hankrules2011

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We Just Bought A New House and We’re Moving!

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 24, 2019

We have been house hunting all year in another primary region of the country for several different reasons, and I initially thought it would and should turn out to be quick and easy, but it’s been the most hellish house buying/moving experience of my life! Because of things like my poor health and my wife’s busy schedule, we simply couldn’t work out the logistics of a long trip, so we’ve been doing this remotely, which I’ve never done before. It’s really way too long of a story to tell, but we looked in a 3 state area for the whole year, and it has been the worst and toughest year of our lives! But we finally closed on a house a couple of weeks ago, and we’ll be moving to Pennsylvania in two weeks. I’d love to tell the story, but it would take too long and I don’t have the time or energy. So this will be another photo blog, with picks of the house we’re going to be moving into. It’s not what we started out looking for, it’s not ideal, we would probably prefer a number of things it lacks, but for here and now, it was the right place in the right location at the right price, and it’s actually a nice little house, I think, although I do cringe at the idea of downsizing. Heh. We’ll be living in a TINY community in the middle of the state, north of Baltimore, in between Pittsburgh and Philly, so there are many reasons why that’s an ideal location for us, which I won’t go very deeply into, but basically my health is so bad that numerous specialists have given up on my health even being MANAGED, let alone treated here in Chattanooga, the state itself, and even the entire region and I’ve been repeatedly advised to move to one of the following places: Mayo Clinic (Minnesota), Cleveland Clinic or Johns Hopkins (Baltimore). And since Gretchen is from Maryland and her family all live there and since she worked in Baltimore, and it and DC nearby, and they have a much better job market than here, and she’s also excited about seeing old friends and more, it just makes sense. (Frankly, it’s time for us to leave the South.) Additionally, this will be about a one hour commute for her to Baltimore, or if she could find a closer job, we’re 20 minutes from Gettysburg, 10 minutes from Hanover, 30 minutes from York, 45 minutes from Harrisburg, an hour and a half from DC, an hour and a half from Philly, and it’s more to Pittsburgh, but in the event Johns Hopkins can’t handle all of my issues, both Pittsburgh and Philly have top hospitals in some my areas (neurology, neuroscience) that could serve as backups or supplements. So as much as I would like to describe how insanely nuts this year has been, what we’ve had to go through to make this work, and how grueling this has been for us, I simply don’t have the time or energy to describe it and write more than I am here, so I’m going to go ahead and mainly post some pics of the new house we’ll be moving into in early December.

First, a few basics: It is a small, older two-story colonial (built in 1930) that we think is fairly attractive. It’s got three bedrooms and one bathroom, a nice covered front porch, small but nice back deck, small level yard, lovely real original hardwood floors with a pleasant and good sized living room, dining room and kitchen. Upstairs, the master bedroom is uniquely shaped, but not a bad size and has a door leading out to a back upper story covered balcony. The other bedrooms are somewhat small, but they fit the house and we knew we’d have to downsize. There’s a very large unfinished basement that will provide excellent storage and if we ever get the funds to partially or fully finish it, the listed “living space” square footage will shoot up tremendously because the literal square footage is actually over 900 more square feet than the listed livable square footage. We didn’t have many requirements and were forced to lower our expectations because Maryland (our original intended location) is such an expensive state to live in, and we wouldn’t have had many options, and yet even in podunk PA, in the neighboring county, the property taxes were just insane! We’ve been spoiled in Chattanooga, because the taxes are the lowest we’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen monster ones in Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Phoenix and Malibu, but all the time we were looking at regular sized, regular priced (cheap even) houses in that county, I kept asking the realtors WHY a 1800 square foot house with three bedrooms and one bathroom that runs about $220K-$250K would have property taxes of $6000, $8000, even $11000 and $13000 a year?!? There? Manhattan? Sure! Newport Beach? Sure! Santa Barbara? Of course. But what the hell is in the sticks that is such a big draw that people are dying to move there and pay those kind of property taxes for a generic rural area??? That’s nuts! I offended some people by asking that question about some place no one has ever heard of, that has no draw at all to merit robbing people like that – why?!? In any event, this house’s taxes are much more than we’re used to, but less than the examples I gave and for that area, about average. Even though we didn’t have many requirements, most of the houses in that area are very old. I knew that because I spent a decade living in that state as a young boy and I can recall all of the many houses from the 1830s and 1790s, etc. So almost none of these houses have any AC at all — and I get massively hot. Also, I prefer gas heat, and most had electric. We also prefer city water and sewer, and of course, most were on wells and septic tanks. BUT, this house has gas heat, central AC and is on public water and sewer, so YAY, that makes a big difference to us. There’s so much more, but I have very poor health and am tied up in trying to make arrangements with movers, auto transport services, utility companies, and all the details that go with this, so I’m just going to move on to the pics. The only other thing I’ll mention is that the house is located in Adams County, PA, where the county seat is historic Gettysburg. Our town is the fourth largest (of 18) “borough” in the county with a massive population of all of 3,000 people, making it the second smallest place I will ever have lived. It’s called McSherrystown (Borough) and it’s old and cute. And here’s something we really like! No crime. Like none. During  this century, no murders, rapes, assaults, one arson every other year, two robberies, and fewer than 75 thefts total for the whole damn century! The “city” has a police force of FOUR! Hell, that’s how many cops got killed on my block in LA every night when I lived in 18th Street Gang Territory, as well as when I was in North Long Beach (and dozens of other places there and elsewhere). Since we’ve been crime victims multiple times, this matters greatly to us. You may not be impressed with this house and it won’t be the nicest and will be the smallest I’ve ever lived in, but we do like it, think it’s attractive and it has some really nice features, and since every place has its pros and cons, we’re happy to have found this after 11 hard months of work trying to get a house and we’re especially happy to have gotten it for so much less than most others anywhere around there and others we were considering.

