Friday, September 30, 2011

Dateline: Northern Europe

I am still meandering towards Stockholm.  I started in Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest with friends.  I headed north towards Hamburg two days later for a two day visit; then to Copenhagen for another two day visit; and then to Gothenburg, Sweden for two days.  I am now on a train headed to Stockholm to spend my last four days there before I head back to the States.

The weather has been great through out.  It has been sunny and warm.  Gothenburg was a bit gray on my second day, but the sun managed to come out early in the afternoon before the fog swept in the early evening.  I am crossing my fingers for continuation of nice autumn weather in Stockholm.

Trip is going well.  I've not been to Hamburg, Gothenburg, and Stockholm before.  It was nice to see Munich and Copenhagen again.  More blogposts on this site and pictures on my flickr account, to come.  Having an iPhone, both via wi-fi and occasional roaming, has been a blessing for its mapping, surfing, and music capabilities.  I have been able to share a few pictures with instagram friends and post the same photos on my flickr page.

Anyway, just a few photos on this trip so far:

The first two pictures are with the group I was with at Oktoberfest - at the Hippodrom fest tent and at Hofbraeuhaus.  The third picture is Hippodrom from the outside.

Pictures of the Rathaus (City Hall) and Reeperbahn's Beatlesplatz from Hamburg:

Copenhagen's Radhus (City Hall), Nyhavn district, and the Royal Botanical Garden:

Gothenburg's Big Wheel, Radhus (City Hall), and Art Museum

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Acila Luisa, Welcome to the World

Congratulations to Ron and Donna, the proud parents of a newborn daughter.  Acila Luisa is a great-niece.  She joins the 16 great-nieces and great-nephews I already have; see the following link for a photo of them:  great-nieces & great-nephews.  Acila Luisa is a welcome addition to the family.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

It is a day I will always remember -- 11 September 2001.  I reached the main floor of my house from my upstairs bedroom, getting prepared to go to work.  My father is attentively sitting in front of the tv, with the volume turned up, in the living room.  Immediately, he tells me concernedly that the World Trade Center had just been hit by an commercial airplane.  I join him in watching the television.  Both of us are quiet -- shocked at what we are seeing.  All the tv channels were covering the tragic events, as they unfolded, not knowing more were to come.  The surreal scene of one of the WTC tower ablaze, lit up like a matchstick, is shown over and over again.  The second WTC tower is soon to be hit.  I pause, sit down, and try to get some semblance of what is unfolding.

After about an hour of watching the coverage, stunned and uncertain, I head off to work.  No work was to be performed that day.  It would be a day of talking to various people at work concerning the day's events and many of us sitting in front of our computer continually checking for any new news or updates.  We hear later on the hit on the Pentagon and the fourth airliner crashing in a farm field in Pennsylvania.  It is yet not known if these were the last of the attacks.

The day before, I had dropped off my two sisters and a sister's friend at SeaTac Airport.  Along with a brother and his wife, they are headed to London for the start of a three-week guided bus tour of Western Europe.  My concern was that there was not going to be commercial flights to the US for an extended period of time, way beyond their 3-week stay in Europe.  I get assurance later that day that they are in London, aware of what has happened back in the US.  They are a bit shaken also, but they are all fine.  Their tour is to continue as scheduled.

Except for the early morning, most of the day is a blur.  I remember the stir of all the people at work.  The constant news chatter in television is to remain, not only that entire inauspicious day, but for several days more.  The whole day is like an out-of-body experience.  I wonder all day if this was really happening or just a dream.  It was not a dream; it did happen.  Although the United States has faced terrorist attacks before, this well coordinated set of attacks had been the boldest.  Our nation will never be the same.  The events of 9/11 forever changed the nation and its people.  These tragic events also revealed the character and resolve of our nation -- countless examples of heroism, people stepping up to provide assistance and support, and the entire nation coming together as one.

I visited New York City last month.  I went to see the grounds where the World Trade Center group of buildings once stood.  Even on a rainy, late Sunday afternoon, construction was actively ongoing at Ground Zero.

In Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan near New York City's financial district, the sculpture "The Sphere" and a nearby eternal flame serve as a memorial to the victims of 9/11.  The Sphere once stood in the middle of a plaza in the area between the WTC towers.  The sculpture had been damaged by debris from the planes that were crashed into the buildings and from the collapsing skyscrapers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Yahoo Account Got Hacked

I was away on a road trip to Bend, Oregon this labor day weekend.  When I opened my iPhone on Sunday morning to check my e-mails, I had numerous unread e-mails.  They were all undeliverable e-mails to addresses on my Yahoo address list that were no longer active.  Since my gmail address is listed on my yahoo account address list, my gmail account received a few of these e-mails.  I was able to see what e-mails were being sent from my yahoo account to everyone else in my address book who had an active e-mail account.

I opened my yahoo account in 1996, essentially to keep in touch with a few of my high school friends.  My address book had been slowly building up:  high school friends, a couple of high school teachers, college friends, co-workers (California, Portland, Seattle District Corps of Engineers, Port of Seattle, Iraq, Bosnia), former bosses, and other friends.  Many family members are also in my address book.  We have a couple of family yahoo group accounts. Fortunately, I haven't been adding too many to the address book since I created my gmail account three years ago.

So apparently, I had been sending e-mails to a great number of people about "great sex", "fantastic orgasms", etc.  I got some humorous responses from a few people concerning the e-mails.  Don't open the link to these e-mails.  It is just a link to a Canadian online pharmacy -- at least on the link that I opened using my iPhone. They may also infect your computer if you don't have the right safeguards.  Yahoo has had these issues many times before.  I also receive many spam e-mails thru my Yahoo account.  Most are filtered and designated as spam mail. Some do not, and make it thru as "regular" e-mail received. This is one reason I opened a gmail account.

There are a few things that you can do to help prevent this:

1.  Change your yahoo account password regularly.  I did this immediately after I found out about the e-mail issues.

2.  Save your e-mail address list somewhere else.  I will start to compile and save my yahoo address list (a hard copy and an e-file); once complete, I will empty my yahoo address list .

3.  Open a new account.  (Gmail has been fairly reliable.  I have not had any spam in my nearly 3 years with them.)  This may be a bit harder because your yahoo account may have been your primary e-mail account for a long time and switching to a new address may result in losing some of your contacts, unless you personnaly send each one an e-mail.

On a related note, I also edited my profile to remove my home address (it used to be required when you signed up for an account).  Just your your city and zip code should do.  Mark off all marketing preferences that allow your e-mail address to be used for such things (I already had these settings checked).  Don't put any phone info, home or mobile (I do not have any listed).  There are a few other things you can change on your Yahoo account profile.  This may not prevent your account from getting hacked, but it limits the personal information that can be hacked.  I guess the advice goes also to any other web accounts and profiles in social networking sites. 

More related notes:  I checked a few of the sites that offer to provide personal info on people for a fee.  I checked the info on me (just the basic info, without paying) -- one site had my profile as a rich, married, Caucasian man.  It did have many other information on me correct (age, addresses (current and several previous ones), religion, etc.).  Most of these info are gotten from public records such as from the county (property transactions).  The bill of lading for my household goods shipped from Abu Dhabi to Seattle is available in the web.  The Department of State contractor/sub-contractor which handles DoS shipment had this document uploaded and stored online.

Anyway, boo on Yahoo for not keeping their system safe from hackers.  I will slowly wean off from my yahoo account and use it only for non-essential use.  There are still a few sites that require input of an e-mail address; I can always use my yahoo e-mail address for these things.