HACKED – Marilyn Armstrong

Isn’t it fortunate I got a second computer!

It turns out this hacking thing is a big deal and it was all over the TV news tonight. They are hacking routers. Apparently, if you reboot your router (unplug or turn it off — wait 20 seconds — turn it back on or plug it back in) will help, but you need a patch from your manufacturer. Which I can’t get because my aging router, bought in 2015 (!) is no longer supported, though it is still for sale on Amazon. Very popular, too.

So to get my computer back, I burned it down. Fry baby fry.

Deleted everything on both drives, added a new version of Windows 10 and now I’m reconstructing it. I kind of forgot what an empty computer looks like.

No documents. No pictures. No application. Nothing at all.

It’s alarming. It took me two tries to get it to “take,” so I’ve been on the phone or the computer pretty much all day yesterday and today. I haven’t been writing or editing photographs. I’ve been figuring out WHO the hackers are — the same groups in India that are sponsored by the Russians and gave us good old DJT, our worst ever president (though to be fair, there have been other stinkers).

This set of hackers are dark web kiddos. Wow. Amazingly, they got nothing. Not a thing. Not a dime. I have been massively inconvenienced, but it didn’t cost me any money and I am extremely lucky. I had to cancel a credit card, create ALL new passwords for anything that mattered.

My brain is spinning. I restored 70,000 pictures to the hard drive and I have to restore documents, but these are all old documents and can really live in the external drives.

Bonnie guarding my computer

I’m sure everyone who has ever been hacked has asked the big question: Why me? There is no answer. People get their identities stolen every day. Credit cards are frequently hacked. This is not even unusual. I suppose what made it unusual was that I am so careful, I didn’t expect it.

Although I’ve restored pictures to my computer, it’s midnight and I’m tired. It’s going to take me a few days get a grip on things again, so I’m probably going to comment when I can, respond as best I can manage, but this has put a big hole in my life.

You have no idea how glad I am that I had my photographs and documents backed up on external hard drives. If I had been using all “clouds,” I’m not sure I could have restored things they way I have. Mind you, I’m not done. There’s a lot of software I still need to download including OpenOffice.

That’s for tomorrow. I’m glad I have my computer back. I wasn’t sure how this would go. It could have been much worse — and this was bad enough.

Reboot your routers, folks. Actually, it’s probably a good idea to do that every day or so. On principle.

WE ARE ARCHAIC – AND I’VE BEEN HACKED – Marilyn Armstrong

ARCHAIC

We were the hot new writers that got WordPress ‘on the board’ back in their early days, but we are old now and they want something different. More money. A lot more money. Apparently the profits they are making are insufficient to keep them rolling along, so pretty much everything that made them special is being trashed in favor of getting more people to buy expensive — very expensive — business accounts.

Since most of us are NOT businesses, we can’t possibly afford the price and for a writer or photographer, the offering is meaningless. If you aren’t selling a product, you simply don’t need what they are selling. And since they aren’t offering it “piecemeal,” it’s impossible. So at the end of this month, there will be no daily post, no weekly photo challenge, no other challenges. None.

That was the second worst news of yesterday. The top news of the day was I got hacked. Not infected with a virus, but actually hacked, like big companies. Which is pretty weird since this isn’t a company, big or little and we don’t have any money. What we do have and what they are after, are credit cards. I have been very cautious about adding cards to services. That’s the plus. And they didn’t get anything money from me, though they tried. Amazon spotted them and closed me down immediately as did PayPal. Walmart took a lot longer, but ultimately got it done.

The problem was not solved on my computer, so lurking beneath the surface of my computer is a massive porn site in Nigeria and under the pornography is a bunch of hackers from the dark web.

Whoa! The dark web? Seriously? Me? Why me?

I’m sure everyone who has ever been hacked has asked that question while pointing their lonely face at the virtual sky.

The answer is I don’t know. I’m sure that Microsoft knows and so does Dell, because the only way I realized I had been hacked was that they called ME. These guys are on their “hot list” of dangerous hackers, so now I’m listed on the “dangerous hackers” site too.

My accounts are closed and the only serious problem for me is that this includes Kindle books and Audible. I don’t have a password at Amazon and won’t until I call them and tell them it’s safe.

