Friday, March 7, 2014

denial of service and artificia docuit fames

It's the 19th day.

The security of our systems is paramount today.  The news keeps coming about data and security breaches - it is crescendoing since the breach of Target.  Since I'm an IT guy, security issues are taking up more time each day with each incident.

We're continually working on improving our intrusion detection, and tomorrow we plan to stress test our systems against denial of service attacks.  We're not as good (or as dedicated) as Anonymous, but I like to think we could be with enough practice and enough dedication.  They are legion, though.  And we are fewer than that.

My girlfriend tells me I don't risk enough.  I don't take chances, unless I'm certain of the outcome.  If that's true, then I am not the person that should be working on intrusion detection and prevention since those seem like a melding of risk management and skill.  A black art.

Which makes what I'm reading about risk management being a bunch of BS about right.  According to the guys I'm reading there is no such thing as risk management.  We should accept the inevitable fate that at some point something bad will happen.  100%.  The inflexibility of the predictable systems we humans have designed have been built to handle the last worst case scenario that occurred.  And can't think of what the next one will be because it's completely unknown.

I'm grateful to have colleagues that have a practical - and antifragile - approach to our systems' protection.  Our security infrastructure is built from the perspective that we don't know the worst case scenario.  So let's imagine one.  We look to our Latin roots:  artifica docuit fames or innovation is born out of hunger.  Test saturating our systems with DDoS and see what happens.   Kill them and see if they resurrect.  One of our team members calls them zombie systems; I like the phrase.

One of these type of attacks (denial of service) is one I haven't been able to engineer a solution to  in my personal life.  My (recently) ex-girlfriend always says, "No" to any risk I take.  You see, my therapist tells me to put my feelings on the line and ask her if she wants to talk; go to the store; or just hang out.  So far I've received negative responses.  Quite justified, and really they weren't the "go fuck yourself variety."  There is a glimmer of hope.

Tomorrow is the last day of non-daylight-savings time, and I'll spend it working with the team (and with myself) on DoS.  It's a Saturday, but all the days seem blended together; it's a good thing I have this countdown going on this blog so I know time passes.  Despite losing an hour here or there.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


It is the 20th day.

Ash Wednesday.  The homily tonight at St Thomas Aquinas is an admonish to fast for the next forty days.  Not the simple fasts of youth:  giving up candy, soda pop, or something simple like Slim Jims (the priest's favorite growing up), but a fast of reconciliation.  Give up hatred, anger, jealousy, pride.

I almost cry during the service.  Unexpected, and unprepared, the tears well in my eyes.  It is just before the breaking of bread and i stare at the vaulted ceiling to regain composure.  The sleepiness and weariness from the long day is jolted out of me with the tears.

"From dust you come, and to dust you will return," the priest intones making the sign of the cross upon my forehead with ash.  Such archaic rituals i muse; objectively considered how fascinating and unusual the ceremony is.  There is something to be said for the solitude the time in church affords.  The world is turned down, and concepts most people avoid are bandied about like they were facts.  God, spirituality, love.  Good to have these things to think about, even with the blood and body components.

I come home, eat dinner, and continue the MOOC I'm taking on Product Operations.  It's taking 2-3 hours every other night to keep up and I'm already behind.  Today's lesson:  there are 4 dimensions to measure operations along:  time, quality, variety, and cost.

I finish up for the night and get in bed.  It is, as always, my girlfriend that comes to mind.  She underlyies and interweaves with church and education, reading and writing.  She is my first and last thought daily.  She moves on.  I try to be better for her.  I do not move on.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

All bets are off

It is the 21st day.

One of our software developers is from the Ukraine.  He's worried about his family, mostly worried about his little brother, being caught in the shit show that's going on there.  He is ex military, and is always cracking jokes.  Today at work he tears up, and all i can do is offer to do anything which i tell him is practically nothing.  I put my hand on his shoulder reassuringly.

How does he work today?  I see the team rally around him, talking wih him and working through problems.  How many times is he asked about his home today?  And how many times does he tear up?