 

1. Our new house, front from street.

 

 

2. An angled street view of the front of our new house.

 

 

3. A different angled street view of the front of our new house.

 

 

4. The foyer. Needs a touch up here and there, but otherwise nice and in good condition with access to all of the important parts of the house.

 

 

5. The well lit, open living room with a lovely opening to the large formal dining room next to it. Original hardwood. Lots of windows. Good size. This is especially important to me as I have serious mobility issues due to my health, and so I spend the majority of my time on the ground floor, and so obviously the living room.

 

 

 

 

6. Another vantage point of the living room.

 

 

7. From the living room looking into the foyer.

 

8. Spacious cheery formal dining room!

 

 

9. Dining room, looking into the kitchen and the living room.

 

 

10. Spacious kitchen. This honestly isn’t our favorite, but we looked at so many houses throughout three states that we saw every kind, size, style imaginable and while this lacks the cupboard and counter space we would really prefer, it’s MUCH better and massively larger than the one in the house we had signed an agreement to purchase the previous month, only to have the inspector find so many “invisible” problems that the likely repair bills would likely have been in the six figures alone — and so we walked. That house seemed very nice, was quite large, but had the tiniest, most useless kitchen we’d ever seen, so we’ll take this present one any day over the former. Hey, can’t get everything you want, right? It’ll be good.

 

 

10. Kitchen facing entrances to other rooms.

 

 

11. One of the bedrooms.

 

 

12. A (small) second bedroom.

 

 

13. The master bedroom. Oddly narrow and long, but still pretty nice, we think.

 

 

14. Another view of the master bedroom.

 

 

15. The back deck with small, level back yard and a decent shed in the background. I’m not much of a “deck” person, but I’m actually pretty happy about this one, because our current one — which we’ve had to have ripped up, torn down and rebuilt twice in five years at great expense — is SO incredibly high off the ground, and the stairs so steep and vertically challenging with small, narrow steps, that it’s completely unusable for me, while this should be, so maybe I’ll actually become a “deck” person…

 

 

15. The back of the house. The cool thing about this photo is the funky thing I didn’t show in previous pictures. If you look up toward the top floor, you’ll see that the master bedroom has a door that opens on to a fairly decent, comfortable covered balcony, which is a little unusual, but we think it’s pretty cool.

 

I won’t bore you with any more house photos. It’s just that I literally have no one to show, and even though it’s probable that no one will even see it here online, at least I’m getting to attempt to show some photos of our new house, so it would be nice to know if anyone saw this post. As I said, it’s been a demanding, exhausting, draining, frustrating, infuriating, tiring, impossible, expensive as hell year culminating in finally finding a house we could buy, but now the end of it all is finally getting near and we’ll (hopefully) finally be able to sit down, take a breath and relax in a couple of months. Unreal year. For so many more reasons not mentioned here.

Well, enough of that. I’m going to post a few final pics I got off the Net of a few parts of town so you can see how tiny and quaint it is. I won’t label each of them like I did for the house, but the one of the church is of the town’s Catholic church, and the biggest one around, while the one of the diner shows the only restaurant they have, and the hilarious one of their police car is of the only one in town for the four police officers to share while not having to do a darn thing about the near total lack of crime. LOL! Thanks for indulging me, if anyone did. We’ll be moving in a couple of weeks. Catch ya on the other side…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ID Cards and Certificates for Some of My Zillion Professional Organizations

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 23, 2019

I want to try to blog more, but my health is very poor and I’m horribly busy, largely trying to buy a house in another region of the country and get us moved — all remotely. It’s been far more time consuming and labor intensive than I anticipated, it’s wearing me out and not leaving me time for much more. But I actually have taken quite a few pictures over the past few months, so I thought it might be fun — for me at least — to post some picture blogs! Most of you still looking at this blog probably didn’t notice the new Page I created a few months ago titled “PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS” and listed as one of the menu items at the top of this page. You can find it here. I know most people probably wouldn’t be interested in a topic like that, but a couple of the things that I think make it pretty cool are A) I belong to a Zillion, as the title of this blog post states. Actually, not that many, but currently over 40, and if you were to count the number I did belong to at one point and have left, it would be over 55 easily. And there are some interesting things about this stat. For one thing, they are very varied in the fields they represent, so I’m betting not many people out there are members of such a huge variety of professional organizations, let alone such a crazy huge number. Another interesting fact is many are very hard to get into, very specialized, and have high to insanely high educational, work experience, experience levels and years and so forth requirement for consideration, and a good number of them vett applicants, which can last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to over a month. Some of these organizations reject the majority of their applicants. And then the other main point I think is pretty cool is that B) I haven’t initiated applying to all of these or even many of these. For quite a few, I was invited to apply or even invited to join! Why? Sometimes it made sense and other times it beat the hell out of me! But it’s still a bit of a compliment, so while I actually do NOT join every organization I’ve been recruited for (including two pretty famous and influential ones I may mention later), I do try to join ones I wouldn’t normally think I’d be qualified for if they represent my interests, official or unofficial experience, etc.

Anyway, you can find the list of most of the professional organizations of which I’m currently a member at the top of my blog site along the header menu, the far one on the right, titled PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS. But that’s not the purpose of this post. Remember I said I was hoping to do a few picture blog posts? Well, this is one. Some of these organizations may be viewed as a little more “professional” than others, and as a result, some of them send or provide you a Member ID Card and/or a certificate for framing, some of which are quite nice, while others are simply paper you print out and they’re cheap looking. One organization even sends an attractive metal medallion of some sort, although for the life of me, I’ve never figured out why. It’s not a pin, you can’t wear it, what can or are you supposed to do with it? But I actually like it, so I’m not complaining. When I decided to do this, I was going to try to put the photos of the cards and certificates in alphabetical order to mirror the list on the webpage, but I really don’t have the time to devote to that, so I’m just going to place them on this blog post I think in alphabetical order of their acronyms rather than the official organization name, but I’ll try to provide sufficient identification so you’ll know what they are as you see them. (And I may put a couple of screenshots of a profile or something I have on an organization’s site rather than a member ID card or certificate.)

