…drive by information…

Contributing to America’s recent political Armageddon is the Internet, specifically Facebook and Twitter.

Americans, particularly Millennials, get much, if not all, of their information from these sources. Most have probably not picked up a book, magazine, or newspaper to read the hard facts behind the headlines.

Internet users accept whatever their friends, or strangers, promote as the truth. And this “truth” gets passed around. One example is the fabricated story that circulated about the Pope’s endorsement of Trump. Need I even say that this was, of course,  false?

Google and Wikipedia are where Americans go to fact check. What we forget is that their information is gathered by human beings like us…folks who are fallible and imperfect. What is offered might be accurate, but something just as accurate might be selectively or accidentally omitted.

Technology has made us lazy; just as fast food has made us obese. Neither condition is good for our well-being. Veggies and fruit guarantee good health. Reading a variety of books, periodicals and newspapers guarantee informed decisions.

Improving one’s situation involves work on our part. It doesn’t take a lot of money. We can grow our own healthy food; we can borrow books from the library. Neither requires much money, if any.

Convenience has become synonymous with the American way of life. Think Costco, Amazon and FedEx. It’s a sad truth. Americans expend as little energy as possible to reap what we have not sown with our own two hands. Progress is a double-edged sword.

It’s up to us as individuals to pick and choose what’s best for us as human beings from the array of goodies laid out before us. We shouldn’t grab for every single thing that glitters like gold. Some will inadvertently turn out to be…

…fool’s gold.

………hugmamma.Image result for fool's gold images

 

 

 

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our freedoms…at a price

For gun activists who refuse any and all efforts at having their rights to bear arms restricted, they must bear some of the burden for the mass killings that are taking innocent lives. Whether they care to accept the fact that each of these deaths is like a notch etched upon the grip of their guns, it is nonetheless an indelible mark upon their consciences. The only way to ignore this shared responsibility is to relegate those deaths to media statistics. Twenty-four/seven coverage blurs the faces of the dead until they are no longer recognizable as human beings, individuals whose lives were cut short. Their souls lingering on in the purgatory of memories of loved ones left behind.

Facebook, Twitter and other such media sites are similarly responsible for the massacre of innocent lives. Folks in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Acting as enablers of social connectivity, these billion dollar corporations accept no responsibility for crimes that are perpetrated through the use of their sites. The co-mingling of users whose sole purpose is elevated pen-paling with those intent upon murder is akin to seals swimming with sharks. It’s only a matter of time before the latter gets the upper hand.

What price freedom? Sometimes death.

A sad statement when we are willing to accept our lives as headlined in the news. We the people are responsible for what happens to us. We allow it to happen every time we scream our allegiance to our inalienable rights…to bear arms…and freedom of speech. We refuse to compromise our rights, to give an inch to save another’s life. Rights supersedes lives. Always. Either that or the wealthy and their minions who crowd out the silent rest of us are allowed to run roughshod over whatever stands in the way.

We reap what we sow…all of us. Those who buy and sell guns, and those who use social media. We support the framework of human demise.

…simple truth.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

 

braggarts???

Mother-Teresa-collage

A very telling article appeared in today’s copy of the Wall Street Journal. It probably applies to all of us who weren’t created from the same mold as Mother Theresa.

While the writer has a point, it’s my humble opinion that we talk about ourselves as a means of ensuring our legacy. If not us, who? Ninety-nine percent of us will never do anything to see our names lit up on a Times Square marquee.

Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th ...

Broadway show billboards at the corner of 7th Avenue and West 47th Street in Times Square in New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A trait  we inherited from our prehistoric ancestors, storytelling is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing. And that we get to be the protagonists of our own stories…hey! everybody’s got a chance to be the star. So like I tell my daughter when she prepares for a performance, “Star in whatever role you’re dancing.”

