creepy : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

Hazard! Caution! Warning! Actung! Attenzione!

So there I was a week ago on Tuesday, sitting at my desk and having one of the worst days at work in recent memory. There were all kinds of bonfires burning brightly on my desk. Still are.

So much so that in a recent hot project review with my manager and all of my peers, the Boss Lady remarked “wow, you have all of the really awful problems, don’t you?”

She is fairly unflappable and not easily worried by the bonfires that my job brings, so her concern means I am seriously up to my eyeballs in alligators.

As the day progressed like a hammer to the head of a nail, I decided to sit back for a few minutes and look at some personal email by way of distraction.

That is when I found an email from someone I don’t know, a Good Samaritan if you will, letting me know that my sweet Oh Fair New Mexico site had been hacked.

Oh joy. Just exactly what I needed.

This was, in my opinion, a particularly insidious hack. It was done so cleanly that I never even knew it had been hacked. Google “WordPress Pharma Hack” and read the pages and pages devoted to this really clever little invisible hack.

Instead of fiddling with my content or the front page of my blog, the intruder created something on the order of hundreds of offshoot pages from this blog. Those pages purported to sell all variety of fun pharmaceutical products, stove tops, waxing kits and more.

I suppose I should have guessed I was hacked when my website began to slow to a crawl. Then recently I noticed I couldn’t reach my website from my home network. A ticket raised at my hosting provider said “No, your blog is up and running.”

Turns out my ISP had blocked my infected web page. My blog continued to slow down even more. It began taking several long seconds to load.

I feel sort of sheepish that I didn’t figure this out for myself. The signs were there. I make a living in the tech industry, but when it came to my own blog I was a silly little twit.

So after receiving the bad news I:

1) freaked out, then

2) contacted my hosting provider who had done me the service of setting up my blog originally

Within about twenty minutes they had replied to my ticket and did their part to clean out all of the offending sites. I checked several of them to be sure they were shut off. A bit of Googling around showed me that I had been hacked going back into last year. Hoo boy.

Then I had to raise another ticket because I noticed that my usual log in page redirected me to a page that looked exactly like my log in page but had a different URL. Thankfully I did notice that in the URL line on my browser.

My hosting provider responded by giving me another way into my blog. Once in, I realized that my hacker friends had set up no less than five admin accounts on my blog and one more that was invisible. I could only tell that by seeing that I had one (1) line item for users but the count in the header of the page said I had two (2) admin accounts.

Hell, I never check my admin page, but I should have.

So I did a lot of research and I learned about PHPMyAdmin and I got new keys from WordPress to make sure if the hackers were still logged in it would crunch their cookies and I changed passwords.

And I freaked out a little more.

Then I went to Google and signed up for their webtools (as suggested) and ran through the process so I could get the “this site may be hacked” message to not show up in search results for my little blog. That seemed to work fairly quickly.

And then I freaked out less but still felt anxious. And I kept working on cleaning up the mess that was left behind.

It all feels so…dirty. I mean, I don’t get a ton of traffic to my little blog but it’s my tiny corner of the internet and this week I celebrated my seventh year of blogging. Over half a million words.

A lot of fun has been had. By me at least.

From all of this, I have learned that WordPress blogs are particularly hackable. I have also learned that some hosting providers are also particularly hackable.

I have some other things I want to do to better secure my blog, but I certainly can’t promise I won’t get hacked again.

In fact, based on my research, I probably will get hacked again pretty soon until I get better security on my pages.

I may have to just shut down the blog entirely, but for now, I’m back up. It seems to be running a little quicker. I do regular backups on the blog but I did another just to be cautious.

So there you go. For today I’m back to blogging and not selling.

I like it here. Oh Fair New Mexico makes me happy, and for the few but loyal readers I have, I hope it makes you happy too.

Meanwhile if you came here because you want to buy some good drugs off the blog, the bad guys are no longer in business at this location. For now, anyway.


*Special thanks to the kind reader who tipped me off about the hack. I am quite grateful to you.

**Humorous side note: When I told The Good Man that I had been hacked he went to look at the blog. He thought my kooky post about big cats liking Calvin Klein Obsession cologne was the work of the hackers.

Lol! I had a hell of a time convincing him that I wrote it. *grin* They can’t all be winners.

Image found here.

Who Dat Looking Back At Me?

