In With A Roar, Out With A Whimper

It’s been nearly 2 years since I’ve written anything for my blog here, and I can’t say that there’s much of a good reason for it. Part of the reason has been prohibitions from past employers on doing anything public without their express approval, but the sad truth is that – despite a few ideas popping up here or there – I’ve just lacked the energy or wherewithal to really sitting and put word to prose.

I had resolved at the start of 2020 to reverse that trend, as well as to start giving talks at conferences again. In general, several short stints over the past 5 years have really taken a toll, not to mention dealing with the combined and last effects of pneumonia and subsequent bouts of depression. Overall, as of last January, it seemed like 2020 would be the year to turn the page on some of these issues and begin getting myself back on-track. Little did I know how the year would unfold.

For the most part, the year has been one of dealing with frustration, disappointment, fear, panic, and just a general malaise stemming from the ongoing pandemic. As far as we know, we have not officially had COVID in our household, though we certainly had illnesses in Dec-Feb that sound a whole heck of a lot like it. Sadly, back in those days, despite asking, I was told I wouldn’t be tested because I hadn’t been to China in the previous 6 weeks or in direct contact with someone who had (nevermind having been in contact with people who *had* been to China in Q4 2019). Details, details.

Through my job at the time, I came upon an idea for a talk, which I titled “7 Layers of Container Insecurity.” The talk was originally accepted for InfoSec World 2020 within the container security workshop, which of course then get rebooted and re-envisioned due to the pandemic. I recorded the talk for ISW in early June and attended its playback in late June. Sadly, the talk was only lightly attended and the recording itself had technical issues (a good summary of Q2 2020, I think).

I also made a job change in June 2020. While I greatly loved my job with Hilton and hated to leave, the reality was that 3 months on reduced pay was taking a toll, and there was no expectation that things were going to change anytime soon. So, when a couple recruiters pinged me over opportunities with companies less affected by the pandemic, I agreed to talk to folks and see what was out there. By late May I had settled on my current employer, gave notice, and started the new job on June 15th.

In the meantime, it’s just been the usual slog; a combination of the challenges of starting a new job along with the ongoing stresses of pandemic lockdowns and cancelled vacation plans. As the Summer progressed, this also then included the uncertainty around how school would resume in August and if these four walls could really be sufficient for a family of 4 who were really quite tired of run into each other all day every day. But we survived, snuck away for a few days to get out of the house, and got everyone setup for work and school in the remote world.

Overall, it’s actually been a fairly smooth school year for my wife (2nd grade teacher) and my kids (now 7th and 2nd grades). I setup dedicated workspaces for all of them, and that’s at least allowed them to be productive and focused. Really, the only major challenge is we simply don’t have enough room in this house for everything it’s being asked to do these days. I know many people have been led to move this Fall just to get more space, and I fully understand and appreciate the intention. But, we persist, and we will get through it all, eventually.

In late October I had the opportunity to record the “7 Layers of Container Insecurity” talk for the 2020 ISC2 Security Congress. The recording went very smoothly and I couldn’t help feeling particularly good about it. The talk aired live during the conference on November 17th and – I later found out – it was extremely well-attended. I received attendees numbers, scores, and feedback about a week later, and I was absolutely blown-away by what I received. First, more than 2000 people attended the session live. That’s a lot of people! Second, I had an average rating of 4.72 (out of 5). Not too bad. Third, the Word document sent to me contained 14 pages (!!!) of feedback! I mean, as if it wasn’t enough that more than 2k people watched the talk, and that many great questions were asked, but to received 14 pages of comments… just, wow! And not just general comments, but… overwhelmingly positive comments! Hands-down the best-reviewed talk I’ve ever given. Absolutely astounding and humbling! Many people went so far as to declare the talk the best they’d heard all conference or even all year. Highly validating, to say the least.

Along with that high note, I also made the decision to start cutting out some of the sources of negativity in my life. Namely, dumping Facebook and significantly paring back social media activity in general. The national election and related campaigns really took a toll on me, as did the looming stresses of our school district forcing teachers back into the classroom despite climbing COVID-19 infections regionally and nationally. It was very difficult in late October, especially, to keep my head above water. So, cut the cruft and move on. And, I have to say, what a good decision that has been!

Alright, so to bring things back into focus… it’s November 30th and I have a month left to finish getting things back on-track from where I envisioned they would be over the course of 2020… and that’s why I’m writing this personal stream-of-consciousness post… it’s to get the writing juices flowing again and eliminate the excuses I’ve had all year for not actually doing something that I very much enjoy and have missed tremendously.

With that, I’ll close this post, and with a commitment to myself to sit down and actually create more content going forward. Two years is an awfully long time to go without making use of such an outlet of expression…

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from The Falcon's View authored by Ben Tomhave. Read the original post at: