Book Review: “Social Physics…”

I have a problem. No matter how many books are downloaded and ready to read on my Kindle, I almost always end up buying a physical book (or two) while I’m at the airport. It starts out innocently enough. I’ll have an hour before boarding so I’ll just browse through the books to see what is out there. Then I come across books that sound interesting and then I end up with an extra 5 pounds in my carry on. Oh well, that’s how I’ve come across some really good and some not-so-good books.

One of the most recent acquisitions from Sea-Tac was the book Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread – The Lessons From a New Science. It mainly focuses on “idea flow” or, rather, the way that information is exchanged within any given social grouping (friends, businesses, cities, etc.). The ideas that were touched on in the book were pretty interesting, but something that seemed to take away from the message of the book was the fact the author mostly spoke about studies he (and sometimes his students) were involved with. Granted, it is nice to know that the dude knows what he is talking about, but it would have been nice to hear about other studies/books on the subject as well. There is a point where it starts to make your book sound like a resume or that you need to reassure yourself that you’re a real scientist and the author had hit that point for me.

Writing style aside, the ideas presented in the book were actually pretty interesting to me and align with some of what I want to study for my future Master’s degree. A couple points the author made really hit home when I thought about them in context of the hacker and infosec communities. Specifically, at one point the author talks about the importance of diversity and states “When everyone is going in the same direction, then it is a good bet that there isn’t enough diversity in your information and idea sources, and you should explore further. A big danger of social learning is groupthink.”  

I know what you’re thinking “duh, Tottie.” But hang with me for a moment. He then (much later in the book) goes on to discuss how meetings where one or a few number of people leading the discussion in a meeting results in a lack of engagement from the others in the meeting as well as limits the amount of new ideas/solutions generated. To me, this can also be used to describe why we like hall/bar/lobby con more so than the actual convention itself. We are in smaller, tighter-knit groups where usually everyone is engaged in the discussion and as a result usually feel more fulfilled intellectually than we do after sitting in an hour long talk or panel. Generally, folks also have been saying that their favorite cons now are the smaller ones (Derby, shmoo, BSides x, etc.), which also facilitates our want/need to have these smaller/more intimate discussions.

Or I could just be extrapolating. Whatever. Point is, although I wasn’t a fan of the writing style, some of the points made and the data to support it was pretty interesting. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being this book is shit and you should only get it in case you have a toilet paper shortage and 10 being this book is the second coming of Christ), I’d rate it a 4.5.

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Highlightin’ and Contourin’

So, I think a little background is necessary since most people know I’m not the kind to go off and post about make up and shiz. I’m in North Carolina and have been in awe of how well put together everyone seems to look. While at dinner tonight, I was sitting at the bar next to this really pretty young woman who I was talking with once she overheard I was out of town. So at some point I made the comment about how nice everyone looks and how they seem to really take care of their appearance and she said, “Guuuuuuurl, it ain’t nothing but a little highlightin’ and contourin’.” Seriously, the “gurl” lasted a half a minute and she did the one eyebrow raise, so I feel like I should have known better.

After I talking with her for a bit longer, we paid our tabs and went our separate ways. Which involved me going to the grocery store for a bottle of wine and then the drugstore for some makeup. I had no idea what to buy, so of course I did what any self-respecting person would do. I Googled “drugstore highlight and contour”. And then I found a page that listed products to buy and had a youtube video on how to apply it. So, I bought the stuff, went back to the hotel room, poured a glass of the wine and started following along with the video. And took pictures along the way (below).

"before"

Me before I applied anything.

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Added some primer. Looking a little washed out, but that’s totally fine because I was flushed from the wine.

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Feeling a little concerned after applying the darker colored concealer as contouring. Kind of a mix between “playing with mom’s makeup” and “planning for plastic surgery”.

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But then I did some blending with a foundation brush and felt a little bit better. Still felt like someone who was trying out for a part in Lion King musical, but whatebur.

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And now highlighting! Which was weird because the only difference between the concealer and my natural skin tone was that it was slightly yellow-er.

