Just Under The Surface

Why I Think Everyone Should Secure Their Computer

So many people I talk to comment that they aren’t worried about someone breaking into their computer because they have nothing of value stored on it.

This morning by 8:25 a.m. over 140 illegal attempts were made to login to one of my websites, just one of the sites. Logging in to my website would allow the intruder to install software on the host’s server. Each of these attempts was made from a different computer in Russia. It isn’t always Russia though, often a deluge of attempted break-ins comes from computers anywhere in the world, even in the United States, and a few from Canada.

The 140 attempts from Russia could easily have been all from the same hacker, trying their luck to break into the server where my sites reside. There are many businesses on the server where my sites reside, with sensitive information in some of the databases. I would hate to think that my site provided a portal for Russian hackers to break into North American business databases. It could happen, I do everything within my limited power and experience to prevent it from happening.

The 140 attempts, from 140 different IPs (computers), most likely used “zombies” to attempt to break-in to my site and my host’s server. Those “zombies” are probably unprotected home computers, with nothing worth stealing on them. But they are useful, they provide an anonymous platform for hackers to break into systems around the world.

There is no outward indication that any of these break-in attempts has occurred. I only know about them because I have installed software that monitors this kind of activity. If I hadn’t installed the software, and monitored the reports, I wouldn’t know anyone was trying to break-in to my sites until they were already there, and possibly not even then. Occasionally they do get in, and they rewrite obscure web pages with their own code, but so far my software has let me know which files they have altered, so that I can replace them with an uncompromised version of the file.

And just in time to make my point, I discovered a record of an incident where another user on my server had tried to access my blog to make changes to it. I recorded all of the relevant information and sent it in to the system administrator at my web host. They researched it and indeed, they found malicious script on the server (not in my account on the server). Another customer had bee hacked, the malicious code added to a file, which allowed his account to be used by the hackers to attempt to break into other accounts. The malicious code has been eliminated now, it was causing me all sorts of grief, which is why I noticed it in the first place.

I believe in firewalls, anti-virus protection, malware protection, and secure passwords on home computers, for all internet activities.


Having studied climate at university level for three years, it is my opinion that this video represents a sane approach to change. I have some concerns about human activity and climate, but they are not contradicted by Patrick Moore’s outline of our limited understanding of climate and change.

First Negative Experience on Kijiji

Last week I had my first bad experience on Kijiji, with a male white collar worker from Ontario, who emailed me from his place of employment. My ad was offering an item for free. At first the exchange seemed legitimate, as he arranged to pick up the item at our house, it is too big for us move anywhere. Then he did not show up, nor did he contact us to let us know he was not coming. Then he arranged to pick it up a second time, and again he did not show up, nor did he contact us to let us know he was not coming. By that time I had decided not to deal with him anymore, and regretted trusting him with our address. I sent him an email to tell him the item was no longer available. He wrote back again, asking me to contact him if it became available again! Pretty audacious, and smooth. This individual is very comfortable, and I would guess experienced, at toying with people, and it seems he does it for sport. I wonder what else he does for sport, he seems like someone who is not an asset to his community.

The item will eventually go to someone who legitimately wants or needs it. For now, the ads are down.

The weather continues warm and rainy and grey. However, with our Christmas lights glowing, and the aroma of freshly baked cookies floating through the house, the weather is hardly noticable.

Our car is on recall, we just got the letter yesterday. I will have to make the effort to make an appointment and get it to the dealership to address the issue. I am very glad I thought to call Toyota and provide them with my change of address.

Worldly Distractions




Attila worked six days in a row, and now he is off work until after Christmas. It is a real treat to have him home and awake during the day.

We have had a busy time, trying to settle the house for Christmas. We are fast-forwarding on clearing the boxes out of the front bedroom, because that is where the Grandbabies will be sleeping during their visit. It is likely they will also be playing in the same room. We are leaving the toy box in the room, so that they will have plenty to keep them busy during their stay here.

Earlier this week I baked, and baked, and baked; bread, mincemeat squares, pumpkin pie squares, and croutons. I will bake an apple pie tomorrow, and some peanut butter oatmeal squares as well. Perhaps two batches of the peanut butter oatmeal squares, as the Grandbabies liked them a lot, and so does Attila. Attila is baking chocolate chip cookies this afternoon.

Yesterday we visited the nearby city to do some Christmas shopping. We were astounded by the road traffic. It was “rush hour” slow everywhere we travelled. We had thought to go out for lunch, but the thought of battling the traffic to get to the restaurant was just too much for us, we decided we could hold off eating until we got home.

