Over the weekend a friend of a friend of a friend got stalked. Using just the information on their blog, a stalker was able to find out where the father graduated from college, where he worked, what his full name was, what her full name was, what the names and ages of their children and dog were and what the dog and kids liked to do. This information was ALL on the blog.
Through my work with criminals in both 12-step programs and in the Idaho drug court I know that there are sexual predators on the internet and not just on myspace. They are looking to do harm to your kids and to you. When they stumble across a blog like this one, it is like sitting at a buffet table. This blog had pictures of all of the kids and little bios of those kids. Therefore, when a criminal went to their house they would be able to talk to the kids about what they like and dislike. I successfully convinced the publishers of this blog to shut down their website. I fear for the safety of those kids knowing the people I have worked with in my lifetime.
I feel it is important to take some time tonight, though, and discuss ways to avoid getting your kids killed through your own stupidity.
1st I'd like to remind you that the easiest way to not get stalked on the internet is to not be on the internet. No one forces you to have a blog or to publish. I have 6 (soon to be 7) friends serving missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They aren't allowed access to blogs, facebook, myspace, or most other types of internet. They are allowed to e-mail their parents once a week. Everyone else they communicate with through the United States Postal Service. My friends do just fine communicating to people and sharing stories with this very limited access. You don't need a blog.
The 2nd best way to keep yourself safe is to make your blog password protected. Google and Live Journal both have a "friends only" option. Google is not responsible for what you publish, but in an attempt to let you publish and still be some what secure they do offer this ability to block people. This is your second best option, best if you can't live with using the Post Office.
The third option is to have a public blog but limit what you say. For example, the family that got stalked over the weekend had a blog URL that resembled SimpsonsFamily.blogspot.com. The title was "The Simpsons." On the left side was a picture of each of their children and a short bio. For example it said: Lisa, 8 1/2. Lisa is really into working with the environment and playing the Saxophone. She will talk to anyone she meets about the saxophone.
Bart, 7. Bart is really a mischievous child but we love him. He's in to skateboarding and slingshots. He wishes his dad made more money so that he could buy a huge skatepark for the back yard.
This is way more information about your kids than you want anyone knowing. The blogs here are seen around the world. Anyone can access your blog. Even if you ask blogger not to post your blog on their list of search able blogs, one of your friends probably forgot to not list theirs and they are linked to you. So much for not being listed. Keep such information to yourself.
Never use your last name on your blog. There are a million Seans out there. There are only a few Sean Simpsons living in Salmon Idaho. Don't use your last name in your url, your blog or even in your comments.
Screen your comments. I have a relative that occasionally slips and types my last name when she is making a comment. By screening her comments I'm able to edit what she says and prevent people from knowing who I am.
Don't name your company, especially if it is a small company. I used to work for a small manufacturing company in Oregon. They had 8 employees. By mentioning where I worked, it was real easy to find me.
If at all possible - use a nickname when publishing. And example of this is that on my blog I often talk about a girl named KNJ. KNJ could stand for all sorts of things (i.e kind naughty javelthrower.), but no one really knows what it means except her and two other people that read this blog. I have a friend that uses a single letter when he talks about the kids in the in-law family. I'm not even sure the letters correspond to the kids, now that I think about it.
If you are not going to password protect, blogs should really only be used for general stories and untraceable items (for example, telling stories about a time in your life where you were fat and wore white pants is fine. Telling times about when you grew up in Cody Wyoming just past the old barn on 3rd street and how your parents still live there today with your hot sister, probably not something you should be sharing.)
When sharing pictures, first make sure everyone in the picture agrees to have it published. My father doesn't like pictures of him on the internet, so I have only published one and it was with him wearing a bike helmet, sunglasses and a windbreaker. If I didn't know better I wouldn't have even known it was my father. I published a picture of KNJ one time and she was really pissed. Even though I took the picture and had the rights to it, as the person in the picture she had rights as well and could sue me. (needless to say it came down.) Lastly, don't publish a picture of an envelope with your address or the address of anyone else on it. It's not nice to get your friends' kids kidnapped or raped, so don't publish their address.
The last thing I can think of is to read your blog over once a month and see if you could tract yourself. If you can, change your blog immeadiately. Also might I suggest googling yourself every month or so. If you are a girl - google your married and maiden name.
