8/12/2018 – TODAY IS NATIONAL MIDDLE CHILD DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

I was a middle child. I’m not anymore because my older brother died and my younger sister got addicted to everything and disappeared. I’m assuming she is alive since no one has told me otherwise, but I have no actual evidence to that effect.

1963

Middle children have an interesting place in family life. If the family is big, there are lots of middle children so you can have quite a heap of middle children, but in the three-child family, middle children are often communicators. We take messages to the other warring family members.

Mom tells you to tell dad whatever, which you do, then he tells you to tell her something else. You brother confides in you because you are “The One Who Talks.”

It’s a weird role for a kid. It makes you feel important. Everyone counts on you to take and deliver messages. But it’s a fake importance. What you are really doing is helping your dysfunctional family not communicate with each other.

That was the final reason I went to Israel. My marriage was tired and not doing well … and my family had gone from dysfunctional to dangerously dysfunctional. Frighteningly dysfunctional with potentially lethal results. I felt — and I’m sure I was right — that if I didn’t go far away, I would never break the chain of recriminations, threats, lies, prevarications, fear … the whole ugly wrapper.

Not all families are equally dysfunctional, but mine was way beyond standard. Matthew and I survived. I survived better than he did, though he lived a good — if sadly short — life.

He had a great wife and an amazing relationship with her. I’m pretty sure she saved his life. Although I had one really awful marriage, Jeff and I got along well. As a marriage, it faltered, but it was a strong friendship. We were supportive of one another until finally, he died. Even after we divorced, we stayed friends.

I was right. My time in Israel broke that chain of me as the family communicator. Unfortunately, my mother died … and then, there was only my brother, and then Jeff and Matthew died — both much too young.

2012

But then there were new friends. There was the internet.

I communicate again. I don’t see your faces, but I feel you. I worry about you, want to know you are okay. You matter to me. I am not good at virtual relationships. To me, you are real. Distant, I admit, but real.

Stay real. Stay well. Stay safe.

CONTACT FROM TWITTER – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP #70 – CONTACT


You might want to read this.

No, the prez didn’t put me on his list. Not the contact list or the “kill her before she writes something else” list. I’m not sure there really IS such a list, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Instead, I got this note from Twitter. So now, if you want your stuff to show up on Facebook, it’s going to be entirely cut and paste. Mind you, that’s not all that difficult or time-consuming. It’s the way I did it for at least four years of blogging. It’s just one more thing to bug me.

It has been a very buggy sort of week and keeping my mind right has not been easy. I feel like the world — the entire corporate entity we call the world — is out to get me on some level or other.

Maybe I should reconsider Instagram.


Twitter
Posting Tweets to Facebook
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Thanks,
Twitter


So there you have it.

I’m not really sure what the point of all of this is unless it’s yet another outcome of how much the various social media outlets dislike each other and don’t give a fig about us.

These corporations are always telling us how much we matter, but I’ve never seen anything which proves that they care about us at all, one way or the other. All they want is money. More and more of it. And, apparently, it doesn’t matter how much because there’s no limit to how much they will try and squeeze out of us.

If I could think of any other way to publicize the blog, I’d do it. Unfortunately, I can’t.

Twitter made contact.

Golly, what a pleasure to hear from them!

FOWC — CONTROL? WHAT CONTROL? – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Control

If I thought that maybe I had finally gotten my online life under control, I was wrong. Again. It’s just getting worse and worse and there is no end in sight.

I just got this message.


Dear Marilyn,
As one of our registered users, we bring to your attention that on June 4, 2018, at 1pm EST we became aware of a data breach involving 92.3 million email addresses of MyHeritage users, and their hashed passwords (these are not actual passwords).
We learned about the breach when MyHeritage’s Chief Information Security Officer received a message from a security researcher that he had found a file named MyHeritage containing email addresses and hashed passwords, on a private server outside of MyHeritage. Our Information Security Team received the file from the security researcher, reviewed it, and confirmed that its contents originated from MyHeritage and included all the email addresses of users who signed up to MyHeritage up to October 26, 2017, and their hashed passwords. We made a public announcement about the breach within 8 hours of learning about it.
Your email address was one of the accounts in the data breach.
Immediately upon receipt of the file, MyHeritage’s Information Security Team analyzed the file and began an investigation to determine how its contents were obtained and to identify any potential exploitation of the MyHeritage system. We determined that the file was legitimate and included the email addresses and hashed passwords of 92,283,889 users who had signed up to MyHeritage up to and including Oct 26, 2017 which is the date of the breach. MyHeritage does not store user passwords, but rather a one-way hash of each password, in which the hash key differs for each customer. This means that anyone gaining access to the hashed passwords does not have the actual passwords.

