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Password Crazy

 

Elaine lined up tiles from Qwirkle, a board game, and announced, “That’s my password, Gran!” Qwirkle tiles are stamped with six different shapes, in six different colors. My Grand’s password was an orange square, a green rectangle, a red circle and then four more tiles with different colored shapes and she grouped them, 3-1-2-1. “They have to be like this. Not in one long line.”

I shook my head. Since when did a five-year-old look at shapes and colors and create a password?  And Elaine’s password of seven completely different tiles reminded me of some of my passwords.

Remember the first time you chose a secret word or phrase? It probably included a birthdate, or at least, a birth year. It may have included your name or nickname. Or a family member’s name. And maybe, like me, you used the same password for everything. From online shopping to games to whatever.

Now I’m advised by technology experts to have different passwords for each application and change them frequently and don’t use anything that is easy to guess. Like birthdates and names. So I need to come up with something clever.

Fernando Corbato invented computer passwords in the early 1960s, and he says that passwords have become a “kind of nightmare,” according to an article on businessinsider.com. A nightmare is right. I’m lost in a tunnel of symbols and numbers and letters. Capital letters. Small letters. Corbato admitted that he has a crib sheet, also know as a cheat sheet, so I’m in good company with my handwritten list I keep right beside my computer and the one I keep in my billfold and the one on the notes on my computer desktop screen.

But my crib sheets create problems. Like one in four people I reset at least one password once a month. Not for security, but because of errors. Sometimes the passwords on my lists don’t match and by the time I’ve tried all of them and don’t enter a capital S or don’t type numbers in the correct order, I get a message that I need to reset my password. When I try, messages say the password isn’t strong enough or I can’t use the same one I’d used before. So, in frustration, I choose a phonetic way to spell a word or numbers that make sense at the moment and then I forget to write the new password on all of my lists or I don’t write it correctly.

I’m ready to go with the most common password of all time: 123456. Or one of the two most common words: QWERTY or password. Or one of the more creative top ten passwords: abc123. Surely, I could remember one of these.

If experts are right, Elaine won’t need passwords. Facial recognition or fingerprints will replace the need for a string of letters and numbers. Technology life will be simpler. I just hope my Grand keeps playing board games and never loses her creativity.

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Gran’s New Game

search-2“Mom, Gran has a new game and it’s really fun! Bingo! Have you ever played?” My 11 year-old Grand stood beside Daughter, his mother. She raised her eyebrows and looked at me. I smiled and nodded. Daughter’s five children, ages 2 – 11, had spent a half day before Christmas with Husband and me and then I took them home. We stood around Daughter’s kitchen island.

“Well, yes. A long time ago, I played,” Daughter said.

“Did you have a metal ball and twirl a handle and little white balls came out?” Lou, age 9, asked.

“Did you get peppermint candy when you won?” Five-year-old Elaine liked the candy better than the game.

“Did you put little colored circles on the numbers on your card?” Ruth, age 7, had lined up different colored markers for each column of numbers.

“I said Bingo the loudest!” Elaine said. “And Jess (her 2 year-old-brother) screamed Bingo and got candy, but he just played with the little circles.”

“Sounds like you had lots of fun with Gran’s new game. Maybe she’ll let me play,” Daughter said.

Whew. Bingo made this first cut. I had bought it to play when everyone got together at Husband’s and my house for Christmas. Eight children, age 11 and under, and their parents: Daughter, Son, and spouses. Outside is the perfect place to give everyone space. But we’d be spending some time inside. Trying out new toys. Opening gifts and eating and visiting and playing, and eventually, all would be tired and some would be cranky. I hoped Bingo would be the perfect inside game. Everyone could play and I had a big collection of prizes.

I had prepped Daughter and Son that we were ending our day with Bingo. So when the Grands began whining and fussing about whose toy was whose, I whispered, “Shhh. Anyone who’d like to win a prize come sit quietly at the dining room table to play a game.”

The five Grands who’d help me try out my new game were the first ones to the table. “Come on, you all. It’s a really fun game!” David encouraged those who were dilly-dallying. Parents teamed up to help pre-school age Grands. Toddler Grands were given only colored circles. Cards and markers were passed out.

