WHACKADOODLE VIRUS

I have some solid armor on this computer. Not only the version of anti-virus that comes with Windows 10 (which I had been using for years before it became part of the system), but also Malwarebytes to pick up any slackers. Between the two, I haven’t gotten a virus in a long time.

Today, I popped over to YouTube and  voilà! One virus ahoy. “IF YOU TRY TO REMOVE THIS, YOUR HARD DRIVE WILL FA … ” except it never got through “fail” because it got whacked by both virus blockers in one heavy hit and down it went. Sadly, it left Chrome messy. Time to delete it. Chrome doesn’t deal well with being “a little bit broken,” so unless you are planning to deal with its “little bit of brokenness,” you have to take it down and then, put it back.

This isn’t a big deal — usually — because while it takes a few minutes, Google gets itself back in business fast. But, I had to dump not only Google, but all its “pieces.” I would have to depend on Google to restore itself. Once I was sure I’d gotten rid of the viral page, I deleted it the rest of Chrome. And all the little pieces of it, what they call “the backup” stuff. I took it all the way down and suddenly, there was a screen.


Why did you delete Chrome? — Me: Virus 

Do you want it back again? — Me: Yes, please.

Click here. — Me: I clicked there.


Thinking about two. Don't ask why. Just ... two.

Thinking about two. Don’t ask why. Just … two.

No problem if I had the slightest memory of the password I used. I wrote it down because who doesn’t write down their passwords? But I wrote it in my gmail account. Which was the thing I couldn’t get to because …

This is the moment when you usually threw your hands in the air and scream “I GIVE UP!”

No more. Now, before I had time to find a paper and pencil, the phone was ringing. And there I am, trying to wrench the top off my pen so I can write down the number. Phew. Got it!

I put in the numbers and in went Gmail and Google. After a while, as I passed some time checking the new settings (Google is always new), everything came back.  The whole kit and caboodle. Though I’m pretty sure I’ll have to replace every single password for all the sites I use, but it was time to dump them anyway. Remind me I said that.

There was a thing on TV. I think it was on the Sunday NBC shows about passwords and how no matter what the people in the biz say, passwords are personal and often, there’s a whole story in each password.

Is that true? Are all of our passwords in some way part of our personal story? I think my early versions of passwords were likely stories. But now? Time has required I include capitals and numbers and at least one expletive, so my passwords are memories of times from a long time ago — with expletives and numbers jammed impossibly between.

Sort of almost memories.

FIVE YEARS OF SERENDIPITY

Today is Serendipity’s fifth birthday. Very few blogs survive this long. I’m amazed to find myself in such rarefied company!

Since February 2012 when I decided to give this blogging thing a shot, to an eclectic site featuring five intelligent, creative, smart — and often funny — writers creating relevant, unique content, it’s been quite a trip. We’ve got friends around the world in places I’ve only dreamed about and probably will never be able to visit in person, but I go there regularly in spirit.

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Through Serendipity, I’ve traveled to every continent and I hope the journey never ends. There’s so much world out there.

It’s really hopping on the Internet these days and we are closing rapidly on half a million views. I’m personally astounded at this turn of events and all I can say, is wow, thanks everyone! And it’s not because of one or two viral posts but rather a compendium of many posts, by me, but  now by Rich, Garry, Ellin, and Tom, too.

Online friends are real. I feel like I know you and share your lives and I hope you feel the same about me. I miss you when I don’t hear from you, worry when you are sick. Always wish you were my real-life neighbor so we could sit and schmooze and eat too many cookies.

A blog is a living thing. It thrives because of you. You read. You comment — and you inspire me. We engage each other. Exchange ideas, news. We teach each other all kinds of stuff. We enrich each others’ lives. We make each other laugh and cry. In time of trouble, you make me feel better. Because out there, in that great big world, we are friends.

