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Glazer: Pesky passwords and a long-forgotten pet

POSTED: July 11, 2008 5:01 a.m.

One recent morning, I tried to log on to my online banking account. I needed to check my balance since the dryer had suddenly decided to stop drying and I wasn't sure if I had enough in the account to cover the repair bill.

You'd think I'd be a wizard at this online stuff since I'm married to Arthur, the computer savant. But sadly, no. I forget passwords. I put documents in folders and then forget where the folders are (this being cyber folders, although I do roughly the same thing with the manila ones, too).

So here I am, just trying to see if I can pay a repairman or if I should start digging under the sofa cushions to find change for the laundromat when suddenly a screen pops up on my laptop that reads, "As a security measure, please answer the following question: What is the name of your favorite pet?"

Huh? I guess at some point I'd given them an answer to this query. Programs are always asking me to provide my mother's maiden name, the town where I was born, the name of my first school or some other such information. It's usually a no-brainer since each of those questions has only one correct answer. But my favorite pet? That's like asking me to pick my favorite child.

First I typed in "Lola," the name of our Australian shepherd. She's our only dog, so it seemed best to start with her. Nope. Not Lola.

OK. Maybe I'd set this program up several years ago, before we'd gotten Lola. Back then, our dog was Yofi, a little black Pomeranian. I tried "Yofi." No go.

So it was time to start with the cats. Our Alpha cat is Tovah, a grand dame of a tortoise shell who survived antifreeze poisoning as a kitten and having most of her tail skinned off in a run-in with a fast closing door. She loves her humans unconditionally and though I know I shouldn't play favorites, she's mine. Except, apparently, when I set up the stinking online banking program.

So maybe it was Louie, our black and white tuxedo kitty who's the bane of blue jays everywhere. Wrong again.

I knew it couldn't have been Rusty, the Garfield look-alike. I found him abandoned in the drive through at the same bank that was giving me fits with the security prompt. I guess his former owners grew tired of his clawing up cabinets (upholstered furniture is not a big enough challenge) and eschewing litter boxes for softer, carpeted spots.

He's an unrepentant delinquent but we keep trying. Love the sinner not the sin. No way would it ever cross my mind to put Rusty's name in a favorite slot.

(Here's an aside: It's astonishing what I learn in the process of writing these columns. A group of lions is a pride. So what do you call a group of cats? Turns out it's called a clowder. Really. Now back to the column ...)

Our most recent addition to the clowder is Jack. I found him as a kitten, wandering the sidewalk in front of my shop. He was trying to follow people out to their cars. He's the only cat I've ever known who will go for walks and actually heel. Arthur strolls with Lola on one side and Jack on the other. It's a cool quality but, it seems, not enough to have earned him favorite status. I still couldn't access my account.
Having run out of cats, I tried typing in Spanky the parrot. Nada.

We never named the fish so I was out of ideas.

At last, defeated, I closed down the program and reopened it. It immediately took me to my account.
I was pleased to see that we could afford to fix the dryer but I still don't know who my favorite pet is.

Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears regularly and on gainesvilletimes.com.



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