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Posts Labeled with ‘me’

Not Always May… June…July

Today, I was reminded of a poem I had been inspired by many years ago: Not Always May, by Longfellow. Here’s an excerpt.

All things rejoice in youth and love,
The fullness of their first delight!
And learn from the soft heavens above
The melting tenderness of night.
Maiden, that read’st this simple rhyme,
Enjoy thy youth, it will not stay;
Enjoy the fragrance of thy prime,
For oh, it is not always May!


Online Identity & Participation

I was thinking yesterday about all the things that I used to share online. I telegraphed my daily activities & viewpoints to the world: I blogged about politics, news, hobbies, friends, relationships, etc. I put up photos. I contributed to websites by writing articles, answering questions, and commenting on other posts. Now… not so much. I still do things, have hobbies, care about politics, engage with friends, go out, read books, etc. I just don’t blog about it. My smugmug account is under-utilized. I haven’t contributed articles recently. And I haven’t answered questions online recently. I used to be a very active contributor to the web. Now I’m just taking up space.

Am I concerned about privacy? A little, but not much. Truth is: there isn’t much privacy. A motivated person can find out about you, whether or not you actively manage your online presence. You have to work hard at it to be off-the-grid. And if you are, people will assume that you have something to hide, which may damage a reputation as much or more than if you were up-front about it all. For example: I know this one person who is a nut about being on-again-off-again with his/her online identity: unsearchable on FB, hidden profile on Match, doesn’t blog, has an unlisted phone number, etc. My joke about this person involves the witness protection program… and a rat.

Am I leading an uninteresting life? Nope. I have more and different kinds of activities than most people I know. I have cash, which means that I can afford to go places, unlike some of my younger friends. Plus, without kids and soccer practice or ballet lessons, I have time. This separates me from friends my age or older. I also have hobbies. It still shocks me how few people have hobbies.

So what is it? Perhaps it’s that I’ve been there, done that, got the shirt. It’s not new and exciting to me anymore. I don’t get an adrenaline rush from writing a great blog post. I hated user comments on my blog (bad experiences). I don’t get all warm-and-fuzzy when someone reaches out to me on Facebook. Most of the time, I don’t even look at the person’s profile anymore when I get a connection request on LinkedIn or FB.

But this may all change shortly. I am in discussions with someone about helping out with a Social Media Marketing company… this would necessitate my re-engaging in this space again. And it would undoubtedly give me a fresh perspective and a “twist” on the whole conversation, such that it would launch me back into the daily practice of managing my online identity. If so, you might see me blogging, tweeting, FBing, and getting on-board with every social media player in the marketplace.

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Looking to buy a car

I am beginning my investigation about buying a car. New or just new to me? SUV or full size? Luxury or not? Hybrid, diesel, or gas? Black, silver, or blue? I’ve got a lot to think about!


Still Alive

I was hit with a trifecta of illness: swine flu, a sinus infection, and pink eye! I’m over the hump now, and still alive. But whoa! That was officially not fun.

Take it for what it’s worth, but these are my personal observations related to my experience of the swine flu:

  • I am now a believer in Vitamin D for health. I was prescribed a cocktail of Vitamins B, C, D, and saline intravenously the other day. I really felt a lot better after that IV. But since you probably won’t be hooking up an IV drip in your home anytime soon, pile on the vitamins and go get a real (not tanning salon) tan. Next year, maybe I’ll be more Baywatch than Twilight?
  • If you feel a slightly sore throat, be aware that you might be in the early stages of the flu. I woke up with the slightest little sore throat. “Maybe I strained my voice?” I thought. A mere 4 hours later I was incapacitated by a terrible fever, headache, body aches, and nausea. This flu comes on super-fast, and hits hard.
  • People are either completely underwhelmed or overwhelmed by the mention of “swine flu.” The truth is somewhere in between. Wash your hands every couple of hours to be on the safe-side, but don’t think that you’re going to die from this thing. Even if you get it, you probably won’t need to go to the urgent care.
  • Doctors disagree about the flu shot. One doctor told me to get the swine flu shot, and regular flu shot. Another, equally qualified MD, said not to get the vaccine. The doc that advocated the flu shot said that it is just a good habit to be in: every year get the vaccine as soon as it is available and you’re healthy. The other doc was against the vaccine in general, and specifically warned me away. His reasoning was two-fold: “1) You already had the flu and came out the other side. You already developed antibodies. 2) It is less tested, and there’s no testing related to how people are affected by the vaccine if they’ve already had the flu.”
  • Be aware that once you have this flu, your immune system is shot and you are a target for everything else in the environment. Hence my triple whammy of flu, sinusitis, and conjunctivitis. I’ll really need to work hard to build back up my immune system. Bring on the spicy food, vitamins, and antioxidants!

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Swine Flu

It’s official, the doc says that I have swine flu. I thought I felt pretty miserable!

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Guilty Pleasure: In-N-Out

I have to confess my guilty pleasure: I love In-N-Out.

I typically order a #2, with onions, sometimes upgrading to a chocolate shake. My mouth starts watering as I wait for those first, scalding-hot fries. These fries are the best. I swear that they must put crack in the oil. This is the only burger where I’ll eat the tomato. The wax-paper wrapper is a godsend, keeping all the juiciness in tact. And I laugh when my breath is fierce after the onion overdose! Love it.

I avoid other fast food joints just so that I can save up the calories and lifetime allotment of transfats for In-N-Out. I can go about a fortnight, but then the irresitable craving, the hunger sneaks up on me. I’m not going to pretend that it’s healthy, but I really don’t care.

No… I’m not getting paid for this endorsement. It’s heartfelt. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit one of these restaurants in CA, Nevada, Utah, or Arizona…. you really ought to put it on the list of “to-do’s” on your next trip. Look, there are better burgers to be had, but I’ve honestly never eaten at a better fast food joint.