 

 

 

American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) – the top half of my web directory profile page

 

AAPC

 

 

 

 

American Counseling Association (ACA) Member Certificate

 

 

American Counseling Association (ACA) Member ID Card

 

 

 

 

 

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Professional Member Certificate

 

 

 

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Professional Member ID Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA International) Member ID Card (Front & Back)

 

 

 

 

American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) – Upper section of my profile on the organization’s website

 

 

 

 

 

A screenshot from The AllHumanity Group‘s Network website in which I was welcomed to the group some years ago

 

 

 

 

ASIS International Member ID Card

 

 

 

ASIS International Member Logo

 

 

Espionage Research Institute International (ERII) Member Certificate

 

 

 

Espionage Research Institute International (ERII) Member Medallion (Front)

 

 

 

Espionage Research Institute International (ERII) Member Medallion (Back)

 

 

Foreign Policy Association (FPA) Membership Webpage Header

 

 

 

 

IEEE: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Member Certificate

 

 

 

 

Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society (AESS) Member Certificate

 

 

Computational Intelligence Society (CIS) Member Certificate

 

 

Nuclear & Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS) Member Certificate

 

 

 

Power & Energy Society (PES) Member Certificate

 

 

 

 

Robotics & Automation Society (RAS) Member Certificate

 

 

 

Systems, Man, & Cybernetics Society (SMC) Member Certificate

 

 

 

Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT)  Member Certificate

 

 

 

IEEE Member ID Card

 

 

 

Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE) Senior Member ID Card

 

 

Internet Society Member ID Card

 

 

 

Framed, Hung ISACA Member Certificate

 

 

 

50 Year Anniversary ISACA Member Certificate

 

 

ISACA Bronze Member ID Card

 

 

Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) Member ID Card

 

 

 

There are a few others not mentioned on my blog Page, and obviously I am missing member ID cards or certificates from quite a few that are listed. One reason, though, is that a number of these organizations, some of which I’ve been a member of for decades such as Usenix, no longer produce member ID cards, although I have many of my old ones from previous decades and I have Usenix member ID cards for myself for the last four years before the turn of the century! So I’m about to finish this idiotic post that no one will read or care about, but I’ve had fun putting it together, by posting a few screenshots while leaving many more unposted from my very large profile on a site that used to be called ExecuRanks, but which changed its name to AdvisoryCloud a couple of years ago. I was invited to become a member and while there is an annual charge for most people, I was not required to pay it. Since I was in the process of doing some consulting and had been thinking about getting a seat on an advisory board again somewhere, I decided to join (because I have actually declined invitations, although it probably seems hard to believe), put together a profile, have a public listing and see if anything would happen. Unfortunately, almost immediately after, my poor health took a serious nosedive, getting progressively worse ever since, and I’ve been forced to turn down numerous opportunities, some of which would have been great, such as being asked to join the advisory board of an Australian cryptocurrency startup, collaborate on a technical security paper with a Ukrainian security expert for a large circulation European security publication, engage in research, experiments, publication of findings with a US nuclear entity doing some cutting edge research and work, help a university “rebrand” itself and much more, as well as sadly having to cancel or turn down an unreal number of speaking engagements, ranging from everything from being a featured speaker at a major university’s graduate MBA program in which I was asked to give a presentation on entrepreneurship to speaking at a well known annual security conference on cloud technology security to a UN NGO on the topic of successfully accomplishing one of the UN’s official SDGs before 2030 to being asked to speak on sustainability at a well known annual international science conference in Paris and more. Serious disappointment! I’ve also had to cancel trips to various conferences and conventions around the country, in places like Atlanta, Huntsville, Washington DC, Baltimore, Charleston SC and Los Vegas, among others. And finally, I’ve had to consistently turned down repeated requests to provide me with VIP passes to serve as a visible SME at conferences and conventions throughout the country, ranging from Atlanta to Nashville to Knoxville to Washington DC to New York City to Baltimore to Las Vegas to Los Angeles, as well as repeated invitations to be a guest at conferences located elsewhere, such as England, Poland, Switzerland, Australia, South Korea and more. Most of these would have involved compensation plus expenses. Bitterly disappointing, I have to say. Finally, a couple of somewhat humorous and somewhat odd situations. Two organizations have tried fairly hard to recruit me with my either refusing or not agreeing to commit for an indefinite period of time. One is the Freemasons, where over a period of several years, I was approached by three members of various ranks, all of whom attempted to persuade me, and the second was especially odd. Most of us have heard of, if not being pretty familiar with the historic Knights Templar, and while history tells us the group was outlawed with its members hunted down, and tortured and killed by the Inquisition even though these Christian knights had dedicated their lives to guarding pilgrims on their way from Europe to the Holy Lands, as well as having to fight numerous, gruesome battles with a variety of Muslim groups surrounding the area. There are confirmed, documented historical reasons why they were banned, but I won’t go into that here. Suffice it to say that many people believe them to be a part of the past while many believe a good deal of them survived and fled to other countries, especially Finland, England and Scottland, and depending on which conspiracy theory you read, either have survived under the radar all these centuries while wielding tremendous influence behind the scenes (as well as the belief they still hold a huge fortune, as well as the Holy Grail and the Ark, etc…, the second two being solely rumor) to their descendants being one or both the Freemasons (and there is a lot of evidence to support that theory) to the Illuminati, where this is not nearly as much evidence, aside from the fact that many members of that group were also Freemasons, which was allegedly linked to the Templars, so there you are! And while the Freemasons have survived and thrived all these centuries (our first president was one, as were many of the other Founding Fathers), the Bavarian Illuminati was banned 10 years after it was formed and its members were hunted down throughout Germany, so naturally conspiracy theorists believe a number of them escaped, fled elsewhere, with a certain number eventually making their way to America. Where they united with former German colleagues to form the Skull & Bones fraternity at Yale, which is a whole different story and conspiracy theory that is huge enough to fill many books and which I won’t get into. The point is this: there is little tangible evidence to conclude or confirm the Templars A) remain in existence while under the radar for centuries or B) ever made it to the US. Nonetheless, there has been such historical international obsession with the order, that for centuries, publications have appeared about them, books have been written, and even movies made (The DaVinci Code with Tom Hanks is one of them) because a whole lot of people believe or want to believe this group still exists. For whatever reasons. And the irony is, there ARE current organizations claiming heritage of and the right to use the name for their organization, and while they no longer are actual “knights,” they typically maintain the same original goals concerning Christians in the Middle East, aiding others, and much more. And the largest and most visible such organization that asserts it is the only group with the historical right to the name “Knights Templar” is OSMITH. This international organization is called “OSMTH,” which is an acronym for The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem, headquartered in Europe with some 5,000 members around the world, and its US branch called The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ). OSMITH is a registered UN NGO with many privileges, great influence, and as just one example, it is one of the few entities allowed to vote on winners of the Nobel Prize every year. The majority of its members are retired general and admirals from countries around the world, with several others who are high ranking commercial or national governmental leaders and heads of state. It is invite-only, and few are admitted. So I was incredibly surprised when over the past year or two, two different high ranking individuals approached me about possibly joining, and one of them was so ardent a recruiter of me, that he assured me privately that if I wanted in, I would get admitted! WTH??? That’s incredibly bizarre, although also strangely flattering. I never committed, wanted time to mull it over because A) I’m not sure I can commit to what they ask of their members in terms of service, and B) I don’t know if I share the same values and goals of the organization. However, I’m still in touch with the second in command in Europe so I guess if I did decide I wanted to be a member, I could simply contact him and discuss it and I guess it would happen. I had to include this bit, because these recruitments were so unexpected, so unlikely, so ardent, with so many possible implications that it kind of blew my mind.

