Mar. 27th, 2014 06:57 pm
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
I failed on updating!

Anyway. Cyber Aces was really great. It was intense, and difficult (it was a hands-on hacking simulation, and we could use the Internet and all, but apparently only 1.7% of professionals make it to level 4 in the contest. We just barely broke into level 3 by the time it was over), and there was a lot of BURNING HEART CONCENTRATION in the room, but man, I had so much funnnnn. I placed fifth in the state; I was two points from third place (and my very own shiny trophy) but alas. First and second place were only separated by three seconds! When they finally called time, everyone in the room simultaneously leaned back in their chairs and there was this big, collective sigh. It was like you could see the steam rising off everyone's heads! It really cemented my desire to A) compete again next year, and B) get a job as an ethical hacker.

(And yeah, I was the only woman in a room full of 25 dudes of various ages and experience levels, and that was kinda uncomfortable, but the women that were there as organizers for the event had formed a little cheering section for me. That was really cute and awesome.)

Plus, since the meet was in the Twin Cities, Gavin and I went down a day early, walked all over Minneapolis, and I got to visit a Lush store and eat amazing Thai food, so whee!

School continues to be breakneck madness. I am really stressed out and tired, but I should get a voucher for the first of my certification tests soon. That'll be one big worry shot down, if I manage to pass it. Gavin's work isn't helping anything, because they are run by total incompetents and in consequential financial trouble. Twice now, they've had to "delay" paychecks because there wasn't enough money in the bank. I feel like I can't graduate FAST enough, and there is this huge burden on me to pass certs and get a well-paying job as soon as I possibly can. I'm so tired of living on the papercut edge of iffy paychecks.

Thankfully, I have this Friday and weekend off. Some of the class are going down to the state Skills USA meet for networking and computer repair. I deigned not to compete in that, with Cyber Aces being such a big deal for me, so I get to stay home and sleep (been fighting insomnia all week). AND I get a haircut this weekend, something I really like.

Otherwise, I have been drawing a-plenty. It's the only thing that disconnects my brain from hacking and CISCO nonsense anymore. Driving looks like routing network traffic, playing video games reminds me of coding, &c. &c. I picked up a little program called Hexels Pro, and started messing with drawing in trixels, and it has clicked with me in an amazing way. It's been really comforting and uplifting to make stuff in it.

There's more, but I'm completely out of energy right now. Time to go read and pet a cat.

hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
What the subject line said! I'm unlikely to post for the next week and change because of that. Although, I will try to post about the Cyber Aces thing this weekend, because rambling on about it might help keep panic attacks at bay.


Mar. 6th, 2014 12:05 am
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
So, I think I've mentioned this Cyber Aces thing I did back in the fall: Learn about IT security in a cool way, take some tests, and compare scores with other folks in the state. I did well enough to go to the championships later this month (sdfkjsd;fs, still freaking out about that).

Today, I got an e-mail that they wanna interview me while I'm there for a media thing, and asked me to talk about how I got into it, &c. and interesting factoids about me, or whatever. It wasn't until I finished sending the e-mail that I was like: "WAIT. SHIT. DID I JUST AGREE TO TALK TO STRANGERS AND LET THEM QUOTE ME? THE WORLD IS GOING TO BURN DOWN."

Fuck. Shit. FUCK, YOU GUYS.

And this happens on the 15th this month. If you remember, please send me all your soothing juju (beans).




Feb. 25th, 2014 07:48 pm
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
I scored a 95% on my final for CISCO II. This means I'll get a voucher for 50% off the cost of taking my CCENT exam. If I do as well on the CISCO IV final later this Spring, I'll get a voucher for 50% off my ICND2 exam. If I manage to pass the CCENT and the ICND-2, I'll have a CCNA!

Are you swimming in acronyms, yet? Welcome to networking.

Anyway, part of our course fees this year were so we could take a certification or two, so technically I have $300 imaginary dollars to spend. The CCENT is $125, and I think the ICND2 is $150. If I get half off both of those, I'll get a refund for my course fees! And THAT means, I'll be able to afford to take my Security+ and Linux+ certification exams!


I totally just ordered celebratory food, so, I'mma go eat dat.


Feb. 20th, 2014 09:48 pm
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
For those of my class going after their CCNA certification this Spring, our instructor is teaching an extra class on Fridays (we usually run M-Th, about 8 hours a day). This is so we have more time with the material and can dig in a little deeper, and the folks not after the CCNA aren't inundated with stuff they don't want/need.

