Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Heartbleed: Why SSL Certs Have To Be Reissued…and Salts

11 April 2014

A friend of mine who’s a geek and I were talking about Heartbleed a couple of days ago. Said friend has never been a coder, and thus never really spent a significant time looking at memory dumps, unlike us old school programmers who have (especially back when we were, um, trying to argue with copy protection on games we owned back in the 80s when apps were traditionally copy protected).

Read More

Why IRC Still Rocks After All These Years

10 April 2014

Slowly becoming less of a fan of HipChat, it’s really no better than IRC with a proper client. –Matt Jarjoura

When I first looked at HipChat, I laughed. It looks, well, so 90s. Basically, it’s a revamp of IRC, where “revamp” means “we will charge you for it.”
The only reason you should pay money to them is one of the following:

  1. You don’t know how to set up an IRC server on some spare piece of office equipment and can’t be bothered to find anyone to help you.
  2. You need some obscure feature that’s not available on IRC or any of its addons.

Yep, that’s about it.
Essentially, HipChat and its ilk assume that you’ve never heard of IRC and are willing to pay to have private-ish conversations. They will never be as private as running your own IRC server.
If you don’t need that, you can get a dedicated channel on other servers, mark it private, invite people you want, and ban them if their status ever changes.

Why IRC Rocks

  1. The larger IRC networks are distributed, meaning everyone connects to a server closer to them. This does lead to netsplits, but it means that people can continue on even where one of the servers are down. In that sense, it’s designed like the Internet was intended: no single point of failure.
  2. IRC servers can be private. I’ve used them at several firms.
  3. You can do a seminar-style by making the channel moderated and requiring people to private message questions. Advantage of this format for the listeners is that they can private message each other, which many substitute chat types do not offer.
  4. You can make channels private.
  5. On most IRC networks, you can define a list of who’s an op (who has privilege to allow/disallow people on the channel), who can speak when the channel is moderated, and set those privileges so they persist without anyone on the channel. (And then there’s classic EFnet, which at least used to do none of these things.)
  6. IRC is extremely low bandwidth and fault tolerant. It assumes bad and slow connections. I have been in situations where no-image web pages wouldn’t load, email wouldn’t load, but IRC worked just fine. (Especially on ships using satellite internet.)
  7. Every operating system, even those without any graphical interfaces, still in use has at least one IRC client. Got an old Timex Sinclair?
  8. The biggest thing HipChat offers that IRC doesn’t typically out of the box is chat history, but there are even approaches for that using channel bots.

For Mac and iOS users, the best IRC software is Colloquy.

Read More

Travel Channel Scientology Video

08 April 2014

Pretty good introduction to some of the big issues from a non-Scientologist’s perspective. Interesting that they cover Operation Snow White but don’t mention that Hubbard’s wife served time for that.

Read More

Pain Management FTW

06 April 2014

I haven’t really ever talked about how much pain I’m in publicly. But I’m going to now, because I have just started in a pain management program. For the first time in many years, I think I’m making real progress.
When asked how long I’ve had chronic pain, it’s hard to answer. I remember not doing things because I hurt too much when I was a teenager. Some of that was when I was 13. I remember times when I was so sore I could barely move before tap dancing class.
I remember when I seriously took up ice skating when I was 20 that even putting the boots on my feet hurt incredibly. And it got worse, but I still did it. I remember fracturing my wrist in a fall because someone else was being an idiot on the ice. I put my hand out (sigh) to break the fall, and the friction from that was so intense that it burned the imprint of the knit pattern on the glove into my hand for two weeks. That wrist was sore for years, and the rest of me didn’t feel so hot for quite a while, either.
Then there was the time I fell down the staircase at my office. My partner and I were running a partnership then. I landed on my chin, did some horrible things to my jaw, and it was pretty awful. The chiropractor who put my jaw back into whack said, “You’re gonna scream.” Despite not wanting to, he was right. I did.
I also remember the fall on the ice when I lived in Vermont. The fall from which my knee has never quite been the same. Didn’t help that I severely re-injured it a couple of years ago falling outside a church in Norway.
What I can’t remember is not having debilitating chronic pain. I’ve had it since I was a teenager. I hid it the entire time I was in Scientology, because only degraded beings were in chronic pain. You were treated better if you pretended you weren’t chronically ill. (I also had other chronic illness things going on then, but that’s another story for another time.)
Putting a label on it and developing an effective treatment plan for it, though, that’s another problem entirely.
What’s been clear to me for years is that I have super-tight muscles. My ginormous calves have no real significant fat on them, just bone and tense muscle. When I was a teenager, I remember finding a painful lump in my thigh muscle, afraid it was cancer or something.
No, it was just a sign of what was to come.
Eighteen years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Painful when poked in the typical places? Check. Over the years, I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with the diagnosis because fibromyalgia doesn’t actually describe my day-to-day pain very well.
Ever tried to argue with a diagnosis that seemed set in stone? Going to a rheumatologist in 2011 got it firmly entrenched on my chart, which was even more frustrating.
It was like “You have fibro. We are done.” And, “I can’t prescribe (this medication that helps your pain) because that doesn’t work on fibro.”
Incredibly. Frustrating.
And yet, I do understand Occam’s razor, it’s just that Occam’s razor suggested it had to be something else because reasons.
That led to rounds of doctor shopping (and firing) until I happened to get the right one in December. The one who told me that Kaiser had a pain clinic and actually referred me to it. Which I went to a week and a half ago.

