Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. Sadness comes to us this holiday season. Last Friday my uncle Gale died in his sleep. He was a neat guy who loved knocking around in the desert. Gale had a turquoise mine years ago and I'll always remember the chunk that he used for a door-stop. It was about 8" in diameter and must have weighed 10 pounds.
Almost exactly a year ago he lost his Nita, his wife. The two of them were hilarious together and the banter would drive you to tears. Uncle Gale loved pie, cigars and "wickey" (whiskey). Aunt Nita never gave him whiskey and rationed out the cigars, probably out of concern for his health.
But pie was another story and Nita would bake one for him once in a while. None-the-less, he would continue to ask her when he could have a piece, to which she would reply, "You just had one after lunch (or dinner)." Sometimes he'd tell my Dad "You know... I'd trade her in, but it takes so long to train a new one!"
God bless you, Uncle Gale. Say "Hi" to Aunt Nita for us.

===
GRINS & GIGGLES:
From the original Hollywood Squares TV show.

These are from the days when game show's responses were spontaneous and not scripted like they are now. Ah, the good old days!

Q: If you're going to make a parachute jump, you should be at least how high?
A: Charley Weaver: Three days of steady drinking should do it.

Q: True or false...a pea can last as long as 5,000 years.
A: George Gobel: Boy it sure seems that way sometimes...

Q: You've been having trouble going to sleep. Are you probably a man or a woman?
A: Don Knotts: That's what's been keeping me awake.

Q: According to Cosmo, if you meet a stranger at a party and you think he's really attractive, is it okay to come out directly and ask him if he's married?
A: Rose Marie: No, wait until morning.

Q: Which of your five senses tends to diminish as you get older?
A: Charley Weaver: My sense of decency.

Q: In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say "I love you"?
A: Vincent Price: No, you can say it with a pineapple and a twenty.

Q: What are "Do It", "I Can Help" and "Can't Get Enough"?
A: George Gobel: I don't know but it's coming from the next apartment.

Q: As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while you are talking?
A: Rose Marie: You ask me one more growing older question, Peter...and I'll give you a gesture you'll never forget!

Q: Paul, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?
A: Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

Q: Charley, you've just decided to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any during your first year?
A: Charley Weaver: Of course not, Peter. I'm too busy growing strawberries!

Q: In bowling, what's a perfect score?
A: Rose Marie: Ralph, the pin boy.

Q: It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps.One is politics. What is the other?
A: Paul Lynde: Tape measures.

Q: During a tornado, are you safer in the bedroom or in the closet?
A: Rose Marie: Unfortunately, Peter, I'm always safe in the bedroom.

Q: Can boys join the Camp Fire Girls?
A: Marty Allen: Only after lights out.

Q: When you pat a dog on its head he will usually wag his tail. What will a goose do?
A: Paul Lynde: Makes him bark.

Q: If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?
A: Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.

Q: According to Ann Landers, is their anything wrong with getting into the habit of kissing a lot of people?
A: Charley Weaver: It got me out of the army!

Q: Is it possible for the puppies in a litter to have more than one daddy?
A: Paul Lynde: Why, that bitch!

Q: While visiting China, your tour guide starts shouting "Poo! Poo! Poo!" What does that mean?
A: George Gobel: Cattle crossing.

Q: It is the most abused and neglected part of your body - what is it?
A: Paul Lynde: Mine may be abused but it certainly isn't neglected!

Q: Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do?
A: George Gobel: Get it in his mouth.

Q: Dennis Weaver, Debbie Reynolds, and Shelley Winters star in the movie "What's The Matter With Helen?" Who plays Helen?
A: Charley Weaver: Dennis Weaver - that's why they asked the question.

Q: Who stays pregnant for a longer period of time, your wife or your elephant?
A: Paul Lynde: Who told you about my elephant?

Q: When a couple have a baby, who is responsible for it's sex?
A: Charley Weaver: I'll lend him the car. The rest is up to him.

Q: James Stewart did it over twenty years ago when he was forty-one years old. Now he says it was "one of the best things I ever did." What was it?
A: Marty Allen: Rhonda Fleming.

