Florida

Celebrate Good Times (Come On)!

Yesterday we had the final celebration of Wifey® and granddaughter-the-elder’s birthdays. Since they both have birthday’s on or around the 4th, and we live in a tourist area, sometimes we have to do our celebrating in stages. Plus it’s more fun to keep the celebrations going for a while! Then this morning, Wifey® reminded me that today is our 73rd six-month anniversary. Yes, we celebrate every six months since that was how long we were told we would last. Ha!

So yesterday the family went to Universal City Walk and had a great time. It was all son-the-younger’s idea. Since Wifey® and I both agree we have too much stuff, we would rather do things with whichever family members we can get together. Son-the-younger picked Blueman Group, and since none of us have ever seen that show, I immediately agreed.

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My fam-damily!

And boy did we pick a hell of a day!  The rain was so bad on the way over to Orlando, we could barely see the hood of the car. But there was no rain in Orlando (surprise!). We had crazy heat. Well maybe not crazy, after all, we are Florida natives (except for son-the-younger, he’s our “token Eskimo” – he was born in Alaska).

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Feels like 108!

So our basic “plan” (we never have a plan – or if we do we don’t follow it), was to get to City Walk around 3PM, walk around and shop a bit, then catch an early dinner and the finally the Blueman Group show at 6PM. But as luck would have it, we sat down at the Lone Palm Bar (part of Margaritaville) and had a few beers. Son-the-younger took his girls and walked around. They found the hot dog stand. And they know that I love hot dogs. But, even cooler, they found stadium seats from some major league stadiums! They also know that papa loves baseball!

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My baby girls in the doughnut chair

Once we realized that we had missed our time for an early dinner, we decided that another round of beers was in order and that we would go to the theater and wait for the show.

Since it was so hot and humid outside, the theater was like an ice-box. But man did it feel good! Plus we were allowed to bring in our drink and snacks! I won’t give much of a review of the show as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone that hasn’t had the pleasure of seeing it.

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Beer, popcorn, and Minecraft swords! Oh, my!

The Blueman Group show was totally awesome! I have not laughed that hard in a long time. I was already fighting a head cold and scratchy throat before we went, so now I can hardly talk. But it was completely worth it. wp-1531740904422..jpg

After the show, we went to the restaurant that we used as a ruse to plan this whole adventure. We didn’t tell Wifey® about the show, only we were going to dinner. But since we had waited so long, there was now an hour wait. What to do? What else, go have another beer!  So back around the park, we go back to the Lone Palm Bar. But our very cool server, Bethany, was off shift now. But we only had time for one beer, so it was all good.

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It was 9PM or so by the time we got to eat. The girls were very hungry, almost to the point of feeling sick. But the milkshakes they had took care of that quickly. I will say I was not happy with my meal, but I don’t blame the restaurant. By this time I was feeling so bad, between the heat and the head cold, that nothing would have tasted good to me.  Everybody else said their meals were great, so I’ll take the heat on this one.

Other than stupid Orlando traffic, and all the damn construction, the drive home was a little easier. Traffic on I-4 (AKA The Devil’s Highway), which according to a recent study is the most dangerous road in America, was light. But we still didn’t get home until midnight.

But all in all, a most spectacular evening! I highly recommend Blueman Group. We’ve already made plans to bring the girls to the Universal Theme Park and Harry Potter.  Stay tuned for that review!

So, how was your weekend?

Peace,
B

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Let’s Butcher Another Song, Shall We?

This morning on the way to work (later than usual due to a morning doctor’s appointment) I tweeted this:

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Yes, I was once again stuck behind non-driving fools. The guy in the left lane even had the right turn signal on, for about 2 miles, and then turned left, with the right blinker still blinking away! #SMH

I do have a problem with the song I parody in the tweet. It gives clowns a bad name! As a registered clown, I take a bit of umbrage on this point. But I’ll let it slide because the video is just so trippy!

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Skeeter the clown. (ca. 1982)

Peace,
B

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7 Day B&W Photo Challenge – Day 1

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I was challenged by Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine to do the “7 Day Black and White Photo Challenge”, and I’m always up for a challenge. The rules are simple: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

Today I’ll nominate: BeautyBeyondBones

Peace,
B

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To Follow Up

This morning I tweeted this:

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For those not here in Floriduh, basically, it’s rained something like 12 or 13 days straight. Here’s my other post on this nasty weather.

