Thursday, May 18, 2017

Linkin Park Returns to Chile, A Cybersecurity Threat, and Offending a Police Officer

After 7 years, Linkin Park returned to Chile.

I bought 2 tickets when they went on presale back in December, and I was excited about it to put it mildly.  Unfortunately I ended up having an extra ticket at the last minute, and despite my efforts of trying to find someone else to go with my no one was able to go with such short notice.  I was disappointed to not have someone to share the experience with, but I decided to make the best of it and make it a date with myself.

I put on my Linkin Park hoodie that I've had since college, spiked my hair, and headed out.  I had never been to a concert at the Movistar Arena before, so I wasn't sure what to expect with the line and wait to pick up will call tickets.  There were a ton of people, but as I went through the lines for security everything moved quickly.

Then I realized that I needed to show my ticket to get through.  I made my way back and to the area off to the side, and I was able to walk right up to will call.  I passed my ID card through the bars, and then I signed my name, date, and signature to confirm the reception of the tickets.  I opened the sealed envelope and admired the tickets.

I made my way through security with plenty of time to spare.  After walking around to look at the shirts and hats on sale and the food offerings, I settled on a snack of French fries with a soda.  I then made my way to my seat.

It was about 8:20, and Rage Against the Machine was playing.  My seat was left of the stage near the front, and I had a really nice view.  (I sprung from the most expensive tickets that weren't a VIP experience).  I anxiously ran to the restroom at 8:58 and rushed back.

Rage Against The Machine had left the stage, and everyone was waiting in anticipation.  The lights darkened, and at 9:05 the show started.

In case you haven't ever seen them in concert, Linkin Park puts on an AMAZING show.  They play their songs, perform alternate versions of their hits, and get the audience involved.  They played for almost 2 hours, and the feeling of euphoria was indescribable.

As they were on stage saying their goodbyes and waving to the audience, I decided to head out to beat the crowd.  After waiting for buses, then 2 cancelled Ubers, and then waiting for another bus I made it home in at about 12:30.  I had the music running through my head all night, but I eventually fell asleep.

The positive vibes will continue, as their new album One More Light is coming out tomorrow.  In addition, I was able to grab 2  pre-sale tickets to their concert when I'm back in the States in a few months.

The following Sunday I got a rude awakening.  When I tried to check my email, I didn't have an internet connection.  After tying in my password, I was told it was incorrect.  I then noticed that there was a new wireless connection.  It had the same exact name as my wireless connection, but it was open (and therefore unsecured).  

It freaked me out, and I gave the conserje (front door guy) a call.  He told me it was a security issue and that I should call the police right away.  I did so, and in the meantime I posted to Facebook from my phone asking for advice.  I got a stream of helpful and supportive comments, and about half an hour later a police officer arrived.  He was probably in his 50s with greying hair.  As I explained the situation to him and showed him my computer, my doorbell rang again. It was his partner, a female officer probably in her early 30s.  

The male officer seemed reluctant to file a report since there was no evidence that anything had been stolen or damaged at that point, but the female officer told me it would be a good idea to have it as a precaution in case anything happened in the future.

In the end I decided to file a report to be on the safe side.  As she took the report, the male officer spoke into his walkie talkie, and then we got to making small talk.  He brought up foreigners living in Chile and mentioned how when he went to eat in a Korean restaurant and assumed that the people that worked there were from China and called them chinos there were a bit offended and corrected him. 

 As is the case in Chile in general, he didn't seem to notice cultural and ethnic distinctions that people from other countries recognize and consider important.  This is something that irritates me, and I've been working on speaking up when people say things that are ignorant or disrespectful in a tactful way.  In a calm voice, I brought up that if he were in the United States and told people he was from Chile, he might be mistaken for being Mexican, Argentinean, or Peruvian.  The male officer was unphased, but the female officer's eyes turned wide and she was visibly taken aback.  She said that she wouldn't mind being mistaken for Mexican or Argentinean, but (in her words) Peruvians are so lazy that she would be insulted.

The rest of the event went smoothly, and they gave me the necessary information if I needed the police report.

The next step was to call my internet service provider, VTR.  After about 40 minutes, I got a new wireless connection created with a new password.  It worked for a few hours, and then I was once again locked out of it and my password was incorrect.

After another call to VTR, they told me that they needed to send out a technician.  I scheduled a visit for the following day (Monday) between 1 and 4.  In the meantime I consulted the advice I had gotten on Facebook and called a friend that works with computers, and he patiently explained the situation to me.  Basically somebody had figured out my modem's username and password, so no matter how many times I reset a wireless connection they would be able to change it on me.

I used the wireless hotspot from my phone to connect to the internet, and after about 10 minutes I was locked out of that connection and a duplicate open connection appeared.  The situation left me anxious and frustrated, so I gave up on technology for the day.

In the end, everything worked out.  I got a confirmation call from VTR at 11:45 for the service visit, and the technician arrived at 1:45.  He explained everything and helped me set up a much more secure modem username and password as well as a new wireless connection, and he was done by 2:15.  VTR even called me later in the day to be sure that the situation was resolved.

