Saturday, August 15, 2015

Home again, home again

I have been away from home for six days.  I've missed it.  Ive missed my kitties.  I've missed ,y own bed.  And, I've missed my wonderful hot tub.     I used to live and work in D.C.  I haven't missed the D.C. Heat and humidity in August.  I haven't missed the crowds or the traffic.  I do miss having wonderful, free, convenient museums though.   It's been great being in D.C.  Attending Usenix Security 2015 was mentally inspiring.  I also got to catchup with a few (though sadly, not all) of my local friends.  I also got to pop ignominy favorite art museum, The National Gallery of Art.   One more visit for brunch, and then off to the airport.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Cut the cord ... Again

Around the first anniversary of my re-attachment to cable TV, I cut the cord again.     Seriously,my DVR was always full of things that I 'might' watch.  I was watching 2-3 hours of content every day, instead of spending time on things I supposedly valued more than video-drool time.  Plus, the cost was really out of hand.  In order tom get the main channels that I wanted, it was costing me around $70/month, which then gave me access to more content than I needed, which I felt compelled to consume as much if as possible.   So, I am back to my broadband subscriptions (Netflix, Hulk plus, and Amazon Prime). Since I'd be doing Amazon Prime regardless, its base cost really doesn't matter.  I do however periodically purchase content from Amazon that I may not have purchased if instill had cable TV.  Ultimately, the cost is probably a wash because of that.  However, I filmily I am only watching things that I really want tom watch now.  Far less mindless watching.  Still, I should probably cut back for both time and financial reasons.   Perhaps this posting could be the catalyst for a new resolution:  no more Amazon purchases/rentals untilmive watched everything ive purchased in my video library.   That shouldmtake me at least a month.  

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Naked picture

Aha! Got your attention, didn't I?

Jennifer Lawrence recently had naked pictures of herself stolen from her iCloud account and leaked to the Internet.  Several people have offered the wisdom that you shouldn't take naked pictures of yourself (or allow others to take them) if you don't want to see those pictures leaked all over the Internet.

I find it reprehensible that hackers feel that it is acceptable to break into anyone's digital life and share what they discover. By the way, most Apple product users who back up their phones (etc.) are backing up their content to iCloud. They are not 'posting' it there. Most do not realize that the 'backup' means that their content is accessible through the web. What hacked users should be more concerned about is the password that they use for iTunes. If the password was that easy to hack, I hope it is not being used for anything else. Also, I hope hacked users aren't just focusing on having their digital content exposed, but are checking their iTunes account for fraudulent purchases.

Everything you type on a keyboard or store on a network-connectable device is at risk. I earn my living as a network security specialist. I tell people, time and time again, to assume that everything you have in electronic format is as public as a postcard as it travels through the U.S. Postal System. And, while encryption of your electronic possessions can gain you some level of protection, encryption is not a panacea. Some encryption algorithms can be broken by a determined and skilled agent. Plus, some trojan software can record every keystroke you make prior to those bits being encrypted by software that resides on your machine.

Remember all the public figures who had to deal with early-career photos coming out after they became famous, pre-digital age?  People used to chastise those celebrities as well, pointing out that they should never have had those photos taken had they not been willing to live with the consequences later.

While I am not encouraging anyone to take naked pictures of themselves, digital or otherwise,   I am not comfortable with the statement "Don't take naked pictures." To me this is too darn close to blame-the-victim statements even if the statements are not meant that way. 

If I routinely leave my backdoor open for a housemate who constantly misplaces their key, and then someone walks in and takes all of our valuables or assaults one of us, I already know that I shouldn't have left the backdoor open.  Believe me, I don't need to be reminded.  In addition, I may take such a statement to mean that people who leave their backdoors open are to blame for whatever happens as a result.

Now, feel free to swap any of the following for "leave their backdoors open": 

  • "leave a key under the mat" 
  • "wear provocative clothing" 
  • "dress like a gang member"
  • "stay in a marriage after physical abuse"
  • "correctly answer questions in class a lot"
  • "drink too much at a party", etc.

Now do you see the naked picture?

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Recommitting to healthy eating

This Fall I lost 20 pounds by committing to a pretty basic healthy food regime.  And then the Holiday season hit.  I've gained at least half of the weight back and I still haven't gotten back on the band wagon, really.