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Apple Care = finally resolved

Over the past month or so, I’d had a big problem with Apple Care… not my MacBook Air, just the Apple Care product. I won’t go into it… but suffice it to say that I had to escalate multiple calls because I was an “irate customer” and I kept receiving conflicting information from various Apple employees.

Today, one poor phone jockey actually said to me: “I’ve been told that I am not allowed to escalate the call.” I then responded: “So what are you supposed to do? Wait until I hang up? Because I won’t. I suggest that you put me on hold and figure out to whom you can escalate this call.” Let’s put it this way: I’m not someone to be trifled with when it comes to phone service. I always get my way by being creepily calm and logical, while simultaneously purporting to be “irate.”

By the end of the fiasco, they ended up giving me a free 500GB portable external hard drive for my trouble. Retail cost: +$200. This is almost 100% off-set for the cost of the Apple Care Protection program.

It took long enough, but I am now a satisfied customer. Thank you Apple.


Busy Week & A Head Cold

I started that new contract position, and it was straight into the deep end of the pool. Tons of meetings, tons of drama, and a small-but-important deliverable. I had to work a couple of hours of overtime this week in order to accomplish everything. The extra stress must have taken my body by surprise, because I managed to pick up a head cold.

I’m just trying to rest up in preparation for next weekend: Vegas baby!


Cube Life

I picked up a really good contract, which requires me to be in the office 9-5+. There are long days in cubicles and meeting rooms, which is tiring but good. I’m very thankful for the opportunity & hope that I can help.

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Unicorns & Rainbows

I just looked at my last few blogs and realized that I probably sound unhappy. Not true! Things are good for me right now. I am having an fun and relaxing summer. My health is good. Friendships are great. Work is looking up. I went on a couple of fun dates recently. Nothing much to complain about.

Oh, and my dog continues to ROCK!! I am just bonkers about her. I am planning a party next week: a “Retirement” party for CC (since she’s a retired racing greyhound.) I’ll be serving Greyhound cocktails (that’s vodka and grapefruit juice.)


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A Recent Clinton Admin PII Breach Affects Me!

I received notice that “The National Archives Records Administration (NARA) learned in late March 2009 that an external hard drive containing a copy of Clinton Administration Executive Office of the President data is missing from a NARA processing room… The hard drive includes files that contain personally identifying information (PII.)” Specifically, this hard drive includes HR information… and I used to work at the White House… so my information was compromised.

The brochure also says what NARA is doing about the situation:

  • “NARA’s Office of Inspector General, with the assistance of the US Secret Service, has launched a full-scale criminal investigation into this incident. NARA is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the recovery of the missing hard drive.
  • NARA informed the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team of the Department of Homeland Security, the White House Counsel’s Office, staff of our House and Senate Oversight Committees, and a representative of former President Clinton.
  • NARA is sending notification letters to affected individuals and offering free credit monitoring services to help protect individuals from identity theft.
  • NARA is revising its internal policies and procedures to ensure maximum protection of electronic and textual records containing PII. NARA is also implementing stringent physical and technical safeguards in place to protect protect personal information and prevent this type of incident from occurring in the future. Other initiatives include annual and refresher training for our employees and contractors to ensure they are familiar with privacy rules, regulations and standard operating procedures aimed at reducing the risk of breaches of PII.”

This is all pretty interesting stuff for me. My thoughts:

  1. I currently specialize in IT Compliance, which includes designing, implementing, and testing controls for protecting PII. I now have a new anecdote for sales meetings!
  2. I am annoyed that it took so long to inform me. Four months?!?! There’s time for some serious Identity damage in that amount of time!
  3. I am not particularly concerned, since I took Identity Theft protection measures after my computer was stolen… so much of the work is done… I’ll take up NARA on the extra protections, but it is duplicative at this point.

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On Sleep

Being that I work from home, I have the luxury of rarely needing an alarm clock. Recently, I have noticed that if I sleep too long one day, the next day I will often sleep less. Over the course of a week, it all balances out so that I typically get 8.5 hours of sleep a night.

Yesterday, I slept in, having had approximately 9.5 hours. But here I am today at 5AM having had only about 6 hours worth of sleep last night.

I’ve read several times that one can’t actually “bank” sleep in advance. And yet, that seems to be what is going on here. Or perhaps it is insomnia of some other sort and I just don’t see the pattern correctly.

It is also interesting to note that the days where I “sleep in” are extraordinarily productive and creative. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I have more than a few pieces of anecdotal evidence. For example: yesterday, I created a detailed, 12-point IT Risk Area framework (from scratch) that will serve as the basis for a new business venture. Is it possible that the extra sleep allowed the ideas to percolate in such a way that I had extra clarity upon rising?


Long Tail vs Simplicity: Choices for Life

There seems to be a ceaseless, exponential proliferation of premium, “artisan”, and odd-combination products available to me today. Just in the past week, in San Diego county, I have been exposed to the following while not even really shopping for any of them:

  • Organic Cow, Cave-Aged cheese with herbs and spices
  • Basil infused Panna Cotta (a dessert)
  • Blueberry mojito (a cocktail with muddled blueberries, mint, lime, and vanilla rum)
  • Magnums of 100pt wine
  • Mint-melon chewing gum

In case you are wondering, I didn’t actually purchase or consume any of these products. But I just don’t recall this kind of unusual stuff being so ubiquitous in my youth. I am convinced that this exponential availability of choice is driven by a large population of novelty-addicted customers and negligible distribution costs, resulting in some Long Tail-inspired retail practices.

In contrast, recently I seem to be drawn to the simple, fundamental tastes. Here’s a sampling of what I actually did consume/purchase in the past week:

  • Fresh, organic strawberries from the local Farmer’s Market
  • A hard-boiled egg (no salt or pepper)
  • Plain Corn Flakes with milk
  • Fresh snow peas sauteed with a little garlic and a dash of soy sauce – note: this was a main entree

Perhaps I am a bad consumer. But I also think that there is something to be said for not going too far out on that Long Tail. I don’t want to get so addicted to novelty that I can no longer appreciate the fundamentals.

