Aug 302011
Black Hat and Def Con

(aka the much-awaited post from Dave!!) Last month I went to Black Hat and Def Con in Las Vegas. Mary was intrigued. A conference and convention about hacking! So I promised to do a blog post about them. Big mistake. Now I understand a lot more about writers’ block. The problem here wasn’t that I didn’t have enough to write about; on the contrary, there is too much, and I didn’t even know where to begin. So I am giving myself permission to leave a lot out and just post some random thoughts. Black Hat is a computer security conference and is very legitimate. It’s also expensive, as all computer conferences tend to be these days. It has been held at Caesar’s Palace for the last several years. I got to go on the taxpayer’s dime, but I registered far in advance so I got the best deal on both click here to read the whole dang post […]

Aug 232011
The Swiss paradox

Switzerland often strikes me as a country of paradoxes.  At first glance, people seem so strait-laced and conventional. Nobody wants to stick out. The other day, a friend was describing an encounter with a slightly mentally unstable guy who lives near her. Her kids had seen him on the metro, “wearing a woman’s fur coat and a pair of red converse high tops.” He drew plenty of attention. She sighed. “In New York or London, nobody would bat an eye.” Actually, I said, in New York or San Francisco he’d probably be pretty mainstream. Just yesterday, I was in town with Brendan, renewing his annual public transport pass and showing him all the amazing functionalities of his new ATM card. — Rotten parent confession digression —  Yes, at the ripe old age of 18 Brendan has just opened his first personal bank account. Yes, I know I’m a rotten parent. click here to read the whole dang post […]

 Posted by at 5:30 pm
Aug 172011

Sometimes coincidences just jump out and tackle you. Yesterday, as I was perusing the New York Times, I came across an article entitled “Cancer’s secrets come into sharper focus” and I was hit with no less than five (5) amazing coincidences. The first coincidence is that I was thinking about cancer, because two years ago, my dad died after a 15-month bout with pancreatic cancer. Ever optimistic, he tried every treatment he could in the hopes that if he could hang on a little while longer, a better treatment would come out. He was a firm believer in the possibilities of science, being a scientist himself. In the two years that have gone by since then, I have not read about a single promising new treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer. And I keep my eye out. The article agrees with me. We have based a large part of our cancer click here to read the whole dang post […]

Aug 152011
Hiker heaven

We’re back! What a hike. We did the “Tour de Mt. Ruan” — a four-day hike that straddles the mountainous border between Switzerland and France. I didn’t intend to do journaling on this blog, but I didn’t intend not to do it either, so here’s a recap of the highlights for anyone who’s interested. Day 1: I finally find a map that covers the French portion of the tour in the gift shop at the Emosson dam, the starting point. What a relief. I am a map junkie. I cannot go into the mountains without a topo map. I need to know where the cliffs are and if we are going around or over them, and how many more meters of climbing we have to do at any given point in time, because I need to parcel out the chocolate accordingly. We hit the trail at about 11 am. A click here to read the whole dang post […]

 Posted by at 8:32 am
Aug 072011
No pressure, Dave

My chief technical officer (aka brother) Dave is on probation.  “Can you do a little post from the conference,” I ask, “while we’re out hiking? I’ve said you will on the blog.”  Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. Nothing like a commission to bring on a full-scale case of writer’s block, huh, Dave? I know the scenario all too well from my own experience.  A commission! Wow! Someone thinks I’m a legitimate writer! I need to go out for a run and think about how I’m going to write this! Back home, showered, ready to work, I have to tidy up the kitchen. No way I can work with clutter in the periphery. It’ll only take a few minutes. Laundry, too. It can run while I’m writing. How efficient! Okay, no nonsense now, I tell myself. I have a deadline, time to get started. I sit down and stare at click here to read the whole dang post […]