Author Archives: lifeinpawprints

Catching Up (PerBlog 2017-06-17)

What a whirl of a week this has been. Summer is in full swing and with it, the heat and the storms that I so love about Florida. Even living a stone’s throw from the beach, I still haven’t had the opportunity to get out much. When I can, I enjoy every second of the scent of the salt water, the wind, and the sounds that make Vitamin-Sea such a vital part of a healthy spirit.

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Photo on Hutchinson Island, Florida, credit: Heather Noel (LifeInPawPrints).

Summer plans have gotten off to a slow start, mainly due to finances and unstable hours at work. It’s the slow season so where I was hoping for overtime, there hasn’t been any and there’s always a chance of being volunteered to go home early, so that make it hard to plan some things, not knowing how much a paycheck will be when it’s all said and done. BUT… I’m working on other financial fixes, they’re just being stalled by a very slow legal process which is driving me mad. I always found it ironic that it costs SO MUCH to fix money problems. Perfect example: Bankruptcy. Hundreds of dollars to file, yet if you’re truly bankrupt, you don’t have hundreds of dollars to file, or you wouldn’t be bankrupt. The legal system is twisted and distorted to work against the people, not for the people, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant altogether.

My daughter had wanted to get a job this summer at Publix but even after applying and following up, she was not not called back. They will hire at 14 but she may have a better chance when she turns 15 in a couple weeks. She’s already worked there unofficially, bagging for her grandmother who worked as a cashier, so one store’s staff already knows her. That’s always a plus. But until something comes through for her on employment, she is enjoying the first weeks of summer with me and my partner, his mother and sister. We keep her busy with the art studio, the gym, DIY projects… there’s always something to do. Plus, she gets to sleep in to her heart’s content 🙂

Projects for me include getting some flowers planted (though I’m a couple months late in doing so!) and building a container garden that won’t fall apart like the last attempt. Aside from the seaside, gardening is good medicine for my often bitter spirit. It takes me out of the world and back into the basics of life. I like sowing, I like producing, and I like the idea of making something useful out of nothing. Growing things does that for me. Trouble is finding a place to grow where all the animals won’t destroy my work. Chickens and raccoons are great at getting onto and into places they shouldn’t be!

Suppose that’s it for now. This heat is making me grouchy. Normally I love this house (basically an open-air wood cabin type historic house – no AC – central or window shakers) but summers are a real bitch. There’s no escaping the heat. Even the shade is brutal.

PerBlog 06-04-2017

Hi kids! Today we take a moment to remember that quiet, alone time can be a GOOD thing! It means not having to wake and work around 4 other schedules, being able to watch TV (specifically a documentary on minimalism) until 2 a.m. because I wasn’t tired yet. It means sleeping in til 9 a.m. and having the cats forgive me the moment I gave them milk with their breakfast. It means being able to listen to Ani DiFranco on iHeartRadio while I take my time going through the morning news.

Coming Up
Our father who art in a penthouse
Sits in his 37th floor suite
And swivels to gaze down
At the city he made me in
He allows me to stand and
Solicit graffiti until
He needs the land I stand on
In my darkened threshold
Am pawing through my pockets
The receipts, the bus schedules
The matchbook phone numbers
The urgent napkin poems
All of which laundering has rendered
Pulpy and strange
Loose change and a key
Ask me
Go ahead, ask me if I care
I got the answer here
I wrote it down somewhere
I just gotta find it
I just gotta find it
Somebody and their spray paint got too close
Somebody came on too heavy
Now look at me made ugly
By the drooling letters
I was better off alone
Ain’t that the way it is
They don’t know the first thing
But you don’t know that
Until they take the first swing
My fingers are red and swollen from the cold
I’m getting bold in my old age
So go ahead, try the door
It doesn’t matter anymore
I know the weak hearted are strong willed
And we are being kept alive
Until we’re killed
He’s up there the ice
Is clinking in his glass
He sends me little pieces of paper
I don’t ask
I just empty my pockets and wait
It’s not fate
It’s just circumstance
I don’t fool myself with romance
I just live
Phone number to phone number
Dusting them against my thighs
In the warmth of my pockets
Which whisper history incessantly
Asking me
Where were you
I lower my eyes
Wishing I could cry more
And care less,
Yes it’s true,
I was trying to love someone again,
I was caught caring,
Bearing weight
But I love this city, this state
This country is too large
And whoever’s in charge up there
Had better take the elevator down
And put more than change in our cup
Or else we
Are coming
Up
If I’m lucky, my own urgent napkin poetry may happen today, only it won’t be urgent, but it will be spilled out on any scrap of paper I can find. Who knows where inspiration will come from today but I’m not feeling it yet. Right now I’m just going through the motions of gut-wrenching period cramps and enjoying the clouds floating past, praying for (more) rain and waiting for the Tylenol to kick in so I can get on with my day. At my own pace.