Science Reveals Why We Brag So Much
by Robert Lee Hotz

     Talking about ourselves–whether in a personal conversation or through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter–triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money, researchers reported Monday.
     About 40% of everyday speech is devoted to telling others about what we feel or think. Now, through five brain imaging and behavioral experiments, Harvard University neuroscientists have uncovered the reason: It feels so rewarding, at the level of brain cells and synapses, that we can’t help sharing our thoughts.
     “Self-disclosure is extra rewarding,” said Harvard neuroscientist Diana Tamir, who conducted the experiments with Harvard colleague Jason Mitchell. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “People were even willing to forgo money in order to talk about themselves,” Ms. Tamir said.
     To assess people’s inclination for what the researchers call “self disclosure,” they conducted laboratory tests to see whether people placed an unusually high value on the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings. They also monitored brain activity among some volunteers to see what parts of the brain were most excited when people talked about themselves as opposed to other people. The dozens of volunteers were mostly Americans who lived near the university.
     In several tests, they offered the volunteers money if they chose to answer questions about other people, such as President Obama, rather than about themselves, paying out on a sliding scale of up to four cents. Questions involved casual matters such as whether someone enjoyed snowboarding or liked mushrooms on a pizza. Other queries involved personality traits, such as intelligence, curiosity or aggression.
     Despite the financial incentive, people often preferred to talk about themselves and willingly gave up between 17% and 25% of their potential earnings, so they could reveal personal information. “We joked that this was the penny for your thoughts study,” Ms. Tamir said.
     In related tests, the scientists used a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner, which tracks changes in blood flow between neurons associated with mental activity, to see what parts of the brain responded most strongly when people talked about their own beliefs and options, rather than speculating about other people.
     Generally, acts of self disclosure were accompanied by spurts of heightened activity in brain regions belonging to the meso-limbic dopamine system, which is associated with the sense of reward and satisfaction from food, money or sex.
     “It rings true to me,” said psychologist James Pennebaker at the University of Texas at Austin, who studies how people handle secrets and self-disclosure, but was not involved in the project. “We love it if other people listen to us. Why else would you tweet?”

I’ll bet Ms. Tamir and Mr. Mitchell smiled broadly when they saw their names in the Journal this morning. Instead of being buried in some musty scientific archive, their research results are national news. I cheer them, along with their colleagues, teachers, friends and family. After all, they’re only human…

…just like the rest of us…

 

………hugmamma.   😉

 

Twitter 6x6

Twitter 6×6 (Photo credit: Steve Woolf)

 

scam alert!!!…(3 part-read first)

The scam truck

Image by jepoirrier via Flickr

Leading consumer advocate David Horowitz is offering extensive advice about Internet scamming. I’d like to share it in its entirety over the next few posts. If I tried to cram all the information into one, it would read like a lot of blah, blah, blah. And we all know how easy it is to zone out, or scroll down the page without really digesting what we’re reading. I’m as guilty of this as the next person.

And so…I give you Mr. Horowitz. Applause…applause…applause.

David Horowitz

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

MANY OF US spend a great deal of time reconnecting with old friends, exchanging photos and videos, and doing business on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
     Cyber-crooks have also turned their attention to the big social sites because they’re rife with potential victims–Facebook alone has more than 750 million members–and the threats are new enough that many people haven’t given much thought to how to defend themselves.
     Protecting yourself against social networking scams entails being aware of what they look like and properly securing your personal information when you are connected to the Web. Here are some of the most common social networking scams.

OMG, did you see this picture of you?
     You receive an email or an instant message claiming a picture of you has just been posted–check it out here! Immediately, you click on the link, which takes you to your Twitter or Facebook log-in page. There, you enter your account info.
     Unfortunately, both the email and the landing page are fake. That link you clicked took you to a page that only looked like your intended social site. It’s called phishing, and you’ve just been had. A cyber-criminal now has your password, along with control of your account. From there, those up to no good can access information that may help them hack into other accounts of yours.
     To prevent this, make sure your Internet security includes anti-phishing defenses.

Description: Social Networking Source: own wor...

Image via Wikipedia

Take this quiz–all your friends have taken it!
     On many social networking sites, you see questions that are supposedly funny or clever, such as what type of character you may be from your favorite movie. You may be prompted to do something fun, such as find out your I.Q. or vote for your favorite song. You enter your information and cell phone number, as instructed. You have just unwillingly subscribed to some dubious monthly service that will charge your cell phone $9.95 a month.

…intermission…bathroom break…time to raid the refrig…pet the dog…splash water in your face…

…PROCEED TO THE NEXT POST………pretty, please?…

Gonna Get Your Momma

Image by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via Flickr

………hugmamma. 🙂

ready…set…scam!…(3 part-read second)

David Horowitz making a strong point at CPAC 2011

Image by markn3tel via Flickr

Read on for more of consumer advocate David Horowitz‘s timely advice…

Tweet for cash!
     “Make money on Twitter!” and “Tweet for profit!” claim that anyone can work from home and make large sums simply by tweeting. If you fall for it you are asked for your credit-card number in order to pay a $1.95 shipping fee to get a “Twitter Cash Starter Kit.” Later, you find out that the starter kit is only a seven-day free trial, and the company then charges a monthly fee, typically around $50. It is then up to you to stop the charges, and it may be too late.

