I was hacked. That is, my computer was hacked. A person had gotten my “secure” email and password without my knowledge. How do I know this? Because people have been calling me or emailing me and asking me if I really emailed them recently asking them for money.
For the first time, my email address has been hacked, and it is embarrassing that I probably participated in the hack.
Doug, my computer guy, had warned me that I should not respond to anybody or any server asking me to verify my account. But I did.
Ostensibly, Microsoft was making some “updates” and directed me to verify my account with them.
At first, I did not respond. Then they threatened to shut down my email account, but I still resisted. Then they told me I had a new contract with Firefox as a default server or something. I replied that I did not want Firefox.
Then they said I had to verify my request.
Finally I gave in and verified my email address.
Somewhere along the way, I was notified that my invoice for computer security protection from Norton was due and payable. $400. I bit again and said I had not authorized Norton to provide protection. They responded they would use my credit card to pay this amount, I said I don’t use credit cards and I would not be paying their firm.
They said, “If you’re not going to pay, then we will shut down your computer.”
I said “Lot’s of luck” and my screen went dark.
Gosh! Gosh damn!
Anyhow, now I am getting emails from a variety of contacts and thankfully most are saying they are disregarding my request for them to set up an Amazon account for them in my name, because my “email did not sound like me.”
The bottom line is I may have to change my email address and that will be a hassle.
My son said he knew of others who had been hacked. He named a mutual friend, I called her and she verified she had indeed been hacked. There’s that word,”verified,” again.
And the worst thing about a hack? Recipients may think they are getting a request from somebody who is desperate for money. I would like to assure them this is not the case of yours truly but whom will they believe?
Prior to this, I extolled the virtues of the internet so people could communicate with one another all over the world.
Now, I’m not so sure.
Time reports 47% of Americans today belong to a church or synagogue or mosque, according to a Gallup survey analysis. This is the first time in eight decades that Gallup data has shown membership dropping below the majority.
What does that tell us? It suggests religion, per se, does not hold this nation in its grip as it once did with the founding fathers. “In God We Trust” may still be found in text or on coins, it is about as bonding as wishing one “a nice day.” It is more of a wishful hope than a required proclamation.
The abiding hope among all men and women is that this good life will not end, that we will all eventually “go to a far, far better place.” That all sufferings will cease and nothing but eternal life of green pasture awaits us but you have heard that song before. All one can do is await that day of reckoning with or without a bow towards a deity who might make that dream, or myth, come true.
I mentioned recently that I had submitted a good short story to The New Yorker, but they replied “thanks but no thanks.” I am still smarting under that rebuke.
Here is the first part of the story. Does it not grab you?
The sign on the battered pickup read “Yart Work.” It wasn’t much of a pickup and not much of a sign. The letters were formed with a can of white spray paint.
The apparent owner, operator and chief grass cutter was sitting on the running board cleaning his fingernails with a pocket knife. Seated next to him was a lovely young woman in her late teens…and her golden red hair fell gracefully about her shoulders. She wore a peasant blouse, short skirt and sandals. In contrast to her breathtaking beauty, the man seated next to her was unshaven, wearing dirty ragged overalls and appeared to be twice her age. An unlit cigarette hung limply from a corner of his mouth.
A well-dressed man approached the pair, and with the late afternoon sun in his eyes, squinted at the man cleaning his nails and asked, “Do you do yard work?”
“Ain’t that what the sign says,” the unshaven man questioned.
“No. As a matter of fact, the sign says ‘Yart Work.’”
The man seated on the running board, who had been cleaning his nails with a pocket knife, fixed the stranger with a steady gaze, folded his knife and rose from his seat. His eyes bore into the stranger as he tried to decide whether he was being made a fool of or if the newcomer was offering him some work.
(That’s all you get unless The New Yorker comes to its senses.)
An elderly looking man staggered into the doctor’s waiting room and collapsed on a chair next to a white-haired but alert looking gentleman.
“What are you here for,” inquired the white-harried gent.
“Just a general check-up,” the other man replied.
“You look pretty good to me. What’s your secret?”
“No secret. I drink a quart of bourbon every day, smoke about two packs of cigarettes a day and I’m usually out with at least one woman every night,” he replied.
“That’s amazing,” marveled the other. “How old are you?”
Robert Minch is a lifelong resident of Red Bluff, former columnist for the Corning Daily Observer and Meat Industry magazine and author of the “The Knocking Pen” plus his new book “We Said.” He can be reached at email@example.com.