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And the party continues

As mentioned, I went out of town last week. When I came back to San Diego late at night on Thursday, I noticed a funny smell in my apartment. I thought: I’ll deal with it tomorrow. So I went to bed. Upon waking, with a slightly sore throat, I started to investigate the source of the smell.

Turns out, the source of the smell was black mold in the office closet, lots of mildew on the baseboards, drywall, and crown moulding, and green mold growing out of my carpet. Uh oh!

I called the Property Management company. They are working with the building HOA to have the mildew remediated. But this “remediation” effort won’t be easy, painless, or fast. It will probably take a month, result in the loss of use of my office, and mean that all the furniture and stuff that was stored in that closet will need to be smushed into the rest of the apartment.

And, of course, there are all the workers that will need to get into and out of my apartment. I get the pleasure of coordinating that while I sit around the apartment sucking air from a loud hepa-filter.

I am currently waiting to hear from the management company to determine what sort of rent-reduction plan they offer. I have my own ideas about this situation & what they need to do to make me comfortable. Can we say free rent?

Really, now… you must admit that my string of unfortunate events is rather humorous when taken as a whole batch. But I’m keeping my chin up!

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While in Bentonville, Arkansas, I was able to try archery with my friend and associate Suraya. Turns out, I’m a good shot! Here’s a photo of me with bow and arrow.
Lura as Archer

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Fantastic News…

OK. So the biopsy report came back. No cancer! And I bought a replacement computer. So that’s taken care of. Workstuff is getting good too.

I think I’ve turned the corner. Life is looking really, really good now.


Car Update AND Biopsy Notice

Car update: bad battery, brakes, major preventative care due, etc. Total cost will be about $2K.

In other stressful news, I had an ultrasound of my thyroid gland recently. The ultrasound was read and they saw something suspicious… so they’ve scheduled a biopsy, which won’t occur for a week and a half.

So… let’s recap: I had to spend a lot of money repairing my car, and I might have cancer. Great week.

The good news is that I have money for the car, and current, decent, health insurance.

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Cars over 75K are undependable

Tonight my car died. Won’t start. Battery seems to be working. I don’t know what the issue is. Lucky for me, it died at home. So it’s not as if I was stranded on the side of a busy San Diego highway.

Remember a few month’s back when I wanted to get a new car? One of the reasons that I cited is that I’ve always maintained that cars over 75K are undependable. I got a few responses from men who fundamentally disagreed; they said that modern cars are so much better and are designed to live far past 100K without any significant problems. Maybe that’s true, I am strictly going off of anecdotal experience here. And, as a woman, I don’t want to have an undependable car because I don’t want to get into any unsafe situations.

So, we’ll see what transpires. I’m not super-interested in spending the money to get a new car right now, so I’ll probably just get Mini Lee fixed up and hope for the best.

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Easter Candy

In general, I don’t like Easter candy. Peeps are creepy. I don’t enjoy jelly beans, and can do without the creme fillings in most chocolate candies.

What’s really gross though are the Cadbury Eggs. They are an abomination. The gooeyness, the insane levels of super-sweetness. Ewwww. I know this one guy who loves them; he eats 5 a year. I don’t think you could make me!

I do like chocolate, though… so regular milk chocolate shaped like a bunny is fine by me. And I like a lot of the candy that has a pastel-colored double-life as an Easter candy: M&Ms;, Jordan Almonds, Hershey kisses, etc. All that is good stuff.


Very Successful Party

Last night, I had a housewarming party at the new apartment in San Diego. It was a big hit: maybe 30 people, lots of coffee martinis and food were consumed. The folks were all sociable and had fun. I also received some very thoughtful housewarming gifts, 3 bouquets of flowers, and more wine than I can possibly drink anytime soon.

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Completed Speaking at the ISACA Conference

Matt Harrigan and I just spoke at the big ISACA conference today in Los Angeles. Jeromie Jackson was unable to attend the ISACA Conference to speak on the topic of Managing by Measurement Through the Use of A Controls Framework, so we filled in. It was a little last-minute. I had less than 24 hours to prepare… but it all worked out.

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Much Better

I am settling into my new apartment. It’s much nicer. I feel like I am getting my life back again. Whew!


CREEPY: the perils of being a pretty girl living alone

I received a very, very creepy “love poem” from a secret admirer in my apartment complex today. It described how he intends to have sex with me. It was so creepy that I called the police and filed an incident report. I’ll be buying a stun-gun, pepper spray, and looking for a new apartment over the next few days. Meanwhile, I’ll be spending nights with friends.

The policeman and policewoman who came to the apartment confirmed that it is abnormal behavior, and asked neighbors if they had any info (which they did not). There is no crime (yet), but they assured me that it was good not to disregard this note, and they will be looking at the full list of sex-offenders to see if any live in the complex. They also assured me that if a sister received the note, they’d recommend that she handle it the same way I am handling it.




I feel like I am going through such a metamorphosis. There are so many things I have been changing and tweaking over the last year. My thoughts, actions, looks, friends, aspects of my career, interactions with the world… everything, really. The big question is: will I be a beautiful butterfly at the end of it? That’s what I’m hoping!


New Photo

I have a new hair style. Here’s a photo.

Long hair Lura


Professional Article Published

I co-wrote an article that was published today. Here’s the link.

If you go to the page, you’ll also see the link to my new professional photo.

This article gets me some visibility in the Healthcare and Medical business vertical, on a national level. I hope to get some business out of it.

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Ruined My Car

I ruined the Mini Cooper. No, I wasn’t in a car accident. That’s fixable. No, I have a smell in my car… and I don’t think it will ever be the same. There are some smells that just change a car forever. I know that the smell of cat pee will completely overwhelm a vehicle, orange juice can ruin a car and I can add one more to the list: milk.


