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The College Admission Fraud case, Operation Varsity Blues

A little extra insight on Operation Varsity Blues; from Rolling Stone magazine-

“5. Felicity Huffman was concerned about getting caught.
… In 2018, Huffman allegedly paid CW-1 $15,000 so her oldest daughter could participate in the SAT exam scheme. When it came time for her younger daughter to apply to college, Huffman considered enlisting CW-1 again, but ultimately chose against it because she was concerned her daughter’s SAT tutor would be suspicious if her score increased too much: “I just didn’t know if it’d be odd for [the tutor] if we go, ‘Oh, she did this in — in March 9th, but she did so much better in May.’ I don’t know if that’d be like — if [the tutor] would be like ‘Wow,’” Huffman told CW-1, per the court docs.”

The thing that bites me more is the fact that she. has. an. SAT. tutor. This doesn’t sound like much, and quite frankly, this isn’t that uncommon. However, this is privilege, plain and simple. All the privilege, and they *still* want *more* advantage. It must be nice to have all that disposable wealth.

Things like this are the reason that black and brown students don’t get into the good schools at rates they should. There is a multitude of chain reactions here that cause inequality. I’ll get to that in a minute.

We are a family of privilege. I am fully aware of that. We up and moved *twice*, once literally across the country, to live in the area with the best public schools we could get into. That was an advantage we had because of wealth. I absolutely understand the need to provide the best lives for your kids, and being willing to take extreme measures to ensure the best lives you can give your kids. Not everyone can afford to uproot and move to get to better schools, though.

There is a vicious cycle, and we are part of it. I feel a level of shame for that, but I also know we didn’t get where we are entirely by privilege. Sure, we’re white, but that was the limit of my privilege growing up. Looking back, though, I’m certain that was a big, big, big slice of how we got here. We had all sorts of disadvantages- we were working class, there were substance abuses, a constant lack of money, (partly owing to the substance abuse, but also from my being the result of a high school pregnancy in the endtimes of manufacturing jobs), physical abuses, being the “poor kid” getting bussed to a more affluent school (I had really good test scores…). Regardless, we’re now firmly out of “working class” economic territory. We’re nowhere *near* wealthy, but generally, I’m no longer floating checks to payday. Still, I’m very much a lucky man, on many fronts.

There’s this image of the “welfare queen” from the Reagan campaign- you know the look. Picture her in your head, go ahead. If you pictured a white woman, I’m not going to believe you. The prevailing theory from certain conservative circles is that black and brown people are poor by circumstance, not the system; and they will cheat and take advantage whenever it suits them. Those people completely fail to see the irony when rich people and businesses take advantage of the system- that’s just a bad individual, after all.

The “truth” is that people of color collectively have less wealth than people who look more like me. That means POC are poor. Poor people live in areas with higher crime. Higher crime is indicative of lower quality people. The people who commit crimes are people of color, because that’s what we see on the news. People of color use drugs more, just look at the prison system! Black people are violent! That’s why there’s more police related deaths! People should just be more compliant! Black people and brown people live in crime ridden areas because most of them are drug dealing criminals, and the drugs are the reason they stay poor and go to prison more.

OMG. The logic from that paragraph makes my head hurt.

The chain reaction I mentioned way up above is real. That “logic” that hurt my head has actual valid facts, just misattributed reasons. POC are in prison for drugs more, not because they use drug or sell drugs more- it’s because they are prosecuted more. Statistics say they tend to be more poor- that leads to not being able to hire expensive lawyers. Statistics also say they tend to be poor. Poor people stay poor because it’s harder to develop wealth in poor neighborhoods, because property values are kept low, because wealthy people don’t want to live in those neighborhoods, because of the crime, caused by poor people who often don’t have better prospects, because education money is tied to property values, which is tied to the neighborhood, which is poor, which is blacker/browner than white neighborhoods, which causes poor people to suffer, which encourages escapism with substances, which leads to arrests, which is crime, which lowers property values, with diminished wealth…. have I made my point here? The death spiral needs a way out. Nobody chooses to be poor. Poor people don’t choose to live in poor areas. Poor people live where they can afford to. POC who do make it out of the poor communities have the added insult in that often they don’t feel welcomed in white neighborhoods- often rightfully so, as the white people can get very unwelcoming.

