May Santa Poop In Your Stocking and Smash Your Ornaments

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Subtitled: An Open and Passive Aggressive Letter To A Jerk

Dear Festering Canker on the Butt Crack of Society,

On the weekend after the American Thanksgiving holiday I see that you managed to find yourself, and maybe a few of your slackjawed mouth breathing friends, in my neighborhood.

I can’t blame you because I live in an awesome neighborhood. Those houses that line the block are old, pristine and outrageously expensive.

It’s a neighborhood so nice I can’t afford to live here. Well, I mean own here. My economic status is evidenced by the nearly fifteen-year-old vehicle that I have to park on the street in front of the building that houses my teeny tiny apartment.

One of my neighbors who also lives in a small but well appointed apartment had parked her nearly decade old Volvo behind me on that fateful day. I know her, she knows me. We park near each other a lot.

So yeah, there are some really rich people who live on my block, but my neighbor and I are not among them. We managed to slip our middle class selves unnoticed into this nice neighborhood and enjoy the benefits of tree lined quiet streets and a walking score of an outrageously high 93.

I can see how you might show up in this neighborhood and see the opulence and think to yourself, “I need to mess some sh– up.”

And so you started with my neighbor’s Volvo. About eight months ago this same very nice person had a different Volvo, but a drunk college brat came careening through our street and bounced of her car and several others (thankfully I had parked across the street from her on that night) thus totaling her beloved old Volvo. That thing was a classic. She was heartbroken.

But her insurance kicked in and she lovingly replaced it with this used but in good shape model. You decided to be “cool” and rip the side mirror off of her new/used car. Ripped it clean off and left it dangling by the electrical cords. Aren’t you so clever?

Then you set your sights on my Jeep. You popped the passenger side mirror out and folded it over. It’s an SUV so it’s okay to do that. It’s a tough offroad vehicle and I’ve moved past bendy Willow branches that were stronger than your weak sauce.

It appears you wrestled with it a little bit because the case is cracked but your underdeveloped arms weren’t strong enough to twist it off of my Jeep.

Pause here, hand to heart in honor of my Jeep people.


So, since you weren’t able to complete your impotent act of vandalism, you then moved to my radio antenna. Yes, my Jeep is so old it still has an old fashioned non-retracting antenna that stands tall, reaching far into the universe to pull down radio waves and send them to the interior of my vehicle.

I have listened to hundreds and maybe thousands of baseball games on that radio using that antenna. Jon Miller’s voice so deep and bassy that it vibrates the cheap factory installed speakers in the doors. Well, speaker and door, singular. The driver’s side speaker hasn’t worked since 2005 and I never bothered to get it fixed.

But that’s not the point.

You got your giggles satisfied by ripping the antenna off my car. I can see from the clean spot in the dirt on my Jeep you had to lean in a little to get that done. I hope my antenna gave you a valiant fight. I hope you tore some skin when you ripped the metal and then carried it off.

You know, I grew up in the kind of place where there was really nothing to do on a weekend when school was out. My friends and I did some seriously stupid shit, too.

The quest to steal lawn ornamentation comes to mind. As young bucks we’d get a little sloshy and then go on the hunt for lawn ornaments. The people and culture of New Mexico tend to lend themselves to neighborhoods littered with plastic and clay items purchased over the border and brought home then proudly displayed on patchy grass and dirt lawns.

So yeah, we took stuff, but we always treated it nicely and often we’d go out on another night to return the things we took. Not always to the same lawns, granted, but the intentions were good.

All that by way of saying that I get it, the need to be young and dumb and act like an idiot.

But for eff’s sakes! There is A LOT to do in this town. We live in a hotbed of unique things to do, and not even all of them cost money.

Nah, you wanted to leave your little limpy mark on the world by destructing the property of some people who value our tired old hoopties the most.

Congratulations. You win. You got me.

I will rebuild. I will eventually have my antenna replaced. For now I listen to either scratchy FM stations or I pop in a CD. Yes, my car is so freaking old it still had a CD player.