It is fucking saintly of my professor to do this. He doesn't get paid for it; he just wants us to succeed, and he knows the CCNA is tough. He drives an hour each way on his day off to help us with that. That I appreciate his effort doesn't even begin to cover it.

HOWEVER. When I heard we were getting another 15 inches of snow, and that our extra class was preemptively canceled tomorrow? I fuckin' leapt for joy.

I. Am. So. Tired. Of. CISCO. Tacking on another four-to-six hours with it on Fridays has been fucking exhausting. At this point, to speak of my brain being fried is to understate the obvious. When I am in the car, and Gavin is driving, sometimes I see traffic as a logical network topology, and I try to determine how to route it.

On top of this, we don't even have a lunch break on Tuesdays and Thursdays, anymore. We VOLUNTARILY gave them up to slot in studying for the Security+ cert, which a lot of us are also taking. In January I thought I might also try and pick up my Linux+ cert, but at this point it will be a fucking miracle if I come out the other end of May with my sanity.

I wouldn't trade the last two years for anything, but I am getting to that point where I'm ready to check out. Thankfully, Spring Break is on its way, and then I just have to survive the state championships, and then I can just focus on turning my brain into a certification.

Also, tomorrow is my birthday. Jeezum Crow.
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
So, I threw a big party this weekend, for my classmates. It was about eight people, which is seriously the biggest party I've ever been to.

It was a really good time. Cards n' games, and a LOT of drinks (Starry Nights, Caribou Lous, Hard Root Beers, &c.). By 2am, we were all just kind of crashed on the living room floor, half-ass watching Unico and the Isle of Magic. We'd already covered religion, philosophy, death, graduation fears and the future just past that, so we were at capacity for being sensible. A lot of people stayed over 'til the morning, and nobody threw up, so hooray!

It was one classmates Very First Time being drunk, and he said he was happy to have been with us when it happened. I thought that was really nice. We're both crazy about music, and one of his first "rebellious phase" discoveries that really stuck with him had been Dir en grey, so I let him at my box of old CDs. He went home with Gauze and Macabre and a few others, and I've never been happier to let those CDs go to someone who had such stars in their eyes over them.

Anyway, it was a huge deal for me to host this big old party, and I'm so happy I did. What a goddamn milestone. It seems silly, considering I'm turning 35 this year, but fuck it, we're all late to something.

Stuff Post

Feb. 4th, 2014 11:10 pm
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)

Stuuuuuuuuuff )


Jan. 9th, 2014 11:25 pm
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
I've got a lady beard. I've had it since I was in my late twenties, 'bout the time my body decided to develop an auto-immune disease where it hates my thyroid gland, and tried to kill me in the process. So, you know, my hormones are goofed up.

Anyway, I've got a lady beard. I shave it, maybe once a week, because it doesn't grow in like a cool beard, or even a beard at all. It's just this sparse scrubland of slightly darker hairs on my jawline right below my ears, and a little thing on my chin. You might not even notice it, if we were hanging out. But it makes my skin itchy, and I feel it when I put my hands there, and I get sad about it, 'cause I'm not smooth and peach-down like other girls are.

I shave it, 'cause bleaching and depilatories give my over-sensitive skin chemical burns. I get my eyebrows waxed professionally (I have crazy dark, profilic brows) once every six or eight weeks, but I can't let my face go that long. So, I get really nice shaving lotion and face creme, and I have a membership to the Dollar Shave Club with Gavin, and I make a ritual out of that junk. We'd shave together, but our bathroom is too small.

I was thinking today: I quit shaving my legs ages ago. I trim my other body hair, but I don't shave it. Just my face, because I consider it unsightly, even though I think the rest of my body hair is fine and I like it. And I love beards, but I really don't like my own facial hair.



Dec. 27th, 2013 03:41 pm
hat_of_nikitich: (sad)
This is mostly sad stuff, sorry about that.

Read more... )
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
School is pretty much all I am doing right now. It's fun; I love it, but I also miss being able to do OTHER things. Pretty excited for Winter Break.

Thanksgiving was quiet and pleasant here, we put our candy-coated tree up, and a bunch of other decorations. Christmas is Gavin's favorite time of year, which a lot of people think is really weird when they get to know him (always wears black, atheist, reserved), but we both love the misch-masch of cultural artifacts at Christmas time, and we like marking the Winter Solstice. The sun is coming back! It won't be dark forever! It's neat, 'cause it's an observable phenomena that has so much emotional effect (on me, at least).

Overall, SAD has been much less of a problem for me this year and last. I'm not sure if it's because I'm so engaged in school, or because my chemistry and diet is under better control, or what, but I'm definitely thankful for it. If it's school, I want to stay in school forever. :|
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
I just wanna say: I'm never happier than when I'm learning and making, but shit is exhausting. Simultaneously, I never want to stop.


