Vertical Integration

I saw somebody on FB upset the other day about how New Jersey is taking on Preston Tucker “Elon” Musk for wanting to own its dealerships in The Garden State.

*cluestick time*

There’s a reason why most Exxon and BP stations aren’t owned by the parent companies. There’s a reason places like Wawa don’t have any drilling or refining businesses. Wawa, 7-Eleven (since the last sell-off of Southland Corp; to the Japanese, now, I think), and many of the other places selling cheap fuel buy from whichever refinery is cheapest that week. Consequently, their gas prices fluctuate a lot more than the places that only sell a single brand of gasoline.

Here! Be Educated.

Around the same time, I read this about how Paul Fraim is going to be recoronation.

Then today, I read this despairing about the “new” Waterside….

Vertical Integration happens in politics, too. You live in a one-party locality. You faithfully support that party at the higher levels of government (state and Federal), then are surprised when the same misguided cronies who’ve propagated bad ideas for years and years and years continue getting funded and elected?

Don’t like City Council and Paul Fraim? Don’t sell yourself out as a solid supporter of Ralph Northam, Mark Herring, et. al..

The principle works in both places. Really.

Open Book

On advisement from family and friends, when I was searching for a job last year, I seriously curtailed some of my social media stuff.

Where did it get me? A job I ended up hating, making barely enough money to survive, while my health continued to deteriorate.

To put it another way, I spent the better part of a year hiding who I am, getting barely anything in return.

So, the company I just applied with asked to look at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Sure. I don’t have the time or energy to try and hide who I am, and it didn’t benefit me the last time I did.

View away. If you have a question, ask. If you see something that concerns you, ask me about it. Or don’t hire me.

All the long-lasting things in my life have been gained when I can just be me, not when I’m putting on an act.


A couple of days ago, I thought about putting up some letters I’d written to people but never sent. Maybe the things I said don’t really need to be said, so I’ll keep them to myself.

(It’s ironic that there seems to be an Alanis song that fits…..)

More things left to bitrot.

Much like my music library, I have a lot of stuff that I can probably get rid of, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

The same applies to spare hardware; anybody looking for something?

Unhealthy Healthcare IT

This week’s been less than fun, and culminated with me having a rather serious flare.  Three days of Solu-Medtrol later, I’m somewhat okay.  I can at least read text off my phone, which I couldn’t do Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

That I tolerated the infusions okay probably means I’m going to be headed for Tysabri.  I’m not terribly thrilled, but if it’d keep my eyes where they are now, it’d be worth it. If they get my eyes back to the point where I can drive again, even better.

But with the tumult after the four-letter laid me off, because my former shining example of a boss screwed up my paperwork, things didn’t get squared away with my COBRA paperwork until after my coverage terminated.  Of course, it was reinstated retroactive after we paid, but….

I’ve been spending copious amounts of time dealing with various docs’ and insurance companies’ sites.  None of them work together.  Google Health died a couple of years ago.  The rollout has been an unmitigated disaster.

Today, I’ve been trying to get a refill on one of my medications.  Because I was supposed to order the refill during the time my coverage had lapsed on paper, I didn’t.  I have to get my PCP to call it in.  And I’ll be out before the mailorder house can get the stuff processed and shipped, much less delivered.

Of course, I’m having to juggle four website logins while I’m doing this, none of which really communicates with the others.  (The prescription and health insurance sort of do, but there’s sometimes a couple of days’ delay before things get updated.)

Why don’t we have single-payer insurance, or a system where the consumer would choose whatever insurance he wanted, and stick with it regardless of his employment situation?

My property insurance company provides health coverage, but it’s through another company, not directly through them.  I can continue getting raped paying COBRA.  (And when I say that, I’m not kidding.  It costs more than rent/power/intertubes/tv/etc.)  I can try whatever barfs out.  Or….?

Disability isn’t something I can really consider yet, nor does it do anything about my wife.

Say it with me, with gusto, “FORWARD.”

The More You Know….

The less nostalgia you might have.

Things have come to light over the past couple of months that make me ask who knew what, and when.

People do go to prison.  I was told emphatically that that just didn’t happen.  Guess what — it does.

And, even if it’s not explicitly your job, you do have a responsibility to keep everybody honest.

“It’s not a moral issue!”

Actually, it is.  If you’re so busy trying to keep from seeing that it is both a moral and ethical issue, you’re beyond help.

When I’m full of shit, I deserve to be told so.  When I’m considering doing something that I know isn’t right, I should be reminded.

Maybe there’s some letters after my name I can buy that’ll convince me that hair can actually be split longitudinally into five pieces.

Or maybe it’d be better for me to just act omniscient, and later be proven a charlatan.  (That’s to someone else who refuses to answer email, or pick up the phone.)

So, what have I learned with this latest unplanned vacation?

1.  Hiding who and what I am doesn’t benefit me at all, and;

2.  Don’t trust the “old ways” of doing things.  They’re often incredibly expensive, and ultimately ineffective.

Number two is probably very offensive to some people.  See number one;  I don’t care.

Appreciate the Process

I recently wrote about process adherence on a separate issue.

A week ago, I interviewed for a job with a company for whom I used to be employed.  I found out, informally, that I didn’t get the job.  This afternoon, I got an email confirming that.

Yes, it was mainly boilerplate for every candidate who applied.  Yes, I am disappoint.  At the same time, I appreciate why they’re trying to stick to their processes.

That appreciation made me not a team player for the four-letter.

I’m okay with that.  Processes never work if you’re willfully ignorant of them.

Only so many spoons

Since I’m not using a lot of them working right now, my brain is moving at an insane rate in this late hour.

Before Shmoocon 2013, I’d started on a CFP response, inspired by Mouse’s talk the year before about active defense. My scarred-up brain started down this path after seeing Mudge’s keynote the last year at the Marriott (aka Snowmageddonpacolypsewhatever).