I can’t *not* see the racial component in that, but let’s step away from that. Race aside, that way out is *supposed* to come in the form of higher education. The bastion of meritocracy. If you are smart and capable, you have as good a chance as any others. We are well off. We still can’t buy our way into Harvard or Yale or …. wait a minute… apparently we can. That’s why I’m angry at the people perpetrating this. We play by the rules, we encourage our kids, we want the best for them, but we still play by the rules. Cheating the system is one of the fastest ways to make me angry- the guy that flies up the shoulder to merge ahead of traffic; the lady that slaps a “service dog” harness on her chihuahua to take it into the deli; the guy that has zero shame in claiming to be a Christian family man while making his mistress get an abortion, paid for as a congressional expense; virtually every single thing 45 has ever done. All with no sense of shame. Gleefully.This sort of thing is bullshit.

This is unrelated, but the worst are the people who not only cheat, but feel people who don’t cheat are the suckers for doing the right thing. See: Merrick Garland.

Throw the book at these people, ESPECIALLY the ones that took the money.

I feel a sense of pity for the kids that are getting mixed up in this. Some of them will have had zero knowledge of what their parents were pulling behind the scenes. Some will have known, but even so- they are being taught how to cheat the system by a parent, and are thus betrayed, too. There’s a sense of schadenfreude at the rich kids getting hurt in this, but I can’t say they necessarily deserve it. The worst part is that it’s really hard for a child to recognize when a parent has failed them. Some of the worst parents I’ve ever seen had children that worshipped them.

On the finer points of Mac and Cheese. Bologna. Processed desserts.

This is going to get a little ramble-y, but bear with me.

I like Hostess and Little Debbie snacks. I really have a soft spot for the Hostess Ding Dongs. I know full well they are full of the worst crap you can possibly eat, which is why I haven’t had a Ding Dong or Twinkie or Ho-Ho or the like in probably 5 years. I still like them, though.

Fried Bologna and American cheese slices. Don’t even start with American cheese not being real cheese. I agree with you, but still…

The best example is Macaroni and Cheese. Kraft Mac and Cheese, to be precise. It, too, is total crap and there’s probably more nutrition in the box it came in…but it holds a soft spot. Why? Well, that’s easy. Growning up, that was the *good stuff*. The REAL stuff. It was especially good when you had a little Velveeta left over from some healthy dinner like Nachos – a.k.a. store brand tortilla chips, a pound of hamburger and most of a block of Velveeta- to melt into the mix.

The first time I went somewhere and had some scratch made gourmet-type mac and cheese, I couldn’t say….but I know I hated it. It didn’t taste anything like what I knew of as “the Good Stuff”. I would have been better if it were “the cheap stuff”- the store brand noodles whose cheese sauce mix was essentially yellow dyed sand in skim milk- because at least that I was familiar with. As I got older, and was able to go to nicer restaurants, or more wealthy firends houses (which was exceptionally rare), I did start to learn the difference between qualities in things like cheese, meats, sauces, etc.  As a teenager, our world expanded a bit, and I was exposed to better and better food. When I started living on my own, and with the new wife shortly thereafter, I was able to start cooking…and put the effort into food and really see the difference and understand what the “good stuff” really was.

I mean, really, to each their own and all…but I grew up mostly poor.  Our scenario was not typical, of course, but nobody is ever really typical; I still suspect there were a lot of people in my school who had similar existences.  There were times where we didn’t have power or heat. There were times when the only food in the house came from the Food Bank, most of which was expired cans from Aldi’s (before Aldi’s was cool) and/or cans missing their labels. Some of that poverty was situational,  sometimes it was parental substance use… just depended. There were good times, though. That’s when the name brand food came out, and cheeseburgers and ribs and steaks! (My dad had worked at a steakhouse about the time I was born, and so learned how to “properly” cook a steak, I guess.) Those were the times we’d have Kraft Mac and Cheese instead of  ACME Cheese* and Mac’roni®.