Nov. 12th, 2013 12:20 am
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
I promised knitting pictures, you get knitting pictures!
Those pixels! )
These pictures are from my Instagram, and I had to kludge the link. If they don't show up, lemme know and I'll find another way!


Nov. 10th, 2013 11:26 am
hat_of_nikitich: (brain overload)
Not quite, but almost.

I'm not dead, just stupid amounts of busy! The rest of my summer blew by at a ridiculous rate, and I did almost nothing I'd planned on! I knitted a lot, read a ton, and spent a lot of time messing with Kali Linux. I drew a lot, but it was almost all in notebooks or on napkins.

Gavin and I bought a new car, which was financially painful, but entirely necessary. Also, it is a really nice car, and it's wonderful to drive something that isn't threatening to fall apart. (It also gets three times the gas mileage.)

School started in September, and that's been my world since then. The more advanced classes this year are distinctly more advanced, and take up more of my attention and time than I'd expected. We just finished a class in Digital Forensics, which was a lot of mystery solving and retrieving information from dead or deleted harddrives/flash drives/network traces and so on. SO COOL. Now we're into Information Assurance, and one of our first homework assignments was to author our own piece of (innocuous) malware, which was really a lot of fun!

Simultaneously, we're working on CISCO's networking curriculum, and that's fun, too, but not like the security stuff is. We were told we'd really find out what it was we wanted to pursue as a career this semester, and that is certainly holding true for me. I'm really interested in cryptology and the cypherpunk movement, besides, but I don't know that I have the math background/ability required to really get into that. Although, I never figured I'd be able to do math in binary and hexadecimal, or subnet a network, either, but I do those better than I count in decimal now. So, who knows?

I'm also a lot closer to my classmates than I was last year, too. We all had a good time getting pretty tipsy while we were down at a tech trade show last month, and strange bonds were formed over drunk philosophical conversations. Isn't it odd how that works out? We all play D&D together on Thursdays after class now, and that's been hysterical. The big upshot of this is that it's really helped my anxiety immensely. Immersion therapy, I guess!

I finally went to a chiropractor about my knee (I've had a lot of trouble walking for the last few years on account of my knee spazzing out), and that was cool! I'd never been to a chiropractor before, and he was really kind and interested in teaching as he went along. I had my tibia and pelvis adjusted, which was unpleasant, but incredibly helpful. He had a suspicion that I might have a milk allergy, too, because of the inflammation problems and some other symptoms, so I went off dairy for a month and that was ... kind of a life-changer. I am, indeed, pretty dang allergic to milk. Like, not only did it eliminate my joint inflammation, but I lost a bunch of weight, and my acne and the chicken skin on my arms just up and disappeared. Weird, right? I gave up most meat a long time ago (I still eat fish and seafood sometimes), and now I can't eat dairy, so I figured I might as well pick up some vegan cookbooks and go that route. The Veganomicon has been a life-saver!

I'm gonna try and update here more often than twice a year, especially as Winter sets in. I get seasonal affective disorder pretty bad as the days get shorter, so journaling will be helpful. Also gonna try growing some fresh herbs and things indoors; tending plants always cheer me up immensely, and vegan cooking uses a lot of herbs and spices!

I've been knitting fiendishly, too. I'm trying to use up my stash of yarn entirely (I hate not using stuff, but I love having yarn -- problems), so I'll try to post pictures as I go!


Jun. 3rd, 2013 03:30 pm
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
School's OUT. I made another 4.0 this year, passed my Windows Server Administration certification and HOORAY. I will miss my classmates over the next few months, but there's movie nights and D&D romps with them coming up, so it's all good.

The first day after class was over, I spent all day messing with my little Raspberry PI, cutting up old t-shirts into lighter, less boxy t-shirts, and having a celebratory cigar. It was glorious, and now I have cuter t-shirts to layer. Since then, a good friend of ours has come to stay as a temporary roommate while he saves up for the deposit on an apartment he's got his eye on (his home situation was a little unstable, which is why he's here for now). He's always a joy to have around, and he introduced me to hookahs, which are really neat! We've been having a lot of fun finding weird shisha flavors and combining them, &c. (I also get sun by sitting on the porch to have a smoke, which is delightful.)