So now that I rambled like an idiot and got off track, I’m going to finish this post up by posting a few screenshots of the top main portion of my AdvisoryCloud profile. The actual size of it contains informaton documenting education, employment, specializations, and various credentials and notices of SME in various subjects and it is so long, printing out the profile results in about 7-8 pages with the majority being the information I just mentioned. But I don’t want to post all of that because even I would be bored, so I’m just going to post screenshots of my main profile description to amuse you and make you giggle. And if anyone out there does or did read this, A) I’m grateful to you, B) I hope you found it at least mildly interesting or entertaining and C), you have a very high pain tolerance level. LOL! Thanks and cheers to all. The last few photos are from my AdvisoryCloud profile, as mentioned.

 

 

 

Partial Screenshot of my AdvisoryCloud Profile

 

 

 

 

A couple of examples of some credentials from my AdvisoryCloud Profile

 

 

 

My only “Business”-type photo, which is displayed on my AdvisoryCloud Profile

 

 

The first (top) main part of my AdvisoryCloud Profile

 

 

The remainder of the main part of my AdvisoryCloud Profile

 

Go ahead and laugh. It’s okay and I won’t be angry. While everything here is true, it admittedly seems bizarre and not totally believable to everyone, I would imagine, but I can back all of this up, so odd or not, it’s accurate. But you can still snicker. LOL!

 

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Cal State Long Beach: 13th Best School In America!!!

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 7, 2019

I have been meaning to brag on an alma mater of mine for a week. Now I’m finally doing so. Money Magazine just published “The 25 Best Colleges in America” (via 19,000 Data Points). (https://bit.ly/2Zi6mlP) Some schools are definitely surprises and the schools you would expect to find in the Top 10, let alone Top 25, really aren’t there, or not as high as many would think, including their administrations and alumni! Out of 750 schools, the top school was UC Irvine! That is very surprising, because it’s not a bad school, but as part of the UC (University of California) system, it’s one of … 10? … great universities making the very best public academic system in the world. And as most people know, UC Berkeley is typically the top ranked one, followed immediately by UCLA. I’d say the next two most “elite” would be UC San Diego and UC San Francisco. At that point, there’s sort of a mishmash of the rest, including UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis and UC Riverside. There may be another now, but that’s basically the system. So Irvine is a great school, hard to get into, excellent programs, but they don’t nearly have the reputation as the usual top two. So to find it ranked Number One in America INCLUDING both public AND private is frankly quite stunning. Kudos to them though. That’s awesome.

 

The 25 Best Colleges in America

 

However, the one I’m most excited about and most proud of is that my second alma mater, where I got my first graduate degree — California State University Long Beach (CSULB)is actually ranked #13 in the damn country — over Harvard, Cal Tech, Yale, Duke and other “elite” schools! You have no idea how big this is, because while CSULB has been ranked very high for years by Princeton Review, US News, etc., CSU schools have often been snubbed by “elite” UC schools. So it’s great to see TWO CSU schools make the list! With #13 Long Beach, CSU Fullerton is #22! Congrats! I loved my time at Long Beach State! It was great. I experienced many opportunities, worked and played hard, taught, researched, published and finished as top graduate at California’s largest university. I have always thought the education I received there was far superior to where I received my undergrad degree, the University of Tennessee. But try telling a UT admin, faculty member, student or alumnus that, and be prepared for a beat down. That’s the point — they don’t know any better.

 

#13 California State University Long Beach, my alma mater, is mentioned by name with #14 Harvard. Exclusive club… LOL!

 

Besides California, only one state had multiple schools: Massachusetts with three. All of the other states had one or none at all. Meanwhile, six of the top 12 schools are UC schools, dashing notions that some “elite” private schools are better. (Not naming schools, but you all know which ones…) So California (where my heart remains), has 10 (TEN!) universities in the top 25! (The six UC schools, two CSU schools, Stanford and Cal Tech.) Wonder where the best schools are now? I guess you don’t have to anymore. They’re sure not on the East Coast!!!

