the human family

I was look­ing through some poems last night, try­ing to find some­thing to share with my fam­ily at Thanks­giv­ing. While scan­ning, I was reac­quainted with a Maya Angelou poem that i think is very appro­pri­ate, given cur­rent events. My heart is heavy as pho­bias and fears appear to be run­ning ram­pant these days. I hope that we can all stop to remem­ber or appre­ci­ate that we are much more sim­i­lar than dif­fer­ent; and the dif­fer­ences between us should be cel­e­brated instead of used as a vehi­cle for hate.

Human Fam­ily

I note the obvi­ous dif­fer­ences
in the human fam­ily.
Some of us are seri­ous,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true pro­fun­dity,
and oth­ers claim they really live
the real reality.

The vari­ety of our skin tones
can con­fuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and pur­ple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the won­ders of the world
not yet one com­mon man.

I know ten thou­sand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mir­ror twins are dif­fer­ent
although their fea­tures jibe,
and lovers think quite dif­fer­ent thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Span­ish shores.

We seek suc­cess in Fin­land,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we dif­fer,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvi­ous dif­fer­ences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

– Maya Angelou

google, privacy, social media, technology

unbreachable–a privacy plan

I love tech­nol­ogy. I have been an elec­tron­ics and gad­get buff since I was a teenager. I should clar­ify that I’m not the “dis­as­sem­ble and rebuild it” kind of tech nerd. No, I’m more of the “instruc­tion man­ual, tech review, spec sheet read­ing” kind of tech nerd. I used to love going into the elec­tron­ics and appli­ances stores as a kid and play around with all of the stereos, radios, and TVs. I would proudly learn about watts and ohms of receivers and speak­ers. Fast for­ward to a nearly 50-something guy, and I’m still in it. My Feedly are loaded with sec­tions on tech­nol­ogy gen­er­ally, but also mobile tech, Apple, Android, and audio equip­ment. The rise of mobile com­put­ing, namely smart­phone and tablets, has given me an entirely new area to get my tech nerd on. I’m all into learn­ing about the lat­est hard­ware tech­nol­ogy and apps.

The expo­nen­tial rate of change in tech­nol­ogy, be it audio or com­put­ers and mobile devices, should have me on cloud 9. How­ever, there is a trou­bling dark side to the all this tech­nol­ogy — being con­nected to the Internet.

It seems like every day I pick up the paper (yes I still read a phys­i­cal news­pa­per) and read another story about another data breach. Yes­ter­day, there was news that as many as 15 mil­lion T-Mobile cus­tomers had their per­sonal data, includ­ing Social Secu­rity num­bers, home addresses, birth dates, and other infor­ma­tion com­pro­mised in a hack of Experians’s servers. Yes…Experian. You know, one of the three com­pa­nies that has a stran­gle­hold on your credit infor­ma­tion and FICO scores. Ugh! Of course, this breach comes nowhere near the expo­sure of per­sonal data 40 mil­lions peo­ple when Target’s sys­tem was hacked. I’ve had my debit replaced three times in the past two years, and at least two credit cards in the same time, because of unspec­i­fied breaches. As a fed­eral employee, I am deeply dis­turbed by the hack of servers at the Gen­eral Ser­vices Agency, GSA. My per­sonal and finan­cial data, as well as fin­ger­prints are poten­tially compromised.

Good grief!

I sus­pect most peo­ple worry, but don’t obsess over, the poten­tial risks of hav­ing their per­sonal and finan­cial data accessed. I am very con­cerned about how much of my sen­si­tive data is stored online. I know…I know. The irony that I’m writ­ing about this issue…online…is not lost on me. Carry on.

