A post came up on FB about where the next Maritime Mega geocaching event would be held. I responded with a long winded FB comment which I ultimately decided not to post. Here’s what I wrote:
Today was a trail run for a much larger trip.
Myself and three friends of mine will be taking a trip across the United States exactly 28 days from now. We’re doing a geocaching roadtrip across all 48 of the US states in 13 days. Today, four of us went to Truro, NS for the Maritime Mega geocaching event. The trip was meant to be a bit of a trial run for our website but it was also a nice miniature roadtrip for us to enjoy geocaching. This trip provided a couple of very interesting side things for myself.
Two years ago, on the August long weekend, myself and several others put on the last Maritime Mega event (#3) here in Moncton. It was the culmination of almost 2 years of planning and by all accounts, it was a pretty fantastic event. When we heard that Kevin & Leona were taking on #4, it was great news as I knew they would do a fantastic job.
Sure enough, the event I went to today was done very well, and it was obvious that a lot of time and effort was put into it by the organizers. I was really happy for them and really glad to not have to “work” another Maritime Mega.
And even though I am genuinely happy and proud of the folks who did this mega, I can’t help but compare it to ours. I definitely saw inspiration from our mega in theirs but I also saw some interesting other ideas that made it unique. There are some things I would have, and did do, differently, but I can honestly say that I really didn’t find myself wanting my own mega to be “better” than theirs. I just wanted theirs to be great and they did a great job. So happy for that group.
But the mega itself wasn’t the biggest takeaway today. After spending the day caching with my friends, I was reminded once again of why I enjoy geocaching so much. I did all of the driving today so I didn’t find a lot of containers myself, but I was part of the group. That was what I was missing.
Ever since my mega (M3), my interest in geocaching has declined considerably. But today I was reminded why it’s a hobby I enjoy so much. It’s not about finding the containers or even seeing the sights. For me, it’s about hanging out with good people and enjoying yourself. I can’t count how many times I laughed at those guys today and I realized that I need to do more of that. I need to spend more time with people I enjoy hanging out with, whether it’s geocaching, or just going for a drink somewhere.
Thank you Ken, Paul, and Jason for a great day and reminding me how much it is to be out caching with you guys.
Tomorrow is Canada’s 150th birthday. That means that as a country, we have existed for 150 years. It’s nice to know that we have been around for that long. But what exactly does it mean to be Canadian?
As someone who travels a lot, I am often asked things about being Canadian. What is the temperature actually like here? What’s the deal with your “free” medical care? Are Canadians really that friendly?
It’s got me thinking about what Canadian means to me. It’s not a topic I think about a lot because honestly, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my country as a whole. I know what I’m like and what my friends are like, but I don’t really ever think about what it’s like to be a Canadian.
So for me, here’s my own interpretation of what it means to be Canadian. It may differ than yours, but we’re all allowed to have varying degrees of opinion.
Canadians are open and welcoming. We don’t care where you come from, what you look like, or what your background is. We embrace cultures of all kinds and want to know more about them.
As a people, and as a culture, Canadians care about each other and our well being. We are not an “everyone for themselves” type of culture. We’d rather help each other out and be there for one another, then turn our backs and take care of just ourselves. We embrace the idea that it does not make us weak to help others but instead makes us stronger because we strive for the greater good. We accept that some will take advantage but that is a small price to pay to make sure that everyone who is a Canadian gets taken care of when they need it. It also means that we extend our hand in friendship to those who need it and are proud to do so.
Being Canadian to me also means we do our best to see the good in others and not assume their intentions are malevolent. We know there are bad things in the world, and even next door. But as a Canadian, I’d rather think that things are better than worse, even when I know that might not be the case. I’d like to think that Canadians in general are more “glass half full” than “glass half empty”.
Canadians are very patriotic but choose to be more subdued about our patriotic nature. We’re very passionate about how much we love our country, but we don’t wear that enthusiasm on our sleeves. Instead, we show that affection when we need to or want to, but we don’t ever flaunt it to others. I tend to think that Canadians take the “less is more” approach when it comes to showing our love of our country.
Canadians love to party. Whether it’s having some drinks at the beach, kicking back at a campfire, or having a bunch of folks over to hang out in the kitchen, Canadians do love themselves a good party.
To be Canadian is to be welcomed around the world without judgement. When a Canadian visits another country and others there learn where they are from, smiles are abound and open arms are extended. In many ways it feels like when we travel to foreign countries, many of the locals see Canadians as almost an extended family instead of strangers.
I consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate to have been born in a country like ours. Take a moment tomorrow and embrace all that Canada has to offer. We really are the luckiest people around.
NOTE: The following post is probably NSFW due to course language. You have been warned.
As the father to an 8 year old girl, and an almost 10 year old boy, I appreciated the little gifts my kids gave me for Father’s Day. I loved being told I was a great dad. I also loved the fact that my wife bought me a BBQ and soon I’ll be cooking on the grill out back. All of those things are a great thing to experience on Father’s Day.
But opening up Facebook and seeing a sea of “thanks dad!” “love you dad” “My dad is awesome” blah blah blah did nothing but piss me off all day. It reminded me that I need to steer clear of Facebook on daddy day.
My parents split up before I was 10. In 1985, at around 11.5 years old, my mom moved me from Edmonton to Moncton. It wasn’t until April of 1994 that I would see my dad again. In those 9 years, I got a handful of phone calls, and about 2 or 3 letters from him. After I graduated high school, I heard from him even less. For a stretch of about 3-5 years, I didn’t even know where he lived, or if he was even alive. Somewhere near 2002/2003, I went to visit him again and saw him a few times in the years that passed. In May of 2010, I got word that he had passed away in his sleep.
The reality is, my dad was not a dad to me. He was a guy I remember as a kid living with my mom and then really barely ever heard from him again as I got older. I never had the sex talk with him. He never taught me to shave, to play hockey or baseball, or even play catch with me in my front yard. He was a man who had some strange ideas about the world and although he was my biological father, I felt more affection for my step-father than my real dad.
So when I see a day like today come along and all I read is constant affections for people’s fathers, it’s something I have no concept of. He didn’t give a shit about me and never did anything for me but cause me endless amounts of grief so why the hell would I want to even think of him on a day like this? It makes me angry actually. Not angry at people who praise their dads on Facebook. Angry at my own dad that he never did anything like that for me. Was there something wrong with me that you couldn’t be bothered to try and find out how I was doing once in awhile?
It’s because of my own “daddy issues” I’ve gone the other way with my own kids. I do anything and everything I can for them because I know what it’s like to grow up with no father figure in my life. I leaned heavily on my mom, and my friends as I needed to. My step-father wasn’t the most affectionate, nor communicative man either but he did anything he could for me and it was just sort of left unsaid. So for him, I am grateful, but for my own dad, fuck him.
I don’t ever think this feeling I have will go away. But I do know that it drives me to be a better father to my kids so at least in that regard, it’s a positive thing.
I took a few days of vacation prior to my actually “work” I had in Orlando. After my work week there, I came home to a full week off work where right now, I am doing as little as I can.
As an added bonus, the wife has been gone all week and the kids are in school so I have had the house to myself. Not that I don’t love them or anything, but it is nice to have the whole house to myself for periods of time.
I haven’t accomplished a whole lot this week but that was sort of the point. I didn’t want to have to do much as it’s been a weird year for me and I needed the time to be able to just kick back, and not worry about much of anything. Aside from a few dishes and a bit of laundry, I’ve done almost nothing all week. How nice is that?
I’ve been on a re-watch of Agents of Shield the last few months and last night I finished season 4 which brings me up to the latest. After watching this, I find myself yet again in a strange position inside my head.
Ever wish your life was a bit more like something you watch on TV or in the movies? I find myself all to often wishing my life was a bit bigger than it already is. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite content with the life I have. It just seems like sometimes I wish my life was a bit more exciting or a bit more over the top than others.
But then I’ll sit back and realize that for many others looking at what I do, it might seem like my life is a bit over the top. Within the span of a month or so, I was in India and then Orlando and now home doing nothing. That’s a hell of a lot of travel for most people. Whereas now, for me it feels like more of the same.
I also got mentioned in a blog article about blogs in our area. Pickle Planet Moncton mentioned Bob’s Room and I found it kind of entertaining. Given that I don’t post on here anywhere near as much as I did at one time, I forget how long this place has been around.
Since March of last year, I have slowly been writing down a bunch of tales about some of the travel I have done over the years. It’s been a project that I pick at from time to time and I have no idea if I will ever try and get it published, but I’ve really felt compelled to write about it.
So tonite, I was finishing off a chapter about Las Vegas and I found myself getting a good laugh at my own history.
When I think of the person I am now, I tend to think of myself as a geeky, quirky kind of a guy with a weird sense of humor, but an all-around pretty normal and average guy. The “nice” guy. People who know me and some of my history know that archetype very well and know that I fit it to a tee. But as I am writing about some of the stuff I have seen and done, I find myself laughing at certain things I’m doing because in many ways, it seems so out of character.
