A wee conundrum …

By Sue Trollip

I am not flaky. Yet security questions to ensure the safety of my online accounts drive me batty.

friend clip art. Friends Clipart #216828 byFor example: type in the name of your childhood friend. While I don’t want to be melodramatic, my childhood meandered through nursery school (kindergarten), junior school and on to high school, arguably it lasted longer, but let’s stop here anyway. So which besties name do you want?

What is my favourite book/author? That, my friends, is downright laughable. There’s a top ten list, but even that is fluid.

What is the worst movie you’ve ever seen? Worst for it’s blood and gore content? Worst for it’s idiocy? I need you to be more specific. Off the top of my head I’d say “Perfume”, but I only stayed for the first five minutes. Would that count? Or the one I saw at the Durban Film Festival. A British movie. Oooh that one I LOVE MOVIES!!!!!!!!!!!!was awful, but I can’t remember it’s name. I don’t think it made it onto the circuit. What am I supposed to do here? What if I see another awful movie this weekend? Will I remember which one I put down next time I have to remember this security question? Hell no! By this point, in the long list of questions, I’m thinking of movies and not whatever website I’m trying to sign onto.

I had a little rant at the office on Friday because we were logging onto a new website and had seven security questions to answer. Seven, really? More than half of them were opinion. Facts people, I can remember facts. What is my mother’s maiden name? What is my father’s second name?

So I conducted a wee google search (not on company time) and discovered the next problem. Facts can be hacked by hackers far easier than opinions. Then I found a website telling me how hackers got into yahoo and found out the answers to all our security questions along with phone numbers and our emails. It’s not worth thinking too hard about otherwise we’d never do another thing online. Where’s the fun in that?

But I found out the answer to the security conundrum. Lie.

In her article Time to Kill Security Questions – or Answer them with Lies Lily Hay Newman says lying may be the correct answer.

In an age of frequent data breaches, your mother’s maiden name should probably be 4tz9Ru#p and your childhood best friend b2p^fqw.

Advertisements

Family Heirlooms

By Susan Roberts

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things we inherit. As some of you know, most of my novels are constructed around something inherited by one of the characters. This can be an actual object: a ceremonial knife, a notebook filled with cryptic diagrams, or a box of faded photos and old letters. It can even be, as in the case of my current Work In Progress, an estranged stepdaughter and an old house filled with bad memories and even older secrets.

I must admit, my own life is not quite this exciting, but I do have some things that I have inherited from my family. (That is, apart from a love of stories, a fascination with books and local history, and a warped idea of how exciting it might be to uproot and move to another country in my middle years. This last tendency had skipped two generations, possibly because my parents and their immediate forebears had too much other “excitement” during the war years.)

Two years ago I uprooted and came here to Australia, following my sister who did the same four years before me. On my first visit to Australia, I was delighted to walk around her house and be able to see and touch things from our childhood, and from our parents’ lives, all safely ensconced in their new Australian home. Little bits of settler history transferred from one former British colony to another former British colony in the twenty-first century.

I didn’t bring my whole household with me – just a small Move Cube and two beloved cats. The cats have settled in well, but the contents of the Move Cube are still, for the most part, occupying space in my sister’s garage. I’m hoping that before too long I will be able to unpack and spread my things out in a home of my own.

What are these things? Sentimental things, mostly. Things that are unable to be replaced. Family heirlooms of the material type. While the inherited characteristics from my ancestors are with me daily, on my face, in my actions, in my general outlook on life, many of the more material objects are waiting to come out of their boxes.

One of my favourite family heirlooms is my dining table, hand carved by my grandfather between the end of the Great War and the birth of my father ten years later. My father grew up as the youngest child in his household, eating all meals at that table. A generation later, I too was the youngest child growing up eating meals around the same table with my big sister.

Throughout our childhood many activities were done around this table. As a family, we played board games, put together jigsaw puzzles, blew out birthday candles and wrapped Christmas presents. My sister and I watched our mother cut out and sew dresses on that table; we typed our first literary masterpieces on our mother’s portable, manual typewriter at that table; we painted with messy water colours on it – albeit with several sheets of newspaper between our artistic endeavours and the surface hand carved by our grandfather.

In more recent years, I set up my computer at that table, moving it only for the occasional dinner party. I have also written the bulk of my novels, short stories, plays and various competition entries at that table.

It thrills me to know that the table has come all the way to Australia to start a new life with me. I wish I knew more about its origins, where our grandfather carved it, what gave him the idea for the patterns on it, how long it took to complete it, and so on. Our grandfather died when I was very young, but I never thought to ask my father the history of the table. He must have known it, but probably never got around to telling us.
Somewhere in those boxes in the garage there is a photo of my father and his brother sitting at the table with their father and an aged great aunt, eating a meal. The table is simply being used for one of the daily functions of a table in those times, and my hope is that it will continue to be used for many more ordinary, daily functions in the years to come.IMG_0766

Rooted in Bristol

by Penny M

Since writing my previous blog, Timing in the Countryside of the mind, I have found a job in the city and am going back to my roots.  I was born in Bristol and returned to live and work there when I was twenty, before heading for the next few decades in ‘sunny’ South Africa.  Both parents grew up in Bristol and family memories and records are still there, waiting to be unearthed on a visit to the Bristol Museum where a great aunt stashed them years ago.  I have bleak, dank and drizzly flashbacks of a city without a heart.

Bristol 2017 is far from that.  I was there today for an appointment and met one of my cousins for lunch afterwards.  We walked down Christmas steps on route to a Moroccan restaurant, hidden in the depths of St Nicholas Markets.  The steps were built in 1669 and paid for by a wealthy wine merchant, Jonathon Blackwell[1], who was probably tired of the slippery muddy street that was there before.

97px-Christmassteps

Passing the old buildings laced my senses with history.  Worn flagstones brimmed with shoppers and diners, exotic cuisines wafted wonder amongst ice cream and sweet shops with their ‘penny’ jars.  The Pieminister served up quirky, British humour with their scrumptious pudding-bowl pies with names like Kate and Sidney.  No prizes for guessing the ingredients.

Old rippled with new in a melee of glorious abandon.  We went in search of a place for dessert and found a cute coffee shop on the outskirts of a sun-bathed square.  A massive, open air screen was showing Wimbledon to a crowd of hatted fans who were parked off in deckchairs on a fake lawn slightly off-centre.  Ha ha – only in England.

Bristol has changed greatly and new buildings have transformed the city centre, but the vibe is way cooler.  There is so much to see and do, I can’t wait until I start living and working there again in a few weeks’ time.  Roll on August.

 

[1] Wikipedia