Oh the times we live in…

EDIT: And the typos we miss…

I don’t know where to begin with anything these days. I don’t know where it ends or where it goes or where I’ll even be in a year from now. One year ago, I was still dealing with the loss of my mother and the brunt of consternation as an event that hadn’t happened in 100 years was unfolding all over the world. Now, we have light shining upon us that shows an eventual end to the pandemic and a return to whatever amounts to normal when all is said and done.

I was finally able to get my first dose of the vaccine and although I can’t shake the powerful impression that the sum of loss has given me, I do feel the beginning of hope and the idea of what I once remember to be relaxation. I can’t get comfortable or relax while I know I have some very big events in my immediate future but I feel tension easing and my expectations are slowly becoming …umm, rosy.

I did get laid off but that’s just a small hurdle to me and I always turn it into something positive. I now have time to tackle big, personal tasks that normally require long weekends or vacations. I can record some music which for me, takes extra focus and time and it has to be the only thing I have going on.

For now, I’m trying to sort out all the pieces and put something new together. I hear people my age in this industry are having a hard time finding work so I’m going to be open to more opportunities than before and maybe some that mean some really tough changes. I made it through most of the pandemic employed and fortunately have a cushion but I see that being used and me maybe leaving California. If it takes more than a few months to find a new job then I’ll have to have plans laid out in advance, meaning right now. Then the next big catch is that I won’t be able to find a new home to lease if I don’t have a job… Oh the catches are endless these days and I almost feel like a giant domino was just flipped over and a whole bunch more are about to fall.

Is it too late to become a musician? And be able to support myself? I missed that boat and sadly now it’s probably too late. But you know what? I’m going to try. I’m going to try to write some, record some music, and explore, all while still trying to find a new job. I don’t even know that I want to do the same type of work at this point. I spent the last three years learning as much about Kubernetes and related ecosystems, that I’m a big exhausted and feel like I need a little break. My skills won’t suffer as I am still learning, just not at a break-neck pace. Just yesterday I was learning how to do things in the latest version of Python versus what I learned ten years ago in 2.6/7. I even thought about founding my own startup since I’ve worked for a few and have a lot of experience with the inner parts. Then I can be like those obnoxious people I used to suffer in San Francisco, constantly reminding you that they, are a founder.

I’m going to hook all my social media up again and stop ignoring the only ecosystem of friends I have right now: online — that I’ve also had for many years before the pandemic, but over the last 2-3 I just stopped interacting and let depression take over. I really didn’t feel like talking to anyone but my son and then rarely got to see him. I think he has a deep affect on my depression and when I don’t see him, I’m affected. The sum of a few years of that has made me feel almost permanently depressed. I don’t know how else to get out of that because it’s not something I planned or expected. If I never had a child, I never would have had that little part of me; the part of me that loves and pulls me like a magnet. The pain you feel when you miss you child is one you know you will never get over. It’s not like some crush you had in high school, the love for a child is the deepest I think you can have. They are of our own.

What I fear is that my depression has become an unstoppable thing. Too many years of isolation and solitude to a person that never likes to be alone has long lasting effects and I know I have a really strong mind and I’ve always been able to beat my own demons. I just don’t know if I have the ability to even climb out of where I am emotionally and psychologically.

But I am still me and still not broken, yet. I’m going to try to pull a phoenix and see where it gets me. I might throw away everything I can’t fit in my van and just start driving with no real destination in mind — just go North until something interesting makes me go another way. Where that guy failed in ‘Into the Wild’, I know I could survive and mainly because I have better guns and a 4×4. I should probably get the snorkel installed and quit making fun of them but that wouldn’t be any fun. It just makes the Sprinter look like an elephant. Especially a 144″ wheelbase with a high roof and painted grey which a lot are. Okay, just typing this update cheered me up a bit and I have even formulated more plan while doing so.

I might even torture the world, or at least those who might ever actually read my blog, more frequently! I might even post music.

Some Tips…

My Grocery Store Shopping Tips

I’m trying to develop and evolve my routing so writing it down will help and I can share my ideas and get some tips and ideas from others.