I didn’t think I’d still be here — writing or even breathing — in 2017. I certainly didn’t expect this bizarre world in which we are currently living. But, if there’s a bright side to this mess. Life may be horrifying, frightening, weird, and surreal, but it’s not boring. There’s always something to write about. Maybe you shouldn’t think about that too hard. Maybe I shouldn’t, either. In fact, forget I even said it.

From all of us, to all of you, I’m very glad we inhabit the same planet and are connected to each other. I love you guys.

NOMOROBO AGAIN AND THE FILTERS OF LIFE

FILTER | THE DAILY POST


In the course of disconnecting, then reconnecting our telephone service, Charter also removed all of the settings and filters I had put on my phone. Everything from voice mail to blocking anonymous calls was wiped out. Including NOMOROBO, the add-on that makes having a telephone bearable in a world full of electronic phone calls from people I don’t know, for things I don’t want, for surveys I would never answer. Pitiful pleas for donations to “charities” that don’t exist. Bill collections for people who used to live here and are forever embedded in some calling service’s memory bank.

Without NOMOROBO, the phone rings several times every morning. Early. Always a robotic auto-dialer — no one who knows us would call before noon or minimally, eleven.

I spent several of today’s early hours trying to figure out how to reset my phone to the way it was. Trying to find the settings to stop the telephone from loudly announcing the ‘THIS CALL IS UNAVAILABLE” and mangling even the most ordinary words you’d think it impossible to mess up. I was not going to get any more sleep anyway because the phone was ringing off the damned hook.

Life is hard without filters. Harder for everyone than it ought to be.

Filters keep us on track. Filters on the phone get rid of junk callers and scammers. Filters on email eliminate spam. Filters on this blog keep the trolls from getting through our virtual gate. Our personal filters — the things we won’t say because it’s “not nice” or which we will deeply regret having said — and for which, apologizing is never enough because you can’t erase the memories or destruction left in the wake of a mouth gone rogue.

People complain about filters. They call it the “PC” police. They resent not being able to just say whatever awful stuff comes into their head, no matter who it insults, hurts, belittles.  If you feel this way, you are probably a bigot and a racist, whether or not you know it.  I applaud filters and refer to them as “good manners” and “civility.” They grease the squeaky wheels of society and make it possible for us to live in relative peace and harmony.

Today, we see how one too-powerful man with an unfiltered mouth can do an almost unlimited amount of damage. One man with neither manners nor civility — no filters — can cause life-threatening harm to millions of people. Did he grow up in a barn? Did no one teach him to say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me”?

He is ugly, cruel, and full of rage. It makes me speculate as to the kind of relationship he had with his parents. Did no one ever give him a hug and tell him he was a good boy? Was his childhood as loveless as the barren, mean-spirited, narcissist who rants daily on our television screens and all over the Internet?

Last night on the Daily Show, Laurence Fishburne, currently playing Mandela – Mandiba, on BET-TV, referred to our current White House occupant simply as “45.” Garry and I immediately realized Mr. Fishburne had given us the answer to a problem with which we have been wrestling. We can’t bear to say his name, but “45” is a tidy, neutral way to identify to whom we are referring without having that name pass our lips. Speaking the name requires excessive oral cleansing to remove that icky taste. Yuk.

I think people who play bridge are going to have a problem. Just saying.

THE FBI CAN’T DO A SIMPLE GOOGLE SEARCH? – SERENDIPITY’S HOTTEST (EVER) POST

This is the post that put SERENDIPITY on the map, so to speak. It has gotten close to 20,000 hits in several versions, including a couple of followup posts. I wrote this original piece in about 5 minutes, during a commercial break in the show. When I say that no one was more surprised than me when it went as close to viral as anything I’ve written. It continues to get hits even now, more than 4 years later. Go figure.


THE FBI CAN’T DO A SIMPLE GOOGLE SEARCH?

On Criminal Minds in the première episode for the 2012-2013 season, the “perp” sews a victims mouth shut but in his mouth leaves the message “Gazing through to the other side.” The BAU FBI team cannot find any reference to this quote. So I typed it into Google and hit Enter. Guess what?

