Bragging Rights: 6 Months of Lifting Weights

In February of this year, I hired a personal trainer and got back to working out on a regular basis. I’ve lost weight, gained muscle and flexibility – and still look like a middle aged suburbanite. Ah well, I didn’t pay extra for the movie-star makeover (yes, I’m just kidding). Shallow vanity aside, this is a photo taken of me today. It may not look like much to you but I know how much I’ve improved. I’m pretty darned proud!

So, yeah, I’m bragging! ūüôā

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Bragging Rights: NITTF Insider Threat Training

The office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), National Insider Threat Task Force (NITTF), has provided access to several Insider Threat training resources. I completed the Insider Threat Training Module.

The module just covers the basics, but it’s well made and clearly explains key topics. It’s a good introduction to understanding insider threats and it provides this nifty certificate upon completion:

Bragging Rights: GDPR Training

I’ve successfully completed the Understanding the GDPR MOOC offered by the University of Groningen’s¬†Security, Technology and e-Privacy (STeP) Research Group on FutureLearn.

Observations:

  • It’s a four week course but I completed a good amount of on-the-job research prior to taking the course and, therefore, managed to complete the entire thing in about a week.
  • The topics covered are both comprehensive and realistic. It doesn’t get bogged down in the details and does an excellent job of covering the issues companies need to know in order to begin a gap analysis and ensure compliance.
  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is still very new and many of the questions professionals, researchers, companies, corporations and governments have are not possible to answer. The reason for the lack of answers is simply this: when the issue is taken to court, the courts will hold a full investigation and trial. The results of that legal process will stand as Independence for suture decisions. There is very little in the way of legal precedence currently established, so the academic and professional focus is on the ‘spirit of the requirements’ and the ‘primary objectives behind the establishment of the law.’
  • The course has a series of quizzes that must be passed at 75% or higher (total cumulative score) in order to receive a certificate. There’s only one opportunity to take each quiz – they cannot be redone. It’s possible to open up the videos, articles and lecture notes while taking the quiz and there is no time limit – so it is (in essence) open book. It is not possible to search everything and auto-find the answers. So, be sure to do your readings, watch all the videos and pay attention to the notes provided during the practice quizes!
  • Successful completion of the full (paid) version results in a certificate that can be used for continuing education credits (this is useful if you hold a professional certification in a related area!).

The MOOC is well worth the time and effort. I highly recommend it to anyone involved in GDPR compliance or information security.

Bragging Rights: Insider Threat Training

I completed the Establishing an Insider Threat Program module in the CDSE Insider Threat Training program.

The certificate to prove it:

Bragging Rights: Insider Threat Training

This is a rather small brag but – why not?

I completed the first module in the CDSE Insider Threat Training program.

This training/module provides this very useful toolkit: https://www.cdse.edu/toolkits/insider/index.php

My fancy new certificate:

Bragging Rights: New Cat Mommy

Image

Meet Gracie and Billy, the newest additions to my household.

They are three-month-old kittens from the same littler. They came from a shelter, so the breed is either ‘American Shorthair’ or ‘grey and black rescue cats.’

Both are full of energy and spunk¬†but Gracie is the smaller and fiercer of the two. Billy generally just get’s out of her way when they are playing with the cat toys.

It’s been a wonderful change.

Bragging Rights: My Tiny Garden

When I moved into this duplex, the landlord gave me permission to do a little gardening. It was one of the many questions I had before moving in and the representative from the company that manages this building assured me it was ok. Of course, this is a place I rent, not a place I own, so I have been both cautious and careful about what I plant and how much money I spend.

We’ve had an unusually large amount of rain this year, and most of the plants in my little garden plots are doing extremely well – therefore, I have decided to brag about my garden.

Herbs In The Front Yard

I removed the weeds, put down mulch, and planted (from left to right) Swiss Chard, Cilantro, purple Sage and Chives (purple flowering). The Hosta (in the center) was already there.

All of these plants are doing really well except the chives. For some reason, the chives are struggling.

Pretty Flowers Beside The Door

I’d taken the time to give this bush a much-needed trim before putting down mulch and planting some pretty purple and pink flowers for mother’s day (a family tradition). I’m glad we chose the flowers we did because,¬†soon after, the bush¬†burst into bloom with pretty pink¬†(bright pink!) flowers in the spring. Sadly, I did not take a picture before the flowers were all gone – they are rather short-lived.

For some reason, this house has two doors, and two sets of cement steps leading up to those doors, on the same side of the house. The bush in this picture is the same bush in the previous picture. Since this second door is never used (it even has a ‘do not use’ sign), I played around with using this stoop as a home for plants in pots.

This flower is the only thing that really took to this location (and survived the squirrels).¬†It’s such a pretty flower! I wish I’d thought to take a picture when the whole thing was in bloom. I’ll have to try to remember to snap a photo with my phone the next chance I get.

