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Three score and ten or more

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A well constructed virus is the next best thing to hell.

I have been functionally offline for three days. I picked up a virus, I am not sure how, but I left my computer for a few minutes, and came back to find it in a circular rebooting mode. I turned it off manually, let it sit for awhile and turned it on again. It automatically went into safe mode and then a brilliant green screen came across where my wallpaper used to be that said that I had a virus and some spyware attacking my computer and needed to-- about that time, my virus killer came on to tell me that "Warning, a virus has been detected" and gave me the opportunity to delete. I did, and the screen went momentarily back to safe mode. I immediately noticed that I had acquired a new icon on my desktop and another on the lower work table (whatever in heck it is called). I right clicked the icon and my screen filled with an apparent antivirus program titled Antivirus XP 2008. I quickly killed that and discovered that both of these icons were labeled with that title. That was the beginning of one of the most frustrating episodes of my computer semi-literate life.

I tried spybot search and destroy, a program which has served me well in the past, but half way through the scan it crashed. I tried scanning with my antivirus program (yes I have one, and it found about six virus's which were deleted. In the meant time, my little icon on the lower part of the screen sent a note that Antivirus XP had discovered 1 virus, and I should install the program to get rid of it. I realized quickly that Anti virus XP was the virus. I called my son the computer guy and he suggested that I go into CONTROL, see if it was listed on the programs and try to uninstall it. I did so, found it, clicked uninstall and the program worked beautifully except that seconds after it finished, the Anti virus xp program showed up and, I suspect, laughed at me.

With the help of another son (and the first one) I found a page from google which explained how to get rid of this thing, and for about an hour I followed instructions through directorys and segments of my program (which had notations warning against deleting any thing in that segment) and after a day or two of frustration most of it got deleted (My virus scan then went back and found the remnants that we had missed) and my computer now works (for a while)

I discovered that this virus, masked as an antivirus program has a web page which offers to sell you a program and give you a FREE SCAN. It is a damn lie, the free scan intalls the virus (which will give you notes at the bottom of the screen listing an new number of viruses about every three minutes. The last notice I had said that it had Identifies 3627 viruses and I had better pay the money and install the program in a hurry. It is not only virulent, it is a scam to which many people have paid money and received a hellacious virus in return.

AVOID "ANTI VIRUS XP 2008" LIKE THE PLAGUE (For which it is a reasonable substitute).

Upon reading about it on a couple of the webpages that are dedicated to helping you clean it out, you will find that it has infected lots of computers and managed to get a lot of people to pay for it.

As a side note, yesterday was my birthday and some good things happened. On the day before the big day, my oldest son made a wonderful low country boil, with enough food for about twenty people. My wife took me to the movies. We had planned to see MAMA MIA, but just after we were seated, they announced that the air conditioning had died in that screening room and we could have our money back or see another movie. We went to Batman.

I really liked Batman Begins, and expected to enjoy this one, but I found it totally predictable with long philosophical garbage between the action scenes. It was at least thirty minutes too long. (Dear wife was dozing by the time it ended). The make-up for "Two Face" was good, the makeup for the Joker was pretty bad (though the role was one of the better acted roles in the movie) The two elderly supporting actors (both of the names just slipped out of my now "Three Score and One More Than Before" old brain) were great old pros and the movie moved up a step each time one of them was on the screen.

Last night , on the birthday itself, Janet took me to the most expensive restaurant in town (called Christopher's, it was very nice, good food, good atmosphere and good company, (and I closed my eyes when her credit card came out)

I have had a peripheral neuropathy for 16 years and my feet generally are always in pain, so my ultimate gift from Janet was --believe it or not-- a professional pedicure this morning. It was quite wonderful and may become a part of my regular routine. After sitting there and watching me through the process, Janet has suggested that I now "Know what she wants for her birthday"

Well I will close my now functioning computer and go to bed.

Avoid and protect yourself against Anti-virus XP 2008 at all cost. Do NOT go to their web page.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stuff that ticks me off.

I received a phone call a minute ago from some dang lawyer's office. You know the call, it has two people alternating "We have and important message"--rom the offices of Dewey, Screwfolks and Howe"--"About an important legal issue"--"for Jane Doe ". "It is crucial that you contact our office immediately" "at our call back number" 333 333 3333,"An operator will be at that number"....etc.