The Future of Cybersecurity is Virtual Reality

The Future of Cybersecurity is Virtual Reality

Cybersecurity professionals may soon add a new level of telecommuting to their work description. Thanks to a company called ProtectWise, a cutting-edge startup company based in Colorado, a new type of software would allow cybersecurity personnel to roam through networks in a 3-D, virtual reality setting. Think of real-world applications for scenes from the Matrix. Their Immersive Grid tool could utterly change the way security gets done.

ProtectWise Co-Founder and CEO Scott Chasin imagines a major corporation or government entity – any large organization – employing a room full of security analysts who wear augmented reality or VR headsets to traverse networks that closely resemble a metropolis. Every physical asset connected to the network, whether it is a server, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, etc., would show up “in-world” as a building. Each building could be customized and designed with distinguishable features, making it easy to identify what type of asset it is. They could then be zoned just like a real city, with blocks of assets making their own neighborhoods, cities, etc. The organizational possibilities are endless.

Visualizing the Immersive Grid

The way the Grid is currently designed, each building’s shape (round, square, and so forth) would identify the type of device on the network. The taller the building, the more network traffic is happening at that given moment. The width of a building is indicative of how much bandwidth the device is currently using. To make visualizing potential problems easier, buildings (devices) that turn orange or red would let an analyst know there is a high or unexpected risk level with that device or that it is engaging in unusual activity.

ProtectWise hopes this visualization technology will make cybersecurity professionals more productive and hopes it helps them identify and contain problems quicker and easier than ever before. The company wants to aim the Grid’s usage at younger professionals who may not have extensive experience in python or shell-script as this generation will be the majority user.

Further, younger security analysts will tend to have more useful experience with the mechanics of virtual game worlds than the older set does. The Grid will come more naturally, they think, to the younger professionals. Moreover, human beings are naturally 3-D thinkers and information processors. The scenarios envisioned for the Immersive Grid will tap into these natural abilities and greatly accelerate our ability to manage the real world in virtual space.

FitBit Leads Wearables Market but Improvement Still Needed

While the FitBit brand leads the market in wearable tech, leaving Apple in a close second, much improvement is still needed before wearable gadgets become a real habit for most consumers. Even with current advancements – wearables being available in glasses, bracelets, even footwear – such devices are still seen as bulky, due to battery or screen size, cumbersome, or just not useful. The excitement of purchasing a new piece of technology of this caliber – from Google Glass to FitBits – typically wears off after about a two to six months of use.

 

To counteract this fast lifespan, wearables developers need to focus on those things that the consumer needs in such a device. As a consumer of these products, it is vital that the device gives you something you actually need on a daily basis. Apps and functions that will keep you coming back to it, rather than fating it to life in a sock drawer. Sure, it’s great to know your pulse rate if you’re exercising but do you really need that information if you’re working at a desk all day? Likewise, is a footwear-based step counter really going to be effective if you kick off your shoes the minute you get home?

 

Consumers want information relevant to their life. News, weather, scheduling, and messaging come in at the top of these desires but they must be delivered in an unobtrusive manner. Another major issue is the bulk of such gadgets. You want more information at your fingertips but such luxuries come at the cost of a bigger screen.

 

One solution to this is found with the Cicret (pronounced “Secret”) bracelet. Currently, this item is in the “working prototype” stage and there is already a waiting list for folks who cannot wait to have this Android based gadget. The bracelet itself is wire thin and contains a projector that sends an image of a smart screen right to your arm. The image is fully interactive and acts just like your familiar smart phone. There are not many details out on this yet so keep an eye on it.

 

Other wearables, including virtual and augmented reality headsets are beginning to find their place in the market and by 2020, CCS Insight, a marketing analyst, predicts sales of these product to quadruple. This can only happen however if tech developers are willing and able to hear and meet the consumers’ demands and essentially allow the market to shape future designs.

Source: FitBit Leads Wearables Market but Improvement Still Needed

Western Australian Telescope Captures 12 Billion Year Old Explosion

You may have never heard of the Zadko Telescope at the University of Western Australia before now but chances are, you won’t soon forget it. This month, the Zadko captured the unimaginable, an event that occurred before our earth and sun were even in existence. 12 billion light years away (and to put that into perspective, just one light year is equal to 5,865,696,000,000 – that’s 5.8 trillion – miles!), a massive black hole was born from the remnants of a dying star.

 

The resulting explosion, one so distant that it took 12 billion years for its light to reach our telescopes, was one so unfathomably powerful that the light was equivalent to roughly a billion of our suns huddled together for just a blink in time. Over the course of several minutes, UWA Professor David Coward says he and his team observed a quickly brightening star where nothing but blackness was seen prior to that moment. Then, as soon as it appeared, it was gone.

