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The End of Privacy

I recently read about an app called Ghostery.  You install it in your browser, and as you surf the Web, it tells you how many companies are requesting your information as you visit a site.  The Daily Dot writes,

When I read the New York Times, this box pops up with the names of 11 companies in it. When I go to Target.com, a box pops up with 50 companies. It’s a nice reminder that while I’m using the Internet, companies are quietly watching my every move.

The answer is that if you’re really concerned about privacy, you probably shouldn’t go online.  You probably shouldn’t go shopping with a credit card or out in public or travel or check out a library book or enroll in a class or… well… exist.

Existing is very detrimental to privacy.

I’m being tongue-in-cheek, but I thought the Daily Dot article was an interesting read.  I haven’t installed Ghostery, but I think some of that is because I don’t know what I would do with the information.  Not visit a site?  I mean, really, when surveillance is everywhere from cameras on the street to tweets written about you, it feels like rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic to worry that 50 companies are requesting my information if I buy a pair of flip flops at Target.

I am very mindful about privacy; which doesn’t mean I know how to actually protect it.  Or if I even should.

Well… actually… yes, I still think I should.  But I don’t know how in any real way that makes a true dent in the amount of information being collected from various sources.

I don’t know.  Do you think putting it all out there ourselves online: emphatically listing the brands we like and the places we go and the books we read has made us sort of throw up our hands over the idea that other companies are collecting all this information about us, too?

Side note: Tomorrow is #MicroblogMonday.  Get working on your post.

May 24, 2015   10 Comments

546th Friday Blog Roundup

My car needed to go in for service this week, which meant that I had to drive Josh’s car for a day.  Josh’s car was my car, once upon a time, but when we got a new car many years ago, I took the new one and he took my old one.

Because I am an adult with 25 years of driving experience under my belt not to mention the former owner of the aforementioned car, it shouldn’t have been that difficult to slip behind the wheel again.  But it was.  It felt so strange.  It was like cooking dinner using someone else’s hands.

It is such an odd experience to drive an unfamiliar car.

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Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.

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And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

Lavender Luz responds to Dear Abby’s flippant advice to an adoptee.  Instead of telling the teenager just to forget about her feelings until later, she gives him/her concrete advice on dealing with his/her complicated emotions.  It’s a great post.

Happiness and Food has a post about the yin of life; those moments when you’re not trucking along, you’re not engaged in forward movement, you’re not seeing your hard work pay off by moving you closer to a goal.  It was sort of the perfect post to read when you feel like you’re not moving forward, and honouring the importance of the space you are in at the moment instead of wishing to be someplace else.

Popcorn Ceiling Life has a post about the loss of her brother on his birthday.  She explains, “Sometimes I feel it all at once. Sometimes I don’t feel it all.”  It’s a moving post about experiencing a moment when she notices the gaping hole his absence has created in her life.

Lastly, Me Plus One recounts an exchange with her daughter that is both sweet and heartbreaking at the same time.  In a game of pretend, her daughter talks about missing a beloved family member.  She says, “I know she’s gone, Mommy. Let’s just pretend she’s not. Let’s pretend she just went away. Let’s pretend she’s in S’awaii & she can come visit.”  Go read the whole post.

The roundup to the Roundup: Driving an unfamiliar car.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between May 15th and 22nd) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

May 22, 2015   7 Comments

Forgiveness

This past winter, I read an article about forgiveness that has stuck with me for months, rippling through me like a stone dropped into a lake.  A warning; the article begins with a description of a murder which may be a trigger for some people.

forgiveness

Image: Jayt74 via Flickr

The author gives the steps of forgiveness, a how-to guide for the act spelling out the acronym REACH:

First, you “recall” the incident, including all the hurt. “Empathize” with the person who wronged you. Then, you give them the “altruistic gift” of forgiveness, maybe by recalling how good it felt to be forgiven by someone you yourself have wronged. Next, “commit” yourself to forgive publicly by telling a friend or the person you’re forgiving. Finally, “hold” onto forgiveness. Even when feelings of anger surface, remind yourself that you’ve already forgiven.

In the case of the murder, the son needed to go through the act of forgiveness without knowing whom he was forgiving.  The killer was never caught.  The son forgave the killer not for the killer’s sake but his own, deciding that the anger he would carry over his mother’s death would hurt more than the act of forgiveness.