Of course the call to our number was for a previous owner of our house who is now living in heaven knows where. This computer generated piece of crap will probably be used as evidence of non compliance with some law suit and "Jane Doe" will either not receive a payment that was due her as a member of a class or will receive a bill for some money that she won't understand at all.

If they come to your number and you try to call to inform them that they have the wrong number or that the person no longer lives here, you hit a computer generated screener that asks your ID in four different kinds and your number lives forever in some lawyer's scam list.

Some time ago I went through a three week period of three calls a day from Citibank that successfully convinced me that I would never answer one of the weekly mailings I receive from that company offering me "pre-approved" credit cards. I wish I could shoot a 400 volt current into any machine that makes this kind of call.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I have been writing a lot lately but have had trouble getting it to "post" stage. I have one thing almost finished that is really a comment on one of Saurkraut's posts, another that deals with the death of one of my students while he was under my supervision, and some "like" posts that are so close to me that I have trouble finishing them.

On TV last night, however, I saw something that tickled me. In whatever program it was there was some lovely young lady who was trying to explain that someone like her could possibly be a real geek. (in this case meaning computer nerd). Not long later there was a Best Buy commercial for their "Geek Squad" (meaning computer repair and installation typed.) This all called up a memory of what it meant in 1952 (and earlier) to be a geek.

I'm telling a tale out of school that I don't think any of my family knows about so,
family that reads my blog; prepare to be a little shocked. (Or you may have heard this elsewhere and just never let me know).

As background, a lot of the more exciting things that happened out in the boonies had to do with fairs, carnivals, circuses, etc. I actually had teen age fantasies about running away with the carnival or circus, but I really couldn't figure out what in the world I could do except put up tents, take down tents and stand out to take tickets. I had some theatre experience but couldn't figure out why anyone would want to cast me in Othello for a side show. You know how it is.

The big circus was always the Ringling Bros, Barnum and Baily circus, which sometimes performed in tents, and at least once performed at the local fair (really rodeo) grounds, and a variety of big and little carnivals that moved in an out of town. But the really big thing was the Eastern Idaho State Fair which was held annually in Blackfoot, a smallish town about twenty five miles from my metropolis of Pocatello. Members of my family, together or on our own, frequently attended the local things, but I only remember attending the Blackfoot fair three times.

Once, I think that I went with my parents or with some Aunts and Uncles when I was junior high age. A second time, about 1950 or 51, I went with some guys with whom I worked at the Union Pacific Shops (I vaguely think that some of them skipped out of work to go, though it was on one of my days off.) The third time was (I think) the summer after I graduated from high school. I actually had two or three different jobs that summer, but went to the Blackfoot fair between jobs. I had earned a fair amount of money, and I hooked up with a couple of the neighbor guys who invited me, and off I went to spend money, see the rodeo and bands, wander through the side shows, etc. After while we got separated and I found myself standing outside one of the side shows talking to one of the "carnies". I recognized him from a previous summer, when at one of the side shows the barker picked volunteers to stand up and read a pitch for the sideshow and whoever won(I don't remember how it was judged, but I could never resist a crowd) would get in free and win some kind of prize. The guy I was talking to had been one of the acts in the show, and after it was over, he kidded me about going full time, that I was a natural, and I bought him a coke. (He was a sword swallower).

For some reason, I recognized him, and he me and he kidded me about "running away with the carnival" and wondered if I was there to join. (laugh, laugh). I told him I was a Mormon, and planned to go on a mission in a couple of years and that would be enough carnival for me. After a little while he lead me back stage to look around, and he told me that if I was really interested, and didn't want to be a barker (which, he said, was unlikely because most of the front men owned the shows they were promoting) he would teach me to be a geek.

Now, at that time, the only person whom I had ever heard called a geek was a retarded boy who was in my elementary school classes some years before, and I stated that being a geek was not one of my ultimate ambitions. He got a little testy right then and stated that geeks were to side shows what "flyers" (trapeze artists) and animal trainers were to the circus. They were the kings around which shows were built.