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Then blending with the foundation brush again. FYI: You do that A LOT because if you don’t, you end up looking ridiculous.

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And now bronzer powder over the bits where you put the darker concealer.

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And then you blend again!

I’ll be totally honest. I was expecting to look kind of ridiculous, like some of the girls that you see photos of on Pinterest. But overall, it ended up kinda flattering. It probably helped that I tried to get colors that were at least semi-complimentary to my skin tone. So…yeah. That’s it. It ended up taking maybe 20 minutes and I could pass as a responsible adult who does responsible adult stuff, so I guess I will probably keep up with it. Next step: learn how to style my hair in something other than “down” or “in a ponytail”.

 

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Hike Log: November 13, 2014

Hike Name: Little Si
Date: November 13, 2014
Location: North Bend, WA
Length: 4.7 miles (roundtrip)
Elevation Gain: 1300 ft.
Highest Point: 15500 ft.
Notes: Can I just say that I love being on the west coast and working for east coast clients? The fact that they live in the future makes it so easy to go on hikes in the afternoon. Anyways, yesterday I hiked up to Little Si because I heard that if I made it up Chirico Trail (Poo Poo Point), then I could do this hike with little to no problem. And (luckily) those people were right. The start of the hike is hind of steep in the beginning, but evens out after the first .25 of a mile or so. There are signs along the way that let you know if you’re going the right way or if you’re inadvertently heading toward Boulder Garden Loop Trail (which can be used to get to the Mt Si trail). Like I said, after the first .25 mile it evens out for another mile or so and then the last part of the hike to the summit is a gradual climb as well. I also remembered to bring water up with me this time (yay!), but I didn’t dress anywhere near warm enough for this hike (boo!). It was a clear 41-46 F day and the winds really picked up once I reached the top. So I think it is about time for me to invest in some warmer hiking clothes and break out the thicker socks.

Links to Pictures: Tottenkoph’s Flickr account: #Little Si

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Hike Log: November 10, 2014

Hike Name: Teneriffe Falls (Kamikaze Falls)
Date: November 10, 2014
Location: North Bend, WA
Length: ~6.5 miles (roundtrip)
Elevation Gain: 14200 ft.
Highest Point: 2370 ft.
Notes: I had an open block of time after finishing with an east coast client, so I figured that I would try out a new hike. The first mile is pretty tame, you go around a gate and walk up a gravel path for about a mile or so until you hit a fork in the road. At the fork, you will see some hay bales to your left and concrete building materials to your right. You will want to take the right fork and continue up for another mile to mile and a half. It is a pretty gradual hike up for this part of the trip and you will think that you missed the turn off for the hike up to the falls several times. As you walk, though, you will see a fallen tree with some makeshift stone steps that allow you to step over it. Once you pass this tree, you will want to keep an eye out to your right for a sign that marks the beginning of the new trail. You will go up several switchbacks (I think the WTA site says there are about 20+ of them) and come across a little river at about a quarter to half a mile up from the sign. Continue up until you see the lower half of the falls (it has a heavier stream than the little river you came across earlier) and take a few pictures. There are several places that are safe for you to stand in order to do so before you continue the hike up to the top half of the falls. You will hear the roaring of the falls before too long and can use that to guide you.
Learn from me: I made the mistake of using my regular running shoes (I’ve been too lazy to get replacement hiking boots) and my shins/ankles are a little sore today. After you pass the sign at the two mile or so marker and start going up, the trail is filled with loose rocks, so be sure to wear appropriate shoes. Also, water. I suck because I forgot to get a bottle of water and figured that I would “tough it out”, which was stupid. Make sure you bring water with you on this hike.

Links to Pictures: Tottenkoph’s Flickr account: #Teneriffe Falls

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To the top

I think the last time I wrote about trying to get healthy again, it was February/March and I was ambiguous as hell about how I was going to go about it and what my goals are. Now it is 7-8 months later and I haven’t made any improvements. If anything, I slid backwards and that is largely in part due to my being the funk I’ve mentioned in the past post.

