Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Daughter Says that Getting Hacked is a Sign that You're Famous

I've spent the last few days cleaning this "malicious toolkit" crap off my web site, and my patience for the Dark Side is wearing thin. People bright enough to write code ought to be able to find more entertaining, productive things to do with their time. My daughter says she doesn't feel sorry for me; she claims it's the price of Internet fame. I am, as David Herrold of the Houston Chronicle points out, more popular than a robot.

I got a little snappish, earlier, when I noticed I'd been spoofed by one of those companies in China offering "herbal supplements" to increase the length and girth of body parts I don't possess. But even worse, the little scum-sucking bottom dwellers are abusing a really nice company called 2 Fish Group, claiming recipients opted in and agreed to be spammed by them. I was immediately suspicious - having never heard of 2 Fish Group. "Bullshit," I muttered. "Opted in, my Aunt Fanny." Curiosity piqued (and fully cognizant of the fact that 2 Fish Group was as much a victim of these infantile and time-wasting marketing pseudotactics as I was), I dropped by their Web site. The following notice, in bright red letters, caught my attention:

NOTE: 2 Fish Group's name is being used without permission at the bottom of SPAM emails. We appreciate your patience as we resolve the issue. The emails are not being processed by our server. As always, 2 Fish Group strives to provide excellent service to our clients -- please know that our company is not involved in any way.

Given that I was already in a snitty mood, my first reaction was, "Nice way to disclaim all responsibility, but I'm still getting crap in my inbox - purportedly sent BY me - and you should be at least as concerned about the abuse of our good names as I am!" I have no idea what I thought they could do that I can't, but surely something. I used to send reports to the FBI and US Customs every time I got one of these things, and I've had the satisfaction of shutting down a few sploggers who violated my copyright, but it's like trying to sweep the beach free of sand.

I sought out 2 Fish Group's contact form and fired off a note that basically said, "Thanks for appreciating the patience I don't have, and I trust you're doing SOMETHING to get to the bottom of this..." And then got really, really irked that the "required fields" on their contact form weren't labeled. These guys do Web design? I filled in name and phone number fields with snide comments.

Some people shouldn't be allowed to type drunk; others, like me, should be required to have a shot of something other than caffeine before emailing people when they're already irritated.

I hereby apologize - and major kudos to Matt Ousdahl of 2 Fish Group, who not only replied promptly on a Saturday evening around 9 PM Eastern time, but had, within minutes of my clarifying the problem, fixed any issues with their contact form. I'll bet their paying clients get that personal touch, coupled with responsive, top-notch support.

I spent some time perusing their client list and recent projects. They do good work, these folks at 2 Fish Group. Reading their About page, I like them even more:

At 2Fish we’re all about local businesses. We cater almost exclusively to the needs of independent businesses, helping them grow and succeed in a marketplace increasingly dominated by national chains and franchises. You see, it is our belief that independent businesses are the heart and soul of our nation and our local economies, and to allow these chains and “big box” stores to dominate our landscape is to allow the uniqueness of America’s heritage to be lost, and to expedite the degradation of our society and communities. So we decided to do something about it…

Addictive "Palm Kernel Oil Blobs"

My boss gave me these for Christmas. She shouldn't have. They won't LAST until Christmas, unless you count the pounds they add to my hips - in which case, they'll last until March 2009!
The good news: These things are addictively delicious and have no trans fats. If you can stop at five - the suggested serving size - it's about 260 calories, equivalent to your average candy bar. The price is ridiculously right.

The bad news: I don't know anyone who can resist these little gems or stop at five. The #1 ingredient is palm kernel oil, thus prompting us to nickname them "addictive little palm kernel oil blobs." Not as sexy as "imported French Truffles," but not quite the deterrent one would hope, when trying to stick to a diet with these insidious little suckers in the house.

