Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This Column is Password-Protected

I have a list of passwords on a spreadsheet. No, you can’t see it. You wouldn’t be able to find it anyway, since my wife made me rename it from its original file name of “passwords.” It’s now called “this is not a list of passwords.” Please forget I told you that.

I had to start a list, because everything requires a user name and password these days. Some make sense, like online banking and email, but I have passwords for church and for baseball. I have passwords to buy eyeglasses and to buy coupons for frozen yogurt. I have passwords to buy plane tickets, concert tickets, amusement park tickets, sports tickets, movie tickets, and to pay for speeding tickets. I have a password to watch TV, and a password to order pizza.

I even have a password for the website of a hardware store in New Jersey, because they sell little plastic keeper pieces for my sons’ dresser drawers, and I have to replace them every time the boys break them off by standing on the drawers, which is always.

I have 156 passwords. Seriously, I counted. That seems excessive.

Amazingly I even have passwords for elementary school. It’s hard to believe elementary school would require passwords, but then again, I wouldn’t have thought I would need one for the dentist, either, but I do. Between my fourth and fifth-graders logging on to Google for homework, the reading program, the lunch program, Lifetouch Portrait Studios, and so on, elementary school requires at least fourteen passwords so far. I even have a password from Costco for the box tops program.

And I have passwords for books. Books! I already had a password for the public library, but recently one of my son’s books came with an online fantasy game, so now I have a Scholastic password. If elementary school requires this much online security, is high school going to require finger print passcodes and retinal scans?

Unfortunately, I don’t see any end in sight of the ever-escalating password list. Until we actually do have retinal scans, we have to have passwords, and they all should be different and long, because there are far too many Chinese hackers, Russian mob IT guys, and pasty-white, unemployed, basement-dwelling losers out there trying to crack your code.

The last thing you want is for someone to hack your elementary school lunch program user name and password and immediately be able to clean out your 401K. Besides the financial hit, you’d be bitter every time you heard the term “chef’s surprise” for the rest of your life, and that’s no way to live.

And along the way, we’ll probably discover that retinal scans cause cancer, or hepatitis, or nose fungus, or something, so we’ll need to figure something else out. Besides, getting the back of your eyeball scanned to buy a thirty-five-cent plastic drawer slide from a hardware store in New Jersey just seems like overkill.

So for now, we’ll need to keep our lists of passwords. As an added security measure, I even have a password to open my spreadsheet of passwords. Yes, you heard me - my passwords have a password. If I ever forget that one, we’ll just have to move to a small cabin in the woods and start over from scratch.

I probably won’t forget it, though, because I made it the same as my two most important passwords – the ones for TV and pizza – so it would be easy to remember. It’s my birthday.

Please forget I told you that. It’s also the one for my 401K.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. Smidge,

    As an employee in a non-descript cubicle at the Pentagon, I can say two things 1) I know where the Arc of the Covenant is stored (kudos to Dr. Jones), and 2) I've read all your emails and know all your passwords courtesy of Google and the People's Republic of China. Don't worry, your secrets are safe with us! Have a great week...Xie Xie :) ps (spoiler alert)...LifeTouch is a front operation for B613-like teams across the globe, so I'd tread lightly on the barrage of criticism: it's putting a noticeable dent into a previously steady cash flow.

    Your "friend" on the inside,

  2. Good tip on the Lifetouch thing. I will cease all communications and delete all posts to minimize the risk of getting black bagged in the middle of the night. I appreciate the heads-up. As for my emails, I would have just given you guys the passwords a long time ago, but I didn't want to bore anyone to death.
    "Dear Coach Marc, Johnny will not be at today's game. Sorry for the late notice."
    "Dear parent, we are already in the fourth inning. I figured he wasn't going to make it. Please try to give me as much notice as possible in the future so I can plan my lineup ahead of the game, instead of making it up as I go. Thanks."