Friday, December 15, 2017

Russian adventurism

My Zimbio  Every year for a number of years, Russia has run a substantial military exercise on the border of Ukraine.  Putin is wary of overcommitting, but Russian decision to declare victory and pull troops from Syria, enables a more  aggressive  "exercise" this summer.  

Europe hasn't welcomed Ukraine into NATO (or even  the economic European Union) and is dependent on Russian oil/gas.  US sanctions haven't been adequate to drive a Russian decision to pull forces from Donbass or Crimea, Ukraine.  Without  "boots on the ground," Russian forces will be capable of overwhelming Ukraine resistance.  Here is a graphic showing how the US can help: this approach provides US Reserve and Active forces, minimizing a commitment while adding substantial "teeth" to Ukraine forces, which are also arrayed across the country (although not in sufficient  number to stand up to Russian forces we see participating in the annual  Zapad exercises).

Materials on the 2018 Zapad exercise haven't emerged yet, but details on last year's Russian exercise are here.  Placing units in Ukraine before a Russian occupation will stop such an occupation without bloodshed,  while waiting until after a Russian occupation cedes the country to Russia.  Decisive action makes any leader popular:  Putin is running for reelection in March 2018.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans' Day

My Zimbio Sitting in the IHOP having enjoyed the Veteran's Day Special.  A day late for the publicized special, but they gave it to me.  "Amazing" and "huge thanks" to the Sterling IHOP team!

There are over twenty two and a half million veterans in America today (only a  little over 2 million Americans serve on active duty at one time).  So 7%. of our population are veterans.  Less than 10% of our veterans are women (less then 1% of the total population, or a bit over 1% of the total female population).

From ABC News:

In the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, 2,333,972 American military personnel had been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan or both, as of Aug. 30,2011. Of that total, 1,353, 627 have since left the military and 711,986 have used VA health care between fiscal year 2002 and the third-quarter fiscal year 2011.

The VA's Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a non-profit whose mission is to improve the lives of veterans, points out that 38 per 100,000 of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans using VA health care committed suicide during latest data available. There is very little information about veterans not using VA health care. Compare that to 11.5 deaths per 100,000 for the general public. (Quote ends here).

I find myself annoyed when I see a Facebook posting about the Veterans' suicide statistic (there are a lot of such posts).  Why?  Am examining the response... First, while I led a battalion to Iraq and have worked hard to correct our DOD mis-steps (which I saw during service or outside of it) let me say I have given far less than many of my vet colleagues.  Many vets deployed to combat multiple times and suffer from dramatic health issues due to service or perhaps circumstances that pre-existed or evolved since service: I am pretty healthy for a 56yo white guy.

Many vets struggle with unemployment or underemployment.  Turns out, veterans with disabilities fare better than disabled Americans without vet status ("The working-poor rate for Veterans with a disability is 7.9 percent compared to 4.4 percent for those with no disability.  Non-Veterans with a disability have a working-poor rate of 16.0 percent compared to 8.9 percent for those with no disability." The Veteran Working Poor Nov 2017). 

I am working on a start-up and several revenue generating activities after leaving an excellent job and my marriage several years ago.  The larger public is kinder to veterans than in the Vietnam era... public thanks are frequent.  But there are many generalizations that colleagues, friends and relatives heap upon a veteran.  

Better aware than not.  But... we don't consider ourselves "pity cases."  We are proud to have served.  But (speaking for one, at least) we are distressed to be heaped with all of our vet brothers and sisters (in spite of the sense of camaraderie we feel for those others).  Very few of us are cleanly classified according to our "MOS" (military occupational specialty), and were under the impression that, upon departure from service, we would be entitled to that fierce American independence and uniqueness that we fought to protect.  Yet somehow we can't shake these generalizations.

The pictures of soldiers walking through airports to applause bring tears to our eyes also.  But we (mostly) are no longer under the care of "big Army" (Navy, Air Force, USMC, fill in your service) and find ourselves cut off from the other circles we thought we would be joining upon exit of service.