But this morning the sun came up so very, very bright. It was much like this…

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Walking in with a co-worker this morning from the parking lot, and she said “It was so bright when I was getting ready for work, I had to check what time it was. I thought I was late!”

But alas, it won’t stay.  My favorite weatherman Brian Shields over at WFTV says we can expect about four more inches of rain over the weekend. This won’t bother me so much, as my plan for the weekend is finishing the floor. (See here and here about the floor).  But I do worry that all the rain means that the little girls will have nothing to do and will be underfoot all weekend. </sigh>

But we’ll get through it. As of today, we are nowhere near the May record rainfall. Last I looked we are just under 6 inches of total rain this month. The record is almost 14 inches, set in 2009 I believe.

So, tell me, “How’s the weather where you are”?

And this song has nothing to do with the weather, but it is about “Sunshine”. And it’s one of my all-time favorite songs.

Peace,
B

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(I really should stop linking to my FB page. I never go there anymore…)

Conference Time

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the KnowBe4 conference in Orlando. (Official hashtag: #KB4Con18). This was without a doubt the best tech conference I have ever attended. Not only were there absolutely dynamic speakers, all attendees were treated to the best food!  I’m talking some of the healthiest stuff I have ever seen at any conference.

I’ve mentioned KnowBe4 before. This is the vendor we use at the city to train, test and generally harass our end-users (OK, maybe not harass). (KnowBe4 website) With just a small part of their product, I can train my co-workers on the latest ways the “bad guys” try to use social engineering to do well, bad stuff. I will admit that I enjoy sending out simulated phish emails. Why? Because it shows me where are weak links are. And this gives me the means to do targeted training to make our city network, and by association everyone’s home PC/Network, that much more secure. I don’t do it to shame someone or hold it over anyone’s head. Since I have been an instructor of some sort for very many years, I use this primarily as a training tool. But on to the conference itself.

Other than the hour plus, each way, drive on I4 (A.K.A. the devil’s highway), and being in Orlando (way too big and crazy for me), everything else went beautifully. The folks at KnowBe4 went above and beyond in this, their first ever conference.

The opening keynote speaker was Kevin Mitnick, or as he likes to call himself “The World’s Most Famous Hacker”, a title he lives up to. If you don’t know who he is, take a moment to read his Wikipedia page, even if it a bit light on his history. Kevin gave us many demonstrations of current hacks, all of which arrive via an inconspicuous email. And all of which are very nasty. But the one hack that scared me the most was when he showed how Google’s two-factor authentication (2FA) could be hacked. Google has always been one of the toughest to crack since they stay on the cutting edge of all technologies. As a big user of many Google services, this is troublesome.

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Me and Kevin Mitnick

The keynote speaker for the next day was Frank Abangale. I have to admit that I did not recognize his name. But once I heard his story I knew how he was. Here is his Wikipedia page for you to educate yourself. Frank is considered one of the foremost experts on imposters and forgery. Steven Spielberg made a movie “Catch Me If You Can” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank and Tom Hanks as FBI Agent Carl Hanratty. I have not seen this movie, but I see it available on Amazon Prime so I will correct that error very soon. And if I caught his reference, he was also the inspiration for the TV show “White Collar”.  His family story and subsequent talk on how to keep safe with online financial sources was very eye-opening.

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Myself and Frank Abangale

Another fantastic speaker was Roger A. Grimes (he wants you to know he is not related to the Canadian political figure with the same name), the best-selling author of several tech books. KnowBe4 even included a copy of his “A Data-Driven Computer Security Defense” in the big ol’ backpack they gave every attendee. The big takeaway from his two talks was the point that you have to determine what your biggest exploitable problem is, and fix that first. Common sense, which as we all know, is always in short supply.

One thing that I really was happy to see was the inclusion of women speakers. KnowBe4 has several women in executive roles throughout the company, and that makes me very happy. Since I have two granddaughters, one of which is very interested in the sciences, I fully support women (and really anybody) in STEM (Science – Technology – Engineering – Mathematics). One of the first questions Wifey® asked me was if there were women presenters. I was so very happy to say yes!

There was one thing missing though. No vendor room. Every other conference I’ve been to there is always a room for vendors. Not only can one make some great contacts with products and services that one doesn’t know about, vendors always have cool swag (freebie gifts). I’ll have to check with my manager, but I think a conference is how we found out about KnowBe4. It may not have been in the vendor area, it may have been word of mouth from another attendee (word of mouth is ALWAYS the best advertisement).