Hidden URLs
     Beware of blindly clicking on shortened URLs. You see them everywhere on Twitter, but you never know where they will take you since they hide the full location. Clicking on such a link could direct you to your intended site, or to one that installs all sorts of malware on your computer. Make sure you have real-time protection against spyware and viruses.

…now that you’re good and scared…proceed with caution to the last in this series…for horowitz’ final piece of advice…

Free twitter badge

Image via Wikipedia

………hugmamma. 🙂

“re-cal-cu-la-ting”…”re-cal-cu-la-ting”…”re-cal-cu-la-ting”

Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) in Otternd...

Image via Wikipedia

My friend Sylvia always provides some much needed levity. Once again she doesn’t disappoint.

Should I really join Facebook?…A good laugh for people in the over 50 group!!!
 

Senior Citizens Find That New Ulm, Minnesota, ...

Image by The U.S. National Archives via Flickr

When I bought my Blackberry, I thought about the 30-year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a cell phone that plays music, takes videos, pictures and communicates with Facebook and Twitter. I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouses, 13 grandkids and 2 great grandkids could communicate with me in the modern way.

 
I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space. That was before one of my grandkids hooked me up for Tweeter,

Image representing Tweetree as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world. My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag. 

 
 
The kids bought me a GPS

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver.

Image via Wikipedia

for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then, going over to the grocery store or to the library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Blue Tooth (it’s red) phone, I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Noble talking to my wife and everyone within 50 yards who glared at me. I had to take my hearing aid out to use it, so I got a little loud.

 
I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside that gadget was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say “Re-calc-u-lating.” You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then if I made a right turn instead…well, it was not a good relationship. When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GPS lady, at least she loves me.
 
To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the

Image by Dave McLean (aka damclean) via Flickr

cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven’t figured out how I can lose 3 phones all at once and have to run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry basket when the phone rings.  

 
 
The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store. You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden “paper or plastic?” every time I check out just knocks me for a loop. I bought some of those reusable, cloth bags to avoid looking confused, but I never remember to take them into the store with me. Now I toss the question back when they ask. I just say “Doesn’t matter to me. I’m bi-sacksual.” Then it’s their turn to stare at me with a blank look.
 
I was recently asked if I “tweet.” I answered, “No, but I toot.”  
 
P.S. I know some of you are not over 50. I sent it to you to allow you to forward it to those who are. We seniors don’t need anymore gadgets. The TV remoteand the garage door remote are all we can handle.

Korean traffic sign

Image via Wikipedia

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
…THE STORY OF MY LIFE…HUGMAMMA. 🙂
 

new york cynicism

New York City

Image by kaysha via Flickr

At the risk of being called a cynic by my husband, and you, I must confess to being one. Can I at least blame it on having lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade?

Just before he went to bed, I spoke with my husband about my experience with Twitter today. Half asleep since it was almost midnight, I expected his eyes to grow bigger by the minute as my tale unfolded. Instead, tiny wrinkles formed at the corners of his eyes. I’m sure he delighted in telling me that I’d made the mistake, and that the brouhaha of which I posted earlier was another one of my lapses into New York cynicism.

I’d forgotten that I’d opened my Twitter account using my husband’s email address. Why, I don’t recall and neither could he. No wonder my email address and password didn’t work. Duh?!? So there! I admit to my egregious mistake, and may Twitter and Helah Chester @helahcobtendy forgive my trespasses. Mea culpa! Mea culpa!

Thank goodness my husband and I have funny bones. We had a good laugh, albeit at my expense.

New York City

Image by kaysha via Flickr

…you can stop laughing now…hugmamma. 

twitter…hummingbird?…or nasty bug?

Ellen DeGeneres

Not sure how many of you tweet via twitter. My brother sold me on the idea eons ago. I took it as a compliment that an older, tech-wise sibling thought my writing was good enough to hit the air waves. Hesitant at first because of all the advice against “putting it out there,” I finally went for it. I get how it’s done, on the most elementary level. WordPress included an icon which, when clicked, sends my posts into the internet stratosphere. That’s the extent of my understanding. I’ve visited my twitter site which looks like Greek to me, except for the fact that Ellen de Generes is tweeting to it regularly. Can’t say I’ve been asked to return the favor. No matter. She’s like a hummingbird whose tweets I find musical. 