Even through the bad times, my grandparents always kept Hostess and Little Debbie snack around for us. Those treats are some of the happiest childhood memories I have. *That’s* why I can’t hate the “processed crap”, and will gladly allow my kids to have it on occasion, too.

Anyway, about halfway through high school, my dad got a new job. One that catapulted us from hovering around the poverty line 4 months of the year, to being solidly upper middle class. I haven’t been dirt-poor since.

A few years ago, I read this article. I could completely relate. In my house it was Mayo sandwiches instead of Ketchup sandwiches. And Instead of Mayo it was Miracle Whip. (Unlike other crap foods, I now can’t stand Miracle Whip. Unlike the “processed crap” in ho-hos, Miracle Whip is actually disgusting. )

Rambling? Sure. But that’s what I got today.


A rehash for Technical Recruiters

A technical job is going to be able to be broken down into a few categories. Many of these overlap, and I understand it gets confusing, but here’s a few quick breakdowns:

Job types in tech fields:

Administration world… (Key words: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Unix, HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, Sun, Active Directory, Virtualization, OpenStack , AWS, VMWare, LDAP, Apache, IIS, LAMP… )

– These guys (or girls or people in general. I use the term “guys”, as in: “Hey! Yous’ guys! I’m walkin’ here!”, no gender stereotyping, please…) are the guys that run in-office computer systems. Typically this means e-mail, logins, local security, pc updates/upgrades, etc. Basically they are who you call if your laptop has issues. Some of these jobs can be administration, but typically it’s local to a PC (meaning laptop/desktop). Good reference = Tier 1 support, help desk. (Help desk likes to call themselves admins- don’t confuse that with actual administrators, see next…) Analogous to = mechanic.

Call Center/Desktop Support – This a specific area in IT that refers to handling of individual problems, tickets, or products. If the call center is for a software company, the person may answer questions about hot to install a product, or may be an internal call center that answers calls like, “my monitor is not working,” or, “my password has expired.” Depending on the environment, it could be very detailed, if you support, say, CNC machines, and a customer needs to know the minimum thickness that one can “rail a part to” while the next caller may ask about metallurgical or chemical specs for specific alloys, while the next caller asks where the cup holder is.  Most call center have low level technicians working them, generally early career types, with more senior people choosing to go into management or deeper technical positions.  Analogy varies  = switchboard phone operator to high level mechanic – just depends on who answers the phone.
* Note: This is the single most common job posting I get, despite being way over-qualified for this role. This is what prompted me to write this article in the first place! If you can actually look at my resume, and think “he might be a good fit!”, then one of two things have happened. Either A.) Someone saw “computers” and sent a request, not really understanding the differences between roles; or B.) the tech economy has hit rock bottom, since these positions often (read: usually) start at under $20 an hour.

Administration – These guys maintain accounts, logins, upgrades/updates, etc. This may entail IT, but typically an Admin maintains larger networks, servers, offices, buildings, production environments, QA/Dev/other environments, etc. IT may be or have admins, but being an admin does not make you an IT person.   Good reference = Tier 1/2/3 support, may relate differently to different companies. Tend to be early-to-mid career, but not usually entry level. Sometimes called Analysts. Analogous to = Master Mechanic with a degree, makes hot-rods; not usually working at the local Buick dealer (unless he’s in charge).

Engineering – Admin +. These dude/dudettes design and implement what the IT people and Admins do. They are the ones whose job is to make the decisions of when updates/upgrades are done, how they are done, who does them, and when they are done. They determine what-affects-what in a matrix of technologies that may intersect. They have years of experience and tend to be specialized but still well versed in as many technologies as possible. Good reference = Tier 2/3/4,  Master Admin. Analogous to Electrical Engineer at GM, designing car systems.