That is more than 92 MILLION PEOPLE whose email addresses — at the least — have been breached. There is more to this information including that they are sure no one really got passwords. I’d like to believe them, but since this hack was way back last October and I’m only hearing about it NOW, I don’t know what to believe. At least they don’t store credit card numbers. I suppose I should be grateful at least for that … but do they now have my DNA results? They say not, but they could. AND my husband’s.

You want to know how we get hacked? This is it. Companies get hacked. Half the time, they don’t know they’ve been hacked until months later, after which they do everything in their power to cover it up.

Hackers don’t need to breach our personal computers. All they need is information they get from hacking the companies with whom we work. I’m beginning to wonder who has NOT been hacked. Which company I use has thus far been spared.

Has any large company been spared?

Anything that sounds too good to be true isn’t true. Anyone giving you something for free is lying. Calls from Microsoft or the make of your computer (Dell, for example, or Mac for another)?

It’s a hack.

I got a call from “Dell Customer Service” this morning. Although Dell hasn’t announced a breach, I’m guessing there has been one yet to be announced because hackers have my computers basic serial numbers– which unlike a password, are embedded in the computer. As are numbers for every computer made. That’s how we can identify where the information came from and to whence it is going.

teravivos.com

There IS no safety as far as I can tell. Don’t talk to anyone on the phone if you have no reason to expect the call. If you have not contacted them and asked for a return call and given them a code word so you know it is actually the real people calling, HANG UP. No conversation. Don’t be cute. Don’t play mind games. Hang up. Immediately.

On another — yet somehow parallel concept — Donald Trump, our erstwhile national leader, seems to think he can trust Kim Jun On to “do the right thing” vis-à-vis nuclear arms. Right.

It’s another hack. Our NATIONAL hack.

I WANT AN AUTONOMOUS HOUSE! Marilyn Armstrong

Autonomous house, autonomous life!

The self-driving vehicle is on the way. It’s on the news and in the news. A few accidents. One death. But considering the number of accidents just backing out of a driveway in suburbia, that’s pretty good.

I can actually see a day coming when Robert Heinlein’s vision will have arrived. Not exactly as he predicted, but close enough for folk music.

We could definitely use a self-driving car because neither one of us wants to drive anywhere, but we are driving a not-yet-paid-for second-hand 2012 Jeep Patriot, so a self-driving car doesn’t look likely to appear for us.

Autonomous cars would be great. Finally, we could blame everything on computers. Nothing would be anyone’s fault. The manufacturer’s of colliding cars could duke it out in court and all we’d have to do is recover from being slammed by a 40-foot moving van. Anyway, by then, medicine will be free. I know this because we are all moving in the direction of more freedom for all Americans.

We aren’t? Did I mis-hear the news again?

However much an autonomous self-driving vehicle would solve many issues, an autonomous, self-repairing, self-cleaning house would really do the job! If a tile on the roof gets damaged, the technology will grow another in its place. You’ll never know it happened. The furnace, will operate on hydrogen drawn from well-water and will never need filling. Rugs will be permanently free of dog hair, grit, pollen, and mud.

Pipes would never clog.

Of course, this presumes that we continue to get rain and have wells and aquifers. And we don’t turn into a charred desert or return to the Cretaceous period and have to live in trees.

Mostly, I want the autonomous house where everything gets fixed and I don’t have to figure out how to pay for it or even know I have a problem.

This whole “take care of your house” and “please don’t back into anything” is getting old.

I don’t think ANY of us should be driving. We are too distracted. Overly busy with phones, not to mention worries, conversations, and work. There are too many cars. Everywhere. Even where there aren’t a lot of people, there are still too many cars.

MAKE IT ALL AUTONOMOUS.

Anything you can run without needing me to do it, I’m a BIG yes. Please do not send me a bill.

Why is it always about MONEY?

I, CLONE – Marilyn Armstrong

Doppelganger

So my clone went to the police station this morning to report being hacked. It wasn’t a crime because I was massively inconvenienced, but nothing was stolen. They tried, they failed.