I don’t know if you can measure emotional pain like that.  I think we can convince ourselves that the act we choose will be emotionally less painful, but I don’t know if it is in actuality.

Or maybe I’m just saying that because I would have chosen the other route of non-forgiveness.

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Maybe the reason the article stuck with me is that it set up forgiveness as an either/or situation.  Either you forgive, or you carry with you anger and a desire to seek revenge.  And I don’t think that’s always the case.

There’s a third road, one where the person simply… stops.  They refuse to participate in a situation that is damaging.  Someone treats them poorly and they decide not to forgive them but they also don’t seek revenge.  It’s the snipping of the cosmic scissor, cutting yourself off from the person who wronged you and not giving them mindspace or heartspace.  You just don’t consider them anymore, and you certainly don’t spend mental energy plotting out revenge.

I don’t think it’s healthier or more dangerous, emotionally, I just think it’s another path the author didn’t consider.

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Of course, my third path assumes that you don’t need to have daily contact with the person.  I don’t think it would work in a marriage.  Part of snipping the cosmic scissor is that if you need to have regular contact, you hold the personally at arm’s length, emotionally.  I don’t think you can have a marriage work if the people have their arms up, pushing the other one away.

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There was another line in the article that gave me pause:

“The power to grant forgiveness (and its benefits) rests with victims.”

And I guess the question I had was that victimhood is in the eye of the beholder.  There are situations where the other person believes I’m the one at fault, and I believe they’re at fault, so who is the victim?  In the murder case, the victim (the woman, and by extension, her son) is clear — at least, to me — but in most arguments, the fault is less clearly defined.

In that way, it seems a little self-centered that the person gets to determine their own victimhood rather than consider the pain they’ve given others.  That this comes from an angle of granting forgiveness rather than asking for forgiveness.

I mean, can the murderer claim his own victimhood in that case and say, “you know what, I forgive that old woman for startling me during the robbery and turning me into a killer.  It’s awful to live with the thought that I took someone’s life, and she put me in this terrible position.  I am going to release my anger towards her.”

His anger towards her!

But technically, in this definition, we allow each person to determine their own victimhood when we allow each person to determine whether or not they wish to forgive.

Maybe it’s a matter of culture; I come from a religion that has more of an emphasis of asking for forgiveness (we have a whole holiday set up for that purpose!) rather than forgiving.  Yes, you are also supposed to absolve people of their sins when they ask you for forgiveness, and you are even supposed to forgive people without them asking, but the emphasis is much more on asking forgiveness for our own wrongdoing and unfulfilled promises than it is on granting other people forgiveness for their trespasses.

It’s two sides of the same coin, but maybe recognizing the role I play in affecting others sits better with me than making the assumption that the other person understands their wrongdoing and wants to be released with forgiveness.

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Though the article first pauses to point out all the negative effects non-forgiveness has on your health (as well as your ability to jump), the article touches on the fact that forgiveness is not always the best course of action.  That sometimes it is healthier not to forgive another person.  That we can equally do emotional damage to ourselves by always forgiving.

It makes it difficult to know how much and when.

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The article ends with another sad scenario, one that loops the discussion to the only type of forgiveness I truly believe needs to happen, and that is the act of forgiving ourselves.

There is no cosmic scissor we can use on ourselves; no way to neatly divide ourselves from ourselves.

We will mess up — sometimes we will mess up hugely and sometimes we will simply hate ourselves because we couldn’t do anything to stop a situation — and we need to find a way to live with ourselves.  And that I think is worth the hard work of forgiveness.  That is a situation, because we can never have space from ourselves, where it would be worse to continue to let those feelings fester rather than atone and forgive ourselves.

And that begins with apologizing, even if your apology cannot undo what you’ve done.

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The article never touches on the saying that I’ve always struggled with the most: forgive and forget.

What does forgiveness even mean when it comes to the huge transgressions?  How do you authentically carry on and build a relationship with another person after you’ve granted them forgiveness?  The small stuff — of course, I don’t remember all the small fights or wrongdoings.  But the big stuff?  How do you ever forget it?  And is it authentic if you only pretend to forget, if the act itself is always in the back of your brain, informing future decisions?  Because how can it not?