Another developer has surgery tomorrow.  Minimally invasive.  He shows up to work today, and does his best.  He plans to be out for one day only.  I ask him, "do you have a laptop so you can work from the recovery room?"  He smiles and gives a hearty laugh.

For all the things i did today that are good, i am still a bastard.  During the evening my ex sends me a constant stream of texts, mostly about how much of an idiot she is for being with me and how dumb i am.  She's right so i don't defend myself, but try to bring focus to the here and now:  what I'm doing and not doing.  She says she will move on and it will take only a couple of weekends.  There are no words to describe how the pain she inflicts cuts so deeply.  Maybe that's why she texts.  It is better than nothing or no texts.  Better to feel the pain.  It's hard not to respond in kind, but i manage it today.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and Mass is at 6.  I plan to go and pray for my co workers and my love.  I am beyond redemption.  A couple of weekends won't fix me.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The sword of Damocles

Ice pellets peck at the windows looking for a way in.

It is the 22nd day.

Today's i learn about mithridatization and hormesis.  The former is a method by which you can become immune to poison by exposing yourself to small doses, slightly increasing them over time until you are immune to a typically lethal dose.  Hormesis occurs when a biological agent thrives when exposed to some typically adverse agent like a toxin.

At church this morning the gospel according to Matthew was read:  the passage that states that no one can serve two masters.  

This evening i watched a frontline episode about the crisis the Roman Catholic Church continues to face - the  sexual abuse and indescretions on behalf of its administrative body, called the Curia.

All these data points from today circle around something i feel is relevant in my life.  The politics of work mimic the politics of the Curia:  covering up sins where transparency and reconciliation and a definitive stance of complete moral certitude would make the church, or my job, and its citizens, or workers, better.  My ex asks why i went to church, and says that religion won't help me.  I respond by saying that it's not religion I'm after - it's spirituality.  And matters of the spirit are scarce, even taboo nowadays.  A man, me, that serves two masters is apt reaps what the gospel promises:  failure.  I no longer choose two masters.

I choose to go to Mass today because i hated going as a kid.  My dad drags me every Sunday of my youth to church.  Interestingly my mom never joins us.  Never.  It is his one stance and statement of, "i am here and this is right."  Dogma for him, hope for me.

My master is love.

But to this point of mithridatization and hormesis:  assuming that the church is at its most perverse in the almost eating body that rules it, then i believe that faith at the lowest levels combats it, and gives me the small poison to fortify myself against the pestilence i confront daily.  There is much to be learned in the psychology of ritual.  What keeps me awake and writing, even now at this last-call hour when I've drunk not a single drop, is the faith i have that i will be better.  That i can elevate the base of my existence so that my inevitable regression to the mean is a descent to a higher plane than i ever knew.  

When Mass lets out i fall out of the church, unaccustomed to the steep steps just outside the door.  I fall down the same steps in the same manner as i did the last time i visited the church, two years ago. Back then i chose to get a coffee at a java joint on the avenue, hoping for nothing more than society and forgetfulness about the teachings of the priest.  But this time i choose to go to the grocery store and ready myself for the forecasted winter storm.  Is it march that is in like a lion and out like a lamb?  Or is that the cruelest month?  

I spend the evening with my loved one, her keeping a distance and throwing barbs when she can.  I accept them but at one point i say, "sometime you can really be an ass."  Its a universal truth about us all.  But then i stop following her lead.  And lead her myself. 

The homily today was about love and how love means doing the things that the loved one wants done.  Her desires are sphinxian, and so the best i do is to make my own choices when presented with opportunities.  For good or ill, i am able to explain them.  But that doesn't stop the stream of hate when choosing the wrong choice.  I manage to get one right, one choice that is.  And that was accepting an offer to go to dinner with her family.  It's the best dinner I've had in awhile.  

And i think now, lying in bed, typing on my iPhone:  Perhaps there is a practical application of hormesis in the real world.  Perhaps i can hold out hope that my antidote to all my mistakes lies with making more mistakes that are of my own choosing.  And unapologetically explaining them - not defending them but explaining.