“I’ll call a number and if it’s on your card, cover it with a colored circle. When you have a straight line of circles, say ‘Bingo.’ Then you get a prize,” I said.

The Grands’ parents deserve Academy Awards. They smiled and laughed and wished for B7 and O64. They applauded and cheered when anyone shouted, “Bingo.” They oohed and ahhed when Husband brought out the basket filled with prizes. Slinkies, stickers, decorated kitchen towels, notepads, mechanical pencils, key rings, Matchbox cars, and such.

For now, it’s Gran’s new game. Someday, I’ll tell everyone about my granny taking me to the American Legion Hall on Saturday nights to play Bingo and the prizes were money.

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Grab Your Checkbook

thumbs_panaramic-hope-park-2“$450,000. That’s what we need. What we’ll raise! ” Ashley announced. I took a deep breath and struggled not to raise my eyebrows. I was surrounded by twenty young mothers and a few dads. Mothers with babies in arms. This was a meeting of people interested in building a new all inclusive Cookeville playground. Ashley had invited me to attend, and I was the only person there who had gray hair, except for the City of Cookeville staff member.

It was September 2014 and work had already been done. Ashley Swann and Kelly Swallows convinced the City of Cookeville to donate land and maintain the playground. And they had talked with Jeff Davidson, director of Rising Above Ministries, who had researched all-inclusive playgrounds for all age groups.

During the meeting, Kelly presented an update on playground designs from Leathers and Associates, a company that has built more than 3000 playgrounds in all fifty states. She shared pictures of playgrounds that are safe and provide physical and imaginative play. Then Kelly pointed to corners of the city council room for each committee to gather and make plans. Volunteers. Special events. Publicity. Fundraising. I dragged my chair toward the fundraising group, where Ashley thought I could provide suggestions.

“Ok, anyone got ideas how to get money?” Elizabeth Binkley, the committee chair, asked. The moms threw out ideas. Sell t-shirts. Collection canisters at schools. Golf tournaments. A gala. Again, I breathed deeply. My limited fund-raising knowledge told me that to raise $450,000 there’d be a plan to secure a donation of $100,000, two $50,000, and look for donors for $20,000 and $10,000.

“So how much money do you have now? What’s promised?” I asked.

“About $33,000. Money raised for a playground years ago,” Elizabeth said. Money raised by a Kids Kingdom committee and given to the City of Cookeville to be used solely for a downtown community playground. “We’ll raise the rest. We want everyone in Cookeville to participate and feel like this is their playground.”

Now it’s eight months later and these get-it-done mommas and their families have worked hard. They’ve called on stores, restaurants, factories, banks –most Cookeville businesses. Through an All in for Ten campaign, they collected $24,000, with some children giving ten pennies and most people giving $10. They held a Gangster Gala and raised $55,000. Fam Fest brought in $6,300. Churches have made donations: $90,000 and $25,000. The largest business or individual donation has been $24,000; the least, 10 cents. Another event, Touch the Truck, is planned for June 13.

Here’s the bottom line: $350,000 has been raised. Another $100,000 is needed by mid-July! The Heart of the City Playground will be built by volunteers, led by personnel from Leathers and Associates, at Dogwood Park September 29- October 4. It will be a 12,000 square foot fully accessible, all-inclusive enclosed playground where you will take your children and grandchildren. If another $100,000 is not raised, some play equipment will not be included.

It’s time for all of us – parents and grandparents – to grab our checkbooks! Contributions are tax-deductible and can be made at www.HeartOfTheCityTN.com or mail a check, made out to Cookeville Community Playground, to Cookeville Playground, 370 S. Lowe Ave, A-391, Cookeville, TN 38501. On the website or on Facebook (Heart of the City Playground), pick out something, such as a Pirate Ship or fence pickets, that you can fully fund.

I can’t wait until October to take my Grands to the playground! A playground that will be built because a group of young mothers raised $450,000 – their way. I salute these women and I’m writing a check. Let’s all jump on this bandwagon!