Tonite was another example of it. As I am writing about Las Vegas, I’m recalling all of the various experiences I have had while in that particular city. As I am perusing through my own mind looking for things to write about, I recall one very memorable experience during a visit to the city. I start racking my brain trying to remember a name and no matter what I do, the name keeps escaping me.
I turn to Google and I look up “stripper names” and go through the lists only to discover that none of those names are ringing a bell. Then I looked up “girl names” and after looking at a couple of pages, I finally hit the name Madison and the light goes off in my head. “That was her name” I said to myself.
Sitting at my desk in my office, I then start to chuckle realizing that I just spend 15 minutes trying to remember the name of a stripper who gave me my first lap dance. For a moment, it seems a bit surreal because I’m thinking to myself, “Is that really me? Did I really go get a lap dance from a stripper in Vegas?”. I chuckle again as the memories of sitting behind that curtain start to come back and I smile. Yup, that really did happen.
Most days I’m the mellow geek who builds LEGO with his son, wears tiara’s while playing with his daughter, and sits at the kitchen table and talks to my wife. I’m about as normal and as run-of-the-mill as it gets. That tends to be what I see myself as these days as it pretty much is what fills my life and I’m pretty happy and content with that.
But every now and then I am reminded of the parts of my life that are not wrapped up in picking up after my kids, or making supper for my family. Those moments, which can be big departures from day to day life, surface and because that side of you doesn’t come out very often, it almost seems unreal. It’s as if you see or remember things you’ve experienced and have a hard time believing that they happened to you versus someone else because it’s such a contrast from the person you normally are.
It makes me smile and reminds me that no matter how routine life gets, it’s always good to get out of your own skin once in awhile.
Sometime quite awhile ago, Tamara bought me the book The Secret. I ended up buying the movie on iTunes and watching it. It really came across as being somewhat “new age”-ish but at the same time, it also fell in line with a few things I had been thinking about already.
Sitting in a hotel room tonite, I finished another episode of Bones (I’m on a re-watch lately before the series finale) and decided to watch the movie again. I had tried some of the techniques described in this movie and surprisingly enough, they actually did work. Now whether that’s the work of the LOA or not, who’s to say. But it doesn’t really hurt.
LOA refers to the Law of Attraction which is what the “secret” is. One of the things they tell you to do is to make a list of the things you want, and then envision them to yourself, and experience the emotion of having them already. This sends out signals to the universe that then draws those things to you in some way.
Ya, it does sound kind of weird, but the idea of positive thought producing positive results is not some new age thing. Positivity has proven itself to be a powerful tool for helping oneself so even if the “magic” of things being brought to you by thought isn’t really real, it can’t hurt to think positively.
I’m going to make my list, try some positive thinking, and see what starts to happen.
Update: January 3rd, 2017
I found myself laying in the tub the other night (yes I have baths. It’s relaxing and helps me think) and after I dropped one of the bath balms into the water, I watched as it fizzed and began to dissolve. In a way, I started thinking about that ball of chemicals and comparing it to my own life.
I saw myself in that silly bath balm. Starting out as one whole person but over time, parts of you dissolving into the world around you. Much like how you tell one person a story and they might repeat it for someone else. Or your children telling their children about you. By the time the balm dissolved, or I die, the only thing left of me is what was dissolved into the water. Still there, sort of, but not really having much substance. Yet when I looked at the water, it had gone from clear to a sort of pinkish color.
When my balm dissolves, will I have changed the color of the world around me, or will it be the same as it always was.
43. I just turned 43 a few days ago. And I’ll be honest, my birthday sucked.
At this very moment, I can’t even tell you why it sucked but I can tell you that it did. I can also tell you that I told Tamara I may be done with having birthdays. It is just another day and whether you celebrate it or not, life goes on.
I sat in the living room telling Tamara that although I am not unhappy in my life, I do not feel like it has a lot of meaning. That might sound a little contradictory but I assure you it is not.
I have a great life. My wife is awesome. My kids are great. I have a great job that I love to do. I get to travel the world and see all kinds of cool stuff. I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences in my life. But with all of that, I still feel like my life is not really complete.
When I turn 86 and the piano falls out of the sky and lands on me, people will laugh (because hell, that’s funny) and then they’ll be sad I died. People will mourn me and remember the quirky things I did. My kids will tell stories about me and so will my grandchildren. But beyond my immediate family, once I am gone and the mourning has passed, all of the things I have accomplished, and the things I have seen and done, will all disappear in the blink of an eye. I’ll have made no real mark or change in the world and that’s what bothers me.