My only complaint with the design of the car is with the cup holders. Interestingly, I have been in newer models and the cup holder problem persists. Anyway, I had a latte in the cup holder and it fell out. But I was driving, so I had to watch helplessly as the milk flowed out of the cup, onto the floormat, then up over the sides of the floormat, gushing into the upholstery.

MiniLee interior

Obviously, I tried to clean it myself. I took it to a car wash to have it detailed. I’ve also tried to air it out. All to no avail. The car still smells like spoiled milk. It’s driving me nuts. It is a totally disgusting smell.

Maybe this is a good excuse to buy a new car. I’ve been eyeing (and drooling over) a used Porsche Cayman. 2009 may be the year that I go for it.


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I met a Chargers Player after the Playoff Game

San Diego is football crazy right now. In case you are living under a rock, the Chargers won the playoff game last night in overtime.

I went to Stingaree after the game. This is, apparently, the favorite party place for the players after a winning game. And I can see why. Stingaree plays the “San Diego Super Chargers” song, and has their go-go-girl/waitresses dance around the football players with sparklers and bottles of champagne. No kidding. It’s all very over-the-top, but fun.

Anyway, through some luck or oversight, I ended up in the VIP area upstairs… standing next to Vincent Jackson and a female friend whose waist was about as small as my hand. I briefly said “congratulations, great game,” then didn’t bother him. I then witnessed him receiving sycophantic accolades from a lot of drunk men… which he did with an amazing amount of patience and grace.

Chargers Vincent Jackson

I don’t want to give the impression that I was “hanging out” with the football players. It was a completely strange and happy coincidence. And a good night.

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Christmastime 2008 in NYC

I enjoyed the beauty of a white Christmastime in NYC.

Here’s the link to my New York City photo album on Smugmug.


Darn it! I caught a cold!

Much to my dismay, the slight sore throat that I woke up with on Saturday has matured into a full-fledged upper respiratory infection. Complete with coughing, sneezing, phlegm, and the general “ugh” feeling that comes with each passing night of mediocre sleep.

And yes, I am going to be one of those terrible human beings that gets on an airplane and passes this annoying rhinovirus on to some other unfortunate human being who is unlucky enough to be sharing the recycled, polluted air of my cabin. I know, I’m awful. Maybe I’ll take a cocktail of various OTC drugs designed to make me dry and groggy so that I don’t actually spread the virus by coughing.

I just really want to go to NYC. Sue me. Or better yet, wear a face mask to the airport tomorrow.


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So… the answer is…

To follow up from last night, I decided to change blouses and shoes between parties 1 and 2. At party 3, they had a hair salon doing ladies’ hair in the middle of the club. Both Olivia and I enjoyed the fun of it. Here’s a photo of us after the hairstyle.

Olivia & Lura

By the way, iPhone cameras kinda suck. They really need to fix that.

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3 Events & 1 Girl’s Dilemma

I have been invited to three events today. I wish I could say that my social calendar was booked with days like today. But it is not. Unfortunately, the rest of the weekend is spotty, at best. Everyone just decided to have their events on the same day. The earliest starts at 1pm and the last one will probably end when the bar closes at 2am.

Now, as you may recall, I’m a girl. So this “starting mid-day and going past mid-night” situation creates a bit of a logistical problem when it comes to attire. Do I wear the sexy club outfit all day & risk looking like a floozie with potential colleagues? Or do I wear something a little less provocative & risk being under-dressed for the nighttime events? Do I change in some bathroom somewhere? Do I try to pull off some layering effect? And what the hell am I going to do about the shoes? Can I wear the same high-heels for 12 hours?

Men do not have to deal with this. The most a guy would have to do is throw a brush and some deodorant in the car.

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Dan Kaminsky: the Demigod, and a nice guy

Dan Kaminsky went from regular IT Security guru to IT Security demi-god this year. There’s something about internet celebrity. Lots of people get a big head and turn into jerks during their 15 minutes. But not Dan. He really is a nice guy. I have to say that I think Dan Kaminsky deserves all the kudos & press he’s gotten this year. Here’s just a few:

But I have to give a special shout-out & thankyouverymuch to Dan, his girlfriend Crystal, and Johnny for taking care of me at Toorcon SD. They were all extremely kind and generous and gracious to me. Here’s Divide’s photos of Dan, Crystal, and me from earlier in the night. (Go to Divide’s photostream on Flickr and Toorcon specific gallery)

Dan photo by Divide
Crystal - the coolest - photo by Peter
Me at Toorcon SD - photo by Divide

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Celebrity Sighting: Scott Clifton of GH

So, tonight I was out in Encinitas, CA (North county San Diego.) I was standing in an interminable line for The Daley Double Saloon, which is entirely too popular for no apparent reason.

Anyway, I was behind Scott Clifton and his girlfriend Nikki. Scott played Dillon Quartermaine on General Hospital.

Here’s the photo I took on the iPhone. (Sorry Scott, I didn’t want to disturb your intense conversation to ask for a photo.)

GH Star sighting Scott Clifton

Anyway, I really didn’t want to be an eavesdropper, but I was stuck in this line and the both of them were a bit tipsy and a smidge loud. Clearly, they had their own little soap opera going on. Despite being an adorable girl, she must have been feeling threatened and jealous because the conversation went something like this:

Scott: Oh my God, I would totally tell you everything. You know that. I think you’re fantastic.

Nikki: I know, but what happened with [the ex.]?

Scott proceeds to tell this rambling story about email drama with an ex girlfriend.

Nikki: But you’ve never told me any of this before! Why is this the first time I’m hearing about this?!?

More drama ensues, followed by making up and lots of kissing and hugging in line.

Eventually I got into the bar… not a moment too soon. Soap-opera-like drama is better on the screen than it is on the street.