At this point, he had my attention, because he obviously considered himself one of those, and he WAS a geek (he said). He then went into a history of geekhood which revealed that in earlier times geeks were not respected because they did things like kill chickens and drink their blood etc. but now they were the best. The primary activities were sword (and neon tube or a variety other straight long things) swallowers. The trick, he said was to learn to completely control the gag reflex. (If you gagged with a steel sword or a neon tube sticking down your throat to the point where your stomach opened into the small intestine, your career, not only as a geek, but as a living person was going to be short.) He then gave several free demonstrations that were really impressive (telling me that if I didn't buy a ticket and see the show he would hunt me down and insert some of those things he was using, into a completely different part of my anatomy.) He took me to his trailer and showed me a collection of live white mice which he used for shows, and, in my presence he took a mouse, petted it, caressed it and lifted it up an swallowed it. He then said some words to me, bent over a bit and spit the thing out into his hand, after which he wiped it off with some kind of disinfectant and it ran happily back into the cage. (Can you imagine a representative of PETA at that moment). He bragged that he could swallow bird shot, even some poisons in capsules and the spit them up before they could do harm.

I was beginning to get a bit edgy by that time, probably because he seemed to be getting friendlier than I really wanted to be, so I excused my self, but as we were walking out, he posed the thought that geeks were the healthiest people in the world. No geek could get an ulcer because he controlled his digestion and if something gave him heartburn he could spit it up without all the gagging that the rest of us go through. I left, and hunted up my friends, refusing his offer to introduce me to the front men both of the side show and the carnival, where he could arrange a job that I could do until I learned how to be a geek.

I did pay to go into the show, with all of the guys who took the trip except one who said he really wanted to ride the Octopus again before we left for home. The show was impressive. He actually swallowed a small snake of some kind in the show as well as doing some other stuff that I think I have managed to forget. I was quite a celebrity among guys in the neighborhood for knowing this guy (I had his business card, I kid you not, for awhile.)

I will say, that watching the Best Buy Geek Squad pile into their VW or whatever it is, always had new meaning to me. (As will it possibly have for you as well.)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Health News for those interested.

I took almost three days to write the last post. This one is just a copy of an Email that I wrote to friends because a number of the blogophiles here followed our adventures in Finland in 2006 rather closely, and I have grumbled, whined and complained about the lack of progress on Janet latest health adventures.

I probably included some folks(in the email) that don't care about this and I am sure that I have left off some that would, but we have finally heard from the doctor at the Medical College of Georgia. (For those to whom I haven't whined, she saw the chief of cardio-thoracic medicine early in April. After studying her CT scans and a 3D model of her aorta, he told her that he was going to try to do an endovascular repair of her new aneurysms --read, a full length aortal stent--that she should have her surgery within four to six weeks, and that he would call us in about a week to schedule the surgery. Since that time, getting any information has been like pulling teeth. We have called, emailed and written letters, not to mention prayed, but couldn't get anything clear. It has been a bit terrifying.)

The surgeon called today and told us that he had been sending her CT scans to colleagues all over the country and had been consulting about the surgery. Traditional surgery had been ruled out because of the degree of scar tissue etc., left over from her aortal surgery that took place in Finland in 2006 (brilliant surgery, they all assure us), but that the other problems seemed extremely serious. Dr. Landolfo, the surgeon at MSC said that their final conclusion was that, if an emergency arose he would do the surgery, but that he didn't feel comfortable with the chances of success. He, in company with our regular cardiologist, is referring her to a surgeon (whom he assures us does these sort of things all the time, and is about the only one in the country who does) in Houston, so it looks like we are going to make a trip to Houston as soon as it can be arranged. It may be interesting. When we went to Finland we went for a week and stayed three months (and survived, thanks to Ed and Jaana Rogers and Brother and Sister Stromberg who provided housing, and moral support for the whole time) It will be interesting to see when we go to Houston, where I will stay, and how long, but it is such a relief to have some concept of what has been going on and what will/might/may happen in the near future.

Thanks to those of you who have sent good thoughts, and who care.

Richard B. Johnson, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Actor, Director, Puppeteer, Playwright, Teacher,Writer, Thingmaker, Mormon, Person, Fool. I sometimes think that the last persona is the most important- and most valuable. Http://www.PuppenRich.com