We visited Lee Valley Tools, which is a great store if you want to buy the highest quality tools, cabinet hardware, wood crafting tools, and many other craftsman type items. We enjoyed our visit, having a good look at everything on display. I bought a roll of festive tape, for $1, which was the only item we found that we actually needed. We saw a lot of items we wanted, but on our budget, and considering that we are downsizing, we opted not to purchase anything other than the tape.

At Home Depot we picked up garbage bags. Not a very exciting purchase, but we need them.

Attila drove off at one point to shop for my Christmas present, and returned to pick me up within an hour. After that we needed to buy “something little” for the Grandbabies for Christmas. We found a very nice toy store, where a very nice young girl assisted us in choosing the three gifts we needed. We had thought to spend $10 per child, which we considered extravagant for us, considering this years circumstances. But the reality was that there was nothing that suited us in that price range. We ended up spending more than twice as much on each child, and came away from the store with gifts which we are excited to give the children. One can always squeeze in a little Christmas cheer.

Attila is wrapping presents today. I am sorting through the boxes in the front bedroom. It is slow going, and a lot of items will go to the basement, only to be brought up again for sorting, when our visitors have waved goodbye.

Terra and Lares will be dropping in for a visit later today, before they leave to spend Christmas with Lares brother, his brother’s wife, and their new baby girl.

Our checklist is almost all ticked off. Baking, check. Turkey, check. Presents for all, check. Christmas music CDs, big search, then check. Kiss the cook, check.

Christmas decorations! We sit at the table facing this window. We can see our decorations when we eat our meals, when we are working in the kitchen, and when we work at the table using it as a desk. This year we are quite content with our window lights, Poinsettias and cheery Christmas cards on the window ledge.
2015 Christmas

Worldly Distractions


Date: 9:00 AM EST Wednesday 23 December 2015
Condition: Mist
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 10 km
Temperature: 5.8°C
Dewpoint: 5.4°C
Humidity: 97%
Wind: NE 9 km/h


“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.”
Blaise Pascal
1623 – 1662

Next Summer

First we received the tartan mice. We thought they were very cute. Then we received the framed picture. Then I realized what it meant, the two little shoes between Terra and Lares. Then Attila found the pack of DoubleMint gum at the bottom of the gift bag… a few seconds to think… twins!

Next summer will be very exciting here at Mist Cottage! More Grandbabies!

And to think, Terra invited us to that photo shoot, but unfortunately they had booked it during one of Attila’s shifts, so we could not join them. That would have been memorable indeed. The welcome announcement, disguised in Christmas gift wrap, will not be forgotten.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 8:00 AM EST Tuesday 15 December 2015
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 99.6 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 7.9°C
Dewpoint: 5.6°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: WSW 33 gust 52 km/h


“When children feel they have to earn our love by what they accomplish, they never feel good about themselves, no matter how much they do, no matter what their age. Indeed, some adults work outrageous hours, make huge salaries, and always strive to accomplish more and yet are never satisfied, no matter what they have achieved. This is because they were never given the free, unconditional love of their parents, the love that is every child’s birthright.”

Julie A., M.A. Ross and Judy Corcoran

The New Beds

The new beds were delivered this morning. The fellows came within the time frame the company arranged, and two very nice fellows brought in the beds and assembled them. It took them the better part of 45 minutes, and they were experienced at the job.

I love the beds, they are more comfortable than the box springs we had, and the drawers are large and operate smoothly. Attila had an afternoon nap on his new bed, and said the mattress feels just a little bit firmer than it was before. I will be trying out my bed tonight, and I am really looking forward to it.

The beds are solid pine wood, with the exception of the mattress support boards, which are a very heavy, solid composite. Attila says the beds are made out of Southern Pine, he can tell by the aroma of the pine. He spent a decade working with various types of wood, and he is familiar with this type of pine. The beds were manufactured in Chesley, Ontario; we always try to buy locally manufactured items whenever it is practical.

The additional storage space under the bed will make a very big difference in this tiny house. I plan on keeping my off-season clothing in these drawers. It isn’t practical to keep clothing I wear daily in the bedroom, as Attila sleeps in there all day when he is working nights, and I won’t go in because I don’t want to disturb his rest. I keep my daily clothes in the spare bedroom, where I have access to them all day long.

This is wrapping paper I found on the bottom of a drawer, used as a drawer liner in an antique dresser belonging to Attila. I wonder what era it is from, it certainly isn’t recent.
Attila waiting for me to fetch the pea! We deicded that using the box springs on these new beds was not practical, for obvious reasons.
The new beds in situ. These beds are extremely solid, and heavy, and very, very comfortable. The bedroom is almost complete now, just one more wardrobe to assemble! One day this bedroom will be completely white, the floors will be red pine planks painted white. Of course we have to gut the room and update the wiring, the insulation, vapour barrier, and drywall before we paint it white and install the new floor… and then there is the new window that needs to be installed. All in good time, for now we are quite cozy.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 7:00 PM EST Tuesday 8 December 2015
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 3.3°C
Dewpoint: -2.5°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: ESE 12 km/h


“Though the vicious can sometimes pour affliction upon the good, their power is transient and their punishment certain; and that innocence, though oppressed by injustice, shall, supported by patience, finally triumph over misfortune!”
Ann Radcliffe
1764 – 1823

Thoughts on Clothing

Attila is now working days. This means he is gone before 6 a.m., and returns at about 8 p.m. My day is a blank slate.