These make a great hostess gift, too. Or a stocking stuffer. It's a particularly wicked gift to bestow upon your opponent, if you're in a race to see who can get leanest and fittest first. I keep trying to get my family to take them off my hands, but given it's a 2 lb. box, there's plenty to share and I can't seem to stop reaching in for another... Godiva? I hate to break it to you, but you've got some stiff competition here, and the price is right.

March96 Kids, We're Here and You're Not!

Ceci E., William, and Holly

Did I remember to take this, but forget to upload it? Better late than never...
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Oh, Yeah, I'm Psychic!

Couldn't resist getting J.J. to take my picture next to this sign in Chinatown.

If you've noticed a few missing pictures, don't worry - I'm restoring them from backups now. It may take another 12 hours or so for them to reappear, but they're all still there. Somewhere.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Playing with Sharks

At the Aquarium in San Francisco

I am still setting up my new PC, and while installing Picasa 3, I realized I hadn't posted pictures from our trip to San Francisco this past summer. I love this one of William petting a shark.
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Nicholas: Winner of Trockle's Trick-or-Treat Tour Prize Drawing

I was honored today by a visit from Nicholas, the young man who wrote this wonderful letter to me - my first real "fan mail" - and his dad. Okay, so I see his dad on a regular basis at work, but this is the first time I got to meet Nicholas, and I was charmed.


It turned out we had a few things in common. "Archaeologist" is currently on his list of possible career choices, as are "Engineer" and "Architect." If you look closely at the picture, above, you'll see that I'm wearing two Egyptian cartouche pendants - one with my grandmother's name on it, another with my mother's. I used to want to be an archaeologist, too. I was also intrigued by architecture; I loved to design and draw elaborate houses. I was eventually put off by the fact that architects need to know tedious details about electrical wiring, plumbing, screw lengths, construction materials - all those little details that just sent me screaming down a different career path. Nicholas, on the other hand, found those details interesting. Of course, "Engineer" was right up there on my short list - next to "Mathematician." Nicholas is brighter than that, thank goodness.

He brought Flat Stanley to visit me, too. It's been a while, but Stanley and I are old pals. I supplied the raw materials, and Nicholas made a paper airplane for Stanley. Daredevil Stanley (shown below doing splits on my lap) immediately jumped from the plane without a parachute! A few adjustments later, he agreed to pilot the plane without leaping out of it midair, and the next thing you know, Flat Stanley's taking that plane through loops and rolls and...landing on his head. I guess that's why Stanley is flat.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

About Ready for the Scrap Heap, Here...

I'm honored, but I'm not sure I'm worthy. UNWRITER Ron Berry has nominated me for a second Honest Scrap Award. An explanation of the award is posted at Does This Make Me a Scrappy, Honest Scribbler? I tried to turn it down - to insist that "I'm not worthy!" and to get Ron to pass it along to another deserving blogger. He insisted that it was too late; the announcement had already gone to press. I think he threw that post up against the wall like spaghetti, and it stuck - or he's amused at the thought of making me come up with yet another list of "things about me." I'm honored, truly I am - but I'm just not that interesting. At any rate, here I am again, charged with playing Truth or Dare twice in one day.

Ten (MORE) Honest Things About Me

  1. I lied to my kids. Not about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny - after all, those are real. But I may have stretched the truth--okay, lied--about Mary, the Hairy Fairy and Finster, the Fingernail Fairy.
  2. I have eaten Milk Bone dog biscuits. One of each flavor. I mean, it seemed only right that I should know whether they tasted good before giving them to my dog, right?
  3. I once set my uncle up to eat "Turkey Fries" and "Lamb Fries" without telling him they were the same thing as "Rocky Mountain Oysters."
  4. Jake, I have no idea why laying my hands on your monitor and crying out, "Heal!" actually fixed your computer problems.
  5. "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime." I'll teach you to fish and share my catch with you at the end of the day, but if you refuse to pick up the pole, I have no problem fryin' mine up in front of you, smackin' my lips, and declining to share.
  6. I believe in the right to live and die with dignity.
  7. I once slept on the golf course at the Kona Surf, and on the back lawn of the Royal Hawaiian. (And no, I wasn't drunk either time. Just fell asleep looking at the stars.) The next morning at the Pink Palace, I was awakened by the lawn sprinklers.
  8. I know where "old wives' tales" come from. "If you swallow your chewing gum, it'll stick up your insides," is just a scare tactic because we moms know anything else will just result in prolonged argument worthy of a Supreme Court hearing. I'm still trying to decide whether I'd rather have my kids know I made that crap up or think I really was that stupid. Toss up.
  9. I don't have eyes in the back of my head. (God, I'm actually trusting all you Internet readers NOT to tell my kids this one?) I do, however, have extraordinary and excessively good hearing. I inherited it from my mom. We used to call her "Rabbit Ears." I can hear the lyrics on my car radio when the volume is at 1.
  10. The only line I really remember from my wedding vows is "I consecrate myself to you." Later, we looked at each other and said, "Was that consecrate or consummate?" We decided to hedge our bets and cover all the bases.

