Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Putting Out Fires

Everyone who has a Google account, (and that's most of us who have Blogger as our blogging platform) has had that annoying helpful warning to immediately reveal our mobile phone numbers to Google lest something dire happen and we need to recover our account. I have resisted doing that every time - opting instead to seek out the teeny-tiny link which says to ignore their demand suggestion and continue on to do what I had intended to do before being so rudely interrupted.

Earlier one evening, I had been multi-tasking - that is - reading and commenting on blogs and replying to emails as they arrived. After leaving several comments on different blogs, Google suddenly decided to ask me for my password. It accepted my usual string of letters and numbers and then told me that my account was no longer accessible.


What followed after that was explained by me to my blogging buddy Linda in a response email at a ridiculously sleepless hour of the morning. We both knew it was going to end up in a blog post. Here it is, almost exactly as I typed it to her:

Why am I still up? Because somewhere between my last set of responses to you and these two, Google decided to shut me down. It seems there was "suspicious activity" on my account and to "protect" me, they disabled everything Google, including Gmail and my blog. It was GONE!

They held my blog hostage, forcing me to give my cell phone number in order to recover it, and yet when I did, I never received the text giving me the promised verification code.

"Go to sleep" Frank told me in a text "it'll be back."

Oh he of minimal technological understanding "It won't come back unless I have a verification code and they haven't sent it."

"Go to sleep"

"It's my BLOG!"


Auto correct would not allow me to use the curse words I texted to him in response - I must have been mistaken. I was not.

I decided to go through the process of giving them my cell number again and hope for the text with my verification code for step two of the recovery process.


I fell asleep for about an hour and then fell wide awake and checked my cell phone. There was the message with my 6 digit recovery code. So of course I tried to access it on the phone. I entered the number...

Invalid code.

Those same words that auto correct wouldn't allow me to type to Frank came to mind once again.

I decided to get up and go to the desktop to try again. Suddenly I had a new page of information which vaguely referenced my secondary email address - and by that, I mean that it presented it to me with asterisks and just enough real letters so that I could recognize it as my address. It told me to go there for an email with further instruction. I felt like I was on a reality television show. Would I arrive in my other email box and win the golden egg or would I find instead the decrepit old goat and cart behind door number three?

I found a link and clicked it. It led me back to the page asking for my cell phone number. Again.


So again, I entered my cell phone number and this time, immediately got a text message with the same code I was sent earlier. I entered it and this time they allowed me to change my password. And my Gmail and blog came back to life.

I hate (insert a derivative of the word that auto correct wouldn't allow me to use) Google.

And just as I typed that last sentence, there was a spontaneous flash of lightning (I kid you not). Google has far too much power.

It thinks it's God.
❀ ❀ ❀

So that fire was thankfully extinguished before too long. Below are some photos of another small fire which was also quickly put out.

On my way back from a walk, and just a few houses away from Frank's place, I glanced to my left and noticed smoke drifting across the field. I knew that the chances of it getting out of control was small on this particular day - there had been a lot of rain that week. Still, I wondered what caused it and if anyone else was aware of it.

Within seconds, I saw a small group of people - one who told me she had phoned the fire department, and a man who made his way across the field to see what he could do about extinguishing it. He had a branch with him and began poking at the source, trying to tamp the burning twigs and leaves so that they would expire faster.

A moment later, a couple of other men appeared and and were soon joined by two young boys. They were engaged in deep discussion. The man in green, to whom the boys confessed that they started the fire explained that they came out of hiding, admitted it readily and felt badly for the potential damage they had caused. Like most young ones, they hadn't considered the possible consequences and had not been looking to cause any harm. They were good kids.

A fire truck arrived and the boys were gently escorted to report their story to one of the crew.

A couple of firefighters made their way down the slope and across the field with an extinguisher and a broom.

Together, they promptly put out the rest of the small fire while others watched.

The crew member who spoke with the kids, always had a kindly smile on his face. He hadn't forgotten that he'd been a boy once.

He also made sure they understood that had it been dryer and windier, the fire could have easily caused a lot of damage.

