Creative Block

I seem to have hit a bit of a wall in terms of my creative endeavors. Maybe all those reports I'm writing for work lately have a lot to do with this. Maybe it's all the time in shiny metal tubes. Not entirely sure. But when your creative pursuits involve more than just writing, you can't really call it writers block, can you?

The good news is that I've recorded a new podcast for the first time in over three months, starting with a big new toy which I'm sure I spent far too many minutes talking about. I'm also writing something small here, but where I really need to kick it up a notch is over on PhoneBoy's Security Theater as that advances my professional image.

The question is: can I maintain the creative momentum? I go in spurts, sometimes a few days, sometimes a few years. Consistency is key to honing your craft and while I can do it for a time, I eventually run out of steam.

It's self-sabotaging, quite frankly, and I need to figure out why I do that. Not just in my creative pursuits.

About That A1C

As part of a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, and just generally getting older, I have to give regular samples of my blood so I can be evaluated for many things. This time around, I got it in just under the expiration of the orders, about three months past when I should have. It resulted in me learning I needed a doctors visit to get my medications refilled while being close to running out.

Sadly, the last several months of heavy travel have not been good to me. I've ate and drank a lot of stuff that, quite frankly, I probably shouldn't have. I stopped walking (for exercise) regularly. As a result, I gained back most of the weight I had lost and my A1C number went from a 6.1 to a 6.7. Also, my fasting blood sugar spiked to around 130 mg/dL (at least on my meter).

After I saw the results of my blood tests, I redoubled my efforts to eliminate the evil carbs and to quit putting food in my mouth when I'm not hungry. The funny thing is it seems to have resulted in an immediate drop in my fasting blood sugar: below 100 mg/dL, which is where it's supposed to be.

The doctor wasn't too concerned with the increase. His prescription, of course, is to make better dietary choices and get exercising again.

Sadly, over the next couple of weeks, I will be away from home again. Plenty of restaurant food, but minimal time in shiny metal tubes. After that, I should be home for a few weeks. We'll see if I can keep things under control.

There is No Escape, Only Movement Between Trash Fires

From All Human Systems Are Enormous Trash Fires

So if you’re wondering why the particular system you’re in is always such an enormous trash fire, the answer is because there’s no other way for it to be. No other place is going to be any less of an enormous trash fire. Everything is ablaze, always and forever.

As I often say, it’s not because the grass is greener, it’s because you want to go play in a different field. It’s still just grass at the end of the day.

While sometimes leaving a given system is the right answer, don’t think you’re going to escape a trash fire in the process, all you’re really doing is moving from one to the next.

How I Vote, 2016 Edition

In 2004, I wrote a post about picking the lesser of two evils, wherein I articulated some support for Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Michael Badnarik. I still like this quote from an interview he did (though I can't find the original reference):

“If you vote for the lesser of two evils, and your candidate wins, you still get evil. If you don’t vote for liberty, you will never get it.”

Another analogy Badnarik used in a television interview was something like the following. Suppose you were in prison and you could vote for your fate. Given the following odds:

  • Death by Electric Chair — 50%
  • Death by Lethal Injection — 45%
  • Freedom — 5%

Which would you vote for? Would you vote for Electric Chair because it was the most likely? Hell no, you’d vote for Freedom, even if it has a less likely chance of winning.

This analogy seems all the more appropriate today as my fellow Americans and I are poised to make a choice between two candidates widely viewed as bad for our country: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, I also found a post from November 2006 I had written called "How I Vote." While some of the references I made in that post aren't relevant anymore (and I thus remove it), I'm including the general logic I've been following since. It basically goes like this:

  1. If there's a Libertarian running, unless there's something in their voter statement that turns me off, I vote for them. This is because the Libertarian platform generally appeals to me and a third, strong political party can only benefit this country.

  2. If there's an incumbent running, vote against the incumbent. I tend to think politicians should be changed often, just like diapers, and for exactly the same reason.

  3. If there's still a choice left, then I'll do the research. Because I always vote absentee, it's really easy to do that research. Note that in Washington State, absentee is the only way you can vote except during Presidential elections.

If I follow my own logic:

  1. The Libertarian ticket for President is Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. Looks good so far, but I'm reserving judgement for now.

  2. The one thing the last several years has taught me is that there is no real difference between Republicans and Democrats except for the special interests they pander to. As a result, I consider candidates from both parties to be incumbents and not worth voting for.

  3. If it turns out that my conscience doesn't align with Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, then I'll vote for someone else that does.

You might say I am "throwing my vote away" by choosing to vote for someone who isn't a Republican or Democrat. Personally, I want my vote to have more of an impact. And I prefer voting for Liberty versus the lesser of two evils.

Verifying Myself on Twitter

I have to admit I've been jealous of the handful of people who have verified accounts on Twitter. I actually created an account that ultimately became verified, the one for Check Point Software. That was a while back and I don't post from it very often, being a corporate account and all that.

Recently, Twitter opened up verified accounts to all, and I just took the plunge and put in my application. I think I meet the criteria, and the worst they can say is no, so why not?


Emotionally Hungry

I learned a long time ago not to make decisions when I am emotional. Heeding this advice has probably saved me numerous times from making life-changing decisions needlessly. Sadly, there is one area in my life where I have not applied this same advice--when I eat.