Architect – Master Engineer. Designs whole environments. Develops vision for future use and paths. Good reference = Tier3/4. Analogous to : Designer at GM, specifically the person who designs each model year Camaro, etc.

Specialty World…

Programming/Developing – These guys write code. They come in many flavors. Being an expert in one does NOT mean they can program in others at all, but most programmers are fluent in multiple languages. There are different groupings of languages that serve different functions, but it’s not that important to learn which language does what- the important thing is to recognize the names of languages. Java and javascript are not the same in the same way Spanish and Portuguese are similar, but NOT the same. C, C++, C#, same analogy. (Fortunately, most programmers can jump around on similar code- C and C++ programmers are often fluent in both.)   Here’s a handy list of most major languages. If you have a job posting that requires “C, python, perl, or unix shell scripting,” and your candidate is “Strong in Java, Oracle DB, and MS Access” you should probably look elsewhere. (Rule of thumb: your candidate should have AT LEAST 25%  of any required language. If a job calls for three, and (s)he has one of the three…probably safe. Job calls for four languages and has you applicant has eight, but none are matching, probably a pass, but not always: knowing 8 languages also implies this person is a really strong coder and picks up new languages quickly.  Keywords: ANY of the languages in the link above.

Virtualization /Cloud Computing/Distributed Computing So *EDIT*…I’ve moved this up from a “thing to watch for” to an actual specialty, since it’s really blown up a bit in the last four years. Virtualization, Cloud and Distributed all essentially mean the same thing- Cloud just has a non-specific connotation that doesn’t necessarily apply to all virtualization though. (FYI: The “Cloud” in Cloud Computing simply means internet accessible. That’s really it. ) That being said, servers can be very powerful things. Often users don’t need such a monstrous device. It can be 10-50 times more powerful than you need. And cost way more than you want to pay. Smaller servers still take up space and power, so if you company has 10 groups that each need a server, 10 small servers may be way more expensive than that one monster server, and would use more power and be more costly in rack space than a monster. Virtualization lets you take a server, and make it pretend it’s really 10 smaller servers. You can use the pretend servers just like it’s stand-alone brethren. You can also quickly make exact duplicates of the virtual machines, if you suddenly need more capacity- or to spread the load across 10 servers, just in case one breaks. There’s lots of great reasons to virtualize. Cloud Computing is just a way of selling/monetizing virtual servers servers online. It’s essentially virtualization, but companies can do this without buying the big monster servers in the first place. Basically, they just “rent” virtual servers from companies like RackSource, Amazon (AWS), or Cisco (Okay…maybe not so much from Cisco anymore…I speak from experience there…) Some companies build their own “private cloud”, so they can “rent” space to internal customers, lightening the cost load to operate.  (Keywords to watch for here, Openstack, AWS, Cisco Cloud Services, VMWare, VCenter, VSphere, KVM, Xen (Pronounced Zen), Hypervisor, Qemu, Virtual Box, Citrix, etc.)

Networking – These guys run, maintain, plan and build connections, not servers. They make sure servers can talk to other servers, the web works, email servers can talk to the right servers, communication security. Basically, if one computer or server or office wants to move data from one place to another, these guys handle it. (Keywords: Cisco, Lucent, Alcatel, Nortel, TCP/IP, IPV4, IPV6, Routing, Switching, Packets, Gateways, Wireless, Cat 5, Wiring, Cabling, Load balancing, F5, Big IP)

Storage – These guys are easier to identify…they do storage. Storage entails disks and storage arrays. They may be attached to servers, they may be attached to networks, but the primary function is holding data and keeping it safe. (Keywords: SAN, NAS, NFS, RAID, NetApp, EMC, 3Par, SCSI, iSCSI, Fibre Channel, Fabric, Duplication, Deduplication, Backup, Samba, Filers)

Database – DBA’s. (Stands for Data Base Administrator) These guys are also easier to identify, fewer keywords. They are a subset of programmers who specialize in Query Language- fancy term for database coding. There are different types of databases- relational, transactional, object-based, etc. (Keywords: Oracle, Sybase, SQL, MySQL, Postgre, Access, Hadoop, Big Data )