Maybe I just struggle with the concept of forgiveness.  It takes a lot to upset me; I mean, a lot a lot a lot.  So if you’ve gotten me to the point where I am that upset that an apology is in order, and the person has done nothing to try to try to remedy the situation, it is a very difficult idea to leap off that platform into forgiveness since the platform is set pretty high in the air.

Do you know what I mean?  There are just very few occasions in my life where I want an apology or I am carrying any lingering frustration with me, but once I have reached that place, it almost stands to reason that working my way back down the ladder towards forgiveness is going to take a very long time, indeed.

How do you do with forgiveness?  Do you find it easy to grant it?

May 20, 2015   14 Comments

Mystery Gift

The book that made me want to be a writer — The Phantom Tollbooth — opens with the reader being told to pay close attention to Milo receiving a surprise gift because, one day, the reader may come home and find a mystery gift, and if the reader reads carefully, they will know exactly what to do.

When I was little, I always hoped that I would receive a mystery gift.

And now I’ve grown up and received two.

The first gift came a few years back.  A book mysterious popped up in my mailbox after I received a mysterious, anonymous email.  I was able to deduce the sender after a few days and thank her directly.  I love that book and still keep it handy and use it.

The second gift came yesterday.  I went to the mailbox and there was a package slip inside.  The postmaster handed me a large envelope and inside, without a note or packing slip or any explanation, was a fantastic book:

untranslatable

I drove around, trying to figure out who would send this to me.  Like Milo, I found myself thinking, “I don’t think it’s my birthday, and Christmas must be months away, and I haven’t been outstandingly good, or even good at all.”

And that is the deliciousness of the mystery gift: you not only get the present itself, but you get to unravel the mystery.

It took about an hour of thinking and staring at the illustrations in the book to come up with my first guess.  A clue had been left on Facebook, weeks ago, that led me to the person.  I felt like Sherlock Holmes when I sent her my note.

Thank you, Lori, my mysterious gifter, for the untranslatable words.  You know how much they mean to me, especially when you find the perfect one that states exactly what you need to say.

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I’m normally not a big fan of surprises, but I think I make the exception for mystery books.  Surprise trips, surprise parties, surprise experiences… not really my thing.  But surprise books?  That makes my day.

How do you feel about surprises?  And have you ever received a surprise gift?

May 19, 2015   14 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 38: Stealing Happiness

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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I just finished We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler (totally enjoyable read!), and he had an interesting thought on page 268:

We steal the happiness of others in order to be happy ourselves, and when it is stolen from us we voyage desperately to steal it back.  We are pirates.

So often, without meaning to, due to the way life is set up, we do steal happiness from others.  For one person to win, a lot of other people need to lose.  For every actress chosen for a part, she has inadvertently left a lot of unhappy people in her wake.  And when we are coming from behind, the idea of grabbing happiness ourselves (not thinking about the people who will be made unhappy due to our happiness) causes us to strive ahead, reaching for the brass ring, so to speak.

There are obviously situations where more than one person can be happy at the same time.  Where no one loses something due to someone else’s gain, but I think we also know that our own unhappiness feels so much heavier when we compare it to someone’s happiness.  That we tell other people about our happiness without being conscious of the idea that we are making other people jealous.  So there is that, too.

What do you think?  Do you think someone needs to be made unhappy in order for other people to be happy?

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Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.

1. My Path To Mommyhood (Jess) 14. Junebug 27. A.
2. Mali (No Kidding) 15. Solo Mama 28. Loribeth (The Road Less Travelled)
3. Cathy 16. Parul 29. torthú il
4. Mali (A Separate Life) 17. deathstar 30. Savannah (Countless Tomorrows)
5. Bohemian NERD 18. Accio Baby! 31. Savannah (Because I Can’t Have Babies)
6. Jessica 19. Shail 32. trendyvulcan
7. No Baby Ruth 20. Cynthia Samuels 33. Laurel Regan @ Alphabet Salad
8. Shilpa 21. Baby Blue Sunday 34. Good Families Do
9. Persnickety 22. illustr8d 35. Vinitha
10. Mary Francis 23. Daryl 36. Just Heather
11. Non Sequitur Chica 24. Cristy
12. Isabelle 25. One and Done?
13. The bespectacled mother 26. Amber

May 18, 2015   31 Comments

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