July . . . All This and Days Too

July . . . All This and Days Too

With the start of the new month it is once again time to look closer and learn a few things you may not know about our seventh month of the year. In the US our big holiday this month is the 4th of July, the day we commemorate when we declared our independence from Great Britain way back in 1776. As it turns out we are not alone in claiming our independence in July.

Here are some of the other countries that have obtained their independence in the month of July:

  • Abkhazia – Independence from Georgia in 1993
  • Algeria – Independence from France in 1962
  • Argentina – Independence from the Spanish Empire in 1816
  • Bahamas – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1973
  • Belarus – Independence from several years of German occupation in 1944
  • Belgium – Independence from Netherlands in 1831
  • Burundi – Independence from Belgium in 1962
  • Cape Verde – Independence from Portugal in 1975
  • Colombia – Independence from Spain in 1810
  • Djibouti – Independence from France in 1977
  • Laos – Independence from France in 1949
  • Liberia – Independence from the United States in 1847
  • Malawi – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1964
  • Maldives – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1965
  • Peru – Independence from Spain in 1821
  • Rwanda – Independence from Belgium in 1962
  • Sao Tome and Principe – Independence from Portugal in 1975
  • Slovakia – Declaration of Independence in 1992
  • Solomon Islands – Independence from the United Kingdom in 1978
  • Somalia – Independence from Italy in 1960
  • South Sudan – Independence from Sudan in 2011
  • Vanuatu – Independence from the United Kingdom and France in 1980
  • Venezuela – Declaration of Independence from Spain in 1811

Apart from the Independence Day celebrations that take place this month, July is also:

  • National Blueberry Month
  • National Anti-Boredom Month – This is not a good idea. Whoever came up with the idea of putting Anti-Boredom Month during the same month what state laws towards the purchase of and use of fireworks becomes quite lenient clearly didn’t think this one through. This might also explain why some of my neighbors have been lighting off fireworks every night this past weekend, once the sun goes down they get bored and want to blow something up.
  • National Cell Phone Courtesy Month – I appreciate this one, unless that means we need to be more courteous towards people on their cell phone, but I’m guessing that isn’t the case.
  • National Hot Dog Month – Of course since the 4th of July is the biggest barbeque day of the year it’s not surprising that the month is dedicated to the consumption of these vile icons of America’s gift to the culinary world.
  • National Ice Cream Month – This one makes sense, especially considering how warm it is lately. I’m not a big fan of ice cream, but over the past week I have consumed ice cream on three separate occasions.

I did want to add one more celebration to this month. It’s not an official or nationally observed holiday, but in my experience July is also Family Reunion Month. I’ve already attended one family reunion this month and most of my friends seem to have one scheduled sometime this month as well.

When it comes to week long celebrations apparently the second week in July (so starting today) is Nude Recreation Week. My recommendation, find yourself a hammock, preferable in someplace secluded (no point in being the reason for your neighbors start going to therapy), and spend an hour or two relaxing in the hammock while in the buff. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

As for special days in the month of July, I managed to find 50+ different day celebrations. Today happens to be National Sugar Cookie Day, which I’ll be skipping. I’m not really a fan of sugar cookies. As for the rest of the days, for the sake of avoiding a ridiculously long list, I’ll highlight just a few of my favorites:

  • July 1 – Build a Scarecrow Day (which is the first Sunday of the month) and International Joke Day. – Sadly, I’m not sure I know any international jokes . . . unless of course you want to talk about America’s foreign policies over the last decade.
  • July 2 – I Forgot Day and World UFO Day – I was a little bummed about missing World UFO Day, but when I realized it was also I Forgot Day, I didn’t feel too bad about it anymore.
  • July 8 – Video Games Day – Check (and didn’t even know I was supposed to play video games this past Sunday). Yeah, I rock.
  • July 11 – Cheer Up the Lonely Day and World Population Day – Doesn’t having those two on the same day seem to imply that the recommended way of cheering up the lonely is an activity that could result in world population. I recommend just giving them a plate of cookies and asking them how their day is.
  • July 13 – Barbershop Music Appreciation Day – In a word, YES!
  • July 20 – Moon Day – I think it’s important to mention that this is in reference to the Moon that orbits the Earth and not the youthful or more commonly drunk frat guy activity that insists that flashing people the quick view of your bare derriere is the epitome of comedic genius.
  • July 27 – Take Your Pants for a Walk Day – I’m going to borrow my sister’s stroller on this day. That way I can just put all my pants in the seat and take all of them for a walk in one go.

