Tomorrow is the anniversary of Prohibition being enacted (1919), the Gulf War began (1991), Civil Service was started (1883) and the British Air Raid on Berlin (1943).  Birth anniversaries include anthropologist Dian Fossey (1932), baseballer Dizzy Dean (1911), musical comedy star Ethel Merman (1909)  and industrialist Andre Michelin (1853).

After retiring from from a career in advertising at Ogilvy in Manattan, 80 year old Neal Martineau moved to Shepherdstown, WV with his wife of fifty years Patty.  Although he drew all his life, painting always seemed to allude him.  Since moving to WV, he seems to have jumped over that limitation.  His paintings are just flying off the easel these days.  So much so that he is currently having his first showing ever at Exhibitions Art Gallery, 209 N Queen Street, Martinsburg through February 2.  I really like Neal’s work, it’s like primitive native art, but with a whole lot more color.

At the young age of 37, Pittsburgh native Stephen Foster died in New York on January 13, 1864.  (That’s 150 years, for those of you challenged in arithmetic).  🙂  Who many call “the father of American music” died a pauper after suffering with a fever for days and collapsed into a chamber pot gashing his head while trying to get aid in the Bowery.  He was brought home and buried over here at the Allegheny Cemetery on the Northside.  Allegheny Cemetery was founded in 1845 and has some amazing art made for remembering the deceased.  It can easily be a day’s adventure in nicer weather for visiting the cemetery’s 200+ acres.  There’s a Stephen Foster Memorial  on Pitt’s campus right by the Cathedral of Learning that has performing arts spaces and artifacts from his life.

I think Edward Snowden is a criminal and should be prosecuted.  But the dialog he has created is a vital one we need to have.  US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose is hearing a case against Google, LinkedIn and Yahoo about our privacy.  Like Facebook, the giants of the Internet mine our personal information, without our consent, to sell to the highest bidder in the $42.6B on-line advertising industry.  They follow you when you shop on line, know what sites you’ve been to, how long you’ve been there and what if anything you purchased.  They are accused of reading your private e-mails and hacking into you mailing lists.  Google (whom otherwise I actually like) has the biggest interest in an estimated 40% of that pie.  I try to keep my tracks as covered as I can by making purchases as a “guest” instead of creating accounts where I shop.  I also don’t have any of those “frequent flyer” perks cards just about all large businesses try and make you sign up for.  And now in one of the latest trends to get more info on us, I love the “be greener, give us your e-mail address so we can e-mail the receipt to you”.  If K-mart wants to save paper, stop printing 30 inches of coupons attached to the receipt for my purchase.  There’s also programs out there under development that even if you do not have your iPhone turned on, they can follow you through particular stores, know where in the store you stop to look at something and even send you coupons while you are in the store (without turning your iPhone on!).  And I haven’t even gotten to the scary part yet.  With Google Plus’ Find My Face and Facebook’s facial recognition software, they can figure out who you are just by scanning a photograph posted on line.  Once they have your name from an innocent picture of you at a party on Facebook, they can get your name, address, age, employment, taxes paid (indication of your income), political affiliation, campaign contributions just to name a few.  From a picture!  Depending on the software behind the picture, they can also tell exactly (by GPS coordinates) where you where and when!  I know I’m sounding a bit crazed, but this is something we really need to have a serious dialog on.  One of the articles I read in the Trib on this had several people that they did searches based on facial recognition on for the article.  One of the people they researched, Alexandria’s ex-boyfriend posted a topless picture of her with her name, hometown and age on a porn website out of Netherlands two years after they broke up.  He has since married and has a child and she’s engaged.  When she contacted the website, they wanted $500 to remove it!

Speaking of dangers on the Internet, here’s on I wasn’t aware of until Eric Thompson, the IT guy at Raff Printing, my printer, put this e-mail out.  CryptoLocker is a version of malware commonly called Ransom-ware that infects your computer and demands payment to uninstall it.  It has just been around since this past September, but is making major inroads.  This malware usually comes as an attachment to an e-mail saying you have FedEx or UPS tracking info you need to open.  It also comes as credit card notification that you need to open to verify your account.  Once you open it, it burrows into your hard drive looking for any documents it can encrypt.  These include images, videos, documents, presentations, spreadsheets AND including any backup files that may also be maintained on the target system.  Once it is established in your computer, it demands $300 for the key to un-encrypt your information and you have just 72 hours to pay up.  If you don’t pay up in the 72 hours, it destroys the key and your information is permanently locked and there’s no known way to un-encrypt it.  It uses a RSA encryption method of a public/private key pair to encrypt your data.  The key is not part of the malware sitting in your computer, they will only send it to you once you pay up.  (My question Eric didn’t address is if you pay up, how are your sure it’s not lingering around and in a month or a year demand another $300?).  Hackers behind this malware are able to avoid the trace back by using digital cash systems like Bitcoins, UKash and MoneyPack, where the payments can be anonymous. Here are two very simple steps you can take to minimize your risk:

  • Never entertain unknown or unwanted emails with attachments, especially those that come from FedEx, banking, credit card, or UPS tracking notifications. Use strong anti-phishing, anti-spam and content filtering to filter out the fraudulent emails and no-go web sites.
  • Ensure that your systems are backed on a regular basis. Preferably daily, with multiple versions and maintained at an off-site location.

 Well the demolition’s finished, here’s a picture of where the toilet was and the shower was on the wall on your left of the toilet.  The tub/shower are going on that far right wall and the toilet is scooting to the right:


Here’s a picture of the gutted bath  It’s a shame you can’t see the detail, some of the walls/floors/ceiling have a two inch drop.  Believe it or not, Mike has everything square/plumb/level.  Andy’s coming by this evening to rough in the plumbing and Mike will start closing it up tomorrow.


And here’s a picture of the original Ruellia’s sink from the toilet:


And here’s the same space, but shot from coming in the door from the bedroom, you can see the sink pipes along the bottom of the wall:


Last picture is Lady Palm’s bathroom.  Up in the corner where the wall’s been torn out was where the toilet was.  We’re scooting the tub/shower up there and at the foot of the tub, we’re building a wall to enclose the tub and the toilet will be just past that.


I feel so bad taking that pedestal tub out, but I won’t have to worry about floods from the third floor to the basement anymore.  🙂

That’s it for today, have fun and keep warm,


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