Q: Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they?
A: Charley Weaver: His feet.

Q: Do female frogs croak?
A: Paul Lynde: If you hold their little heads under water long enough.

[thanks to Pat Stewart for this one]

===
CYBERSPACE ALERT:
New virus "ZACKER"

The worm, operating under the guises of Zacker, Reeezak, Maldal and Keyluc, arrives with the subject header "Happy New Year" and contains a file attachment entitled "christmas.exe." It uses familiar social engineering tactics to entice recipients to double click on the attachment, before mailing itself and the victim's contact list to everyone in the contact's address book. 

The worm may change the computer name to "Zacker": 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\ ComputerName\Zacker

It might also add a "zacker" entry under: 
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ Run\Zacker

All files in the %system% directory are deleted upon executing of the christmas.exe. The worm also changes the Internet Explorer startup page to a certain "zacker" htm website. This html page contains Javascript code that drops a VBScript virus and also installs a mIRC script. The HTM page is triggered upon with VBS/Rols.dr with Dat-4156 and above.

The dropped VBSscript code may delete anti-virus and security software "Zacker's" MAIN htm page may drop a VBScript file called "outlook.vbs" in the %SYSTEM% directory, so for example c:\windows\system\outlook.vbs. This file attempts to send an e-mail to all the entries in your "contacts" with:

Subject: Very Important !!! 
Body : See this page http://................. 

So it's encouraging your contacts to click on the (omitted) malicious weblink. The outlook.vbs code contains a payload routine to delete all files in the %SYSTEM% folder. A message box is also displayed with anti-Jewish text followed by a shutdown of the system. 

===
MEATSPACE ALERT:
Managing your way out of debt

If your holiday spending has you thinking about juggling bills instead of singing holiday tunes, don’t despair. With discipline and a change in your spending habits, you can manage your way out of. Here are some steps to help you get started:

Find out how much you owe. A surprising number of people don’t even know how much they owe.

The first step in any effective debt-reduction program is to restrict credit-card use to emergencies only.

The next step is to gather all your loan statements and credit-card records and, starting with the debt carrying the highest interest rate, add up the outstanding balance on each account. Finding out how much you owe can serve as a real wake-up call to the need to stop running up bills. Then make a record of the interest rates you are paying on all your outstanding debt. This will help you with repayment priorities.

Restructure your debt to reduce interest expenses. If you are a homeowner, a low-interest home equity loan is one of the least expensive ways to consolidate your debt and pay off high-interest credit-card balances. Because the interest you pay on home-equity loans, unlike credit-card interest, is almost always tax deductible, your cost of borrowing is lower. However, keep in mind that a home-equity loan puts your house at risk should you default.

You also can lower your interest costs by transferring credit-card balances to a lower-rate card. But before you go through the trouble of changing credit cards, check with your current card issuer to see if it is willing to lower your rate. Pay off as much as you can. Don’t fall into the trap of paying just the minimum due on your credit cards or it will take you forever to become debt-free. Be willing to bite the bullet and pay off as much as you can each month.

If you have outstanding balances on a number of cards, your first priority should be to eliminate your most expensive debt. Pay as much as you can toward the debt with the highest interest rate and when that is paid off, move on to the next highest. Make a bigger dent in your outstanding balances.

Withdrawing funds from low-interest savings accounts to pay off high-interest loans and credit cards almost always makes good financial sense, as long as you keep the equivalent of six months’ worth of living expenses in a liquid account for emergencies. Remember, paying off a credit card carrying a 14 percent interest rate is equivalent to earning 14 percent on an investment an attractive rate of return in today’s economic environment.

You also should make it a point to use any windfalls such as a bonus, tax refund or even the proceeds of a garage sale to pay down your debt. Contact your creditors. Sometimes outstanding debt can become so overwhelming that instead of tackling it head-on, we try to avoid it, a strategy that is sure to make matters worse.

If you fall behind on payments and are having trouble coping with your growing debt, call your credit-card companies and other lenders and try to work out an acceptable payment schedule. Avoid quick-fix “credit-repair” services as many are nothing more than costly scams.