Seven (MORE) Bloggers Who Deserve the Honest Scrap Award


Yeah. Heather deserves this - she's not the least bit intimidated by me. Brave woman, that Heather. Brave.

If Nominated (Again!) I Will Not Serve

I'm going to add one more stipulation to this award. Award recipients must check to see if their nominee has already received the Honest Scrap Award - at least within the last week. This will get harder, over time - as it should - but if the chosen blogger is already an Honest Scrapper (and the award is less than a week old), bestow the honor upon another worthy soul. Can't find seven Honest Scrappers who haven't yet won the award (this week)? You may ask past recipients for recommendations, but you must visit the suggested blogs and decide whether you agree, since you'll be the one doing the nominations. That's what honesty is all about, right?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Does This Make Me a Scrappy, Honest Scribbler?

honest_award blackVivian Gilbert Zabel presented me with The Honest Scrap Award. Ironically, I used to run a Web site called Scraps & Scribbles. (Gotta love the Wayback Machine!) According to Vivian Zabel at Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap:

Scrap means left overs, fragments, discarded material, and many times truth and honesty is discarded material, considered fragments and left over. So, we need to tell it like it is, and let the scraps fall where they will.

Honorees are to first list 10 honest things about ourselves - and make it interesting, even if we have to dig deep! Second, we are to pass the award on to 7 bloggers we feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap.

Ten Honest Things

  1. I have said, "I hate your guts" to my daughter - and meant it. For about five minutes.
  2. I'm lazy. But I still contend it's not necessity that is the mother of invention, but laziness. We lazy folks can be very inventive in our shortcuts.
  3. I'm impatient. And I still can't keep "that look" off my face. You know, the one my mom was referring to when she said, "and don't let me catch you with that look on your face, young lady!"
  4. I don't ever mean to hurt anyone's feelings. Sometimes I do, by mistake. (If I've ever hurt yours, I'm truly - honestly - sorry.)
  5. I'm not really a "people person." I just play one on the Internet.
  6. I'm forgetful. I remember my kids' birthdays, and my husband's - usually. I'd forget my own, if people didn't keep asking me, "What do you want for your birthday?" Hmm...what do I want? How about a reprieve?
  7. I have Postal Disorder. (No, that doesn't mean I have a short fuse and a gun - it means I can't ever seem to actually drop anything into a mail slot, and God help me if it involves going to the Post Office. If I need something mailed, I have to give it to my husband.)
  8. I'm not very good at following directions. But guess what I write for a living? Yep, you guessed it: Directions.
  9. I have a very low boredom threshold. If I had a factory job, I'd probably cut my arm off with a blunt object by accident, simply because my mind had wandered halfway around the world. Worst job I ever had: Shelving books at a university library. OMG. After three hours of that, I couldn't count or recite the alphabet - and I didn't care. You'd find me curled up on the concrete floor between the stacks, reading a good book.
  10. I tried to open my office door with the battery-operated key to my Honda, the other day. Did I mention I could be absent-minded?

Seven Bloggers Deserving of the Honest Scrap Award