The colder months make eating the way I want to relatively difficult, but I know that I will not only drop weight but that I'll feel better if I go back to some form of the plan I was on this Fall.  There's no book or web site that codifies the way that I want to eat.  The plan that probably comes closest is The Paleo Diet.  However, I do plan on eating some of the things that they eschew like some whole grains, legumes, potatoes, and salt.  And while I'll choose organic and local when it's available, I'm not going to spiral into a mega guilt trip whenever I order something at a restaurant because the meal's ingredients aren't organic and local.

The Plan

Here are the basic precepts of the plan I'm going to baby step my way back into (just like I did in the Fall), in order of priority/frequency when considering what to eat:

Fresh fruits and vegetables will provide the bulk of my diet.  Lightly cooked or (preferably) raw.

Fresh-frozen fruits and vegetables (especially in colder months).  Frozen is actually preferred when the food is not locally grown, since frozen produce is picked ripe and frozen close to the source sealing in more of the nutrients than 'fresh' produce that is trucked or flown hundreds or thousands of miles.  In order to maintain the 'freshness' of the produce, it is often sprayed with all sorts of chemicals.

Wild-caught seafood.  Farmed seafood is usually fed processed/unnatural junk and is also highly exposed to pesticides and other chemicals.

Nuts and seeds.

Unprocessed (dry whole) grains and beans.

Eggs.  Preferably from free-range chickens who are not fed a "vegetarian diet".  Chickens naturally eat bugs and grubs.  If they're fed a "vegetarian diet" their food is usually some sort of processed meal not only unnatural to the birds but also usually soaked in pesticides and other chemicals from the growing to the processing of the junk.

Free-range poultry.

Grass-fed meat.

Raw-milk based dairy products.

Cold-pressed oils (primarily Olive and coconut)

Things that I will be avoiding (whenever possible - at the very least, they will not be in my pantry):

  • Processed foods (anything in a box, can, or bag with more than one or two ingredients - especially if the ingredients listed are not the names of whole foods)
  • Refined sugars
  • Flour, of any kind (baked goods are not natural ...  I may treat myself to a whole grain product once in a very great while).
  • Mass-produced dairy products
  • Canned tomatoes.  (Organic-based jarred tomato sauces will be o.k. in moderation)
  • The hardest thing for me to give up will be the diet soda that I've again let myself become addicted to again. Part of that is the caffeine, part of it is the taste, but the biggest attraction is the bubbles which help breakdown the postnasal drip that I'm always fighting. I will probably go back to using my Soda Stream to make seltzers that I'll flavor with a little juice as a means of weaning myself off the other crud. I do plan on allowing myself some morning caffeine via hot tea.

    My sweetener of choice has been some form of stevia. However, after doing some research on that I'm going to switch from the powdered version which is highly processed with suspicious chemicals and is usually combined with some form of actual sugar. SweetLeaf makes a liquid version that is closer to pure stevia. But come Spring, I may actually try my hand at growing my own stevia and making my own suspension. Here's a great article about commercially available stevia which also contains a recipe for making your own liquid stevia suspension: Food Babe Investigates Stevia
    If this type of plan appeals to you, I would like to recommend 100 Days of Real Food and Slim Palate.   Both are closer to a pure Paleo diet than I am embarking on, but they're close enough for government work, as the saying goes.

    My employer has a program through WebMD to help you manage your health goals. I decided to let them coach me. I may also visit a local Naturopath. I previously worked with one who I really liked, but his office was thirty minutes from my house, so it was a hassle getting to him especially when his only evening with office hours overlapped with a lot of activities that I am committed to. Hopefully I can find someone closer with some of the same sensibilities to help me better manage my health.

    Wish me luck and especially health!

    Thursday, December 26, 2013

    Pulled the trigger on going back to cable

    I've been a tv subscriber again for about two weeks.  It hasn't change my viewing habits much at all.  I refuse to watch live television, unless there is 'news' involved.  Thanks to Comcast On Demand I have been able to catch up with a few shows that I liked but Hulu only carried the most recent five episodes of.  Plus, I can now DVR shows that were only available for $ on Amazon. I am also not allowing myself to spend money on a la cart offerings online any longer.  I also dropped Netflix, since I was only watching one or two things at most per month.  Hulu Plus will probably go as well, though I'm still a bit intrigued by some of their original programming.  Additionally, I like having the clips related to m shows accessible in one place (way better than you tube).  If I want to just watch a particular movie, I am putting it on my wish list.

    Ultimately, I am probably shelling out more per month, but it is a predictable amount.  Plus, for the next couple of months I'll have access to HBO and Showtime on demand and broadcast programming.  Hopefully, I can catch up with Game of a Thrones, True Blood, and Dexter before the trial period is up.