Thursday, July 29, 2010

Monumental occasion

Remember last year, in early MAY, when I was worried about the possibility of being hunted down by FBI agents?

If I am shortly arrested and thrown into prison, the reason will be: I STILL haven't filed my taxes. This unpleasant job has been simmering on the backburner for nearly three weeks. By now, the overcooked unpleasantness of those irksome federal fees is beginning to exude quite the repulsive aroma. My sixth sense tells me that the concoction is going to implode at any moment, and FBI agents will suddenly burst into the music library, or violate the sacred silence of the deserted HFAC in search of me. My life will turn into a tale of hobbit vs. Black Rider--even my bedroom won't be safe, although to reenact the bed-stabbing, mattress-demolishing, feather-flying scene, my apartment would have to be a lot bigger. My room is so tiny that two FBI agents of smallish stature would barely be able to stand over my bed if they squeezed.

Yes, well, today (which we'll conveniently forget to mention is just two days shy of August), following and much surpassing the example I set myself last year, I finally filed my taxes.

Better late than never, eh? No, no, bad motto. (High, fake voice: "Bad llama!")

Maybe next year I'll get them filed by... Christmas?



Never mind.

P.S. These are the last words I shall ever write as a person who has lived her whole life in Utah and yet has never ventured within the state confines of Nevada. Yes, tomorrow I will in fact be discovering whether Vegas really does exist. Because who knows? It might be a hoax.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Part 2: The Hacker Strikes Back

Normally, when one receives an email from a person of questionable identity, one simply ignores said email and sends it the way of the cyber garbage disposal. Or, in the case of Ms. So Freaked Out Here, one has a good laugh before completing the above-mentioned steps.

However, my friend John (who informed me yesterday that he also happened to receive Ms. So Freaked Out Here's email) decided to take things one step further: he replied.

After about 10 hours from the time the initial email had been sent (7 hours, mind you, after her flight had left poor Teri behind, as she was still being held hostage at the hotel), John responded:

Teri, if you still need help, please write me back. I will be happy to help you pay your hotel bill...

Ms. So Freaked Out Here only too readily answered:

Glad you replied back,well all i need is $2,500 is just i promise to pay you back as soon as I get back home,my flight leaves in less than 3hrs from can have it wired to my name via Western Union i'll have to show my passport as ID to pick it up here. Here's my info below
Teri Shipps
33 Gloucester Place, London, W1U 8HY,England
As soon as it has been done, kindly get back to me with the confirmation number and the full sender's name on the receipt. Let me know if you are heading to the WU outlet now and how long it will take you to get back from the western union outlet???

Pretty convincing, huh?

I'm thinking that Ms. So Freaked Out Here should meet up with with my good friend Tom, whom I actually had the privilege of meeting in person one night while practicing at the HFAC. Tom knocked on the door to the room in which I was practicing and proceeded to tell me the heartwarming story of how he was recruited off of the streets of NYC for admission to Juilliard after the head of the audition committee happened to pass by him whilst he was playing his guitar on the street corner. (FYI, Dr. Holden [my piano professor who earned one of his degrees from Juilliard] informed me that being "recruited" to Juilliard is about as likely to happen as a forest of coconut trees naturally sprouting in Antarctica).

While we were on the subject of his life, Tom also related to me the agonizing account of the long hours he'd spent composing the music for August Rush (a new release at the time), only to be thoroughly betrayed by the movie producer who did not pay him for his work nor even put his name in the movie credits.

Tom wondered if I'd ever learned how to play Fur Elise, a piece of music that he assured me was one of the great masterpieces of our time, and a big hit at Juilliard. He also made me a confidant in his plan to be married on 08/08/08, though upon my congratulatory remarks and questions about his fiancee, he admitted he had yet to find a willing companion.

Yes, indeed, Tom and Ms. So Freaked Out Here could be such good friends...common interests, common talents, common IQs...too bad 08/08/08 was two years ago. Tom is probably settled down into a nice professorship at Yale by now, married with a couple of kids.

Poor, poor Ms. So Freaked Out Here.
What a beautiful match it could have been.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

5 steps toward becoming a better hacker

I opened my inbox this morning and found a message impatiently waiting for me from Teri Shipps, the IMAP coordinator (IMAP = International Music Academy Pilsen, the program I've attended in Czech Republic the past two summers). However, this email was rather unlike any other I had ever received from her, preceded by a subject line that screamed "HELP" in all caps with a few dozen exclamation points added for emphasis. I opened the message and was immediately assaulted by tragedy and heart-felt pleading, as detailed below:

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes, I came down here to London England for a short vacation unfortunately i was mugged at the park of the hotel where i stayed,all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off me but luckily for me i still have my passports with me.
I've been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and my flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now but am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let me leave until i settle the bills,I'm freaked out at the moment.Got nothing left with me..i was mugged off all i got,can you please help me out with some cash?.I promise to pay back as soon as i get back....So freaked out here

Teri Shipps
Admissions Coordinator
International Music Academy Pilsen, Czech Republic
3098 Cross Creek Court
Ann Arbor MI 48108 USA

ph/fax 1-734-222-8003

Calling all hackers. If you're going to hack the email of someone in a professional position, perhaps you should be aware of the following:

A professional:
1) doesn't refer to him/herself as an uncapitalized "i," which is a morbidly unacceptable way to treat a first-person, singular personal pronoun in the English language.
2) doesn't use the words "freaked out" in written conversation (or spoken, for that matter), especially multiple times in the same paragraph.
3) doesn't construct sentences like "i was mugged off all i got."
4) knows that hotel managers are in fact neither hostage holders nor bounty hunters.
5) realizes that the best way to get help in a dire situation is not to find the nearest internet cafe and email random acquaintances on his/her email list.

Better luck next time.