October 27th, 2010


Bragging About My Dad

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. Please leave any comments there.

Because it’s unseemly to brag too often about my massive ego, which other than this shiny blog is the only thing about me, personnally, worth noting, so I tend to talk about the kids and whatnot.
So, the other day I had a great conversation about my father, talking to a friend at work about getting older. 
Friend:   My Dad ran the Army 10-Miler last weekend.
BUMD:   Hey, so did mine!
Friend:  How old is he?
BUMD:  Just turned 67! 
Friend:  Mine’s 75. 
BUMD:  That’s amazing!
Friend:  Yeah, well.  Did your dad *know* he was running the Army 10-Miler?
BUMD:  Yessss…
Friend:  Yeah, well.  Mine didn’t.  Ran pretty well, though, seemed to enjoy it.  Had to have someone running with him to keep him on course…
But seriously, running 10 miles?  I asked my father if he’d won, after the race.  The answer was both yes and no – he didn’t cross the finish line first, but he met his personal goal, which he listed as “crossing the finish line at all.” 
This, now, I can relate to.  We all have goals.  Mine are more along the lines of “still being on this side of the dirt” when I’m 67 years old – actually running over that dirt would be gravy. 
Mmm, gravy.  Now I’m hungry.  But anyway, congrats to my dad and all the rest of the folks I know who ran last weekend!


Strong Coffee = Strong Passwords?

Originally published at Big Ugly Man Doll. You can comment here or there.

When I was a much younger Man Doll, SOBUMD and I ran a web-hosting company, because we’re geeks like that.  We had clients and everything.  Now, after learning a lot about starting – and stopping – a business, we have one client left.  Ironically, she was also our first client, and I continue to maintain her website because she’s become a dear friend.  (Also, she pays us regularly, which while nice is no longer the primary motivation.)

Last night, I went to her house to review things she needed to review with me, which after more than 10 years has become something of a tradition:  I come over 2-3 times a year, in the evening after work, and she makes Coffee.  The capital letter there is required to convey the true meaning of the drink that she pours me, which is to the pansy-assed, weak-kneed, undercaffeinated bilgewater you can buy at Starbucks as the lightning, to steal from Twain, is to the lightning bug.

Have you ever seen a ceramic coffee mug cringe in fear as you walk toward it?

Last night was an even more rare treat.  To put this in some further context, my client is in her late 70s – she can see 80 without getting on her tiptoes.  So you can imagine the dual reactions of terror and horrified anticipation fighting in my sub-cortex when I heard her say, “Well, the percolator I usually use seems to be broken – it was my mother’s.  So I have to use the Old One.”

Now, you know the ‘usual’ one has to be from the 50s – all modern, with plugs and stuff.   It turns out the “old one” is a big ceramic sucker that goes on top of the stove – it’s probably 80 years old, and it’s gorgeous.  It also percolates coffee until you take it off the stove.

Assuming you would want to take it off the stove.   Someday.

“Well, this is the Columbian coffee, from you-know-who.”  No, not Juan Valdez, but it took me a second, too.  She was talking about the handyman she uses for all jobs big and small, and who tends to hand-carry coffee back from Columbia for his friends when he goes home on vacation.

So now we have really good, hard-core coffee, being percolated to within an inch of my life.  Did I mention that it’s around 7:30pm?  Right.   (“Why no, I haven’t slept yet.  Why do you ask?”)

The best part of the evening, though, was talking to her about password strength.  You can probably imagine my concern at the words, “Well, I heard that you should use long phrases as passwords, so I’ve been changing a bunch of my passwords.”   I mentioned that passwords were great things to strengthen, as long as they were memorable.   (For the record, I consider this somewhere between ‘concern’ and ‘self-defense’ on my part.)

And here was highlighted for me one of the biggest differences in working with people of different generations.   What would you, Gentle Reader, choose as a password phrase that you will remember, and cheerfully type into some widget several times a day?  Some spit of doggerel?  Some random quote or line of favorite poem, or cool concatenation of names of wives and kids and cats and kits?  Yes?

How about the epitaph that you’ve already had engraved on the headstone you’ve already had commissioned for the cemetery plot you bought yourself last year?   “No, I guess that’s probably not something you’re going to just up and forget next week, is it?”

Because that’s what I want to be typing in all day.  Talk about always looking on the bright side of life.  Cheerfully whistling in the dark, that’s her.  And my hat’s off to her, I’ll tell you that.   Mind you, with that coffee, she’s unlikely to need the plot anytime soon – I mean, she might pass into the Great Beyond, but I doubt it would slow her down any.