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Currently Seeking Translators Fluent In Geek

, , , , , | Related | January 31, 2022

My girlfriend’s parents have arranged a Christmas-before-Christmas event so that their relatives will be able to attend before the state borders get shut down for lockdown again. It is a full formal Sunday lunch — the good china, placemats, arranged setting, that sort of thing.

My girlfriend’s mother is a fantastic cook, so I jump at the chance to attend. I’ve met most of her family, but she does have an uncle and some cousins who are coming from across the country specifically to visit everyone.

My girlfriend’s mother sits me beside one of the cousins, although until we introduced ourselves, I thought she must have been an aunt. [Cousin] is the oldest of the generation, so she’s nearly middle-aged while my girlfriend and I are still in University.

Cousin: “It’s nice to meet you, [My Name]. So, I think [Girlfriend] said you were studying at [Local University]?”

Me: “Ah, yeah, I’m studying IT there.”

Cousin: “Oh, that’s a good field. Just general IT, or are you doing one of the specialty degrees?”

Me: “It’s all fun, but I’m actually specialising in security. It’s all very technical and complicated.”

Cousin: “Oh, that must be pretty challenging. Anything in particular you’re enjoying or having trouble with?”

Me: “It’s all very complicated; I don’t really know how to explain it to a layman. Uh. The design evaluation I’m trying to do now is hard, I guess? That’s when you’re looking at a system and trying to put in security before you even build it. They don’t really explain how you find things.”

Cousin: “For a uni course? Try starting with a STRIDE threat model. It’s an older method and it’s a little high-level, but that just means there’s lots of information online about it. In real life, sometimes you need a different method, but a lot of threat modelling techniques were alterations on STRIDE so you can’t go wrong getting familiar with it. Also, make sure to check the relevant standards and whether there was a CC evaluation.”

Me: “Uh…”*Laughs* “What?”

Cousin: “Oh, sorry, it’s been a while since I’ve had to train a new grad. Let me grab my phone after this and I’ll explain what you need to do. My day job is cyber security director over in [Major Government Organisation]. Some pentesting, some SOC, but mostly GRC these days.”

Me: “…oh!”

Cousin: “Auntie takes her dinner parties really seriously and thinks really hard about how to seat people next to each other, didn’t you know?”

Well, now I do. And I got a High Distinction on that security design course.

This story is part of our Halfway-Through-2022 roundup!

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Should Probably Also Explain “Sick” And “Bad” While You’re At It

, , , , , | Related | January 22, 2022

My young cousin was visiting us. We keep horses on our property, but they’re mostly pets. At the time of this story, one of our horses, Ladybug, was an older mare with worsening arthritis.

Cousin: “Can we get the horses out so we can ride them?”

Mom: “No, Sandy bucks too much for kids, and Ladybug’s lame.”

Cousin: *Offended and outraged* “Ladybug is not lame!”

We explained what lameness in horses meant after that and he was much more understanding. It still makes me smile remembering how angry he was over us “insulting” her, though!

We Could All Use A Cousin Lisa In Our Lives

, , , , , | Related | January 4, 2022

In my extended family, my dad was an only child and my mother had one older sister. My Aunt Mary had two sons: one my age and one two years older than us. But in addition to Cousin George and Cousin Sam, we also had Cousin Lisa. Cousin Lisa was the daughter of George and Sam’s Uncle Fred, and she was sixteen years old when I was born.

Cousin Lisa was my favorite cousin. She was the only other girl in the family, so she got extra points by default, but because she was older, she was also just so much fun. Whenever she visited, she made sure to schedule time to take George, Sam, and me out for all sorts of fun activities no one else would take us out for. I now realise it’s because she was a single adult with a stable job and no kids and had more free money, but back then, we just thought she was the Big Kid and was letting us break all the grown-up rules by getting two snacks when we went to the movies.

When I was five, I found out that not only did Lisa visit us twice a year, but George and Sam got to travel over to visit her once a year. I was so upset that I cried for weeks. From that year, only I got to go with George and Sam every winter to Lisa’s so that we could see the snow.

When we grew older and our interests started to diverge, Lisa made sure to keep up to date, even when I was fifteen and what I liked changed weekly. Oftentimes, she’d not just take us out as a group, but she’d also schedule outings with each of us individually to do something we enjoyed. I got to go to my first-ever concert, which I’d begged my parents for, because Lisa agreed to come with me.

These last few months, I have been planning my wedding and trying to prune down the list of invites to determine who should and should not be coming.