Recently, however, I’ve noticed that before I’ve even tweeted my posts, it’s already been done…twice. How’s that happen? I thought perhaps my brother lent a helping hand, and maybe WordPress. If I recall, it would happen most times, but not always. So I thought perhaps certain words in my post triggered the tweets. Happy not to have to bother doing it myself, I didn’t give it a second thought. Today, however, I decided I’d better tweet, because my posts might not be making it to my own twitter site. That the other tweets were posting to other sites. I can rationalize anything, even if it makes no sense.

Follow me on Twitter logo

Image via Wikipedia

When I clicked the twitter icon, I was asked to “sign on,” something I’d not been asked to do in sometime. Try as I might, the resulting prompt indicated my username and/or email did not match up with my password. So I proceeded to request help from Twitter Support. Indicating they could help me reset my password, I decided to do that. To my total surprise, shock actually, the message I received from them to my email address was to a “Helah Chester @helacobtendy.” “Who the heck is that?” I thought. 

I never did learn who the perpetrator was because my query to Twitter Support said their service was down, that I should try again later, or that my username and password didn’t match. Well about this time is when my cable service was shut off while the Comcast repair guy worked his magic. When it was up and running, I decided to click on the name and email address Twitter had sent in their message. Up popped their screen saying that that the account had been “unsuspended.” The screen was then replaced with my Twitter site which looked as it should. Thereafter when I proceeded to tweet my recent post, it worked. Go figure.

Alex Payne from Twitter at Bear Hug Camp.

Image via Wikipedia

When I first sought Twitter’s help in the matter, their site did indicate they’ve been having problems, beginning 3 days ago, and again an hour before my visit to their site. Makes me worry. Do these internet gurus know what the h–l they’re doing with our information? Makes me doubly worried.

So was Helah Chester a victim of their bungling, like I was? Or is there something more sinister at work here? Hummingbird? Or nasty bug? Depending upon what any of you might have to offer by way of explanation…

Nature at Its Best (2254321574)

Image via Wikipedia

…i may have tweeted my last note…although my hubby thinks i’m overly cynical…could i be?…hugmamma.

reality dancing…not up to the task?

DS boxshot

Image via Wikipedia

I wasn’t surprised when I came across the following information about celebrities who sign up for Dancing with the Stars. They are indeed no match for the real thing, real-life professionals who dance for peanuts by comparison, and not for a paltry 6 weeks, more like 32 to 52 depending on the generosity of patrons who contribute to dance company budgets. And some celebrity dancers complain about the meagre pay they receive for their pain and sacrifice, only $150,000!!! Whatever would they do if they had to dance for a living???

‘Dancing With the Stars’ is one of the more profitable shows on TV, making hundreds of millions each season through ad revenue, but, how much of that bounty is going to the celebrity contestants?

“When you sign up, every contestant gets $150,000 for 6 weeks rehearsals and the first two shows,” an insider with knowledge of the arrangement tells me. “Then every week you survive you make an extra $10,000 then $20,000 then $30,000 and so on, so the winner takes home $350,000.” Which sounds like a huge amount of money, but not to one past contestant, who complained to me this week about 12-hour work days and “ridiculous” amounts of “stress and strain” on the body.

“The show doesn’t pay for massages or anything else,” the former contestant, who is not part of the current cast, alleges. “The amount of physical stress and strain they put your body through, rehearsing six days a week, eight hours a day, is ridiculous.”

My source said “I have never worked so hard in my life” and described one particularly busy performance day: “Our call time was 6:00 AM and we were rehearsing with the band by 8 and then live on the dance floor that evening. That’s a 12-hour day.”

123412_2230

Image by trhnlhi via Flickr

And although I agree it doesn’t feel right that the cast of ‘The Jersey Shore‘ earn far more than Kirstie Alley and crew, I say welcome to the real world, where we pay for own massages too!

Follow @NaughtyNiceRob on Twitter!  

what’s the appeal?…our fondness for celebrities…rather than real artists…hugmamma.

“trivial pursuit”

I’ve visited another blog site which is great at “housekeeping” and decluttering. Thought I’d try it with my brain. Need to empty it of tchotchkes every so often. So I’m decluttering, in no particular order.

