FamilyTreeNow and privacy

Many people are concerned about how a so-called genealogy site called makes anyone’s name, current and former addresses, and age available online. What’s important to note, however, is that this information has always been out there, available to just about anyone. As the Fortune article below points out, the United States has piss-poor privacy protections. If any good can come from stalker-friendly sites like FamilyTreeNow, it’s that they might spur citizen outrage and greater regulation on who can know what.

The cynic in me bets it will never happen. The nosiness of governments and the corporate plutocracy knows no bounds.

People began scrambling this week to erase their name from an obscure website called Family Tree Now after discovering a remarkable amount of personal information on the site—including age, home addresses (current and past) and names of family members and loved ones.

A friend called my attention to the site earlier this week after finding it contained detailed and accurate records about both her and mother. All you have to do is put in your name and state. I tried it out too and it immediately showed places I lived as well the name of a former partner. It’s pretty unsettling.

Source: Family Tree Now Discloses Personal Data That’s Hard to Remove |

Getting my head back into the game

Returning to Earth. Or Atlanta. Close enough.

I spent New Year’s day worshiping the Porcelain God but not because I’d celebrated on New Year’s Eve. No, my body has a way of freaking out all on its own and opted to do so a day after we returned from our trip to Spain. For the next two days, I felt disinclined to lift my head from the couch or bed save for the inevitable Call To Prayer. what a way to be welcomed home! If there’s a positive note in this episode, at least I waited until our vacation was over to get sick.
Contine reading

A park is a park. Don’t restrict play!

No fun allowed.

No fun allowed.

This sign in the Iwo Jima memorial park in Arlington last week had me shaking my head. There’s this beautiful expanse of lawn behind this memorial and some bureaucrat wants to keep people from enjoying it! Did anyone stop to think that the men who bled during the battle for that Godforsaken island would’ve probably loved to be in that park, playing ball instead? Is there any better way to honor our country’s freedom than, you know, actually giving people freedom?

Before there was such a thing as public parks, society used cemeteries for this purpose. Picnickers would plop down right by the grave of Great-Great Aunt Martha and celebrate life. Somewhere along the line cemeteries and memorials mistakenly became places of “quiet reflection only.”

I can think of no better way to honor those who’ve passed than to celebrate the life we continue to live.

Biting the government hand that feeds you

Does this man work in government?

Does this man work in government?

Back when I felt compelled to enter political debates on Facebook, one of my conservative friends chimed in on a post I had regarding something about the government (probably me expressing my wistfulness for a health care public option). My good friend comes from the Ronald Reagan “government is the problem” line of thinking and commented something to the effect that the government can’t do anything right.

Even though we don’t see eye to eye on many political points he’s still a friend and I do respect him. It was all that I could do, though, to keep from pointing out that as a first-responder he actually works for the government. Not only does he work for the government, for all practical purposes he is the government. He is the public face of government to the people he serves.

That’s not to demean the work he does, of course. It’s important work. I just have a hard time understanding how conservative individuals who work for the taxpayers belittle the very government that they, themselves, make up. What accounts for this self-loathing?
Contine reading

Expanded horizons

Cruising Resurrection Bay in Alaska, August 2015

Cruising Resurrection Bay in Alaska, August 2015

I got an unexpected invitation from friends yesterday for Kelly and me to join them for a week of sailing around the Caribbean. Of course I’ve been a sailor since 1988 and I finally made it to the Caribbean with our family trip to Jamaica and Puerto Rico. For some crazy reason, though, it never occurred to me that this was a possibility – that we could go ride the waves for a week in an exotic place. This was a dream of mine in my 20s but I didn’t have the means, or at least it didn’t seem like I did at the time. You either have all of the time and none of the money or all of the money and none of the time.

Back when I was in high school, my dad and his best friend Carl offered me the opportunity to spend the summer working as a deckhand on Carl’s tourist boat in Florida. I opted not to take the offer for some forgotten reason but looking back now it would’ve been a hell of a lot of fun, I’m sure. I love being out on the water, testing oneself against Mother Nature. Facing the great unknown. Humans have been doing it for millennia.
Contine reading

Facebook filtering

Earlier this week I saw a funny post on Facebook that appeared briefly in my feed when a friend commented on it. I know of no way to track down these kinds of feed items once you scroll past them because don’t tend to stay in the feed and you can’t simply visit your friend’s page to see them because they aren’t actually my friend’s posts, they’re just her comments on posts.

I decided to wade once again into Facebook’s search feature, or what has passed for a search feature. As long as I’ve used Facebook I’ve hated its abysmal search ability. To my amazement, Facebook has done quite a bit to improve its search functionality. I was able to zero in on my friend’s posts, narrow them down by time, and search for a string. It used to be that this was not possible (as least, as far as I know).
Contine reading

Rachel Rosoff

Saturday morning, while my family was enjoying the Labor Day weekend, an Enloe High School student named Rachel Rosoff was reporting to work as a lifeguard at a North Raleigh neighborhood pool. Unbeknownst to her, the pool had somehow become electrified, and she was found floating face-down in the water by an arriving coworker who could not rescue her without becoming a victim himself. She was buried yesterday.

I’ve been thinking of Rachel over the past few days. She had many of the same interests that my kids do. I’ve probably even watched her perform with the Improv group at Enloe’s recent open house.

It’s terrifying to me as a parent how quickly lives can be turned upside-down, how you can work to make things safe and still tragedies happen. One moment Rachel was ready to take on the world and her world ends the next. Terrifying and so sad.

No, I didn’t know Rachel or her family but I feel like she and they are part of my family. I hope the Rosoff family finds some peace.