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A Scrabbalicious Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for all the love & support from family and friends, and all the good food, and my good health, I am thankful for winning 2 Scrabble games. I used to get beat practically every single game that I played. It got to the point where it just wasn’t fun any more. But I dusted off the board and gave it another try.

Anyway, I enjoyed breaking my losing streak.

Here’s a photo of the board.

my Winning Scrabble board


No Phone = Fewer Interruptions

I listened to NPR all the way up to Santa Ana. No interruptions. I got to work, sat down, and clickety-clack-clack on the keyboard for hours with no interruption. Finally, it dawned on me that maybe something was missing.

Turns out it was my phone. Oops.


Flowers for Trinitron Reprise

I am addicted to TV again. I am always reminded of the Tom the Dancing Bug comic strip called Flowers for Trinitron.

That really sums it up for me. When I’m TV free I do things like read the great books of the Western canon, or get a professional certification, or paint. But TV is just so damn addictive and mind/soul sapping! Especially when Tivo makes delivery of the drug so efficient. Tivo is like the crack version of TV. Ugh, I hate myself. Seriously, I am experiencing brain atrophy while watching programs like the new 90210 and House. Is there a 12-step program for TV addiction?

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Email (Mis?) Management

You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one of my email accounts. I have 9 different major email accounts. Notice I didn’t write email addresses… that’s because I’m not counting total aliases. I’m just giving you the total number for what comes after the @ symbol in an email address (example:

So what’s up with all this noise? Well, I have a lot of net identities. There are all of my personal domains(5), job-related accounts(2), a gmail acct, and a yahoo acct.

Everything was fairly well managed for a while. I had most of everything funnelling into the gmail acct, then had the work email… so effectively I had 2 major email programs to manage. But, in the past couple of weeks, that has temporarily jumped to 4.

It’s really too much. I don’t know which email I am sending from or should be receiving into anymore. Frankly, I am getting a little scatterbrained about the whole thing. Good thing it is temporary.

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Vindication: Last of the First Wave

As an adult, I’ve settled into the pattern of being the last of the first wave. I let the very early adopters effectively beta-test all the new products and services. They pay more for the privelege of being the cool kids on the block, which makes the producers happy. They are also helpful in that they give constructive criticism about defects to the product development staff. Companies respond by releasing patches, and they incorporate those fixes in the next generation of the product. The cycle of product development continues.

A few months ago, I bought an iPhone. Everyone said: “Why not just wait till the new one comes out?” Due to mostly personal timing issues, that wouldn’t have worked for me… but I also know that even the coolest manufacturers put out buggy products when they go in a new direction, and I was secretly glad that I could be the last of the early adopters.

Fast forward to vindication. This article describes problems with the 3G iPhone. Maybe it’s the network, maybe it’s the chipset… whatever. There are a lot of people complaining and I am glad that I’m not part of that group. I’m totally happy with my purchase, which is the last of the first generation of the iPhone.

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4 Dollar Gas Clears CA Congestion

The San Diego freeways are noticably less crowded than a year ago. Since I’ve been back, I have driven at different times of the day (during rush hours, during lunch) and on different freeways (5, 15, 52, 56, 78) and haven’t run into congestion anywhere.

At first, I thought that I just may be getting lucky. Then I thought that maybe I just hadn’t remembered traffic patterns correctly. But now I’m convinced that high gas prices have forced different driving habits among the lower class and much of the middle class.

That said, the evidence I use to support my claim is purely anecdotal, not scientific. So maybe I’m wrong, but I also assess that there are mostly high-end (more expensive) cars on the road. Could it be that only the wealthy people can afford to drive in SoCal with +4 dollars-a-gallon gas?

Regardless, I’m ok with it. MiniLee got 32mpg at 75mph average all the way down from Seattle. Those results aren’t as good as a TDI or hybrid, but it’s not too shabby either!

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Homeless in Seattle

I am officially homeless. I just turned in my keys to the (former) apartment at 12224 NE 8th St, #205.

My boss is letting me stay on the boat for a week, then I’ll be headed down to San Diego (perhaps by way of Boise (to visit Ralph) and Vegas (for DefCon’s White Ball).

I’ve been asked why I would attend DefCon… people say something like: “Really? I didn’t know you were into hacking.” My answer is… that, while I’m not a hacker, my current job role/title (Director of Application Security) has made me marginally competent to carry on relevant security-related conversations with hackers. A few months back, I managed to fall in with a whole big group of Seattle security guys and hackers. And yes, they are almost entirely guys. There are only a few girls in the group and, as far as I can tell, I’m the only one that isn’t dating any of the guys. They are good guys though. All of ‘em are super smart and very kind. And they aren’t evil identity thieves either. While some of them may have done some black-hat stuff in the past; I’m pretty sure everyone in this group is on the right side of the law currently.

Anyway… back to my upcoming plans. By Monday Aug 10, I should arrive in San Diego. I have a warm and generous offer from Carl to use his guest room until I find a place in San Diego. Hopefully, I can get that situation figured out quickly since fish and houseguests stink after just a few days.

When I do figure out a place to live, I will have my Door-to-Door storage container delivered. It has all my stuff in it and it is packed to the gills! I got rid of a lot, but I still have a lot of stuff.

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Apologies and Weaknesses

It was brought to my attention that some people who read the previous post thought that it was harsh.
So I modified it.

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Total Nerd

I just finished watching every episode of Star Trek Voyager – all seven seasons. Next is Deep Space 9 (173 episodes).

Just so that you understand the depth of my insanity when it comes to the modern Star Trek series, let’s recount:

  • Voyager – 171 episodes
  • What was I saying about not having much time for things that are irrelevant? Hmmm… guess I have spent an inordinate amount of time for this irrelevant activity!


    Planning Forward

    I’ve found that the best way to keep positive is to plan for the future. The short term future, the interim future, the distant future. Ideally, it should all be coherent with my ultimate ambitions for living a good life, but sometimes keeping a positive outlook takes tactical planning and is not particularly strategic at all.

