Another entry in the annals of personal victory.

For months now I've been plagued with this odd sort of thing on my laptop computer. I don't know if it qualifies as a virus, Trojan Horse, ad-ware or worm, but it was there. For months, every time I turned on my laptop and fired up my Internet Explorer browser, I would get taken to a Hot-Search.Com search page.

My default web page is supposed to be local to my system.

I got a copy of HijackThis, a software that is supposed to fix such unathorized registry entries. It was a sort of temporary fix, though. I would turn off my laptop, turn it back on a week or so later and the same thing would happen again, despite the fix- Hot-Search.Com.

Tonight I found the javascript file, update12.js, which was causing the problem. I did this by doing a file search on my computer, with an eye towards finding files with "search.php" within their text. Five files came up with update12.js being one of them- the others were standard HTML pages that I approved of. I opened it up with Notepad and took a look at its code. It was filled with mentions of, and others. I deleted it immediately. I guess I'll know, next time I fire up my laptop, if I permanently fixed the problem.

But I have high hopes that I have, indeed, fixed the phuqing problem. Buggered if I can figure out where it came from initially, but that really isn't important right now. What's important is that it is good and fucking GONE.

I am reminded of a thought I had recently, which was brought on by introspection of my youth. Specifically, riding my old Huffy bicycle around the backstreets of Hendersonville, Tennessee as a kid, usually along with a small pack- 3 to 10 other kids- like we were a sort of unconfirmed gang or something. We weren't marauders, we were just a bunch of kids who liked to feel the wind whip past us as we rounded curves or jumped small mounds. We liked the speed and freedom that our bikes provided to us. We liked being able to ride across town at will, imagining what it would eventually be like to make the trip in 5 minutes inside a car as opposed to 45 minutes on two pedal-powered wheels.

We were the original backstreet boys, us kids. That, my friends, is a funny and depressing thought.

And this memory spurned another, even older memory of my first bike as a child of 6, a Schwinn, blue-painted die-cast metal. It was bulky and very much like the old Studebaker of bicycles. I remember putting that old Schwinn through its paces. I ran into trees, curb sides, other bikes, dirt mounds... everything was an obstacle when I was first learning how to drive my bike- not ride, drive. Nevertheless, I had learned early on to be a safe driver, lest I want to earn myself more bumps and bruises on the Road of Life, where there is little forgiveness for foolhardiness.

And I remember the wheels upon which my old Schwinn made contact with the ground. They weren't the inflatable kind. They were solid rubber, through and through. The idea of getting a flat tire on that bike was alien to me, then. I didn't learn how to deal with my first flat tire until I was 12 years old. During my times with my Huffy, I was more enraptured by owning the name-brand bike and hadn't a clue that a flat tire could be costly or time-consuming. But I learned that lesson, too, even though a deeper lesson had escaped me at that young age.

Now that I think about it, though, I realize that there had been a revolution in the biking industry, and the business community as a whole, in the intervening years between 6 and 12. By the time I had my Huffy, I would have been hard-pressed to find a bike with solid-rubber tires. I thought that an annoyance, then, but didn't give it much thought until now.

We are now living in a throw-away society, I have realized. When something is broken, we throw it away and replace it with another, exact product whose durability is just as precarious as its predecessor. Bike tires are made to get flat, eventually, so that the tire and inner-tube producers can make money. They aren't concerned with kids falling and getting scraped knees and hands anymore. They aren't worried about the safety of children. They don't care what a flat tire could mean to a child who is five miles away from home, perhaps in a questionable area of town, where a child should not, would not want to be stranded or on-foot alone and laden with a bike.

Fifty years ago, though, they were. Fifty years ago, when the business world was still relatively noble, kids were looked after and their safety was at least partially considered instead of given a bare second thought. They made tube-less, solid-rubber tires for the sake of the nation's children and their families. They made things to last and to stand up to the test of time and youthful abuse.

No more. Gotta watch that bottom line and make a higher profit. Gotta bring home the bacon, at all costs.

It's a metaphor for something, I tell you, and it ain't good.

Another personal victory for today:

I was exposed to the YetiSports Games website a few months ago. Y'know- the penguin game? The latest edition of it is called "Albatross Overload." The Yeti throws the penguin up in the air, where it is caught by a seagull (one of many) which is flying by. Once the penguin is caught, you must click your mouse button to keep the wings a-flapping in order to keep the penguin-laden seagull airborne. The object is to get the penguin as far as possible before the seagull's power-meter finally peters out and the penguin/seagull duo crash-land on the Australian beach. You get three rounds to do this and at the end of the final round your three scores are combined for an overall score.

This is not an easy thing to do. High scores are upwards of 5100, with individual rounds up to and beyond 1700. My personal best long-distance ROUND is roughly 1720. I haven't been able to come close to that yet, let alone beat it- I have forgotten what technique I used to attain such a high score, alas. But I've developed some new patterns and timing techniques which have allowed me to get consistent single-round scores above 1650. My goal is to break the 5000-mark. I just got a score of 4970, which places me at the very bottom of the Top 100.

I find that very gratifying, to get on the Top 100 leader board. Now I just gotta concentrate on breaking 5000 and I'll be a happy camper.

Damn, it's addicting.