As has been mentioned before, these days I work in an open office plan, meaning pretty much everyone from big bosses to little minions all sit and work in open cubicles.

It’s supposed to make us more collaborative, or something.

Because everything is so open and airy fresh, as I walk through the building I quite frequently get a glimpse of other people’s computer screens. Honestly, most people are working away, boring. Snore.

Occasionally people are shopping or watching YouTube, but whatever, that’s between them and their IT rep.

There is one trend I’m noticing recently that has me a bit confused. There are several people, like five I can count off the top of my head and probably a few more I am missing, who have a photo of themselves set as their computer’s wallpaper background.

Now, I don’t mean it’s a photo of them and someone else, like a nice happy couple, or dad and son or something. No, I mean a photograph of only them, and most often the photo is looking right out of the screen. Most are selfies, some are a photo someone else has taken. Some are full body shots but most are close in, framed from the neck up.

What this means is, as they work, they are looking out at themselves while looking in at themselves.

Um. What?

Look, I like myself a lot. I’m a cool chick. I like hanging out with me. I even don’t mind looking in the mirror now and again.

In fact, to quote former 49ers football player Terrell Owens, “I love me some me“.

But I don’t “love me some me” so much that I want to look at me all the live long day.

At first I thought this was only the younger employees, the kids in their twenties who are supposedly really self-obsessed. No. It runs the age gamut.

I just…can’t. I don’t understand. Did I miss a memo or something?

(See what I did there? Miss a memo. How cute, granny.)

Image found here.

And I Was Completely Sober

That is a great post title. It really is. I could go anywhere after that.

But I have something in mind and I promise I am sober as a judge as I tell my tale. (Then again, I know quite a few judges who like a little splash in the coffee mug.)

Yesterday afternoon, during the joy of a holiday from work, I went outside to take some photos. My photography club is back in full swing and this month’s theme is black & white or contrast. I had already taken one photo that I really love and was looking for my second. We get two entries each month.

Lacking any good ideas, I went outside to see what I could see, snapping here and there and everywhere to find something.

My skills in black and white photography aren’t that good (I like color), so I was shooting lots of different things so I could learn and enhance my ability.

About an hour into my backyard photowalk I remembered that around the corner is a magnolia tree in full bloom. I think the unseasonably warm California winter has confused the poor tree.

I headed over to take a look and found it still blooming, so I snapped and snapped lots of photos. I set up shots. I fiddled with my camera. I enjoyed the late afternoon golden light.

And then as I looked at these flowers through my viewfinder, I realized something…….

Some of the magnolia blossoms have faces.

Below I present my evidence.

This was the first face I saw. I thought it was just a one off:

Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014

But wait, there was another. Less obvious, but definitely a face:

Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014

And another. This one I thought looked scary at first. The more I looked, the more it seemed to be laughing with leafy arms spread wide open:

Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014

And another, this one more cranky:

Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014

Then this one, with a little bit of a surprised rounded O face:

Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014

I call this one the Picasso as it takes a little to see it and the face is a bit askew:

Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014

Then I noticed that Laughy and Cranky seemed to be having a little party together:

Photo © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014

Everywhere I looked, there were little magnolia faces looking back at me. Grumpy ones and happy ones and wilty ones and crazy ones. Little sweet smelling blossom faces everywhere my eyes fell.

I giggled with the joy of it all, reveling in the ridiculously silly ways of Mother Nature.

Then a couple pushing a stroller walked by. They looked at me from the sides of eyes, wondering at the crazy wild haired lady laughing with the tree.

Their toddler girl said to me, “Look! I have a Hello Kitty on my pocket!”

I replied, “You sure do!”

That toddler understands. She gets me. To a child with a Hello Kitty on her pocket, the lady laughing with the tree is just fine. Quite normal. To be expected.

I’m so glad someone understands.

Meanwhile, I’ll never look at a magnolia tree in quite the same way again.


(side note: I believe the most definitive magnolia photo I have ever seen was taken by my friend and fellow New Mexican, Avelino Maestas. I knew whatever photo I would take of the magnolia blossoms would pale in comparison to the photo I used as my phone’s wallpaper for well over a year. Salud, Avelino!)

All photos © Copyright Karen Fayeth, 2014 and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with a Canon G10 and touched up a bit in Photoshop.

Chocpocalypse Now

This is a bear.