–Bring my own bags that have been disinfected or isolated
–Bag all non-perishable items together
–Bag all perishable items together
–Place bags in a designated location upon returning home
–Clean up process
—-Wash hands
—-Remove clothes
—-Sanitized wipes to keys, phone, wallet
—-Clean door handles and entry items I might have touched returning
—-Clean perishable items and place in refridgerator
—-Put perishable items grocery bag in closet isolation

At that point I can either clean the items in the non-perishable bags or just let them wait it out right where they sit.

The Rest of My Routine

For my clothing I’ve been rotating jackets, pants and my hat. When I return home I place the jacket and pants in a specific spot, hanging on the corner of a shelf on the other side of the room. I have 3-4 of these separated by 4-5 feet while handing so I can go a week or so between wearing one set giving it enough time to hopefully, naturally disinfect. So I wear one set out, then hang it for a week in isolation before wearing it again.

I’ve always kept a container of sanitizing wipes and a large pump bottle of hand-sanitizer in the cup holder of the door in my vehicle. After living in SF and getting three MRSA infections from just living there, I became a bit paranoid about it and started disinfecting. So naturally for me to clean things upon returning to my vehicle after pumping gas or going to a store. I even clean the pump handle and buttons at the pump out of generosity.

As of this morning, I shaved my beard off so I can wear some form of respiratory protection. I have some N95 masks but I do not have a surgical style mask. I also don’t sew or having things to make them from so I’ll try to order a few and wait that out and use the N95 for now. I have maybe 25 N95 in a box that I purchased two years ago; I want to donate them but until our guidance on wearing them is clearer, I’ll keep them. If it gets real bad around here I have a few good places bookmarked to donate them. If the surgical masks arrive soon, I’ll donate the lot unless guidance becomes wear N95 only.

I’ve been getting a little takeout and mainly to help support local businesses but I am a little sick of my own cooking! With the takeout the routine is fairly similar but overall I’ve broken myself of touching my face and if I need to, I have either a single-use tissue or wipe to do it with. If I don’t have something with me, I grab my shirt collar or use the inside of my jacket but grabbing it from the outside, then wiping my face.

Equifax Should Go Away

As most everyone who absorbs a daily dose of news knows, Equifax got hacked and now the personal information for 44% of the US population has been stolen. Most likely, if you’re an avid consumer participating in the credit industry machine, your information got pwned. It’s likely that most of the people you know who work, pay bills, use the Internet, and buy things with credit cards or with loans got pwned.

This has got to stop. Equifax was hacked due to Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638, and a patch was available, but not applied to their web-servers!

I do IT stuff. So to say. I also know that no matter what operating system I use that there are automated ways of updating my OS and software. If there aren’t, then I’ll script something that will do it for me. I install security and functional updates as soon as they’re available. I watch the blogs, security advisories, email lists, news feeds, etc… And it’s probably still not enough. If I had the budget, I’d dedicate someone to security as I don’t think even a small company can afford the type of breach that Equifax will most likely weather and carry on, using our personal information as their product.

And we have to face it: we are their product. Our information is what they use to make money. How the hell is that even legal? Oh, probably because money. Money. That tends to drive most everything doesn’t it? Or at least the love of it and the greed for as much as possible. It’s worse than Heroin, as it seems.

The vulnerability that allowed Equifax to get hacked was specific to Apache Struts, a framework for running Java under Apache. It’s not super common because most people running Apache are using PHP — most new servers deployed on the Internet last year (2016) were supposedly using PHP. Anyway, my point is that you shouldn’t worry that it is a common exploit — it’s been patched and Struts is popular, but not used by everyone.

Still, you have to wonder about their architecture that allowed the balance of all their sensitive information to be plucked away so easily. Did they not perform Risk Management? I would think that such a company with such incredibly sensitive information would have. And if they did and it still happened then maybe they hadn’t implemented their plan to fix any weak parts? I just can’t believe that Equifax took information security serious enough. Equifax is a company with the EXACT information that hackers are always looking for — you’re a prime target! When I worked in the video game industry I found out that as developers, you’re targeted constantly and you have to always be proactive. You can never let your guard down. And in the case of Equifax, they’re probably one of the biggest treasure troves a hacker could ever hope for besides the keys to the bank itself.

