Category Archives: Security

Two-Factor Authentication For Everyone

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If you don’t have two-factor authentication (2FA) turned on for social media (much less your financial accounts and email), I hope elves visit you in the night and pluck your nose hairs with tweezers. If you don’t know what 2FA is and you’re using the internet for anything, you’re probably not going to like me telling you that you’re almost certainly giving away all your entire identity. 2FA isn’t perfect – but it is the minimum standard for anything you value.

Gas Station Life Lesson

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As we learned in Princess Bride, “…Ha ha, you fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous of which is ‘never get involved in a land war in Asia,’ but only slightly less well-known is this: ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when DEATH is on the line!’ ”

I’ve learned some lessons in my life, most of which require a refresher from time to time. It’s not my fault. I was educated here in Arkansas, suffered more than one head trauma, and accidentally watched an episode of “Survivor,” so stupidity comes naturally to me. If someone approaches you at the pumps of a gas station, scream “Help!” immediately and without regard to the person’s intentions. No matter what. No matter what they’re wearing or how they look. Nothing good will ever come from a gas pump walk-up.

While returning from New Orleans a few weeks ago, the gas pump rule once again came up. A fortyish gentleman approached. He wore clean coveralls and claimed he was a preacher raising money for blah-blah-blah. In his right hand, he had a wad of cash, which was confusing. I politely declined. He responded with a follow-up. Since I could tell he wasn’t going to listen to reason, I told him to please move along. He called me an asshole. For a second, I was convinced he was going to tear my arm off and beat me with it. The doubtful light in his eyes had turned dark as soon as the initial “No” came out of my mouth. Luckily for me, I had finished with the pump and got inside the car in one fluid motion and started driving forward without warning, even as my wife confusedly questioned what in blazes I was doing. In my defense, at least she was inside the car, unlike that time I left her in Mississippi. Crazy Coveralls Preacher lost interest in me; his shouts in my direction dwindled.

The only time I can move with such skill and concentration is if a bag of pork rinds is nearby or someone just announced ‘free pizza’ on the intercom.

So convinced was I of this gentleman’s internal violence that if I had a gun, I would have fired a warning round into the air. It’s better to be arrested in Louisiana for shooting clouds than it is to be beaten to death with one’s own arm. That should be on a t-shirt.

As I looped around to exit, I noted that Crazy Coveralls Preacher was walking fast toward an older white male standing next to his white cargo van. The door was open and the faux preacher invaded his personal space and essentially trapped the man from escape, or even the ability to throw a punch in his own defense. I almost stopped and intervened. The only thing that stopped me was that my wife had noted that I was genuinely alarmed, a condition I’m not prone to.

I’ve had issues with nutjobs in public places. As my friends know, I’ve had trouble BEING a nutjob in public places. This was the first time in a long time that it occurred to me that violence might result from the encounter. Keep in mind that I had just vacationed in New Orleans, so exposure to con-men and charlatans wasn’t an unknown experience – and that was at the front desk of the hotel.

Talking to other people and reading stories of violent surprises in public reminded me that nasty things do happen to people and I’m not referring to the 2016 election, either. We’re in open places, assuming that daylight, other people, and cameras will dissuade the demented folks from bothering us.

If you see me at the gas station screaming like the old man in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” I want you to drive your car into my vicinity as if you are re-creating scenes from the “Dukes of Hazzard.” I don’t care if you run me over in the process as long as you also run over whoever is trying to talk to me at the pumps.

You’ll get bonus points if the gas pumps explode and possibly a cut of the YouTube profits. I want to be cremated and I can think of no greater honor than by public explosion.

P.S. This also goes if you see someone is trying to sign me up for an MLM or a religion with an asterisk next to it on Wikipedia.
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“That’s Not His Name”

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“Good morning Officer Farva,” I jovially told the approaching security guard.

I won’t identify him by name, as his mustache alone would incriminate him. But that mustache – you know the cliché all too well, is one ripped from the upper lip of every stereotypical small-town cop. His short, cropped hair looks like it’s still mad at the owner for the haircut inflicted upon it. It is the sort of haircut that is intended to convey a Drill Sergeant’s seriousness but instead makes you wish you could weep for something so petty as another person’s hairstyle.

“That’s not my name,” he disapprovingly growled.

I don’t know what spirit of chicanery overcame me but I did something I never do: I started dancing rhythmically, much like Frankenstein might have when first electrocuted. I don’t dance like no one is watching – I dance like no one is paying me.

I also started chanting the lyrics to ‘That’s Not My Name’ by the Ting-Tings.

The look of incredulity on the security guard’s face can be best compared to that of a mechanic upon flinging open a customer’s hood and discovering a cadre of energetic squirrels powering the engine.

After a few seconds, I laughed and told him, “But your badge indicates that your name is Rod Farva.”

To my surprise, he looked down and folded his badge toward his gaze to read the name on it. He seemed both confused and relieved his actual name was in fact still on the badge.

I strutted away with a laugh as if I just won “Dancing With the Stars,” or, as would be more likely in my case, “Dancing With the Stares.”

“You are truly and irrevocably weird!” He said and then he laughed, begrudgingly, as humor is federally forbidden while on duty.
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PS: Rod Farva is the name of the annoying cop from “Super Troopers,” widely considered to be an actual documentary of how police behave.