of looking it up on Tiktok or Youtube or something. It's cheap and easy enough to learn that I'm not going to make it any easier.

Not long after getting my car back from the dealership and then the body shop, a flying bit of gravel chipped my windshield on the highway. A couple of days later the insurance company sent somebody out to repair it, and during the process the chip turned into a spiderweb of cracks about the size of a hardback book as we watched. The car's still drivable but now the entire windshield has to be replaced. And, of course the insurance company's website doesn't make it possible to update a claim of glass damage (because it's only glass damage, why would a claim need edited?) A day later, the cracks were just over half the width of the windshield, so now the car's probably not safe to drive. I've had to arrange for both a tow truck as well as replacement of the windshield.

As you've probably guessed I'm not in the best of moods right now. It's been pretty much one thing after another on top of daily life.

I started a new job in April of 2023, so at least I don't need to worry a whole lot about daily life being fairly stable. The daily routine is solid and comforting and I have a paycheck coming in so that's less to worry about these days. I even have some travel for work coming up, so it'll be nice to stretch my legs a little and see someplace new. Unfortunately it's not for continuing education or a trip to a con to learn new things. Going to conventions and conferences while COVID is still out and about aside, prices are just too rich for my blood (or my dayjob's) these days. As a point of reference, as I write this on 4 June 2023 the cost to attend Defcon is now $440us at the door, $460us if you pre-register. Compared to what it was the last time I went, that's way too rich for my blood compared to how difficult it is to get into any talks these days. This also means that I'm going to miss the cDc's latest project launch, which I'm not happy about but sometimes that's what life does.

Much of work has been handling the onboarding suppository and watching recordings of classes about the stuff the company does to provide context for everything. The actual work-type stuff I do has involved learning how to write plans for Terraform, which is an automation tool for building and maintaining infrastructure running at various cloud providers without having to write custom code or wandering around their control panels. Compared to writing code that interacts with, say, AWS' orchestration API I'll take learning a new configuration language any day. My one complaint, for AWS at least, is that there are some infrastructure components that you can't just edit or update. If you edit a Terraform plan and apply it, there's a good chance that at least one thing will be deleted and rebuilt with new settings. Sometimes this isn't quite so bad, but sometimes it means databases holding important stuff. It's hair raising at first, but then turns into a moderate annoyance a bit later.

With everything going on1 by the end of the day my brain is about used up. Do I want to write? No. Any words that I had cooking in the back of my head up and left. Code? Also nope. The last thing I want to do is hack around with anything. This also means that one or two other stagnant projects are just sort of sitting there doing nothing (which means that those writeups are also cooling their heels). If it sounds like I just sort of sit around staring at the wall... well, I kind of do sometimes. It can be weirdly relaxing to let your brain drop into lop power mode, I won't kid you. But as someone that does stuff I feel kind of bad about that.

  1. Everything. So much. All the time.