Psychologists say we all feel more alone than was commonly believed.  So maybe this isn't special for veterans.  I have blamed a harsh Uniformed Code of Military Justice for the suicide rate.  But maybe that suicide rate is more about the permanence that we citizen soldiers find in our choice to serve.  Permanence of the negatives, in contrast to the fleeting positives.

Yes, thank a veteran today.  But more important, ask him or her where he/she was born.  Did he/she serve longer or shorter than expected?  How does he/she enjoy being a civilian?  How does he/she like his/her job?  What are his/her dreams/aspirations beyond the service?  Make a friend.  Extend a hand if one is needed.  He/she would extend one to you, if you needed.  Pretty sure of that.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Best Business Book

My Zimbio    In the year the US elected its first Reality TV President, how can I not include Daymond John's The Power of Broke book in a list of 2017's best?  John extolls the virtues of building a business on a shoestring.  The "Shark Tank" star has accomplished much, and "his" show has done for the VC process what President Trump's show has done for him... well, not quite!!  My own experience cycling through two distinct entrepreneurial ideas in one year, very much underfunded, certainly invites admiration and suggests wisdom abounds with this approach.

The Subtle Art... by Mark Manson is one I probably should have read a few years ago.  For all the challenges of my marriage and last well paid "gig," in retrospect my family (and I) would be much better off if I had muddled along with an attitude of humor and gratitude (hadn't given a F*ck), rather than seizing the discomfort to quit these two things, engage a financially draining software start-up and write my second nonfiction title (Navies, Petrol and Chocolate: Why Ukraine Matters).  Believe the Trump administration is coming around to a workable policy in Ukraine, but am uncertain that my book had a role there.  It  was a huge sacrifice to write... sacrifices for more than myself.

So Good They Can't Ignore You (Cal Newport) has got to be a fundamental of life and business.  Yes, true passion emerges after hard work, which  invariably is given to you by others, driving  passion and more hard work.  I am excited where eWISE LLC is leading me, contemplating the cyber intrusion detection AND response policy threads. 

Let me end this blog with several caveats:  I have read more fiction this year than business books.  Although Navies ... is a nonfiction book, I also published my first novel (Ukraine Skies, Baltimore Lights) and spent time with some avant garde fiction for inspiration.  Thus, there was little time for reading business material and this review are really a  "to read" list, not a "have  read" list.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Intrusion Detection and Response

My Zimbio  There is a rather large universe of solutions to address hacker risk.  You can buy products (hardware and software) claiming to prevent attacks to your hardware, software or network, you can buy services or you can find a collection of both.

Complex networks, like we find in an individual hospital (or even a larger clinic, not to mention a complex of such organizations) are rife with vulnerable network citizens, while solutions are often complex or expensive to implement.  "We need to move forward, but what is the next step?" you ask...

You have made investments that are a component of your most cost effective solution, moving forward.  You might have also made investments that didn't work out, or can be replaced with a more effective (and more cost effective) solution.  Let's trim those outgoing payments... and build a flexible set to manage moving forward.

Key to all of this is understanding your inventory of network citizens, insuring network logs are "watching" in/out-going traffic for all, effectively screening those logs, and taking prompt, effective action to address a hack.

When can we start?

Sunday, May 21, 2017


My Zimbio  What is in a name?  Immediate warm feelings, or the opposite... a singular tag that links you to an idea, a capability, an experience?

Turns out, moments before I was mobilized in 2007, someone began using my eWISE name.  They ran a search while I was in Iraq, then registered in 2008.

So I have returned to eWISE.  We have been a Virginia Limited Liability Company for some years, although the focus has recently changed to cyber intrusion detection and response for the medical sector.

Our offering is a hardware/software/services package, recognizing there are some security benefits to hosting the software solution "in house," although we will certainly leverage the cloud for sections of the offering.

eWISE LLC has posted real estate and book sale revenues in 2016.  We imagine the cyber offering will dwarf these other income streams in 2017 (although am hoping Ukraine Skies book and game revenues also contribute to our economic well-being), building to something substantial in 2018. 