I've got Gavin working on his vintage video game education, we've set up an emulation station hooked up to our TV, so he can play some old classics. He seems to be having a lot of fun so far, and it is great to see someone experience this stuff for the first time! Meanwhile, I'm just plain old educating myself over the summer with the areas of computer security I'm really interested in -- cryptology, white-hat hacking, &c. I feel like a huge nerd; I can't stop learning for even a few months. But it's fun! I also have letters to write (yours is next, [personal profile] aeslis  ! Sorry it's taken soooo long!) and a LOT of drawing to catch up on! I wanna submit some t-shirt designs to Threadless this summer, finish that little Super Mario World ROM hack I started, and play with Twine to make some other games+pictures. 

The only bad thing, really, is that money is tight since my grants for school are done for the summer. Thanks to Gavin, there's a little left over every month after the utilities, mortgage, car, phone, and groceries, but not much. Thankfully, my dad is wiring a large project this summer for the state, and he'll need an FOA certified someone to help run the fiber optics -- that's me! So that should help once it gets started.

Overall, I'm pretty excited for summer in general! 


May. 9th, 2013 12:20 pm
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
Holy Glory. It's been, like, weeks! It's been insane.

My last class has been all study for our Windows Server administration/certification test. Tedious and unreal amounts of bleh. But early next week is the actual test, then a class LAN party (because omg YES after all that), then SUMMER.

Glorious, beautiful, time-to-smoke-cigars-and-reflect SUMMERTIME.

I will certainly be more talkative after that point! <3
hat_of_nikitich: (it's a goddamn secret)
 Just a meme, actually. I'm sorry*.

This is where I answer five questions, and maybe ask you five questions. But only if you want! These are via the beautiful and talented [ profile] tama_grey !


The Worst

Apr. 9th, 2013 04:51 pm
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
That's me! It's been so busy, and when I have downtime I totally forget to post. But never mind that, let's talk STUFF.

The Good:

  • I turned in my final for our SQL and PHP Programming class! That's been what most of my time has been devoted to the last few weeks. It came out well, and I learned a fuckton of stuff about MySQL, which no longer seems intimidating!
  • It looks like I'm aimed right at another 4.0 GPA this year, just one class and a certification test left. I know it doesn't mean much in the long run, but I'm irrationally proud of myself for doing so well in college after so many years out of it.
  • I'm feeling really healthy and well, even if I do keep forgetting to take my meds right away in the morning. (Boo!)
  • The one other girl in my classes is dating one of the boys, and it is the cutest gosh darn thing.
  • Purchased some sale yarn a little while back, and I've been knitting all kinds of swatches trying to find a pattern it looks good with. I was having zero luck, until I found this awesome shawl pattern a few days ago. EXCITING SHAWLS.
The Bad:
  • Gavin is a worried about his job security. Someone at work let slip that things aren't going very well, financially, and his anxiety is almost all tied to money, so it's been very stressful for him. I try to help him with being present and acknowledging feelings without letting them be intrusive, but I also know what hard work that is. It's frustrating to not be able to offer much more than support and love, sometimes.
  • Our car is rusting to biiiits. The front end is pulling to the right now, so the wheel's about ready to quit. We really, really need to finance a new car, which is never really very fun.
To Do:
  • I have got to remember to call the employment office and follow up on what I need to do (if anything) to apply for grants in the fall.
  • Gotta start thinking about a summer job! (As much as I want to be lazy and make games all summer.)
  • Get together an estimate for data recovery equipment (separate computer, hard drive dock, software, &c.)
  • Hoping to have time this weekend to rough together some t-shirt designs for Threadless. (Maybe if one gets selected I won't have to get a summer job. *rubs hands together*)


Mar. 27th, 2013 04:27 pm
hat_of_nikitich: (it's a goddamn secret)
I forgot all about posting, because I have been doing things! One of my medication adjustments was for an auto-immune disease in my thyroid, and now that it's back on track it is like THE WORLD IS SUNSHINE. Some of this is other meds helping alleviate my anxiety, but with my thyroid stabilized I have energy, interest, and focus again. Holy buckets!

So! I started learning Python -- another programming language -- and I am slooowly putting together a tiny roguelike with it. It is oodles of fun. Once I get the game done, I'll probably make a graphical tile set for it, because I love spriting, and pixels and things.

School's back in full swing. Right after spring break, my class spent a week in Electrical Maintenance's classes, learning a little bit about electricity, as it applies to monkeying with computers. It was dull, to be honest, but I think it's because so much of it was already familiar. This week, we're back in our usual classes, and hip deep in MySQL and PHP. Databases are fascinating -- a weird thing to say.

Speaking of: my professor (we take all our classes from one guy our first year, and then another guy next door for the second year) may have gotten me a logo design job. And another student wants a business card redesign! ...I really need to get a design portfolio online, again.