Homecoming Suit, Shoes, and Corsage

menu-aboutIf I dressed for TTU’s Homecoming this Saturday as I did as a student, I’d look as out of place as a model wearing white sandals in the September issue of Vogue magazine. Imagine showing up at a football game wearing a matching wool jacket and skirt, nylon hose, and heels. And a corsage pinned to my lapel. But that’s how we co-eds dressed way back when. We dressed up and we wore flowers.

I particularly remember one Homecoming. Mom had made an orange wool tweed suit for me that fall and I saved it to wear for Homecoming. The three-button jacket and an A-line skirt were perfect, but I didn’t have the right shoes. I had black heels and wearing orange required brown shoes. The closest place I could buy shoes to fit my extra long, extra narrow was Nashville, and I didn’t have a car. So a friend drove me to Nashville, I went into one shoe store and bought the perfect taupe-colored, high heel leather shoes, and we came back to Cookeville. It was that important to have exactly the right outfit for Homecoming.

My attire wasn’t complete without flowers, a corsage that showed Tech’s colors, purple and gold. Husband, who was Boyfriend at the time, knew exactly what I wanted. Three yellow roses surrounded by sprigs of feather fern and a bit of baby’s breath. Gold colored ribbon, with just a couple of loops of purple, but mostly gold so the purple wouldn’t clash with my orange suit.

Most Homecoming corsages were yellow chrysanthemums, better known as a mum. Huge, mums, as big as saucers, and heavy. I’d worn one of those the previous year. It was so heavy that not even three long corsage pins held it in place, and the flower petals began to fall out before the final buzzer of the football game.

Most girls wore variations of the basic mum corsage, a plain yellow mum with a purple bow made from ½ inch ribbon. The mum could be surrounded by purple or gold net or a combination of the two colors. The letters TTU could be written in purple glitter on a yellow ribbon streamer or with gold stick-on letters on purple ribbon, but that meant the ribbon was 1½ inches wide. If the mum was exceptionally large, TTU formed with purple pipe cleaners could be placed right in the middle of the flower. Big wide bows made from purple and gold ribbon finished that look.

Homecoming 1967 was a cold, rainy day, but I didn’t give a thought to not wearing my homecoming outfit. I put on my wool suit, my brand new shoes, and Boyfriend pinned on my rose corsage. He held a black umbrella over our heads, we wore our knee-length raincoats, and we walked from the dormitory where I lived to the football stadium. It rained all afternoon, but we didn’t consider leaving. We got wet. So wet that I poured water out of my new shoes, which were ruined forever with water spots.

Did my team, Tennessee Tech, win the game? I don’t remember. Having the perfect homecoming outfit and corsage was much more important than any ballgame.

Final Four

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 9.05.07 AMNow there are four men’s teams and only three more games. I’m already feeling withdrawal and sad because this time next week the college basketball season will be finished, over, done. Some of you are saying, “Thank goodness!’ March Madness has almost been a round-the-clock reality TV show for the past two weeks. A reality show that I’ve recorded and watched and then read about in the newspaper. A reality show that will end when the players of the championship team cut down the net. “One Shining Moment” will be the background music for a video of the tournaments’ highlights. I’ll shed a tear or two.

I understand not everyone cut teeth on basketball gym bleachers as I did and not everyone cares about the Final Four. Maybe you have barely tolerated friends and family who’ve talked nonstop basketball. Maybe you’ve cheered for our OVC and Tennessee teams, and when those teams lost, you lost interest. This writing is for you.

Isn’t there something interesting besides the game score?  Some trivia? According to ESPN.go.com, the Florida Gators’ colors are orange and blue. Florida’s forward Jacob Kurtz used to be the team manager. He washed practice gear and handed out socks. From laundry boy to walk-on player to scholarship player.

The Connecticut Huskies wear blue and white. Connecticut, aka UConn, is the only university in the country that offers a Masters in the Puppet Arts.   UConn’s Shabazz Napier would play for Puerto Rico, his mother’s homeland, if that team gets into the 2016 Olympics. He could have quit college and played professionally, but he promised his mother that he would graduate. And on Mother’s Day, he will.

