Posts by Scott Brewster

I like to make things work better by making them do things they were never intended to do.

Being Disabled

It has taken me a very long time to come to terms with this, and I don’t think I’m still yet able to comprehend all it means.  I am disabled.  Yea, I can walk.  I’m not on oxygen.  There are many in a much worse situation.  There won’t be any placards in my car to get a better parking spot, and I’m not claiming Social Security benefits.  It doesn’t negate the fact that I am less abled to do things I once took for granted.

I cannot put my daughter on my shoulders.  I cannot have another day at the gym where I walk away with that pump and aggression from creating extra testosterone from 800lb squats.  I cannot even cook big meals any longer.  Looking down causes far too much pain.  My neck has 14 screws, and I literally have a screw loose.  I’m not the man my wife married.  I’m not the daddy who can play with his daughter.

I remember shortly after the last surgery when I was trying to cut my own hair with my clippers.  My arm above my head pinched a nerve, and I dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes.  The pain was excruciating.  The pain I’ve had randomly over the last nine years has redefined my 10 on the pain scale.  Most days, I don’t get close to a 10, but it happens about once a week.

Everything started from a car accident on January 19, 2011.  A guy hit my car as he exited a parking garage on K Street in DC.  In September of that year, I had my first surgery.  I probably should have exhausted other options, but my neurosurgeon was confident that the surgery would be necessary.  In January of 2012, I started to feel a lot more pain.  A CT revealed a screw had worked its way out from the plate.  Many other attempts were made to get relief from drugs to physical therapy, but in the end, I opted for another surgery that added two bars and eight more screws to my neck.  The pentacles on T1 were too thin to add screws, so the surgeon jumped over it and added T2 and T3 to the fusion.  T1 is where I had the loose screw, so it hangs by one screw and the “fusion” of bone.  I don’t think I ever fully fused.  I feel too much movement to think it is solid.

The incision in my back to get to T2 and T3 cut deep into the muscle, and it wasn’t as linear as it should have been. The scar tissue healed in a criss cross pattern.  Using the muscles meant it didn’t work the same way.  Overuse became common, and pain followed.  This lead to being a lot more sedentary.  That only made it worse.

On September 6, 2019, while walking into a Staples, three cars were coming down the road between the parking lot and the store fronts by a Staples.  The first two were Slingshots, the cool little cars with two wheels up front and one in back.  They were turning into the parking lot, so I proceeded to cross the street as they turned into the parking lot.  The third driver must have been looking at how cool those cars were because he didn’t notice my fat ass in the middle of the street.  He hit me and tossed me down the street.  He hit my ass on the left side.  I had a can of Rockstar in my back pocket that exploded on impact and ripped the pocket out of the jeans exposing my ass for the world.  I flew feet first and landed on my ass then back and then my head smacked the pavement.  The guy who hit me didn’t say anything to me the whole time I laid there screaming, “Fuck,” until right before an ambulance took me away.  That is when he said, “Sorry.”


Little did I realize at the time, but I had a concussion.  Months followed where I thought I was being forgetful or loopy because of the pain medication.  Weening myself off everything but Motrin on occasion, I realized it was my head.  This lead to me carrying a book with me everywhere to write down everything.  My memory was awful.  It still is, which scares me.  I’ve stopped midsentence with no knowledge of what I was saying.  Some might say it is old age or that they have had that their whole lives.  Not me.  My brain power was all I had left.  My body was already crippled, regardless if I was ready to admit it.  I’m hoping that my brain gets better, but using pain meds has made that difficult.

I just needed to put that out there.  I don’t want sympathy.  I don’t want any special treatment.  I just needed to say it out loud and admit it to myself.

Favorite Linux Distributions

I have Linux Mint installed on most of my machines in the command center as the primary boot option or available in a dual-boot setup.  It is my favorite right now because most of the tutorials have been based on Ubuntu or Debian (Mint is a fork off them), it is so easy to set up and install in a very short period, and it seems to be very stable for some of my higher end hardware.  I won’t list all of my hardware, but it runs very well on my Dell XPS 9550, a HP Z600 workstation, and my custom-built, HAL, which is pushing to two 4k 28″ monitors.  HAL is having issues with some of the Windows 10 updates, so I run Mint exclusively on it now.

