This weekend through the first of May will be a string of shorted weekends due to a push to get the remaining branches converted to the new drivers license system.  That means I will be losing Saturday morning for the rest of the month, putting me behind on chores , retarding everything else in the process.   It’s inconvenient to work on weekends but compared to many in the IT profession I do it far less often than the norm.

After chores I am going to have some labor on my hands.  Cindy is going to need a bunch of castle stones and pond pebbles to convert one of our old landscaped areas into a larger, mostly succulent space.  It will be a lot of lugging and hauling but I think the end result will be worth it.

I don’t really don’t have much more to say other than I hope the portion of the weekend I have left to enjoy is indeed, enjoyable.

Once a Trump presidency became a scary reality there have been countless examples of just how inept, broken and dysfunctional of a human being the man was on so many levels.  Well you can add password security to his long list of flaws.  This story came to me via a podcast I subscribe to, Darknet Diaries which talks about a variety of IT hacking incidents and scenarios.  The last three episodes have told a pretty terrifying story of just how clueless and lazy our former Big League leader was/is in terms of password best practices.

Back in 2012 LinkedIn had a data breach that exposed millions of users personal data.  Some of that data included password hashes. When the breach was revealed of course LinkedIN eventually notified users and advised them to not only change their password on LinkedIn but also on any other sites that they use the same password on as it was now potentially exposed.

Several years later, in 2016, somebody had cracked a bunch of those password hashes and published it on the internet.  A group of ethical hackers in Denmark  called the Guild of Grumpy Old Hackers was looking at this data that was released into the wild.  They searched for various people and one of those people just happened to be the then presidential candidate, Donald Trump.  Donald did indeed have a LinkedIN account at the time of the breach.

So these guys for the heck of it went to Twitter and thought they would try the password that was exposed in the LinkedIN hack on Donald Trump’s Twitter account.  Yes the Twitter account that he cherished and bragged about to the world.  Imagine the hackers faces when they entered the 2012 LinkedIN password in the @realdonaldtrump sign in page, and it worked….   The guy was using the same password from the 2012 hack, which he surely used elsewhere as well.  The cherry on top was just how stupidly simplistic the password was, “yourefired”  I kid you not.   The ethical hackers after a lot of effort did eventually make US authorities aware of this gaping hole in basic password security and it was addressed.  So whew, crisis averted, I am sure Donald learned his lesson, right? Wrong.

Fast forward to October of 2020.  This same group of hackers were curious just how secure Trump’s Twitter account was leading up to the election as it had been weaponized to unleash disinformation at a torrid pace.  They had heard on the message boards that at Trump rallies they offered free wifi.  The password on that wifi was posted as “maga2020!!”  So the hackers first tried to verify if the account utilized 2FA (two factor authentication), a pretty standard safety practice present day that requires secondary verification by SMS or email when a logon is detected from a new location.  Surely the Twitter account of the president of the USA would have 2FA turned on.  It did not.

Once they confirmed 2FA was not on they tried variations on that wifi password that was posted on the internet.  It took them only five guesses until they guessed right, “maga2020!”  Yes, Trump’s Twitter password was “maga2020!”  The hackers were flabbergasted that four years after they found just how insecure Trump’s Twitter was, it still was, with another weak password and no 2FA.  They notified authorities and initially were not responded to.  They got frustrated and posted news of the breach, leaving out specifics, which finally got them a phone call from the Secret Service.  Trump, reacted as you would expect.  An inquiry by the Dutch authorities, surely pushed for by the Trump administration, was launched against the Grumpy Hackers who have documented over 5000 ethical hacking cases where they find vulnerabilities and report them so they can be fixed instead of exploited.  The investigation found the Grumps innocent of wrong doing, thankfully.

As I began with, unless you are a MAGA worshiping cultist, you already knew the level of incompetence that was circling around the White House for the last four years.  However I am thankful that we have groups like the Grumpy Old Hackers to protect us from lazy, sloppy, ignorant, yet powerful individuals that don’t know/care enough to do the basics to help prevent a cybersecurity breach.

Last night I plowed through the last four episodes of The Walking Dead, a show I have watched since it’s inception damn close to 10 years ago.  Like most of America I was amazed by the show the first few seasons.  It was well written, well acted, and terrifying.  When Rick “died” (but not really) the show sort of went off the rails for me.  It almost felt like all of the original writers for the show had left and what they were replaced by was not good, at all.  Sometime last season Cindy said she didn’t even care enough to watch the show anymore, leaving me alone to trudge ahead.