That’s the bad news. The better news is that I back up my stuff. Pictures and documents are all backed up to external hard drives. NOT clouds because if they were clouded, I might not be able to even get to them. The less good news is that my PC is closed down — off — and that’s where all my photography and processing software lives. So making pictures is going to be difficult until I get my other computer back.

The better news is that Garry and his ears are ready to move on to the electric Borg cycle in his hearing epic. We are waiting for the doctor’s scheduler to call. Sometime in July, probably. We’ll know more soon.

Overall, it hasn’t been one of my better weeks. I’m trying to not get too depressed — and not quite succeeding. It has been a week of losses and discovering no matter how careful you are, you are vulnerable. The bad guys are out there and you are the target. It isn’t because of who you are or anything special. They are looking to steal your credit card information and they have some amazing tools with which to do it.

Back up your stuff externally on hard drives you own — and be extremely careful about leaving credit card information in your online accounts.

Then hope for the best.

Just one picture today because it’s the only one I’ve got at the moment. Everything else is on hard drives that don’t interact well with this Mac … or on the other, off-line computer.

Great day in the morning, my friend. GREAT day.

GUILTY – BUT WAS I CHARGED? Marilyn Armstrong

BROUGHT UP GUILTY

To be brought up Jewish is to be brought up guilty. I think Catholics have a similar problem. We are guilty of different things, however. Catholics have the whole “sin” thing to deal with. Jews get to be guilty about all of Our People who were slaughtered in various parts of the world because they were Jews in the wrong country at the wrong political period.

Hofstra University 2014

Often, for us, there was no right period. Until relatively modern times — minus Nazi Germany, of course — Jews were anathema to most Christian monarchies.

And all the countries were monarchies. We did our best for the long years under Islāmic rule. They were fine with Jews as long as we didn’t tread on their religious sensibilities and tiptoeing through other religious ideologies is a very Jewish thing. We got lots of practice.

When I married my first husband, he had no religion. I mean literally none. They didn’t attend any church and I doubt anyone had ever been baptized. Jeff thought he might be a Druid and planned to return as an oak tree. I was a non-practicing Jew. So we got married by a minister that his mother remembered had buried some family member.

We didn’t have a real wedding. No church or synagogue. No wedding gown. Just a little get together with a minister (Methodist, I think) and a few friends. A couple of weeks later, my mother had a reception at their house, which was nice because it was casual. We didn’t need fancy invitations. After which, we got on with the business of being married.

Our house in Baka, in Jerusalem

So, when Owen was about to be born, we had to figure out what to do about religion. We didn’t have any and neither of us were believers in dogma. I had a friend who was also a rabbi and he said he was not a believer in pediatric Judaism.

Neither were we, so we just didn’t do anything … except we had Owen circumcised which gave him a whole set of Jewish godparents … then we had him Baptized and Garry became his godfather. And that is why Owen’s middle name is Garry.

The Dead Sea

When Jeff and I divorced and I took Owen to Israel, it seemed a good time for him to be Jewish, so he had a Bar Mitzvah there, at the only Reform synagogue in Jerusalem.

He got a 6-year dose of Jewish guilt, but then he went back to the U.S. and forgot all about religion.

I got to keep the guilt. He got to be American.

Summer afternoon on the Mumford

Guilt can be a mother’s best weapon to manage recalcitrant children, by the way. Owen may not remember much Judaism, but he sure does remember guilt. Not bad at using it himself, now that I think of it.

DISAPPEARING FOR THE DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Good choice of prompts for our day!

We’re off to see the wizard, in this case, the audiologist at UMass Memorial in Worcester. Hopefully, this will be the last step prior to setting an actual date for Garry’s cochlear implant surgery.

Home 

Off to see the wizard!

Let us hope this goes well!

Optimism reigns at Kachingerosa.

AWKWARD CAN BE CUTE IN A KLUTZY WAY, RIGHT? – Marilyn Armstrong

Awkward?
Photo: Garry Armstrong

Me walking anywhere. More like limping. Me, trying to clamber into the bathtub and hoping, praying, I’m not going to fall down in the process.  Awkward is anytime I have to go upstairs. Worse, slowly and awkwardly going down. I rarely fear falling upward, but I’m always sure I’m going to fall down.

