Under Attack

That happened this evening with a DDOS or distributed denial of service attack. Geofffox.com disappeared from the Internet for an hour or so.

My web host has lots of different sites on this server. Unfortunately all the tenants suffer if the server comes under attack. That happened this evening with a DDOS or distributed denial of service attack. Geofffox.com disappeared from the Internet for an hour or so.

In a DDOS the website is blasted with much more traffic than it can handle. The traffic comes from multiple sources at once–that’s the distributed part. The attackers are often unprotected PCs turned into zombies. The owner of the PC might not notice anything except his computer’s a little slower.

There’s nothing I can do. There’s not much my host can do either. The DDOS might be random, or possibly someone’s upset with one of my server neighbors. It might even be an extortion plot against someone. I’ll never know.

Hopefully whatever it was has run its course and gone away. Hopefully.

As If I Knew What I Was Doing

I know my way around the backend of a webserver. Still, I think anyone could have installed this without too much trouble.

Back 25+ years ago while I was hosting PM Magazine/Buffalo I ran into a nice young girl woman producer. She made sure I hit my mark and properly intro’d Captain Carrot and Chef Tell.

Obviously she had her act together because her career has really done well and she’s been responsible for some pretty big TV hits and has some Emmy awards to prove it. Recently she and her business partner split and she decided to take me up on an offer I’d made many times over the years–put up a website for her.

I did a little work this weekend and more last night. The site’s not ready to unveil yet but it’s coming along.

This site is based on MovableType, free blogging software (though useful for more than blogging). I use MT because Peter Sachs who installed it also used it! He put in what he knew–and I’ll always be grateful. For my friend’s new site I decided to try WordPress. Again, this is free software, heavily supported by a very active community.


The website installed in under five minutes. There was some information to fill into forms to get the program to properly speak with the server, but that was fairly painless. I’m not a neophyte. I know my way around the backend of a webserver. Still, I think anyone could have installed this without too much trouble.

What really impressed me with WordPress was the ease of modifying the look.

Hold on. Let me take a step back. What software like WordPress, MovableType, Joomla, Drupal and other do is separate content from look. I can change how this website looks without messing with my entries. Everything should fall right back into place. For web design that’s power.

I was able to take a template and modify it to fit the look I wanted in just a few minutes. I was astounded how easily I was able to accomplish my goal.

My friend’s website is hosted on a plan that costs her $9.99 a month, includes three domains (geofffox.com would be a domain), unlimited mail addresses and more storage space and bandwidth than she’ll ever use. And since I’m doing my part free, it’s quite a deal.

When I’m done, I’ll post the link. Right now I just want to put out the word, it’s easier than you think.

That’s All There Is

In my efforts to win back Google, I’ve been making sure everything on this site is as it should be. Though I’ve done these before, I’ve just produced a fresh sitemap.

If you’ve never seen a sitemap. Here’s mine (a very large file, so don’t click if you’re on dial-up or slow DSL). It’s made for machines, not people. It contains a link to every page on geofffox.com

It’s a ‘shortcut’ I produced for Google, so they can crawl my entire site more efficiently. It was created by GSiteCrawler, which does what Google does – crawl by following the links between pages. By now, some of my links are 4 or 5 clicks beneath the home page and would never be found.

Some of the pages on this site are, in essence, place holders. For instance, forms to enter comments on old postings… though I turn off commenting after five days. Most pages do have some content. Often a single posting is found in daily, monthly, category and individual entries.

This site has 28,717 pages at the moment! I’m still off Google.

I Have Disappeared From The Web

How do you talk with God? And, who is God anyway?

Is Google God? They pull a lot of weight and have become the gatekeeper of the Internet. Tonight, they removed me from their index. It is an amazingly weird story.

I’ve been writing about my traffic here on the blog recently. I mentioned some suspected reasons for the dropoff, especially traffic referred by Google.

To confirm some suspicions, I did a Google search on this site. It would instantly tell me which of my pages were most popular.

I was stunned.

The list was long and mainly consisted of pages I hadn’t entered! The pages were virtually 100% made of keywords and links. They were obviously computer generated without human intervention.

I clicked on one. The address bar in my browser read www.geofffox.com/MT/archives… I went to my web server and looked for the files that made up this page. They weren’t there.

My friend and ix-guru Bob said my webserver might have been hijacked. The bad files were now hidden from me. That’s as good a guess as any, but wrong.

