Zagreb, etc.

There’s so much to tell over the last few days that I really don’t even know where to start. I suppose the easiest thing to do would be to work backwards, so that the thing that is the most fresh in my memory takes precedence over the ones where it’s clear I’ve slept since then.

My iPad Mini has gotten to the point where it is lagging behind app requirements, because it won’t even upgrade to iOS 10. That means that all the new features of mobile WordPress have been unavailable to me for quite some time. I finally gave up the ghost and ordered a Kindle Fire, the 7-inch that everyone is talking about because it’s so cheap. There’s a reason for that… but I have no actual complaints. Just things that I wish were different. For instance, you are tied into the AMZ universe and even though Kindle OS and Android are virtually indistinguishable, it doesn’t come with the Google Play store. It’s not that much of a problem; there’s really only one app I’m missing that I hope comes available quickly, which is the LastPass browser. It’s basically Google Chrome with LastPass already built in.

If you’ve never heard of LastPass, it’s worth checking out. The account is free and you can access your passwords from anywhere, even if you don’t have the mobile app or browser plugin. You can simply use the web interface at LastPass.com. So, I’m not stranded or anything, it would just be nice. The only password I ever have to remember is the master unlock for the app/plugin/web site. It makes it easy to create passwords that are long, random strings that would make a hacker cry (like I’ve said before, if a password takes several days to decrypt, you’re less of a target than the asshats who contine to use “admin” or “Password”). You can’t prevent hackers altogether, but you can stop lazy ones.

How do I know this? There was a hacker in my apartment complex in Portland who I asked to do a penetration test on my router. After three days, he gave up. It just wasn’t worth the incredible number of dedicated CPU cycles to see information that wasn’t very interesting. As an aside, in order to lock down a router (because this is a key you’ll probably want to give to your friends when they come over), the router will take spaces as characters and you can do a passphrase in “haxxorspeak.” For instance, let’s say, and this is just off the top of my head… @rg0 4k Y0urS3lf.

Yes, I did get that t-shirt. I underestimated just how many people in DC have seen that movie, and it has been a kick to hear that phrase yelled at me from passersby. So, fair warning, if you go to the Spy Museum and get one, too, be prepared.

Good times.

So, today was all about setting up my tablet so that I don’t have to lug around an iPad that won’t do what I want, or a laptop that will but seems to get heavier with every block I walk. By the time I get to Starbucks, it feels like it’s about 75 lbs. However, it does have a full-size keyboard and an excellent sound card so I can blast bass enough to drown out SBUX elevator music, so I got that goin’ for me.

Speaking of Starbucks, I got lots of gift cards for my birthday, and in addition to getting drinks, I also bought two mugs I’m very proud of. One is a glass replica of the classic paper cup, and the other is a dark teal with the mermaid painted in gold- part of their Anniversary Blend series. I decided I didn’t want to spend all of my gift money on something as temporary as coffee in a paper cup. It was my 40th, and every time I look at those mugs, I’ll be reminded of the day I got them…. even if I don’t actually put Starbucks coffee in them….. yesterday, it was Stash Chai with lots of milk and Splenda.

In addition to going to Starbucks, work has me chained to my desk a lot of the time. Between trying to set up a Udemy course, writing a YA novel, and trying to get that one Really Great Job,™ there are few moments in my day that I’m willing to leave my room. Though I do enjoy working in a coffee shop sometimes, I am most comfortable sitting at my desk with the 32-inch monitor. Technically, it is a TV, but I have used it for that purpose exactly once in the three years I’ve lived here. Though cable comes with my rent, I am much happier as a cord cutter. I am much more centered that way, rather than using the TV for company as it rattles on in the background. Whether I am writing or reading, I prefer absolute silence. When I’ve got things going on in the background, I have to go back and read everything three or four times to make sure I’ve understood it… especially with non-fiction.

As I have said before, I am reading David Halberstam’s somewhat snarky account of the conflict in Korea, called (appropriately) The Coldest Winter. I have only finished parts one and two, and here’s what it boils down to so far. Everything that could have possibly gone wrong did… and not in a comedy of errors kind of way. MacArthur purposefully cut out intel from the OSS/CIA so that he could give orders from his own flawed confirmation bias…. for instance, OF COURSE the Chinese weren’t going to invade Korea… and if so, it wasn’t going to be THOUSANDS of soldiers…. that would just be crazy talk.

Americans were embedded with the ROK (Republic of Korea) soldiers to support them, but support is relative when you can’t communicate with each other and the higher-ups are giving you wrong information all day long, anyway.

I’m actually not really all that interested in war. I just love Halberstam, and I have read everything he’s ever put to paper. I’d read a phone book if he wrote it. The day he was killed in a car accident was the first time an author’s death floored me. It was just so surreal.

As was showing up to McGinty’s Public House on Monday night and finding out they had a trivia game going. I originally showed up to meet my sister for dinner, but I got there a little early and by the time she arrived, I’d already won us a free drink. I am always amazed at the amount of useless knowledge I possess…. For instance, how in the hell I know that the capital of Croatia is Zagreb is just beyond me… Mostly because I know that random fact, but don’t ask me to find it on a map. I am way too dumb to geography. I can’t even be trusted with the layout of my own neighborhood.

However, I know where the mall is, and that’s really the most important thing, is it not? I mean, that’s where the pub is.

Lindsay and I ordered more food than we needed and gorged ourselves silly as we talked and joked. It really is true that I see her just as much now as when we were both living in the same city. In fact, the meeting she had this time around was actually in Silver Spring. Since she works on federal legislation as well as state, and Maryland is one of the states in her territory, there are very few months of the year in which we don’t get a few days together. During Maryland session, she’s here three or four days a week for (generally) five weeks in a row. It’s been fun showing her around “my DC,” and my little town in particular.

I’m also glad to be that person in town she knows, so that she can let her hair down after work and just blow off some steam, rather than feeling isolated in her hotel.

In turn, she’s shown me “her little town” as well. The capital of Maryland is Annapolis, and I’d never spent any time there until she arrived. It’s gorgeous, just a love letter to the Chesapeake… poetry in motion all over the place and my now two favorite words…..

Dress. Whites.

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