And if I can stretch some things here while still being honest, I actually did pretty good. While my second degree is from #13 CSULB, I also spent four years at #4 UCLA pursuing a different degree I wasn’t able to complete as I had to relocate for work. I also did post-grad work at #8 Michigan and briefly studied at #6  Stanford. FOUR Top 13 schools! AND, to stretch things even further, I presented and published several academic papers at conferences at #22 Cal State Fullerton, and I went to #1 UC Irvine to do extensive graduate level research at their research library. That’s six Top 25 schools I was/am affiliated with. Awesome.

And interestingly, the vaunted Ivy League is poorly represented, with only one school in the Top 10 (#3 Princeton) and only two more schools on the list, both behind Cal State Long Beach (#14 Harvard and #17 Yale)!!! Most others on the list would include schools you’d expect, but I was very surprised by #2 and #25, and slightly less by #24. In any event, I’m proud as hell of my graduate alma mater, Long Beach State University (California State University Long Beach). Number 13 in America, over Harvard, Yale, Vandy, Duke, etc. Way to go Beach!!!

(Incidentally, among the other schools I studied at or attended, none of them were mentioned including two schools I received degrees from: the University of Tennessee and Queens University of Charlotte…)

 

America’s Top 25 Colleges & Universities

 

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SpaceX Goes Gonzo On ESA Satellite This Week!

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 5, 2019

Here’s one for all you SpaceX haters out there (and I know there are a lot, because many of them send me messages!). Monday, the ESA (European Space Agency) actually had to remotely maneuver one of its satellites out of the way of an oncoming SpaceX satellite that seemed well on its way to hitting the ESA one!

“A SpaceX spokesperson said a bug in its on-call operating system prevented the team from seeing that the risk of a collision with the ESA craft may have increased. ‘Had the Starlink operator seen the correspondence, we would have coordinated with ESA to determine best approach with their continuing with their manoeuvre or our performing a manoeuvre,’ the spokesperson said.”

I can already hear the Musk haters talking about letting “the professionals” do it. However, to put things in perspective, there are some 20,000 private craft orbiting the earth right now, so it’s probably unfair to place all the blame on SpaceX. Personally, I applaud their efforts in trying to accomplish things many states no longer do or can. Dream big!

Brief article here: “ESA re-routes satellite to avoid SpaceX collision risk.”

 

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Serious Quantum Excitement With Entanglement Transfer!

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 3, 2019

Okay, my quantum (and other physicist/scientist/researcher/etc.) friends and colleagues. I’m sure some of you know this and may already have read the paper, but if not, get ready! We all know that while people are working hard in/on quantum computers, there’s still a world of difference between that and a quantum Internet. Entanglement. Quantum information can’t be copied and transmitted over a traditional network. Quantum particles require a different interface, allegedly. However, Austrian researchers led by Ben Lanyon have successfully completed a documented unreal experiment: They were essentially able to transmit quantum entanglement 50 km over basic fiber!

The paper discussing this experiment was published August 27, 2019 and you can find it at “Light-matter entanglement over 50 km of optical fibre.”

 

Caveat: For those less familiar with quantum research, the paper might appear to be fairly technical, but not overly so for many, I believe. Graduate level and above quantum physics. Don’t get mad at me if I turn out to be wrong. Quantum’s not for everyone…

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Nuclear Proliferation Coming Down The Road…

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 3, 2019

(Non)proliferation. For the past 60+ years, the US has led the world in arguing for nonproliferation and with the NPT some decades ago and a lot of diplomacy to go with it, virtually every country in the world signed it. The few that didn’t were known or thought to have nuclear weapons and these were termed “illegal.” Many people know that. What some might not know is that leading Australian figures (I’ve meant to write about this for months.) are now suggesting the unthinkable: withdraw from the NPT and go nuclear. Bad enough, but now we also have India’s defense minister (who happens to be one of my contacts) publicly stating “that New Delhi might change its ‘no first use’ policy on nuclear weapons.” With the current geopolitical situation, I get it, I do. But in a very short time, we’re going from nine nuclear countries, some NFU, to potentially two more nuclear countries while one existing country debates changing their NFU policy. While not a total surprise, considering the efforts the US has made for over half a century, it’s a little surreal to see such things happening.

Feel free to read the following article: “India hints at changing ‘no first use’ nuclear policy.”

 

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Leaving LinkedIn. Hopefully Some New & Diverse Blog Posts Here…

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 3, 2019

I am coming to the conclusion I may finally terminate my LinkedIn account after 15 years there. There are a number of reasons and it both pains and saddens me, but I see no viable alternative. I’ve worked hard over 15 years to build the largest very high-quality network on the platform, and by most accounts, I did pretty well. I have 19,910 followers at the moment (really wanted to reach 20K very badly), of whom about 55% are senior execs and some 40% C-level execs, and in every industry that exists in over 160 countries, at the highest levels of commerce, government, military, science, etc. But for some reason — and I have my theories — after being a huge ambassador for LI for a decade and a half, they turned on me last year — and I’m a PAYING customer! — and started to arbitrarily and punitively harass and “punish” me for alleged rule violations that tens of millions of people do everyday but on a far worse basis than I ever did, and with the company’s full knowledge and blessing. And for a year, I’ve interacted with these customer service pukes and it’s like talking to a damn brick wall! They refuse to respond to anything I say, assert, allege, ask, to send me to colleagues or supervisors or even their Legal department, to defend their blatant hypocrisy in their absurdly inconsistent enforcement of alleged rules they continually cite, but which are not at all on one document they cite and it’s hidden beneath generic links on the other they cite, so no one could ever find it, and they just robotically intone the same idiot sentence or two repeatedly, regardless of my question, assertion, statement, topic, allegation, etc. It’s like they’re brain dead zombies! I have a lot more to say, but this wasn’t originally going to be my topic, so I’ll end this part. Suffice it to say though that I’ve NEVER been this stonewalled, this ignored, this shit on by any company in the world and I think it speaks very ill of them, especially since they’re lying hypocrites. I expected more from a company such as theirs. If I still had my health, time, energy, strength, stamina and the money I once had before my medical bills decimated it, I would literally sue them — and I would win! I’ve never lost a lawsuit and I’ve sworn to go to my grave with that record intact. I’m confident it wouldn’t be too hard to prove my allegations against them, and despite what their terms say in regards to litigation damage maximums, a good attorney will get around that, and I would be looking for millions….

