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MS… new state of mind

My hospitalization last fall was because of a new lesion or plaque buildup on my spine which caused numbness starting in my toes and working its way up the back of my legs.  Fortunately the steroids reduced the size of that plaque so that the numbness is almost all gone.  Unfortunately I am left with quite a bit of pain and numbness in the bottom of my feet, especially when I stand or walk a lot in a day.  The crazy part to that sentence is I now consider a lot of walking to be 5000 steps in a day.

Just before I was put on those steroids I was up to an average of 10,000 steps a day.  I am finding this to be a very unsettling change to my life.  My dear friends, Amy and Millie, were in town weekend before last and on Friday the plan was to go downtown DC and do a tour of the Capitol and the Hirshhorn museum and who knows what else.  My fear was not being able to walk that far.  I was right to worry.  Near the end of the tour of the Capitol, which was first, I could walk no more, and that is after taking a cab from the metro to the Capitol avoiding that walking.  I just found a seat and told them to collect me on the way out.  A taxi ride later we were in the Hirshhorn and I requested the use of one of their wheelchairs.

A wheelchair.  I requested the use of a wheelchair for myself.  I have grown accustomed to working hard to get my parents into wheelchairs, but putting myself in one, well, that was tough.  A few weeks ago I realized that I was resigned.  Resigned to the fact that I will have constant pain in my feet forever.  Now I know it may not be forever, but it may be.  I may end up in a wheelchair sooner than I was thinking before.  With that I am now having a very hard time doing my job… teaching.

I am coming out of a resigned stated of mind, but not back to what was normal before.  Not sure what is next.  Not sure what my future will look like.  Not sure of much.  I did book a trip to Fairbanks for February next year to see the Norther Lights though!   I will keep going…


Surprise trip to South Africa

While I was teaching in the UK for 1.5 weeks I found out that I was heading to South Africa.  I ended up with just over a week there and had the fun of going to see Cheetahs and Lions!


The first place I went was the De Wildt Cheetah Center.  It was amazing to get to pet a cheetah.  Softer than I expected!

Ann Van Dyk has spent a good portion of her life bringing Cheetahs back from the edge of extinction.  They are such amazing and FAST animals.

I was also amazed to learn that the African Wild Dog is nearing extinction as well. They have this crazy chirpy bark when they are hunting. I just keep wondering why they do not have a better name than just wild dog.  Like big ear, or fluffy white tail, or chirpy dog… ? IMG_0083

The Cheetah really is a beautiful cat!


After the De Wildt Cheetah Center a trip to Ukutula was perfect. If I remember correctly Ukutula means quiet place in Zuni It was amazing to get to hold baby lions!

IMG_0140These lions were about 4 weeks old.  We then got to play with 2-3 month old.  Then pet 5-6 month old as well as go for a walk with 1 year old!


The 2-3 month old lions really enjoyed chewing on my shoes!

What an amazing trip especially since I did not know that my trip to the UK would send me on to SA!


Its been a while….

It has.  It has been a while since I posted anything. I have gone almost silent on line.  I have my reasons, but mostly just fear of upsetting someone else.  I keep upsetting people around me, and I have to admit I am a bit baffled.  I have not upset anyone by way of yelling, being mean, denigrating, etc., nor does it even seem to need me to open my mouth. 

The year started so incredibly well.  I finally live in Virginia again.  I have been trying to get back home for 4 years.  I was unable to get insurance in Virginia due to my MS and my coverage in Florida would be dropped if I moved.  January 1st it happened.  Thanks to Obamacare.  I am home.  It was one of the best things ….

Then back into the classroom I went, and upsetting people.

The conclusion I am currently at is this.  I have been wanting to change my life for a long time so that I am not on the road so very much.  I think the universe is simply screaming at me that it is time.  Time for that change.  No more excuses.  No more “trying”.  Change will happen.  What change you ask?  That I do not know, but change I must.

A quote I have on my desktop is “Are you willing to give up all you have become for the possibility of what may be” – Martin Heidiger.  To that I say yes – through the eye of the needle I go…

There is not much I have ever wanted to do, except teach. So as I ponder what that means now on this very snowy March day in northern Virginia I will quilt.  Mom passed Sept 29th of last year and she left a quilt top for my sweet little niece.  I promised I would finish it by Christmas and I am now late although I am nearly finished! 

