Archive | January 2011

The Internet is Written in Ink

With the title, I make reference to a line from The Social Network, where a scorned, admittedly wronged, ex-girlfriend tells her ex-boyfriend just what his online comments about her meant. She makes a good point: when you write something online it is permanent. Even if you delete it, it could have been copied. It is a little-known fact that our dear friend Google regularly “caches” websites, so that the past information remains available, even when you’re offline. Next time you do Google search, check out the little blue text after the URL. I don’t know how long those old caches remain, but I have no doubt that once something was ever posted to the internet, no amount of deleting could stop someone from finding it if they looked hard enough.

What I really mean to say by all this is that it has given me cause to consider my history of contributions to the internet. Over the past 9 or 10 years, I have contributed an amount of information that is average for someone in my generation. I’ve had three online blogs that I used regularly, including this one. I had a personal website for about 5 years that I no longer maintain. I became a facebook user in December, 2005 (before the high school and college networks merged, and WAY before it became public for everyone). However, all of that information is private or protected except for this blog.

A Google search of my name reveals some articles from my university website, some of my undergraduate research contributions to my field, and a few other random hits related to my undergraduate life. I am available for public search on Facebook, but all of my information is protected, and my facebook page is not searchable on Google. Actually, I just discovered something fascinating… Apparently, every Buzz post that you ever make is visible to the whole internet, unless you specifically designate it as private. So, I just deleted all 12 Buzz posts I’ve ever made and will never make another. All my “Google Profile” has now is my first name and a photo. As it should be.

Honestly I’ve never felt a sense of regret about anything I’ve posted to the internet. Even the Buzz posts were trivial – I just regret the Google published them publicly with out my knowledge. Most of that information has not been made available to people I don’t know. And because I have not ever chosen to do things in my life that would get me in trouble, I have nothing to hide. I think the only thing I have done wrong recently (and will continue to do wrong for the foreseeable future) is to place two spaces after the period at the end of a sentence. I don’t care that some WordPress blog told me that it’s wrong; I still think it looks better that way.

I will most likely continue to be an active Facebook user at least as long as the majority of my friends still use it. I find it difficult to believe that there could be a better way of keeping in touch with people I know when we are apart. Facebook is so useful in setting up phone calls and Skype calls, among other things. For the friends who love close to me, I use Facebook to arrange plans, but I will still see them. Facebook doesn’t take away face-to-face gatherings when they are possible. In other words, I see no negatives in my personal Facebook experience, and would sooner give up the internet as a whole than deactivate my account.

All of this technological pondering was inspired by my viewing of The Social Network earlier this evening. It really was a fascinating movie, even if the real events did not transpire as dramatically. It made me aware of how grateful I am for the technology that was invented by a few twenty-something college students. But oddly enough, I am glad the timing of facebook worked out when it did for me. I didn’t get facebook until right before I graduated from high school, and in a way, facebook differentiated the high school and college experience for me. It’s as difficult for me to imagine high school with facebook as it is for me to imagine life now without it.

But getting back to my title thought… The internet is written in ink, and I’m sure that no matter how secure we think our information is, the way my generation shares things online is likely to have some surprising consequences for our future. One consideration I have struggled with in the past is the role of websites in handling the online accounts of people who have died. If a person really is private in their passwords, no one they know has the power to delete their online persona. And yet, how does one prove to a website like Facebook that they are no longer living. Is it the role of Facebook to delete the account of someone who has died? I think that this and may other issues may be a growing concern as the use of the internet grows to span all generations and becomes an even more inextricable part of all of our lives.

FYI: As a curiosity, I recently determined that it is possible to view your Google search history. This is only possible if you have a Google/Gmail account, and so it only tracks those searches since that account was started. Possibly, it only tracks searches when you are logged in to that account, but it is difficult for me to say, as I am logged in to my Gmail account about 99% of the time that I am online. Perhaps when you are using your personal computer, it matters not whether you are logged in. Given those criteria, it turns out that I have completed over 6000 Google searches since August, 2008. That’s just shy of 7 Google searches per day. For some reason, that number seems too small, but it is still quite interesting.

Update on Google search experiment: It turns out that if you simply go to google.com and are not logged in to your account, the web searches are not tracked. It’s only when you use the Google search box (for example, inside the Firefox browser or URL bar) or when you are logged in to Google that the results are tracked.

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Cleaning, Joining

Why is cleaning up so difficult a task to face? I reject the idea that one should constantly, vigilantly clean because it seems to be a waste of time to clean preemptively. However, it’s also a bad idea to wait until the situation is drastic to clean. For instance, I don’t clean dishes in the kitchen after every meal, but waiting a week to do it has proven to be a bad idea. When the cleaning problem you face is too big to comprehend, the formerly possible becomes impossible.

I just finished cleaning out my gmail inbox, reducing the staggering number from 1600 to 26 emails. My oldest email was from April 2009, but the bulk of the unarchived emails began in September 2009. That means for all of my senior year of college, and the following summer and fall, I failed to successfully clear out the bulk of my emails. For the past few months, I looked through to see which emails I wanted to keep, but after that I archived indiscriminately. Even with this relatively simple process, it still took more time than I expected. One might argue that I saved myself a lot of time over the past year not worrying about archiving emails… But that’s simply not the case. I probably archived one out of every two or three that I received, which is why I didn’t have twice that number accrued. So I didn’t save myself any time, but I still left myself with an unorganized mess. I’m not sure what all this means, I just know that I want to try and learn from this as a lesson in life and keeping things under control.

In other news, I jumped back into the church choir world on Wednesday. It was just Sunday that I attended a service for the first time in four years. I don’t know what made me go this particular week, but I had been thinking about going for several weeks prior. I really miss having music in my life. It comforts me and brings me a great deal of joy. The members of the choir and, in fact, everyone at the church have all been so welcoming. It really makes me pleased with my decision. I’m looking forward to everything that this experience will bring.

Renewed Energy!

This has been such a busy, but wonderful, week! I worked Wednesday and Friday afternoons and went to the gym with Lydia on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. That’s going to be my regular weekly schedule, and I’m really pleased with it! As a special treat, I met Laurel Friday morning and we each got a pedicure and grabbed lunch. Friday evening held another awesome treat when we went over to Cathy and Brian’s for game night. Among other things that were awesome about that night, they gave me a really cute Hatteras Lighthouse figurine.

Saturday I took it easy in the morning, went to the gym in the afternoon, and went out with some fellow NKE alums to dinner and Sinfonicron. This year’s production was Patience, and it was phenomenal! The leads were both musically and comically talented. And it was so nice to see all the girls that I haven’t seen in months 🙂 When we were actually at the show, I also ran into my Little and some of the other current seniors. Afterward, we went to Chelsea’s room and hung out and ate cupcakes. Delicious.

Today I went to the Presbyterian Church for the eleven o’clock service. This is a big step for me. I haven’t been to a service in at least four years, notwithstanding the couple I went to freshman year when I was trying to find out if church fit into my college life. Turns out, it didn’t, and I never really gave it a second thought. But since I’ve graduated, I find that I’m looking for more of a community, and I think I can find it this way. What I’m actually most interested in doing is joining the choir, and as soon as I mentioned that to some of the members after the service, the pointed me in the right direction. I have officially been invited to the practice this Wednesday evening, and Murph is dropping off the sheet music to me some time before then.

I’m really quite excited to be getting back into singing. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I was singing in three different choirs. Coincidentally, they were all at the church and all directed by the same people, but one was a regional, nondenominational youth choir. I was also in the youth choir and the adult choir, the latter of which sang at every Sunday service and performed one big concert each year. This amounted to over 5 hours of rehearsals each week. Music performance was such a big part of my life back then, but I completely got away from it in college. I can point to a few reasons why, but I can’t explain why I didn’t work harder to include it in my schedule. Still, it’s never too late and I’m really glad to be getting started this week!

This upcoming week is really looking great! Monday I’m helping out with a geology lab, which should be fun. Tuesday gym and hanging out with Carlie in the evening. Wednesday work and choir practice. Thursday gym and going to the Leafe with some fellow alums. And Friday playing bridge in the morning with mom, David and Marty, followed by work. Sure, maybe it’s not as exciting as some… But it’s helping my accomplish my goals and fulfill my responsibilities! And the craziest part is that the busier I get, the more energy I have. I think I’ve accomplished more in the past two weeks than in the first month that I was home.

Running on Empty?

Good afternoon to all who may be reading. Though, as it is very unlikely that anyone is reading at the same time of the day as I am writing, which happens to be the afternoon, the salutation seems a bit presumptuous. Still, it does capture something about the nature of the post. Posts written in the morning or evening differ from afternoon posts, at least as far as I can tell. Morning posts tend to seem quite energetic, while evening posts tend to be written in stream-of-consciousness style. The afternoon is when I am most alert but least affected by my emotions. I think I am more practical in the afternoon. After all, half of the day is already gone, but there is still a great deal of the day to come. The morning is the time for the optimist, the evening is the time for the pessimist, but the afternoon is the time for the moderate realist in all of us.

This afternoon, I’d like to just mention that I’ve been feeling a bit worn-down, dealing with all of the new weight on my shoulders. Yesterday I was a bit of a mess, working myself up and acting very dramatic (internally, anyway). But after an afternoon spent with a friend and an evening out with mom and some other friends to see The King’s Speech, I feel much better. Still, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, but even as such I have been able to keep going. I’ve gotten my head back on straight and though the tank is running low, it’s still running.

And speaking of running, today I am starting a program with a close friend of mine to train for a 5k later this spring. This is part of a habit I want to rekindle regarding working out and making healthy decisions. I am lucky enough to have time and a flexible (albeit, unpredictable) schedule to work with for this project. I’ve wasted too much time since I returned from California, and it’s time that I jumped back on the wagon … or really, that I started running beside it rather than just lying in the ditch, in a manner of speaking.

I’ve also got some catching up to do on the organizational front, but that is very much on the back burner. I’m really excited about this exercise program and I’m anxious to have more of an active role in running the family business. After all, the income that I get from this business allows me the freedom to pursue my hobbies and social activities, without which I would be saddened. I’m learning slowly but surely how to carry on independently.