In any event, I often post links to interesting articles on a variety of topics there, and I often add my own commentary or thoughts or opinion. And sometimes I’ll just write a much longer independent article, again about various topics. Some of my posts don’t get too many views, but many get quite a few, and some get a large number. I posted about the Capital One Hacker a few days ago and got about 650 views. Then I posted about how the DoD has banned military personnel from using CBD, even though it’s federally legal in all 50 states. That one got closer to 2,000 views. Some of my posts have exceeded 15,000, 20,000+ views, but those are rare. And it’s always hard to predict which ones people will find interesting.

The point of all of this rambling that as I take several days to extracate myself from LinkedIn, I may stop posting pieces there and start posting them here. I don’t have a fraction of the followers or readers, but that doesn’t matter. I post on things I find interesting and hope others will too. If they don’t, they don’t. If they do, they’re definitely welcome.

Cheers!

Scott

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An Asheville Vacation – Photos

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 3, 2019

Hi. We rarely get to take vacations and especially with my health disintegrating over the past year and a half especially, let alone the past four plus years, it’s just very hard for me to travel. I mean physically painful. But we had a chance to take a few days and go somewhere and we never get to take vacations and frankly, this may be the last one we get to take, and Gretchen really deserved one after a hellish year and a half for her, so we debated between St Simons Island, my former home, or Asheville, an eclectic little place with great B&Bs that we really love. Gretchen chose Asheville. I actually didn’t want to go very much because I knew it would be grueling, but again, Gretchen deserved it, so I thought any sacrifice would be well worth it. And it was grueling, incredibly so. It took me a week to recover upon our return.

Anyway, I don’t have the time, energy, stamina or ability to write a full, comprehensive blog post, but while I didn’t take a million pics, I did get some decent ones, so this blog will basically be a photo blog post. I may follow up with a second one in the near future with some additional photos. I hope you all are doing well out there. If you’ve contacted me and not gotten a response, it’s truly not personal. I just have a ton on my plate and small windows of opportunity most days to get anything done.

 

Scott & Gretchen’s Asheville 2019 Vacation — Photos

 

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Some Blog Site Changes

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 5, 2019

While I’m having a hard time finding the strength, energy, time, etc., to write many blogs, to write any articles, book reviews or much of anything, as well as rare new difficulties doing things I’ve always done and taken for granted my whole life, such as simply reading, playing computer games, watching shows or films, paying bills, walking, swallowing, and well the list is endless. And the time I spend online and using my computers has diminished by a shocking degree, which saddens me. Nonetheless, I am capable of making a few changes here and there, things that aren’t time intensive or brain taxing, such as edit or modify this blog, and make occasional changes at LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Discogs. So I wanted to briefly let you know about a few things I’ve done here.

It may not be apparent that I’ve done anything, which is understandable since I haven’t changed the theme or general layout. That said, I actually HAVE made some changes to the layout, or more precisely, I’ve eliminated some of the sideboard items (Twitter and Instagram feeds), edited my blogroll, added to my right side “Music” category with a few other minor additions or deletions in various sections on the sidebars. I’ve also updated and added some Pages, which are the topical tabs at the top of my blog (“About,” “Contact,” “Favorite Books” and so on). I’ve been trying to modify and lessen my digital footprints for several reasons and dating back to last year and before. Some of the actions I’ve taken have been to delete my Facebook account, the most important of them all. Followed by the termination of two Twitter accounts, two Instagram accounts, a few others that were somewhat similar, and most recently, and at a painfully slow pace, trying to get away from Google’s clutches! I feel strongly about this and have for a number of years. There are many variables, but ultimately I’ve known for a long time that Facebook’s business model consists entirely of data mining their users’ personal information and using this to attract advertisers or selling it to various highest bidders. They offer no products, make nothing tangible, are essentially useless as a commodity — except for the massive amount of personal data they’ve constantly harvested from every user (and even non-users!) to sell to those willing to pay. And as the world found out, adversarial states are more than willing to pay insane amounts in efforts to destabilize other countries, their governments and organizations such as NATO, the EU, etc. And everyone has jumped on that bandwagon right after that. I’ve stopped using any Chrome or Chromium-based web browsers, terminated my Blogger account, my YouTube account, two Gmail/Google accounts (with one more major one to go), no longer use Google Maps or even its search engine, among other things. There are alternatives to all that don’t involve any known data mining, spying, storing, analyzing, and selling ALL of your personal data, which until recently, was the exact same business model of Facebook’s.

(For those of you with their heads in the sand the past few years and you’re unaware of the dangers posed by Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, and sadly Amazon, among others, I encourage you to research this. I’m going to provide you with a few helpful links for those of you who wish to avoid Google as much as possible. Not perfect, a little rough around the edges, some of these, but sometimes you have to sacrifice things like convenience to save and salvage your privacy, etc. For starters, here’s an article on Google and privacy dangers, another on 20 alternative Windows web browsers to help you get away from the major norms, a basic article titled “How to leave Google behind,” and a similar one called “Drop Google” with more links to more Google alternatives that I’ve found pretty helpful.)

OK, the last half of this post was not intended to be the tangent it turned out to be. Just mentioning some changes, start giving a seminar. Sorry.