 

The moment the anomaly occurred, the Zadko Telescope was alerted by a NASA orbital satellite and researchers were lucky enough to see the event as it occurred so long ago. The telescope provided a highly detailed recording of the event, now named GRB170205, and proceeded to monitor the area for 24 hours. The images captured are a vital new piece of evidence in helping researchers to understand more about the physics that occur with the explosion of a massive star.

 

Source: Phys.org

Source: Western Australian Telescope Captures 12 Billion Year Old Explosion

To the Moon and Back! SpaceX Plans Passenger Moonshot for 2019

It has been nearly half a century since humankind set foot on the moon but as of Monday, February 27, 2017, that wait will soon come to an end. Space tech superhero Elon Musk teased the world in a tweet that read: “Fly me to the moon… OK.” This came immediately following a news conference where he released information about two as yet unnamed people who approached him with a considerable sum of money to send them on a one-week journey to the moon (or rather just a loop around it) and back.

 

Musk will not, for privacy reasons, divulge the identity of the pair or any financial specifics on the cost of the trip but did state they [the clients and SpaceX] are “very serious” about making this happen. Based on the timing of the planned moon shot, the pair of adventurers (whom Musk insists is no one we know) will most likely be taking their flight on or near the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission at the end of 2018. The flight would use a Dragon crew capsule and be launched with a Falcon heavy rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

 

Space flight is not yet for everyone however. Musk advised Reuters that the traveling pair of people were made aware of all the risks involved and that they are entering into this mission with open eyes and open minds. Although the risk is small, they know there is a chance they may not return to earth or that something else will go catastrophically wrong with any part of the flight. Musk is deeply serious about their safety and promises they have had long discussions and will receive extensive training prior to the flight.

 

This is a massive step toward the future of commercial travel and, though it is not without risks, companies like SpaceX consistently gain experience in minimizing those risks with each successful launch and landing. Musk’s ultimate goal: To fly a yet-in-progress Red Dragon ship to Mars by the year 2020 and eventually establish a thriving human colony on the revered red planet.Source: Phys.orgFile photo of SpaceX Dragon capsule (c) 2015 SpaceX.

Source: To the Moon and Back! SpaceX Plans Passenger Moonshot for 2019

Working Sick: Where’s the Line?

​Recently (meaning a couple months ago), NPR did a report featuring workers who go to work sick. For the majority, it was mainly older employees who tended to stay home while the younger workers were more apt to push through their illness to not miss work.

The major difference between these two groups were the ones who tended to stay home were those who had tenure and got paid sick time off or would otherwise not be punished for taking time off. This was the older set. Of those interviewed in the younger set, they told the reporter they almost always went to work sick because they did not have paid (or even unpaid) sick time that they were allowed to use. Illnesses ranged from painful migraines to colds, flu, and other contagious illnesses that involved vomiting and diarrhea at work. Those who went to work sick said they did so because they could not afford to lose the pay or their jobs.
I was reminded of this radio spot as I forced myself to go to work sick today out of the same fear. I’d called out the past two days with severe bronchitis but could not afford a write-up for missing any more time, so I stuck it out. I ended up getting worse throughout the day because I wasn’t able to rest or take the medications that I have been at work – they put me to sleep. Upon returning to work today, I also heard from several others that they’d had to call out sick this week too for the same thing and I know where it came from. One person who came in sick 2 weeks ago coughing up a storm and even bragging about having the flu and still working.
The question is: where does someone who lives paycheck to paycheck draw the line between going in sick and staying home for their own health and others? Is it worth losing money or even your job to keep others safe? How do you handle it? Comments are welcome.

Election 2016 Afterthoughts

election-2016

 

Just a quick disclaimer: I am the most non-political person I know. I do not claim to have a scholarly understanding of politics, government, or how it all works. Even so, I still cannot believe what I woke up to Wednesday morning.
Maybe it didn’t seem real because for the past two days I’ve been sick as a dog and in a cold-medicine-induced head-fog but Donald Trump as president? Seriously? He’s not a politician, he’s an actor at best. Granted, one with a boatload of money, but that doesn’t qualify him to be president. Honestly, I voted for someone other than both Trump and Clinton because neither of them are really fit to hold office. But still.
Then I start reading the news. Both parties may as well have been tied in the popular vote but Hillary still had the lead. Even so, Trump got the electoral votes needed to claim the title. And now, our nation has lost its collective mind.
Social media (no, I don’t trust everything I read) is exploding even now with shouts of “A Nation Divided” and reports of riots (sorry, “peaceful protests”) from one side of the country to the other. And then it gets ridiculous. California wants to secede the Union, or at least its tech founders do. Immigration lawyers’ phones are ringing off the hook. Women are flocking to get IUDs implanted before their abortion rights get taken away. Immigrants are in a stir because they think they will immediately be deported away from loved ones.
Let’s just put the brakes on all this for a moment, shall we? I’m an open-minded person.
If you voted for Trump, congrats, your candidate won. Don’t be a dick about it.
If you didn’t vote for Trump, I’m sorry your candidate lost. Don’t be a dick about it.
Regardless of how our opinions are split, we are all still “One Nation.” We are all in this together. Remember, the President is a talking head who, as the face of the nation, does NOT carry all the power of the nation. That office still has to go through other channels to have things approved. All these radical claims of “building a wall” and flushing out the “illegals” will probably NOT happen. At best, we may see some changes in the economy for the better. Remember, any changes that happen will be slow.
Whether you love or hate the outcome of this election, please be human first. I call for unity over division. I call for love to suppress all the hatred. I call for us to remain ONE NATION, no matter who is in the White House. We are all still brothers and sisters under one American flag and we need to look out for each other.