Sorry, this is such a broad overview, but I could write about ten pages if I covered the entire 3 days. All I can say is “I’m ready for KB4Con19!”

Peace,
B

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I Call Shenanigans

Floriduh is supposed to be “The Sunshine State”.  Not this week.  And I really need it to be. I have a PC Security conference in Orlando starting this evening and running through Friday evening. To save my employer a bit of money, I picked a cheaper (by half price) hotel, just down the street from the hotel where the conference will be held. The plan was to park my truck and walk back and forth. I did this for two reasons, one, I don’t want to have to pay the parking fees at both hotels, and second, the walk will replace at least some of the missed elliptical time.  Not to mention, I doubt an Uber driver will want to pick up that short of a trip (0.3 miles according to Google Maps).

But no… There is a big low-pressure system off our west coast and big high-pressure system off the east coast. And between the two of them, we got nothing but rain.  As one of the weather guys on a local channel posted:

 

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Thanks to Brian Shields of WFTV for the image (and no I didn’t ask permission)

 

So I guess I’ll be paying double parking fees…

Sheesh!

Peace,
B

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Hey! All Us Miami Folks!

So, “Back in the day” which is around 1972 or maybe even earlier (this would be the beginning of FM radio), we had three good rock n’ roll radio stations in Miami. We had WBUS “The Magic Bus” which was very “underground” at the time. Although I remember their van coming to my junior high school (what would be a middle school today) when I was in 8th grade (about 1971 – see I told you I was old). Many years later this station became WWLL “Love 94”, which was one the first “soft rock” stations. Never really cared for Love 94.

We also had WINZ-FM, or as we knew it “Zeta 4”. When this station started I remember being in the yard with my brother. We found a station that was playing music we really liked and there were no commercials! It’s a matter of business that most new stations rarely have a lot of commercial revenue when they start-up. And since WINZ-AM was a well-known and respected station in the area, they could afford to start a new “Album Oriented Radio” (now known as classic rock) station without a lot of revenue.

Doing some spring cleaning this weekend I found this:

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I wore a patch like this on many different hats over the years (and yes I almost always have a hat on).

Finally, we had the station that lasted the longest, WSHE “She’s only rock and roll”. This has to be the best radio slogan I’ve ever heard. It plainly states the entire purpose of the station.  I don’t know how long SHE lasted, as we moved away in 1982. But I do remember that’s how I heard of the pope being shot.

So, Miami folks, who remembers these stations? Add some more in the comments!

Peace,
B

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Duuu.. Duuu.. Looking Out My Back Door (Or, Oh Hail!)

(With apologies to CCR)

So I have training in Orlando all this week. For the locals, that means I-4 both ways. Prayers and good wishes are accepted.

Today, the first day of spring we had a nasty storm come through. And as usually happens, it hits Orlando before it hits Daytona. So I’m in class and the storm moves through dropping about marble sized hail. But it clears by the time I get out of class. No problems the entire time on I-4.

But as soon as I get off the interstate it starts to rain. But I can deal with rain. I even managed to get home before it started racing hard. Then out of nowhere I hear what sounds like branches falling on the roof. It wasn’t branches, it was good sized hail.

Hard to see through the screen, but I wasn’t going out there!

Peace,

B

Bike Week ’18

Today the 77th annual Daytona Beach Bike Week starts. Originally this event was nothing more than a small dirt bike race. It has now ballooned into a 10-day event (I hesitate to call it a festival) that floods our local streets with upwards of 250,000 motorcycle “enthusiasts”.  We get everything from the rich doctors and lawyers riding their $100,000 custom bikes (which only come out of the garage for this event – they’re not even ridden into town, the bikes are usually in a toy-hauler to protect them from the elements – or they just rent them), to some very serious biker types (not exactly Hell’s Angels or Outlaws, or at least if they are gang members they’re smart enough to remove their colors before coming into town). Usually, the majority of the bikers are your everyday rider that goes out on weekends and when the weather is nice kind of folks.

But that doesn’t make them your regular tourist. Remember, Daytona is tourist income based town. We have four major events every year that keep the revenue up. Two bike events, and two NASCAR race events. Everybody that I know that works in the hospitality or food industry (both of my sons, one ex-daughter-in-law, and one current girlfriend) will tell you that they’d rather have bikers over race fans any day.

Race fans, which will number in the 75,000 to 100,000 range depending on which race week we’re talking about, don’t seem to understand that a small town like Daytona cannot handle that many people at the same time. Our restaurants will have waiting times of two hours or more, run out of certain high demand items (i.e. snow crabs), and just generally be a miserable place to be. Us locals tend to stay at home during these times.