Heck of a business trip

I flew out to Indianapolis on Sunday with the intention of teaching a CISSP class.  I never even managed to unzip my suitcase.  That sure did not go the way that I had planned.   I ended up spending my time in Indianapolis in the hospital.  So as my first trip there I really have no idea what the town is like.  I got myself to the hospital and a cab took me from there back to the airport.  Sheesh

It all started when I finally stopped and took a look at my eye in teh hotel mirror.  When I saw that my left pupil was FULLY dilated under a bright light I knew that something was wrong.  The hotel staff at the La Quinta was wonderful.  They helped me find a clinic and the next day the general manager Neal brought me my bags to the hotel.

I did start at a walk in clinic and after the doctor saw me (2 hours later) and took 2 steps back from me with a horrified look on his face I went to the ER.  The ER nurses had a similar look on their face and I began to really get worried.

About 7 hours later the ER P.A. finally tells me that my MRI is showing several things that are all indicative of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and that they are admitting me.

Not how I saw my week going.

Not any kind of diagnosis I would have ever expected to hear.  I have basically been healthy my whole life with only back pain here and there.

And out of town.  And on a trip alone. To a town where I knew no one.  Not what I had planned.

What I am amazed by is that I never felt alone.  I had two brief visitors in the hospital.  The GM from the La Quinta and someone from Alamo collecting my rental car keys.  But I never felt alone.  To tell you the truth it is Facebook and Twitter that made the biggest difference.  Of course my cell phone and emails helped, but the love and support I would never have predicted came from friends that I have met across my entire life.  From before I was in school to some of my students from recent classes that I have taught.  Friends spread around the world from Singapore to Germany to Belgium to England and all over the US and on.

I am also so grateful to work with some amazing individuals.  My business partners back me up every time something in my life happens.  I would do the same for them, any time.

The nurses and the doctors were great.  Every one seemed to know that I was in from out of town on a business trip and they did their best to get me back home as safely and expediently as they could.   To do that though they sure did a lot of poking and prodding to do their best to establish what is going on with me.  So many tests, blood tests, MRI, Lumbar puncture, extensive eye exam, oh my.  Everything seems to point in the same direction.  MS.

We are still waiting on the results of the LP.  That will give a more final diagnosis.  If this is MS it does explain so many little things over the last 1+ year. A little shaky here, a little slurred speach there, a little trouble controlling my bicycle in a straight line, all little things, but strange things that I have noted and wondered and worried a little about.

What a strange experience – Renting an apartment

I rented an apartment today.  I have not done that since 1993 or so.  I have been a happy home owner for the last 14 1/2 years and I am essentially starting over on the home front.

I am downsizing from the 3500 square foot home that my ex insisted on having and moving into an apartment with about 700 square feet.  I do believe that my new apartment would fit inside of the garage of the house I am leaving.  It is probably still more room than I really need but I have found that it is difficult to rent an apartment that is much smaller, at least here in Tampa.

I must admit though that I am really quite happy at the idea of calling the rental office when something is broken.  I dont have to fix it myself.  When I did my ‘final walkthrough’ of the apartment today before taking possession of it I discovered that the screens on the windows had little holes in them.  My first thought was that they are not too difficult to replace, and the steps necessary, then I realized…. I don’t have to fix them, they get to fix them.  What a nice change from being responsible for fixing everything.  It is also the first time in almost 15 years that I don’t have to worry about mowing the yard.  I don’t have to worry about taking care of the pool.  I don’t have to worry about the washing machine breaking.

I have so much stress in my life anyways.  It is going to be nice to take a break from worrying about fixing everything around the house.  Perhaps the next man in my life will have some home repair skills of his own.  I have not had any luck with that in the past and as a result I am Ms. Fixit. I have done everything from hanging drywall to replacing the garbage disposal or toilet.  There is a satisfaction in doing your own work and doing it well, but for not I am quite sastisfied in knowing I CAN do it myself.

Perhaps the one thing I will do this weekend is replace the lock with a much better quality.  Teaching security leaves me a bit paranoid.  Knowing it is fairly easy to pick a lock is one thing, but it is so unbelievably easy to bump a lock and even easier to purchase the tools needed to do that leaves me wanting a high end, bump resistant, lock from Schlage or Medeco.

Be Safe

P!NK Widgets

Hello world!

Welcome to my website and blog.  A little about myself…

I spend most of my time traveling around the world (mostly US and Europe) talking about Information Security.  Most of the classes I teach these days are CISSP review courses, although I currently also teach SSCP, and Security +.  I have my own company with a couple of great partners (  Although training and education is my passion I occasionally join the others in pen tests or the like.

If you are interested in tracking my travel and the classes I am teaching you can do so at:

You can also find me at: