Out with 2018 and in with 2019

This year was very interesting for Sydney, Stuart, Simon and Sam. We gave away, or threw away over 90% of our stuff. Changed where we live. Changed our jobs Changed how we live. Well we had a lot going on.

Every year I set out a series of prognostications for the next year. Lets check in on my prognostications for 2018.

  1. Both Sydney and I have new jobs at Ultimate Software. Hit.
  2. It didn’t take long to eclipse 200 million records. The entity AADHAR on January 3rd lost control of 1.1 billion records. Ouch.
  3. The Trump administration didn’t have a major breach but instead decided to misuse peoples data via Cambridge Analytica. Hit.
  4. Constraints in Machine Learning (I missed this book being released in November 2017). Hit?
  5. Hyper productivity? Can you say Slack? Hit.
  6. Incident response as interdiction and cycle? Still waiting though ATT&CK is getting close. Miss.
  7. IOS Full screen representation of actual computer? Miss.
  8. Hunting is a buzz word. Miss.

Not to bad but nothing revolutionary. That only leaves the meat and potatoes of what the heck happened during 2018.

So what happened in 2018?

You can’t have adventure without adversity otherwise it is just a vacation. After crashing out of the 2017 Iron Butt Rally, being hidden away in the intelligence community because I wasn’t very Trumpian, and in general not sure which way was up Sydney and I sat down and wondered what the heck we were going to do. Simon and Stuart would be graduating. In early January I started talking about leaving government and getting as far away from government as possible. Goal: Get away from the political fray of the Trumpian ignorance.

Don’t get me wrong. I truly loved the mission, the idea of securing America, of making the intelligence communities of other nations have fits. I’m a bit of an iconoclast and not the idealistic type. As such I liked the puzzle, the figuring out what bad guys were doing, and making, helping, fostering the success of others. If I was going to leave government that left industry or academia. Goal: Work for a company that did not do business with the federal government.

Sydney was equally unhappy with her job at USACE. From the new CIO on down they were having a lot of trouble figuring out how to be professional and successful without creating a really negative work place environment. There was no evil here, but there also just seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm (my perspective of her concerns). Once again Sydney loved the mission of USACE and how it impacted almost every American positively. Goal: Work somewhere that respects all people and not just a few heroes.

So, if you’re going to leave where you going to go. Getting a change in attitude had been a plan for a very long time. Sam had a job offer from the Army and Marines to be a senior leader of their technology programs. Sydney had turned down a job earlier in 2017 working for SCOTUS. As “cyber” people getting jobs did not seem to be a huge issue. Then a company called Sam and he talked to a guy named Rick. Rick said he had this company that was all messed up, and would Sam be interested in interviewing. So, Sam looking up the company said.. “Umm maybe in the new year.” Along comes a Trump and a government shut down while Sam was on an interview/conference with the Army.

While Sam was sitting at the table having just talked to a senior leader at Army about a possible job in the middle of nowhere, but fun to accomplish, Sam got a call from a guy named Michael. Sam chatted via text with the VP of security at this company who said, “Move to Florida, live on a boat, ride your motorcycle, drive a convertible, have a lot of fun.” Looking out the window at ARCYBER it was snowing. So, off to Florida Sam and Sydney would go.

There was a job opening of a Security Operations Center Manager that Sydney successfully applied for.. Sam would come in and interview with all of the people who could ever report to him, as many people who would be peers, random people walking down the hallway, and a few other people. The social level to the interview process was a significant event. Sam accepted a job a Senior Director.

Ultimate Software is headquartered out of Weston Florida and is a top employer according to about a dozen different awards that it has earned. With a dozen offices in Weston, offices in Atlanta, Santa Ana, Toronto, Singapore and a few other major locations it has a global span. For the first few months Sam just struggled to get his feet on the ground, but in June he took over a newly created group called Security Operations (self named) which is about 60 plus a few deep of people who simply do computer security.

After getting started at Ultimate Sam and Sydney with Simon and Stuart during the spring break bought and sailed a new home south from Charleston South Carolina. The Moody 46 is a blue water sailboat. It has accommodations to rival a lot of homes. Where Sam and been raised around boats, done a lot of sailing and motor cruising with his parents and in adult life continued to do club racing. Sydney, Simon and Stuart had never sailed, been on the ocean, or over nighted on a boat.

The family is the best adventure buddies a dad could ever ask for as the three of them listened carefully. They watched what was going on closely, And learned quickly. For Sam this was a brand new boat, with brand new boat problems, and lots of systems that made sense to the previous owner with all the little things that owners just put up with. Kick it here to make that thing over there work. You can’t just know that kind of stuff.

The sail south for everybody was spectacular. Risky and fraught with some peril they did an overnight (The first night) between Charleston and Jacksonville. Hid from a major gale (45 knot winds, 15 foot seas) just across from Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Then did two nights between Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale arriving to Pier 66. While in route the final destination Marina changed from Cooley’s Landing in downtown Ft. Lauderdale to Royale Palm Yacht Basin  which actually worked out much better for a live aboard community.

Snuggling in to a new slip the boat refit commenced. By the end of the year Sam and Sydney would spend over $50,000 refitting their new home Eoti. Two new top of the line electric heads, new refrigeration, upgraded fresh water system, a dinghy arch with buckets of solar on it, and the associated electronics to go with that. New radios, hoses, and various repairs all added to that huge total.