Because the new beds are to arrive next Tuesday, I am going through all of my clothing with an eye to giving away items. I donated a green garbage bag full of clothing to the charity shop last week. Yesterday, I had another green garbage bag almost full of clothing to donate. My problem is that I have my clothes from 1987 on, all of them. I even had some clothes from the late 70s, those went with the first bags of clothing I donated in September. I love my clothes. The memories attached to the items are precious. But it is time to allow them their freedom.

I have not maintained the same body weight, or shape, that I enjoyed up until the age of 40. The clothes that looked great on me back then are not flattering in the least now. Also, I have decided that new memories are now being made, so new clothes are in order. Well, at least wearing the newer items in my wardrobe is in order. I probably won’t buy any new clothes, unless I need them.

When I have bought clothing that delighted me, I bought expensive, long lasting items. Shoes that lasted for 20 years, a winter coat that has lasted for 23 years and that I am wearing it again this winter, boots that were resoled three or four times, a suit purchased at a Toronto designer’s shop at a discount in 1988, these items have been with me for decades and I still love wearing them.

But my collection includes items I don’t like, such as logo t-shirts from places of employment, items that never did fit all that well but served me well in the workplace, and items I bought for events that were the cheapest things I could find at the time. There are stacks of these types of clothing items, that I didn’t really choose, but just sort of ended up with.

I think for these last years of my visit here on planet earth, that I will spend time looking for a few pieces of clothing that delight me, and fit me well. I don’t need much, but I would like to once again feel good about what I am wearing; it has been a long, long time since that has happened. I plan on having a great time trying things on, and learning what looks nice on me now, and what does not!

Attila doesn’t give a toss what I look like, or what anyone else looks like for that matter, so I’ve only myself to please. Presentation is not what Attila sees when he looks at people, he judges a person’s “looks” by what he sees in their eyes.

Me, I do have an eye for style, finding certain physical presentations very appealing, and beautiful; these are mere flashes of attraction, or perhaps it is simply appreciation. The flash that attracts my eye is not the usual fare though; I love presentations that are casual and/or unusual. I do not appreciate the corporate beauty image at all, and almost always prefer the before images of made-over women to the after. I find it nightmarish to have my hair “done up” for events, and have submitted to this silently, as it seemed very important to other people who I cared about. Between you and me, when I am subjected to the ministrations of the business of beauty, I feel made up and dressed up like a clown. Not a great feeling, but only I notice it; other’s seem to think I look great.

So this is an adventure I am about to embark on, this dressing to please my own eye. Hopefully it will not elicit the throwing of vegetables from an unappreciative and tasteless public.

The first step is to give away all clothing I do not like. The second step is to slowly replace the donated items with a few, very carefully chosen, items.

Of course, my existing “renovation ensembles” will be kept in the closet, ready for action.

As suggested, I have taken some photos of our recent projects.

The shelves above the steps to the basement. I could not get back far enough to take a picture of the whole setup! At the top of the photo the wood that can be seen is the bottom of the top shelf. The top shelf is very deep, the next shelf less so, the next shelf even less so. The shelf depths were graduated to allow adequate headroom when humans walk up and down the stairs. We have all our Christmas decorations on the top shelf, and paper products and other light items on the lower shelves. In the spring, when we can open the windows, we will paint the shelves white.
This is our current solution to the missing kitchen cabinet between the fridge and the range. It is a table, which was purchased in 1969 at DeBoers in Toronto. It is a very sturdy table, but is too big for our kitchen at Mist Cottage. It has been a very handy countertop in the short term. It is too wide for the space though, so that the range sticks out into the traffic area. The new cabinet will not be so wide, allowing us to move the range closer to fridge, making it easier to get around in the kitchen.
One of the two wardrobes we purchased. The second one is not yet assembled and sits in a box in the basement for the moment. This wardrobe does the job, and it doesn’t look too bad from a distance. It is relatively flimsy though, a step above cardboard, just a step. It works!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 12:00 PM EST Friday 4 December 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 5.8°C
Dewpoint: 0.6°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: WSW 23 gust 34 km/h


“Appearances often are deceiving.”
620 BC – 560 BC