Bikers, on the other hand, have no problem waiting for a place to eat. They just go grab a beer a hang out in the parking lots when there’s no room anywhere else. Most restaurants will have one or more “Beer Tubs” in the parking lot with pretty girls in short shorts and crop tops selling beer (usually at the same price as usual – quantity is king).

When we first came to Daytona (1997), most the bike week festivities took place just a mile or two up the street from our apartment. So other than the Harley’s gunning up and down the road outside the windows making it impossible to listen to the TV, it was no big deal to walk up to the “party area” have some fun and walk home.

But then Daytona did it’s usual (got greedy and/or stupid). They had already driven the Spring Break TV shows away, we still do get some college kids, but not like it used to be when MTV would be here every year. Now they set their sights on Bike Week. Daytona Harley Davidson (the area where everything happened just up the road from us) used to rent the big grassy area across from the Harley shop really cheap. I’ve heard anything from $1000 to as cheap as $1, so I don’t know for sure. But I do know that city raised the “rent” to $10,000. So, the guy that owned the Harley dealership closed that shop and moved north to an unincorporated area of the county. He built a huge complex. Not only his new Harley Shop but a hotel, restaurants, a truck shop, even a motorcycle mechanic school. The area is called Destination Daytona (even though it’s not within the city limits). There is also a nice covered open-air concert pavilion.

One other area that the bikers still go is Main Street. Yes, Daytona really has a Main Street, although it’s only on the beachside, once you cross the bridge it’s Fairview Ave. The city engineers loved to play with street names back in the day. This place gets packed. It’s lined with bars and clubs on both sides. You’ll see every type of motorcycle you can think of parked along the road, all nice and neatly backed in. The crowds are worse than Disney on the 4th of July (and I’ve been to Disney on the 4th, it’s freaking crazy).  About every 100 feet you’ll find a “Beer Tub” as I describe above, except the prices are a bit higher on Main Street.

And the people! You’ll see so much leather you think the Village People are performing. Men and women in chaps (and there’s no telling what some of the women are or aren’t wearing under the chaps). Leather jackets or vests all over the place. It’s a bit scary to see what appears to be a gynecologist or a real estate broker wearing all leather, drinking a Mich Ultra, while talking to the tax accountant, also wearing leather chaps, a leather vest with a very clean Harley patch (only worn once a year) and also drinking a Mich Ultra, probably raspberry flavored. While their rented Harley’s sit out at the curb. Best patch I’ve ever seen during a bike week event said: “$10,000 and 10,000 miles doesn’t make you a biker!”

Standing right next to them will be the Euro bikers. We get many from Europe that come over for this event. They will have the BMWs and Triumphs parked out front. They are easy to recognize, as they will be considerably younger, and have the Kevlar padded road suits instead of leather. Oh, they’ll be drinking Grolsch or Stella Artois (which I think is Belgium for Budweiser).

The official website for the event is: http://officialbikeweek.com/ (Not real original is it?). Sometimes a location will have a webcam streaming, so look for those if you’d like.

And in case you’re wondering, no I do not ride. Like most things in life, I’m simply a voyeur. I’ve only been on a motorcycle once in my entire life when I was about 8.  Just doesn’t appeal to me, nor do jet skis, four-wheelers or any of that ilk.  Oh well.

And I’m not complaining about the events or the bikers. I thoroughly enjoy bike week. The weather is usually beautiful (but, it does tend to rain the first weekend – very odd that’s it’s always that one weekend). I get to see some beautiful bikes as I go to and from work and sometimes so very attractive ladies on those bikes. I no longer attend any of the free concerts or other events, but we do not hesitate to go out for dinner during bike week like we do on race weeks. The bikers are much more fun.

“I’d rather laugh with the sinners than  cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.” ~ Billy Joel – Only The Good Die Young

Peace,
B

P.S. If you do a Google Image search for “Daytona Bike Week” you *may* want to turn “safe search” on depending on who may be looking over your shoulder (children/boss/small furry animals/etc…). You’ve been warned.

Again….

And yet again another mass shooting at a school. This will of course, once again, ignite the gun control debate. Since I am an Army retiree I am a bit conflicted on the whole gun control issue.

When I first enlisted back in 1976, I took the oath and swore to “Defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.” I believed in that oath in 1976, and I still believe in it today.