And as the Christmas seasons dawns merry and bright, my wish for you, dear vandalist, is that Santa Claus takes a giant squat in your stocking while smashing your favorite ornament to bits.

And that someone takes something that you value very much and vandalizes it.

Happy Holidays!







Image found here.




Hazard! Caution! Warning! Actung! Attenzione!

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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.




I’m Legit – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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And so I am back, for now, to blogging.

I’ll be posting soon about the agony and ecstasy of the insidious little (gigantic) hack on my blog.

It’s been quite a ride and isn’t quite over. The good news for my readers is that I have had several scans done and it appears my blog isn’t serving malware, so I have that going for me.

For today, I think I am unhacked. We’ll see how long that lasts. (probably not for long, as my internet research has told me)

And so today on a Happy St. Patrick’s Day, let’s do a throwback Monday.

On this day of the wearin’ of the green and the drinkin’ of the green beer, many people from a variety of different backgrounds will claim their Irish heritage.

I will authenticate my own heritage by posting this photo of me and my 100% Irish grandmother:





This day also matters as it is the day the first post landed here on Oh Fair New Mexico back in 2007.

Today I celebrate a lucky seven years of blogging.

I have to admit, with the recent hack-a-roni, I deeply considered giving up blogging. Or maybe taking a break. But I made a promise to myself in 2007 and I’d like to keep going.

If the hack-a-thon keeps up I may have to move to another forum, but for today, I’m here, I’m Irish and I’m blogging.

Now, despite my deep Irish roots, I was raised in the Great State of New Mexico. That means I am going to celebrate Éirinn go Brách by toddling over to my local Mexican restaurant and diving in on some mole.

Because why not?

Why not indeed.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you Irish and all of you wanna be Irish. Today we’re all from the Emerald Isle!

Sláinte!




The Same Sight, Different View

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Growing up in New Mexico, I was used to being around a certain amount of wildlife. I knew from an early age: Stay away from rodents (bubonic plague), keep off the snakes (bitey) and if you happen across a bear, well, nice knowing you.

Ok, just kidding on that last part. Kind of.

My dad and brother were both avid hunters and I spent more than my fair share of time in the mountains and wilderness of New Mexico. Still some of my best memories.

I live in the Bay Area now, which is a huge urban area (seven million and counting!) that is surrounded by lots and lots of open land and wildlife.

When wildlife happens to wander into areas where a lot of people hang out, insanity ensues. It seems most folks weren’t raised with both a healthy respect and a dose of circumspect when it comes to wild animals.

I got to thinking about this because just two days ago, while running late to a meeting at work and trying to find a spot in a cramped parking lot, I narrowly avoided hitting both a white Honda Civic and a rather grumpy wild turkey.

And I don’t mean the kind of wild turkey that comes in a bottle.

The Honda (who was taking their half out of the middle of the road) just kept going but the turkey gave me a fair piece of its mind. I nodded knowingly and muttered “sorry turkey” and kept rolling.

When this happened, I remembered that about six months ago, we received an all employee bulletin regarding the turkeys that are running a bit rampant on our main facility.

Here is the text of that bulletin, with identifying information redacted:

Recently, an employee got too close to a wild turkey, and the bird flew up and brushed against her. The incident serves as an important reminder that the turkeys are untamed animals and need to be given space. Allow at least 10–15 feet of clearance, try not to turn your back on the birds if they are close, and do not feed them.

It sort of paints a visual picture for me of some lady sneaking up on a turkey and it going all hockey style hip-check on her.

Of course, I laughed my butt off when I got that bulletin because, well, sheeyah! Leave the wild things alone. I quickly emailed it to my best friend who passed it along to her husband and two kids because, coincidentally, they were turkey hunting in New Mexico (and not having much luck).

And since we have so many turkeys and deer and lots of other wildlife here at my place of employ, we also have mountain lions who think a nice turkey dinner and a nap is the right idea.