I imagine that names and phone numbers were recorded, parents were contacted and lessons were well learned.

❀ ❀ ❀

I apologize for my less than regular visits. This summer is proving to be extremely busy for me. I thank all of you who still stop by in spite of my infrequent pop ins.

More photos coming up... eventually.


ADRIAN said...

No wonder you have been struggling to post....what with arsonists and Google to deal with.

Frank Baron said...

Go to sleep.


Pierre BOYER said...

I hope all is well for you...
Best regards from Paris,


Maggie May said...

That was a scary thing that happened to your blog. I would have been devastated!
Pleased you got it back!

The fire was a very near squeak! Glad it didn't get a hold. this is all it takes, isn't it?
I expect the boys will remember that experience.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Brian Miller said...

ugh i am so sorry...i had to finally give up my cell earlier this year in a is acting really weird...i kinda dont want to say outloud otherwise i may be the next shut down...haha...

yep that will def make an impression

Andy said...

Hilary you are a great story teller. Whether it's Google or boys going astray you make it interesting.
PS: I don't have cell phone.

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

That Google story is just as good the second time around. :)

So glad the fire didn't get out of control and nice to know that the little guys confessed. Looks like the firefighters handled the boys nicely.

June said...

Good kids for coming out and admitting what they'd done. The last couple of pictures are Norman Rockwell-worthy. I have to admit that, when I saw all those males standing around a little fire, I wondered why they didn't all just pee on it...

The whole Google story scares the bejeebers outta me.

joeh said...

"Go to sleep, we are watching you!" Google.

Leah J. Utas said...

Google kills. It has too much power for its own good.
That said, I don't have any such phone number to supply should this happen to me.

DJan said...

I had that "suspicious activity" thing happen to me once, and both blogs deleted for a day. It was disconcerting, but what can you do? I also gave them my phone number and discovered the code on the phone, and they still keep asking me now and then for my phone number. I resignedly supply it. Glad to see you, even just now and then... :-)

Daryl said...

and this is exactly why i hate Google .. the other control game they play has to do with joining Google+ - hey if i hate Google, why would i join Google+? Well, if i wanted my email attached to my comments i would need to ... i refused i wrote a lengthy (never use few words is my motto ... see this comment .. need i say more, well, yes) comment on the Help site (which now seems defunct) explaining that as an adult it was my choice to refuse to join a site because they claim if i dont my blog could be hijacked due to linking my email and my comments .. i opted to take my chances .. well now it seems that when people subscribe to my blog via email there's an option to leave a comment .. except it wont work .. yup .. because i am not a Google+ user ... i cant tell you how often i think about setting up my own blogsite ....

TexWisGirl said...

i've heard from several bloggers in the past 2 weeks that had their blog 'disappear' on them. i gave them my cell a long time ago as part of two-step verification (just to keep hackers stymied, supposedly). glad you only lost sleep!

love the story of these two boys and the firemen explaining the dangerous situation they created! :)

Lisa Gordon said...

Oh, what an aggravation, Hilary!
I have had that note come up a couple of times, but have refused to provide the number. I no longer use Blogger, but one of my email accounts is through Google. Maybe when they find out that I don't have a blog there, they'll decide to hold me email account hostage! Glad all worked out okay.

Sueann said...

Shhhh! Don't speak too loudly...Google is listening! Ha

messymimi said...

While they were in the wrong, the boys didn't make it worse by running away, as they could have. Good for them!

As for all these demands for phone numbers, i don't give it if i can help it, either -- instead i give them an alternate email. The only reason they could want my phone number, i would imagine, would be to sell it to telemarketers.

Red said...

I hear your first story all too often these days. I don't have a cell phone. Most people say it comes back. I do get the message about a dangerous source trying to access my account.
With your fire story, too many times it works the other way where things get out of control and nobody owns up to it.

Anonymous said...

Do you have an Android phone? Same thing happened to my sister last year.

I don't have a cell phone so not sure how I could handle this situation other than trying to locate a phone number directly to Google, call, and give them a very large piece of my mind! Would it force me to have to get a cell phone just so I could give them a number? You are right, they indeed have too much power. My husband won't use them even to search for anything on line but instead uses Bing.

stephen Hayes said...

