Saturday, July 18, 2009

Facebook Apps: Caveat Lector!

There is a lot of buzz around this topic, so I won't add unnecessary detail. But I will offer a funny anecdote.

For those into Facebook, especially those who are bored and enjoy being offered silly activities to pass the time, change your Facebook settings. Instructions are in an article here by Lee Mathews.

You see, every time you take a quiz, offer a virtual lemon meringue pie, or ask others to join a cause like Save the meerkats from religious persecution, you use a third-party application - one that's written outside of Facebook. And when you click Yes after they ask for access to your account, they get access to everything, including your friend list and photos.

The original blog post that brought this issue to light was written by Cheryl Smith, whose picture was used in a Hot Singles ad, that popped up on her husband's Facebook page. She wasn't stepping out and he wasn't looking. You can read her blog here.

I learned of this (third-party) Facebook issue after my sister got a Hot Singles ad with my picture in it. Besides the obvious gross out factor, she did what most people would do: she posted a comment on her Facebook status, which brought everyone into the joke - kind of like getting pantsed again in front of my dorm (true story). Anyway, it was quite funny, and equally creepy.

Note to self: post this kind of stuff for the world next time and maybe you'll finally get that blog traffic you've always wanted.

Caveat Lector! (May the reader beware!)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independent Thoughts on Independence Day

I freelance articles that are meant to be humorous (at least in my opinion) and from the male perspective (mine, certainly not all men) for Why Hasn't He, a dating/relationship advice web site run by two lovely people, Tamsen Fadal and Matt Titus. "Why Hasn't He" is in reference to two of their books: Why Hasn't He Called and Why Hasn't He Proposed.

I recently received a comment on my post about Valentine's Day from Alexis, who said "Just curious as to what men think of fourth of july."

That's an interesting question. In all my musings, I hadn't really thought about that. Until now. I can't speak for all men, but I'll share my thoughts since you kindly asked.

They love fireworks, especially setting them off. There's usually a stash they acquired on a fishing trip down south and have kept in the garage all year just for such an occasion. Safety isn't a factor since the Constitution protects them from harming themselves, right? Some think amnesty is automatically provided when local laws and covenants are broken after they set off fireworks for three consecutive nights, usually after consuming a lot of beer. I'm not one of them. (The fireworks part - I loves my beer.) Personally, I'd like to set off a few M-80s in their nightstands so they know what it feels like for my dogs - petrified.

Many think, Yay! A three-day weekend. Let's get together with family and friends. Take a three-day trip somewhere. Maybe have a cookout. Get something done around the house. I am one of them. That doesn't mean something gets done around the house or I hold an actual cookout. I always have great plans before the weekend starts.

Some think, I only need to use four days of vacation and with two wrapping weekends I'll get nine days off! If I'm staying local, sometimes I'm one of them. If I'm traveling, definitely not - too crowded by everyone else with the same genius idea.

Many are very patriotic and enjoy displaying their patriotism wearing flag-inspired clothing or a festive combo of red, white and blue. I'm usually not one of them, not because I'm unpatriotic but I'm really an autumn and prefer deeper browns and blacks.

Flags are displayed everywhere, whether small and handheld, a window sticker on the car or apartment window, next to the front door, tattooed across one's back or, for the true diehards, on the flagpole in the center of the front lawn with decorative landscaping and a concrete bench for times of reflection. There's something very spiritual and connecting for men and flying a flag. It's hard to explain but it feels very...strong yet respectfully silent. Or, perhaps planting a flag is how a male dog feels after marking a hydrant.

Maybe John Oliver will do a great piece on The Daily Show about celebrating our independence from Great Britain - his interviews are hilarious, especially of Americans - this time I would hope while he's traveling in the UK. Which reminds me: Remember if you're an American traveling overseas, the rest of the world is working and not celebrating the holiday. I know that sounds obvious but since I walk to my mailbox on every holiday and forget the banks are closed, it isn't a stretch to be wondering why I can't see the fireworks from my hotel window in Stuttgart.

I do wonder if it's a big breakup day for couples, when people reflect and might say, "This ain't working for me. Time to claim my independence!" Martina McBride's song "Independence Day" will be played quite a bit for its title, but the lyrics can offer real inspiration to those who need freedom from a bad relationship.

Some of us enjoy watching the Will Smith classic Independence Day (it's only 13 years old but I consider it a classic), which will be broadcast continually across the cablesphere (did I just make up a new word?) all weekend long. It's the Fourth's equivalent to It's a Wonderful Life. This year, it's on E! Entertainment and is the subject of #ScriptChat, a weekly Twitter chat amongst writers.

But I'm fairly certain most men are just happy in the fact there are no greeting cards or gifts required, and we won't hear "I can't believe you forgot me on the 4th!"

Um, here's a sparkler?

Postscript 2009: Governor Sarah Palin announced her intention to resign as governor of Alaska yesterday, without offering any real details. It sent the country in a frenzy of speculation and sniping from both sides of our inadequate two-party system, and is a sad distraction to the holiday weekend. Regardless of her reasons, the timing reminds me of that f'd up attention grabber we all seem to have stories about who has to one-up any event (birthday, retirement, wedding, even funeral) refocusing attention on themselves by what they wear, what they do or, most often, just by what they say. I say ignore her and the arguments for at least today, and let's enjoy ourselves. And, yes, I appreciate the freedom I enjoy to say whatever I want, even if we agree to disagree!