Archive | July, 2009

Rushing In

31 Jul

Guadalupe River

I laugh when I see it up close, this picture snapped quickly from the banks of the Guadalupe.

Your brother and friend, cautious waders both, are still gingerly stepping over pebbles.

But you are already coming up for air — wet hair shellacked against your face as you surface, well into your adventure while they still test the waters.

You hurl yourself into the stream with abandon, examine globs of frog eggs, chase minnows, climb cliffs.

And watching, I regret the 30 years that separate us.

I think, at 11, we would have been great friends: back when I was the cliff-climbing, rock-skipping explorer of tadpoles and tide pools,  not the bag-carrying, book-reading packer of snacks and sunscreen.

Middle school lies in wait just 23 days away. And I want to tell you, as it comes rushing with all its treacherous rapids, to wade in carefully. Watch your steps, take your time, guard your heart that you offer so readily.

But as I watch you throw yourself over and over again into the current of the Guadalupe River, I resolve to shout no such warnings from the bank.

To tell you instead,  you are strong and brave enough to rush in.

Who’s Stealing Your Identity on Twitter?

28 Jul

It appeared in my Twitter stream as a note from a friend, seductively beckoning:

“Want to know whos stalking you on twitter!?: Click here, stupid.”

Only, of course, it didn’t say “Click here, stupid.” Because I wouldn’t fall for that. Instead, it linked to a site called Twitviewer, promising to show you the last 200 people who had looked at your Twitter profile.

Now, the missing apostrophe in “whos” should have been RED FLAG #1 that this was not a well-run business model.

But, no, I blithely clicked on.

Then, ignored RED FLAG #2 when the site said “enter twitter ID and password.”

Now, some legitimate applications need that information. Tweetie, Tweetdeck, Tweepular. But they also explain to you why they need your password, what they will do with it, how they will store it, etc.

This “stalker” site had none of that. What it did have? The appeal to everyone’s inner middle-schooler. The “I know who likes you,” pitch. So I entered my information, and ignored RED FLAG #3 – No disclaimer about how they protect your information.

After all, it was worth the risk to see who was stalking me. Maybe @JohnMayer? Maybe @Oprah? Maybe @BarackObama? Who could want to see what I was up to on Twitter?

Of course, the answer was 200 boob-flashing wanna-be porn stars that I could add to my “following” list with just one click.

Sigh. I’m such a moron sometimes.

Of course, when I logged back into my Twitter account, I learned to no surprise that the Twitviewer site had used my provided password to tweet out my suggestion that all my friends visit its site, too. Awesome.

So if you went there, stop reading this post about my stupidity and go change your Twitter password before you find yourself unwittingly sending out spam all the live-long day. I’m sorry. If you didn’t go there, write down the three red flags I should have seen that would have saved me a lot of headaches today.

  1. If they can’t even spell their marketing pitch, they may not be concerned with other details. Like ethics. Or your privacy.
  2. If they ask for your password, be darn sure you know why they want it.
  3. If they have no posted privacy policy, it’s probably because they are stealing your identity.

Don’t be a moron like me. Thanks.

If the Shoe Fits…

23 Jul

In my 20s, I used to enter 100-mile bike rides for fun. And would get up early, take a shower, do my hair, and then put on some lipgloss to match my jersey before packing the bike on the back of the Bronco and heading to the ride start. True story.

This morning, I agreed to meet a friend at the gym at 6 for some elliptical time. It’s 5 minutes from the house, so I set the alarm for 5:50. Got dressed in the dark, drove down the street, and headed in to the gym.

And then I looked down.



From the Ashes

22 Jul

Two decades ago, wildfires ravaged Yellowstone National Park. Flames charred more than a third of the park,  people wondered if it would ever recover.

Yellowstone Meadow

This summer, I walked trails where the trunks of charred trees now stand sentinel over new meadows, wildflowers flourishing where forest shade would have prevented them before,

Yellowstone Elk

 watched a mother elk graze on tender spring grass, her twin calves sleeping in the sun,


and captured the reflection of the sky in water held still by fallen trees.