Joke’s on Me

So, guess what?
I do have fibro.
I was right, though, that’s not the major source of my pain. What is?
Myofascial pain. From the Wikipedia page:

In fibromyalgia, chronic pain and hyperirritability are pervasive. By contrast, while MPS [Myofascial pain syndrome] pain may affect many parts of the body, it is still limited to trigger points and hot spots of referred pain.

So, I have both pervasive chronic pain (from fibro) and irritable trigger points (from fibro and myo) and referred pain (from myo). I’ll tell you right now, that referred pain covers huge swaths of my body.
The myo explains so much. The muscle tension in my neck and head is so severe that it can change my vision (I have gotten diagnostic imaging for this, btw, it really isn’t visible on a scan). This led to uncomfortable conversations that basically boiled down to, “Oh, you’re fat. Therefore it must be diabetes and therefore macular degeneration.” Even though macular degeneration doesn’t describe the reported symptoms at all.
Some days I’ve had shooting pain, and I was wondering if I needed another cardiac look-see. That’s apparently not unusual. But you say, “If I stand too long on my feet on a hard surface, I get shooting pains up my body.” And a doctor sees you’re fat and therefore it must be diabetes (even when your sugar numbers are and have been normal) and the specific symptoms don’t describe diabetic neuropathy. Nor could you possibly have had diabetes long enough to get diabetic neuropathy, because if you’ve been paying attention, you don’t get that far that quickly.
In other words, everything was reduced to: 1) you are fat; 2) you have fibro; 3) you must have had diabetes for like a decade to get your nerves in this shape even though the blood tests don’t agree; 4) can’t see anything on the scans, so it must not be serious.
So I’ve had all this diagnostic imaging and ignored symptoms for years (including the imaging for both head and heart)—and yet no one picked up what it was. Until now.

What This Means in Practice

On a day-to-day basis, here’s the reality I face—and have for years. I wake up with enough pain to be nauseated. I have medication for that, but I can’t take it on an empty stomach because it makes it more likely that I’ll throw it up. Apart from the not-wanting-to-throw-up part, if you throw up partly digested medication, what’s the right dose to take to replace it?
So, I have to take pain meds with food. Coffee works pretty well as an anti-nauseant for me, actually, so long as I drink it with milk. So: coffee first, pain meds with coffee, cook the breakfast, then eat to stabilize the stomach against the meds. Then, and only then, can I do other morning things like taking a shower and getting dressed, because it hurts too much to stand in the shower before the medication starts to kick in. The shower helps reduce pain once I’m to the point where I can handle it.
Only after all of that can I walk like something even vaguely approaching a normal person, though the myofascial muscle tension is typically still a problem. It gives me a strange gait at times. We ruled out MS, but that was one of the things I’d been worried about, given that my capability to walk is so random, even within the same day. Sometimes, even within the same hour.

And Then There’s Yesterday

So I’ve been doing better after a medication change that the pain clinic doc put me on. The other day, I forgot pain meds for the first three hours I was awake.
Yesterday, I took a shower first, then walked (almost like a normal person) to make coffee. Only as I was standing there making coffee did I realize how remarkable that was.
Of course, by the time breakfast was ready, I was shaking. It’s still progress, though.

Read More

Fun Thing I'm Waiting For

04 April 2014

Season 2 of the web series One Step Closer to Home is filming in Australia. So. I’ve. Been. Told.
It’s a show about a newlywed couple trying to figure out all the normal stuff in life, like where to find the art for the living room and how to fit sex into the schedule.
Oh, and if you liked Season 2 of Fairly Legal with Ryan Johnson as Ben Grogan, here he is with his more typical accent.
Here’s the web site.