The main change is this: I belong to literally dozens of various professional associations and organizations for many different reasons. Indeed, I’ve also belonged to a number of other, different ones at various times in the past. And when people see this list of over three dozen active organizations in which I’m a member, most express a great deal of surprise at the variety and diversity of career fields, specific professional categories, and more seen there. So I decided to post these here, with links to each one’s website, preceded by an explanation, of sorts, attempting to provide a partial story that might help make sense of it. And I created this, not as a blog Post, but as a permanent Page as one of the tabs at the top of this blog, beside the ones I mentioned earlier, and others. As it is the newest Page, it’s located on the right end of the row of Pages at the top of the blog and is easily accessible. It’s simply titled “Professional Organizations” and I encourage everyone to check it out as it borders on being truly bizarre. Look at it and you’ll see why!

OK, I’m done. I’m worn out. I promised Gretchen I would go to bed tonight, but I didn’t/haven’t, instead staying up to post something on LinkedIn and to write this. It takes me much longer to do anything these days, especially writing, which is one of the reasons I write so very little now. I started at 12:30 AM and it’s now 4:30 AM. Not going to bed now. And I’ll be very fatigued tomorrow/today, as I am typically every day now and I’ve also been sick for quite awhile, which has really worn me out. As I think I recently mentioned, I stopped blogging a couple of years ago for one year because I went through such an insanely nightmarish year regarding my health. Up til that point, I had accumulated a decent number of followers, many of whom commented and interacted with me. However, in the year since I returned, I’ve only been able to post sporadically and even though I basically still have the same number of followers, even on days I post something, I no longer get virtually any hits, likes or comments. It was discouraging, but I feel I understand why and I don’t blame anyone or hold it against anyone. So this huge amount of time I just spent writing this was likely a complete waste of time energy and resulted in a complete lack of sleep, and virtually no one will see or read this and no one will comment, so I’ve been asking myself Should I Continue when I’m only writing for myself and I think I’ve concluded Yes. I’ve been blogging since 2003, generally enjoy it, and if nothing else, I can treat it as my own public occasional diary for future reference of what I was doing or thinking at a certain point in time. And that’s good enough. So, if anyone sees this, thanks for reading and have a great day. For those of you who do not see this, there’s obviously no need to say anything, so I’ve alerted you all to my new Page. I hope at least one person will eventually see it and find it interesting. Thanks and cheers!

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My New Custom Designed and Built Falcon Northwest Mach V PC

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 2, 2019

Hello all. It’s been awhile. Those of you still with me know the last four years have been really rough, but this one is topping even last year, which I didn’t think could be done. The point, though, is that I used to post regularly for years, decades actually, but the past few years, I haven’t been able to because of my extremely poor health. I feel bad about that, not only because I enjoyed it and miss it, but because I feel like I let you down, and while I still have about the same number of followers I did several years ago, apparently very few read the rare blogs I post, probably because they’re so darn rare! It’s frustrating, and I’m sorry. So much has happened this year, I would never have sufficient time, strength, energy, anything to be able to relate even half of it. So I won’t. Instead I’m going to do what I’ve been doing, and that’s writing some nonsensical unimportant post few will read or care about, but I’ll like it, as it’s become sort of like my own online journaling experiment now, in terms of helping me remember what I was doing, thinking, undergoing, purchasing, reading on any given day, and I’m grateful for that.

So with that intro, I’m going to proceed to post a new blog that utterly no one but myself will find remotely interesting, but a guy’s gotta show off his new car/house/boat/computer/audio system/etc, and I have no one to do so with, so I’m just posting this here in the unlikely chance someone might read it at pause to ponder it for a mere moment.

 

My new custom designed, custom built high-end “gaming” computer

Falcon Northwest Mach V Icon2

 

Desiring to replace my 2.5-year-old custom designed, custom built Xidax X8 Glacier because I wanted more power, speed and other various reasons, I embarked on an intensive two month search for the right “high quality/reasonable cost” combo machine that wouldn’t be exactly what I wanted, due to unfortunate financial considerations at the time, but which would still be very high-end and would remain so for a decent period of time.

I spent time designing a huge variety of configurations with over 35 PC makers, and ultimately over 200 unique configurations. I decided early that I wanted to go with an established, proven “elite” high-end boutique custom PC company, and while one will find various companies listed in any Top 10 lists of these types of companies, there are generally four that have stood out to me for many years, one of which I had already purchased two rigs from in the past. These are OriginPC, Digital Storm, Falcon Northwest and Maingear. All have several desktop models, many starting at very low prices, but are basically barren, so one is forced to upgrade components as they build their potential machines. While I had a price range in mind, which (naturally) increased as time went by, I tried very hard to put together configurations that I would view as compromises, sacrificing components to save money, such as storage capacity and brand, memory brand and speed, audio cards, etc. However, there were certain things I was determined NOT to sacrifice on. These included getting the top of the line Intel X299 processor, at least 10TB of storage, a minimum of 64GB of RAM, and a very solid motherboard, ideally an ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI EXTREME OMEGA, which is what I currently have, as well as the storage and RAM. I wanted to change some other things though with the new system though.

Falcon Northwest, established in 1992, is the “father” of custom gaming PCs, known for their elite quality and historically insanely high prices. And while that has held true all these years, other companies have risen to their heights in many ways, and a few have surpassed Falcon in price insanity. I posted an example of a Digital Storm configuration a few days ago on LinkedIn that exceeded $40,000. I’ve put together configurations of several machines that exceeded $100,000! All four named companies can go pretty high, along with a few others. However, the most costly configuration I was able to put together for Falcon was just under $30,000. That doesn’t take into account, however, their famous hand crafted, hand painted (with several layers of high quality automotive paint) rigs that can be designed for anything anyone wants, ranging from corporate logos to clouds to actual representations of Picasso paintings, and just about anything one can think of. And when you start talking about those features, the prices jump very high.