Simon and Stuart in June jumped directly from High School in Virginia to University in Tampa Florida at USF. Stuart spent time finishing his time at Virginia Air and Space program before summer University classes began. To start Simon and Stuart off on the right foot the family went to Disney World the few days before classes began and visited Epcot Center.

The visit to Epcot was Simon and Stuarts first time inside the park. A lot of the time when in Orlando we would do something like Downtown Disney.  In 2019 if they have good grades at spring break we will likely do a family trip to one of the parks while Bike Week in Daytona is going on. It all depends on how good everybody is doing.

Things on the boat were not all great and happy all the time. One of the first emergencies we had on the boat was a fire. The shore power connection burned up and caught lots of little things on fire. A fire on a boat is a serious issue. As part of our refit we made it so this should never even be possible in the future. The repairs got us through the end of the year and the refit made the fix permanent.

Talking about not fun that ugly hairy foot is swollen to double normal size. The puncture wounds are of unknown origin and resulted in an infection that causes a lot of pain. Sam could not walk on the foot and was on crutches and a cane for weeks. Really good anti-biotics fixed the problem but nobody is really sure what exactly happened.

But, if you are going to have a swollen foot, be on some great drugs, and in general be feeling just about in pain as you can be… Travel internationally. Sam led a delegation of his team to Singapore where a bunch of other awesome members of his team live and work. The delegation from Weston included some really awesome people who had been with the company for quite awhile and a few brand new people. Sydney as a SOC manager got to go too and there was a lot of great work going on. Sydney on the way back picked up a cough that didn’t want to go away. We were kind of concerned and took her to see the ER doctor who gave her some cough and cold type medicine.

Meanwhile a trip to the Fall Annapolis Sail Boat Show was a requirement. The visit was well worth the time and effort and Sam and Sydney met several YouTube stars like folks from “Cruising Off Duty” and saw a bunch of others like “Rigging Doctor” and “Sailing Miss Lonestar”. This is going to be a yearly thing I think. Sam and Sydney are going to go back in the Spring next year for the Cruisers University depending on the curriculum.

Living on the boat is filled with some worry like weather and hurricanes. Things you can’t really change or do much about. Other times it is sitting on the deck drinking a glass of wine, and watching a super moon climb up over the marina lighting everything like day light. Living on the boat is a calming and life changing activity. Living on a boat while doing a major refit can be mind numbing and frustrating but some times life slaps you with a bunch of perspective.

Perspective is the lens of reality that focuses your attention on what really matters. We love our jobs. We love living on a boat. Going for an evening sail is an amazing thing. Perspective though is learning that Sydney has a form of cancer with a lymphoma the size of Sam’s fist lying dead center in her chest. November 28th Sydney woke up with chest pains, shortness of breath, and feeling weezey. A trip to the emergency room ended up with take Tylenol, call your doctor, and oh you have cancer. The month of December was lost in a flurry of appointments, fear, and general scrambling.

Without much information about the diagnosis there was a lot of soul searching on just what this means. 2019 is going to be a very high level of suckage for Sydney but she will get through it. Sam has told her she must get healthy as he is to lazy to find another soul mate, and all of their plans revolved around him dying first.

Simon and Stuart enjoyed their first semester of university but were caught off guard by the lack of guidance. It is substantially harder to tell when you are on track or off track and really easy to mistake failure for success. Sam and Sydney as long time college professors told them this, but all kids have to learns some harsh lessons on their own. Have they learned what focus looks like? Spring semester should show whether they are really ready for  University.

We finished the year with a day sail. Hazel (the dog) was not sure about the leaning home thing. Simon and Stuart discovered that cranking winches is a work out. Sam has already started talking to Selden and a rigging company about getting three electric roller furlers installed so he can single hand the boat. Sam has docked and moved the boat by himself, has sailed the boat somewhat by himself, but the idea of moving that kind of sail plan without some assistance is a bit troubling.  So electric furlers for the big sails will be the 2019 plan.

The end of the year leaves a lot of things up in the air.

  • What will happen with Sydney and her fight to stay alive and kick cancer?
  • Will Simon and Stuart figure out how to survive and thrive in university?
  • How sexy will Sydney look with no hair?
  • How much trouble will Sam get into for the weeks Sydney is inpatient and he is home alone?
  • When will Simon or Stuart actually get a girl friend?

These and other questions perplex the family in a general way. Sam is looking for a new gym. Since the family gave their huge home gym to a fire department in West Virginia and there was no room for it on the boat anyway. Sam has to find a gym that will let him work out. Managing stress is going to be a big part of his life in the first six months. Sydney wants to stay healthy and a Ketogenic diet is suggested for patients in chemotherapy. There is a company that actually prepares and delivers Keto meals. A Youtube and podcasting Keto diet author actually lives in our Marina. So finding information should be easy.  The exercise level for Sydney will have to be moderated and she will spend the first six months of 2019 immuno-compromised.

So, that is about it for 2019. We’re planning on blogging and vlogging the rest of the refit and cancer treatment. Like always this blog is about our life and not any one specific kind of activity. Best of luck to everybody in 2019 and if you can’t have luck at least persevere.