For those in the Mormon church, we have been warned about what type of internet we bring into our homes and whether it is uplifting or detrimental to our spiritual lives. I think the same should be said for what you put out of your home on the internet. I obviously love blogging and love blogger, but in todays day and age, protecting our children from those that would seek to do harm is more important that sharing a picture of famous Mormon people or to bragging about catching a baseball at a A's game.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog full of stories of Sean and his gardening experiences.
So evidently it was a little brighter out today than I thought it was. I got my first sunburn of the season. (in case you are curious about the white line, I wear a necklace that evidently blocks out the sun.) However, I did get to learn how to use (and repair) my first ditch wench today. Those are definitely awesome toys. I'm never going to trench for pipe by hand again.
Word has gotten out in my ward (congregation's in the Mormon church are called wards) that I like to do gardening work. So after work today I went out and helped till another backyard, this time getting it ready for sod. Knowing that I wouldn't have time to take pictures at any other point, I took pictures through my window as I drove back to the office during lunch. This was my favorite out of the 20. Mainly I like how there are three items (foreground, midground and back ground.). None of those three items were moving but one appears to be moving.
Tonight my Dad and I went to an Oakland A's Baseball game. This is a family tradition that dates back t my boyhood. If we did nothing else, my father made a point of taking my brother and I to a ball game or three every season. That said, the tradition is also that we go on a night that has discounted tickets, like tonight. Our seats were $2 a piece with $1 hot dogs. (Which I bought 4 of and gave my dad one). At the beginning of the game we were way out between right field and center field and we weren't able to see anything after the ball flew deep enough. Oh, and the wind was really breezy and the stadium offered little protection. So at the top on the third we moved to a spot just a little left of home plate. (The above picture was taken from our new spot. The arrow in the picture points to where we were.)
At the top of the 4th I went to go buy hot dogs and got back in time for the top of the 5th. As we are sitting there eating hot dogs, the Twins are up to bat and a player bats the ball foul a few sections over. A few pitches later, the batter pops the ball up near us. As my dad sat like a deer caught in the stadium lights I leaped over him in a single bound. The ball landed 4 chairs right of my father. I cleared my father and dove for the ball. I got to it after it bounced once off the chair, but before it bounced into the hands of the guy that shoved me while trying to get to it before me. So for my first time in my life - I am the owner of a professional baseball used for three pitches including a fastball that gave the batter just enough force to get it up to me. If I was across the bay, I would know what to do with it. I'd put an astrick on it sell it on e-bay. However, being here, I will probably just photograph the hell out of it and share it with a cute little lady in my life who loves baseball about as much as my brother and her father does.
I started Phase Two on the backyard today (Just in case you're curious, there are 7 phases). I'm knocking down the weeds, leveling the soil and preparing the square for a concrete pad that will see a shed built on it.
Phase One is producing some fun. My green beans are starting to pop out of the soil as is the lettuce that got planted by the house owners. They planted zucchini starter plants. I planted seeds (two packets worth) and I haven't seen anything yet. John's tomato plant had a flower on it today. It's really fun to watch it all pop up.
I went to a poker fund raiser/birthday party Saturday night. The adult coordinator for the power soccer team has a yearly birthday poker bash where he asks for donations to BORP. BORP has different companies that have donated items for fund raising purposes. So tonight there were prizes for playing. I took 5th place for both times we played so I got the beanie and the two tickets to Six Flags. (Sorry Dad: If I could have lasted to fourth place I could have gotten the Saber Cat Tickets. Oh well.)
I helped referee 8 Power Soccer games today. Teams came from Hollister CA, San Jose CA, Berkeley CA, Newark CA, and Phoenix AZ. (Not pictured is Newark)
Tangent 1: I spent a great amount of time today thinking up names that don't chant well. The Arizona Heat 3rd Degrees would often chant, "Turn up the heat!". The BORP Earthquakes would chant "Shake it up!" The San Jose Steamrollers would chant "Go Steamrollers!" & "Bam Bam!" However, the Newark Hot Rodders and the BORP Crushers didn't chant anything team oreonated. And it got me thinking, that maybe, just maybe, there are teams out there that should have spent more time trying to figure out what they were going to chant if they picked their particular name.
Tangent 2: So, at times, Cerebral Palsy really really annoys me. The Heats had this Beautiful girl playing for them. B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. But because people with CP don't develop physically as the same as people without CP, I couldn't tell if she was 17 or 25. And I don't like asking others because if she is 17 then you look like a sicko. But I couldn't ask her, because each person with CP has their own language and I didn't have the time to learn hers. It took me a year to learn my old boss, Steve's, language. Grr.