Security – Alright, these guys are a little reclusive. They can be physical security guys (doorpad, keypads, entry systems, loss prevention, etc.), server-based guys (user access, user admin, password sets, encryption, intrusion detection, malware prevention, etc.), or flat-out hackers (intrusion detection, security hole tester, etc.)- a.k.a. “white hats”, whose job is to hack into their own systems (or clients’ systems) and figure out what needs to be fixed/patched in order to prevent a “black hat” (bad guy) from cracking in and causing damage. Either way, the job is to protect company assets, physical and digital.

Managerial – Applies to any of these categories. I think you can figure this one out on your own…

Operating Systems…

This seems to throw people off. Operating systems are the backbone of any environment. Most envs are now multi-OS, so there’s likely to be Windows and Linux (or unix) in most shops. You almost never see Mac in server space, but they do exist. A good way to think of it is like the mechanic analogy: mechanics can be specialized in cars, motorcycles, big-rig trucks, airplanes, boats, etc. Just because you’re a mechanic does not mean you’re qualified to work on a 747 engine. Yes, they all work on the same basic technology, (fuel plus oxygen plus fire = go!) but the implementations are so vastly different, that one person is not likely to know more than a couple really in-depth.

Microsoft – The most common thing you run into in IT space, not as ubiquitous in server space . Windows can be split into two categories, desktop support and server support. A server guy usually knows desktop, but the other way around is certainly not a given. Desktop OS’s are Windows 95/98/ME (outdated), Windows XP(also outdated), Vista(OMG, you run Vista???), and Win 7/8/8.1/10. Server OS’s are Windows NT & 2000 (outdated) and Windows Server 2003/2008/2008R2, etc.

Most Microsoft guys are not familiar with Unix, Linux, or Mac, but you will find the occasional MS user that is an outlier. Typically, though, most people who work in one of the other OSes know Microsoft inside and out- most of us started out in Windows, or at least used it heavily at some point in our lives. If the job description calls for Windows work on a Unix job title, most candidates would probably be fine.

Unix – The granddaddy of ’em all. Unix has been around by far the longest. It is a derivative of some of the first operating systems ever built, but has changed considerably, having to adapt to newer technologies, just like everything else. Linux is a (kind of) fork of Unix, and Android is a fork of Linux. BSD is a fork of Unix, and MacOS is a fork of BSD. (Fork, n., a version of a software product that has been modified to such an extent that it can be recognized as a completely different product, often with new owners and new copyright rules.)

Common versions of Unix are Sun’s Solaris (sometimes mistakenly called Sun OS), the actual SunOS, HP-UX, AIX, SCO-Unix, Minix. Often you’ll see the term “Posix” or “Posix based”. That simply means any software that is Unix-like, which refers to all flavors of Unix, Linux, Android, etc.

Linux – This is a relative newcomer. It was invented in 1991, but really was developed into a serious server OS in the early 2000’s. It’s becoming very popular due to the fact that it’s free. (Yes, free.) Instead of being owned by a company, Linux is a community owned code set, that is open source. (Means anybody can use it for anything they want, in essence.) Companies like Red Hat, Novell (they make SuSE Linux), Canonical (Ubuntu Linux), and others can take the open source code and improve it in what ever way works best for them and run server environments with it, and sell service to support the software, usually without actually selling the software itself.

There is a desktop component to Linux, but it is much less widely used. Keywords to watch for: Red Hat, RHEL, SuSE, Fedora, Ubuntu (or anything with the word ‘buntu’ tacked on to the end…), CentOS, Android, GNU, Gnu-Linux, BSD, Free BSD, Minix.

Mac – Macintosh, Apple, Mac, iOS, OSX (pronounced O.S.-Ten) are all names for the Mac operating system. You’ll find very little in the server world, but it’s popularity in the desktop space is booming. Even more so in mobile devices. Modern versions of OSX are based on BSD, and very Unix-like, but has a graphical component that is significantly different from anything else. Mac guys tend to be Mac guys, and nothing else. Not always, but usually.