  • Did you know that storing apples with other fruits will ripen the others more quickly?That’s something I need to constantly remind myself.
  • Walking around Seattle yesterday, lunching on a nice, healthy salad, and supping on shared appetizers with hubby, garnered me a weight loss of 2 pounds! Yeaaayyy! At my age, that’s some feat! And my feet didn’t hurt, either. Thanks to great walking shoes, Merrell’s.
  • With 21,082 spams to date, I’ve got a “spam club,” which I’ll gladly relinquish to anyonelse. Sage? Ellen?
  • Received an email that Ellen de Generes
    Ellen DeGeneres in 2009.

    Image via Wikipedia

    is following me on twitter. Not sure how that works. I just click “tweet,” and send it out into internet galactica. Have never visited “twitterville” myself. WordPress.com is mind-boggling enough for me. But I sincerely hope Ellen or her fun assistants have a laugh or two, or cry a tear or two, depending upon which post they’re perusing. Hmmm…just tried to send her a message, but can’t. Will have to delve into the machinations of Twitter. OMG!…more techy speak.

  • Can’t seem to get the hang of blog  buddies, so I’ll just continue to embrace the universe of bloggers. It takes all kinds, after all, and I’m just one kind.
  • Recently saw a segment of HGTV’s “House Hunters,” which featured a home remodel in
    City seal of Honolulu, Hawaii. Image created b...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Honolulu, Hawaii. Since I turned the TV on after the story had already begun, I didn’t see what the house looked like beforehand. Fronting the ocean, with completely unobstructed views, I could only imagine its original price tag. During the process of the remodel, the city, and then the state, prohibited the building process. Denying a permit, FEMA explained its concern about the proximity to the water and flooding issues. Did that stop the property owners? Maybe they blinked their eyes, but they went forward, leveling the house and its accrued $250,000 renovation up to that point. Raising the new house to a more acceptable height, it was completed. At $4 million, the completed home was breathtaking, inside and out. Now that’s my idea of “pie-in-the-sky,” a dream home in Hawaii. But for me, that’s exactly what it is…a dream.

  • A bowl of Bob’s Red Mill Oat Bran with 1 cup of blueberries, 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 cup of Silk’s vanilla, almond milk is my new BFF. Love, love, love that it keeps me “regular.”  😉
  •  Heard on the local news recently that sitting for 6 hours or more a day without taking breaks to move around, contributes to increased risk for heart disease, and premature death. According to the report, even those who work out 3 or more times a week aren’t exempt from the threat. And the strain of work puts females at a 40% risk for coronary illness than men. Something to seriously contemplate, and perhaps take steps towards changing one’s routine.
  • Well-meaning friends and relatives also help to clutter my brain. Here are some of their contributions.

How the Internet started 

A revelation with an Incredibly Big Message (IBM):

Well, you might have thought that you knew how the Internet started, but here’s the TRUE story…..

Molnár József: Ábrahám kiköltözése

Image via Wikipedia

In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of 
Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot. 

And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband: “Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?”

And Abraham did look at her – as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said: “How, dear?”

And Dot replied: “I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price.

McDonnell Douglas MD-11(F) N273UP United Parce...

Image by Kuba Bożanowski via Flickr

 And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).”  

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.

To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was called Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures – Hebrew To The People (HTTP)

But this success did arouse envy. A man named Maccabia did secret himself inside Abraham’s drum and began to siphon off some of Abraham’s business. But he was soon discovered, arrested and prosecuted – for insider trading.

And the young men did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung.

They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land.

And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates’ drumheads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say: “Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others.”

Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known. He said: “We need a name that reflects what we are.” 

And Dot replied: “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.”
“YAHOO,”  said Abraham. And because it was Dot’s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham’s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot’s drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God’s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE)

And that is how it all began.
 
 
Truuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuly!!!

The above was courtesy of my friend Sylvia, And the following was shared by my brother Ben.

cid:004d01cba06a$f3b58c10$0201a8c0@user542eef7362

life doesn’t get any better than this…hugmamma.

popularity contest?, social networking

Yikes! I definitely feel like a “babe in the woods,” a “green horn,” a total novice after reading an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. Yes, that’s how far behind I am with my Journal reading. One of my very first posts, “deadly dilemma,” published on 7/22/10, mentioned my not wanting to subscribe to newspapers which go unread, day after day. Guess what? There’s a pile of papers sitting on my bedroom floor. I’m a pack rat, albeit an organized one. I cannot trash something until I make a conscious determination to do so. And I’m positive there are “gems” hiding among the pages of those, as yet to be read, newspapers. The article which is the subject of this post is a case in point.