There are literally millions of people who die one way or another every year and a year later, no one remembers them, or knows anything about what they did because really, they didn’t do anything that ever made a big difference around them. Sure, many people’s actions have big influences on those around them, but once those people are gone, what’s left of you?
I find myself every year wondering if the same thing will happen to me. Will I be one of those people whose friends and family loved but just got swept away like all of the others.
How do we find a way to make our mark on the world so that when time passes, you won’t be forgotten?
My friend Paul asked me if I could help him rip some CDs he’s had laying around. He didn’t have a CD drive as those are hard to come by these days. Having an old laptop laying around, I offered to do the ripping for him. So here I am, in my kitchen at the table, with a stack of CDs sitting here and going through them one at a time.
One thing I had forgotten about CD ripping, since it has been awhile, was how some CDs rip faster than others. Some are blowing through in no time flat while others seem to take forever. But in the process of ripping these CDs, I was reminded of when I first really started my ripping. Back in college.
In 1997 I was at EBCI here in Moncton. The college, as well as the building are long gone now. The internet was just starting to bubble up and MP3’s had just been introduced into colleges and people were ripping CDs like mad. I joined in on it during my IT classes back in those days.
I was studying to become a Network Engineer. It was a fancy class name for what was meant to be a Network Administrator job. But the real fun came when we learned about putting servers up and things we could do with them.
As a pet project me and Chris, a friend outside of college, opted to try and teach ourselves Linux. We had heard the best hacking tools were in Linux and had already been exposed to it via some web development work we tried to do as well. We spun up a copy of Slackware Linux and named the machine “dragonfly”.
Dragonfly would come to be a machine that would stand for some of the most interesting experiments of how young kids get access to tools maybe they shouldn’t have.
In those days, and to some extent still today, many of the better hacking or DDOS tools exist for the Linux platform. These tools usually involved sending specially formatted packet data from one system to a source. If the source doesn’t process the packet correctly, the end machine suffers. Like a basic reboot or blue screen of death or sometimes just the machine locking up completely.
Through a series of websites, research, and conversations with people we met online, we acquired a series of cool tools known for crashing computer systems or causing network havoc. They all had interesting names but here’s the ones I can remember: ssPring, WinNuke, boink, bonk, fraggle, land, nestea, teardrop, tear, newtear, syndrop, tentacle, smurf and sniffit. Many of these tools wouldn’t work today if compiled but if you dig hard enough on the web, you’ll find references to them.
ssPing was probably the first one of these that we ever really used to test what we could do. We’d have a user send us an email, or communicate with us for IRC chat. In those days, firewalls were few and far between and rarely used by home users. ssPing would send a large malformed packet of data and when the OS read the packet, it crashed. By crashing I mean the entire OS would just lock up. No ability to reboot. Just turn it off and start again. Blue screens of death were also common. When the system generated a BSOD, the computer would run but their access to the network would be dead until they rebooted.
Many of those other tools were variations of ssPing’s original concept just changed slightly for different ports, packet types, or in some cases changed to perform the same task after they fixed the patches.
None of the tools we ever used were capable of frying or wiping a computer remotely.
In those days, the main online place for people to hang out was on IRC channels. #Moncton was a channel a lot of us hung out on. We had built up a small little community of people who hung out there. And like all communities, you had the people who annoyed you the most. Me and Chris got to the point where we wrote a script called ding.tcl which would detect the annoying individuals entering the channel and then fire off one of our tools to lock their machines up. We also had access to IRC botnets which with a “.flood” command would cause hundreds if not thousands of IRC users to just flood a specific user with junk data. When this happened, the user got kicked off the network.
Outside of IRC, Infodog was quite big those days and it became a running joke to use the tools on Infodog and break their web servers every day. IIS on Windows NT4 was notoriously unstable and pretty much any Linux tool could crash that system.
But the height of our so called “hacker” days can be broken into two specific incidents I recall. We had one tool which we had been given called “smurf”. This tool was meant to take down networks, not just computers. If you smurfed a computer, it would reflect against every PC on that network and cause all of them to repeat the same attack against its self. By accident, I killed the entire manufacturing plant of Norampac by accidentally using smurf through their systems (I was an intern at the time) to cause what we used to call and IRC split. Worked really well but shut down a bit of production in the plant for a few hours.