Some of the episodes are actually decent, like two of the four I watched last night.  Much like WoW, I feel I have so much time invested in the story that I just can’t walk away, a personal tendency that is not always a positive one.   I have not heard if there is a conclusion for the series on the horizon yet but I certainly would welcome it.  Until then I will continue to watch, because I have no choice.

The episodes from the second half of this season were all disjointed, each dealing with scenarios that never came back together at the end.  I did enjoy seeing the back story on Neagan at least although his evolution moment into super villain was a bit of a stretch.

I find myself thinking more existential thoughts lately but they seem to quickly dissipate and I return to focusing on the here and now.

 

 

Last night Cindy and I tried another VR experience, Walk About Mini-golf.  We had heard good things about it from a friend of ours and we both like RL mini-golf so we figured it was worth the $15.  The controls were intuitive, once you realized you only needed to hold one controller to play the game.  The environments were relaxing, diverse and challenging.  The physics of the game really felt nearly identical to what you would experience in miniature golf.  The game seamlessly supports the Oculus “party” feature so Cindy and I were able to voice chat the entire time which was a big plus too.  The game just felt very polished.  Cindy and I played two full rounds of 18 holes on two different courses.

There are five or six courses but you can unlock higher degrees of difficulty as you play.  I think I also read you can design your own course.  We both liked the game a lot and I think it will become one of our regular plays.  I was even par on the first course and -2 on the second but Cindy had the putt of the night where she sank the ball from three tiers up and probably 50 feet away.

Today was my dentist appointment.  I was looking forward to hearing the story from my normal hygienist who wound up getting stuck in Paraguay for over 6 months because of the covid lock down.  Because of some sort of scheduling mistake I was handled by one of the newer hygienist that I had last time.  She is fine but I have a strong feeling she has a MAGA hat sitting around somewhere.

I did get to talk to my normal hygienist after I finished up (no cavities).  She told me me about the military style lockdown in Paraguay.  There was a zero tolerance policy for breaking the rules.  She said at one point, a few months in once they were allowed to actually go outside to exercise, she was stopped by police because she was only walking, which was not classified as exercise.  It sounded like a total nightmare but she got through it and is happy to be back in the states.

 

The weather this weekend was damn near perfect with lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s.  I found myself more than once feeling remorseful knowing that this was going to be a very fleeting circumstance as heat and humidity will soon become the status quo again for the next 6+ months.  On Saturday I kept hopping, doing abbreviated weed whacking and spot mowing as well as a number of smaller chores around the home.  Cindy was over at Katie’s for most of the afternoon so it allowed me to surf between tasks quickly.

On Saturday evening we met up with Deb for dinner at Brooks, which is quickly becoming our new hang out spot.  We had a fun dinner catching up with lots of laughs along the way.  It does feel nice to have some feelings of normalcy.  I still wore my mask when ordering from the bar and using the restroom but I was in the large minority by doing so. This does segway into a sobering fact however.

Currently our office has had the most people come down with covid since the pandemic started.  It is proof that the continued advised caution is valid, despite vaccinations rolling out.  A couple of the cases are serious.  This “it’s over” mentality is going to be damn near impossible to jam back into the bottle.  People are sick of anything and everything related to covid however I am seeing first hand that a lack of care or precaution does have consequences, it is not lip service.

Saturday afternoon I installed my second set of mudflaps on the Tesla in as many weeks.  When I posted my original video outlining my install of the official Tesla flaps, which are front wheels only, I got a comment from someone telling me of a better option that has a more molded appearance to the body lines and includes rear wheel guards for symmetry.  The kicker is they cost the same as what I paid for just front flaps from Tesla. Of course I documented my mistake.

Saturday night we watched Birds of Prey, the Harley Quinn standalone movie.  I was quite tired so my focus was a bit in and out.  If you like seeing women kick ass you will love the movie however for what I recalled, it didn’t quite meet my expectations and would give it a B or B-.  The new Suicide Squad trailer does look sort of awesome though.