“Wannabe Cool Kids Aim to Game the Web’s New Social Scorekeepers,” subtitled “Sites Use Secret Formulas to Rank Users’ Online ‘Influence’ From 1 to 100; ‘It’s an Ego Thing’,” pulls the curtain from around the Great Oz. Just as that book and film character worked the control panel to manipulate the lives of those living within his empire, so too it seems the internet wizards decide who among us will have the last word. Double yikes!!

I guess it would be naive to say I’d like to return to the good, old days when everyone “played fair.” Yeah right. When was that ever the case in the history of mankind? Even the serpent manipulated Eve into coaxing Adam to take a bite from the forbidden apple. So I guess we were doomed from the minute our first ancestors drew breath. I know it’s a fable written to nurture man’s superstitious nature, but the author had to get the idea from somewhere, probably from closely observing the society in which he lived.

Katie Miller, a 25-year-old public relations account exec and avid tweeter, was invited to a $30,000 “swanky holiday party on Manhattan’s West Side.” The invitation explained that she’d been “singled out as a ‘high-level influencer’ by the event’s sponsors, including the Venetian and Palazzo hotels in Las Vegas, and a tech company called Klout, “which ranks people based on their influence in social-media circles.” And how did she make the Las Vegas connection? “When Katie Miller went to Las Vegas this Thanksgiving, she tweeted about the lavish buffets and posted pictures of her seats at the aquatic spectacle ‘Le Reve’ at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel.”

To my senior friends who are skeptical about the value of the internet, I’d say “There’s gold in them thar hills!” So go enroll in adult education classes and start reaping the rewards of Facebooking and twittering. For according to the Journal article, “ordinary folks can become ‘influential’ overnight depending on the number and kinds of people who follow them on Twitter or comment on their Facebook pages.” Realize though that this generation is light years ahead in “gaming the system.”

Casie Stewart, a 28-year-old-social-media consultant from Toronto, has earned a free Virgin America flight, a shopping splurge at Mark’s Work Wearhouse and an all-expenses-paid trip to New Zealand fashion week thanks to her prolific tweeting and blogging about her life.

“Just got shot by fashion photographer @raphaelmazzucco in the Diesel Lounge,” she tweeted recently.

Klout dubbed Ms. Stewart a “networker” and awarded her a score of 74 (out of 100). As her score climbed, she gained the attention of a range of brands and public-relations firms who hooked her up with prizes, says Ms. Stewart, who has more than 5,000 Twitter followers. She says she tweets to build her “personal brand,” and getting perks from companies to tweet or blog about helps: “I always wanted to be well-known for being really good at something.”

Then there’s 25-year-old consultant Zach Bussey who wanted to improve his “social-media mojo last year.” He claims it’s an “ego thing,” and that he’s a social-media ” ‘passionisto.’ ” Among other services Bussey used,  was one called TweetLevel, the creation of public-relations firm Edelman. “It grades users’ influence, popularity, trust and ‘engagement’ on a scale of 1 to 100.” Obviously tech savvy, Bussey “gamed the system.”

He decided to try to improve his score by boosting the ratio of people who follow him to the number he follows. So he halved the number of people he was following to 4,000. His TweetLevel score rose about 5 points and his Klout score jumped from a 51 to a 60.

“The change gave me more legitimacy,” he says. But, he warns, you can’t get lazy: “If you go on vacation for a week and can’t tweet every hour of the day, you better be prepared to see your scores drop.”

Crazy, right?!? I’m not so sure. All kinds of people are trying to win the social networking popularity contest. Even high-profile tweeters look to tech companies like Klout for their numbers. Among influential politicians, President Obama ranks at 90 out of 100, John Boehner 75, of young pop stars Justin Bieber ranks at 100, Lady Gaga 90, of talk show hosts Conan O’Brien ranks at 90, Jay Leno 65, and of business executives Bill Gates ranks at 76, Eric Schmidt 75.

Even bloggers are not immune to “gaming the system.” Don’t look at me. I can’t even put the “Rolling Blog 2011 badge” on my blog because I’m clueless as to its URL. (Check out the small, red “x” framed by an empty, white space in the sidebar.) And I don’t even know what URL stands for. I’m a writer, remember? I’ve figured out the bare necessities and a little extra. I’m no computer genius by any stretch. On the other hand fellow Washingtonian, Gabriel Elliott of Vancouver, attempting to drive more traffic to his marketing blog, “The Internet Vision,” sought to “dissect Twitalyzer, which provides users with a suite of scores free. It also sells packages for as much as $99.99 a month with extras like daily email alerts that track scores over time.”