Strawberry Patch

I pulled all the weeds out of this area along the side of the house, put down mulch and planted strawberry plants. They have not started to produce strawberries, but they have been growing strong. A few are starting to send out little vines, so they should spread out nicely.

The large leafy flowering plants behind the strawberries were already there. They produce pretty orange flowers when they are in bloom. The low leafy flowering plants (tiny purple flowers when in bloom) around the edges are all over the yard. There isn’t much grass on this property because these plants cover everything, so the grass grows up around them. It’s actually kind of nice because they are just as soft as grass, so it doesn’t¬†get in the way of lounging/playing in the backyard.

I allowed some of the purple flowers to remain around the strawberries because they were pretty when they were in bloom but they spread aggressively, so I have to weed them away from the strawberries from time to time.

Old Laundry Line Pole

When I did the walk-through on this place, this old metal pole in the backyard stood out like a sore thumb. It’s left over from a time when people did laundry outside. There’s nowhere to attach a laundry line/rope, so it has no purpose except to just stand there looking like…well, like this.

I was trying to find a way to make it less ugly when I noticed that it was both extremely solid/sturdy and it had holes drilled into the arms. So, I went out and bought some hanging baskets, planted some flowers and decorated with a wind chime. Much better! (Not perfect, but BETTER!)

If I owned this place…or if I had the tools, time and skills…I would seriously look at turning this thing into some kind of hanging garden with several tiers of wide (the width of the arms) garden boxes. Another option is to plant a flowering vine (of some sort) at the base and let it consume the entire pole.

Hmmm…

This is an excellent example of one of the primary reasons why I find renting so frustrating – I just want to get out into the yard and fix it!

Former Wood Pile Is Now A Garden

When I moved in, I noticed a wood pile in the back of the yard. Throughout the Midwest, burning wood in your yard is extremely common. Even in the middle of the city, on rented property, people will have city-approved fire pits. So, the wood pile wasn’t unusual.

When spring arrived (I moved in during the winter) I realised it was a wood and trash pile, filled with all sorts of rotting things that needed to be dealt with (somehow). There were also lots of broken glass, beer bottle tops and cigarette butts all over the yard – I guess the former tenants had many gatherings (or something).¬†When you rent, this sort of problem is common. People just don’t take care of places they don’t own.

So, I sorted out the wood pile, got the trash hauled away (including the glass and cigarettes, when I found them), put everything into the yard-waste garbage can that was allowed and used the former wood-and-trash-pile space to create a tiny vegetable garden.

I had several pots full of dirt that I’d attempted to use for gardening-from-seed, but the squirrels kept digging in the dirt. Every single time little shoots of plants would appear, I would come home to find the entire pot dug up – it was as if the squirrels had decided to stir it up (like a soup).

I finally decided to just dump all of the dirt into the former-wood-pile location, use some of the large wood pieces (not allowed in the yard waste bin) to create a garden border, and planted some already-grown plants purchased at local garden centers.

The end result is two tomato plants (in the back) and (from left to right in the front) zucchini, cucumbers and pumpkins.

There’s also a section of those flowering plants that are growing in other parts of the yard. This fence is really ugly, and a portion of the flowers was over-grown (potentially root bound), so I moved a small section out of the overgrown area and replanted it in this tiny garden plot. The thought was, long-term, these flowers would spread and cover up the fence line.

Wish It Were My Own

I really enjoy doing yard work on the weekends and playing around with little gardening projects. Obviously, I’m not a master gardener, but it’s fun.

Sadly, this is an apartment and, sooner or later, we will have to move.¬†I’m going to miss this place when we leave.

Bragging Rights: Quora Top Writer of 2017

I am officially a Quora.com Top Writer for 2017!

Check out the fancy new ‘Top Writer’ status on my Quora profile! Pretty snazzy, wouldn’t you agree? Apparently they are going to send me a special Top Writer Jacket and everything.

(Preen)

(Chuckle)

I’m just as proud as could be.

Bragging Rights: Ending Slavery MOOC

I have successfully completed the Ending Slavery MOOC Produced by the University of Nottingham and provided through Future Learn!

It’s an amazing class and I recommend it to absolutely everyone and anyone.

Personally, I got about 2/3s of the way through before ‘life happened’ and I was forced to stop for a few weeks. When I got back to the assignments, the class had ended and the forum activity consisted of a very small number of stragglers (like myself) completing the class on their own. Doing a MOOC after it’s officially closed isn’t as much fun. All of the discussions and interactions with instructions are a huge part of the experience, but that did not detract from the quality of the content or my ability to get really good information out of it.

If they run the class again, I strongly recommend taking part – it’s well done and the topic is extremely important.