Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Edition (in which I flip the bird)

(photo credit:  mattalltrades.blogspot.com.)  
It's like six days away from all of us sticking our hands up a bird's cavity at some ungodly hour in remembrance of Pilgrims and Indians Native Americans.  Is it safe to say you guys are all past this advice:  Buy the turkey, don't run into it?  Defrost the turkey?  Don't get salmonella?  Make sure the oven's on?

So, I decided since you guys clepped out of that drivel you might need some real tips to help take your Thanksgiving to the proverbial 'next level' (let's hope it's not the burning ring of hell level).

You're welcome.

Here we go.

1.  Read this.  It has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but I'm thinking of making it my About Me page. 

2.  Thanksgiving is stressful, but it pales in comparison to the next 30 days.  So, instead of those name plates from paper you wove yourself, give everyone a shiny party blower and some fireworks.  It's kinda like the last day of summer (except you might not want to wear a bathing suit).

3.  And don't wear a costume either.  It confuses your guests.

4.  I'm an introvert (see #1).  But, damn it if like four of the five people in my inner circle have birthdays near Thanksgiving.  Sucks for them because they get Turkey Surprise! for their birthday dinner and their presents all come wrapped for Christmas.  Try to avoid making friends with these people.

5.  Don't eat turkey before Thanksgiving.  I recommend leaving approximately 364 days in between the times you eat turkey.

6.  Become a vegetarian and go gluten free right before Thanksgiving.  This will annoy the crap out of everyone you know thereby greatly relieving your stress.  You will have no family and friends left to dine with on the big day.

7.  When you cook the bird, flip it.  I did this completely by accident about 20 years ago.  It was my first turkey (I think I can tell you that, right?) and I had no idea what kind of protection to use, where to put my hands, what went in where, or which way was up.  Everyone raved at how smart I was because the breast? thigh? wing?  testicles? came out so juicy and moist because they were left to simmer in their own juices.  (I have no idea what I'm talking about, but it sounds like we're ready for #8.)

8.  Any mistake can be covered up with a "delicious gravy."  (This tip I actually stole from NPR.) 
This is what "delicious gravy" looks like.  I think you can find it on aisle 10.
Author's Note:  Turns out this isn't entirely true.  "Delicious gravy" does not remove gum from the dryer.

9.  Hubby knows a little rhyming joke about pumpkin pie (circa The Bible - or when he was in middle school).  As much as I cringe when I hear the joke I cannot get it out of my mind and it goes without saying that I cannot eat pumpkin pie.  Unless there is a lot of whip cream.  Or just whip cream.  Straight from the can into my mouth.  And a shot for my coffee.

(photo credit:  gumblestump.com)  That's about right.
10.  Alcohol.  If possible start drinking it right after your first pot of coffee (which will be at about 5 in the morning if you are cooking a 20 pound bird and want to eat while you are still upright).

11.  If you need a new foundation (or I would venture to say any home repair costing more than a grand), consider frying your turkey.

12.  If you have kids, you may need to brush up on Sqanto and the Wampanogs, so you can appropriately discuss this at the dinner table (you might want to follow that with The Trail of Tears just so that everyone is sufficiently depressed and so that there is an edge of reality to your history).  (Hint:  Wampanog is not a verb as in:  I'm gonna wampanog your a$$ if you don't make your bed.)

14.  Just in case there is not enough tryptophan in your turkey this year, I recommend crushing up sleeping pills in the stuffing.  This will ensure you can watch Not Football on TV.  

15.  This came from NPR, too:  When all else fails there is always The Google.  I've used this search before 'Restaurants open on Thanksgiving this year.'

Have a good one and I'll save you a piece of pie (or the whole pie).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dear hackers: You're gonna need to build a taller wall.



Someone once said (it may have been Jack Handey), "Your valleys will be as low as your mountains are high."  And I immediately wanted to vomit in my mouth.  Until a few days ago.

When I found out (damn it) - it's true.

Sunday night I started to do paperwork for my job and found that I couldn't open a few of my files.  When I was finally able to open a few files - they were in Japanese (or something that looked like my six year old wrote it) (and, ironically, some six year old hacker in Russia probably did write it). 

I did what I often do when faced with an alarming problem that might eventually destroy my entire family, I casually mentioned it to hubby and tried my best to ignore it.

Monday morning my laptop became possessed.  And by 'possessed' I mean it acted as if someone else (let's call him The Devil) was controlling it.  I would press 'enter' and my trusty laptop would scroll to the top of the page.  I would press the scroll button and I'd end up on another site.  And all kinds of unsavory pop-ups asking me to buy enhancers were popping up. 