Mr. Elliott tried to manipulate individual variables, tweaking his frequency of tweeting, while keeping other things, like his rate of retweeting-or tweeting others’ tweets and giving them credit–constant. He determined that the biggest overall contributors to his score were retweeting and mentioning other users in his tweets. He raised his scores in both areas from 5 to 25 and gained about 1,500 followers over the next two months. “It took burning both ends of the candle,” he says.

“The arbiters of the new social hierarchy,” like Klout, Twitalyzer and PeerIndex work the numbers by feeding “public data, mostly from Twitter…LinkedIn and Facebook, into secret formulas and then generate scores that gauge users’ influence. Think of it as the credit score of friendship, or as PeerIndex calls it, ‘ the S&P of social relationships.’ ” Sounds very much like the credit reporting agencies who can make or break our financial standing. So now we’re saddled with social reporting agencies who can make or break our popularity.

The companies say their aim is to provide benchmarks to help people figure out whom to trust online and a way for marketers to spot people eager to evangelize their brands. Their efforts have ignited a race among social-media junkies who, eager for perks and bragging rights, are working hard to game the system and boost their scores.

Better we let our gut instincts determine our beliefs than companies who, despite what they say, have their own agendas like monetary gain through subscriptions for their services. And who are they telling us to believe in? Social wannabees! Those wanting fame and celebrity, and all the free stuff they can’t buy for themselves.

Granted there are those who “back into” the good life, like Katie Miller. Those doing what they would normally do without forethought of the “riches” they might garner, should continue merrily on their way. But I would suggest that those whose focus is to rack up points in their favor, “get a life!” Take it from a senior citizen, life’s too short to be messing around with numbers. Get out there and live your life. There’s more to life than a keyboard, a computer screen, and ratings.

By the way, beware of “one-night stands.” While tech companies have no problem with users maximizing their scores, they don’t take lightly to unsportsmanlike conduct.

Klout employees recently neutralized a tactic they dubbed “the one-night stand,” in which people follow lots of people on Twitter, hoping they’ll follow them back, then dump them a day later. “Users are a crafty bunch,”…

I know they’re not talking about moi. Blogging provides me with the opportunity to write, as well as readers who might be interested in what I have to say. Yes, it’s heady stuff knowing that I might influence some, but whether or not I do, I want to continue writing what I feel, first and foremost. I can’t write just to rack up ratings.

but my way’s not the only way…hugmamma.

facebook “virus” warning

Thought I’d warn you of an odd occurrence that took place. At times the internet can be an ominous place for those of us not particularly adept at seeing the predators who lurk nearby.

It’s been my habit to feed blog posts to viewers of Facebook, Stumbleupon and Twitter. Having done so dozens of times, the process has become a ritual. Click here. Click there. Presto! My posts are out in the blogosphere. With one particular post, published within the last hour or so, I went through the usual process of feeding it to Facebook. What appeared before I clicked “share,” differed from the norm. Where I usually see my gravatar, followed by a few opening words of the post, and perhaps a picture that accompanied it, there was simply a line that began with “http://——.” I don’t want to reprint it here, for obvious reasons.

Thinking it was a Facebook “gliche,” I clicked “share,” and thought no more about it. Thankfully, I have several guardian angels hovering over me, one being my brother Ed, a technical wiz. He emailed me advising that I warn Facebook friends not to open the post with the “http://—” line as it was probably a virus. Calling upon my archangel hubby for assistance, we perused my Facebook page and found the offending intruder. Deleting it immediately, I posted a note for Facebook friends to see, advising that they DON’T open “hugmamma” posts which differ from the normal visual pattern, as described above.

I’m repeating the warning here in my blog for Facebook readers, as well as for those of you who blog and might come across such an oddity on your own. 

All we can do is be very wary of persons intent upon interfering with others’ lives. That they should try to do good instead, is something for which we can only hope, and pray. But we must not let them deter us from what gives us pleasure, especially as we try to do the same for others.

It’s a lesson we can learn from the recent Tucson shooting victims, including Gabrielle Giffords and Christina Taylor Green. They along with countless others before them, may have been victims of senseless acts, but time and again, we have shown resilience in rallying to move forward, unwilling to let the underbelly of mankind win. So…

i’ll keep blogging…you keep reading…huge hugs…hugmamma.