Down Time

When is the last time I had a vacation? I can’t remember. So 3 months ago, when my job finally made me permanent and assigned some PTO for me (paid time off), I requested a 4-day stretch off work. To my surprise, it was approved so as I write this, I am enjoying my first little non-working vacation in I don’t know how long. Can I tell you how good it feels to NOT have to set the alarm? To be able to go to sleep when I’m tired instead of when I have to? This is much-needed down time for mind and body, especially since the busy season is about to start at work and not only will time off be difficult to obtain, we’ll start seeing mandatory overtime as well. It’s about to get stressful.
So what am I doing with my time? Lots and lots of reading and relaxing for one. Some self-pampering. Today looks to be a day that involves nothing more than a long soak in the pool, followed by basking in the sun with a book, then the jacuzzi. Then dinner with my hunny and curling up to watch some TV, just us.
I wanted to stay local while still being far enough from home for it to feel like a getaway, so we booked a lovely inn that is a little out of town and right down the road from my second-favorite Downtown area and the artisan community interlaced with it. Tomorrow looks like window shopping and browsing at the many antique stores and art galleries. Best way to spend a Monday 🙂

Audacity

2016 07 30 Reading Room

On the top floor of the library downtown, there is a wonderfully sun-lit corner set aside for a casual reading room. It offers a stunning view of the water and the entire marina and barrier islands. Facing one large picture window is a love seat where anyone who likes can relax as long as they want, enjoying the view and the quiet atmosphere.

Recently, I visited and took a seat away from the windows but where I was able to still enjoy a good view. I settled in with my Kindle and was knee-deep into a gripping story when a woman across from me (who had only sat down a few minutes prior) started clucking her tongue and sighing exasperatedly over the sound of a happy toddler just chatting to himself. He and his father were quietly enjoying the prime seating at the picture window and the toddler was, in my opinion, being exceptionally well-behaved. I glanced up and saw her glaring at the pair, scowling, then looking over to me as if she expected me to say something. After a few more minutes of her huffing, what she did next just blew my mind.

This woman – and because this story does have to do with racism and classism, I may mention she was Caucasian and very much a New Yorker and somewhat well-off – picked herself up and marched right over to the man – a local black southerner – and leaned right down in his face, asking him how much longer he planned on sitting there. I couldn’t hear his response but she said to him, “I’m not telling you what to do, but as you can see, this is a beautiful spot to sit and it is here for all the patrons of the library to enjoy, so you and your boy need to go downstairs or find somewhere else to sit because other people will want to sit here and you’ve been here long enough.”

Whoa.

Mind you, there were several seats available in the area, all with a view, and no one was waiting for a seat. The woman had only been there for five minutes when she decided the black family wasn’t good enough to use the seat. After hearing what she said to him, all I could do was utter a shocked sound and watch in horror as the man actually politely got up, packed his son back into his stroller, and left. I felt horrible for them, but I didn’t know what to say!

The woman then went to sit back down in her seat – not the window seat! – and about 30 seconds later got back up and came over to me. I was shocked when she placed her magazine and her hand on my lap and leaned in only inches from my face and asked me, “Were you laughing at me or with me?” I just shook my head and said, “You have balls.”

“What does that mean,” she asked. I calmly looked up at her, leaning back so as to feel a little less claustrophobic, and told her, “I was laughing at the audacity you have to think you have some God-given right to tell perfect strangers what to do. Those people had every right to be in that seat, they weren’t disturbing anyone, and you had NO right to walk up to him and tell them to leave! You don’t own this place and you have no authority over anyone here!”

She. Was. Shocked.

I was just disgusted. She scoffed at me and stormed off. Good. I’d wanted to slap her however my words appeared to have stung just as well. As soon as she left, the man and his son came back and he and I shared a smile and a look of understanding and sympathy as he took the window seat back and went about his business spending time with his son in these beautiful surroundings. People like that woman are a poison in our sea of tranquility and I hope for even a brief moment she realized that her intolerance will not be tolerated.