And it is only while trying to work out this list of invitees that my parents have thought to tell me that Cousin Lisa is not my cousin at all. Lisa, George, and Sam are related on their dads’ side. George, Sam, and I are related on our mums’ side. Lisa just came to visit after George was born, took one look at baby me, as well, and declared to both sets of parents, “Both of these are mine now.”

Not once in any of the twenty-six years that I’ve been alive and telling everyone how much Lisa is my favorite cousin has anyone ever thought to tell me this — not even the time I scheduled a special trip with my fiancée to the city she lives in specifically to introduce them.

She is still invited to my wedding.

Grief Is A Deep Pool

, , , , , | Related | December 2, 2021

My grandmother recently fell and things are looking grim. It will probably be a matter of days. Despite my dad being her son, she didn’t appoint him as “next of kin.” Instead, my grandmother appointed her daughter as the first point of contact. This is fine; she could only list one and she had a great relationship with her daughter.

My grandmother passes at 6:00 am. My dad is a volunteer at the swimming club and his first lessons start at 8:00 am, and his first break is around 10:00 am. My family knows this; he’s been doing this for twenty years now. 

At 10:00 am, he checks his phone and sees a missed call. He calls back and gets my cousin on the line. He is informed that his mother passed away. My cousin then gives this gem.

Cousin: “We couldn’t reach you! Why couldn’t we reach you? Why didn’t you pick up?”

Dad: “I was in the pool.”

Cousin: “You should have had your phone with you; you knew Grandmother was doing bad.”

Dad: “I know, but I was in waist-deep water.”

Cousin: “You should have taken your phone with you!”

Dad changed the subject. My cousin was probably grieving, but it’s a bit silly to expect a swimming instructor, who is supposed to keep an eye on little children, to have their phone with them in waist-deep water.

Use Your Words, Especially When There Are Knives Involved!

, , , , , , , | Related | September 22, 2021

I’m at a large family reunion at a cabin owned by some extended family. Obviously, not everyone there knows everyone else well, since the relationships go back to my great-grandparents’ generation.

[Cousin #1], her brother [Cousin #2], and I are in the kitchen. [Cousin #1] has deputized her brother and me to squeeze limes and chop garlic; she herself is working steadily through a large pile of avocados, taking the pits out by slicing a knife into them and twisting them. 

One of my aunts from another branch of the family, who doesn’t know my cousins, is a notorious busybody. She can never resist telling everyone exactly what she thinks without asking herself if that’s a good idea. She comes in, sees the situation, and makes a beeline right for us just as [Cousin #1] is moving the knife toward an avocado pit.

[Aunt] grabs [Cousin #1] suddenly and jerks her arm.

Aunt: “Stop!”

Cousin #1: “Aaaagh!”

She drops the knife — luckily onto the counter — and grabs at her left hand; I see blood. She whirls on [Aunt]. [Cousin #1] is about five-foot-nothing and has a bit of a babyface, but she has an extremely loud voice.

Cousin #1: “Jesus Christ, what the f***?!”

It’s the first time I’ve seen [Aunt] speechless even for a second.

Cousin #1: “What is wrong with you?! Do not sneak up like that! I could have cut my g**d*** fingers off, you idiot!”

Aunt: “I was trying to tell you not to cut the avocados like that. You could have hurt yourself!”

Cousin #1: “So, you decided to grab me from behind while I was moving a knife?! Yeah, that’s really safe! Whatever happened to ‘excuse me,’ huh? Get out of my way. I need a bandaid — if I don’t need stitches. [Cousin #2], finish the guacamole. And you, dumba**, out of my kitchen!”

She storms past us towards the bathroom. [Aunt], of course, doesn’t leave.

Aunt: “There’s no reason to be rude! I was just trying to help.”

Cousin #2: “That was pretty mild for [Cousin #1].”

Me: “Yeah, I think she only used the F word once. And she doesn’t need your help. She’s a professional chef; she knows what she’s doing.”

Aunt: “I would never let one of my children do that.”

Cousin #2: “She’s not a child; she’s twenty-eight.”

Realizing she wasn’t going to get any sympathy from either of us, [Aunt] finally left. I later found out that she tracked down my cousins’ father and complained to him about his daughter’s behaviour… and then learned where exactly [Cousin #1] had learned not to suffer fools as he bellowed at [Aunt] that it was her fault his precious jewel got hurt. 

I don’t know if [Aunt] has learned to stop butting in all over the place, but she may have learned to choose her targets better.