Other stuff to watch for..

Enterprise vs Office Employers with large server sets are what we call Enterprise level. Small offices, or local IT guys are Office level. One is not ‘higher” than the other, just Enterprise jobs involve large-scale servers, lots of users, lots of layers, and usually lots of silo-ing of work. People tend to get highly specialized. Office level guys have to be jack-of-all-trades, and often focus on day-to-day desktop and laptop support. Think Enterprise=Major hospital. Office=local doctor’s office.

Big Data This is a fairly new phenomenon- services like Facebook, Google, financial institutions often need to crunch a HUGE amount of data. Companies like Teradata and products like Apache’s Hadoop are developing ways to cluster computers together in a way to do what’s called Massive Parallel Processing. A large database may be 20-50 gigabytes. Very large might hit the terabyte mark (that’s a thousand gigabytes.). Big data does petabytes (a thousand terabytes/a million gigabytes) to an exabyte (a thousand petabytes)! Ginormous amounts of data. Think about Facebook- all profiles, pictures, comments, movies, links, notes, groups, and everything else has to be accessible at a moment’s notice. That’s a certified metric tonne of data.


Now, I just sat down and wrote this out off the top of my head. By all means, send feedback if I left something out, or if you need specific question answered- I’ll add it to the manifesto above. ?



Why I distrust Dave Ramsey, and other “broadcast experts” who peddle snake oil

So, in response to a facebook post from a friend, I commented how I am not a fan od Dave Ramsey, AT. ALL. This appeared to have shocked some people, so I said I’d explain.

My problems with Ramsey are two-fold, one: I hate people that peddle their own brand of what’s essentially populist propaganda on masses that do not have the time to invest in fully understanding what he’s talking about.  If enough people hear the message, it doesn’t matter how wrong he is. If you tell a lie often enough people will believe it. Two: I hate his extraordinary simplification of complex ideas,  sometimes amazingly wrong and bad advise, and stretches of math that simply do not support reality. (Seriously… 12% annual growth over 40 years? )

First let me explain his personal issues, then expound on the whole of talk radio sales people.

Dave Ramsey says things that sound absolutely true and good on the surface.

Here’s his “baby steps”:

Baby Step 1 – $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
Baby Step 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
Baby Step 4 – Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
Baby Step 5 – College funding for children
Baby Step 6 – Pay off home early
Baby Step 7 – Build wealth and give!

They all sound super smart! Who could argue with any of them? Me, and thousands upon thousands of economists, scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, bankers, politicians, and legal experts.

First off, all except #2 are actually good ideas, but with major caveats. Emergency fund? Yes. Are you making enough at your part time job to save $1,000? Then it’s not a good idea. If you were a medical student and your mission was to cure AIDS by the end of the year, that sounds like a good mission, but it’s a stupid goal because you don’t know how to even begin.
If you are making an average household 2-income cashflow, these rules are out of your reach, not because of debt, but because of the cost of living.
Let’s say you are above average, and are in the wealth range that DR is catering to: 2 and 4 are not good blanket advise, and he knows it.

Bottom line issues with #2: Debt is NOT a bad thing.
Bottom line issue with #4: There is no one-size-fits all investment strategy. There are better options depending on your own scenario.

Important fact: Debt is NOT a bad thing. In fact, it is the driver of literally most of the financial growth in the world. Literally.

If I have a job, but not a large savings and I need to buy a car, I can save up over time, and buy a car, or I can get a loan. If I save up, the car manufacturer has to wait on me to sell their car, which means they don’t have the money to spend until I do. If they are trrying to buy a house, but can’t buy a house till I buy a car, and I build houses, but can’t build a house because nobody has the money to buy one, we’re both screwed. Debt solves the problem. Sure, you’ll pay more for the car in the long run, but that’s not unsustainable. If you factor in inflation, paying for something later and paying less upfront is often worth the convenience- both for you and the seller. (Buying *too much* car is often a problem, though. Don’t do that.)