When he was talking from his carefully-sanitized slides, he showed a common host. It had eight vulnerabilities via a Retina scan.

Someone about four rows back raised his hand. Before he was really recognized to speak, he pointed out that at least three of them were HBSS vulnerabilities.

So, after musing on those two talks some, my premise was, essentially, that building monolithic systems increases the attack vector. So, what do you do? Throw something else on top of that monolith to protect it.

Once the attacker is around the defenses, he’s got a target-rich environment to exploit the system.

Unfortunately, as I was walking through the rebuttal I could expect from the audience, I came across an argument I couldn’t refute — some of these defenses do actually close some holes. While the overall vector may be bigger, it’s less vulnerable to some of the more common attacks.

As I’ve been listening to my wife dig through her math coursework, I’ve been thinking about what the equation on this would look like.

The vector calculation would need to include the overall attack risk of the base OS, each application installed atop the OS, minus the holes patched by the sekurity measures (whether hard or soft).

What are the most common NVD for the OS? Which are closed by the security measures? Of the remaining, what are the of exploit for each?

Busted-ass WinXP box has a 38% chance of getting 0wned in a month. It has Flash and Java installed on it, which raises the chance to 60%. It has SuperSEkurSoftFW installed, which brings the XP number down to 33%, and knocks two points off Java and Flash, leaving 51%.

I wish I had more math skills to write a nasty-looking equation for all this. *sigh*

But the overall concept remains — the less stuff you stack on a host, the smaller the overall vector, regardless of whatever security middleware you throw on it to plug holes.

Everything Passes

Some bring relief, others grief.

So, number one — my “job” at the four-letter. I went to Shmoocon after being told that things were okay through September. When I got back to work Tuesday, I was given my layoff notice. Winning!!1! Charlie Sheen-style! I’ve been digging hard looking for a new job all week, seemingly without success. Have I learned some lessons from my time there? Absolutely. Have I made some friends? Yes. Have I met several others I’ll never respect? That, too; I’ll try to avoid working with those folks ever again.

Number two, speaking of job-hunting, someone for whom I’d done a considerable amount of work without charge isn’t answering my E-mails these days. Noted with somewhat bittersweet interest. (I guess I pissed him off by pressing an issue a few months ago. I admit I was a bit jumpy, but there’s no words to express how much I didn’t like my situation at the four-letter company…. I’m not 25 anymore. I’m married. I have a chronic illness. The stakes are higher.)

Number three is on an unrelated topic. I’m very sad to see Shady Grove Marketplace closing up shop. It’s a tough time to be a resounding success in business for a variety of reasons, but I will miss Luke and Emily very much. I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

Number four: I’ve talked a bit with Dana about writing. Why do I do it? What purpose does it serve? My anonymous writing outlet for nearly fifteen years is shutting down permanently any day now after several months of serious malfunction. I’m sad to see it go, but it did kick me into writing again*, and everything gets deleted, eventually. I’d fallen away from writing a bit after I met my wife. I got back into it, seriously, after I found out that I was sick. There’s something cathartic about writing for me. I haven’t quite figured out what it is So now, I’m going to have to use different tools, but I was dedicated to doing that before I knew I’d be forced to.

*I’d been a pretty ardent journal-writer in junior high and high school. That all changed after one of my English teachers offered keeping a journal as an extra credit assignment. Two entries per week through the grading period, and an extra letter grade. I wrote nearly every day, largely about girls, being forcibly removed from my friends (I’d moved from Germany to Pennsylvania, didn’t have any romantic prospects, was sick with some unknown affliction, and was too slight to play football anymore), etc.. I was the only one in the class who took her up on the offer, so she read what I’d written with great interest. I’ll just say that she was worried about me. Seeing as how this was only a few months removed from Kurt Cobain’s suicide, the education establishment was really worried about dour dudes in flannel. My Godfather sent me an envelope full of floppy disks with this new thing called Linux, we moved to Virginia, and things improved for awhile.

On Process

One of the things that’s kind of been driven home to me, even more forcefully this week, is that following process is important.

While I agree with Mark Herring’s new stance, (as opposed to Larry Craig’s wide one….) he is violating the Virginia constitution he swore to defend.

Yes, in Federal court, Virginia would lose, but it’s up to the General Assembly to do the cooking by the book, and ask the voters to fix the Virginia Constitution. There is no shortcut. The General Assembly also needs to fix its Crimes Against Nature statute, which it cannot enforce. That’d actually be easier than the same-sex marriage ban.

If Herring is going to refuse to do the job he was elected to do, impeachment and removal are the only options open to the General Assembly. (And I’ll spare the lecture on how Virginia’s government functions more like the UK parliament than the US Federal governmetn does….)

What’s lost in all this? As I’ve said many times, Congress could have spared everybody this debate, simply by amending the Civil Rights Acts to incude sexual orientation as a protected class under them. They chose not to in 2009. Why, Ms. Pelosi? Couldn’t be because you have bigots in your own caucus, now could it? Unpossible.

Similarly, some of the nonsense I’ve dealt with work-wise the past year has been because people willfully ignore published procedures. Don’t like them? Change them. Oh, but that’s difficult, too. Just “hand jivejam” it!

Elections do have consequences, sure. But laws, rules, and regulations simply don’t evaporate just because there’s new folks executing them.

But I’m “pushing back.” I need to learn to quit doing that.

Free Agent

I’ve gotten a couple of questions about it, so I’ll make the response concise — after Monday, I am unemployed. For the second January in a row, I’ve been laid off.

My resume.

Due to my health issues, I’d like to find something with significant telecommuting options. Relocation is not really an option until after my wife finishes her studies at Old Dominion.