I also use a few security distributions like Kali, Slingshot, and Parrot.

My Last HOPE

HOPE, Hackers of Planet Earth, had always been a conference I couldn’t wait to attend. After I left the Army in 2007, I finally got a chance, and I’ve been going back ever since. It is held every other summer in Manhattan. This year will likely be my last in attendance. I still like some of the folks, and I love New York in general, but I have my reasons.

Chelsea Manning
Giving this ass a platform was not a good idea. I couldn’t give a shit about her being trans. Adrian Lamo died a few months ago, and the autopsy has not been released yet. Not to suggest that there was anything nefarious, but he was very young still. Manning had come out to Lamo with all of the treasonous shit she was doing, and Lamo had to turn her in for his own protection. I cannot fault him for that.

At HOPE a few years ago, I spent a bit of time ripping down signs calling for Lamo to die. I should have probably called it quits then because of the tolerance of death threats, but I went again anyway. Manning should have never made it out of training for stabbing another trainee. In addition, Manning attacked a female NCO and had rank reduced from specialist to private first class. This is why you remember the news referring to Chelsea as Private Manning, not Specialist Manning. Manning was getting kicked out, and responded with nothing but malice. She is no hero or whistle blower.

HOPE’s coordinators decided to give Antifa space this year. Signs were around of one stick figure shooting another in the head with the caption to kill capitalism. Antifa calls for violence, tends to have violent (aren’t all commies) communist goals, and really don’t care about anyone’s freedoms or rights to property. Capitalism has only lifted a billion people out of abject poverty in the last century while communism has led to the murder of 110 million innocent people.. Che Guevarra, famous commie out of Cuba during its revolution was known to murder gays for being gay, and he is a symbol of hope for these misguided, ignorant oxygen thieves who call themselves Antifa.

I don’t understand how HOPE’s coordinators could give them a platform. Free speech is about the government not denying someone their free speech. It doesn’t mean private organizations must provide them with a platform any more than any alt-right group. Then again, those who align with Antifa think anyone who doesn’t is obviously alt-right.

Session Topics
In general, we seem to be lurching more and more into purely political sessions and less about hacking and technology in general. Unfortunately, most of those in attendance seem to advocate for violence—one got into trouble for stealing a MAGA hat from some other ass clown—and slavery. If you lay claim to anyone’s labor or the fruit thereof, you advocate for slavery. Wake up.

I’m ok with information being free to an extent, but some hackers believe that all information should be open, while at the same time we have a good movement discussing out to regain your privacy rights. Well, pick a side. You can’t claim privacy for everything unless it is something you want from someone else. Far too many of the people in attendance were of this mindset that they are entitled to the secrets of other people/businesses. You aren’t entitled to jack shit if you and the other party haven’t voluntarily entered into an agreement with someone for it.

The Venue
I think all of the attendees have a love-hate relationship with the Hotel Pennsylvania. It has one of the best locations in all of NYC. It also has some of the worst rooms, elevator situations, and reputations. It isn’t bad. Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t a hostel. It has, however, aged considerably without necessary renovations to combat smells and safety issues. This time around, I stayed at Eurostars Wall Street, a $20 cab ride away. The rooms were WAY nicer, and I paid less.  Shout out to that beat and others with the price. My accommodations were obviously better, but that didn’t do anything to ease the elevator to the basement and top floors the way we had to do it. I know I’m bigger than most guys, and I don’t expect a recliner everywhere I go, but sitting in the conference halls was not easy, and I’m skinny compared to some of the folks in attendance.

So all of that said, I have a hard time justifying the costs of a trip to NYC for the same thing in two years. I wish I didn’t feel this way. It still has people I’d call friends in attendance. I didn’t bring up these feelings much while I was there. I didn’t want to get into political stuff with them while I was there. It would have been nice if everyone’s politics had been checked at the door.