Friday, November 27, 2009

%#$@! Blogcatalog (or what I did for my Thanksgiving Break)

I’m new to the world of blogging, having only started my site just under a month ago. Being the innocent neophyte that I am, I was excited when I stumbled across Blogcatalog, Google’s social network and directory of blogs where bloggers can list their site, meet other bloggers, friend them and join in discussions with like-minded souls (btw, if you don’t know by now that friend is a verb, you might as well start digging yourself a grave). So I set up my profile, listed my blog and joined in on some of the discussion threads. I visited some other personal blogs and people visited mine. Hey, this was fun!

People started sending me friend requests (kind of like on Facebook, except most of the time I had no idea who they were). But what the heck, I was feeling kind of popular! Some of them didn’t speak very good English. But that’s okay. Neither do most Americans. Some of them seemed to have nothing in common with me (come worship Jesus with me!!!). Well, I’m more into Buddha, but whatever. Some of them seemed to be intent on just collecting as many friends as possible. Some really wanted me to visit their blog so I might buy whatever they were selling. Then there was Cuteptaguy. He was all about being gay. But that’s okay. I’m gay-friendly. Every day he would send me 12 different “shouts” about different GLBT causes he wanted me to support, petitions to sign or blog posts he wanted me to check out (always his). Sorry, dude, I don’t even want to read about my own sexual interests that often. Unfriend. But there were also several interesting, literate writers with personal blogs that I liked to visit, many of whom are probably reading this post. And this is the vexation of Blogcatalog. You have to be willing to dig through a lot of dirt to get to the treasure.

But I was unprepared for Dr. James. He showed up following my blog one day. It took me a couple of weeks before I decided to check out his blog (I waited this long because his site was called something along the lines of so I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to rock my world). Long story short, Dr. James was not a real person but a nasty virus and when I clicked on his site it took down my netbook.

Remember when you were in grade school and your English teachers were too lazy to come up with essay topics so you had to write about, “What I did over my summer/spring/Christmas break”? Well, my husband, Jim, blessed technical god that he is, spent the entire first evening of his Thanksgiving break trying to clear this malevolent virus off my netbook. This was made difficult by the fact that my netbook does not have a hard drive which can be removed and enslaved by another machine (don’t ask me what this means; it’s some geek speak I heard him say) and that this particular virus created a faux antivirus-looking popup called Antivirus System Pro that looked like it was cleaning your system but was in fact the virus itself.

I was concerned that people who visited my blog might see this Dr. James listed among my “followers” and click on him and infect their computers too. So, being the absolutely brilliant person that I am, while Jim was cleaning my netbook, I picked up my work laptop, logged into my blog and clicked on Dr. James so I could block him from following my site. And then this funny thing happened to my work laptop! It completely locked up and started acting like my netbook did when it became infected. (And Don, if you’re reading this, I’m really sorry.) So as I’m listening to my husband mutter obscenities from the dining room as he’s going into his fourth straight hour of trying to repair my netbook, I’m sinking slowly into the couch and trying to think of how I’m going to break this to him.

According to a report put out by Sophos last year, Blogspot won honors for the site Most Likely to Give You a Virus (Facebook ranked high, as well). But Blogspot accounted for 2% of all malware attacks, most the result of legitimate sites that were hacked by SQL injection (don’t ask me what that means – ask my husband).

I got up on Thanksgiving morning to discover that my netbook had been repaired while I slept (thank you dear!) but the turkey was still frozen. So I filled the sink with warm water and put the turkey in to thaw. When Jim awoke, bleary-eyed from a late night of virus-battling, he got busy with my work laptop. I made a big pot of coffee and tried to lay low. I cooked in the kitchen while he resumed obscenity-muttering in the dining room.

I realized I needed a couple of last minute items and broke with my policy of not-shopping-at-Walmart, given that it was the only store open on Thanksgiving. I bought milk and a baguette and, as a love offering for Jim, some good beer and chocolate donuts (if you’re thinking that Walmart couldn’t possibly make a good baguette, you would be correct). Only when I got up to the cash register I realized I didn’t have my purse with me. I went out to the car and realized it was not there either (at which point I had a sharp visual image of it sitting on the stairs at home). I did, however, have my corporate credit card in my car. But here’s my dilemma. While our organization used to be kind of lax about corporate credit card use, our new Finance Director sort of read everyone the riot act when she came on and rewrote the policy and there are now strict guidelines in place for what does and does not constitute appropriate use of credit cards. And I’m pretty sure that buying beer at Walmart for personal consumption isn’t in our policy. In fact, I know for certain that it isn’t because, you see, I am the Finance Director. But. I had nothing else to pay with. (And Don, if you’re reading this, I’m really, really sorry.)