Our Easter Sunday was enjoyable.  After stopping at DD we headed over to Katie’s place to visit.  We brought Elsa along so she could play with Tank and Bowser, which she did in large quantities.  DJ was on the move constantly, not playing or doing any one thing for more than a couple minutes at a time.  We stayed outside almost the entire time enjoying the pleasant weather while hanging out with out favorite nearly two year old.

My Easter afternoon was very busy as I did some frustrating work on my Sherman that wound up turning the hobby room into a small disaster area before I cleaned it all up.  One of the videos was about the “exo-armor” I have been working on for a couple weeks.  I am still up in the air if I want to print/sell the parts exclusively or if I want to put the models on the internet to allow others to print for themselves.

After I got stuff cleaned up I suggested to Cindy we take our mountain bikes out for a ride, something we had not done in a long time.  Our 7.5 mile ride to the swamp entrance and back was tougher than I expected.  Mountain bikes are heavy and pushing them into the headwind on the return trip had both Cindy and I breathing hard.  I wore a chest strap mounted GoPro which didn’t work out as well as I hoped.

By the time I got done editing video the Easter weekend had basically expired.  As is most often the case, I just could not find a time period where I felt like I could just relax.  I likely will not find that until I either retire or three day weekends become a full time reality.

 

 

I have been tweaking and test printing various iterations of a rail guard for the Veteran Sherman for awhile now.  I bet I have come up with close to a dozen different tweaks.  I think I have something that will work but I just don’t know that is feasible for me to make/sell them myself as they take awhile to print, especially if I do them in flexible TPU filament.  I plan to send a set to Mickey up in NYC since he will be a good test subject.  I don’t normally put my wheels into scenarios where that area would be taking impact however there are a good portion of riders that do.

Today it was in the mid 50’s when I left the house, a pleasant surprise.  I only wish the cooler temps would stick around for awhile which is a pipe dream.  In the blink of an eye 90 degrees and 80% humidity will be the norm once again.

I have a few ideas rolling around my head for the weekend.  I was recalling my nearly decade of doing race timing for the running club.  I can’t remember how I managed to get things done in addition to all of the time commitments that race timing required.  Present day it seems like my weekends are so short as is.  I guess I have just managed to backfill the time timing used to eat up with other to do’s.

I do sometimes think about what it would be like to have a weekend where the things I need to choose between doing are reading a book or going to the beach. Until I am able to hire staff to maintain the grounds or my living situation changes I just have a hard time ever seeing that coming to be.

 

 

So a couple weeks ago I recalled seeing an email from my accountant saying my tax year summary packet was on it’s way in the mail.  Late last week it occurred to me that I never saw the packet but I thought I would give it a couple days.  Yesterday,after still seeing nothing I decided to dig into it.  I emailed my accountant and told her I never received anything.  She looked up the tracking and USPS claimed it was delivered to my mailbox on March 25th. That definitely did not happen.

So I brought up the tracking information on USPS myself, it did indeed show the mail was supposedly delivered on the 25th however I immediately noticed one important detail.  The package was supposedly delivered to the 34119 zip code. Our zip code is 34120.  I double checked the To: address was correct on the envelope, it was.  When you look at the tracking each step indicated it was going to the 34120 area code, until the final destination.  Someone f’d up.

I filed a lost mail report with the post office although I have very minimal hope it will result in anything.  The fact that all of my tax information was delivered somewhere else is a huge problem.  It basically gives a dishonest individual access to tons of PI of mine which could be used in all sorts of criminal manners.  It’s frustrating to not have any realistic recourse at this point.

I got a call from my dad yesterday, the topic of which was quite surprising, he is going back to work.  My dad has been retired for somewhere around 17 years which in itself seems a bit hard to fathom.  During that time he has moved four times which has taken him all the way to New Mexico, western PA and now back in eastern PA once again.  He and my step mom have racked up countless experiences and adventures during this time.  The biggest one I was part of was the family trip to Ireland of course.  He has accumulated farm animals by the dozens and moved them across state with him during the last move from Marienville to Lenhartsville.

I never saw the first house they lived in briefly but the home in the canyon and Marienville contain the most memories for me personally.  The epic western road trips to New Mexico to visit them contain some of my most special memories.  Marienville and it’s brutally cold winters, as a town was trapped in the 50’s but the house they lived in and the grounds it sat on were epic, peaceful and beautiful.   I again had a bunch of really special times there.  Their new place is less unique but geographically made more sense so they could be closer to family and have slightly less upkeep to maintain and I stress SLIGHTLY as all the animals are still there.