Though the address bar said geofffox.com, if you manually typed the web address you’d get a 404 error – page not found! Something was very fishy.

The content really wasn’t on my site. Somehow, Google had been tricked and was sending people one place while saying it was another. I’m totally confused.

I went to the Google Webmaster Help forum and posted a note. Twenty minutes later, the bogus ad pages were gone from Google. So was nearly everything else in my site. A few hours later, the rest vanished.

As I write this, if you enter “site:geofffox.com” in Google, you get nothing! I am devastated.

I went to Google’s Webmaster Tools.

Pages on your site may not appear in Google search results pages due to violations of the Google webmaster guidelines. Please review our webmaster guidelines and modify your site so that it meets those guidelines. Once your site meets our guidelines, you can request reconsideration and we’ll evaluate your site.

Holy crap. Google has blacklisted me. As far as the Internet is concerned, I will cease to exist. No – I have ceased to exist!

I’ve already filled out a form, begging to be reconsidered, though I don’t know what I did wrong. Google won’t tell. They also won’t tell how long they’ll take to fix, or whether they’ll fix it at all.

Maybe Google isn’t God, but it sure acts like it. I’m just a little schlemiel with a simple website. What if my livelihood depended on this?

Thanks Spammers

I’ve just been through more than 3,000 emails! I decided to have a look at my spam folder on geofffox.com. The mail server itself is hosted by Google’s Gmail and I use their filters.

The filters do a mostly good job – with notable exceptions.

There were four emails from my Cousin Melissa. They were sent over the last two weeks. Google thinks she’s spammy. She was the only human stopped by their machine.

Interestingly enough, other emails from her made it through without a problem.

The filter also improperly trapped warnings automatically sent from my website, telling me there about spam comments needing attention. I found most of them, not all, on my own.

This is one real weakness with Gmail’s filtering. You cannot flag specific words or IP addresses to bypass the filtering. The spam filters go into action before anything else.

Nor can you search entries that are spam filtered. So, I couldn’t go through the 3,000+ messages, looking for email that originated on my own site!

On October 10-11, a spammer began to carpet bomb the world with messges using my domain, geoffox.com, as his return address. In that 48 hour period, I received hundreds upon hundreds of bouncebacks from closed mailboxes and spam filters. I can only imagine how many messages from the faux Fox got through!

These messages I checked today were only for the geofffox.com domain. Gmail covers me on a bunch of other addresses too. Sometime this weekend, I have another few thousand to pour through.

The false positive rate was slightly under 1% and supposedly Gmail’s filters learn by my re-marking the spam. That means the number should be lower in the future.

Still, even one false positive is too many. Right Cousin Melissa?

Even Google Screws Up

Helaine and I attempted to do our taxes yesterday. We’re about 95% of the way through the process. Part of what’s keeping us from completion is Google.

One of the tinier parts of my tax return relates to this site, geofffox.com! See those ads on the right side of the screen? I get money as people click them.

DON’T click them just to get me money. Please, don’t. Legitimate clicks are fine. I have no need or desire to scam the system.

Since I received cash, Google must send documentation to me and the IRS in the form of a 1099-misc. They did – twice!

With two 1099’s, the IRS thinks I earned twice as much as I did, which means twice the taxes (which I must pay, even on this income).

Google printed a phone number on the Form 1099-misc which I dialed. It’s not in service. They only printed the 1099-misc last week.

I tried again. Same thing.

The ‘not in service’ voice invited me to press “0” if I needed to speak to the Google operator. I did, and then spent four quality minutes as she decided she had no clue who to send my call to.

Finally, she conjured up a name. My message to his voice mail politely asked him to call me, even if he isn’t the right person. Then I could at least know if anything was being done.

That was around seven hours ago.

You would think, with a problem like this, I should be able to use Google.com itself for the answer… you would think… incorrectly.

This evening, I found a place on Google’s AdSense site with an email link. I sent a note and immediately got a response that showed no one had looked at my question. Again, Google seems to be the place where this shouldn’t happen. Their machine intelligence should understand my query… you would think.

Thanks for your email regarding your tax information. We’ve provided some information below which we hope will address your question. As you know, you can also find instant answers to some of our top questions in the AdSense Help Center at www.google.com/support/adsense. If you still have unresolved questions after looking through this material, please reply to this email and we’ll be happy to help you further

I’ve now replied and am waiting. In the end, they very well may help me. I can’t imagine under what conditions they’ll be happy to do it.

The End Of Open Internet Access?