I got a smartphone! Our cellphone company was doing free upgrades, and I finally just got a family plan for Gavin and I. That made unlimited data only $10/mo more. So yay! I super wanted to get a smartphone if ONLY for access to GPS and the Internet when we take roadtrips. (But also, gaaaames, textiiiing).

ALSO, I received highly exciting family news! I can't share it yet, but let's just say this only child is hyped to the max.


Mar. 18th, 2013 03:35 pm
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
I had a relaxing spring break, and this past weekend was super fun! Gavin and I went down to the nearest major town and spent the birthday monies we'd been hoarding since February.

I bought:
  • My very first pair of Doc Martens, and they are love! (These. But mine have brown, heavy satin ribbon laces. So pretty!)
  • Dropped $18 on a decent mascara that doesn't hurt my eyes. VICTORY. I usually feel awkward about purchasing makeup, but a good mascara was something I really wanted. I think my lashes are nice, but the tips are infuriatingly blond/invisible! Finding a chemically light mascara that was defining and not like putting glue on my eyes was difficult.
  • Yoshitaka Amano's Deva Zan! He's one of my favorite artists.
  • Adorable clearance earrings! Including: hot pink dangly skeletons and pastel-rainbow lightning bolts. Yesssss.
  • Emerald green jeans for $4!
All in all, a fine haul.

Today, I just transferred some money out of my savings to get my genome sequenced! They send you a kit that you basically just spit in, and then you get this fabulous report with an incredible amount of ancestry and health information. I am fascinated by genetics, and I've always wondered about the fine details of what we know how to read in our DNA. So! I promise to share any bizarre facts that may occur!

In bad news, my aging, limping car is coming rapidly to its end. Alas! I've had it since 1999, so it is maybe not shocking. The front end frame is rusting through (my dad had to weld in some steel to keep the wheels from just falling off) from all the salt on winter roads up here, and now the brake line is shot (and maybe the brakes in general?). She's in the shop until tomorrow afternoon. Sadly, I didn't find out the brakes were gone until this morning before I left for school, so I had to miss class today and probably tomorrow since we don't own another car, and our only local friend up here isn't available right now. I'm really hoping the poor vehicle will hold out another year! By next spring, I'll be done with some repayments on other stuff so I can afford a new car payment (it's always something). Looking at one of those teeny Scion IQs!

In existential news, I think I'm really decided on what I'd like to do with my career after I'm done with school. There's a weird, yawning limbo after you lose a job you were in for almost a decade. I was really devoted it, so it left me feeling totally adrift. But now I'm absolutely sure I'd like to continue on in computer security, and I'd love to work for Google. To that end, I'm going to do my best to learn C++ and Python this year on my own time, and try to do some extracurricular work with digital forensics tools.  If I can, I'll start a little side business here for data recovery and security (getting rid of viruses and malware). Of course, it's just as likely Google won't hire me, so I'll be looking other places, too! As long as they aren't Minnesota. :P
hat_of_nikitich: (Default)
Omigosh, Internet access. SO. PRECIOUS. A week without felt like having a hand tied behind my back! It was funny, but my frustration was compounded by the fact I'd recently had a harddrive crash; I was missing most of my usual software/games/stuff, and no way to re-download them of course.

Thus, improvisations! Gavin and I bought a couple seasons of X-Files on DVD to watch in the evenings while tinkering with non-online hobbies, and I read a lot. It wasn't productive, per se, but it was actually pretty relaxing. Now I'm on spring break and back online, so hooray!

Things I did get done:
  • Totally read up on MySQL, which is easy and interesting and classes were a breeze for the week.
  • Read source material for Sean's tabletop game, and got a character going!
  • Took notes for Umbercaer.
I'm still adjusting to this medication change, however, which means I am antsy and jittery and chronically yawning (the weirdest and worst side effect). I pace around the house a lot, or ride the exercise bike, but it means my concentration is a crapshoot. I seem to recall that my first period of adjustment to this stuff took a few weeks, so I'll just have to ride it out. I'd rather be twitchy than catatonic with despair!

I am still brooding a lot, and dwelling on comparing myself to other people, holding myself to bizarre standards (the doc mentioned 'impostor syndrome' which I haven't read about in any detail yet) -- but I can already tell the difference the medication makes. Now I'm thinking about it, instead of just feeling worthless or miserable. I'm trying to pin down why, and discover what would help. I haven't gotten very far on that, yet, and I'm not sure where to start, but I really appreciate the separation the meds give me.


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