I spent all day yesterday until the wee hours of the morning trying to reconstruct my computer. It’s now about 75% done. I take long periods off because I really hate this part of computing. It’s just boring and you sit for a long time watching percentages very slowly going up, finding the latest version of whatever software you used to use and you try to install like you did, but for some reason, this time is doesn’t want to install.

Some stuff has disappeared entirely and you realize you really don’t remember most of your passwords. Consider the possibility of getting one of the pieces of software that saves your passwords … but what if something happens and IT goes missing — taking all your passwords with it? Don’t tell me it can’t happen. It definitely can, has, and will again in the future.

I am adding this because it proves that I ALMOST have my photography stuff working. Almost. Not quite.

It turns out, the policeman with whom I was speaking got hacked too and his computer is in the same lock down mine was in. Lucky guy, because I know how to fix it. It is very easy, insanely boring and takes FOREVER. No hard choices to make and no requirements of knowing anything about computers. Mostly what you need is endless patience.

I told him. He was figuring he was going to have to go buy a new computer, so maybe I saved him a thousand dollars or so. It felt good to know something useful to someone else.

There’s a lot of this going around and there will always be more to come. I pointed out that Charter, our Uxbridge cable company (we don’t get a choice, someone made a deal and we live with it) has a firewall which — in theory — should have stopped this. But Adobe was hacked. Experion was hacked. Bank of America was hacked.

Given one thing or another expecting Charter to protect us was stupid, but I wasn’t thinking about getting hacked. Viruses and worms — but HACKING? Seriously? Me?

Just because I could do it!

I was afraid of viruses and worms, but not hacking. Why would anyone bother to hack me? We have no money and we are no one special.

Apparently this is a totally random venture. Because no matter who you are, these rat bastards can try to squeeze a little money out of you.

All my credit cards are fraud-protected. I lost nothing. They were also on the ball. Amazon and Walmart stopped the crooks before I knew they were there, while we were at the hospital. Which was when most of this was going on. I’m not sure if my being home would have made a difference. I wasn’t, so it doesn’t matter.

I promised the people at PayPal that I’d go to the police and report it because, she says, they collect the data and it’s important if we want to ever get rid of these rats.

They really ARE rats.

WOULD IT BE PREMATURE TO ASK … Marilyn Armstrong

Premature vs. Post-mature

Premature indicates a time “before maturity” has imposed itself. Like –“childhood” or “infancy.” Or still budding, yet not bloomed.

Personally, I am post-mature. I flowered, then I got old and my petals fell off. No amount of putting stuff in the water is going to fix it.

Right now, I’m dealing with a lot of stuff. Getting the car fixed from a small but significant accident. This requires setting up a time with the appraiser, renting a car, making a date with the repair shop — at least a four-way deal. It’s also long past the point of finding out exactly which surgery Garry is supposed to be getting for his ear, not to mention and finding out about the technology.

We need to get the chimney fixed though I’m assured it will survive at least one more winter, or so we hope.

There’s a lot of tearing down coming up, too. Removing the collapsing shed. Tearing down the long out-of-use outdoor shower. Fixing the mangled back lawn where the snow plow kid hit it hard with the plow and left it a mess. He was the one who was going to come back and fix it. I think he left town.

What are the odds of my getting this stuff done? {Possibly approaching zero on a close order. Effectively, if I wait for texts and emails., it could also be never. It’s amazing how many texts and emails you can send without accomplishing anything. Without ever setting a time, or place. Whether it’s surgery or appraising the damage to the car.

I’ve given up on emails. They don’t get stuff done. It’s the procrastinator’s tool for prolonging something you don’t really want to do anyway. It turns out, despite rumors to the contrary, a month of emails back and forth doesn’t get an appointment made as fast as a five-minute phone call.

No number of emails to and from your doctor will make you feel like you actually know what your surgery involves. There are many things requiring a personal encounter and a conversation. With questions asked and answered. Especially when you want to know exactly what is going to happen, you need to talk. If you need to know precisely how and when it will happen, ask the questions and get real answers.

More wires!

And — oh yes — how much is this going to cost? You can run through a month or two of emails when a short call will handle it 100%.

Yesterday, we made a date to meet someone for lunch — and we did it in (gasp) one quick 3-minute call. He’ll email the address for the GPS, but we have a date, time, and location for FOUR PEOPLE! Imagine that.

That is my post-mature opinion on the matter of talk versus endless electronic messaging.

–  Texting is for people who don’t want to really be involved.
–  Talking is for people who want to solve a problem.
–  Emails are for people who want to say they never got the email. It is the ultimate procrastinator’s tool.