A chocolate bear. A delicious Lindt milk chocolate bear. A tasty holiday morsel, a gift, a happy chocolatey treat with a red bow around his tiny bearlike neck.

This bear is a survivor. It has outlasted all of the cookies, both biscochito and sugar cookies. It outlasted the holiday decorated six pack of Toblerone that was a gift from a coworker. It has outlasted all of the Christmas 2013 bits and bobs of delicious sugary treats. It has even outlasted the giant candy cane, which is always the last to be eaten around here.

Oh yes. This bear is a survivor.

The bear was gifted to The Good Man. It is The Good Man’s bear, and so by the laws of respect and decency, I have neither opened nor nibbled on the bear. Sure, by the laws of the State of California that bear is half mine to do with as I please. But I am a nice spouse and I give The Good Man the space to open and nibble on his own present first.

But this bear. It challenges me. It torments me.

There it sits in its thin gold foil, smirking at me while I rummage and forage for holiday sugar snacks that aren’t there anymore. Oh sure, I came home from work loaded with sweet meats in the week before the actual day of Christmas. We had a dedicated shelf for all of the sugary holiday yum-yums.

But they are gone. Noshed. Dispatched with.

All except this freaking smiling bear. The bear that isn’t mine but make me want to p0wn it like the little chocolately bitch that it is.

I want to bash in its little head and gobble at its ears. I want to reach into its gullet and pull out the still beating chocolate heart and bite into it with fury and insanity and let the juices dribble down my chin.

I want to fry up its little chocolatey liver and sip from its corpuscles.

Oh yes, I want, need, must have it. It vexes me. It taxes me. I shall dominate this milky chocolate bear that hails from Switzerland and mocks me and doesn’t understand the needs of a sugar fiend.

Must. Smash. Bear.

And gobble the remains.



Do you think I probably need to back off the sugar a bit? Probably need to get a few more veg in the maw and less processed sugar snax? Maybe something protein based with a little less fat? Something with actual nutritional value?

Yeah. Me too.

Happy Post-Holiday Food Hangover.

Slightly askew photo of my chocolatey prey is Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone5 and a dash of maniacal insanity.

Wha-a-a-a-a-a-at Was That?

There I sat last night, watching something or other on my iPad in the living room. The Good Man was there too, doing something similar.

It was a nice quiet Sunday in the house of The Good Man and we were calm and enjoying the company of both electronic devices and each other (not in that order).

Suddenly I had this feeling like someone quite strong had bumped very hard into the back of my comfy chair, shoving it over about an inch or so.

Odd, though, because the chair backs up to a wall in our apartment so no one could have rammed it from the back.

Then I heard the large picture window behind me creaking a little and the front door rattling in its frame.

This led me to a big panicky feeling of, “oh my gosh, someone is breaking in!”

My now large eyes went to The Good Man, panic all over my face, mouth agape.

There he sat calmly, cool as a longtime Californian cucumber.

Every one of my nerve endings was on jangle. None of his nerves even put up their head to see what was going on.

Then I realized what was going on. “Was that an earthquake?” I asked frantically.

“Yup,” he said casually. “It was a good roller. I wonder how big it was? Oh, the USGS site is down because of the government shutdown. Let me see…”

I replied, “You look at your sites, I’ll look at mine.”

While he looked for scientific data, I took to Twitter and Facebook.

This is what Californians do when there has been an earthquake. Everyone goes online or turns on the news to see how big it was, then everyone talks about it. Where they were, how it felt, etc.

When all was said and done it turned out to be a 3.0 (just a lil’ ol’ teacup rattler, really) and it was centered somewhere nearby so we felt it a little more strongly than others.

The Good Man went casually back to his book. I sat in my chair and shook like a Chihuahua for a while, then went back to my Netflix show.

No matter how long I live here, I will never get used to the earth suddenly moving under me. It is simply creepy.

Longtime superstitious Bay Area residents will talk about how October is earthquake season. That’s when the big 1989 quake happened and everyone seems to believe the conditions are right this time of year.

Me, I know better. The ground shakers can happen anywhere, anytime.

There is also a faction of people who say “The little quakes are good! They release pressure keeping us from a big one.”

I would really like to believe that’s true. It’s not, but I want to believe.

Meanwhile, Sunday brought just another shakah in this crazy mixed up California life.

I say, good madam, t’was but a shaker. More gin?

Photo Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, taken with an iPhone5 and the Hipstamatic app.

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