Take That, You Low-life Virus!

It’s been a rough week and a half. It’s not only cold and flu season for my family, but for our computers as well. Over the past ten days, both of our computers have been attacked by viruses a total of three times.

First, my work computer went down for the count. The virus was sneaky and since I’d never experienced one before, I had no idea what I was dealing with. I called the computer shop where I’d purchased it, and before I could even complete a sentence describing what was happening, the owner of the shop interrupted me. (He’s from down south, so picture the following in a southern drawl.)

“Ma’am, I’m sorry to interrupt you, ma’am, but I need to stop you right there. Your computer is being attacked by a virus right now, here’s what I need you to do…”

As I hyperventilated, he walked me through the steps, but unfortunately, it was too late. The virus had infiltrated my system too far. I had to take it in to be “cleaned.”

Two days later, I had it back and I was singing with joy…for about 24 hours. Then it was attacked again! I tried to eliminate the stupid virus, but to no avail. The virus’ evil tactics prevailed and it won again. Unbelievably, I had to take it back to the shop.

I picked it up yesterday afternoon. Once again, singing with joy to have my old friend back and healthy. I had just arrived home from the repair shop, and set it on the floor of our home office. I hadn’t even plugged it in yet. I was talking to my daughter while my son researched information for an upcoming school project on our back-up computer. Suddenly I heard his quiet voice, “Mom, our computer is being attacked by a virus right now.”

I’d like to say I set a wonderful example for my children. I’d like to say I took it all in stride, focusing on the fact that we at least had my computer back before the virus struck the only other working computer with Internet connection in the house.

But no.

I sat down on the floor and threw a very loud tantrum. I cried and cried, shoving my two children away as they tried to comfort me. (I apologized later.) When I was done, I wiped my eyes. Blew my nose. Said a prayer. And then got really, really angry. No way was this slimeball virus gonna beat me again, blast it!

I prepared for battle.

From my last two forays dealing with this virus, I had learned a few things. I geared up my arsenal and quickly created a battle plan. I clicked on the screen and the virus attacked. I counterattacked, trying to close the trick messages warning me that I had multiple viruses and needed to upgrade and purchase some scam software.

The virus attacked again. This time I merely side-stepped the jab, dragging the warning message aside and opening the new anti-spyware I’d installed. I quickly ordered my army to run a scan. The evil contaminated message hung there. Open. Waiting.

The scan completed, and I immediately rebooted. Several messages flashed before my eyes. I could barely read them as the screen flickered and jumped. “Multiple viruses,” “Program not responding,” Program Ending,” “End Now.”

Yeah, END NOW you low-life scum sucker!

The screen went black. The computer lay dormant for a second. Was it dead? I waited and held my breath. Then I heard it. The sound of the computer coming alive again. But the game was not over yet. I did not go online, but in an aggressive defensive move, I instantly ran a scan of my anti-virus software. (Yes, the machine was attacked by the virus even though I have really good anti-spyware and anti-virus software!) I rebooted again. I then ran an update and scan of both softwares again, just to be extra sure. The end result?

After three hours of battle…YES! I’d kicked its BUTT!

Having dealt with this three times in such a short period of time, I’m not going to be overconfident and say I’ve completely defeated it. But my son was able to finish his research without one single peep from the virus.

Maybe the economy is in the toilet. Maybe my hubby could lose his job. But today, I am the victor! And I’m going to savor that thought.

Quote of the Month

"I'm a better mother because I have my writing
and I'm a better writer because of the experiences
of motherhood that have shaped me."

~ Jodi Picoult, novelist ~

Lookin’ for Love?

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match…

I wonder what you’ll make of this? Some University of Maine new media students created a sort of high-tech matchmaker. It’s kind of like speed dating meets eHarmony and goes mobile.

Essentially, the students designed a computer program where users input information about their personality traits and preferences. That information is then uploaded onto a small, portable unit. The unit is then connected to a shirt or handbag wired with small LED lights. As the user walks around, whenever they come within 30 feet of a personality-compatible person, they literally light up!

The students have named the product the Friend Finder and envision it becoming the next wave in dating services. Their thought is that if people knew more about the personalities of the people they walk past, they might be more likely to take the plunge and start a conversation. The students are now researching ways to make the device smaller and less expensive.