It’s part of a song, the lyrics to which essentially are the plot of the episode in which the first four victims are women, thrown into ditches, with their mouths sewn shut. If I can find this in one hit on Google, is the FBI less capable than I? Unable to do the most basic Google search? There isn’t anything more basic than typing in what you want to know about then hitting Enter, is there? My granddaughter could do this kind of search before she was in first grade.

If anyone thinks I believe the FBI is actually producing the show, anyone who can chew gum and walk at the same time knows this is a network television show that employs a staff of writers to write scripts supposed to make us believe these are hyper-competent profiler/agents. And they can’t run a Google search any grade school child can run. Wow! Bad writing and plagiarism? What a terrific combination for a show about the FBI!

There could be an innocent explanation, like the real authors of the material were paid, but never credited. I’d like to hear that. It could restore a bit of my rapidly diminishing faith in humankind.

Because it couldn’t be plagiarism. CBS wouldn’t allow that, right? Because networks, TV execs, writers, etc. are all so honest such a thing would never happen. Also, the tooth fairy left you a crisp dollar bill under your pillow.


The song is by a group named Blitzen Trapper, lead singer/lyricist, Eric Earley.

“Black River Killer”

It was just a little while past the sunset strip
They found the girl’s body in an open pit
Her mouth was sewn shut, but her eyes were still wide
Gazing through the fog to the other side

They booked me on a whim and threw me deep in jail
With no bail, sitting silent on a rusty pail
Just gazing at the marks on the opposite wall
Remembering the music of my lover’s call

So you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

It was dark as the grave, it was just about three
When the warden with his key came to set me free
They gave me five dollars and a secondhand suit
A pistol and a hat and a worn out flute

So I took a bus down to the Rio Grande
And I shot a man down on the edge of town
Then I stole me a horse and I rode it around
Til the sheriff pulled me in and sat me down

He said, you make no mistake
I know just what it takes
To pull a man’s soul back from heaven’s gates
I’ve been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
But they say it’s never too late to start again

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

Well the sheriff let me go with a knife and a song
So I took the first train up to Oregon
And I killed the first man that I came upon
Because the devil works quick, you know it don’t take long

Then I went to the river ford to take a swim
You know that black river water is as black as sin
And I washed myself clean as a newborn babe
And then I picked up a rock for to sharpen my blade

Oh when, oh when
Will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?
Oh when, oh when
Will that black river water wash me clean again
Oh when, oh when
Will the keys to the kingdom be mine again


It took me less than 10 seconds to find this. What’s going on guys? Television has become boringly derivative, but this is not merely derivative, it’s theft. I wouldn’t mind hearing from someone about this. I would like to hear an explanation.

BLOGGING – IT’S WHAT I DO

MARATHON | THE DAILY POST

SERENDIPITY will be five years old in a few weeks. Ready to start kindergarten. How quickly they grow from infants to sturdy little children with their own lives.

On one level, it feels like I just started doing this. This site is ever-evolving. It wanders in directions I never expected. Since I don’t really plan, most of my best stuff just happened because it happened. I hadn’t given it much thought. Not always true, of course. I do plan some posts, but most — often the best of the bunch — just fall out of my fingers into the keyboard. Voila! A post happened.

computer gargoyle

On the other hand, it also feels like I’ve been doing this forever. SERENDIPITY is the last thing I check at night before I go to sleep and the first thing I do in the morning when I settle down with my coffee.

I sit with my muffin or biscuits and my big cup of coffee … and SERENDIPITY is up. For the next few hours, I will write, read, edit, and ponder. I almost didn’t bother with this prompt because I couldn’t think of anything to say. Until I realized blogging itself has become my version of a marathon. It’s an endless marathon that doesn’t finish after 26 miles. It goes on and on and on as long as I and my co-conspirators have the will and interest to keep plugging away at it.