Read More

Another Ex-Scientologist Speaks Out

04 April 2014

Most of the time when people talk about their time in Scientology, they’ve been out for a few years. Until then, most people just are too shell-shocked trying to process their experiences and what they mean.
Recently, Jillian Schlesinger came out of the Sea Org. I missed this particular article and only watched her video, but the article’s interesting for me for the following part:

Jillian Schlesinger tells me she began taking Scientology courses at only about 12 years of age. Her parents, John and Paula, had both been Sea Org workers before she was born, but had left the Sea Org and were still “public” Scientologists — meaning they were still members in good standing, but they didn’t work for the church.

Jillian had been born in Los Angeles, but by the time she started classes she was living in Orange County and went to the “org” in Tustin. Even then, at 12, she began to feel the pressure of joining staff or making the ultimate commitment — joining the Sea Org. After helping out as a volunteer with youth groups, at 15, she decided to join the OC org staff.
She was assigned to work for the org’s “Department of Special Affairs.” The DSA was the local version of the Office of Special Affairs, Scientology’s notorious intelligence operation and spy wing.

I worked there in Tustin, and there was a Paula who was Sea Org; she was the Flag Rep. Which, frankly sounded like a horrible job.
If they hadn’t moved the office, then Jillian worked in the office next door to the one I used to work in. She came in through the same doorway to pick up her pay each week, probably getting it from my old boss.
That’s just incredibly strange to me.
Before I link to Jillian’s videos, I also want to say what an incredibly awesome job Karen de la Carriere is doing interviewing people who’ve left. Karen is the ex-wife of Heber Jentzsch, still nominally the President of the Church of Scientology even though he’s lived in The Hole for years and previously said, “I’ll never get out of here alive.”
Here are Jillian’s three videos with Karen:

Read More

Scientology: Marriage Hats

31 March 2014

Marriage Hats was a thin booklet written by L. Ron Hubbard’s last wife, Mary Sue Hubbard. It was published in 1974 by Scientology, a white volume with black uncial type on the cover. Later, they’d pull all Scientology-related books that weren’t written by LRH, and this would be one of items pulled.
This was published well after the concept of equal opportunity for women was embodied in law (though not in practice) in the United States.
So, let’s look at how enlightened Scientology was in 1974, shall we? Let’s look at five (of 23) directives for women are in marriage:

9. To support your husband in life by providing him with a clean, calm, happy home in which he can have the rest and peace necessary to fortify him in the battles of winning a living. [::facepalm::] 11\. To keep an active interest in your husband’s work and to offer him encouragement and moral support. \[Encouragement and support I agree with, but I’m not my husband, nor should I feel obligated to be interested in his work.\] 12\. To submit to the decision of your husband if agreement cannot be reached: he is the leader of the family. \[No.\] 14\. To care for birth control and to be responsible.There can be nothing more upsetting to married life than an unwanted pregnancy or too many children. So don’t make mistakes; such surprises can be most disruptive. \[So it’s always the woman’s fault.\] 15\. To keep yourself clean, attractive and womanly. A wife should always look the best she can for her husband – this doesn’t mean that you have to appear glamorous when you’re in the middle of scrubbing a dirty floor, but it does mean that a wife should care enough about her appearance not to come before her husband in the morning with cream on her face and rollers in her hair. It’s wise to do those beauty actions when your husband is not around, so you can be beautiful when he is present. \[For L. Ron Hubbard. I don’t even.\]

And how well did that work for MSH, as she was known?
She was the primary defendant in Operation Snow White, the largest civilian infiltration into US Government systems in history. She was sentenced to five years in prison.
Meanwhile, L. Ron Hubbard remained on the run throughout the remainder of his life and never rose above the level of unindicted co-conspirator.
I guess she supported him, all right.

Read More

A Vote for OVERWERK

28 March 2014

Remember that awesome Air Tahiti Nui video? (If not, you really should watch it. Amazing stuff.)
The guy who did the techno soundtrack, Edmond Huszar aka OVERWERK, is a Canadian who’s up for a 10k music prize. He’s currently leading in voting, but others have been pulling in their fans. Voting closes in two days. Here’s the link if you’re so inclined.
Most of his work is at this link on Soundcloud. My favo(u)rites are: Daybreak (used in the Air Tahiti Nui video), Conquer, and his remixes of Werk Me and Space Junk.
Because of the video and his music, when Rick and I rented a car for the day in Tahiti, we spent the whole day listening to Overwerk.

Read More