I know that we are meant to be together and i know that will not happen.  I believe baltimore has its own Curia, and their mantra is "it is what it is."  Followed closely by "not my problem."  I refuse to believe this conflict i take on daily is framed by those empty phrases.  I am an evangelist of the anti fragile.  It is not that "it is what it is."  

Rather it is that which comes borne of disorder and chaos and grows into something better because of those things.  What is the opposite of fragile?  Not robustness or strength.  It is growth through pain and entropy.  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

bukowski was right

"Find what you love and let it kill you."

The 23rd day.

I lost myself 3 years ago, but I didn't know who I was so it wasn't a great loss.  Finding "the root of the root" of all my distress was simple upon reflection.  All I had to do was think back to the beginning.  I made so many small compromises at the start that I didn't realize I had begun to sand away the false exterior that I showed the world.  Once the veneer was removed, and I was exposed, all the evil current and roots had free rein to explode into the world.  After all, I thought, the world was an artifice, something contrived and a game to be played.  How wrong I was.

Once I realized where my mistake was, it suggested a possible framework upon which to lean and rebuild.  Unfortunately this was a rational conclusion.  "I'm not a rational being," I thought, "I'm not irrational, but I am human."  But then I considered something I read this morning, "Rationality is logical coherence - reasonable or not."

So, I've realized that I was trying to work within a world that was only a projection of what I thought other people wanted to see and feel.  Had I just realized that the things I said and did needed to be consistent - even strong - then for the past 3 years I would have been building instead of demolishing.

I've said this, despite knowing:

"The rules that govern the evaluations of the past are poor guides for decision making, because time does matter.  The central fact of our existence is that time is the ultimate finite resource, but the remembering self ignores that reality."

What do I love?  Life.  Every moment of it.

Friday, February 28, 2014


It's the night of the 24th day

I'm lying in bed and I've been here for a couple of hours fretting away the time.  I'm trapped in my own head not knowing what to do

A couple of hours ago she writes that she needs time away from me, that she needs to move on.  That she's in pain and i need to let her go.  

Do i stay close to home or go on a journey - somewhere that i may find some solitude?  She's moved on but hasn't realized it.  Her friends know we're no longer together.  And that stings and drives home the point to me.  I texted her "good night" and she responds with silence.  Is it worth 14 hours round trip to the outer banks for a chance at a couple of hours of peace?  Or should i say thats 16 hours of peace?  I laugh at the thought.  I know that I'll be in my own mind every second of the time on the road, oblivious to the world around me wondering what if and what could i have done.  I will have to face the silence alone at home, and preoccupy my mind with the things from my list

Today i didnt make much headway with the list - I've almost finished another book. But that doesn't feel good; it feels hollow.  

What will make me more of a man tomorrow?  Staying here with the pain is the best choice i can see now.  I'll check the surf forecast in the morning and if it improves I'll take the journey.  If not then I'll book my Costa Rican trip despite it not being day zero.

The remembering self

It's the evening of the 24th day.

The worst sunset I recall was in the winter.  I had been surfing the north end of Wrighstville Beach, near Shell Island, when a boat pulled up with a drowning victim they had pulled from the jetty about a mile out.  They handed the limp body to me, and I paddled it in and started CPR.  He died, with water pouring out of him every time I turned him over.  Each and every time.  I went home that night - to a small shack near Mercer's Pier, drafty with the winds howling - and as I looked out the window at the darkening sky, tasted salt.  I curled up and went to bed, stunned by the cold and shocked by death.

The best sunrise I recall was in the winter.  We drove non-stop all night to Hatteras Lighthouse.  I took a five minute nap while my buddy ran down to the shore, as the sun came up.  I awoke to him shoving me, and telling me to get my wetsuit on.  I suited up, ran to the shore, paddled out, and dropped into the biggest wave of my life.  It went on forever.  I thought I was flying.

These are the moments I recall when I think of surfing; they lasted maybe 30 minutes.

I lost the love of my life yesterday - because I was not man enough to tell her the truth.  It took less than five.

I love her still, and she loves me.  But it is that love that has entangled her and cuts her deeply.  What do I do?

Hatteras or Wrightsville?