Password Hell

I need to have a password and I need it right away. My computer’s blank face is staring out me as if I am really a moron. I must come up with something new and difficult that no one else will be able to figure out or be able to connect with me. Simple things like hobbies, grandkids names, kids names, all are off limits. The bad guys can figure that out. I should not use the same password for all of my accounts. It must have 10 letters and numbers. It can’t be my social security number, since everyone already has that. It can’t be my birthday or my anniversary because everyone knows those, right? It can’t be my last name, even though most people can’t spell or pronounce it. I need to keep track of my passwords in a place no one will ever be able to find. (That would be inside my brain – no one can ever find that, even me!) I have a minimum of 50 passwords, and the hard drive on my brain is getting very full. Every time I create a new password for an account that I share with my other half, he goes crazy. Why can’t I just use one password for everything?? Granted, that would make HIS life easier, but it would not do much for our computer’s security and happiness. These things seem to take on a life of their own. Forget about changing a password every 30 days! Maybe I could rotate them? Every account needs a password – healthcare, insurance, ebay, blogs, emails, banking, weight loss forums, online shopping,  and on and on and on. I would love to password protect my email to make it difficult for all of those spammers out there. Now, THAT’S a password I’d spend some time on. How come the people that send out ED emails manage to elude recognition when I try to block them from my computer? They place obscure writings inside little boxes so you can’t get rid of them. Couldn’t they just ping my account to find out that I am female. Maybe I could use random dictionary words or biblical phrases that have nothing to do with my name, address, phone number, relatives, etc. I guess I’ll just have to keep trying. In addition, you not only need to remember a password, you also need to remember an ICON! Computers are supposed to make life easier – not get us overloaded with obscure things to remember. My granddaughters were kidding around about installing a new “chip” in my brain because it’s getting a little harder for me to remember all the things I need to remember. Not a bad idea kids! Hope you’ve started on it. It’s probably the only safe place to put a password, anyway.

The Mourning Paper – E-style

This week, our Hartford Courant came with a special insert announcing its new “electronic edition.” My first reaction was “ho hum” because I do, on occasion, refer to the online edition for special articles that I wish to forward to my progeny – such as the psychologist, John Rosemund. The People’s Pharmacy column has proven it advantages many times. (Advice is always more welcome coming from a pro than it is from Mom even if it’s the same.) I love the Flavor articles, and especially the cartoons! OMG, the cartoons! I hope they’re going to include the comics – they’re the first thing I read every day of the week. For years, my refrigerator had Funky Winkerbean hanging on the door. Now, my very favorite (since I have 5 teenage grandkids) is Zits. Jim Shea always leaves me laughing and copies consistently go to my son, who also writes a humor column. Ah, and all those yellowed pages in my photo albums of poetry, humor, cartoons and just plain stuff – are these now things of the past?
I said to my hubby as we sat reading our morning paper that if at some point we got too infirm to make it up our long, steep, driveway, the electronic edition would be fantastic. Then I became mortified as I contemplated all the ramifications of an electronic newspaper. We sit together each morning reading our favorite sections – we talk about them, compare thoughts on the articles, recommend pages to each other, and chide each other by passing the comics around and discussing the UConn men’s and women’s basketball news and we compare political philosophies. Would we would need to go into our own home offices with our morning coffees and email each other? Or, worse – would we stop communicating? The newspaper is one of our most sharing moments of the day – then we each go about our business until lunchtime – sometimes even dinnertime without crossing each other’s paths.
Years ago, as a young woman working in NYC and commuting from Long Island by subway and train, it was an art to learn how to fold a newspaper so you wouldn’t infringe on someone else’s space in cramped quarters. My father and I worked the jumble puzzles together on our way to work. If you didn’t have time to buy your paper, you’d read over someone’s shoulder or across the aisle or wait for somebody to finish his paper and walk away from it. Now if you want to do a crossword puzzle will you need to run to your computer to print it out? Are we converting to laptops and ipods for the news?
I notice lately that the television newcasters seem to just hint at a story, then refer you to their websites. After working all day, do you really want to hook up with your computer just to see “what’s new”? When I was a working person (now retired) I was happy to leave my computer alone for the evening and pursue other things. We constantly remind our younger generation to read more and spend less time on the computer. Obviously, we’re not paying attention to our own words. Are we saving trees and gasoline? Probably. But, sometimes, progress just isn’t!