If you want to view content on geofffox.com or yahoo.com or any website, you assume your Internet provider (probably your cable or phone company) is treating everyone alike. Right now, they probably are.

I wonder how long that will be the case? Maybe not for long. More ‘chatter’ today coming from BellSouth.

There are articles about this access issue on a number of websites, but I like the style and tone of this one from Networking Pipeline.

BellSouth’s new business model, a slightly more polite form of the kind of extortion practiced by Tony Soprano, is starting to pay off. The company says it is in negotiations with several Web sites willing to pay extra fees to BellSouth for more bandwidth than it provides to other sites.

BellSouth says that it shouldn’t have to bear the cost of providing bandwidth for big sites like Google. Instead, the sites should pay for them. But BellSouth ignores an inconvenient fact — it doesn’t bear those costs; its customers do. So BellSouth gets to double-dip.

What BellSouth seems to be saying to content providers is, pay us, or you’ll suffer second class delivery. That’s frightening. Of course BellSouth’s subscribers (who, as was pointed out in the article, already are paying) will be held hostage in all this.

It goes against every principle that’s guided the Internet so far, that Internet providers should be site agnostic.

What does this mean from a practical standpoint? An Internet provider could effectively block the ability to start a new business online or favor their own in-house content versus a competitor’s!

Take rocketboom.com (a great website, with a daily video blog). Rocketboom’s content is very bandwidth intensive. If they had to pay to get to my computer… and pay before there was any chance for revenue… they would have never been born.

Much of what I like about the Internet is my ability to choose what, when and how I will view content. It seems to me, when I pay my ISP (Comcast), I’ve paid for that ability – unfettered. If I pay for 6 Mbps, then it should be my choice how I fill that pipe – not their’s.

I am guessing Google and some other producers of Internet content will chime in on this. It would be tragic is BellSouth’s wish came true.

Just Call Me Greg

This is a strange story. It begins, I suppose, in July 1950. My parents named me Geoffrey.

In the Jewish religion, it is common to name a child after a deceased relative. Of course all my deceased relatives had odd sounding Eastern European or otherwise arcane names. My parents did what so many others do, they used the first letter, “G”, to connect me with my ancestor.

Did they know Geoffrey was a British spelling? Based on what they told me while I was growing up – no. It just looked nice, and I’ve mostly liked it as a name.

It is not without problems. When I was a kid, and Geoffrey wasn’t quite as well recognized, I would be called Godfrey or Goofrey or George. People saw the “G” and stopped reading.

I could never walk into a store and buy a cup or license plate or pencil with my name on it. There are no mass merchandised items with “Geoff” on them… at least not here in the United States. Helaine has the same problem.

Alas, we’ve cursed Stefanie with an unusual spelling too. Sorry Stef.

With time, my problems have diminished. More people have seen the name Geoff. Fewer people stumble when they read it. Life has become easier… until a few months ago.

I answered a question from a classmate at Mississippi State. He responded, addressed to my email address on this domain: geofffox.com. It began, “Thanks Greg.”

Then,. Helaine and I received a check from some failed investment. It was addressed to “Helaine and Gregory Fox.”

A few weeks ago I was playing poker at Foxwoods Casino. While you play the casino keeps track of you (and gives a few dollars in return for your patronage) by using a “Wampum Card.”

I handed mine to one of the poker managers. A few minutes he came back and handed it to me. “Here you go Greg,” he said!

What is going on? Nearly 55 years old and, all of a sudden, my name is changing before my eyes.

Steffie has caught on. To her, I am now Greg.

“So Greg,” she will say, “are we going out to dinner?” Or, there will be a note about something she’d like me to do sitting on my computer keyboard. “Greg,” it will say, “can you do this for me?”

I’m not alone. Stef has taken to calling Helaine, a name which is constantly mispronounced and misspelled, Helen.

We’re now Greg and Helen! How the heck did this happen?

That Sluggish Feeling

This website, geofffox.com, lives on a server in Chicago (I think). The server is run by a company called hostforweb.com. In essence, I rent a small piece of it.

Over the last few months, the server has been running slowly. You might have noticed it. I certainly did. Lots of what goes on here is controlled by commands I give the server. Often times, I have to sit and wait for the server to respond. W-a-i-t. You get the picture.

I spoke to the hostforweb.com folks and they asked, “Would you like to move to a different server?” Sure – if that will help. But really, who knows, because they don’t think this server is particularly slow to begin with.