So does that mean that I have to support private gun ownership? To me the second amendment reads;

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Source: Wikipedia

I read that, first as a “Well regulated militia”. If I remember my history correctly when the constitution was written, the “upstart” United States may have had a standing Army, but nothing that could be called up quickly for any local problems, i.e. a sudden raid or offensive by the British Army. Hence the creation of a local militia. In today’s world, we call that militia the National Guard (I know this because my son is in the Guard). We no longer have the need for the local authorities (a mayor of a town, the local council etc..) to call up able-bodied men (and maybe women) to arms themselves and defend their homesteads.

However, the second part of that amendment “…the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” leaves some wiggle room. I have no problem with private, RESPONSIBLE gun ownership. My son has a weapon, as does my brother-in-law, and several friends and neighbors. I, personally do not. In my years as a paramedic in the Army, I have seen all too well the carnage that all kinds of weapons can inflict on the human body. I want no part of that. I am very much a pacifist. If that means, I’m the first to die in some “invasion” or whatever, so be it.

So where does that leave me? Or better yet, what is the definition of “responsible gun ownership”? For me, that means, self-defense for you and your loved ones. Also, for hunting and sustaining lives with the meat from those kills. That leaves out “trophy” hunting. I was so very pleased to read about the poacher that was mauled to death by the lion he was hunting in South Africa. I never find joy in the taking of any human life, but in this case, I feel justice was served.

Does that mean you can use “any weapon”? I don’t believe so. I see absolutely no need for any semi-automatic weapons in the hands of any civilian. Why would you need an AR-15 (or an M-16 – same weapon – for the military folks) to hunt? Knowing the damage that this weapon causes to the human body (and goats, as I had to do a “goat lab” when in training – after knocking a goat out, they shot it with an M-16 in a non-life threatening way, for us to treat the wound). There would be very little meat left to eat if you shot the average deer with an AR-15.

Do you need it for home defense? Not likely. Remember, the Governor would have called up the National Guard before this would be necessary.

And all this returns us to the beginning of this post. More school children have been killed because Congress (and maybe the Office of the President) refuse to do anything other than send “prayers and thoughts”. And as far as I’m concerned “prayers and thoughts” are nothing but bullshit. Pure and empty wishes. Instead, the NRA, which I believe should be labeled a terrorist organization, just gives more money to the congressmen (and women) they have in their pockets, and nothing gets done.

We need legislation, and we need it now. It’s time we vote out everyone who refuses to act on any gun control reform, both Republicans and Democrats. 2018 is the year to get them out of there. Start at the top. I say Impeach him now! But, I don’t think we have anything we can impeach him on (yet). But let’s get the ball rolling even stronger. Maybe we should vote EVERYBODY out and start all over again.

But we need better gun control legislation. I’m not advocating taking guns from people. But maybe, I am. Assault style rifles, semi-automatic weapons, “bump stocks” and other military-style weapons should be removed from the general public. There is no damn need for them in a home. You want to fire one? Go to a firing range. Maybe we could allow them to have them on hand for people to experience shooting them. I know there are ranges that have special licenses for fully automatic weapons. So this would allow people to have the same experiences.

But I doubt any of this will come about until a congressman’s child is killed in a random shooting. Sad to say, but I seriously think that’s what it’s going to take. But even then, if it’s a white person doing the shooting, they will claim its “mental illness” if it’s a “refugee” (especially someone from the middle east), then it’s “terrorism”. It’s never the fact that almost anyone can get a weapon, no matter what their background check says.

I have bipolar type 2 disorder. This should disqualify me from being able to buy a weapon. I could easily turn it on myself, or others with no warning simply if my meds aren’t doing their job that day. But I know, I could walk into a pawn shop or even a gun shop or two in this area and with my military ID, walk out with a handgun. I may not even have to wait the required 3 days.

So, after all is said and done, I’m still at a loss. The carnage will continue. Nothing will happen in Congress, the NRA will get more powerful, and more people will die.  If Sandy Hook didn’t change anything, if Las Vegas didn’t change anything, and if Stoneman Douglas doesn’t change anything, I doubt the other 18 school shootings this year will change anything either.

For those that read this and say “If you don’t like it leave”, sorry no. I choose reform. You can leave if you’d like.

Comments are welcome, just know any “hate speech” type of comments will be deleted. I have no problem if you disagree with me, but let’s keep it clean and honest. I know there are more than one view on this subject, and this is mine. Feel free to express your view.

Peace,
B