DDD Report

Today’s blog is not for the eyes of my son-in-law – it’s been outlawed at his house. I would not recommend it for anyone under 60 years of age, so kids, this one’s not for you. It’s the Disease, Death and Dying news of the day. Seems like once you get to be a certain age it’s a common thing. I remember my Mom and and my mother-in-law on a regular basis would give me the updates. “Remember Ruth? She used to live next door to us when you were 3? Well, she died yesterday.” “Did you hear about Harriet? She’s got cancer.” “Poor Mary! Her husband dropped dead of a heart attack.” I called my daughter one day to tell her that Pavorati had cancer, and my son-in-law went nuts on me. “Don’t tell me that stuff – I don’t want to hear it!” Sadly, it’s something we all will face as we age. News of friends in the hospital, ill, or failing, become very common. I lost my best friend when she and I were both 41 years old. That’s a shock that lasts a long time. I lost a niece at 23 years old and there are no words for that. A friend went into the hospital for an appendectomy, and 2 weeks later was discharged after a multitude of mishaps. It all goes with the territory called life. As the years go by, the DDD report grows longer every day. We try to change the subject and talk about anything else – even politics if we have to!  After all, death, taxes and politics never change!

Volunteering

Sometimes, in my retirement, I feel guilty that I am not volunteering somewhere for some charity or organization that could use my expertise. When our four children were growing up, my husband and I were constant volunteers in the children’s school, music and sports activities. We did field trip chaperoning, built stage sets, spent endless hours making costumes, and mentoring kids backstage during rehearsals, baked endless cookies and cupcakes, and sold raffles. I have thought about mentoring, foster kids, teaching computer skills to others, soup kitchens and on and on. However, I realized recently that I am still doing these things in a different way.
My grandchildren could ask me to do anything, and I would be there for them. They enrich my life, charm and amuse me, and sometimes, I lose sleep at night worrying about them even though I know they are in very good hands. I especially enjoy mentoring at homework time (although one granddaughter (14) insists that I am tutoring). As long as the questions are not about math with x in the equation, I’m good. Those go to Grandpa or Mom. My grand-daughter’s self-confidence and grades have improved which is just as much a source of pride for me as it is for her. In addition, we get to spend some wonderful time together discussing science, her career goals, drinking tea, baking, and watching American Idol if time allows. It is a one-on-one time for us and I hope she will look back on this someday as a special time. I also love to go to her choral concerts and her volleyball games. I could be doing this with a stranger’s child, but I feel fulfilled and accomplished by being with my own grandkids.
One of our grandsons spent quite a bit of time here before he started school. His mom worked one day a week and he stayed with me. Now that he is older (almost 9) and in school and playing sports, those times are a lot fewer, but just as special. He would sleep over and wake me at 6 a.m. His little face would be nose to nose with mine and he would say “Memes, so what project are we doing today?” I finally made a rule that he could not wake me until 8 a.m. (I usually never made it until then, but at least I didn’t have to come up with a project – usually a superhero costume – until after breakfast.) He came up with some winners – superheroes I never heard of. I would have to call his Dad or go online to get a glimpse of these characters so I could replicate them out of cloth. We’ve made a photo collage of some of the creations, and I can’t believe how young he was at the time, and how he managed to wrap me around his little fingers. His big brown eyes would fill with tears during his goodbyes, and my heart broke every time. One-on-ones are so special. Invariably, his cousins would come over to spend time with him which he dearly loved, and still does. My closets are still full of “project stuff” which I am loath to toss because he now has a younger brother, and the kids are always looking for a “project.” We were able to enroll him in basketball “camp” and in MLS soccer camp for a couple of summers which meant he had to stay with us a week at a time. I also spent many hours with him at our neighbor’s pool where he learned how to swim. He loved the water enough to almost conquer his fear of dogs. He had to get through the gauntlet to make it to the pool, but he knew once he hit the water, the dogs would not bother him.
My mom was not a crafty person – with 5 kids she didn’t have time, anyway. My Great-Aunt Madeline introduced me to crafty things. I didn’t spend a heck of a lot of time with her, but remember two projects in particular. We went to Jones Beach one day – my first time there. After collecting pails of shells, we went back to her house. She pulled out a can of silver paint and some brushes. Voila – my first crafting project. Later one she taught me to make artificial flowers from crepe paper and gave me a supply of paper and wire to bring home. I never did much with crafting after that, but learned to sew to the point of teaching sewing, and delving into other areas of crafts a little here and there. Now I’m constantly keeping my eyes open for kids’ projects or projects for my senior lady friends to do.
The other day, I reminded my 15 year old granddaughter about her early piano playing days. At about the age of 2 or 3 she would come to my house, sit at the piano and place a music book on the stand. She would call me into the room to “turn pages” for her. She would play a little random melody, sing, then look at me and nod her head to tell me it was time to turn the page (which of course I did willingly because it was so adorable). She and her sister would come to my house for their lessons until the teacher broke her elbow and was unable to teach any more. By then, the girls had gone on to other instruments – the flute, clarinet, and voice, and soccer. Again, it gave me a wonderful opportunity to mentor, spend time and develop close relationships with these girls.
One of the kids first introductions to classical music was the “William Tell Overture.” The arrangement starts out with cows “mooing” then goes into the fabulous “giddyap” music. We developed a dance to the beat of the music where they would gallop in place for part of the music and when the beat got faster, they would gallop around the room. There was a lot of giggling going on, and some great exercise as well. We all still laugh about it, and they want to teach the younger ones how to do the “moos” as they call it. Some great memories there.