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Blogging isn’t a hobby. Writing for me isn’t a hobby. More like something I’m compelled to do.  Writing is who I am as well as what I do, whether it’s a few lines of text surrounding a photograph, or a long, researched piece about something I feel is important. i can’t just “toss something off” without at least believing it’s well-written, has a beginning, middle, and end which tie together. The typos are in there just to keep you on your toes — well, not really, but I’m a terrible proofreader.

There are days when I don’t want to do it. Then, I think, about it. I realize … this is what I do. If I don’t do this thing, with what will I occupy myself? Shall I take pictures no one will ever see? Write long emails to friends too busy to read them? Write another book (Ganeesh spare me that agony … once was enough).

So everyday except when I am traveling en route to somewhere else or too sick to do anything, I write. A little bit, or a little more, and rarely, a lot. This is who I am, and this is what I do.

I will keep doing it until I hear the cows mooing at the barn under the glow of a blue moon. Probably because … it’s just me.

WHAT’S UP DOC? ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM!

RENEWING THE PROMISE TO FIND INTELLIGENT LIFE ON EARTH … AND A THANK YOU TO ALL OUR FRIENDS
A Glimpse into 2017: You and Your Site in the New Year (Part II)

First and foremost, despite all of WordPress’s improvements which make it so much more difficult to manage this blog and keep putting out quality material, I intend to give it my best shot. As will my co-conspirators who I thank from the bottom of my heart for their contributions, love, and support.

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A huge thank you to Ellin Curley who has completed a full year of blogging and never missed a deadline! In any business, that’s a pretty big deal. Her witty, cultured, and humorous observations on the human and doggish condition have vastly improved the quality of Monday morning for me and many others!

Contemplating the years

Contemplating the years

To Rich Paschall who has not only never missed a day, but always been there to pitch in when I’ve been away, on a vacation or rather more frequently — in the hospital. Thank you, Rich. From the bottom of my heart, I have never regretted inviting you to become a part of this … whatever we are. I only wish you lived nearby so we could slurp coffee and plan projects! More than three years during which time you have written fiction, travelogues, and deeply moving LGBT stories — documentary and fictional. Your writing has made a difference in lives all over the world. You have had an impact on the community and woken up a more than a few people who might otherwise never have paid attention to a reality in which they don’t personally live. Several of Rich’s pieces are among the most-views posts published on this site.

Rich, you are a treasure!

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Garry, who is as I type this writing a piece … you are always my star on Serendipity. Your stories of the people you’ve met, the things you’ve seen, as well as your wonderfully warped sense of humor and great eye for a picture are of incalculable value to me, personally and to this site. I couldn’t do it without you. I wouldn’t even want to try.

And Tom. You haven’t written much, but each thing you have contributed has shown brightly. You make people laugh and you tell the truth in a way that people can both understand and enjoy. That’s a rare gift. Now, how about a little more output in the year to come? I know you’ve got stories. Between you and Garry, you’ve got an encyclopedia of stories. How about the time you met Timothy Leary? Huh? Now that buying pot in Massachusetts is legal — but selling it is not (huh?) …

I couldn’t have better friends or a better team. It’s a rough world out there and this is, for all of us, the one place where we can say how we really feel … and at least so far, no one can stop us from expressing ourselves. Let’s keep the world smiling, thinking, and remember to check the facts. Let’s have the best reality-based-with-wild-flights of fancy weblog in the world! We’re almost at half a million views as I write this. Lets get there and keep going. Yay team. Yay each of us.

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But the biggest thank you goes to my followers, readers, and friends. They say that friends you meet and get to know on the Internet are not “real,” but a lot of you are very real to me. You have encouraged me when I’m down, told me I’m great when I feel anything but, sent me little gifts that made me feel incredibly special. I don’t know that I deserve your love and support but you have — all of you (and you know who you are, or I certainly hope you do!) from the farthest east, to the mountains of Switzerland, to the glades and glens of Shropshire, Cornwall, and the mysterious standing stones in England … you have taken me to places I had only dreamed of.

I’ve seen the sun rise over the Jura mountains and in the Arizona desert.We got there in person —  you can’t top that!

