It’s that time of year again. Snow. And technical planning meetings off site.
The brain trust of Cigital gathered at Coal Stove Sink to hash out the future of software security.
We started day one with an inspirational greeting from Jim Routh.
Scott gets around.
We tried setting up the expensive Polycom videoconferencing system for poor Passportless Paco trapped in London. Sadly, it seems that Polycom can’t deal with a double NAT’ed system. After the local ISP said “Huh?” when we asked about forwarding various TCP ports, we gave up and switched to FaceTime. Apple can do it automatically.
Wow! I can’t believe this was my fourth visit to Coal Stove Sink…time flies! Once again I chose a mid winter visit and fortunately Mother Nature decided to add some white, fluffy stuff to the bone-chilling arctic freeze impacting the Northeast. The scenery was spectacular in the morning with about 1.5 inches of snow cover with the sun shinning through the tree branches with lots of sparkles of light. I also noticed the new mirror over the stove…very nice!
I also had a wonderful companion join me in bed to help keep me nice and warm. No, Ellen didn’t make this trip…instead Puck joined me and his company was much appreciated especially on the walk up to the cottage after midnight. I was over-served at the wonderfully decorated bar in the main house during the evening that started with a perfect Bourbon wonder with All Spice to go with my Old Spice [called a Lions Tail]. It warmed me right up and got my appetite engaged in preparation for a sumptuous dinner of Roast Tenderloin of Beast perfectly cooked (thanks to Drew and his timing from his iPhone). John Wyatt added his own unique brand of color commentary from down under that contributed to the lively conversation that was not remotely connected to work related topics. We were joined by [Xena, Zander and Zack] all of whom offered unique perspectives on life’s wonderful challenges. An example was the curriculum available at Colorodo College that enables students to concentrate on a single class for 3.5 weeks called a block. One such block involves re-reading Homer’s The Odyssey…the interesting part is students do this on a boat off the coast of Greece traveling to the exact locations (Ionia and Anatolia).
Lion’s Tail recipe inserted by the editor
2 oz. bourbon
.5 oz allspice dram
juice from 1/2 lime
2 dashes Angustora bitters
Drew brought an excellent Cabernet (Palmyra from Western Australia) that paired well with the Beast especially when the Beast was topped with a “killer” horse radish cream sauce [special note: add 1/4 teaspoon of Coleman's mustard to the sauce for a special zip]. The sleeper of the evening was definitely the Grenache (Clarendon Hills from McLaren Vale, 2005) that pleasantly surprised everone’s palate. OK I know what you’re thinking…two great wines from down under simply represents a little brown-nosing with the boss but I assure you it was simply serendipity at work or play as the case may be.
Zane’s tenacity persuaded me to try a taste of chocolate (I never touch the stuff) with vanilla ice cream for desert and I must admit that it had the power to convert me into a chocaholic at least at that moment. Washed it down with one of Zane’s Cailfornia Shirahs that was nice and smooth.
I watched the conversion of the CSS Cottage from hearth to conference center for some [software security] thought leadership planning led by jOHN Steven after a robust breakfast of farm-fresh scrambled eggs, fresh sausages and perfectly toasted English Muffins. Zane added a small bowl of blueberries that helped me remember the wonders of the previous night (blueberries improve your memory…even when Bourbon reduces it).
One thing is clear as a bell…the CSS is wonderfully warm and comforting even in the midst of an arctic chill. It is also stirring the embers of my memory banks as a now familiar and very comfortable place to enjoy a winter sojourn.
It was another great year at Coal Stove Sink in 2012.
We love having the guesthouse around because it means we get lots of interesting visitors to enrich our lives. And it helps me keep a handle on the travel I do for work. Without further ado, here is the index for 2012.
We’ll start with business-related visitors first (most of whom are already great friends):
All the Cigital Principals for a Technical Offsite
Ralph Langner [visit two]
Jacob West (who finally wrote a proper entry!) [visit two]
Probably the most memorable time I spent actually in the guesthouse this year was working sets using the sound board with The Bitter Liberals before a concert. It was there that we first invented the Berryville Passage. Great music, great friends and great times.