There hasn’t been any “real” reason to it–I’m happily married to an amazing man and I am finally very happy with my job and where it is leading me with my studies as well as professionally. As much as I’d like to pin it on a thing or a person, I can’t. I feel (have been feeling) shitty about myself because of me. I don’t really want to get too in to it, but basically my self-esteem issues have been a result of me getting hung up on stuff someone says or how they treat me. It is much easier (and I tend to default to the assumption that) I’m the one who is/did something fucked up and deserve to be talked to/treated that way rather than assume someone is projecting or may be insecure about something themselves. Also, a friend said that in some instances I was stressing out over something that may have been hurtful or that I saw as a slight, but was probably nothing if it was an isolated incident.

It may seem silly, but that basically sums it up. When you add that kind of stuff to a relaxing of how/what I eat and cutting back on exercise because “it’s hard to be healthy when I travel”, I end up where I am now. Down on myself and desperately trying to get back to where I was a year or so ago. Happy and healthier than I had been in the years prior to that.

So anyways, I looked back to what I had been doing when first trying to get healthy and happy. Well, the first thing was cut out soda and only drink water, tea, and coffee (not coffee drinks or fraps, but just coffee). I still don’t drink soda, but I’m bad about the coffee/frozen drinks so I am working on cutting those out and focusing on water and tea. The second thing I did was focus on portion control and getting up and exercising. Something that has been extremely helpful for me to get better about this is that Fitbit now allows you to participate in weekly challenges with your friends. So for the past few weeks, moey, killface (failopen), ladynikon, and I have all been doing these challenges together. The focused competition (instead of relying on the leader boards) has been really helpful to get me moving. You may have seen that I’ve been doing more hikes recently and the reason for that usually is that a few of us are neck-to-neck and I want to beat the person who is next in the position above me in the leaderboard (usually moey, I won’t even pretend to take on killface when he isn’t traveling).

The hikes have been nice not only because they allow me to be active and hopefully beat moey, but it has given me time to think while I’m by myself and appreciate what is around me. I also like the metaphor of hiking and how it relates to me. I struggle to get to the top of some pretty steep hills/mountains, but the payoff is huge. I get to feel like I accomplished something that I had previously thought I couldn’t do as well as got to enjoy a really nice view as I sit and try to catch my breath before going back down. Then I find a new challenge, tackle it, and so forth. Sometimes, a first attempt doesn’t go so well and I get too winded or my knees start to hurt before I can reach the top. That’s ok. I go as far as I can without causing any harm to myself, turn back, and then try again when I am better prepared. I am tired of stopping and turning back when it comes to my health, so I hope that this time I am able to push myself until I hit my goal. (Sorry for the potentially trite metaphor, I have been thinking about it for a while and I like it.)

Edit: I just realized I criticized myself at the beginning of the post for not having specific goals and then didn’t state a specific goal. So here they are in somewhat reasonable chunks… 3 month goal: get back to being paleo/keto since that diet has worked very well for me and has had me feeling the best I have on any other eating plan/diet. 6 month goal: get under 200# (something I have not been since I was about 15). 9 month goal: get to the weight that is considered healthy for my height. 12 month goal: be a toned, healthy woman who is ready to party for my 10 year high school reunion.

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Hike Log: The Past Few Weeks

I have been relatively quiet on social media (and here especially) for the past few months. To be perfectly honest, the main reason for that is that I have fallen back into some old habits, which lowered my self esteem and how I view myself (physically and not), and made it hard to get back into my “be happy and take care of myself” routine that I had built up for myself a few years ago. As a way to get back into the groove of things (more on that in a later post), I’ve been getting back into hiking on some trails in the nearby area and thought that I would keep a log of where I go, post pictures, and make notes about the trail/area. This would partly be for myself as a reminder in case I want to do the trail again later or in case anyone comes to the area and wants to do a hike. Going forward, I plan on posting after the hike is finished (probably the day after), but the format will match this post.