The Kentucky Wildcats’ color is blue. All of Kentucky’s starting players are freshmen. How does a coach teach 19 year-olds to share and play together? Kentucky has two great freshmen players who are identical twins, Andrew and Aaron Harrison. Imagine how proud their parents are. And a silly anagram for Kentucky Wildcats is “Twisty Dunk (cackle).”

The Wisconsin Badgers wear cardinal and white.  The school’s mascot name came from miners in the 1820s who dug like a badger. Without housing in winter, the miners burrowed into hillside tunnels. During the play of a game, watch 7 foot center Frank Kaminsky – he talks to himself. His teammates are sometimes distracted. Maybe his opponents, too.

Who? When? Where?   On Saturday night, Florida vs. Connecticut and Kentucky vs. Wisconsin. The winners play the championship game Monday night.   Arlington, Texas (close to Fort Worth) at the A T & T Stadium.

To make it through the next few days around us basketball fans, pretend to be interested. Pick a team, based on any criteria. A color or mascot. One of my Grands said he’s for Wisconsin because his daddy knows people who live there. I narrowed my choice to Florida and Kentucky because those schools are in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) – the same conference that the University of Tennessee is in. I’m going with Florida. Those Kentucky freshmen will get another chance.

And you should know that the women’s Final Four games will be played in Nashville, Music City USA, Sunday and Tuesday. I’ll be in a nosebleed seat. As I write, the women’s final four teams haven’t been determined, but I know my team is the one who plays UConn. I can’t tell you why here. Ask me and I will.

 

 

Memory Games

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 8.27.35 PM“I wonder if that really works,” I said to Husband.  We’d just watched a series of television commercials that interrupted one of our favorite programs, NCIS. Husband, seated across the room in his favorite recliner, looked at me. He turned his palms up, tilted his head, and squinted his eyes.  I read his body language, “What?”

“That website.  Lumoisity.com.” I said.  Husband frowned.  It was obvious that he didn’t know what I was talking about.

“Did you hear that commercial?”  I didn’t wait for an answer.  “Lumosity is online games to improve brain function and memory. I wonder if it would help me remember.”

Husband shook his head.  “I don’t know.”  He’d turned his attention back to NCIS. I picked up the pencil and paper that I keep next to my chair and wrote ‘Look up Lumosity.com’ and lay the note next to my computer.

Two days later as Husband and I travelled in his car, we listened to NPR on the radio.  “The following program is sponsored by Lumosity.com,” the announcer said while we were stopped at a red light.

“Hmmm. Lumosity?  Seems like we’ve heard before,” I said.  “What was it?  Do you remember?”  Once again I read Husband’s body language.  He slowly turned his head toward me, barely grinned, and raised his eyebrows. “You think it’s something I should remember?” I said.

He nodded. “You will.”

“Did I ask another silly question?” I said.  He didn’t respond.

A few minutes later, I shouted.  “Lumosity!  Memory games on the computer.  That’s it, isn’t it?” I laughed at myself, and Husband, true to his nature, was so kind that he didn’t tease me.  “It’s a word we don’t hear often and it was a couple of days ago that we saw that commercial,” he said.

My forgetfulness was my sign that I should check out Lumosity.  I registered for the free version using my email address as my user name and I chose my password.  And for the next 20 minutes, I clicked bouncing colored balls on my computer screen.  I completed numerical and geometric patterns.  I identified objects from one picture to the next.  I felt pretty good about my brain function.  For three days, I played brain games and then over the weekend, I didn’t practice bouncing balls and patterns.

Monday morning, I opened Lumosity to log in.  I typed my user name and password.  And this message popped up:  Invalid email address/password combination.  I hate that message!  Three times, I typed both my address and password, trying different passwords, and I got the same response.  On the fourth try I read,  ‘Would you like to reset your password?’  NO!  I shut down my computer.

That afternoon my four-year-old Grand and I played a card game, Matching. We spread 24 cards face down on the table, and took turns turning over two cards at a time and hoped to match the pictures on the cards.  I quickly matched the pairs of hippopotamuses and toucans.  At the end of the game, we’d both made six matches.

Too bad about that online brain function game – whatever it’s called.  Playing cards will keep my memory going just fine and I don’t need a user name or password. All my Grand required was a lap and hug.

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