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Fact or Fiction?

My Zimbio  The Ukraine Skies, Baltimore Lights is fiction.  That said, there are some names that I've taken from reality:  HR McMaster, President Trump's NSC, appears as himself, albeit junior in rank, commanding the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment.  Colonel Mullaly is the name of someone I worked for, although the character isn't the same person.

Cleopatra is a real person in history.  I had a vibrant argument about my dates with a woman last night (thanks Vicki!).  According to Wikipedia, Cleopatra died thirty years before the birth of Christ, of suicide.

My book alleges she was a vampire and was "boxed" and transported to Ukraine, through Jerusalem, around 30AD.  The man responsible for transporting her, who I have named Taigen Sessai, after a samurai monk general who lived in 1500AD, met Pontias Pilate and Jesus during his "mission" to bring Cleo's sealed box to Ukraine.

In my novels, Sessai is also an immortal.  At the time he transports Cleo and meets Jesus, he is about 500 years old.  After depositing Cleo in the Ukraine cave, where she was supposed to sleep for eternity, Sessai meanders around Europe fighting in famous battles and learning about clocks and time.

He runs across a samurai sword (called a "katana") in one of the battles, and decides he wants one.  So he travels to Japan, which is where he is in 1500AD (remember, my character is immortal), when he meets the real Taigen Sessai.  In my novel, "the real Sessai" is assassinated as a teenager, so my immortal/vampire character assumes his identity, wins the battles attributed to his namesake and keeps that name for the rest of "his eternity."

Interesting?  I hope you think so, and buy one or more of my books on Amazon!

Find Ukraine Skies, Baltimore Lights here.  

Monday, April 10, 2017


My Zimbio   A few paragraphs:

    “We are cat people, not dog people,” said the woman.

    Cleo was surprised to find a beautiful middle aged woman sitting on a bench in the barn she selected.  She squinted at the woman and turned to her red dog.  “Sadites,” she told him.  He sat dutifully at her side.

    “You don’t remember me?” the woman asked.

    “Have we met?” Cleo asked.  What was this strange language… and how can she understand and speak it?

    “Of course not,” muttered ISIS, with a smirk.  “Well, there was a time I was your goddess and you, young princess, were the apple of Ra’s eye.  Then of course you ran off with that Julius fellow, scandalizing all of Rome.”

    “Your glorious country has been struggling ever since.  I might add that the author will receive quite a pile of manure for this Deux ex Machina, but who better to play that role here than yours truly?”

    “At risk of adding several wheelbarrows to the criticism, I’m going to give you some advice.  You have learned how to find Tsar Peter.  I suggest you attend the unification party at the edges of town tomorrow, and learn about this Swedish Charles XII.  Learn how to shoot one of those clumsy flintlocks.. and refresh your memory of a blade.  They’ve gotten quite nice since you handled one.”  Isis handed Cleo a dagger in its leather and gold trimmed sheath.  The sun god symbolism at the end of the handle appeared strangely familiar to Cleo.

     “Once you have promised the Tsar you will kill his Swedish rival, find the Danish king.  He evidently enjoys masquerade balls, where perhaps you might offer to dispense with the Swede in return for a ship to America.”

    Cleo was confused.  “You don’t understand this yet, but you will catch on.  You always do.”  Isis considered disappearing with a flash, in a cloud of smoke, but instead turned to walk away.

    “Oh,” she said, as an afterthought.  “Get rid of the dog.” Then, tossing Cleo a coin of the local realm, said “Get yourself a room.  There is a vacancy at the inn for you.” 
    “Thank you,” called Cleo, scratching Wolf behind the ears.  “But I think will keep you,” she whispered to her new companion.  “I heard that,” shouted ISIS.

Find Ukraine Skies, Baltimore Lights here.