Poetry and Passwords

Collection of PoetryWe were enjoying a leisurely lunch with some retired friends when the conversation turned to the indignities of aging.  The older folks around the table complained about how hard it was now to remember the things that they had in their younger days retrieved effortlessly.  One proudly spoke of the many poems he had memorized as a boy.  Another had committed significant portions of the Bible to memory.  Half joking, I said that the only things I memorized nowadays were … passwords.

What a sad commentary on modern life!

There was a time when I took great delight in finding whimsical passwords as the spirit moved.  However, that casual approach often won’t fly any longer. When every password has to have a particular combination of upper and lower case letters, plus at least one number and one character (and you aren’t allowed to repeat passwords too frequently), the hunt for an acceptable password becomes even more challenging.  Now, it requires careful planning. (Having a slightly twisted mind doesn’t hurt either.)

Even if you’re tempted to ignore the recent security breaches, chances are that your employer is insisting that you use more discipline and care in choosing passwords.  For that matter, your online bank, your email service, your preferred shopping websites and your favorite social media platforms probably require stronger passwords too.

If you’d rather memorize poetry than passwords, consider turning to Leet to help you devise passwords that pass muster.  Jesse Friedman’s recent post, Leet Speaking Passwords, helps explain how to use this technique.  By swapping some of the letters in your password for similar numbers and characters, you can create a unique and memorable password that is strong enough to make a hacker cry. For example, using leet the name “Jesse” becomes “J3$$3.”

So if you’d rather spend your precious grey matter on poetry instead of passwords, consider adopting Friedman’s leet speaking approach.  I can promise you that the poetry you read will bring far more joy than any list of passwords.


For additional advice on passwords, see my earlier post Safe Passwords.

[Photo Credit: Vintage Cat]




How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual

In celebration of Easter, here’s a present that will delight.  Best of all, it is low-calorie and will not enrage your dentist.  Enjoy!

How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner

First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma,
your steel-tipped boots,
or your white-collar misunderstandings.

Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.

To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
and trust.

Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.

Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true,
doing holy things to the ordinary.

Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.

When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don’t even notice,
close this manual.

from We Mad Climb Shaky Ladders, published by Cavankerry Press.

Courtesy of the American Academy of Poets

[Photo Credit:  Nedieth]