Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trust The 'Net? Never!

Sure, the internet is good for kicks and giggles. I enjoy blogging, posting pictures on Facebook and trouncing my opponents in fantasy football.

But do I trust it with my most closely guarded secrets? Do I want to transact all my confidential financial business on-line?

Absolutely not.

However, it seems that we're all being pushed in that direction. They want me to bank on-line, pay bills online and of course forever shop on-line.

Despite gentle prodding by the government, I refuse to even do my taxes on-line. When they make it free and absolutely secure, maybe. Until then, no. But the Internal Revenue Service just sent me a notice that said they're not even going to mail me a tax return this year. Since they expect me to file my taxes electronically, they will no longer mail out paper forms.

I'll tell you what, IRS. I'm going to leap ahead technologically here. I'm sending my tax returns in by thought transfer. Saves postage, computer bandwidth and your precious paper. Just give me the name of the appropriate IRS clerk and I'll start mentally beaming him the figures.

At work this year, they've stopped mailing out the booklet containing our benefit options during open enrollment. Look it up on-line, they say.

Check-writing also is becoming a thing of the past. Now it's debit cards and wire transfers. But at our house we still write checks and neither my wife nor I own a debit card. They've notified my wife this past month that she can't add minutes to her cell phone by calling on the phone. Use the internet instead. And now they're even pushing for on-line voting.

Why don't I trust the internet? C'mon. Google "Identity Theft" in Google News and you get 2,481 hits. It's that common.

Just the other day I got an e-mail from my son Greg. The subject line was about a highly pigmented eyeshadow palette he had just bought. What? Had my son joined a punk rock band or something? Turns out that somebody stole his e-mail address and address book. Now they're spamming all of Greg's friends and family.

Here's something I just read here JUST TONIGHT. There's a program called Firesheep that adds a tool that shows when anyone on an open network -- such as a coffee shop's Wi-Fi network -- visits an insecure site. A simple double-click can give a hacker instant access to the unsuspecting user's logged-on sites including Twitter and Facebook. Since researcher Eric Butler released Firesheep on Sunday, the add-on has been downloaded nearly 220,000 times.

That's a lot of hackers trying to get my information. That's a lot of reasons for me not to put my confidential personal information on-line.

Hopefully it won't come to me having to take down my blog because nefarious forces have taken it over. If that does happen, I WILL go to thought transfer. If then you receive a series of streaming mental uploads from a "Big Dave" on a Tuesday night, that'll be me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One Bad Day

I've been riding a string of bad luck lately. It started last Saturday morning. Since I calculated that it was the morning after the high school homecoming, I rode my bike over in the pre-dawn twilight hoping to score big for my found-on-the-ground fund. Sometimes quarters are as plentiful as bottle caps after a big game.

But I calculated wrong. No game. And I got yet another flat tire on my bike which meant a long walk home.

Anyway, I talked Wendy into going out for breakfast, a weekend favorite pasttime of mine. No sooner had we taken a seat when my usually sure-handed missus knocked over a "thirst-quencher" sized glass of ice water, almost totally on my side including my seat.


Later, while driving in the car something buzzed through my open driver's side window and hit me in the head. Figuring correctly that it was a bee, I asked Wendy to see if she could knock it back out the window, or at least get it away from me. But my usually sure-handed missus knocked the bee down my backside and I ended up getting stung in the end. Ouch!

Maybe going on a buying spree would make me feel better. If we used a store credit card at our local Meijer's today, we would get 15 percent off our bill according to our latest statement. So we loaded up on paint supplies as we were planning to paint the front room. Then we bought a new phone, a couple books, some cleaning supplies and other stuff to the tune of about $200. That's a $30 discount!

But when the cashier rung it all up, no discount. Come to find out, we were a week early. Arggghhhhh! Oh yes, we took most of it back for a refund. We're not going to pay for somebody else's stupidity. Well, our stupidity actually.

What a Saturday! And my Michigan Wolverines? Don't even go there. My supervisor, an MSU Spartan fan, said to me on Monday that we Wolverines were guaranteed a better result this weekend. Really? Why? "You guys have a bye this week," he said with a smirk.