I love the pictures of that crew member talking to the boys. He looks firm yet compassionate.

Rosaria Williams said...

I've been there! Most annoying.

ellen abbott said...

I'm glad you got it all straightened out and are back. I don't think I've entered my cell number and I do occasionally get those notices. I hear about so many people having trouble and 'losing' their blogs. I've had no trouble so far (and to any gods that are listening, that is NOT a challenge).

Rita said...

Google is trying to take over the world! :(

Those boys! At least they did come out of hiding and admit to their crime. I hope they learned their lesson. Really could have been disastrous.

yaya said...

I had the same thing happen to me earlier this year...I was really mad and felt totally being held hostage by google. After the news story of the 19 firefighters killed in Arizona...sometimes innocent things can lead to big happenings. I'm glad the the boys were OK and not any damage from the fire...Plus the nice cop reminded me of George Clooney..just sayin.

Lynne with an e said...

What a very frustrating Google experience. And yet it is a miracle of sorts (technological; though it seems like magic to me) that any of this works...and how we have come to rely on it and take it for granted and want to command it rather than be run around and over by its many glitches. I don't even own a cell phone so good luck, Google, trying to get the number out of me.

My own dear mate caused quite a potentially disastrous fire on our acreage shortly after we moved to the village. It quickly got out of hand and the volunteer fire department got called in. It was one heck of a way to meet our neighbours, who owned the tree farm abutting our land.

Those photos of the little boys with the firemen are precious! What a story they tell, without any words.

Don't forget to breathe, Hilary.

Leave It To Davis said...

I had about the same trouble with Hotmail and I think Microsoft thinks they are God. And I am grateful to them, at the same time, for finding the "suspicious" activity on my account and notifying me and telling me to change my password. I have not yet had a problem with Blogger...ever....and I gladly gave them my cell phone # so I could be "harassed" each time I clean my history on my computer....and then have to go and type in the code they text me. I am glad someone higher is looking out for us.

Norton sends me these messages a lot where they say they found suspicious activity and they need to do this and that to my computer....I just cross my fingers I will understand their instructions because they are pretty long most of the time. So far, I've had good luck with them.

I ADORE you pictures of the boys with the fireman and the police. Wonderful character photos!

Indrani said...

Google has a mind of its own!

Those fire related incidents sounds scary. Great series of shots.

Unknown said...

Hi Hilary. I too have been kept up until 3 AM or later by feeling that my blogs had been hijacked. Reading your account brought this reality home. So sorry you endured all that. What a story of childhood innocence. I've been involved in this same mischief too, when I was the same age as the boys. Wonderful post! Hope temps are cooler where you live! :)

Cloudia said...

Glad the fire was handled. god bless the fire fighters.

I have noticed that Google/blogger does scary stuff once in a while, but then self corrects when I come back later. I do have mobile phone back up, and when I clear my cookies and need to re-enter it, I just remind myself that I'm protecting my blog and my bloggy pals!

Would hate to lose YOU! Glad you're back

ps: pic of firefighter with boys is a winner!

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° >

Friko said...

I 4%7(*k_£ Google too !

In spite of gazillions earned in this country they refuse to pay tax.!!!

Kids should be told off in no uncertain terms for starting fires. In fact, a bit of actual fire service might do them good.

Gayle said...

Sooooo sorry to hear of the Google troubles. You are so correct, they have FAR too much power.

What a wonderful visual account of the fire situation. WOW! Good that the boys came forward. Says a lot!

Sandi McBride said...

ok, I hereby elect this post of the the Lifetime Post...tho it scares me because I have yet to give up my cell phone number, this is so unfair!!

Shammickite said...

Oh my goodness, you do lead an exciting life don't you!!!!!
I have never given a cell number to google, probably because I don't have one. Not one that I use anyway, road emergencies only.

Barb said...