When I hear about massive IT failures on this level, I first experience a bit of sympathy for the staff and people who have to work 24×7 until it’s fixed and they’re confident the intrusion has been contained. But, with this, their IT staff blundered in such a way that it will most likely affect me and cause me to have to spend my own time dealing with it. It’s a huge inconvenience to me, their unwilling product.

Deep in my heart, I’d like to see Equifax go away. I’d like to see it sued out of existence. I’d like to see the government step up and slap some hardcore regulations on the industry but there’s no chance of that happening right now. In fact, sad to say, all we can do right now is be mad and buy some credit protection. We don’t have a choice but to be part of this credit industry machine — there’s no way off this ride if you want to be an active part of society and buy things. Even greater is the affect the credit industry has had on renting property, leasing, and even employment — what happens now?

I want to see regulations that say they can’t keep my personal information at all. But you know that’s not going to happen — we have an established industry that has money to lobby and influence. I’d like to see regulations in place that prevent them from at least storing my SSN but that’s the key identifier in credit reporting. A number that was never intended to be used for it — but try to get credit or a loan without giving it up.

So the way I see it now is that they have us and there’s little to nothing we can do aside of hoping for laws and regulations to protect our information. When industry giants screw up it can hurt everyone and in this case, it probably will. We’re their product, unwillingly. And in America, corporations have more power than me or you.

Double Fine MEGA-FAN PACK!

I used to work for Double Fine Productions. I no longer want these items and I figured that someone, somewhere, a fan or not, might be interested in them so here you are. I want to sell these items as one lump lot. I will ship them, but only after I receive the payment and the buyer will have to pay for the shipping. I don’t want to take international bids for these items, unless they’re really good ones! If you’re interested in this Double Fine MEGA-FAN PACK, then reply to this post and I’ll get back to you — no replies will be made public.

I will include one surprise item in the pack that was not made available to the public.

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Moving Slowly – Hotel Utah Open Mic

I don’t think I’ve ever shared this song short of a few open mics. This was recorded recently at the Hotel Utah’s awesome open mic on January 7th 2013. (It really did take me 3 months to finish this post!)

Michael Beese was kind enough to improvise over it for me on his vio-fiddle thing.

Moving Slowly – Brent Shinn, Hotel Utah Saloon January 7th 2013 (Michael Beese – Fiddle) You can also hear more of my music on the site as well as an amazing archive of music from the performers as well as upcoming Utah related shows, tweets, and more!

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New song: Said and Done

It’s taken me some time to get around to making a recording of this – especially one that I didn’t screw up! I’m never happy with my recordings but I’m getting better with it. This song was written for an optional assignment for a songwriter group I attend – to write a waltz. I’m still not entirely sure about the arrangement in the end and I’m liking playing around with timing in certain parts for accents. Anyway, I hope you enjoy. I’ll record it again soon and hopefully even better!

PS – I’m going to make all the older videos private once I record new versions. I’ve only been writing songs and singing for around 3 years now and I think I’ve definitely improved and newer recordings would surely represent my work much better. I also need to hook up a better microphone – soon!

Brent

Gregg Allman – Trampled by Turtles – The Spazmatics!

Last week was a busy week for shows. A friend of mine invited me to see Gregg Allman – which I didn’t even know was coming to town and probably wouldn’t have went on my own but I’m certainly glad I did. Honey Honey opening for Trampled by Turtles? LOVE! and then a new discovery in the amazingly awesome 80’s cover band The Spazmatics.

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I’m the featured performer tonight at Neck of the Woods Open Mic (12/26/12)

Tonight (Wednesday 12/26) at 9:30PM I will be the featured performer at Neck of the Woods Open Mic – formerly the Rockit Room. Sign-ups start at 7:30PM with Rory Cloud as the host and Brentando slinging the brews. This was kind of a last minute thing so there was no way to really spam out an early notice and I know a lot of people are away for the holidays – anyway, I’m playing tonight! If you’re around…

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I was trying to find a version of this I like – here.

This was my 40th birthday show at Bazaar Cafe and this is my favorite instrumental. It’s a piece I wrote in mind of my eldest cat, Ix. She’s a funny thing and hard to coin she was. She’s always been the sweetest kid and a lap magnet to the core. Each of my cats has their own piece and this belongs to her.