Anyway, the big move is scheduled for Sunday night. By and large, I should have to do nothing. But, that’s never really the case. There will be some sort of loose end or unexpected problem.

I am most concerned about changing my IP address. That’s the place where your computer goes to find what you’re reading. www.geofffox.com really resolves to – and that number will change.

Will surfers looking for this site be able to find me? Will all my links still work? What haven’t I planned for? Will it actually speed the website up? Stay tuned. The answer comes over this weekend.

MyDoom – It’s Killing Me

Maybe you’ve heard of the MyDoom virus. Maybe you’ve gotten one or two or dozens of virus payloads from it. Whatever you’re getting, feel my pain.

As the ‘owner’ of the domain geofffox.com, I make certain administrative decisions that decide how it’s run. For instance, if you send a message to me@geofffox.com, I get it. I also receive it if you send mail to you@geofffox.com… or any other possible email address here.

Actually, there are two exceptions. Years ago, I tagged a couple of email addresses onto some web pages I created: ivythedog@geofffox.com and vegas2000@geofffox.com. After those addresses got picked on spammer lists, and I started getting lots and lots of trash emails, I routed them so they get thrown out before I ever see them. There was no real email to them anymore, so no loss.

Now, the MyDoom virus is using a ploy that works in a similar manner. As it attempts to replicate itself, infected computers are sending out untold emails to joe@geofffox.com, adam@geofffox.com, ted@geofffox.com and a few dozen other first names.

The idea is, at businesses or more normally run domains, some of those emails will get through to unwary Joe’s or Adam’s and the virus will continue to spread.

After a short lull, this past week has seen an explosive growth at my mail server. I woke up this morning to 40 incoming virus payloads!

I really didn’t know too much about MyDoom so I went looking to see if I could figure it out, and what I’ve read is very scary. This virus is sophisticated. The payload is multifaceted. It is scheduled to shut itself down on February Th, though there will still be some active computers because of poorly set clocks and the like.

I have previously kvetched about the problems of our insecure email system. This is just another example.

There’s a deeper problem here. This virus replicates itself because of computer owners actually running the virus executable! No one does this on purpose (or few do). Mostly, it’s because naive computer users have the same privilege to execute files as more knowledgeable ones. And, they do so without regard, or liability, to those who will later be infected or affected.

I fear episodes like MyDoom are going to push us out of what will later be regarded as the golden age of open computing and into a much more restrictive period. Computers will be locked down. In the long run, that’s bad. Open computing has been a boon in advancing the functionality and usefulness of PCs.

Blogger’s addendum: I just added a few dozen filters, for each name used by MyDoom. Yes, it’s a pain in the butt, but it should (and already has) cut my spam back greatly. However, this garbage is still taking bandwidth, flying through the Internet, and is using resources on my host’s computers.

Who Came Here in 2003

I don’t have an incredibly long history as a webmaster. So, for me, it’s often confusing and at the same time interesting to peek at the inner workings of this site. I have owned the domain name geofffox.com for a few years, but it’s only been since late July that I’ve mounted this blog and photo gallery.

My webserver is actually located in Chicago, and run by hostforweb.com. It is shared with other small websites. I have access to most of the server’s guts through shell programs.

In order for you to see what you’re reading now, I have to upload all the files and images and programs from home. There are a number of programs, like the one that produces the weather forecast meteograms that run on clocks and execute a few times a day. I had to write the scripts to do that too.

Running this website has forced me to learn a little about a bunch of computer disciplines, like php, Perl, bash shell scripts, html and a veritable alphabet soup of minutiae. It’s been challenging and like Blanche Du Bois, I am often dependent on the kindness of strangers. The more I learn about computers, the less I realize I know.

With the year over in less than four hours, I though I’d summarize a little of what’s gone through this site in 2003. Since it was only born in July, the stats are (hopefully) less than what I’ll get to publish in 2004.

7.76 GB That’s the total amount of data I’ve spit out. It melts down to 10 CDROM’s worth… or a few DVD’s. The majority of my hits go to the United States, but most of Europe and the Pacific Rim are represented as well.

271.69 MB That’s what Google slurped up. Loads of spiders and crawlers moved through the site, picking up the data that goes into search engines. Google took down nearly 5 times as much data as the next biggest search engine and was responsible for 6711 page views by users. I have chronicled elsewhere my rise in the Google rankings – a feat which both intrigues and fascinates me.

