Exactly. But I'm not paranoid.
I chat to other hackers on IRC, and I'm connected 24/7. Just like me, most of them are their to talk about security issues and make an improvement on things.
However, I'm sure there are many that are Black Hats. And as you know, connecting to IRC automatically sends your current Ip to the channel for everyone's viewing. If you encrypt it then that's different, only thing is, they can easily ping you and then check their IP tables to find your IP.
So in the end, for the averagee user, what you said in the last post was fine. I think I should add that Windows Firewall should not be used. Turn it off and get a better one, like ZoneAlarm or any other variant of your choice.
Treat your horse the way you want him/her to treat you, then the eternal bond you share will be indefinately rewarding.