All life feels pretty much premature. We don’t have a date for the surgery, don’t know the technology involved. Don’t have a date with the appraiser or the repair guy or a car rental. Neither of us know when or even if the chimney is getting fixed. Garry is doing errands and I’m on telephone and email patrol. Which is like doing nothing — with purpose.

I thought all this technology was going to speed up the processes of our world?

As far as I can see, all we have done is extend the amount of time and effort it takes to do every little thing. We are also managing to avoid doing a lot of things entirely. The dates never actually get made. The appointments you only remember because you get an automated call from the hospital.

Doves on the wires in Phoenix, Arizona

It really is living in a bubble with no fixed address. That’s apparently what people really want.

Personal? No one has time to be personal. There’s no time to talk, no time for a leisurely conversation. No time to hear the sound of a friend’s laughter because that’s not available on an electronic communications device.

“I’ll text you.”

And I’ll be waiting.

SUICIDE OR CUSTOMER SERVICE? CLOSE CALL – Marilyn Armstrong

Just as I was thinking I finally had it all more or less under control, Garry’s iPad decided to NOT work this morning. This is probably because they put a new operating system on it last night. I know this because I went to use my mini and it was getting a new operating system, so I assumed Garry’s was getting one too if not at that precise moment, then sometime really soon

So, when Garry went to use it this morning, nothing worked. It refused his password, didn’t recognize his email. Basically, it was gone. Garry has zero patience with all things mechanical or electronic. The only reason he no longer kills every vacuum cleaner instantly is because I threatened him with permanent injury if he broke another one.

I don’t care how he feels about dirt. You have to empty it even if it is inconvenient and will make the process take an extra five minutes.

Computers? Oh, that is so much worse. I do not believe he is nearly as technologically inept as he seems. He doesn’t like technology, doesn’t want to deal with it, and has no patience with it. He wants to turn it on and after that, it’s supposed to work. Without any problems, ever.

He handed me his iPad. “I don’t have time for this,” he said. We had no plans for the day. It’s just he wanted to take a shower and watch some baseball. What he meant was “You always have time for this, so fix it. I’ll be back later.”

If there was one thing I didn’t want to do, it was call Apple customer service. My eyes rolled back in my head. I pretended I was dead. That didn’t work, so I looked up the number and called Apple. After bypassing the robot (why do I even try to talk to them?), I got a Person.

I told him that I was not in a good mood, that my recent encounters with his colleagues had not been positive, and I wanted this to get fixed really fast or I was going to stuff it back in the box and send it back and then they could figure out what to do with it. I’d had enough.

It didn’t take the 15 minutes I hoped for, but eventually, with repetitions of doing the same things we’d done before (and before and before), eventually, we got it to work. Without a password and no credit card. Loaded with Chrome. Garry’s iCloud email was deleted and if not deleted, no one will ever use it because the only people who know it exists are me and Garry and we aren’t talking.

Meanwhile, Microsoft tried to insert the broken download again. It failed. I ignored it. When they get it to work, I’m sure someone will let me know. Or it would install. I should mention that that’s the last time I let Microsoft mess with my computer. I had to completely revise my sound and they left all kinds of little applications laying around my desktop. If you’re going to borrow my computer for your research, clean up your junk when you’re done.

The Apple guy on the phone this morning was very nice. It was just that he was maybe the fifth or sixth Apple tech in a couple of days — and I’ve had it. NO tolerance left with anyone saying “I know it’s awkward, but that’s how Apple does it” after which he admitted that personally, he uses a PC and finds Macs annoying. Too many fiddly security things.

I said: “Thank you. So far, nothing I’ve done on a Mac has been easier than it was on the PC and as for photography, it’s at least 50% more difficult to do the simplest stuff. I understand about security, but at some point, most of us will ease up on security with the aim of just sending the email without having to enter one more (“Please make it something you will easily remember”) password.

This was also before I discovered my own little mini 4 was going to need to be fixed, too … but by then I was pretty good at it. I’ve had quite a lot of lessons in Mac management the past week.

I think we got it done. But that’s it. I can’t take any more. I’m finished. Not merely is dealing with these people infuriating, but it is incredibly boring. I may not do much with my days, but sitting on the phone arguing with people who know less than I do about computers is not on my list of choices.

You could drive a gal to suicide this way, you know that? I’d rather get my teeth drilled before I deal with customer service again.

Except my doctor’s office. I love them.