    Characterizing all the mundane activities that constitute a life as either “strategic” or “tactical” is a fairly new practice for me. I’ve only been doing it for about half a year now, but have found that it works pretty well. When something can’t be characterized as either, then it is irrelevant — and I don’t spend much time with irrelevant activities. As it turns out, a lot of what I do can be rationalized / characterized as part of a strategic goal or tactical action.

    For example, recently, I’ve spent a little bit of time recently planning a couple of events:

    • a little Indiana Jones event for this weekend, which may, or may not come together. I really should have sent out the invitations earlier, so it might not work out. But it is a fun project, and is a strategic move for attempting to cement some friendships in this town.
    • I am finally booking the European vacation tickets (for the Greek cruise with Mom). This is tactical, but somewhat fun, and I’m taking care of mom while she takes care of my brother, which is helpful.
    • I’m helping to plan a presentation at an upcoming conference (I’m an assistant presenter.) This is actually a strategic move that will help me raise my profile professionally within the group.

    These tasks are keeping me busy thinking about the future… and that’s a good thing. Now you know my little trick… scary huh? But I don’t usually bite and I’m fairly normal in public!


    Grandfathering In?

    Getting grandfathered into a new certification program seems so civilized and professional, but to date I haven’t been eligible. Now, however I think that I am actually eligible for the new “CGEIT” certification backed by ISACA. It stands for “Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT.”

    Filling out the required paperwork will be no picnic, but it should be easier than sitting for another one of ISACA’s mind-bending exams (this is the certification body behind the CISA.) The bigger problem with getting grandfathered into the program is that it costs a pretty penny. So I’ll see if my work wants to pay for it, since I sure don’t.

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    New Cards

    I just ordered some personal contact cards from
    I was on the receiving end of one of those little minicards recently and I thought it was absolutely adorable. So I picked some of my nicest landscape and flower photos for the front-of-the-card images.

    I can’t wait till they arrive. :)


    Currently Playing

    I’m listening to Sinatra today. Specifically: Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams from the Songs for Young Lovers CD.
    You Tube Video

    Songs for Young Lovers/Swing Easy Songs for Young Lovers/Swing Easy by Frank Sinatra

    “Just remember that sunshine always follows the rain.
    So wrap your troubles in dreams, and dream all your troubles away.
    Your castles may tumble, that’s fate after all, life’s really funny that way.
    But no need to grumble, smile as they fall, weren’t you king for a day?
    Just remember that sunshine always follows the rain.
    So wrap your troubles in dreams, and dream all your troubles away.”


    New cut & color

    In part, I have been growing my hair out in Seattle because I hadn’t found a hairstylist that I trusted enough to “give me a new style.” And it was beginning to look awful.

    So I took a chance yesterday with a new stylist at a local Bellevue salon and like the results. In case you can’t tell from the photo, there’s some bold red and blonde highlights… and it was cut to the length of my shortest layer. I still intend to grow it out a bit – especially the bangs, which had been previously mangled by a previous $12 hair joint.

    Lura's new hairstyle


    The Song In My Head

    Alllllll day, I’ve been humming American Boy by Estelle and Kayne.

    “Take me on a trip, I’d like to go someday…. I really want to kick it with you. You’ll be my American boy. “

    “Dress smart like a London bloke.. before he speak, his suit bespoke.”

    YouTube link



    On Mommyhood

    On Saturday, I hung out with the very pregnant Kelli and Dillon. Today, I met up with Debbie, Matt & their 2 kids, who were up from Ojai, CA.

    The result of back-to-back nuclear family sessions left me a bit unsettled. The whole mommie thing still scares the crap out of me.


    On the Topic of Identity

    Protecting your personal and professional identity is vitally important because everybody knows everybody. Rather than 6 degrees of separation, I’m finding that a significant amount of new professional contacts are actually only 2 or 3 times removed from my former professional contacts.

    In the modern era people move around and communicate so easily and often with people in other social and professional groups. This is especially true in the areas I’ve been working in: data security and compliance. Just today I was chatting with a guy in Colorado who knew my former colleagues (back in San Diego) on a first name basis. The other night I happened to fall into a conversation with a CEO of a company that is a business partner of my current company.

    Of course, this is all predicated on the notion that your identity is good because you are consistently acting in an ethical fashion. When someone in the chain can’t be trusted, the whole system gets topsy-turvy. And so a corrolary maxim is that one has to align oneself with other people and companies that also have good reputations.

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    Snowing on March 26? This wasn’t in the brochure.

    Seattle is killing me. I thought the dreary days with cold wet weather were waning now that Spring is here. But no such luck for me. It’s past Easter and it is snowing. Right now, right outside my window. Ugh. This wasn’t in the brochure. I’m holding Kelli personally responsible for this — she’s was my cruise director on this shipwreck of a move to this town!

    Snow in Seattle March 26

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    On Reaching a Tactical Goal

    As part of the Body-for-Life Challenge, I set a tactical goal of squatting 135 pounds. The last time I was squat 135 was July 23, 2002.

    Last night, I squatted 135 for 2 sets of 10 reps.

    I can honestly report: I am as strong as I have ever been.


    On Reaching a Strategic Goal

    Over the weekend, I completed work on a strategic goal, so I’d like to take a moment to share.

    For the past 2 years, I have been participating in a course called the Business Professionals Course. It is an in-lieu-of MBA program, that is recognized as equivalent to an MBA by companies such as GE and Sprint. On Saturday, after completing an oral and 2-part written examination, I graduated from BPC class #39.

    The course isn’t right for most people, but it was exactly what I needed at this point in my life. I can honestly say that this course has been a good investment. I am much more calm and focused. My ability and capacity to transact at work and in life has increased dramatically. Although many of my colleagues produced significant gains in income (the average compensation increase of the class was 97%), I haven’t produced significant financial gains as a result of my career moves over the past 2 years. However, I have learned a lot about money, currency, and value. I met a lot of high performers and really good people.

