September 2015

Remembering Cliff Burton, Metallica’s Original Bassist

by Bill Brenner September 27, 2015 Coping tools

I couldn’t let the day go by without acknowledging a grim anniversary. Twenty-nine years ago today, Metallica bassist Cliff Burton was killed when the band’s tour bus flipped over on a lonely road in Sweden. Mood music:  The band’s first three albums had a huge impact on me. In fact, Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” album helped me get through my last major attack of Crohn’s Disease. It might seem bat-shit crazy of me to intertwine these…  [Read More]

See a Grown Man Cry

by Bill Brenner September 25, 2015 Courage

People are making fun of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner because of his penchant for crying. He did it yesterday during Pope Francis’ visit, and today when he announced plans to retire. But I think his public displays of emotion are courageous. A lot of guys suck at crying. I’m no exception. I’ve always envied men who can do it in public. Mood music: I’ve never been the weepy type. To do so, in my mind, meant being…  [Read More]

Tales from the Womb

by Bill Brenner September 21, 2015 Gratitude

For a few years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was one of my favorite places on Earth. My late friend Sean Marley built the room in his basement, a couple doors down from my house. If we weren’t in my basement, we were his. Mood music: Sean called it The Womb because he likened the peace one felt in there to being back in the womb. It was a fairly accurate description….  [Read More]

Learning to Deal with the Pressure

by Bill Brenner September 18, 2015 Dealing with life

Baseball has never been my thing, but I’m learning to deal with the big curve balls that keep coming my way. Mood music: Last year, before my father’s health went into its final descent, he asked me to help him with his unfinished business interests. Since his death, the task has been something close to a second full-time job. I’m now in charge of cleaning up and selling the building that housed the family business….  [Read More]

Duncan at 12: Like Me, Only Better

by Bill Brenner September 16, 2015 Children's issues

Yesterday my younger son, Duncan, turned 12. He’s been through a lot, and he makes me proud every day. Mood music: I often tell people Duncan is the spitting image of me at that age. He certainly looks like I did at 12. And as I did, he has developmental challenges. As a kid I was never diagnosed with something like ADHD or placed on the autism spectrum. But that was the early 1980s, when…  [Read More]

My Anti-Drama Code of Conduct

by Bill Brenner September 14, 2015 Communication skills for the crazy

Man, there are a lot of hurt feelings out there lately. In my industry, they call it security drama. But it goes way beyond that. Post your political and religious beliefs and someone is quick to tear you apart. I’m not going to summarize the latest examples. A lot of Facebook and Twitter streams are already clogged with all that snot. Instead, I’m going to tell you the behavioral code I try to live by when…  [Read More]

Dealing with 9/11: Then and Now

by Bill Brenner September 11, 2015 The stormy past

I wasn’t in New York City the day the Twin Towers fell. I know many people who were, and they have the scars and stories to show for it. My 9/11 experiences are not heroic or even all that dramatic. But they are case studies in personal growth. It was a terrible day, but I’d like to think we all learned something positive about how to live in the aftermath. This is simply my personal measuring…  [Read More]

Nana’s Desk

by Bill Brenner September 9, 2015 Family

It’s been more than two years since Nana Ruth passed away. The other day, family went through her house, looking for possessions to be preserved. Like this desk: Nana Ruth did a ton of writing at this desk. She was a prolific diarist and churned out a lot of letters. I’m going to keep the tradition alive my doing a lot more writing here. I’d like to think she’d be pleased about that.

Schooled By a 14-Year-Old on Good (and Bad) Passwords

by Bill Brenner September 7, 2015 Infosec

This is about an information security practitioner getting schooled by a 14-year-old about something as basic as an iPhone PIN number. Mood music: Since I work in information security, family expects me to be THE expert. And sometimes I ask for trouble when I try to teach people a lesson — like grabbing phones and writing on the owners’ Facebook walls to demonstrate the value of having a security PIN on the phone. One day…  [Read More]

Anxiety Level Green

by Bill Brenner September 4, 2015 Fear and anxiety

A while back I wrote about the various stages of anxiety based on the first five colors of Newton’s primary color system. In the last week, I’ve realized that I’ve been at level green for at least three months. Mood music: At the time I wrote it, my description for Level Green was: Green. This anxiety appears when the less-frequent stresses spark up. Yesterday was a perfect example in my world: I was already ramped up from…  [Read More]