Change your ways. After working hard to pay off your debt, the last thing you want to do is run up your balances again. It would be nice to think we could live without credit, but in this day and age, every now and then, you’re going to need it. The key is to live within your budget and to use credit wisely.

Shop around for a card with the lowest possible interest rate, and resolve never to charge more than you can pay off at the end of the month.

Seek professional help. If your debt is too much to handle on your own, you might want to contact the Consumer Credit Counseling Service, a nonprofit agency that helps consumers deal with credit problems. Some clients just need help curbing their spending and setting up and sticking to a budget. For others, CCCS will negotiate with creditors often getting concessions that clients might not be able to get on their own and set up a repayment plan.

To find the office closest to you, call (800) 388-2227.

===
TRUE STORY:
The Reminder
By Ryn Morrison
British Columbia, Canada

Thanksgiving found me working at a general store in a very remote area. I wasn't pleased with having to work the holiday, but about half-way through my shift I saw someone who made me feel glad that I would at least be able to go home to share Thanksgiving dinner with my family.

The weather was awful, with an icy wind that drove down near-freezing rain like darts. A young man was walking along the highway, hitchhiking with very little success. Because of the remote location, there was very little traffic, and the few vehicles that did come by were driven by people who were rushing to dinner and couldn't be bothered to pick up a soaking-wet stranger. I expected the man to come into the store to warm up, but he just kept on walking even though he was shivering with the cold.

I thought about how it must feel to be alone and trying to hitch a ride in such miserable weather on such a special day, and my heart went out to him. Wherever he was going, it was a sure bet he was not going to be there in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Because I was alone, I couldn't leave the store to help out, so I called my parents. I knew that they were busy preparing Thanksgiving dinner. I explained about the young man and asked them if they could help out. A short while later, I saw my parents' car appear. It drew to a stop beside the man and there was a quick exchange of words. Something was handed to the man, and then the car took off for home. The look of surprise, disbelief, gratitude and pleasure on this young man's face was something I will never forget.

Making his way to the store, he came in and asked if he could stay for a few minutes, because "an angel" had come out of nowhere and given him Thanksgiving dinner, then just driven off without telling him who she was or how she had known about him. He did not have any money to buy food, so the hot meal was especially appreciated. I just smiled, offered coffee and juice to go with the meal, and watched him enjoy.

My parents impressed me that day with their willingness to interrupt their hectic holiday preparations to package dinner and bring it to the man. The person who I really want to thank, though, is that young man.

He accepted the gift in the spirit in which it was offered. His heartfelt thanks made each of us feel good about our small, anonymous parts in helping him. He made our holiday, and not a family celebration goes by when he is not remembered. In a way, he is part of our family. He reminded us of what giving, even in such a minor way, is all about.

===
FUN SITE:
Post Consumer Blues

Didn't get what you wanted/needed for Christmas? Check out this site for prices on everything from hardware and software for your PC to digital cameras, DVD players and PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) handhelds.

http://zdnetshopper.cnet.com/

*******************************************************************
This Week's Top Updates

(1) Microsoft DirectX Drivers 8.1
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0fRa0AJ 

(2) Norton LiveUpdate 1.70
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0dJU0Av 

(3) Microsoft Windows Installer 2.0
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0cVA0Am 

(4) Shockwave ActiveX Flash Player 8.5.0
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0cU70Ab 

(5) Microsoft Data Access Components 2.61 SP1
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0cVC0Ao 

(6) Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0clt0Az 

(7) Microsoft Office 2000 SR-1a Patch
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0cVE0Aq 

(8) IomegaWare 3.1
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0ehj0An

(9) Internet Explorer 6 Malformed Dotless IP Address Vulnerability
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0e560A5

(10) Visual Basic 6.0 Runtime Module SP5
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0cVD0Ap

*******************************************************************
Most Popular Upgrades

1. Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition Upgrade
Check latest prices:
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0e570A6

2. Microsoft Windows XP Professional Upgrade
Check latest prices:
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0e6A0AI 

3. Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Check latest prices:
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0e580A7

4. Adobe Acrobat 5.0 
Check latest prices:
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0e6C0AK 

5. Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
Check latest prices:
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0e580A7 