    I’m now moving to another phase of the practice, called the LEIP program. LEIP is an acronym for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and accumulating Power. It is a way for me to continue working with the wonderful folks that I met in the program, and a way to continue practicing the ideas that I had been learning the past two years.


    Warming, a sunnier Seattle

    Seattle is warming…. spring is almost here. The change to daylight savings will undoubtedly brighten my spirits: a few more minutes of sun each day.

    When we moved here I had no idea that I’d be a candidate for Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I found myself experiencing a slight case of SAD this winter. With the sun out more, I’m sure I’ll have a sunnier disposition.

    Seattle Space Needle

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    Lura World Tour?

    I have a vague goal of doing a Lura World Tour.

    In addition to making a trek to Albania to go to Lura National Park, I just found out that I need to go to Tibet / China.

    In the middle of nowhere, directly between Lhasa and Chengdu, there is a town called Lura.

    This place is situated in Markam, Xizang Zizhiqu (Tibet), China, its
    geographical coordinates are 29° 56′ 0″ North, 98° 37′ 0″ East.

    The problem is that this place, at first glance, looks ridiculously difficult to get to. It looks like the Gap adventures to China and Tibet fly over the Lura, but none of the organized tours go there.

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    Basically Good, but Occasionally Creepy

    In general, my years of blogging have been good. People are generally nice. Lots of friends find me. Generally, it’s all good, clean fun.

    Occasionally someone will find my blog, or some article I wrote, and contact me in a slightly unsettling manner. They might be fantastic people. Probably are wonderful, law-abiding citizens. I just get a weird feeling from the interactions since we have little or no shared background, yet sometimes an individual will launch into a level of information that it may take months to achieve in a real-life relationship. I have a low threshold and tolerance for such interactions and seek to end them as quickly as possible. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that 2 different men have creeped me out recently in response to my web presence.

    So there are some things that I need to remind my kind and wonderful readers who are not also my real-life friends:

    1. Don’t assume that you know me. The blog is a persona, not the whole me, just a version of me.
    2. Be respectful. Don’t overstep your boundaries. It isn’t cool to start quoting things about me to me, it’s weird and it puts me at a disadvantage in a conversation. I don’t like it and it isn’t a way to impress me.
    3. I don’t ever to know about your sex life.
    4. You go be who you are. I’ll do the same. Vive la difference!
    5. Any expression of my personal opinions, preferences, and beliefs on my blog is not a direct assault against you and your life. Again, I encourage you to be who you are.

    I used to have comments enabled on my blog. A severely creepy incident a while back ruined that for me. In fact, that incident is probably why I am so sensitive to anyone even slightly overstepping now. I still haven’t forgotten the one from my past, and I don’t have blog comments as a result.


    My Days Measured on the Wing

    While living in Escondido, my daily commute to/from the house along San Pasqual Road almost always included a hawk sighting. I’d look up and see the birds flying free and high. In one sense, seeing the birds was a wonderful respite a part of my routine that was pleasant and life-affirming. In another sense, it is a reminder of my dull and predicable life. In many ways, I am prisoner of my routine.

    Despite the move to Seattle, life isn’t much different. The birds have changed: I see gulls or bald eagles every day. The route has changed too: now I see the birds when crossing the 520 floating bridge. The birds seem to play in the wind currents, and occasionally I see them dive for fish that must rise to the surface in the choppy waters.

    But it struck me today, as I saw 2 bald eagles soaring just beyond my front windshield: I can measure my days in bird sightings.

    Bald Eagle in Seattle (Seattle PI image)

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    Looking Backward and Paying it Forward

    Half the fun of social networking sites is the opportunity that it affords you to get back in touch with people. I’m fairly easy to find since my web-presence is, well, established to say the least. As one person put it: “your web footprint is a freakin’ bear track.”

    The other day, I was contacted by someone that I literally haven’t spoken to since highschool. It was fun to catch up, and it put me in a nostalgic mood. So I decided to pay it forward so to speak and contact someone else that I haven’t spoken to in a while.

    Girls are about 100 times harder to find than boys. Although I tried to find several female friends on the net, the proliferation of commonly used names in my age group makes ridiculously difficult to find any of the women I know from highschool, college, or grad-school since they’ve all married, changed their name, and moved. So I found a highschool buddy of mine who is male. I found his work phone number on the net. Boy is the net weird.

    It was a blast speaking with him. Made me laugh, a lot. Anyway, I suggest it: contact someone from your past & ask them to pay it forward. It’ll bring a smile to your face.


    Fun Weekend

    I finally went out dancing in Seattle! I went with a new female friend. We had a blast at one of the hottest nightclubs in the city (Last Supper Club). What a funny scene it was — definitely not SoCal. There were some uber-geeks who never would have made it past the velvet rope in San Diego or LA. But it was fun.

    In workout news: Saturday I had an amazing workout. Since there were fewer people in the gym, I did a really tough weight lifting workout: complete with grunting and panting. I’m almost at my squat goal. After a proper warmup, I am box-squatting 125 pounds for 2 sets of 10 reps. I’m also doing a lot with my upper body. I still have a long way to go with the bi’s and tri’s, but I am starting to see a little definition. I’m sore!


    Is It Really Too Much To Ask?

    I am having a rash of bad luck with restaurants. It seems that every they take the order with the “I’m so good, I don’t need to write it down” attitude, then they get it wrong. Jai Thai, Quiznos, some pho place, and tonight it was Ruth’s Chris. Yes, Ruth’s Chris. I ordered my steak sans butter, they served it (the first time) with butter.

    I’ll deal with the misspellings like SEM/SAM any day if they’d at least write the order down. At least that would give the kitchen a fighting chance to get it right.

