Joanne Palmer: I’ll pass on the passwords |

Joanne Palmer: I’ll pass on the passwords

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

— Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that I will never be a secret agent, spy or FBI agent. I am upset by it and have spent a few hours moping around the house, but the truth of the matter is I can no longer perform an essential job requirement of a spy: remembering passwords. I am quite adept at other tools of the spy trade such as "the stakeout," wielding a magnifying glass and dusting for fingerprints. I am particularly proud of my uncanny ability to crack codes sent by my teenage son, "g2g, i'll ttyl" or "w@ ru doin l8r." Surprisingly, both of these text messages mean the same thing: I'm hungry. Feed me now. Bring home 18 bags of groceries because it's been 15 minutes since I last ate.

But passwords, PINs and usernames are a real problem. Seriously, how many pets, birthdays and children can one person have? At some point, there is only a reasonable number of ways to rearrange a dog's name, like Spot. Spot can morph into SPOT, sPoT, TopS, Spot1, Spot1234, and of course, Spot-ON. But I can't get too creative, or I'll never remember. Just when I think I have mastered it, some evil pooh-bah password setter changes the rules of the game. For example, five years ago I set up a password for a credit card. At that point, passwords only had to have six letters. Then the evil pooh-bah password setter changed it to eight characters that had to include letters, numbers and a drop of blood.


I'd like to appeal to the evil pooh-bah password setter and make a formal request. Please, allow anyone who is 55 to have the following password: Iam55.


Pretty please.

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Pretty please with mac 'n' cheese?

We are too tired, and our brains are too full to remember anything more than Iam55. (And if you are a sneaky identity thief reading this column, this is NOT my password. Nor is it Spot, 1234, password or 1111, so nana nana boo boo.)

I'm pretty sure I have at least 15 passwords for the following: Credit cards. Bank accounts. Laptop. Cell phone. Garage door. Facebook account. Work computer. ATM. Debit cards.   

The problem with password-protected accounts is they block me from accessing my accounts. Not an identity thief. These youngsters have brains that actually function.

Yes, I do dutifully record my passwords, but trying to find the scrap of paper I wrote it on or the file folder I stuck it in would take longer than sitting at the computer typing in variations on the password theme.

I know I should create a master list. I know I should keep this in my file folder marked "important papers," so, in the event of my untimely demise, my family members could access my fantastically interesting bank accounts.

They will have to suffer.

I believe there are two solutions to this password problem. Starbucks needs to team up with Ginkgo biloba to create a "password blend," a special formulation of coffee beans and herbs to help people remember their passwords.

The second solution is a brain back-up pillow, an invention available only to AARP members that downloads information from your brain onto a tiny chip. As you sleep, this little chippy-poo stores all of the day's grocery lists, conversations, arguments, TV shows and Web sites surfed. This frees up additional memory space for important stuff like passwords, PINs, user names, the names of people you see in the grocery store and birthdays.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to live vicariously and watch another James Bond movie. It's the closest I'll ever get to having a digital cigarette lighter camera pen, a rocket-fired sports car or night vision binoculars.