6. Adobe Acrobat 5.0 Upgrade 
Check latest prices:
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0fIZ0A2 

7. Norton Antivirus 2001
Check latest prices:
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0e6D0AL 

8. Microsoft Office XP
Check latest prices:
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0e6G0AO

9. Paint Shop Pro 7.0
Check latest prices:
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0e6F0AN 

10. Adobe Photoshop 6.0
Check latest prices:
http://two.digital.cnet.com/cgi-bin2/flo?y=eCGD0BO8o80YD0e6B0AJ 

===
SOFTWARE:
Tips: New Software Needs Updates

Just because you bought a new piece of software, that doesn't mean it is the latest version. Soon after a product makes it to the shelves, the developer will release a patch or update to resolve any issues discovered when the product went out to the real world.

So, right after you install a new piece of software, make sure to see if it needs an update. Otherwise, you may end up very frustrated trying to get something to work that just doesn't.

===
25 WAYS WE'RE DIFFERENT THIS CHRISTMAS 

1. Last Christmas we were thinking about all the things we didn't have. 
This Christmas we are thinking about all the things we do have. 

2. Last Christmas we were placing wreaths on the doors of our homes. 
This Christmas we are placing wreaths on the graves of our heroes. 

3. Last Christmas we were letting our sons play with toy guns. 
This Christmas we are teaching them that guns are not toys. 

4. Last Christmas we were counting our money. 
This Christmas we are counting our blessings. 

5. Last Christmas we were lighting candles to decorate. 
This Christmas we are lighting candles to commemorate. 

6. Last Christmas we paid lip service to the real meaning of the holidays. 
This Christmas we are paying homage to it. 

7. Last Christmas we were digging deep into our bank accounts to find money to fly home for the holidays. 
This Christmas we are digging deep into our souls to find the courage to do so. 

8. Last Christmas we were trying not to let annoying relatives get the best of us. 
This Christmas we are trying to give the best of ourselves to them. 

9. Last Christmas we thought it was enough to celebrate the holidays. 
This Christmas we know we must also find ways to consecrate them. 

10. Last Christmas we thought a man who could rush down a football field was a hero. 
This Christmas we know a man who rushes into a burning building is the real one. 

11. Last Christmas we were thinking about the madness of the holidays. 
This Christmas we are thinking about the meaning of them. 

12. Last Christmas we were getting on one another's nerves. 
This Christmas we are getting on our knees. 

13. Last Christmas we were giving thanks for gifts from stores. 
This Christmas we are giving thanks for gifts from GOD. 

14. Last Christmas we were wondering how to give our children all the things that money can buy. 
This Christmas we are wondering how to give them all the things money can't (peace, security). 

15. Last Christmas we were thinking about all the pressure we were under at the office. 
This Christmas we are thinking about all the people who no longer have an office. 

16. Last Christmas we were singing carols. 
This Christmas we are singing anthems. 

17. Last Christmas we were thinking how good it would feel to be affluent. 
This Christmas we are thinking how good it feels to be alive. 

18. Last Christmas we thought angels were in heaven. 
This Christmas we know they are right here on earth. 

19. Last Christmas we were contemplating all the changes we wanted to make in the new year. 
This Christmas we are contemplating all the changes we will have to make in this new reality. 

20. Last Christmas we believed in the power of the pocketbook. 
This Christmas we believe in the power of prayer. 

21. Last Christmas we were sharing / spreading / listening to gossip. 
This Christmas we are sharing / spreading / listening to the Gospel. 

22. Last Christmas we were complaining about how much of our earnings went to taxes. 
This Christmas we comprehend that freedom isn't free. 

23. Last Christmas we valued things that were costly. 
This Christmas we value things that are holy. 

24. Last Christmas the people we idolized wore sports uniforms. 
This Christmas the people we idolize wear police, fire fighter and military uniforms. 

25. Last Christmas peace on earth was something we prayed for on Sunday morning. 
This Christmas it's something we pray for every day. 

[thanks to Mala and Donna Chizek for this one]

===
QUICK WIT:

The more enlightening a teacher, the more difficult it is to believe and even more difficult to practice.