The Curious Autodidact

November 29, 2009

December Birthdays: a Poem by Betty Marion

Filed under: Word Related — Honilima @ 7:30 am

Birthday Bouquet

If I had my druthers there would be serious steps taken to ban procreation during the month of March, or at least during the last two weeks.

Practically any crop, animal or vegetable is planted to bear in a favorable season.

But babies are planted willy nilly, to pop out any old time of the year, with no forethought about whether they will enjoy their birth dates.

Most begetting is haphazard at best, but with the incredible persuasiveness of today’s mass media, I am sure a discreet, intensive campaign every March stressing a little sober caution could substantially reduce the number of December birthdays.

Oh the whole business of birthdays could stand a lot of looking into by conscientious parents-to-be.

Those whose offspring are apt to be large and precocious would be well advised to have them born within the month before the local school entrance deadline.

The sporting could shoot for birthdays that coincide with others in the family since this both assists the memory and provides conversational highlights.

But these are thoughtful refinements. The main thing is that practically any day in any other month of the year has it all over any day in December except Christmas for a birthday.

Christmas has the obvious drawbacks of encouraging combination gift and discouraging real birthday parties. But it sticks in the memory!

I was born on December 20, 1917 and have always been pleased when anyone even remembered to ask. “Your birthday’s somewhere around Christmas, isn’t it?”

As often as not in the holiday preparations I forget the darn thing myself.

When it seemed really important, a role of discreet, underplayed martyrdom brought me a few lovely surprise parties and the privilege, of opening one Christmas package each day, between the 20th and the 25th on the proven assumption that most of my gifts would bear the legend, “Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas.”

Don’t try to tell me that trading birthdays with some generous soul like Robert Louis Stevenson will make everything jake.

The remembering…the explaining…and I would still have to use my tired old date for the red tape that binds us to this era.

An uncommon lot of my best friends are December born, and I used to fancy that perhaps Sagittarians had a mystic bond.

Now I believe that we are always seeking to live more in the lives of others because we have a little less of our own selves to bask in, and in this endless seeking we are bound to encounter and cling to each other.

-Betty Marion


November 24, 2009

How Strong are Your Passwords?

Filed under: cool internet stuff,helpful hints,media related — Honilima @ 11:59 pm

Image result for passwords

Okay Halloween is over so I assume you took time to check the batteries in your smoke detectors. Before you begin touring your wardrobe for Thanksgiving togs take a moment to check your passwords.

Cyber-crime is one of the fastest growing categories of fraud. To prevent becoming a victim take steps to insure you are being safe on-line. One of the basics of computing is changing passwords and making sure that your passwords are strong.

A good password should have numbers, characters, and letters.

Some experts suggest to use both upper case and lower case letters randomly within a word. It is best to have a password that is not in the dictionary, or to use numbers and characters and a phrase such as “1lesSBelltoanSwer&” or some such.

Some people create a password base and add onto it, this helps people to keep a variety of passwords without freaking out every time they must be recalled.

Microsoft providesPassword Checker that will help you to test the strength of your password.

You might also consider using one of the free password storage programs such as Password SafePasskeeper, or Keepass both of which are secure and free of charge.

Many security experts caution users to make sure not share the same passwords on their financial accounts as they have on their web-based e-mail account or their Paypal account. Changing your passwords annually, say the day before your birthday is also wise choice.

The “security” questions you choose should be more than the most simple to answer, dig down and answer the more complex ones, not for instance your brother’s name or the town you were born in. The story of Sarah Palin and how easily someone hacked into her e-mail account knowing some basic information about her reminds us of the importance of this.

Guessing passwords is not that tough unless you take that added effort to be creative in your invention of your security words.

Additionally be sure to use different user names to be extra secure.

If you are curious as to how passwords are broken read this article on Security Awareness from the University of Texas at Austin. After reading this article have a nice cup of tea and vow to pay more attention to your cyber-security.

November 16, 2009

Action Alert: from the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Filed under: media related,nonprofit,social justice — Honilima @ 1:59 am

Image result for electronic frontier foundation :

“Revelations about the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) continue to emerge, and the news is not good for technology users or digital rights. Instead of concentrating on physical fakes and fraud, recently leaked draft documents suggest ACTA will create new global regulations over the Internet and DRM. The details of these new rules remain closed to the public. Write to your representatives now to demand that Congress bring transparency to this clandestine pact.”

You can click here to get to more information.

This is a solid established organization that is worth supporting and keep uping with their work. They bring up technological issues that may not otherwise be brought to your attention. Keep up the good work EFF.

November 6, 2009

New Rules for Credit Card Holders

Filed under: helpful hints,money saving ideas — Honilima @ 9:04 pm


Image result for credit cards


Many consumers have received the shock of reading credit card enclosures explaining new interest rates that may go up as high as 32%. This is a reaction to a reform laws that will prevent the credit card companies from raising rates on already established balances.

Credit Cards: Break Up, or Make Up? is an interesting article helpful article from the Wall Street Journal, about the changing landscape of credit cards and some cautions about how to best consider your decisions.

Many cards will impose annual fees and before you get poised to cancel your cards remember that this can occasionally have an adverse affect on your credit report. Buyer beware.

November 3, 2009

Artist Maira Kalman: The Inner Workings of DC

Filed under: book related,cool internet stuff,media related — Honilima @ 8:25 pm

Image result for Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman does it again in the NYT, explaining the inner workings of US Capitol. She is a stunning artist whose work has been frequently been featured in the New Yorker. Her colorful and expressive work will make you smile.

Kalman, a brilliant artist, has produced a series of children’s books about Max Stravinsky, the poet-dog. They are the perfect books for a last minute gift, buy it from your local independent bookstore.

Here is a sampling of her numerous books:

Stay Up Late

Hey Willie, See the Pyramids

Sayonara, Mrs. Kackleman

Max Makes a Million

Max In Hollywood, Baby

Ooh-la-la, Max in Love

Swami on Rye: Max in India

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