This 17 year time period also has seen dad spend massive amounts of money renovating every place they lived except for the first model home in Las Cruces.  The amount of projects and improvements he has bankrolled over these 17 years would fill a small novel, perhaps part of the reason that after nearly two decades he is going to rejoin the workforce.  Maybe the other part is just to give him some more structure to his schedule, I’m not 100% sure.  Personally I think going from doing whatever you want whenever you want to a more conventional job is not going to be all that smooth of a transition.

The job however is only part time and is actually with the same company he retired from back in the early 2000’s.  He is going to be an independent consultant that is going to help them with a new branch location they are launching.  It seems like dad’s main role is to pass along the immense amount of waterworks knowledge he had accumulated over his 40+ years in the business to the staff at this location.  Having first hand experience with how slim his patience can be at times, it will be interesting to see how he adapts to this mentor role.

The reason he needed to talk to me was to get some smart phone advice.  Because a big portion of communication nowadays is handled electronically, dad is going to need a smart phone as part of the job requirements.  I advised him to get something with as much screen real estate as possible as I know he is going to struggle massively with the typing on a virtual keyboard. I fully expect to get multiple calls from him regarding getting the tech integrated as time goes on.

I hung up from the conversation feeling a little in shock.  I never expected my dad to unretire, he always has seemed so content in not working.  It gave me a second to appreciate that unlike my dad whose retirement funds have been a big block of cash that he has tried to manipulate through the stock market mostly, my pension will give me reliable income for as long as I am around.  I also have a conventional retirement account that will give me a block of cash as well but nowhere around the level of what he has/had.  Dad has had a lot of that money in the roller coaster stock market, which is something that is very stressful and not normally advised for people in his age range. The tolerance for risk goes down as you count on that money to get by when retired. It sounds like he pulled back after the big 30% drop last year so at least he doesn’t have to get pissed off losing 10’s of thousands of dollars in a blink of an eye, of course he can’t gain it in a blink either.

My hope is the added income, structure, and responsibilities will be a good thing for him in the big picture.  We all just want to be happy, whatever that means to each individual.

 

 

 

My entire adult life I have reaped the rewards and paid the price for part of my personality, the part that puts high value on doing what you say you are going to do.  On the positive side, I am very much built on not just giving lip service.  If I verbalize intent that normally means that intent will be followed through by action.  For people that have employed me over the decades that has been a positive trait which has resulted in favorable results no matter if I was cutting meat at Weis Markets, driving truck for Goodwill, or my 29 years in the IT field.  The short and sweet summation is I get stuff done.

On the flip side, my hard wired, I do what I say I am going to do, philosophy causes conflict when I interact with others that do not have a similar mindset.  As anyone that exists in the same world that I do knows, people don’t do what they say they are going to do all the time.  The end result is I have found myself getting frustrated and angry often when this behavior impacts me.  Admittedly it is far easier to just say things with little intent of doing them, perhaps why it happens so often in the path of least resistance society we live in.

Another side effect of this scenario is my feeling the need that I need to take on more and more myself as that is the only way I can be assured of the outcome.  Some people would call this classic “control freak” behavior, I prefer to call it minimizing the margin for error, lol.  Whatever you call it, it has always caused some degree of conflict in both my professional and personal lives. I am self aware of how it can seem to others but the bottom line is it has allowed me to get to this point in life with most of my ducks in a row.

Much like I talked about yesterday with how my anger and aggressiveness while driving has dulled with age, the same is true with my reactions to this scenario.  I know people will not follow through on things like I do more often than not.  I know that placing expectations you have for yourself onto others causes conflict so I make conscious efforts to not do that as much as I can.  I even find myself releasing more control to others, allowing the outcome to be what it is, even if it isn’t my ideal.  Getting through life is always a work in progress, there is no endgame, there is no point where you declare you have it all figured out.  You just keep trying to adapt, resolve and grow each step of the way.

I pulled the dash cam footage of the Irate Karen Volvo SUV driver yesterday for your enjoyment.