Well, that’s it for my highlight of a few July Holidays. I hope you found a smirk getting a little more awareness about this month, and maybe, apart from grilling hotdogs and eating ice cream, you’ll get a little more out of this month than you have in years past. Cheers, and a Happy July to you all.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: July, anti-boredom month, feet in a hammock, and barbershop music.

Copyright © 2012 Richard Timothy

Sitting in the Dark

Sitting in the Dark

So this past Sunday my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh, her sister and I all went down to Park City. She had a two-day retreat for her mastermind group and her sister was there to help out. The retreat started on Monday, but since she had a room for Sunday and Monday, so I drove down with her to spend the night so we could spend some more time together before our crazy, busy week got started. Although, I should mention there was an addition reason for wanting to go . . . which I’ll get to in a minute.

I’m not sure what, or why it is, but there is something absolutely delightful about walking into a nice hotel room. It’s a little like walking into a display home and being told that everything you see is yours for the next twenty-four hours. It’s a little like shopping for a possible dream home, but on a much smaller scale.

Some people rate hotel rooms on the amenities, the size of the room, the décor, the size of the television and the number of channels they have access to, how comfortable the bed (which is my number to criteria), etc. For me though, it’s the tub. It can be a sub par room, but if they have a large comfortable tub that I can soak in until my fingers and toes are all water logged and wrinkly, like a prune in a rainstorm, well then you have my full appreciation and recommendation to others . . . Hotel Park City, if I had a hat on, I’d tip it in your honor. Yes, this was the other driving factor for going to Park City for the night, they had an amazing tub. What? My tub at home sucks, so when I have the opportunity to take a bath in a highly comfy and soakable tub, I’m there.

While the hotel was getting our room ready, we decided to head out for dinner, stopping at a local brewpub, mainly because there was a store that the girls wanted to check out that was right next door, but we had eaten at the place before for lunch a few years ago, and this is where this Smirk actually begins. Dinner was fine, not mind-blowingly delicious, but superior in every way to any and everything you might get from some crappy fast food place . . . so, all fast food places.

Now occasionally, after eating a meal, I have an urge to . . . well, expunge a past meals to make a little more room for what I have just consumed. Sunday turned out to be one of those occasions. I excused myself and headed to the men’s room. As I open the door the room remained dark, but as I walk in, a sensor went off and the lights kick on. So I made my way to the only stall in the room and took a seat.

I have dealt with sensor lights before, they turn on when you enter and shut off after you have left. I believe they function based on movement sensors, and as long as they pick up movement they stay on. Once they stop picking up any movement, a timer kicks on and when that time runs out, they shut off. However, as I’m sitting there, dealing with the need at hand, all of the sudden I hear a quick “click” noice and everything goes black.

There are a few things that go through your mind when you are sitting on a public toilet in a place you do not know all that well and all of a sudden all the lights go out. “Ah shit,” were the first words out of my mouth. My first thought was to yell out for help, using that “Hello?” yell that all people use in horror movies when they hear a noise in the dark and instead of finding the others they decide to go investigate the sound. My next thought was to try to get sensor to kick back on. It seemed to me that the stall wall was a little too high and based on where the sensor was located, once I sat down, it could not pick up any movement. I started grabbing handfuls of toilet paper off the roll, wadding it up and throwing it over the stall wall in an attempt to make the sensor go off and turn the lights back on. After my fifth attempt, it was clear that it wasn’t going to work.

I decided to only way to fix my predicament was to stop sitting in the dark and make my way to the sensor. So with one had holding my trousers around my knees, I stood up. I started waving my free hand over my head, clearly above the stall wall, but to no prevail. I then made my way to the stall door, using my hand to slide along the wall, stopping at the space between the stall wall and door. I felt around for the latch and just before flipping it open, one last thought went through my mind.

I was not thrilled at the prospect of making my way to the middle of the bathroom so the light would kick on, but more than that I was rather worried that someone might choose that exact moment to walk in to the men’s room and have the lights kick back on leaving them with the image of me wandering around the bathroom in the dark with my pants around my knees forever burned into their memory, accompanied by years of therapy trying to get it out.

