culture

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

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privacy
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…

tinfoilhat

…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.

library

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.

tin-can-phone

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,

moneyunderthemattress

and paying bills.

moneyorder

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.

moleskin

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.

harddrives

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.

walden

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

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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.”

introverts

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

extroverts

culture

understanding an introvert

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