So over the years I have become a much less aggressive driver.  Things that used to set me off just don’t anymore as I have resigned myself to the fact that there are tons of idiots on the road.  So this morning on my commute to work I was set off.  I was on a section of the commute where three lanes condense into two.  Since I drive this route every day I make sure I am out of the merging lane early.  Ahead of me was a white Volvo SUV that stayed in the lane that was merging, a behavior that is annoying of course, those that know a merge is coming but don’t do it until the last second to get ahead of other vehicles.

Still, I was calm and slowed my speed to let her merge in safely.  So we were both in the left lane at this point.  I saw the traffic on the right side was moving better so I signaled and got over.  All of a sudden the Volvo swings over into my lane with the right turn signal on and slams her brakes, my reaction was she realized she wanted to make a right turn somewhere.  So to avoid hammering my brakes hard I get back over into the left lane.  The Volvo then whips back into the left lane and brake checks again. Wow, this person is one of those full blown road rage idiots that I have seen so many YouTube videos about.

So now my anger switch was turned on, I wanted to get beside this person to congratulate them on being a big enough idiot to get me pissed off.  The Volvo after trying to block me another time or two then takes off snaking back and forth between cars with me not having enough space to follow.  After a couple miles when the road widened again I finally got a good look at the person driving the Volvo, a dumpy middle aged woman who obviously has something missing in her life that makes her react irrationally on the road.  I gave the Karen a big thumbs up out my window even though she was not willing to glance my direction.  I need to remember to try to pull the car camera footage to demonstrate just how awesome this woman is.

If you aren’t familiar what it means when a woman is referred to as Karen, here is a quick Google definition – Karen is a pejorative term for a woman seeming to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is normal. The term also refers to memes depicting white women who use their privilege to demand their own way.

Saturday was an ass busting day in almost it’s entirety.  After starting out with normal Saturday morning chores Cindy and I grabbed supplies at Home Depot for another project, although that was primarily Cindy’s baby.  During the afternoon it was almost summer-like warm with temps in the upper 80’s.  My first task was to put another coat of waterproofing paint on the bar park, something we try to do annually.  The wood supports for the pull up and parallel bars are definitely showing their age but I hope I can extend their lifespan as long as possible by keeping up with this maintenance.

The next task is one I was thinking about for awhile. Every time I would look down the length of the fence I would see portions that had pulled away from the posts.  The heat and moisture over the last 15 years or so had caused a number of the fence staples to loosen or pull out completely.  I finally wanted to do something about it.  I started what I knew would be an arduous task, hammering back in the loose fasteners and hammering in new ones when none remained.  Even if a post had all of it’s staples I added at least one new staple to it, just to help keep things in place.  I have a lot of fence posts, at least 75 of them, probably more.  By the time I was done my back was killing me and my right hand had a nice blister on it from hundreds of hammer swings.  It felt good to finally address what was a visual annoyance for a long time.

I wasn’t done.  The area Cindy was working on needed to have the layer of mostly ratty sod stripped off.  She would have tried to do it but it would have been a major suckfest, it sucked enough for me.  The area is going to be another spot for Cindy’s succulents, which she has an excess of.  Before I called it a day I also redid the fasteners on three plant stands she has.  All of them were wobbly due to loose bolts.  I added small star lock washer to the nut and then cranked them down tight.  The stands felt much more stable afterward.  That completed my outdoor work for the day, I was beat, and then some.

Saturday night we watched 1917, the epic one shot movie that got a lot of press when it came out.  This wasn’t the first film to use a single continuous shot but it probably was the best example of it being done seamlessly.  It was extremely well done and depicted just horrific the reality of World War I was.  I’d give it an A.

Sunday seemingly flew by.  During the afternoon Katie and Dj came over.  I hopped on one of my wheels and met them over at Vineyards park.  They have a small children’s splash pad that they thought DJ would enjoy in the warm weather.  I actually got to the park only slightly behind them since they made a pit stop at Taco Bell along the way.

DJ seemed to be more into the playground than the splash pad for some reason.  Cindy snapped this funny photo a split second after he started to lean forward for Cindy to pick him up.  It looked like I was more interested in posing for the pic than watching the kid.

After hanging out at the park for awhile I hitched a ride back as I was feeling pretty beat up from the work of the previous day.  By the time I got done editing video it was almost time to  head to bed, which I did after a brief WoW session.  The weekends just all blend together.