Thursday, December 29, 2011

WiFi Users Should Use WPA2

US-CERT Vulnerability Note VU#723755 - WiFi Protected Setup PIN brute force vulnerability

Looks like The Bad Guys can break into your wireless network in just a few hours as opposed to a few days.   Time to make sure you're using WPA2.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Lumbering Holiday Tale: The Video

The "classic" holiday tale returns in video.

Snake Dream

I was going on a hike with Mark in the fields and hills between my parents' house.  There was a group of us, but other than Mark, I don't recall who.  I quickly became separated from everyone, and was in a kind of cul-de-sac of blackberries in a field near Bald Hill.

I could hear everyone up on the hill, and I managed to find a trail leading through a lower place in the brambles.  The bramble paths pointed at an old brown cottage one way, and back the way I'd come the other.  I picked my way through the brambles and stepped over a small brook.

The hill and the fields transitioned at this point, I think.  They became less green and Oregonian and more arid, and more like the sonorian desert with cliffs.  I was too busy wondering about the lizard I saw scrabbling up and down a sandy dune.  I had the sense that this was a big lizard because I could see it well at a distance.

I wanted to catch up with everyone, so I headed toward Bald Hill, where I'd heard them last.  I became concerned about rattlesnakes, because I knew they'd like to sun themselves on the rocky slope.  There's a break in my recall, but the next thing I can clearly recall, I was being chased by a rattlesnake and another, smaller snake.  I was running and they were wriggling after me.

I say that it was a rattlesnake, except that this snake was banded black, yellow, and red.  Its rattle wasn't quite like a regular rattlesnakes, it was black and charred looking, like the remains of a log after a fire.

Despite running away, the snakes caught up to me, and then then rattlesnake proceeded to wrap itself around my neck and shoulders and sort of hang out.  I might have been bitten on the hand, but it was more like a grazing bite.

The setting transformed to a busy city street.  It was daylight.  I still had the rattlesnake wrapped around my throat.  I met a writer friend, but she was an amalgam of three different Wordos.

"John," she said, "I saw you from a distance and I said to myself, 'Is John wearing a rattlesnake around his neck?'  And you are!"

We had a small chat.  The rattlesnake might have changed color to something more like a rattlesnake's, and the rattle seemed less like a piece of burnt wood and more like the nestled buttons of a rattlesnake's tail.  I have a strong sense of the snake's coils.  Eventually the rattlesnake got bored or whatever, and shrugged itself off of me. 

I must have woken up or something because I was telling some folks about the dream and A.R. (also from the Wordos) looked at me like I'd just walked backwards on a high wire over a fire and said, "Well. You've certainly made your spiritual connections."

And then I woke up again.

I'm trying to figure out this dream, because I don't normally dream about snakes.  Usually after I cross a stream in my dreams, I encounter a stag or a panther or a raccoon or a white horse.  As a white person of English and Norwegian stock, I'm not grounded in Native American traditions, so I'm hesitant to break out the sage and say (in deep, serious, spiritual voice) Rattlesnake Is My Power Animal. 

But over the new moon and my birthday--both tomorrow--I think I'll be on the look-out for snakes and what they might be trying to tell me. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Is Coming

"... he had that look you very rarely find / the haunted, hunted kind..."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Solstice Fire

Yesterday, I bought some beeswax candles so I can be ready for the Solstice.

Every Winter Solstice, around noon, I like to use a magnifying lens to ignite a match and then set the flame on a candle. From that candle, we light the candles in our fireplace and then watch them as the day grows darker.

This year the solstice is 9:30 PM on Dec 21, so I'm calling the noon of the 21st the Solstice Noon. If it is not too cloudy, stop by with a candle after noon and I will light it with solstice fire. Um, no, I'm not going to sing any Doors songs or do a re-enactment of Rent.

Hmmm.  Maybe I can light the BBQ with solstice fire too....

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Masculinity & Steampunk

Santos Dumont
Wikimedia Commons
 Lately, I've been writing a story set in a world with an alternate history where magic works, it's the beginning of the 20th century, and dirigibles are in the air.  The process has been an integrative one for me, because little bits of history that I've usually not connected in my head have come together.

My story involves a small airship, slightly larger than the one Santos Dumont flew around the Eiffel Tower circa 1900.  (The really big airships, like the zeppelins of Germany, didn't appear in historical skies until about 1910.  Transatlantic and trans-US crossings didn't happen until the 1930's.)  

Lewis Hine, 1920.
Power house mechanic
working on steam pump
Wikimedia Commons

Since my characters are American citizens raised in England, they "Remember the Maine!"  It also means they're Victorians.  My challenge writing alternate-history American-Victorians is preserving the feel of culture while writing a gay male character who isn't committing "a sin unspeakable in Christian circles," and a female character more active than Willamina Harker.  (Yes, the Harkers and Count Dracula are from this time period, too.)  I think I can justify some of the characters' cultural expectation by using an alternate history religion that I've played with before -- it helps that instead of a same-sex trinity, the godhead is a gender-balanced quartet. 

So I have to examine how to write masculinity.  On one hand is the "muscular Christianity" that E.M. Forester commented on, with its homo-social prep-schools filled with fine young men learning Greek and honing their bodies with athletic games.  With the alternate-religion of the world, I think I can focus on the strong body, strong mind ethic to help preserve that old English Empire feel.  And since The Father and The Mother of the Quartet are equals, there's less pressure to have a "The spiritually manly man is the head of his household" morality.

Oscar Wilde
Wikimedia Commons
But at the opposite end of the historical definition of early twentieth century manliness is Oscar Wilde, The Aesthete.  In this time period, if one was a refined, nonathletic, aesthete, one was not a manly-man.  And Steampunk, the romanticized version of the industrial revolution, is firmly rooted on the Manly Man in the Steamworks; the Self-sufficient, Burly Explorer; the Civilized Marshall of the Inner-Brute.  The aesthete hadn't marshaled his inner-brute so much as banished it (if he ever had one to begin with).

Anyway... that's been what's peculating in the back of my head.  Now... onto writing the story.   And I think I'm going to try my hand at more Steampunk, if only to try different ways of queering it.