I've known about emotional eating for quite some time. I've even caught myself many times eating when I know it's because I'm emotional, not because I'm physically hungry.

Bottom line: I need to stop. I know it's not helping me lose any weight or keep my blood sugar in check.

While I don't know exactly how to solve the problem, I think the solution starts with pushing the plate away when my emotions are in control. I know in practice this is far easier said than done. I also know there will be times when I will be physically hungry as well and I need to learn to manage that.

I also need to learn to push the plate away when my physical hunger is satiated. Perhaps that will become easier over time.

When Do The Filters Come Off?

As I've written in the past:

You’re better off assuming anything you input into social media, SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, or whatever can and will be made public. Act and share accordingly.

Likewise, I assume everything I post will eventually be read by someone I wish didn't. I had some experiences where I didn't experience appropriate discretion and had some unpleasant side effects as a result. This means I usually exercise a fair amount of editorial restraint on most everything I post.

The reality is, I don't have a whole lot of real-life friends that I can talk to about things anymore, at least not any that I can reliably see on a regular basis. Even if I did, I'm not always great with verbal communication, even though I can speak a lot at times.

This leaves writing as my way of working through things. It's also how I learn things as well, it seems.

Sadly, there is an increasing number of topics online that are third rails and cannot be debated or discussed in any rational sense without the proverbial firestorm being unleashed on you. One only has to look at the upcoming Presidential election in the US to find the latest edition of this: two repugnant, polarizing figures, one of which will likely be elected "leader of the free world" and not "seize power" as some media outlets might portray it. That is, unless the American electorate wakes up and realizes there are other choices out there, one of which is Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.

My rather innocuous posting on Facebook got largely ignored, thankfully, and didn't degrade into a flame war like I see so many other political posts do. Maybe I have better friends than most, though based on their Facebook posts, I know most of the ones that have declared are backing major party candidates.

The reality is, because of the threat of something degrading into an argument, I don't even participate in the conversation. At all. It means not posting about controversial issues and rarely participating in conversations around these topics. Besides, who on the Internet really cares what I think, anyway?

This inability to have real conversations about things that matter to me extends into the real world, too. Forget the controversial topics, if you were to put potential discussion topics in a Venn diagram, the intersection between me and a significant portion of the population is quite small. Add Aspergers into the mix, and you have a recipe for a lot of listening and not a lot of talking. Or dominating conversations if it happens to be one of those few topics I actually care about.

But mostly, I just get exhausted from having to filter everything I say or write.

You Still Have to Do The Work

From There Are No Fucking Keys To Success

If you try to avoid the work by looking for all of their “keys” you’re only wasting time, procrastinating, and letting yourself down. And here’s the thing, I can’t guarantee that putting the work in will mean you’re going to succeed. But not putting the work in does mean you’ll fail.

There are always things one can optimize about how one does the work, different ways to approach a given challenge. Those are helpful to learn, but they won’t matter a bit unless you actually do the work and implement them.

There’s another reality here: just because something worked for someone successful, doesn’t mean it will work for you. The only way you’re going to find that out is to do the work and find out.

Guess what? You’re probably going to fail. A lot. And that’s ok. If you’re not failing, you’re not learning. Which is also a part of doing the work.

If You Want To Be Seen, Show Your Work

From Make Your Work Public or You Don't Exist:

That’s the world we’re living in: open, competitive. A world where people don’t read your cover letter — they search your name on Google and Linkedin.

What have you achieved? What comes up if I Google your name?

If nothing comes up, I’ll assume it’s because you haven’t done anything. That’s because my brain is dumb and takes shortcuts. If you don’t market yourself on the internet, you’ll suffer from the comparison with those who do.

Many years ago, I used to joke my website was purely for shameless self-promotion. These days, it's very true, though I actually have a few different sites out there, depending on whether it's something related to infosec, a personal thought, or my podcast, when I decide to resume publishing. And, of course, my inane drivel on the social medias.

Unlike in the days where I did technical support of Check Point FireWall-1 (back when it was called that), a lot of the "work product" I generate these days is not something I can show. This is because the stuff I write is largely for specific customers and contains customer specific information. That said, I do share many of the generic insights publicly.

I can assure you that, if you get in front of people you've never met before, they're going to Google you. After nearly every meeting involving people I have never met before, I get connection requests on social media from people at those meetings.

The more you put out there, the easier it is to influence the way other people see you. Of course, that can be a double-edged sword, so be careful what you put out there.

Never Been Happy with the CMS

It seems like every couple of years, I will change the CMS that is used for my various websites. This has resulted in some messy, messy transitions. As it is right now, and are both using Jekyll, one hosted on a VM somewhere, the other hosted on GitHub. For what I am doing on these sites, I believe this is the right tool.

This site,, has been on 10Centuries the last few years (after being hosted on Posterous, Posthaven, and Wordpress). I just had it migrated to version 4 of the platform, which itself is still "beta." While the frontend is lacking at this moment, which will hopefully be fixed soon, the backend is much more usable for me, which means I might actually write a post once in a while.

Of course, I wonder how long I will remain on these CMSes. Because I've never been happy with whatever CMS I use for more than a few years...

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