But, I had my oil to change, prints to complete, 27 loads of laundry to do, and basically everything that should have been done the previous three days because, um - Halloween.  So, again I reverted back to hubby.  He was incredibly patient with me while asking me a series of questions:

Is your computer plugged in?
Is your Maleware turned on?
Have you backed up your files recently?
Do you have spyware?
Have you recently scanned and deleted unnecessary files?
When was the last time you did a complete scan?
Did you send money to long-lost relatives in Africa who were in trouble???

I answered his questions to the best of my ability and then he sullenly pronounced me with an irreparable virus.

My response was something like this:

And then:

How could this have happened?  I was using protection?  Sometimes double protection.  (And - just FYI - my pleasure was not diminished by double protection.)  Are you sure?  Is it possible the files are just temporarily corrupted?  Shouldn't there be a record of them somewhere?  Y'know like how the Interweb knows what color underwear I'm wearing?  Shouldn't they also know what all my files look like?  AGAIN, HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED???  I never opened any emails from people telling me about my inheritance!!!  I SWEAR.

Calmly and patiently hubby told me how to go about "fixing" what had happened to the best of his knowledge.

This took quite a bit of time.

It was ugly.

Monday I got the ransom note from the hackers when I was attempting to delete infected files. 

The ransom note basically said:  We have  your files.  If you ever want to see them again in their unaltered form you will need to pay us one million Bitcoins (which in case you don't know is a form of currency similar to Monopoly money that people who fancy themselves to be those blue and pink little plastic people use to basically terrorize normal people) (one million Bitcoins is roughly equivalent to 500 U.S. dollars - although its value changes daily in accordance to astrological signs).

It was creepy and scary and naturally I wanted to call the police.

Instead I asked hubby:  Isn't this illegal???  Can't we sue these people and put them in jail???

Hubby patiently said:  Yes, this is illegal, but let's not involve the police.  Let's use the Google and find out what we can do. 

The next 48 hours were spent learning everything we could have ever wanted to know about a little virus called CryptoWall 2.0.  It's a nasty thing.  It's main symptoms are:  runny nose, fever, body aches.  No, wait.  That's Ebola (also a nasty little thing).  Crypto King's main symptoms are:  encrypted files, explicit pop-up messages (which albeit interesting - do get annoying), random possession of the keyboard, and basically the Devil on your shoulder.


Sidenote:  If you are (not even remotely) a techie, using the Google to research a computer virus is a little like going to a party where everyone is dressed up in Star Wars costumes (except you) and speaking a language where you understand every fifth word.   At this party you are not sure what you are supposed to be doing, so you just kind of stumble forward while everyone else is dancing wildly with abandon, having a great time, and drinking this purple juice.  You come home from the party with a bad headache feeling like you drank way too much even though you are thirsty.  You go to sleep and have nightmares about going to a party where everyone is dressed up in Star Wars costumes except you..........................................


I will lead you to the decryptor.
End of the story?  Roughly 48 hours later?

I lost everything important to my actual work while all my files like this one:  What's For Dinner?  (which included 31 Very Important dinner ideas) remained uncorrupted (of course).

I had not backed up my files in about a year. 

I know you are sitting there smugly reading this (if anyone is actually reading this) thinking, "Ms. Dayinthelife - WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?  You don't back up your files?  What century do you live in?  You should have a calendar and a strict schedule for precisely these types of activities!"

What can I say?  Backing up my files is like cleaning the fridge for me.  The last time I cleaned the fridge someone had dropped a jar of pickles inside of it.  

I have no defense.  I hide my head in shame.  But, I did learn some important life lessons.

Lessons learned

1.  When in trouble it's not always necessary to call the police.  Instead consult the Google.
2.  Hackers are the parasites of humanity.
3.  Parasites are very, very smart.
4.  Back up your files and then back them up again in case your back up gets a virus.  In fact, there can never be too many back ups.
5.  Do this regularly.
6.  Ditto for protection.  You can never have too much protection.  Sometimes you need so much protection that you will never be able to just have good 'ole irresponsible fun.
7.  When all is said and done, this is a First World Problem.  There are people starving in the world who don't even have laptops.  And in that respect I am thankful to just have been hacked and not starved.
8.  I will and have survived fairly intact.  My computer has been set back to Factory Settings (Google it - it's basically like when you shot out of your mom's womb).  I am resilient.
9.  I believe what hubby says.  He and I - we are Mexicans not Mexican'ts.
10.  And last but not least, I believe the other thing hubby has told me:  It takes a lot to stop a Mexican.  Hackers will need to build a taller wall to stop us. 
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