After hours of obsessing, I still didn’t know what to do about my website. I was lying on the floor of my office, waiting for the vertigo to subside (it looked like I was sleeping) and I reassessed my whole line of thinking. I called a guy in Institutional Technology named Bavindrashakar Radiopalaman. He’s been in the country for about ten years, and I met him the last time we transferred online teaching platforms. He pulled a few tricks out of his sleeve and saved me a few weeks of work. I said, “Man, you’ve got to help me out here. They’ve screwed me over again. Now, I can’t even get access to my site.”

“Who’d you piss off this time?”

“No idea. Could be anyone.”

He ran a trace route to see where the packets were getting dropped and found that it was true: my site had been blocked. He said, “Of course that does not necessarily mean the university is behind it, but it’s possible.”

He suggested that I go over to the TELECOM office, a place I’d never heard of and one that doesn’t appear in the university phone book, and file an incident report. It took me an hour to find the place. It doesn’t appear on the campus maps and it looked like a bunker, something designed to withstand a nuclear blast. There were three empty desks in the front office, video surveillance cameras covering the main entrance and one office worker in the back. The place was ice cold. I waved at the cameras, and a voice came from the back. “I’ll be right there.”

“Oh, great. A humorless software jockey! This is all I need.”

As it turns out, he was pretty helpful and just as perplexed as I was. Like most computer geeks, he had signs of cervical degeneration, bloodshot eyes, and chronic sedentitis, a lower-back condition that comes from sitting on his ass for hours on end. He ran a trace route and checked the site through an outside portal and, sure enough, someone had jacked my site. I filled out the online incident report and submitted it. I asked him for a copy and he printed it for me.

“You should hear from TELCOM pretty soon.”

“Who’s TELCOM?”

“Me. All these desks are mine and I send messages and reports to myself so the I keep track of everything.”

“You run all of this?”

“Yep. Any idea why someone would block the site?”

Who knows? I’ve got a theory, though. There’s a lot of people around here with thin skins. I think it’s because they’ve devoted their lives to the  impractical, like “irregular verbs or the mating practices of cockroaches and snapping turtles.” We work under the delusion that this work really matters and we secretly believe that our next article will change the world. In most cases, no one gives a shit. But how else are we going to avoid having to teach freshmen writing?”

By the time I got back to the office, I had a message in my inbox indicating that the issue had been resolved. It stated, “Unblocked the IP address associated with this domain. In the past the IP was used to serve up malware or was used for phishing attempts.”

Phishing? Malware? Bullshit. I liked it better when I thought that some rat bastard was out to get me. For the moment, the vertigo had subsided and I still had a stack of compositions to grade for Freshmen Writing.

Cross-posted at B2L2: http://jimmygabacho.com/?p=928

Gabacho– according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy– is derived from an old Provençal word “gavach,” meaning a person from the foothills of the Pyrenees who spoke incorrectly. These days, it means “outsider,” somebody who just doesn’t fit in.

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