Of course, my fantasy football team lost in keeping with my string of luck. So maybe Monday would finally be the beginning of a better week. Wendy and I stopped at Lowe's to pick up our paint for the front room. We wanted the color "sand." The paint guy custom-mixed us a gallon and we took it home.

Then we found out that there were actually several shades of "sand." We had wanted something bright, like maybe the color of the Sahara. Our's seemed more like what you might find at the bottom of the Amazon.

So we ended up taking it back to Lowe's to exchange for the lighter color. We weren't going to pay for somebody else's . . . never mind. Just write it up as more bad luck.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lost And Found

I think many of my blogging buddies have rituals that they don't want tampered with. For example, many people do not like to be interrupted while eating dinner. Others may not enjoy kibitzing while they're working on a puzzle.

For me, my morning coffee ritual is a necessity at work. I get a big cup of jove, add one of my flavored creamers along with some CoffeeMate Lite and most of a packet of Sweet 'N Low, and I'm good to go the rest of the morning.

Until one day last week. It was around 10 a.m.--time for my ritual--when I noticed that my cup was gone off my desk. Oops? Must have left it in the kitchen. Old-timer's disease. Walked down the hall and it wasn't there either. That's the only two places my precious insulated U of M commemorative king-sized java holder goes ever.

So I checked the kitchen cupboards, nope. Then, on a hunch, I lifted the bag of trash in the bin. Hmmmm, something heavy in there. Dug down (oh yes, for my coffee cup I would do this) and there it was! I put a fish stickie on this cup so I would know it's mine. IT WAS THERE! So I cleaned it up and brought it home. Man, messing with my coffee?? That's grounds for murder, no pun intended.

Honestly, who would do such a thing to a fellow worker?

Speaking of lost and found, I decided to ride my bicycle by the Big House in Ann Arbor on Sunday, thinking that maybe the crowds from the big game the previous day (don't ask) may have left something interesting in their wake.

And they did. Check out the photo. I found it on the ground near a parking lot.

That's a rather wicked looking pocket knife, isn't it? What's a bit surprising is that it's engraved with the name Ashley. Whoa. My theory is that Ashley might be the Michigan State student my son Greg said was ejected during the game for refusing orders to sit down in her assigned seat. Spartans can be quite unruly, you know. And poor Greg. He had to usher in a section reserved mainly for visitors.

Ashley, come get your knife. No need for weapons in the Big House.

Anyway, I brought my coffee cup home and marked it up so that maybe someone will think twice before dropping it in the trash. I think I better keep better track of it too. Sheesh. Can't even trust your co-workers.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Happy Octoberfest!

I liked the above picture I took a week ago in Pittsburg so much that I decided to compose a blog around it. It's a cool shot, no?

The picture was taken at the Hofbrauhaus on Pittsburg's south side. This German style beer hall becomes very popular around this time because it is the centerpiece of the Octoberfest celebration that happens in the area.

Across the street, huge tents were being erected adjacent to rows upon row of portajohns. Ah, I can hear the strains of accordion music as I type here. And the polkas, German toasts and drinkings songs.

Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi.

I have no idea what the above means, but it was part of a toast we did in the Hofbrauhaus. "When in Rome . . . "

Now, here's some irony. About 30 miles north of Pittsburg, we stopped for the night in a town along the turnpike. Tired and thirsty with nerves jangling from traffic, I thought I would hunt down a brewski. Nothing at the 7-11, nor at a nearby gas station.

Finally found a large supermarket open 24 hours. I went up and down the aisles, quickly finding the soda and sports drinks, but not even a Michelob Ultra Lite. Then I saw a stash of O'Douls. Must be getting close. I saw Old Milwaukee NA, Budweiser NA . . . hmmmmm, a pattern is developing here. When I saw a bottle of Chardonnay with "alcohol removed" prominently stamped on the label, I figured out the obvious. A dry town.

Wonder how they celebrate Octoberfest.

We did bring back some beer particular to Pennsylvania that's not available here in Michigan--Yuengling Black and Tan. Now we just have to find an Octoberfest celebration around here or something to celebrate ourselves. A U of M victory over Michigate State this weekend would be nice.