Giblet gravy That’s the most used search engine phrase that sent people to the site. They must have been disappointed because I used the phrase to illustrate a point that had nothing to do with cooking. The next most requested phrase was Scotty Crowe, John Mayer’s road manager.

Thanks to everyone who’s written to ask me for John’s email address. Even if I had it, I couldn’t give it out. You will be glad to know your admiration is not misplaced. There’s a whole lot to admire about John. I don’t think he’ll be spoiled by success.

I’m not sure how or why, but people searching for dangerous Internet cafes in las vegas nv and she had to remove her shoes airport ended up being sent to geofffox.com.

My cousin Michael and his wife Melissa in Sunny Southern California became blog readers. More than anyone, Michael made me realize I could use an editor from time-to-time. I try to spell and grammar check, but you need a dispassionate eye too.

My dad reads the blog every day. That pleases me more than he’ll ever know.

From time to time I’ve looked at my logs, seeing where readers are coming from. There’s someone at NBC in NY who reads pretty regularly, same at the vendor of our station’s weather equipment and Mississippi State University, where I’m taking courses. Most readers are connecting through residential addresses, but I’m amazed by all the different companies and universities that are listed.

Once, I made reference to probes of my home computer by a virus ensconced in a PC at a San Fransisco Honda dealer. I made an analogy that used the word ‘doorknob’. A few days later a computer at a doorknob manufacturer downloaded a significant portion of this site. They’ll be as surprised as the giblet gravy crowd.

In 2003 approximately 17,000 separate viewers came calling to this site. Collectively you visited 30,000 times, downloading 872,000 files. My page counter now sits just north of 60,000.

Every word I write is read, re-read, edited, punched up and perused again before it goes online. One of the more pleasant surprises of blogging is how challenging and how much fun it is to write. I never felt that way about writing before.

Often it is a cathartic experience, allowing me to get something off my chest. Other times it’s fun to let you in on something I observed and want to share.

My family puts up with this to a point. I reveal a lot in this blog, but not everything. A friend wrote to tell me he was surprised to see this ‘warts and all’ self assessment. If there are warts here, they are a small portion of my own personal wart colony. Like most people, I keep a few skeletons in my closet.

Thanks for reading. It really means a lot to me. Really.

Two Computer Related Problems

Things are supposed to go smoothly, but they never do. I’ve just suffered through two computer related problems – one taking a full ten hours of time without a solution.

First things first. I notice earlier today that I had only received a few emails all day. Normally, I get 100-200 emails a day, the vast majority of which are spam.

I went to my webhost’s site (not Comcast, my ISP, but hostforweb.com who runs the server you’re getting geofffox.com on and also my mail server) and used their tech support chat. It didn’t take more than a few minutes for Fred to tell me something had hung and all mail sent to me (or at least the vast majority of it) had be sent packing.

As best I can tell this had been going on for 24-36 hours. Oh well. There’s really nothing I can do. I’m not sure about he actual bounce message returned, so some might be re-queued and re-sent.

The second problem was much more time consuming and sinister. My friend John has an old Compaq Armada laptop and a pristine copy of Windows 98 from a desktop machine that’s no longer in service. All I had to do was load it up and he’d take it back. This is something I’m glad to do for a friend.

The Armada 1590 is a Pentium 166 laptop that was loaded with Windows 95 and originally came with 16 MB of RAM. Today, that’s a ridiculously small amount of memory. Windows 98 might have run, but it would have run ponderously slow.

I reformatted the hard drive, checked for and installed a BIOS update and then set out to load Windows 98. This is a task I’ve done dozens of times… and never with a problem.

Windows loaded fine, but as soon as I got to the first screen after the installation and the computer began to play it’s little “I’m Ready” music, it locked up tight as could be. It would neither respond to keystrokes or the mouse/touchpad. Rebooting brought me back to the same problem.

I went on Google’s Usenet site which often has great tech support ideas, only to read a series of unhappy Armada owners who tried and never quite got Windows 98 to work.

I reformatted and tried again from scratch. Each time you do that, figure an hour or so until you’re at the first workable screen. I loaded Windows 98 totally at least four times.

After a while, and after staring at those cryptic Microsoft error messages (never had so many words and numbers given so little insight into what’s going wrong), I decided the problem might be with the audio driver on the Windows 98 disk. For some reason it didn’t seem to get along with the hardware which was, after all, designed long before Windows 98. I turned off the audio hardware from the control panel and booted again.

Success – but not for long.

