S/MIME: You Can’t Stop Me

I’ll use it even if I have to become my own CA and sign my own certificates…which is what I did.

But back up.

3 years ago, I wrote about how and why to use S/MIME, and its numerous shortcomings:

S/MIME Email Encryption

The biggest inconvenience, aside from getting people to use it, is that it relies on a public key infrastructure.  Those familiar with web TLS no doubt already understand this.  In short, it’s a real pain to get a trusted certificate authority to issue a certificate.  And they cost money.  But the system worked nonetheless, until the day most major browser vendors decided to remove keygen support.  This meant that certificates could no longer be manufactured and signed in the user’s browser session.  But all was not lost, because some browsers hadn’t decided to fully deprecate the feature.  Notably, Safari:

S/MIME Revisited

Then that changed too.  I wondered then, why can’t I generate my own certificate and send it off on a certificate signing request the way one does with a TLS certificate?  I wish I knew, but no one offers that.  Probably because no one uses S/MIME anyway.  So I was left to reevaluate my needs:

  1. While it makes me feel all super official, I doubt any recipients of my general correspondence even notice that my emails are signed.
  2. There’s nothing stopping me from minting my own certificates.  They just won’t be trusted inherently.
  3. The main purpose of me using S/MIME is for encrypted information exchange with Liz.
  4. I can simply have Liz’s phone explicitly trust my certificate.

And so, using Apple’s keychain, I minted a general purpose master root certificate, trusted it explicitly, installed it on our phones, trusted it on the phones, then used it to sign an email certificate.  The certificate, now installed on my own devices, was then inherently trusted due to the explicitly trusted root certificate that signed it.  Problem solved.

Alas, I can’t feel all super official when I email other people, but oh well.  Such is the fate of a mostly unknown encryption system.


Squirrel Tactics

A couple months back I rambled at length about how stupid it is to buy tactical weapons and gear.  This post:


At the time, I had instead bought a very reasonable Remington 870 Express 12 gauge; then added a buttstock ammo holder, glow rifle sights, and a light mod vented choke.  I considered them to be all rather reasonable upgrades.  But one must walk the walk to verify such claims, and so I sauntered off into my favorite hunting grounds to partake in some sciuridae slaughter.  It was also an attempt to get Joe to shoot something again.

My Remington alongside Joe’s Maverick. In his defense, he didn’t buy it for hunting. I don’t think he ever expected me to keep dragging him off into the woods.

The woods were pretty devoid of hunters.  I don’t know if the pandemic had something to do with that, or if they’ve just moved on to other grounds (2 years ago the woods were packed and no one was getting anything), but it certainly made it nice for us.  And as it turned out, my shotgun choice and modifications (and selected ammo: #6 birdshot, high velocity), proved extremely effective.  I was able to take shots at a distance my old break action 20 gauge could never have handled.

The 870 takes all kinds

Joe didn’t get one, but he did see one and manage to raise his weapon.  Small steps.  1 or 2 more sessions I think.


This time, I pan seared the legs and use the rib sections to make a sauce.  It was much better, though the sauce needed some work.  Still, it was good enough that everyone ate it this time.

Mmmm, free range

Now let’s see if I can get some rabbits this year.



The fear of cutting wood at heights

Also: Phobia Quotient!

The neighbors rented a boom.

(A tangent here–I don’t think I’ve ever created a name for these neighbors, probably because they’re nice and reasonably normal.  I’ve just called them by their first names: Brian and Kelly.  Let’s change that now.  I shall call them the Busybees.  Because they’re always rather busy.)

Anyway, they hate trees.  Well, to be fair, all Ohioans hate trees.  Almost as much as they hate dressing appropriately for the weather.  Liz is a prime example.  She also hates trees.  Here’s a typical conversation:

Statement: “This tree looks a little brown.”

Response: “Cut it down!”

Statement: “This branch looks dead.”

Response: “Cut it down!”

Statement: “This tree isn’t perfectly erect.”

Response: “‘Erect’…*teehee….Cut it down!”

But this year the trees in question really did look dead, and so I agreed after much insistence to cut them down.  Liz, the Ohioan, had already been convinced.

Cut it down!