Hi Hilary, I also just pass right by that mobile warning. I hope I don't get "punished" like you did! What a hand-wringer! Glad the boys weren't marched off in cuffs, but living in a place where wildfires cost much destruction, I also hope they learned a valuable lesson. Thank goodness it didn't ignite further! Have a great summer.

Anvilcloud said...

Nice photo story. As for Google, what if one doesn't have a cell phone? Scarey.

My Cactus Dress said...

You are funny Hilary. Frank is funny too. Hahaha.
This happened to me a couple of times However, not after I made my blog. If I ever lose my blog, I would die with frustration, anger and a huge hole in my chest.
I am not kidding!

SandyCarlson said...

I am sorry about all of that, Hilary. Google locked me out once a long time ago. I have done the two-step verification thing for a while without any hassle. I do hate being driven in a certain direction with this junk, though. Up there with depending on box stores for our material needs.

Anonymous said...

Google does seem to be everywhere, doesn't it? I have been in similar positions so often I could fill in every one of those words you couldn't type. I love that the boys confessed! That truly is the sign of a good kid!

Sharon Wagner said...

Yikes! We're so connected to our blogs. I know the feeling.

Phyllis E said...

I've never given a cell number to Google - mainly because I don't have a cell!!! I think you should disable auto correct. There are occasions on which only certain Anglo-Saxon words will do.

Mage said...

Isn't it nice you are haviing a busy summer. Bravo...Isn't it also nice that the kids confessed.

Google get's my cursing these days too. Not only did they get rid of Google Reader, which was very useful, but left me dangling with Feedly, which wasn't functional. They also insist I change my name, that I use a different email address, and when YouTubing, insist I change everything because my name is too small. Grrrr....

Enjoy the sun and the flowers. Post when you can.

Pauline said...

Glad both fires are out now! Your photos tell a story all their own. Have you moved house yet?

Joanna Jenkins said...

Google is definitely too big for their britches. Grrr. I wouldn't have been able to sleep either. Glad it worked out.

Love, love, love the photos with the fireman and the kids.

xo jj

Nancy said...

Thank goodness you got your blog back....I was scared for a moment that there was not a happy ending to your story.....

So glad they kids were able to get information they will need for that not to happen again....

Bone said...

I made a copy of my blog a few years ago on Wordpress, just in case something happened to my Blogspot one. I need to update it again though. I would be crushed if I lost all these words I have written over the years.

photowannabe said...

Oh my what a Google "Saga".
I hate having to deal with this type of thing, especially when I can't actually talk to a human.
To get lost in the cyber-space loop can drive one completely crazy.

Great series of photos about the fire and those boys. I like the fireman talking with his hands in his pockets and a pleasant look on his face.
The kids were scared enough and certainly learned a lesson.

Anita said...

Ohhh,I hope that doesn't happen to me. I'm so sorry that it happened to you. As someone aboe mentioned, it's very frustrating to not have a person to contact in these matters. I ususally end up going to, who else... Google, to see if anyone has posted the same problem. They gotcha coming and going!

Glad the fire was handled and the boys learned a lesson. Your photos documenting it can actually be a children's book. :)

Suldog said...

Hmmmmmmmm. I hope nothing like that ever happens to MY blog. I don't own a mobile phone. I'd be up (a certain word your auto-correct wouldn't like) Creek without a paddle.

Kelly H-Y said...

Giggled at your Google story (though, I know it wasn't funny at the time!); and adored your story about the boys and the fire ... and the photos you captured (and your commentary) of the fireman talking to them.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Good on that firefighter taking the time to properly educate the boys, and good on the neighbors who jumped in and took on responsibility when needed.

BOOOOOOooooo to the big heads at Google. I continue to resist giving them my phone number and I am pretty sure that I haven't joined "plus". My g-mail account is secondary to my ancient juno account. I'm not ready to give G that much power over my life.

ethelmaepotter! said...

The same thing happened to me, Hilary, but I thought it was because I had been away so long. And during the same week, my primary email account was hacked, which was a nightmare, and I have actually just begun using it again. I lost everything on it. In the meantime, I knew I had a gmail account, but I couldn't remember anything about it, so I just opened a new account. Being locked out of the internet world is rather disconcerting.