To be sure, the sun-bleached trunks of dead trees still stood in stark reminder of the destruction. But the wildflowers, new growth, twin calves nestled in a meadow were all notes in a sweeter symphony of redemption and renewal.

It feels like wildfire season here, a time of transition and challenges. I am struggling with an unfamilar hollowness in corporate worship, an uneasiness with a community that has always anchored me. But this song in the forest, echoing off canyons, rustling through grass? It resonated through the doubt, reminded me that the ashes from one dream are the fuel that feeds the next.

Spoke, “I am here, even now.”

10 Words

20 Jul

A late-night post from Twitter friend and fellow blogger, Rob La Gesse got me thinking.

“My favorite word is “helpful”. What is yours?”

I picked “principled” off the cuff, but said I needed ten words. Rob tossed out a “blog it” challenge: What are your favorite 10 words and why? Here’s my list, and start thinking — because I want to hear yours.

  1. Principled – Have you figured out who you are, and what you believe, and will you stand by that even when it costs you? Even if your principles are different than mine, if they’re clear and you’re honest about them, I can respect you.
  2. Unafraid – I don’t mean willing to eat worms or play chicken with a freight train. That’s reckless and stupid. But have you silenced the fear that keeps you from reaching out in friendship? I adore people willing to say the thing everyone else is thinking. To quote  Marianne Williamson: “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.”
  3. Gracious – Are you grateful for the people around you, aware that there is really no such thing as a self-made man or woman – that we are all a mosaic of the people who have touched our lives? Learning to applaud others without concern that they might eclipse you is the hallmark of a grownup.
  4. Welcoming – Are you open to both new people and new ideas? In middle school, it’s expected to hold your circle of friends so tightly that no one else gets in. Any older and it’s sad, and limiting.
  5. Flawed – People unaware of their own shortcoming are not only annoying, they are missing out on an opportunity to connect with others. Vulnerability leads to authentic friendship.
  6. Gentle – I am drawn to people who have enough finesse to say what needs to be said while still protecting the feelings that need to be protected. I am so not there yet. But better at it in my 40s than I was in my 20s. I still don’t suffer fools gladly. I do correct them with more grace.
  7. Forgiving – There’s no element of martyrdom in learning to forgive. It is a self-preservation skill. Holding on to grudges is like squeezing a machete in a bear hug. You’re the one that gets sliced up.
  8. Curious– Without curious people, the “West Coast” would still refer to the Cliffs of Dover. You sure wouldn’t be reading a blog written on a fancy typing machine and sent across a series of tubes.
  9. Silly – Not all the time, of course. But I am prone to intermittent bouts of laughter, usually at  my own expense. It’s more fun that way.
  10. Redeemed — I borrow this from another friend who answered that original late-night post. I claim my own flaws, but credit anything good about me to the knowledge that I have been blessed in no small measure by the limitless grace of God, and I owe it to him to extend grace in return.

Those are my ten words. But I want to hear yours. Leave them in the comments, or better yet, blog it and leave a link in the comments. If you tweet a link, pop on a #10words hashtag. I know, I’m bossy, but also nosy and want to be able to find your list.

Putting the Anti-Social in Social Media

16 Jul

I got some lovely feedback on my last post about Facebook quizzes. And by lovely, I mean, “a few people suggesting I was bitter Facebook hater in need of marital relations.” And that is simply not true.

I love Facebook. 

I am not particularly discriminating about who I accept “friend” requests from, either. I play Mafia Wars, and sometimes, after I kill someone, they will send me a request that says “please stop kicking my ass and let me be your friend.” I find that irresistible. I have only declined a couple of times, and my litmus test is pretty simple. If you are pointing an actual gun at me in your profile picture, and share a name with a presidential assassin, we are not going to be friends. Move on, nothing to see here.

Everyone else is pretty much golden. Used to work with you? Check. Went to school together? Awesome. Have friends in common? Welcome! We dated once?  Sure, as long as you haven’t aged better than I have.  My mom? Uh… sure.