Finally, after two months, and after getting an Origin and Digital Storm both under $8,000 and a Falcon slightly under $10,000 (I could not at all get a Maingear under $11,500), and while I amused myself a few times by putting together configurations of rigs that would cost more than some houses, I felt like I had 3-4 solid finalists, and I was ready to make a decision. I actually had an Origin Genesis tied with a Digital Storm Velox, but on the final day I felt nervous, so I quickly did some last minute research and dug up quite a few complaints all over the Net about both companies, largely in their post-sale customer service/tech support and problems having warranties honored. While both companies have excellent reputations with the pros, hundreds of one-star customer reviews said something to me, so I quickly decided to give Falcon another chance. They’re incredibly famous for the highest quality, most stable bad ass rigs around, and for virtually perfect service/support and an excellent warranty that other companies charge extra for if you want to add years, etc. My beef with the company had been the lack of very many options at all with most of the components, and the fact that they only offered one motherboard, and IMO, not the best, for their expensive flagship rig, just as an example. In fact, I was very unhappy about this, because the RAM options couldn’t compete with those at other companies, the storage couldn’t compete, etc., yet they were in the same price range as the others – higher, actually – largely based on reputation, I felt. However, fast but thorough last-minute digging found ample reviews remarking on their high quality, their reliability, their computers’ speed and power, their excellent warranty, etc. So I just started pumping out configs, tweaking each just a bit to get an acceptable price with the most acceptable components I could live with. And I finally felt like I had found one. So a few days ago, I called the company (PST), and spent nearly three hours on the phone with a very knowledgeable, intelligent, friendly, experienced, helpful sales rep named Ben. I voiced some complaints I had, particularly about their RAM’s speed, their audio cards, their motherboard options, etc., and demanded both explanations as to their offerings and a reason to choose his company over the others. And he didn’t hard sell me, and didn’t really try to sell me at all. Which makes a big difference to me. He took the time to explain the reason for each component choice, their commitment to what they view as the most stable high-quality computers that can be built, and in some cases, he said he thought he might be able to accommodate a custom request of mine on a couple of components I hassled him about, saying he thought they might have a couple of “unofficial” (typically not available for sale) versions of what I specifically wanted, and he did. So we made a few tweaks over the phone and then I went through the purchase process, spending much more than I originally intended or wanted, but doing so after having found out that my standards were simply going to cost more than I had hoped for. Yeah, I felt some anxiety about that purchase and the charge I’ll be seeing on my credit card next month. (This comes at a time when I just configured and had built a custom PC for my wife, due to arrive today AND buying a new Apple iPhone XS MAX, 512GB to replace my Samsung Galaxy S8+ I’ve grown disenchanted with. It’s been a very expensive week!).

So I made the decision, bought the computer, the ship date is supposed to be August 19th, but due to some custom paintwork I’m getting, it will probably take about two weeks longer. So I’m going to stop wasting all this time blabbing and list the specs followed by a picture or two. I don’t really have anyone around me to tell such things to, here and in person, or at least anyone who would care or appreciate such things – which is why I’m writing this idiocy! You know how most guys like to show off their new car, gun, motorcycle, house, girlfriend, hot PC, great audio system, etc. Well, call me a superficial twit, but sometimes I want to do that and have no one to really turn to, so today, this is my outlet! And now for some specs. Thanks!

 

Specs:  Falcon Northwest Mach V – Designed by and built for Scott Holstad – July/August 2019

  1. Exotix Paint: Mach V

  2. Exotix Paint: Custom

  3. Exotix Color: Red Rain

  4. Exotix Logo: Rain Falcon Northwest Logo

  5. Chassis: Mach V – Icon2

  6. Chassis Parts: Mach V

  7. Chassis Logo: Light-White

  8. Power Supply: EVGA P2 1200W – Platinum Modular ATX

  9. Motherboard: ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe II – ATX

  10. CPU: Intel Core i9-9980XE 18-Core, 36 Threads – 4.5GHz (OC)

  11. Overclock Processor – Extra Testing

  12. Liquid Cooler: Asetek – 650LX 120MM

  13. Liquid Cooler Retention Ring: Socket 2011/2066

  14. Memory: 4 16GB DDR4 3000MHz G.Skill – Ripjaw V – 64GB

  15. Video Card: Two (2) NVIDIA GEFORCE RTX 2080 Ti 11GB – Founders Edition

  16. Video Card Part: Aluminum Extender Fin – RTX 2080-Series

  17. Chassis Part: Mach V – Video Card Retention Bar

  18. SLI Bridge: NVIDIA – 3 Slot – NVLINK RTX 2000-Series

  19. Sound Card: Creative Labs Sound BlasterX AE-5

  20. MB-Networking: Networking: On-Board (Ethernet)

  21. SSD: Two (2) M.2 2TB Samsung 970 EVO PLUS PCI Express SSD

  22. HDD: 8TB Western Digital Red Pro HDD 7200 RPM 256MB Cache

  23. Optical Drive: ASUS – DVD Rewriter – SATA Black

  24. Software Label: Microsoft Genuine Label

  25. Software License: Windows 10 Home

  26. Software Media: Windows 10

  27. USB Rescue Drive

  28. Warranty: Free Parts/Labor – 3 Year

  29. Tech Support: Free Lifetime

  30. Shipping: Falcon Two Way Overnight Free Service – 1 Year; Free Two-Way Shipping – 2 Year

 

 

 

 

Falcon Northwest Mach V

 

 

Falcon Northwest Mach V

 

 

 

Falcon Northwest Mach V

 

Front view of my computer with the color and design I chose

 

 

 

Mach V chassis

 

The overall aesthetic custom design look of my new computer demonstrated on an older Mach V chassis. No two custom paint jobs Falcon does are identical. Each is unique.

 

 

 

And I guess that’s it! Not my ideal rig if I had the money, but still pretty good overall, and should be quite good for awhile to come, especially with that CPU. And of course, most components are expandable, meaning I can double the RAM, more than double the number of drives and drastically increase storage, upgrade the video cards, etc. Which is always one of my requirements. Price? Not saying!

Cheers!

 

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