When I returned, I noticed that several concerned friends had responded to my Facebook post about my frozen turkey and told me that whatever I did, I should not put it in warm water to thaw, as this would cause any bacteria present before it was frozen to flourish. Oops. When I confessed my sin one friend (the other Kristin) suggested I called the Butterball hotline (1-800-BUTTERBALL, in case you’re wondering). I did. A recording told me they were not able to take my call due to unusually high call volume. On Thanksgiving. Go figure. Kristin and her husband Maneesh googled. I googled. We all determined it was probably a risk to eat the turkey. I conferred with Jim and this is what we decided. We would make hot dogs for the kids but fuck it, we were eating turkey. What was life without a few brazen risks? We had already survived two virus attacks in the last 24 hours and come out shining. I uncorked a bottle of wine I had bought on my trip to Australia and had been saving for a special occasion (like toasting my friends at Blogcatalog).

But here’s the thing. I was so busy cursing Blogcatalog and making inappropriate purchases on my corporate credit card that I forgot to check on the turkey and it was just a little overcooked. It’s supposed to cook to a temperature of 170 F and when I stuck the thermometer in mine it kept going until it hit 203. Actually, it was inedible. This is probably a good time to point out that I make a killer pumpkin pie and I’m really cute.

We put on some traditional Thanksgiving music (The Cheiftans) and sat down to a splendid feast of vegetarian side dishes. We toasted our health, each other and the still generous bounty before us.

I’m a philosophical soul. Who knows? Maybe the turkey was riddled with salmonella after all and our good friends at the Living Church of Jesus is Love were sending us all these distractions in an attempt to keep our family out of the hospital. Just in case, I’m raising another glass to my friends at Blogcatalog.

There is a coyote that lives in the woods behind out house and on Friday I friended him with an 8-pound turkey breast.

Jim has requested that I steer clear of Blogcatalog for the remainder of the Thanksgiving break. He has some other projects he’d like to attend to during his time off.

On Monday my break is over and I go back to work with my squeaky clean laptop, where I will drop off a check for $28.55 to reimburse my agency for the beer and donuts I purchased at Walmart before going into a meeting with Don, my exceptionally understanding boss, where he’s seeking my input on implementing some new technology at our agency (the irony!). I return wiser than when I left five days earlier, having learned the following: there is such a thing as too many friends, Norton Antivirus sucks rocks, turkeys can take up to 3 days to thaw, and if Dr. James comes a knockin’-- run!

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  1. An exciting weekend.... NOT. I see Dr James doesn't feature anymore. I like to click around blog lists, because if a good blog has blogs listed, they are usually good too. I have never used Norton, I've heard it sucks. I use Avira, it picks up stuff that AVG misses.

    Hopefully, things are back to normal. Did the coyote come back after the turkey?


  2. AV - I'm a little afraid to know what became of either the turkey or the coyote, so I'm going to leave that to the fates. We use Norton at work, but I'm not aware that it's every caught a single virus we've been nailed with. My husband has never used antivirus software and has never had a virus (until he met me, that is)!

  3. 1. The Living Church of Jesus is Love is giving Jesus a baaaaaaaad name.

    2. Turkey should be cooked to 155 degrees, and then let rest under tented foil for 1/2 hour and the residucal heat bumps it up to a safe 165. Just thought you'd want to know so you don't have to overcook it quite as much next year...

    3. I don't know if you're in serious trouble at work, or if now I have at least one free pass to use the corp credit card...? Can't wait to hear how you explain this at the Management Team meeting when I ask you about it!!!

  4. Celeste - Re: your free pass, I suggest you make it worthwhile. Don't bother with Walmart. Think Nordstroms or Godiva!

    P.S. If you think this is going to remain a secret until Mgmt Team meeting, you are so adorably naive.

  5. kbxmas...what a time you had of it!!! I'm sorry but I actually had a few smiles at your expense...but friendly smiles of course!!!

    I have to "thank you" for taking the time to send me a message regarding our "buddy" Dr James...he has been lurking around since last week and I was thinking there was something a bit "off". I did visit his sites as I usually do when someone follows me...I use McAfee so I think I'm is updated regularly sometimes daily...having said that I will run a scan!!! I too have been getting a great many "friends" asking me to visit their sites and I decided not to do that...again another "off" feeling about the requests.

    Hey...about the credit card usage...your secret is safe with least until you tell Don on Monday!!! LOL

    And..I've had my fair share of turkey incidences so I'm not even going there, I dislike cooking so that says it all...I bet your kids were just as happy with hot dogs!

    Whew...I've almost written a short story here...enjoy the rest of your weekend...and thanks again for the heads up!

  6. Thanks for the warning. I rarely click through from Blogcatalog, but's how I landed on your site.

    I hope the rest of your weekend developed into something other than virus problems and that you at least had time to enjoy Thanksgiving at a more relaxed pace.

  7. Yolande - thanks for visiting all the way from So. Africa! I've been trying to stay away from Blogcatalog, but like a lusty sailor, I hear it's siren song. It's so hard to be strong...

    Az Isle - Don't worry - I laughed too!

  8. Well you certainly packed a lot into a weekend!!!!


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