Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Online Security

January 5, 2015

It seems like every day I receive a warning reminding me to protect myself from hackers and scammers by changing my passwords as regularly as I change my underwear. I probably shouldn’t announce this, but I only have one password and I use it for everything, and have done so for a long time. I accept this risk because my memory isn’t what it should be, and I know I’d forget new passwords before the end of the day.


Recently, I was having a conversation about passwords and online protection with son CJ. He told me a few interesting stories about passwords when he worked for the Registrar’s Office at the University of Oregon. Each student at the U of O had an online account where they registered for classes, received grades and made various payments. These accounts were protected by passwords, which students often failed to remember after serious partying, the type that frequently occurs during New Years’ celebrations. According to CJ, in January the Registrar’s Office received countless calls from semi-sober students unable to access their accounts because they couldn’t remember their passwords. CJ was able to assist these people, but only after the student answered a security question provided during registration by the student.


CJ snickered when he told me this because many students, away from home for the first time, flaunted their newly-acquired independence by providing salacious or even pornographic security questions. Typical security questions were: Where did Johnny drive me the first time we did it? How many women have I banged? What’s the most naked women I’ve thrown up on at one time? CJ related one conversation that went like this:


“Er, hello—Registration Office?”


“This is the Registrar’s Office. How may I help you?”


“There’s something wrong with my online account. I can’t access it.”


“Please give me your name and student ID number.” After receiving the information, CJ asked, “Are you putting in your proper password?”


“Actually, I can’t remember my password. That’s why I’m calling. Can you tell me what it is?”


“Yes, but first you need to answer the security question you’ve provided.”


A long pause.


"Are you still there?”


“Yes…ah, is that question necessary?”


“It is if you want to access your account.”


“Okay, go ahead; ask it.”


“Hopefully, you gave us a simple question and answered honestly, making it easy to remember. Just a minute while I pull up that information. Alright, I have your security question on my screen. It appears that in case you forgot your password, you wanted us to ask you the following question. You will have three chances to answer properly. If you fail to do so, you’ll need to set up a new account. Your question is,


How big is my dick?”


Another pause, followed by a halting voice saying, “Twelve inches.”


“That’s incorrect. Care to try again?”


“Eleven inches.”


“Still incorrect.”




Considering all the responses CJ could have given this hapless student, I thought his reply priceless: “Sorry. Am I to understand the correct answer has changed?”


As for me, I won’t be changing my password anytime soon. But when I do, the correct answer to my security question is Ten. Improving my honesty has never been a New Year’s resolution.









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My work cubical was near an IT help desk, 90% of all conversations I overheard were password related.
By: Cranky on January 5, 2015
Sadly, I use the same one across the board. Once in a while when I have to sign into an account I rarely use, I have to search back in my cobweb filled memory for a previous version. I got nothing worth hacking. I hope.
By: Bob on January 5, 2015
I have no problem remembering my password. It's "password." Oh crap. Now I gotta change it. Maybe to something clever like "password123." Crap again. I'm not very smart with this stuff.
By: Al Penwasser on January 5, 2015
The strongest passwords are those that contain 8 or more characters; the password should be alpha-numeric, may contain special characters and have at least one upper or lowercase letter. For example: F4yD$k2v8 I wonder if any of your readers (aka followers) could guess your password... old grand one. ;-)
By: Daniel LaFrance on January 5, 2015
Hahaha...love this.
By: Bouncin Barb on January 5, 2015
Heeheehee! And yet i'm shaking my head. The point of raising them isn't to raise good kids, who go crazy when let loose. It's to raise good adults, who don't. Then again, the ones raised right don't give you the laughs.
By: mimi on January 5, 2015
laughing! :) i keep a typed list of passwords near my computer. a lot safer than saving them to my browser where they could be lifted if anyone accessed my laptop (remote access or geek squad or whatever.)
By: TexWisGirl on January 5, 2015
That's too funny. I guess we're all human and that means we're all animals. Sex is very important to us and as humans, I think we should be less embarrassed and take the shame out of talking about the body and just celebrate it for what it is, genitalia and all.
By: Michael Offutt on January 5, 2015
Boy I wish I had just one password. I did back in the day, but now so many programs have different requirements (you MUST include a special character; you may NOT include a special character)... Love the story though - college kids are funny :)
By: The Bug on January 5, 2015
Ha.. you're lucky that you can get away with one password. As The Bug said, there are so many different requirements these days. I have a few which are moderated to suit those requirements. I do have to keep a list of them though.. there are just too many. But your story reminded me of an old internet joke. Tech support was called to help a woman figure out her password and her security questions was "What's my favourite expression?" The answer was the word "DOME." The techie asked her what "dome" meant? Blushing, her response was that it was actually two words. ;)
By: Hilary on January 5, 2015
Way too many accounts. I print them out and they are two pages long and about 60 different passwords and maybe a dozen varied IDs. None of them would be retrieved do to the answer of the length of a body part!
By: Tabor on January 5, 2015
oh hahahah hilarious! I used to be like you...my password was the same for everything- now I have an 8x11 piece of paper with all my new very clever and rude passwords for each application etc I use on the internet.... for example here's one I have since changed: outOUTUdamnableShitty4MEHACKER SO FAR it seems to work.... I even took a photo of my list in case I lose the hard copy! and my questions are easy for me to remember as they are the truth! hahahah
By: Kathe W. on January 5, 2015
CJ is one sharp fellow with a quick wit.. How funny:) I have one basic password with variations depending on site requirements. All on a printed list beside my computer. A burglar could have complete access, no one else.
By: Akansas Patti on January 5, 2015
The caller is lucky a woman didn't answer the phone. And it's a good thing your son has a sense of humor. I'm similarly afraid of forgetting my password. I have only a couple that I go back and forther between. I'm afraid to make changes.
By: Robyn Engel on January 5, 2015
For PCs it's not terribly important as what is there to gain by hacking unless they're looking for a credit card number? I do have separate pass words for each account.
By: red on January 5, 2015
Funny story! I do remember reading a few years ago that the most commonly used password was "password." Heh. A friend of mine answers ALL security questions with "beer." Mother's maiden name? - Beer. High school attended? - Beer. Name of her first pet? - Beer. How big is my d... Well, you got the idea.
By: Pixel Peeper on January 5, 2015
Ah, if only life were simple again, like needing only one password to whisper to the face behind the sliding panel in the door of the speakeasy...
By: Val on January 5, 2015
I think I'd like to meet you. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on January 5, 2015
I may be completely wrong, but I consider all of the advise about frequently changing passwords to akin to most government programs. For it sounds so very good in theory, but since most online security breaches are due to malware, which bypasses the need for a correct password, frequent password changes are basically useless.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on January 5, 2015
That was certainly shifting gears, Stephen! I hope you had a very nice Christmas and New Years! Over here catching up!!
By: Michael Manning on January 5, 2015
I am like you, to many passwords or changing them................ I'd never get anywhere for I would always be locked out of my accounts. And as for CJ, he had the measure of the situation....... Great story!
By: John on January 6, 2015
By: catalyst on January 6, 2015
Hilarious post, and good advice.
By: Tom Cochrun on January 7, 2015
Mm. makes a change from your mother's maiden name.
By: Mike@A Bit About Britain on January 12, 2015
Oh, I'm going to be smiling all evening after reading this post!
By: Mitchell is Moving on January 14, 2015

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