Strong Coffee = Strong Passwords?

When I was a much younger Man Doll, SOBUMD and I ran a web-hosting company, because we’re geeks like that.  We had clients and everything.  Now, after learning a lot about starting – and stopping – a business, we have one client left.  Ironically, she was also our first client, and I continue to maintain her website because she’s become a dear friend.  (Also, she pays us regularly, which while nice is no longer the primary motivation.)

Last night, I went to her house to review things she needed to review with me, which after more than 10 years has become something of a tradition:  I come over 2-3 times a year, in the evening after work, and she makes Coffee.  The capital letter there is required to convey the true meaning of the drink that she pours me, which is to the pansy-assed, weak-kneed, undercaffeinated bilgewater you can buy at Starbucks as the lightning, to steal from Twain, is to the lightning bug.

Have you ever seen a ceramic coffee mug cringe in fear as you walk toward it?

Last night was an even more rare treat.  To put this in some further context, my client is in her late 70s – she can see 80 without getting on her tiptoes.  So you can imagine the dual reactions of terror and horrified anticipation fighting in my sub-cortex when I heard her say, “Well, the percolator I usually use seems to be broken – it was my mother’s.  So I have to use the Old One.”

Now, you know the ‘usual’ one has to be from the 50s – all modern, with plugs and stuff.   It turns out the “old one” is a big ceramic sucker that goes on top of the stove – it’s probably 80 years old, and it’s gorgeous.  It also percolates coffee until you take it off the stove.

Assuming you would want to take it off the stove.   Someday.

“Well, this is the Columbian coffee, from you-know-who.”  No, not Juan Valdez, but it took me a second, too.  She was talking about the handyman she uses for all jobs big and small, and who tends to hand-carry coffee back from Columbia for his friends when he goes home on vacation.

So now we have really good, hard-core coffee, being percolated to within an inch of my life.  Did I mention that it’s around 7:30pm?  Right.   (“Why no, I haven’t slept yet.  Why do you ask?”)

The best part of the evening, though, was talking to her about password strength.  You can probably imagine my concern at the words, “Well, I heard that you should use long phrases as passwords, so I’ve been changing a bunch of my passwords.”   I mentioned that passwords were great things to strengthen, as long as they were memorable.   (For the record, I consider this somewhere between ‘concern’ and ‘self-defense’ on my part.)

And here was highlighted for me one of the biggest differences in working with people of different generations.   What would you, Gentle Reader, choose as a password phrase that you will remember, and cheerfully type into some widget several times a day?  Some spit of doggerel?  Some random quote or line of favorite poem, or cool concatenation of names of wives and kids and cats and kits?  Yes?

How about the epitaph that you’ve already had engraved on the headstone you’ve already had commissioned for the cemetery plot you bought yourself last year?   “No, I guess that’s probably not something you’re going to just up and forget next week, is it?”

Because that’s what I want to be typing in all day.  Talk about always looking on the bright side of life.  Cheerfully whistling in the dark, that’s her.  And my hat’s off to her, I’ll tell you that.   Mind you, with that coffee, she’s unlikely to need the plot anytime soon – I mean, she might pass into the Great Beyond, but I doubt it would slow her down any.

4 Responses to “Strong Coffee = Strong Passwords?”

  1. that is all kinds of awesome.

    just make sure she wills you the “old” percolator ;)

  2. It’s been 24 hours since that coffee, and I bet you STILL haven’t slept.

  3. @Sara – I can only hope, but I’d never ask. ;-)
    @NoTalentHack – nope, not a wink. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve blinked….

  4. So…something like the chicory coffee my Southern grandmother used to make, which I NEVER drank, where the coffee pot only gets better with age, you don’t sleep for days if you aren’t used to it and even if you don’t drink it the mere scent of it is enough to widen your eyes within an inch of your life? That kind of coffee?

    Which also explains why I didn’t drink coffee until about 4 years after her death. I used to get the benefit from smelling it. Coffee and chicory coffee are still my favorite scents, but not necessarily my favorite drinks. :-)

    Hope you sleep tonight!

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