Even a freshly loaded Windows 98 (or XP for that matter) PC needs loads of updates, patches and fixes. The more I downloaded and fixed, the more unstable the laptop became. BSODs (“Blue Screen of Death”) came fast and furiously.

Finally, I got to load DirectX 9. I have no idea what DirectX does, other than to say loading this update into the laptop brought it to its knees! Not only did the laptop crash but the Registry (which tells the computer where and what all the programs on it’s drive are) was now corrupted. Windows 98 was more than glad to restore a prior version of the Registry, which of course brought me back to square one.

I played this game twice.

Finally I called John on the phone and said, “No mas.” OK, actually it was Roberto Duran who said that, and neither John nor I speak Spanish, but you get the point.

Can this laptop be made to play nicely with Windows 98? Maybe. But, is it worth it? Probably not – I’m not really sure – oh who knows. I’m just so frustrated at this point.

The few fleeting moments I did have it running, it seemed reasonably nimble with web browsing. And, in that there’s some Internet wisdom that needs to be shared. This computer is only a Pentium I at 166 MHz. Lots of people throw machines of that speed out as too slow. With enough RAM – and John had boosted the 16 to 82 MB – even a slower Pentium is plenty fast for working the web.

Would I play games with it or edit video or run Photoshop or other high end multimedia programs? Hell no. But, most of what everyone does on the web demands much less horsepower. The laptop I use most is a Pentium II 300 MHz and it kills.

As for John’s laptop, before I attempt any more software loading, I am going to bring it near the sink with the water running full blast and explain what we do to computers that don’t cooperate. That trick always works.

Why SNET/SBC Won’t Rat on You

Over the past few months, the recording industry has reached out and sued dozens of people who downloaded songs (probably) illegally from sites like Napster and Kazaa. All the RIAA can tell is the IP address of the file swapper.

An IP address is the main way a computer is identified on the Internet. For instance, you probably came to this site by going to www.geofffox.com. Your Internet service provider, using a DNS server, translates that for you into a series of numbers (4 groups of numbers 0-255). geofffox.com is really… click it and see.

This computer I’m on now also has an IP address, as does the one you’re using. Every computer on the Internet has an IP address.

If the RIAA knows a file swapper had IP address, they can go to a central registry and see who the address is owned by. Most likely it’s not owned by the user, but by an Internet Service Provider, like SNET/SBC here in Connecticut. So, to find the culprit, they the have to ask SNET/SBC – and they have been saying no.

There’s a very interesting opinion piece in this morning’s New Haven Register about why SNET/SBC won’t squeal on you.

In the article, they take the high road. God bless them. But, I think there is something else at stake here as well. If companies and individuals are going to start using cable providers, phone companies and ISP’s as their private investigators, there will be lots of money spent and ill will received by the cable companies, telcos and ISP’s. I don’t think they want the responsibility nor do they want to be put in the position of being forced to monitor their customers movements across the net.

There is still a great deal of misinformation, with people thinking their anonymous when they surf or email. It’s just not so. You leave a trail much more easily followed than bread crumbs for all to see.

One more thing – off the topic a bit. If you’re not in Connecticut, you probably don’t recognize SNET, Southern New England Telephone. It is a very old name, associated with the earliest telephone interconnections. It was not a Bell company. Its name will soon disappear beneath the banner of SBC. That will be our small loss in Connecticut.

A few years ago, when dealing with an out of state vendor, who needed to know my phone company, he kept referring to them as “S-NET”, as if it were some Silicon Valley high tech startup. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I will miss the name when it disappears; another sign of the ‘nationalizing’ of big business.

Continue reading “Why SNET/SBC Won’t Rat on You”

A Name From My Past

One of the cool things about the Internet is that, sometimes, you run across old friends. I guess it’s probably easier if your domain is your name, like geofffox.com (though people are uncomfortable with those 3 “f”s in a row.

Anyway, that’s what happened yesterday when I got an email from my friend Ralph.

Ralph and I hung out together in high school, mostly with our friend Tony. After college, we all went our own ways and though we have gotten together a few times, it’s been more away than together.

Ralph was very smart. He taught himself to speak Russian. Of course he wasn’t smart enough to realize that learning Russian would be me worth a whole lot less after the end of the cold and the dissolution of the USSR.

Ralph also had an amazing skill, seldom seen anymore. He could recite the alphabet while burping! I’m not sure if that’s a skill that needs to be practiced, or if it’s like riding a bike in that you never forget.

It’s more likely he can still do the alphabet trick than speak fluent Russian.