    My friend Dominique would probably chalk this up to a Seattle v. San Diego showdown. She tends to think that service in California is primo, especially in fine dining restaurants. Her theory hinges on the multitude of college educated, well-spoken wait staff who are practicing Shakespeare in their off-hours, hoping for a break-out role. I used to think that this was a completely ludicrous theory, but I’m beginning to wonder!


    Cautiously Networked

    I just don’t know what to do with all of the social networking requests that I receive. It’s not that I’m popular, it’s that there are too many sites. Bebo, Namyz, and Spock are some of the recent ones that I decided not to join. I just don’t understand the value proposition of them as compared to the few sites that I am already a part of (LinkedIn and Facebook.)

    Some cite the need to “stake their claim” on their name, but I don’t think that this argument applies to me since my name is so unusual. Go ahead, type Lura Lee in a search engine. I’ve got it locked up. There’s only one other Lura that is cited with any regularity on the internet, and she’s a black Capeverdean singer, who seems to be gaining some popularity.

    So, if you want to send me an invitation to a new social networking website, I’d like you to give me a personal explanation for what that site does that is different or better than the ones that I’ve already populated. I don’t mean to be high-cost, or uncooperative. I’m open to the offer of some website that better meets my needs for membership, I just don’t see that this is the case for the aforementioned sites.


    My Map of Visited Countries

    create your own visited countries map

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    New Year – The BFL Challenge Begins

    OK – I know that it is chiche, but I am starting a diet and exercise program. Specifically, I am doing the 12-week Body For Life Challenge. In fact, I’m attempting to organize a competition at work – the Seattle office vs the Colorado office. I took measurements and before photos today. I wont be posting those on this site until there is a beautiful after photo.

    Today, I went to the Rust Gym that MAS joined. I got a membership too even though I have a lifetime, no dues membership at Bally Total Fitness. I joined Iron Works because it is convenient (to home), the people are nicer, and it is a real weight-training gym with trainers who know what the heck they are doing (unlike Bally.)

    Anyway, since it is the first day of my diet, I should declare my goal and pick a fitness image that inspires me. The goals: let’s say bodyfat percentage in the 20s, 133 lbs, and the ability to squat 135 again.

    As for the fitness image that inspires me… this is actually very difficult. Finding a woman who has real boobs, is around 5.4, over 25 years old, and is over 115 pounds is unbelievably difficult. Not in real life, but oh buddy is it hard to find someone like that on the internet, TV, or in film.

    The idea of a fitness inspiration is to look at a figure/shape that is somewhat plausible for your body shape — a little out of reach, but not a complete pipe dream. The best I could do is find an inspiring Ms. Fitness contestant named Kim Dawson. She’s a bit shorter, and she’s about 120 due to her amazing (but not hulking) muscles. Of course, I am so fair-skinned that it might make more sense for me to aspire to be like Dita Von Teese!

    Kim D inspiration

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    Winter Wonderland for Xmas

    This year, Michael and I will be visiting Whistler, British Columbia, Canada for Christmas. Along the way, we’ll be spending a couple of nights in Vancouver.
    If you have suggestions of where to go, contact me.

    This means that we will not be attending my niece’s wedding in Houston. The plane tickets from Seattle to Houston were around $700pp, which means that the trip would be $2k or so total. I want to go someplace really cool if we’re going to end up spending that kind of cash. The concrete jungle of Houston just won’t do it for me in that scenario.

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    A More Maxi Mini

    Mini has introduced a new version called a Clubman. Interestingly, this larger version of the mini has 5 doors (including 3 passenger doors and 2 barn-doors for the boot.) By extending the wheel base, there is actually supposed to be some rear seating space. This model intrigues me since it seems to defy the whole point of purchasing a Mini. I mean, really, make a choice. Do you want a big car, or do you want a Mini?


    In Germany and the UK there is a diesel version of the Clubman. The specs on that car are not too shabby: 42 mpg (compared to 30 list for the Clubman). Since the Cooper is listed at 31 and my personal experience in my Cooper is regularly 29 mpg, I will believe their listed specs.

    I would definitely consider buying a Mini One or possibly a Mini Clubman diesel for my next car, if it were sold in the US and outfitted for bio-diesel. But there is absolutely no way that I’d buy one of these Clubman cars in the colors offered for ’08 (brown and bright blue) — ick! Where’s the classy British Racing Green (like MiniLee), or how about a nice silver or black? Mini: by going both big and gaudy you are at risk of losing your core demographic – chicks like me!


    Inner Irish

    I took the Inner European Quiz and found out that I’m Irish.

    Your Inner European is Irish!

    Sprited and boisterous!
    You drink everyone under the table.
    Who’s Your Inner European?


    Starting a LinkedIn Group

    I am beginning to realize LinkedIn’s potential in the realm of membership and career. I constituted a LinkedIn group yesterday around 5pm, and within 24 hours 20 people accepted. Not too shabby.

    Aji BPC Collegians

    The group I started is the Aji BPC Collegians. For info, go here. I had to start a webpage about the group in order to meet the LinkedIn criteria.

    Are you and I LinkedIn? If not, shoot me an invitation.


    On Local Accents, Pacing, and Speech Patterns

    Now that I have customers all across the US, I find myself adopting various speech patterns, accents, rhythm, timing, and inflection depending on the locale of the customer.

    Today, I spoke with a customer in Fargo, ND. I didn’t really mimic his distinctive accent, but I found myself falling into the rhythm of his speech pattern. Last week I spoke with a customer in Atlanta, Georgia and my southern drawl emerged out from the recesses of my brain. I spoke with customers in New Jersey, one was a local man, the other was a Japanese citizen who spoke English with a short crisp staccato.

    To be able to mimic another’s pacing is really an powerful tool, since it puts people at ease. I didn’t realize how often I use this tool until this job.


    Updated photo

    I am uploading a photo (taken today) for my Blogger profile. It’s not a great photo, but it isn’t too bad. Better than nothing.

    Lura again



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