But this accepting all applicants policy *can* get the Facebook stream pretty crowded. And sometimes, it becomes embarrassing. Like if you’re friends with your boss and a crazy friend tags pictures of you partying on a sick day. Or you friend a Mafia Wars player with a potty mouth who starts dropping the F-bomb in the same comment stream as your mom.

And that, my friends, is why you need some filters. You can be friends with both potty-mouth and your mom. Your boss and your Friday Night Karaoke club can co-exist without any awkward eye-averting on Monday mornings. You just need to compartmentalize.

And because I love you, I’m going to show you how.

First, let’s talk lists.


This is a look at my Facebook screen. See down the left-hand side there?  I have the main news feed, then a series of categories… BFFs, Social Media SA, TV Peeps, Mafia Wars, High School, and of course, Recently Paroled. Most of my contacts are organized in these groups. 

It’s great for three reasons: First, if I just want to see the status reports from one group, like my friends from High School, I highlight the list, and all I get are their updates.

Second, if I need to tell everyone in a group something, I can send one FB message to a group all at once. For instance, if you got a new job, you could tell everyone you used to work with “ha ha, suck it!” if you wanted to. Or, if you were trying to get a new job, you could tell them all, “Hey, looking for work. So if someone calls about me, I was awesome to work with, right? RIGHT?”

And finally, you can set limits on what a particular group of people can and cannot see, and can and cannot and post to your Facebook page. Let’s demonstrate.

First, you’ll create a list, like mine titled “recently paroled.” If you look at the picture above, you just click on word “create” at the bottom of the left-hand column.

Then, add people to that list. 


You do this by highlighting the name of a list, clicking on it to edit, and then, adding people from your friends. Here, I’ve searched for my friends named “Sean.” One is a wholesome, trustworthy individual, whose name I have cleverly blurred out.

The other is Sean Wood. We are going to add him to the “Recently Paroled” list. To do that, just click and you’ll get a little blue box around the person’s name.

You can add a whole bunch of people at once, but I am only worried about Sean. So we’ll move on.

Once you have your list created and friends added, you can set new permissions for that list.

First, get into your settings Menu. It’s on your home page — looks like this.


Choose the option on the drop-down menu that says “Privacy Settings,” and from that, choose “Profile.” Then, you’ll see a whole bunch of settings, like who can see your status, who can tag pictures of you, who can comment on your page, who can call your mother to tell her you dropped the f-bomb in your blog, etc.

Go to one of those settings like “Who can post comments,” and select “customize.” You will get a box that looks like this.

custom box

 Then, you can pick and choose who sees what. Don’t want recently paroled friends to see when you’re going on vacation? Pop their names, or the name of a list in the “Except these people” list. You can similarly limit who can tag pictures of you, who can comment on your wall, etc. They can still be your friends, they will just think you don’t update or post pictures. Keep the peace *and* keep your privacy. Or your job.

You’re welcome.

P.S. Also, Sean Wood is really an upstanding member of the community and really, not recently paroled. He left that past behind at the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth. The only list I really have him on is “Facebook Friends with a great sense of humor.” I hope.

Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go Away

14 Jul

I am not here today, I am guest-posting for the lovely ladies at Where’s My Damn Answer about the joy that is my summer ever since we got our middle-schooler her own mobile phone.

But, since you are nice enough to stop by anyway, I will give you a bonus nugget. My daughter’s ringtone is “Copacabana.” She comes by her excellent musical taste through her dad.

OK, just kidding. She learned it on American Idol for the wii.

If you are here visiting for the first time after reading the post on WMDA, welcome and thanks for coming by.

The posts people seem to like the most around here are the one about my Facebook Friend who wanted to get nekkid, the one about my dogs on Twitter, and the sentimental one about our participation in the Martin Luther King, Jr. March.

Or, the two underneath this one are pretty funny, too. One discusses the new geological landmark I discovered at Yellowstone, and one is about those Facebook Quizzes. You make like them, as well, although some commenters who like quizzes are questioning my intelligence.

Back with a real post tomorrow.



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