Dave Ramsey says all educational debt it bad. BS. Some educational debt is bad- diploma mills and online-only education scam artists that don’t earn anything extra are bad, but a 4 year degree in a professional field? Are you kidding? I can make $20,000 a year in retail, or $75,000 as an engineer. If I take out 80K in loans, and end up making $55k more than I would have, it only takes a year and a half into my career to be ahead. There are very few careers where you aren’t making more than you would have been. Some fields of study do take longer to recoup your investment, though. Some, I’ll admit, never make enough to recoup. You need to be aware of that and accept it before embarking on that path. Hopefully you did that first.

If you have Ed. debt, paying it all off first and renting, while saving up to buy a home is often ridiculously stupid. (Something he nearly always advises.) Renting costs almost as much as a mortgage in most markets, but with a mortgage, you actually build equity in your home. At the end of a year’s rent, all you get is a rent increase notice and the feeling of “well, at least I had a roof over my head”. If you are single, or non-parents, maybe renting is worth it, but not usually. Student loans are typically very low interest, and some of which is usually subsidized. Worse: he often says pay off your debts, and dump that money into investments. He argues this as investments can grow 12% over 40 years! (Which is utter, utter, bullshit. Oh yeah, dd I mention he happens to sell mutual funds?) Buying a house is a lower rate if investment, but at least you end up with a useful physical asset. When your mutual fund goes belly up, or the next crash leaves it at 10% of what it was, you lose big.

Those are just a few examples out of hundreds I can think of… but the real issue with DR is why he says what he says.

News flash: it has nothing to do with wanting to get you out of debt or make you wealthy. It’s making HIM wealthy.

DR sells books, and has radio broadcasts, and tv appearances. He makes money because *you* pay attention to him, not because he’s right. His mission is to say whatever gets you to buy more books, and listen to more radio ads. His advice is not the product, YOU are. Also, he’s a real estate mogul. He advises people to rent often…which he makes money on!

That’s my big beef with all broadcast salesmen. They aren’t peddling information, they’re extracting money from YOU. His advice is a massive conflict of interest that benefits him and him alone, much like the InfoWars people and their “Survival Seeds”, and Glenn Beck and his “buy precious metas and Survival Seeds”, and Breitbart and their “Survival Nazi Seeds”. It all makes me angry that people buy into their shit instead of thinking things through.

/End rant.

Status report 2017

I know it’s a little late to be posting a 2017 update, but, y’know, life happens.

I’ve got several things going on under my belt, so the blog hasn’t been a priority. But, that’s what this post is about.

I’ve got a few interests that keep me going: aviation, photography, computers, politics,  all blog concentrations, of course, but there’s also music, Scouting, robotics, writing, working, parenting, and husband-ing. I’m not really stretched thin so much as some things occasionally take a backseat for a while when I focus on others.

For example: I haven’t flown in nearly a year, and it’s killing me. My flight physical was delayed while they study my EKG and a sleep study…because, y’know, I’m 40 now. Hopefully that will be remedied soon, with a letter from the FAA. I’ve taken some time off from music, too.  I was a band leader for a Jazz band and Big Band in Raleigh for several years, and stepped into a player role for the last year, since I knew we were moving. I was a player in a couple other bands, too, before that including a Brass Choir (that specialized in chamber music), and a Ska band from many years ago.  (I play brass – mainly trumpet- , guitar, and even bass on occasion.) Scouts has become a back burner, since we’ve moved and we’re waiting for the middle child to complete his Eagle Scout before we move to another troop. (He’s almost finished.) I’m nearly completely burned out on politics, seeing as how everyone has an opinion on things they do NOT understand. It’s just painful dredging through BS opinions to find real political dialogue.