By the way, one important side benefit of visiting Coal Stove Sink is the world class mixology to be found at the bar down the hill (in the living room). The obsession continues unabated.
What a nice Thanksgiving with Zane, Xena, and the family! After the requisite gullet-stuffing with delicious food and libations and several of the Jason Borne movies, it was time for a trip outside to leave the camera unattended for late-night time-lapse photography.
I’m sure the photographs that would have been captured would have been brilliant, too.
Some horses, though, can’t abide paparazzi. A few shots in, the camera lens was mysteriously covered in a thick coat of saliva. Well, and that was all she wrote. The horse hasn’t been available for comment and appears to be denying the whole incident.
Still glowing from the recent hootenany down at coal stove sink. Perfect cast of characters including several old ‘hoos, three quarters of the new band the bitter liberals, and of course plenty of mixology. It was another charmed passage through [censored location] that inspired this rewrite.
just as every apoth is a criminal
and all the pickers saints
absinthe in spades we call him lucifer
and don’t expect restraint!
I first met my hosts at a restaurant in a nearby city where we had a nice meal, some great wine (some people who shall remain nameless might have even drunk a bottle by themselves) and even some Goat Brie, which would probably make Robert II le Pieux cringe.
Back at the house after watching some awesome videos produced by Mini-Host™, I got introduced to cocktails of which I quickly forgot the names – I would like to think that the reason is that their names were too complex for the foreigner that I am, but I have the feeling that I would be lying. I would also like to tell you that I did not stay up talking with my host until 5am, completely inebriated, but again, I am pretty sure it would not be the truth. What I can tell you though (and with absolute certainty) is that my hosts were charming as usual, and that they made me feel right at home.
The next morning was tough in many ways, but the view made it all worth it.
It was also the day that Mitt and Alaska “went to live on another farm” – I used to think that I was fair in spirit and loving of all people (and animals), but I have to admit that my heart cried more for Alaska than it did for … Mitt. In any case, I am sure they will both make some bacon-lovers very happy.
A big thank you inviting me. I look forward to seeing you soon!
Mitt was going to have the worst election day of its life. It might have sensed something was wrong when a team of porcine-rendition specialists arrived. This proved to be probably the most interesting fact I learned during my trip: If you stick a pig’s head in a bucket, it tries to back out. You can then steer the poor source of bacon to your chosen direction. Backwards.
It may be slightly difficult to utilise this newfound knowledge in my daily life, but it sure is a nice neurological hack, sure to impress certain kind of people – like my co-workers.
In preparation for this, my hosts went to borrow a trailer. I tagged along, and in order to not to raise suspicion, was given a temporary identity of Cletus the farmhand. Not that Cletus ever took the hands out of his pockets to do some actual work, though. The cover story addressed both my foreign accent (“Cletus don’t talk too much”) and my DSLR (“we gave him a camera but it ain’t got no film”). I don’t think the cover held, but the locals were friendly nonetheless.
The countryside and villages surrounding the place are cute. Each time I go to the US, I see a place which is completely different from every other place I’ve been to here previously. Here, you actually had houses (like my hosts’) that are actually older than the one where I live back home, green pastures, and peace and quiet that I haven’t seen elsewhere on my transatlantic trips. Coal Stove Sink itself looks ageless in its perfect weather-beaten greyness.
The darkness and silence at night, and the smell of the pastures when walking around, brought me back in time to my grandparents’ place in the country. We had a couple of walks, the retrievers leading the pack, and the basset usually caught up on us later. Probably all the smells needed checking out. You could see the highwater mark of the Shenandoah where leaves had clung to trees when Sandy had brought a lot of water. It had made landfall about 15 miles south from the point on New Jersey coast where we were heading later.
I got introduced to the bar that had been the subject of many discussions earlier, and got to taste a very interesting drink whose chief ingredient was a locally sourced beverage. Local production and organic (solvent), what else would an European environmentalist need after a day of puttering about? We also sampled The Wine Kitchen in Leesburg. Apparently they make a good use of bunnies, and they also know their Spätzle.
Unfortunately my schedule was a bit awkward as I had a gig in Estonia just a day before. I would have loved to see the band playing on Saturday night. Perhaps I will get another possibility of seeing them live.