My days of grace have wandered far into the distance. Not that I was ever really graceful, even way back in the days of youth. I always felt like my feet were about to get tangled together and down I’d go. About the most graceful I ever felt was on horseback!

Now, I’m glad if I can get anywhere and not fall on my face doing it! Some of us are just born that way.

MISCELLANY OF ODDBALL PHOTOS FOR CEE’S CHALLENGE – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge

With a mere hint of Narcissism

I was reading through Rich’s story of ye olde days of vinyl records and remembering when we had probably a thousand pounds of them — between all of mine and all of Garry through 30 or more years of collecting — and how getting rid of them was really easy after they were all soaked when the basement flooded.

As for narcissism? Regard this and ponder the word and its meaning:

As I was remember fancy sound systems with speakers all of the room so you’d get the sound “just right” — if you sat right in the middle of the room which was pretty much impossible because there was inevitably a table or something else already in the middle of the room.

While thinking about this, what should pop out of the bottom drawer of my night table, but …

One Sony Walkman

I was pondering whether I should call a  museum and see if I could get a few bucks for it … and whether or not it might work, assuming there wasn’t an exploded battery inside it. I had to take a picture of it anyway. I mean — who has an almost perfect Sony Walkman anymore? I remember when this was THE device to have. Before cell phones and a thousand versions of listening thingies, this was the one to have. Now, they are trash. So goes the world.

And then, Garry found this one. What is most interesting is the question: you mean, we have water slides in Uxbridge? Where?

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Waterslides?

I also took a picture of what has to be the very last cactus flower.

Finally, the very last Christmas Cactus flower

On one of the many long rainy days of the past couple of months, a wistful picture of the Duke, looking out the window into the gloppy, muddy yard.

Duke on a rainy day

And finally, a laboring gardener, optimistically assuming that we are going to have a summer … if it stops raining. Any day now …

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Happy Sunday. Since I started writing this, we have had rain and sun, rain and sun. Right now, sunny … but I see the clouds coming back so soon? Who knows?

COMPLICATION, COMPLEXITY AND NO ONE IS LISTENING – Marilyn Armstrong

What constitutes a complication?

When does the complexity exceed the nature of the problem to the point where someone would really rather die than have to deal with all that “stuff”?

For example — it’s dinnertime but the shrimp isn’t defrosted and you can’t cook the potatoes because you ran out of onions. Home fries without onions? Are you mad? Or, it’s Thanksgiving and the oven won’t turn on. How are you going to make that big bird? Turkey stew? Seriously?

But those things are simple when compared to medicine, doctors, hospitals, and tests.

The Front Door at UMass Memorial where they said I didn’t have an appointment

Life is a mess of complications and complexities and misunderstandings. I told you that, but you heard something else. You told me everything, but I forgot what you said — or even that you said it.

The older I get, the more simple I want life to be. I want appointments at a time when I can reasonably get to them, not at 7:30 in the morning following an hour and a half drive. There are some tests they insist on medically that are so complicated, I think I’d rather just die.

My favorite was the one where they wanted to examine my brain. It had taken weeks to even get the appointment. I got there, they’d lost the appointment. They made me a new one, but this one was so complicated, I was grateful when it came around and I had the flu and couldn’t go. Be there — in Worcester — at 6 in the morning. Get tested. Wait two hours for another part of the test. Wait until a doctor is available.

More of UMass Memorial

I said “Why can’t I just talk to a doctor and explain what happened? Maybe none of these tests are necessary?”

“The doctor insists,” she said.

Au contraire,” I murmured because I was the patient and I insisted I be allowed to talk to the doctor before testing starts. In the end, I didn’t take any tests. I was sure I didn’t need them. They were procedural rather than diagnostic. Expensive, time-consuming, unpleasant — and more than likely — useless.

Whatever is wrong with my brain, so shall it remain. I really would rather die. Sad, but true.

Too complicated. Call me crazy, but I think we should be able to talk to the doctor before they order a lot of complicated tests. Sometimes, you don’t need the tests. If no one talks to you, how do they know what you need?

The world is complicated, at least half the time because everyone is doing what someone else told them to do … and no one is listening to anyone at all.

No one is listening.
No one.