Five Days — That’s Not Too Many!

On Sunday, I asked for help in identifying a story I’d read many years ago. I pointed to the posting from Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

This morning, a friend from shul (who happens to be a Googler) answered my Google+ post, asking if this review might be of the story I was looking for. It was, and a quick search found the first few pages on Google Books.

I wanted to read the whole story, and I thought I’d probably be able to find Matheson’s book in a local library, but I was still curious where I’d originally read the story. I was pretty sure that I’d read it in an anthology, not a single-author collection, so I went to the Contento Index and looked for “The Creeping Terror”. I discovered two interesting things there:

  • The story was also called “A Touch of Grapefruit”
  • It had been anthologized under that name in Star Science Fiction 5

Both of those facts seemed awfully familiar. I got up from the computer, went to the bookshelves, and found my copy of Star Science Fiction 5. And “A Touch of Grapefruit” was right there on page 35.

Yes. I’d been searching for years for a story which was sitting on my own bookshelves.

At least I got to read the end of the story today!

If it wasn’t broken, why did it take all day to fix?

A few years ago, I decided to set up my own domain. I was (and am) a happy Gmail user, but I didn’t want my email to necessarily have to go through Google, and I’d realized that sending my personal email to my address wasn’t viable in the long run. So I picked a nice short domain and started using it for everything.

I was worried about spam – not the random spam that we all have to put up with, but spam created by companies sharing email addresses. So I took advantage of having my own domain and started giving out unique email addresses every time I created a new account. Everything funneled into one mailbox anyway, but I had control.

Over time, I realized that there really wasn’t a lot of leakage due to email sharing. In fact, I found that I got more spam sent to “random_address@my_domain” than from any other source. So I stopped making up new addresses but I didn’t do anything about the hundred-or-so addresses I’d created.

In the last year, I’ve gotten quite a bit of misdirected legitimate mail – some of which I really didn’t want to have anywhere near my computer (other people’s financial data). But I couldn’t easily block it, because I had to leave my catchall forwarding in effect to handle all of the accounts I’d created years ago.

Today, I decided to fix the problem once and for all. First, I had to find out what addresses were getting mail. I fired up and downloaded all of my current mail; then I crawled through the mail folders, pulled out the “Delivered-To” lines, and built the list of addresses in use (not all of which were ones I wanted to maintain).

After that, it was a straightforward, if slow, process:

  1. Look at the next address in the list
  2. Search for the mail referring to that address (on Gmail, search for “address in:anywhere”)
  3. Figure out what company or companies was using that address
  4. Log onto their website and change the address (or unsubscribe, if it was someone I no longer cared about)
  5. While I was there, I usually changed the username to something I could remember and made the password stronger (1Password is my friend!)
  6. Lather, rinse, repeat

It took all day (with frequent Facebook, Google+, and newsreader breaks, of course).

And I’m not finished – I still have quite a few weak passwords to strengthen. But not tonight.

Memo to self: sometimes, simple is just fine.

Can you outdo Google?

Many years ago, I read a short story whose premise was that Los Angeles was physically infecting additional territories, as though it were a virus. Heroic measures were taken to contain it, but in the last paragraph, a couple in the Midwest (possibly Iowa) succumb and start wearing sunglasses.

I have been searching for the story for many years, but with no success. I’m sure it was published well before 1970 (probably in the ’50s), and I think I read it in an anthology.

If you know this story, I’d be grateful for the details. Thanks!