The second, and probably the most proof of how hard we insisted on respect came to a guy in a rival class. The “tech” vs “network” class rivalry was one that was pretty common at the school so we wanted to insure they had “respect” for us in the network class. He had also spun up a Linux box. We had made accounts for people in my class on dragonfly so they could explore. One person went exploring and found out where we kept all our goodies and gave his information to our rival class. Our rival logged into our system and found our scripts and attack code and made copies for himself.
At the time, we’d been told by a “real” hacker that there’s a sort of code they follow. Guys share code from time to time to help each other out. But there’s also an underlying respect in that if someone gives you something and says not to use it or distribute it, you do as was asked of you. By doing this, you earn the respect of the hacker community and it can open doors into other larger tools you would not have seen prior. At the same time, if a lesser hacker obtains something they shouldn’t have and the senior hacker tells you to destroy what you took, you do as your told or pay the consequences. If it sounds a bit mobster-ish, it’s because that’s kind of how it was. If the guy above you tells you to do something and you don’t, you get knocked down a peg or two.
We were by no means “real” hackers but certainly more so than a guy in the tech class who built a Linux box and copied some files. He had then given his root password out to a bunch of people in his own class as well as my class. He also told them about the tools he had got from my system and made sure everyone could make use of them on their own. It wasn’t long before a handful of others were crashing Windows PCs for something to do during class.
Chris came into the school one day and both of us approached Shane, the guy from the rival class. In an almost mobster like fashion, we “asked” that he remove the tools from his machine he had stolen from us. He said we left our stuff open and that it was our fault for not securing them better. We told him those didn’t belong to him and that he needed to remove them or there would be consequences. He shook his head and said there was nothing we could do and walked away.
Later that afternoon I was in class and spotted the guy next to me about to connect to the other Linux box. I quickly fired up my own connection and launched a packet sniffer. The packet sniffer allows you to see the raw data that is being transmitted across a network. In those days, the way networks were designed allowed for the transmission of anyone’s network traffic to be read by anyone else on the same segment. I was sitting right beside him so I was as close as I was going to get. And just my luck he happened to open a connection to the Linux machine in the tech lab and log in as root. I now had the root password and could teach Shane his lesson.
After logging in as root on Shane’s box, I immediately ran commands that wiped the drive completely clean. There was nothing left of his Linux box, including the tools he had copied from me. We had also secured our own box so no one but me and Chris could get to our tools again.
We never said anything to Shane about what happened but the next day it went through the school that “mysteriously” his Linux box had been wiped. He never did replace it. I saw him in the halls later that day and he didn’t say anything to me. I guess his lesson was learned.
Good times 🙂
So again I have seen a few people on Facebook bitching about Air Canada and their “horrible” service. Every time I see one of these people I wonder what happened. I’ve been flying with AC for years and have had very few issues with them.
I decided to do some digging of my own and as it turns out, Stats Canada has some really cool information on airlines.
This link provides you stats on both AC and WJ. This gave me the exact information I wanted so I could try and prove and emphasize a point.
According to those stats, if you add up all of the passengers flown by AC between February 2015 and January 2016, you get 28,489,000 (approximately). For WJ, it’s 20,401,000 (approximately). 28.5 million people flew on AC and 20.5 flew on WJ. Those huge amounts of numbers when it comes to air travel.
Let’s look at that number again. 28 and a half million people flew on Air Canada during that time period.
Let’s now assume that 2%, a relatively small number of people, of those travels had a horrible experience. That translates into 569,780 people. That’s a hell of a lot of people who are pissed off at AC. I wouldn’t want to be in a room with all of them together.
But, let’s not forget the people who did fly with AC and had no issues. That’s a much larger number: 27,919,220. Just shy of 28 million people flew without a problem.
Of those two groups of people, who do you think you’ll hear from more often? That’s right, the people who are mad and pissed at the airline saying “they suck”. You don’t hear good things because most of the time people don’t share their good experiences with airlines. It’s always the bad.
Now, maybe 2% is too low. Let’s jump that number up higher and assume that 1 out of every 10 passengers during that time period got screwed. That’s a big leap but let’s use it as an example. That means that this time, 2,848,900 passengers think AC sucks. That also means 25,640,100 passengers don’t think that bad of AC.
Again 2.8 million vs 25 million. Who will be the more vocal?
The exact same logic can be applied to Westjet. If you apply these exact same numbers against WJ, it would still mean that by far and large, most WJ customers are happy. You just don’t hear from them. We only hear from people who bitch and whine about how they got screwed because the airline sucks.
I know this won’t change people’s minds and it won’t magically make people stop complaining about airlines. But I do hope that you can see that it’s purely a numbers game and sometimes they work for us, and sometimes they screw us. That’s just life. Learn to live with it.