Here’s a preview of how it works…

So, instead of playing old-fashioned eye contact games, flirting from across the room, and eventually wading your way through small talk, potential dateables can now cut right to the chase.

“Well, we’ll obviously like each other, wanna go catch a movie this weekend?”

I’m trying to picture my teen walking around on a college campus next year with her heart-light glowing for the world to see. Hmmm…

So what do you think? Cool idea…or not?

Today's Lesson: No Worries 101

Three people approached me in the past 48 hours with the exact same question, spoken in the exact same tone: “So, how do you feel about Ashleigh going to Guatemala this summer?” This question was always followed by a loaded pause that seemed filled with unspoken thoughts such as “are you a stressed-out basket case?” Or possibly “are you nuts allowing your baby to travel far, far away like that?”

Truth time: I am a bit of a worrier. I know, I know, those of you who know me well are surprised (cough) to learn that fact. I struggle with that area of my life even though I know worrying doesn’t help anything. And I’ll admit, when my 17-year-old daughter first broached the subject of participating in a Central American mission trip, I was a bit surprised. And of course, I made the critical mistake of “Googling” Guatemala.

When will I learn?

Just like when you start investigating medical issues going on within your body, “Googling” isn’t always the best idea. You can really freak yourself out that way.

But my daughter said to me, “I really feel God wants me to do this, mom.”

C’mon, how can I argue with that?

So by the time she’d applied, and submitted her 15-page application, my hubby and I were fine with it. We felt it would be an awesome growth experience for her, both spiritually and emotionally. We were also secure in the knowledge that, if somehow, she was unable to raise the almost $3,000 she needed to go, we would be able to help her out. Well, that was several months ago. We didn’t figure on this big ‘ol economic downturn having such a personal impact on us.

Our daughter recently found out she was approved for the trip. A slight glitch caused her application’s approval to be delayed. She immediately began actively fundraising, but her first installment is due in less than two weeks. And we no longer have the funds to back her up.

So now, I’m realizing this is a growth experience emotionally and spiritually for me as well. Not only in letting my baby, my precious 17-year-old, taller-and-often-more-mature-than-me baby, take this trip (far, far away), but letting go of my worries and concerns over the money part as well. Realizing that if the Big Guy wants her to go, if she’s meant to go, then the money will come, right?

Yup. We’re in the midst of a lesson in faith—let go, and let God.

Now, with all that being said, once we’re actually driving her to the airport--um, yeah. It very well could be freak-out time for mom.

Image by: Arturo Avila

Teens & Drinking: What Would You Do?

My daughter and I have a pretty open relationship. She’s actually a really cool kid, way more level-headed and mature than I was at 17. But she presented me with a dilemma a few weeks ago, and I still haven’t decided what to do about it.

We were sitting around one afternoon, and she mentioned that one of her 16-year-old friends, whom I’ll refer to as TT (Teen Trouble!) had begun drinking alcohol. TT is not a close friend of my daughter’s, more of an acquaintance-type friend. TT told her that (s)he drank alcohol whenever visiting a certain friend’s house. TT explained the friend’s parents not only provided the alcohol, but played drinking games with TT along with their own child. The reason TT’s parents don’t know is because TT spends the night at the friend’s home whenever they drink. I was shocked; and had an immediate flashback to my own teen years.

When I was in high school, there were some parents who provided alcohol to their children and friends who came over. Their philosophy was that “hey, they’re going to do it anyway, may as well get wasted here in my house.” Of course, as a kid, I never thought much about it, except to be impressed at how “cool” so-and-so’s parents were. But now, looking through the eyes of a parent….

What the heck is wrong with these “adults”?! Is it really that important to be the “cool” parent? And news flash: it is so NOT cool!

So now comes the dilemma part. I sat down and wrote a letter to the parents of my daughter’s acquaintance. It is still sitting in my planner pocket. Unmailed. I hesitate for several reasons: I don’t know TT’s parents very well, and I certainly don’t know the parents who are providing the alcohol. I don’t want my daughter to feel she can’t share things with me anymore.

I’ve thought about sending the letter anonymously. The problem is I don’t know how many other people TT has told. Would there be repercussions against my daughter? But, if the situation were reversed, I would want to know!

I’m torn about how to handle this. What would you do?

Image by: Timsnell