I'm pretty careful about my safety and security, but this situation was a reminder to be more cautious with my cyber security too.  Luckily I didn't lose anything, but it's important to remember that I'm probably a bit more vulnerable than I had thought.  The anxiety that gripped me on Sunday has subsided, and the heightened awareness is a positive feeling.

Part of being alive is feeling range of emotions and seeing the positive sides of things, and I'm in a place that I'm able to do that.  For that I'm grateful.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Puerto Montt, the National Census, and Networking

It's the first full weekend of May, and I'm writing this from a bed and breakfast in Puerto Montt.

I've been down in the south of Chile for the past few days.  The IATEFL Conference was in Puerto Montt this year, and the theme of the conference was meeting the needs of Special Educational Needs (SEN) students.  There were 2 plenary speakers/presenters that really stood out to me: Sally Farley from the University of Kent and Phil Dexter from the British Council UK.  They both have a vast amount of knowledge and expertise in the areas of inclusive education, and they were both very engaging speakers.

There were much fewer people at the conference that I knew this year, and I found myself not in much of a mood to get to know people or socialize.  Having a conference that starts at 8:45 in the morning and goes until 6:30 in the evening on a Saturday makes for a long day, so I'm telling myself that it's not realistic to be "on" during that entire time, especially as an introvert.  Despite that, it was nice seeing what is happening with inclusive education and to see that I'm already doing things that are considered inclusive practices.

Knowing that the conference was going to be an all-day affair, I booked my trip to Puerto Montt giving myself the day before as well as the day after the conference to relax.  Walking through the streets on Friday afternoon was a nice reminder of how much more tranquil southern Chile is compared to Santiago. It's greener and things move more slowly here.  People know each other, and you don't have smog constantly overhead when you look to the mountains.

The experience of traveling here has been so nice.  I stayed at a hospedaje, which is like a bed and breakfast.  The family is warm and welcoming, but they let me go about my business.  I have my own bedroom and share a bathroom, but I haven't actually met any of the other guests.  I got a nice lunch at a restaurant called El Fogoto de Don Pepe, a well-known steakhouse in the area.  I'm not usually one for sopaipillas, but when I saw how fluffy they were I knew I had to try them.  The waitress wasn't lying when she told me that they are the best in Chile.  Granted I'm not a sopaipilla expert, but I wish they were open today to enjoy them again.

That same evening I took the bus to Puerto Varas and got to meet up with a former student.  Natalie was a part of the CORFO class I taught in 2012, and we hadn't seen each other since then.  We ate at a German restaurant and caught up about what has been happening in our lives over the past 5 years, and it was so great reconnecting.

Besides this trip, another "big" event that happened in Chile was the national census on April 19th.  It was a Wednesday, and with the exception of businesses run by their owners everything was supposed to be closed.  At least one person of each household was expected to stay home in order to answer questions when the census takers arrived, and families all over Chile spent the day at home waiting for their doorbell to ring.  Those with children baked cookies or prepared a small meal for them as a sign of their appreciation for the civic duty they were doing.  Chileans shared their stories of the visit from census takers as well as those who were census takers, and it was interesting reading my Facebook news feed to see what everyone's experience was like.  

As for me, I had a Skype call in the morning and then a class to teach in the area around lunchtime.  I spent the morning doing some light cleaning and preparation for classes.  I felt nervous as I headed out to my class, as I saw a census taker sitting in the lobby.  After a relaxed class and chocolate cake that came straight out of the oven from my student, I made my way back home.

I walked into my building at about 2:45, and now there were 4 census takers sitting in the lobby.  I thought I had missed them, and I started to get anxious.
"Perdona, soy del dpto 2103.  ¿Ya pasaron?"  (Excuse me, I'm from apartment 2103.  Have you already visited my apartment?)
No, por nada!  Alguien debe estar en tu piso ahora." (Not at all!  Someone should be on your floor now.)

I breathed a sigh of relief and made my way up to my apartment.  The census taker was knocking on my neighbor's door as I got out of the elevator.  About 10 minutes later, he rang my doorbell.  He was about 18 years old, friendly, but down to business.  A few times I had to ask him to repeat a word that I wasn't sure that I had understood correctly, but he was patient.  It was over in about 10 minutes, and I got my new sticker.

While I wouldn't have gotten in trouble for not being home when they knocked on my door, it would have been a pain to have needed to go to the municipality in person to answer the questions or try to figure out an online form as a foreigner.

As a part of my commitment to maintaining connections as a way to stay happy, I went to the business networking alliance's monthly meeting last week.  It was at a microbrewery in Bellavista, which is the type of place I probably wouldn't go to on my own.  There was a mix of friendly and new faces, and catching up with others while meeting some new people was a really nice experience.  Given that I had had classes earlier in the day and my introverted batteries that drain quite easily, I headed out after a few hours.

The weather is changing as fall sets in, but summer has been teasing us from time to time with a day getting up to 80 or so every once in a while.  While I don't like winter, I am happy to have a change of season as a reminder to myself that just as we experience seasons of the year we also go through different seasons in our life.