Hike Name: Rattlesnake Ledge
Date: October 21, 2014
Location: North Bend, WA
Length: 4 miles (roundtrip)
Elevation Gain: 1160 ft.
Highest Point: 2078 ft.
Notes: This was my third time doing the hike up Rattlesnake Ledge, but the first time doing it in the fall season. There was still a lot of green up there, but  the leaves were starting to change colors and fall. The trail is in good condition, although a little muddy as a result of some showers earlier in the afternoon. I started the hike at about 2:30PM and was able to reach my car close to 4:30PM. So something to note is if I want to do this hike later in the winter, it may be difficult as a result of snow as well as the fact that it will be dark by the time that I reach the bottom if I start this late in the day.
Links to Pictures: Tottenkoph’s Flickr account: #RattlesnakeLedge

Hike Name: Poo Poo Point (Chirico Trail)
Date: October 27, 2014
Location: Issaquah, WA
Length: 3.8 miles (roundtrip)
Elevation Gain: 1760 ft.
Highest Point: 1850 ft.
Notes: This is a pretty steep climb and it is important to note that quite a lot of the trail has (natural) stone steps leading up the trail. So it is not for the weak of knees (mine were *killing* me by the end of the first half a mile). The trail itself is in really great condition; there was even an older gentleman at one point who was sweeping dead leaves off of the stone steps. This is good because higher up where it hadn’t been done, the damp leaves on the stones made it a little slippery and hard to get good traction (which can be kind of dangerous when you’re going downhill on a steep decline). A little more than halfway up, there is a tree along the trail that looks/feels like it was made to be sat in. You can easily step up to the tree and have a seat (I may do this one day with a book and water or something since it was really comfy).
Links to Pictures: Tottenkoph’s Flickr account: #ChiricoTrail

Hike Name: Snoqualmie Tunnel
Date: October 29, 2014
Location: North Bend, WA
Length: 5.3 miles (roundtrip)
Elevation Gain: 1100 ft.
Notes: It was a perfect pre-Halloween hike! We got to the tunnel pretty early equipped with our headlamp/flashlight and walked through the tunnel with them on. At the end of the tunnel, there is a river and some small falls to the side. Someone had tied a rope to a tree and made it pretty easy to climb up some rocks to get to the top of the tunnel. On the way back to the parking lot, we walked through the tunnel with our lights off. It was fun, but very disorientating.
Links to Pictures: Tottenkoph’s Flickr account: #SnoqualmieTunnel

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The First Page

I’ve never been really good at consistently writing in one place. I would start a journal after finding a notebook that I liked the look of, write in it for a few days about what is going on in my life and in my head, and then it would either devolve into another place for me to write stories that I came up with or I would ignore it for a while. If I went the ignoring my journal route (or, more likely, forgetting that I even had a journal), I would eventually pick it up again, read through my previous entries, get embarrassed, and rip out all of the pages. I didn’t rip them out only because I was embarrassed, but because that person who wrote those pages weren’t the same person who was reading them at that later time.

The reason I’m sharing this is because that is effectively what is happening here. I didn’t delete my posts like I did the last time, but I did mark them private. I’ll probably re-publish them later, but for now I want to have that feeling of opening up a new notebook. Of that feeling I had when I was sharing stuff on livejournal with my friends (although it will probably be quite a bit less emo than my LJ was). I have some idea about what I want to write about here and it will be a bit more structured/coherent than the mish-mash that was my attempt at blogging before. Just to clarify, this will more or less be a “what is going on in Tottie’s life” blog. I will talk about travel, health stuff, home stuff (hikes, things going on around the Puget Sound area I’m taking part in), some projects (infosec, maker, DIY, whatever) as they come up and I’m ready to share them, discussions about books I’ve read or tv/movies I have watched, and generally whatever else pops up into my head. I know it goes against the “don’t have too many themes” rule a lot of bloggers impose on themselves, but I don’t really care because not many people can categorize themselves or their lives into one or two “themes”. And if they can, they are probably boring as all hell. It is nice to have a specialization if that is your thing, but isn’t it more fun to wake up in the morning and figure stuff out as you go along at least to some extent?

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