So after this roundabout lengthy preamble, I arrive at the point of my post: I don’t like heights.  Never did.  Figured those who do are idiots or showoffs.  Of course, in my youthful egocentric stubbornness, I forced myself to endure them.  Indoor rock climbing, rappelling, mountain hiking, amusement parks–been there; done that.  And while being young grants a greater allowance for risk in the face of death, probably due to the amount of testosterone that was oozing out of my every orifice, approaching middle age has forced a more practical approach to death–like fearing things that cause it.

Consequently, my parasympathetic nervous system now strongly advises me that death should be avoided and doing certain things increases its risk potential.

But damned if I didn’t try.  I went up there twice and cut branches, though in the end, Liz did the bulk of the work.

So this got me thinking.  Is my phobia truly debilitating, or just a common healthy fear of death, albeit somewhat too strong?  Internet time!

I didn’t vet this information at all, but it seems sound.  Let’s see how I stack up:

  1. Snakes?  Some Indiana Jones shit right there.  But they do have a creepy shape and are among the few large terrestrial animals that are venomous, so I get it.  I do not have this fear.  Pass.
  2. Heights.  Already discussed.  Good to know this is #2.  Fail.
  3. Public Speaking.  I don’t really think this is a phobia.  It’s anxiety over social acceptance, not a life or death scenario, unless you consider the tribal fear of being banished which might lead to death.  Exempted.
  4. Spiders.  See #2, though they’re smaller.  I like spiders.  Pass.
  5. Claustrophobia.  I don’t like being restrained, probably from childhood memories.  My parents thought it was funny to sit on me for extended lengths of time.  Sick Boomer humor.  But small places don’t bother me.  Pass.
  6. Airplanes.  Nah.  I hate them more than fear them.  Smell farts for hours, get felt up by security, then packed in like an Amazon warehouse.  But not fear.  Pass.
  7. Mice?  No.  Pass.
  8. Needles.  I hate getting poked.  Triggers a primal fear, though I don’t have a panic attack from it.  Pass.
  9. Crowds.  Nah.  Just an inconvenience.  Pass.
  10. Darkness?  Only after watching Alien or Jurassic ParkPass.
  11. Blood?  Only my own.  Pass.
  12. Dogs.  I love dogs.  Pass.
  13. Clowns?  I hate them, but it’s not fear.  Sort of like cats.  Shoot them for entertainment, but that’s it.  Pass.

My total score: 1/12.  But, these are weighted based on commonality, so I will use sketchy math to quantify this.

I’ll take the inverse of each item (only counting the “very afraid” numbers, because really, most of us are probably “a little afraid” of many of these, which does not a phobia make), multiplying by 100, and excluding #3, the total equals 169.9.  This is the total max sissy quotient, which I’ll set as the baseline of 100% total sissy.

I posses #2, inverse of which is 4.2.  Then to scale it with the baseline, that’ll be 4.2*100/169.9, which equals 2.5%.  I am a 2.5% sissy.

But where is the median sissy?  I really don’t know, because I don’t see these as cumulative probability, so let’s take a nice midpoint in the range: 5+((32-5)/2)=18.5.  1/18.5*100=5.4.  5.4*100/169.9=3.2% sissy.  So I’m lower than baseline, according to my questionable math from unvetted sources.

I guess I’m pretty normal after all.

But you’re a total sissy if you fear blood.



Just a sweet potato

The Most Nutritious Vegetable

I harvested the sweet potatoes.  More this year.  Starting earlier helped, but it seems to be the number of starter plants themselves that has a greater impact on total yield.  Next year, we’ll try that.


With the Old Breed

This book has been on my read list for long time.  And perhaps due to my old man mannerisms, I finally sat down to read this war memoir.

And it is just that.  The author, Eugene Sledge, having researched and compiled the historical errata to accurate specifics, and having completed this work much later in life, created a perfect balance of fact and personal observation.  He never strays too far into emotional content, but through his directness (indicative of the academic he later became), one can clearly extrapolate how he felt at the time.

It is a story of the Peleliu and Okinawa campaigns of World War II.  A historian myself, if I can so make the claim, it was not the first time I had read about these particular conflicts.  It was, however, the first time I had read them through a firsthand account.  And as I’ve stated, I believe it is these records of the common man that provide significant historical value.

The nature of this work renders it beyond my rights to critique, so I will leave it at that.  If you want a primary source account of the two arguably most bloody Second World War campaigns, free from political asides and excessive loaded personal annotations, I have yet to encounter a finer example.