Fun Around Town!

I’ve been feeling like quite the social butterfly lately! Yesterday after spending the morning running errands and the afternoon at the doctor, I headed over to the dog park! But first, I got my neighbor’s dog, Max, to join us for a bonus visit! While at the park, I spoke on the phone to my friend P Cella, who may come visit next week, and met up with two of my park friends who had gone to the beach with us last week. After the park, I dropped food at two other households (four friends) who had also gone to the beach, and stayed to visit at each drop-off.

Today, after friendly interactions at the eye doctor and our new home hospice nurse, I headed over to Authentic Guitars for my weekly lesson with Ron. After the lesson, I met their new teacher, Jessica, who is a senior in high school! Then on the way home, I stopped by to visit Amanda at the Nautical Dog and stayed to chat and have tea with her for over an hour! (She gave me the most delicious tea – Celestial Seasonings Wild Berry.). I finally headed back to my home, where mom and I had an amazing dinner of shrimp and twice-baked potatoes. As I write, I am at Lydia’s place serving as moral support while she cleans! I even helped…a little.

Tomorrow, I will be stopping by the Garden Flags store where Juanita and I will be taking care of a few things and planning for the next month! Then I’m having a sandwich & tea lunch with Evelyn and Miriam at noon. In the evening, I plan to attend the W&M v. VCU Men’s Basketball game with Lydia (and Carlie, I hope). And who knows what else the week has in store! But these past few days have really made me appreciate the friends and community I have here in town. It’s wonderful 🙂

Bonus! I have a final idea for some homemade items I will be making for people, and I only need a trip down to Newport News to accomplish it! Life is good right now.

Pondering many Possibilities

This new year has a lot in store for me! With so many opportunities, it’s difficult to determine where to devote myself. Primarily, I’m taking care of my mom and our house, and doing what I can to make sure our business has a stable income and our house remains becomes well-organized.  Organizing the closets, upstairs office, and video blogging are at the top of the list are among the projects mom and I intend to tackle.  However, this plan still allows for a great deal of freedom in my schedule, and I intend to utilize it!

I have already undertaken guitar lessons as a hobby.  Those are going well so far, if a little slowly.  The holidays interrupted my practice schedule, but I will devote myself to them again now that life has calmed down.  I am also training for a 5k along with my good friend Lydia who lives in the area.  We’re getting together to make our plans and pick a race later this week!  I am also looking into a yoga class in the area – starting with that new studio on Prince George Street.

But as to my other endeavors, much remains undetermined.  I want to spend some of that time volunteering – Campus Kitchens, Housing Partnerships and the Geo Department are at the top of my list.  I’m also looking into the possibility of joining a choir in the area – I do miss singing!  So, there’s that…  I was briefly contemplating taking a community college course, but I’m not sure I can swing it in time for the spring semester, which technically begins tomorrow!  Also, when I really sat down to think of my other plans and responsibilities, I began to think it could be too much!

I wonder in what other valuable ways I could invest my time?  These are just a few initial ideas I had … but there are so many more out there!  I’ll keep thinking, checking in, and following up on my resolutions, of course.

All curled up as we wrap up the week

Tomorrow will be our last full day in the Outer Banks! It’s difficult to believe this week has gone by so quickly, but it has been quite fun and relaxing all the same!

We took it easy most of Wednesday, but we went out for dinner at Finngans, followed by Bingo at the Cape Hatteras Angler’s Association! It was a lot of fun – half of our group won something, and my godmother won the big jackpot at the end of the night!

On Thursday, we met the second wave of beach-goers on their way down! We stopped to check out the Wright Brothers Memorial. There was a very interesting talk about how the brothers got started, and the exact details of their first flight. I loved it! Afterwards, we all ate at Henry’s restaurant in honor of the youngest member of our group. It was delicious!! Then half the group stayed up to explore, and half went back early. I wasn’t feeling 100%, so I went back early and enjoyed hot tub time with Carlie! That evening we played Taboo with great success! Then more hot tub time with Carlie and Cathy. We were sufficiently cooked.

This morning, we enjoyed round two of waffles as we sent off the first round beach-goers. We took it easy most of the day, exploring and puzzle playing by some, and movie watching. We went out to buy pottery in the late afternoon. I bought a beautiful wall-hanging piece with flowers! Then we finally went to check out the famous Hatteras Lighthouse that we’ve been seeing from our window all week! It is absolutely beautiful, and the tour was fascinating. I could spout out the fun facts, but I won’t, so you should look them up for yourself online! It might surprise you how long it took to move and just how much the National Park Service paid to move it!

Speaking of the NPS, I had a very enlightening conversation with our interpreter about how he got his position and how I might be so lucky myself. I may not have mentioned it here before directly, but working for the NPS has been a dear ambition of mine for some time now. I’m doing everything I can right now to lay the proper groundwork so that dream can become a reality in the very near future.

More hot tub time, beach time, Wii and game time, good eating, and relaxing will fill the next day and a half. As I write this, I am curled up on the couch watching a movie with the group. The air really is clearer down here, and it feels great!