“george, who would be king”

Enjoyed another great night at the movies with close friends Sylvia and Jim. She and I were particularly keen to see “The King’s Speech.” Sylvia was a subject during the rule of George VI and was, therefore, very excited to see the film’s portrayal of England’s beloved monarch and his queen. Revisiting her homeland by way of the vivid photography was an added bonus. I’m a devoted fan of Colin Firth who acted the part of the king. But I too wanted to see what George VI was really like, the man beneath the crown. I’d heard of his speech impediment, but wanted to learn more about it, and how such an introvert as he, dealt with the problem. Our spouses were on the fence about the film, but decided to accompany us. They were both very happy they did.

Colin Firth did not disappoint, nor did Geoffrey Rush as the king’s speech therapist, Lionel Lough. Firth’s handling of the king’s prominent stutter was excruciatingly realistic. It pained me to watch him struggle to speak. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the dilemma to form words and emit them naturally were so physically apparent. Firth’s eyes bulged and teared, beads of sweat sprung up on his forehead and beneath his squinting eyes. He seemed unable to breathe at times, the words sticking in his throat. I felt his dizziness, his nausea. I wanted to collapse alongside him, under the weight to speak publicly as the people’s sovereign, especially when he announced that England was joining the war against Hitler.

A great actor, but not necessarily a favorite of mine, Geoffrey Rush acted the role of Mr. Lough with eloquence and restraint. If you’re not well acquainted with Rush, you might remember him as Johnny Depp’s nemesis in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, Barbossa, captain of the haunted ship, the “Black Pearl.” In this role and others previous, Rush seems verbose, wordy. In “The King’s Speech,” he spoke in reaction to Firth. The part of therapist was to encourage the king to speak, a lot.

As the story unfolded, it was apparent that Lough’s value to King George VI transcended the professional. Lough became mentor, confessor, friend, and “family” to the king. They remained so, for the rest of their lives. As is so like me, I shed silent tears here and there.

How sad that George VI’s difficult childhood contributed to his stuttering. How sad that his brother abdicated with little thought to the burden he was placing upon George, who would be king. But how wonderful that he had his wife and daughters, and Lionel Lough to love and support him throughout his reign. And, of course, the overwhelming love of a grateful people.

a beautiful and touching “fairytale,” deserving of an “oscar” for all involved…hugmamma.

10,000 viewings, you can do it!

Forgot to add to my previous post, concerning my challenge to have had published a grand total of 365 posts by the end of next month , and way shy of my one-year anniversary, that it would be phenomenal to have my achievement coincide with 10,000 viewings of my blog. That might be a tall order, but I’m counting on your help, needless to say. I’ll write another 94 posts by the end of February, or sooner, and you just sit back,read, and enjoy. I’m not sure whose job will be easier, hopefully yours.

So I challenge you, dear readers, to keep on reading! Don’t stop, even when you’ve had enough. 

and we’ll both come out on top…yeahhhh US!…hugmamma.

downside of “tweeting,” “stumbling” and “facebooking”

In an effort to attract readers to my blog, I’ve spread the word on Twitter, Stumbleupon and Facebook. Wordpress.com makes doing so very easy. They provide “buttons” which when clicked, take me to those sites where I can share my posts. First, I “stumbled,” then I “facebooked,” and more recently, I “tweeted.” Traffic increased, in each case, sizeable at first. Then those who liked my writing continued to return, while the browsers went in search of “greener pastures,” more to their liking, whatever that was. But an in-between category of visitors to my blog has surfaced, and they can be a nuisance.

It may be that “tweeting” brought many more of these folks to my blog. Fortunately WordPress.com spams all comments left by these readers. I mention this in case you decide to start a blog, and would appreciate this information beforehand. Many of the comments left for me to read and approve, make little sense relative to what I’ve written in a post. Furthermore, they seem scripted. Many times several of the comments read like duplicates, with a word modified here and there. They also contain information directing readers to their websites. These have included dog grooming, financial loans, stock purchases, drug purchasing, exercise regimens. Like me, they are attempting to attract readers, but they do so by latching onto the efforts of others.  But, hey, ours is a capitalistic society, so I guess if people can think it, they can try it. None of them further my blog’s message, so their comments are being “returned to sender.”

Fortunately WordPress.com provides their bloggers with a way to empty out all the spams with one click. Thank you WordPress!  Credit should also be given to my family who advised me that these kinds of comments are self-serving. So I wish all who are trying to sell something, good luck doing it “on your own dime.”

 for my spam “button,” huge hugs…hugmamma.