Sherman's Island went up in smoke today. It is an uninhabited island in the Delta without even power going to it, so the assumption is arson. Because it didn't threaten any homes or businesses, the county fire department decided to just let it burn. (Never mind the POLLUTION!). This picture was taken after work and it had been burning since 11 AM.
A - Attached or single? single, but always open to changing that. I'm going through a K crush session again - 2 Kristens and a KNJ B - Best friend? Melinda (though Gu and Dun are a close tied second) C - Cake or pie? ice cream. Oh wait, was that not an option? D - Day of choice? Saturday E - Essential item? My camera F - Favorite color? Blue G - Gummy bears or worms? worms (mainly because of the song) H - Hometown? Fremont, CA (but I will claim Rexburg in a heart beat) I - Indulgences? Donuts J - January or July? July, though I love having fireworks on Martin Luther King day and attending the MLK Bar B Q each year. K - Kids? No but I'm more than willing to get someone pregnant with my child. L - Life isn't complete without? Family and friends M- Marriage date? Soon? N- Number of brothers and sisters? 1 Brother. One Sister-in-law. O - Oranges or apples? Apples (mainly because I throw up oranges, yellows and browns) P - Phobias or fears? Heights, live snakes, bears, bees Q - Quote? I have two: "And I'll just take another 24." & "And I know that, suffering or no suffering, nothing is worth more than this day." R - Reason to smile? Gardening S- Season of choice? Late Spring to early Fall. T - Tag six: Ummm Melinda might steal this from me. Brad might as well, but I choose not to tag anyone. U - Unknown fact about me? I took tap dance for 3 years and I know how to wiggle my ears. V - Vegetable? Zucchini W - Worst habit? biting my fingernails X - X-ray or ultrasound? Ultrasound. I just love having all that gooey stuff on my skin. Y - Your favorite food? Donuts, angel hair pasta, home made cinnamon rolls. Oh, and Steak. Z - Zebra or horse? Zebra. Who doesn't love a felony horse?
The county announced lay offs today. In theory, my job title is on that list, but my boss says I'm safe. Additionally, my boss's boss says I'm safe and my boss's boss' boss says I'm safe. I sent out some resumes today just to keep my options open, though.
Today was also my 3 month anniversary with the county. I now qualify for benefits.
On Tuesday, on Brad's advice, I started working my upper body and not just by swimming. On Wednesday morning I woke up in SEVERE pain in my left shoulder area (The pain was in my right shoulder as well, but not as bad). So I skipped the gym that day to give me a day of rest.
This morning I woke up in even more pain so I started asking around at work and was told that I probably over (or hyper) extended some muscles. I was advised to stay out f the gym for a while, take ibuprofen and use a heat/ice therapy. I had an appointment already to see my massage therapist tonight and so I had her look at it as well. She spent about 30 seconds on it before she repeated exactly what the therapists at work said. She STRONGLY advised ice and heat and to wrap my shoulder for a few days. She said it might even be a week before I can go back to the gym for upper body stuff. So I am putting myself on the disabled list for upper body gym stuff. I'm hopefully going to go to the gym on Friday and ride a recumbent cycle for 30 minutes just to exercise my legs (I might even do some of those exercises that makes me feel like I'm at an OBGYN appointment), but for now the shoulder is off limits.
This will probably delay my move for a few weeks, but I'm patient. Having a working shoulder is more important to me right now.
(Some of you might be asking why I take the advice of my massage therapist so accurately. She was a personal trainer for a while before getting into massage. She is using massage to pay her way through school to get a pre-professional degree in Physical Therapy at which point she will go to PT stuff. She carries a pretty good GPA and really knows her stuff. Therefore I trust what she says.)
People always ask me if that is a flashlight on my belt. When it is my kid clients I say, "Yes, but it stopped working." However, if it is adults I say, "No it's a shot. I'm allergic to bees, wasps, hornets, beer, wine and morphine." This usually leads to one of two questions: 1. Can I see it? (Sure) 2. If you are a Mormon, how do you know you are allergic to beer and wine? (Same way I know I'm allergic to bees. One day some beer was flying through the air and landed on my lips. And my throat spelled shut.) Sometimes people believe my answer. Some times they figure out that maybe I was tested as a kid and that their question was dumb. Either way it's entertaining.