So while I’m enjoying lunch today and thinking about life, and my coworkers who are batbonkers crazy, I came to some conclusions.

1) People are weird.

2) Not everyone was granted the education I had regarding wild animals or animals in general. Though for the most part I think they mean well.

3) Don’t touch the bitey things.
    3a) Most animals will bite, even the tame ones.

4) Turkeys are not very agile. Skinny legs and big old body are all out of proportion. Still, I’m glad I didn’t hit that gobbler. That might have been sad.

5) Man I could go for a turkey sammich right about now. Anyone else?


Ok. Back to work. I’m headed out on foot to the next meeting.

Maybe I’ll have a brush with a turkey?

How exciting.






Not my photo, but taken at my place of work






Photo from the Bay Area Bird Blog.




So This Is Evil. Right?

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In my internet wanderings, I often find myself cruising beauty blogs for makeup advice tips. I am flat out terrible at applying makeup in any sort of especially appealing manner, so I’m always on the lookout for easy and fabulous looks. Or something like that.

While on one of these jaunts, I stumbled across this particular service called Anaface which is a facial beauty analysis. All the girls were piling in there to have their face analyzed and were reporting results. Some ladies were very happy. Some were sad.

And I thought to myself “what a crock of crap,” and yet, I bookmarked the page.

When I’d see that bookmark I’d ponder it, wanting to quickly upload my photo, then harrumph and go off again.

Today, the lure of my low self-esteem was just too great. I went in.

I began with this photo of myself in which my hair and makeup was professionally done and a master photographer took my image. In this photo I think, “Yeah, you know, I look all right.”





Then I uploaded that photo to the Anaface service. From there I helped the software by using my pointer to locate certain measurement spots on my face like the sides of my eyes and edges of my nose.

The software did its analysis and crunched the numbers and I arrived at this result:

“You are a 7.64 out of 10”.





I am ashamed to admit I was at once happy (almost an 8!!) and depressed (what, I’m not a 9?).

Then I read the laundry list of “Here’s why” and I began to feel like crap about myself.

Poor horizontal face symmetry. What? I thought the human eye found slightly asymmetrical faces to be more attractive anyway!

Your nose is too wide for your face width. What? I have a funny little thin nose actually.

Compared to your eye width, your innerocular distance is nearly ideal. Huh? I don’t even know what that means. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I mean, “ideal” sounds top notch, right?

So I harrumphed and my inner feminist got outraged and I Googled this facial beauty analysis thing to understand what the actual hell was up with this. I expected to see people out there as outraged as me. What I found was other analysis sites to try.

Then low self-esteem won out over self-righteousness and I uploaded my photo again, this time to a place called Pretty Scale.

Same sort of drill, I helped it find measurement points and it crunched the numbers and said: “77% You are pretty!”





And that sweet, sweet dopamine rush kicked in at the words “you are pretty” and I felt validated and superior and attractive for about 52 seconds and then thought to myself, “what, only 77%? I’m not more pretty than that?”

Only Pretty Scale doesn’t give me the rundown of things I can obsess about that are wrong with my physical appearance like my mouth being too wide for my nose. No, it just coldly arrives at a score and shoves it at you and runs away.

Then I realized how galldang evil these kind of websites are and how this is yet another way to make both men and women feel bad about themselves.

To their credit neither site was trying to sell me anything in order to capitalize on my poor self-image created by these bogus scores, which kind of surprises me.

Meanwhile, I honestly admit that reading “you are pretty” made me feel so good on a low, base, shallow level. And for that I’m the littlest bit ashamed of myself. And a little bit proud. And a little bit more ashamed and a little bit….

You get the picture. And when you get the picture, don’t upload it to a facial beauty analysis bullcrap site, okay?

Because to me you are beautiful just the way you are.





___________________________

By the way, Gollum clocks in at a respectable 6.9 out of 10. His innerocular doohickey is also nearly ideal.