My angst is not lim­ited to just bank and credit card data. I am a “power user” of Ever­note and Drop­box. I’m all up in Google’s busi­ness with Gmail, Pho­tos, Drive, Docs, cal­en­dar, maps and the most data-driven ser­vice of them all–Google Search. Though I’ve had a love/hate rela­tion­ship with social media, I am cur­rently active on Face­book, Twit­ter, and Insta­gram. Most of these sites and ser­vices are offered to peo­ple free of charge. You know the old adage that you don’t get some­thing for noth­ing? For what it’s worth, I pay for pre­mium fea­tures with Ever­note and Drop­box, but I doubt that makes my info any more secure. Google, Face­book, Twit­ter, and all the other sites make rev­enue from sell­ing ads and data about you to third par­ties. It’s either explicit or thinly implicit that your are not a cus­tomer You are a data set. Yet, we all go in with all of our infor­ma­tion. We are reas­sured that our infor­ma­tion is safe and/or limited.

It is really get­ting crazy. What is a tech-loving guy like me sup­posed to do? I won’t say that I’ve gone into full tin hat mode just yet…


…but, I am just about ready to rethink how I man­age money, as well as com­mu­ni­cate with peo­ple. I need to come up with an exit strat­egy for my per­sonal data from elec­tronic servers.

I would need to get rid of my smart­phone. Ugh! This is going to be tough. As much as I love hav­ing infor­ma­tion at my fin­ger­tips, there is a library two blocks from my house.


The kicker, of course, is that all of my book bor­row­ing data is online. Dammit! Ok, that just means that I have to read in the library and take notes. Yeah, that’s it!

With that out of the way, what to do about my mak­ing calls? I’ve go it.


Men­tal note: I’ll need a lot more string.

Get­ting out of the bank­ing and finan­cial data loop is going to be even more dif­fi­cult. Damn near every­thing is elec­tronic these days. I went to write a check ear­lier this week, and the guy looked at me side­ways like I was hold­ing an 8-track. There are only two log­i­cal solu­tions for han­dling my money,


and pay­ing bills.


Finally, I need to get offline–particularly email and social media. I will have to close out and request dele­tion of all of my accounts and asso­ci­ated data. How will I stay in touch with fam­ily and friends? Easy.

It’s a good thing I love pens and paper.

I will also have to find a work around for Ever­note, my note tak­ing and all-around dig­i­tal mem­ory. Back to the old school way of doing things.


I would be in a bit of a quandary when it comes to Drop­box, which serves as my dig­i­tal file cab­i­net, because I do not like clut­ter. As much as I love good writ­ing paper, I do not like to retain a lot of paper. I think the only way to keep from being buried under with paper is to con­tinue my habit of scan­ning doc­u­ments, but instead of upload­ing them to Drop­box of Ever­note, I will keep them in offline/disconnected exter­nal hard drives.


Ok. I think that should do it. Wait…what about this blog? That will have to go, too. I will have to con­sider pub­lish­ing a book of shorts, and dis­trib­ute them, by mail. Maybe quar­terly. No, there’s noth­ing like a nice annual, right? Just a lit­tle thicker than the hol­i­day notes you get from some fam­ily mem­bers and friends. (That’s hon­estly not a diss of hol­i­day newslet­ters. Keep ‘em coming.)

In all seri­ous­ness, I am grow­ing increas­ingly con­cerned about my pri­vacy. The solu­tions above were used humor­ously, but there’s always a bit of truth in a joke. I have thought, on occa­sion, about exer­cis­ing at least one of these options. I just might get all Henry David Thoreau on you.


We’ll see if Carla joins me in the woods, or writes me a letter.


Peo­ple are often sur­prised when I tell them that I am an intro­vert. I think peo­ple mis­un­der­stand my intro­ver­sion because I am fairly socia­ble. What most don’t know is that it takes a con­sid­er­able amount of effort for me to func­tion in large gath­er­ings or crowds. I get over­whelmed quickly. I do much bet­ter in smaller, more inti­mate set­tings. Even then, I find that I need time alone, some­times days, with­out talk­ing to a bunch of peo­ple. One of my won­der­ful bikram yoga instruc­tors posted the fol­low­ing graphic on Face­book and I was nod­ding my head as I read through the list. File this under “get­ting to know me.”


In the event that you’re an extrovert…here you go.



understanding an introvert