That being said, I’ve been focusing a lot on my photography, computers and writing. I’m nearly halfway through a novel I started writing a few months ago. I’ve got enough material for a whole series, just need to get it sorted out and in text. I’ve been learning new computer languages, applications, and suites. I’ve been neck deep in the Atlassian suite this year, and setting up provisioning suites for a small lab at work.

I’m also trying to teach the kids to code. The boys have started learning Java in their robotics program at school. A lot of the robot competition involves controlling the robot, and programming autonomous activity for the machines, too. It’s just too cool. The 10 year old just started learning HTML tonight. I got her set up on Codecademy, running through building her for web page. We got her fist Hello World page, and now she’s heading for the bowels of CSS. 🙂

So, that’s the update. I actually sat down here because I wanted to write up a schematic for the home network. I got a substantial UPS a couple weeks ago (for free, because it needed a little work), and replaced a blown cap, and VOILÀ!, 2700 watts of backup. That gives me 10 minutes of outage time! That may not sound like much, but if you look at my schematic, you’ll see I’m pulling a LOT of watts. Ha!



The Pacific Northwest is beautiful.

The trips I’ve made out here have literally been a religious experience for me. Nature is my god, and she is here.  The Water. The Geology. The Flora and Fauna. The Night Sky.  The Open Air.  Any combination. of those. It’s just glorious out here.

Growing up in the Midwest and living in the South, and having visited the Northeast a few times, you get the sense that most everything east of the Mississippi is just variations on a theme. Sure there are subtle differences from one woods to the next,  one field to the next, one hill to the next, and there are significant differences between the woodlands of the upper Midwest and the beaches of the South, or the Wetlands of the Deep South or the mountains of Appalachia.  In most of the Eastern half of the country, though, the most you can see in a days drive is 3, maybe 4, different landscapes.

On this coast, the differences are vast- subtle is overrated. Within 6 hours of Portland I can physically touch at least 3 significantly different types of deserts; dozens of forests whose differences are identifiable in seconds; beaches of cliffs, rock, sand, glass and ash; mountains and volcanoes, dormant and live; hot springs, cold springs and glacial melt rivers; high plateaus; vast meadows and prairies; jagged volcanic gorges, slot canyons, and winding creeks; water formed caves and lava tubes; I can go on! There are just SO MANY different terrains.

It’s been a fun few weeks, as I get to spend most of my weekends out and shooting these places.  The views alone confirm our decision to come here. Pics are forth coming.


Hacked, but just a little…

TL;DR : I got hacked. Fixed it quick. Got cool new toys from the hacker in the process.


One of the pages I hosted for some friends (a Cub Scout pack page that had long since expired…) had an unsecured file. Total oversight, it was an old version of WordPress and it left a password in plain text, for a user that had superuser mysql rights. That account was compromised, and that compromised the entire mysql db, obviously. So, I took down wordpress on this page to allow for cleanup. I am planning on moving this page to AWS in the very near future, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Back in November, someone did a clever scan, and found it.  Clever, becaus ethe site isn’t even running.  The DN had long since expired with the registrar. I guess they got the IP from an old cache page or something.

They were sending out phishing scams for for a few hours. I shut it down, but in the process, found that the hacker had uploaded their hacking toolkit. So, long story short, I got some cool tools that I never would have found on my own to security test. Now I can run them against my servers and feel fairly confident that all my shit is squared away. And maybe have some fun at someone else’s expense 🙂

Blogs and SEO comment spam

I’m sure this is a common occurence, but it’s still a bit annoying. Nobody has been told about this blog, with the exception of a single twitter post, that I added just to test out my google analytics plugin. (It’s working, btw…)

Regardless, insincere comments about how “impressive” my blog is when it’s a grand total of 6 posts and a generic WP template with absolutely zero customization kinda makes me not want to use your services. Ever. I am not signing up for your SEO optimization program or whatever it is you’re selling. If your search methods really did work, your blog would be at the head of google searches, and clearly they aren’t.

Good luck with that. Hey, by the way, I have some foolproof methods for buying lottery tickets and picking football point spreads…wanna find out more? Send $$$ to ….