I’ve seen the wilds of Australia and Tasmania. Learned how much our Canadian neighbors are just like us … but different, too. We’ve shared our kids, our dogs, our fears for our country’s futures. Our concerns for the climate and the natural world.

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We’ve talked about our life, loves, and many happy hours about our cats and dogs and horses. I’ve learned about growing up in places that to me are as mythical as Oz or Valhalla … and met people who have traveled and lived all over the world. And all of you have helped me feel as if finally, I fit in somewhere. I belong to this world, this strange and marvelous world of blogging we share.


ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM


Let’s all take a bow and stride forward bravely into the new year.  Go team SERENDIPITY!

WHEN IT’S TRUE – BUT WRONG

THE DAILY BLOG – AN AGATHA CHRISTIE MYSTERY


So there we were. It’s late. The dogs are sleeping. Garry and I are watching “The ABC Murders” on the BBC Poirot series. Poirot is reading an article in the newspaper, supposedly quoting Captain Hastings. Hastings says “I say, Poirot, I really didn’t say that, you know.”

“I know,” says Poirot. “But perhaps this will help us. The murderer, he sees what I supposedly said in the daily blog …”


BLOG (US)

noun
1. A website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.
2. A single entry or post on such a website: She regularly contributes a blog to the magazine’s website.
verb (used without object), blogged, blogging.
3. To maintain or add new entries to a blog. Verb (used with object), blogged, blogging.
4. To express or write about on a blog: She’s been blogging her illness for almost a year.

Origin of blog 
1995-2000; shortening of weblog – Related forms: blogger, noun

Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.


Whoa!

Blog? He used the word blog? This show was aired in 1992 and the story is set in pre-World War II England. How far back does the word “blog” go? These BBC productions are generally considered accurate renditions of the books.


BLOG (British) 

1998, – short for weblog (which is attested from 1994, though not in the sense “online journal”), from (World Wide) Web + log.

Joe Bloggs (c.1969) was British slang for “any hypothetical person” (cf. U.S. equivalent Joe Blow); earlier “blog” meant “a servant boy” in one of the college houses (c.1860, see Partridge, who describes this use as a “perversion of bloke”). As a verb, “to defeat” in schoolboy slang.

The Blogger online publishing service was launched in 1999.


None of these definitions would be used to describe a newspaper article or column … or even a published rumor. Except — this BBC TV movie was released in 1992. And the word “blog” in a form and meaning we understand is there, where it can’t be because the word did not yet exist.

But it did exist and it meant basically what it means now, except applied to a daily newspaper, not something on the Internet.

I can reach but one conclusion: My accurate sources are wrong. The word did exist at least as early as 1992. If they are wrong about this, what else did they get wrong? Did Agatha Christie use it in the original manuscript? I’d need to have a searchable copy of “The ABC Murders” to do a word search. I don’t have such a book at the moment, but I’ll try to find one. There may be one available as a Kindle and they are searchable. I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, I can’t find any source that admits any evidence that the word “blog” existed in its current form and usage prior to 1995 (most say 1997). All sources agree on this. The word “blog” comes from “web log.” Except obviously, that’s not true.

It’s a mystery worthy of Dame Agatha herself.

How many other things I know are true, are wrong? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

UPDATE: Dateline Uxbridge, 1:22 PM, EDT

After much checking in by helpful readers and friends, the word (given the heavy fake French accent …) might have been one of these three words:

Blood (which is what the transcript of the show thinks it was)

Blab (mebbe, because with the accent, anything that is a single syllable and starts with BL and is followed by an “aw” or “ah” sound could sound like blog

or

Blah, as in “blah, blah, blah” which had during WWI (around 1918), come into common parlance to mean the same thing it means 100 years later.

If anyone has the book, it would be interesting to find out what Dame Agatha actually wrote, as opposed to what the BBC production used in the script. The show is available on Netflix. It is first show of the 1992 season four. “The ABC Murders” is a movie length feature and very well done. It will stand alone as a single viewing.