Fortunately, the second I swung the stall door open and peeked my head around to corner the lights kicked back on. Let me tell you, the fear of having the lights go out while you are sitting on a toilet is an amazing motivator to finish your business as quickly as possible. About a minute later, after I picked up the wads of toilet paper I had thrown earlier, I was washing my hands and getting the hell out of that “Loo of Darkness”.

When I got back to the table I kept the events to myself. For some reason I wasn’t in a very talkative mood concerning my little “lights out” encounter. But give me a few days and here I am sharing it with the world with a smirk on my face. Considering how it ended, things could have been a lot worse. I’ll tell you what though, I’m much more cautious now when I enter a restroom with automatic lights, and as a public service, trust me when I say you should too.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: Park City, wrinkled fingers, bathroom stall, and paper stuck on shoe.

© Richard Timothy 2011

The Great Toilet Seat Down Debate, We now have a Chance

The Great Toilet Seat Down Debate, We now have a Chance

I learned something about my brother Mike this past week, something that quite frankly surprised me. I’d even go so far as to say it’s something that escalates my opinion of him from just being my brother, to being a hero … and I think some of you are going to agree. Before jumping into the why, I thought this Smirk could use a little clarifier as to how I am choosing to define the word hero and how that definition pertains to Mike.

For many people, being a hero is a person that shows courage, or is admired for their brave deeds. I know that in the US there is an almost instant juxtaposition to this word and people who serve in a field where they could end up in harm’s way to help others, professions like the police, military, firefighters, etc. In this Smirk I am looking at my brother as a hero for being a person who, in my opinion, has performed a heroic act.

For anyone who has ever found themselves in true relationship there are some conversations that are inevitable. If you have no idea what these conversations are, there are three possible reasons for this, 1) you are not in a true relationship (I’m talking to you high school and middle school kids … and frat boys), 2) you are in a true relationship that has not evolved to the point that you have yet experienced these conversations, or 3) you are no longer in a relationship because you repeatedly failed to have these conversations or they did come up not you rejected them and in the end clearly exposed yourself as someone that others prefer not to be in a relationship with.

The thing is some of these conversations seem immensely pointless, but for some reason they are essential for any relationship. One of these conversations consists of the infamous “decorative/throw pillows” conversation. This is usually instigated when the masculine personality in the relationship asks why their house if filled with pillows they are not allowed to use. The feminine personality takes the opposing view and attempts to explain that they are decorative pillows, as in a decoration. Hence, that is their function and therefore they are needed and useful. I’ve actually dedicated an entire Smirk to this topic.

The point being that these conversations exist and do happen every time two people get together and have a go at that thing called a relationship. There is one conversation that is usually discussed with such fervor and gusto that all men know about it and fear it. Waiting for it to inevitably arise and stick around until they succumb to the demands of their feminine counterpart. The topic is … the great “toilet seat down” rule debate.

The debate traditionally consists of the person in the relationship without the male naughty bits strongly suggesting that the one with the male naughty bits be responsible for all toilet seat interaction, specifically the lifting and lowering of the seat so that is it always ready to support those in need of a sit down. Now since the one without the male naughty bits has spent their entire life not having to deal with the raising and lowing of the toilet seat, due to always sitting to do their business, there is a sense of entitlement. To them it only makes sense that their lack of toilet seat handing not change. To add support to their view on the matter they also claim that since men have spent their life raising and lowering the toilet seat then they should already be conditioned to this practice.

When men are first introduced to this line of discussion, we get confused. The key flaw in this train of thought is men are not trained to not raise and lower the toilet seat. I mean we do when the need arises, but when we lift it, it stays up until our need requires it to be put down, to which it stays down. Since men usually require the seat to be up when we go to the restroom that means it spends a lot more time in the up position than the down position.

In my experience, the first time I had this conversation was a little different than the traditional method of a being in a romantic relationship. I had moved into a place with five female roommates and I believe the very first time I left the toilet seat up after moving in I was confronted by all five roommates and kindly threatened that if I failed again to leave the toilet seat down after I had finished my business then I would be tarred and feathered in my sleep … with graham crackers and chocolate syrup. I didn’t leave that seat up again the entire time I lived in that house. Also, by the time I got into a real relationship I was already in the practice so it wasn’t a big debate filled compromise. So, I guess, thank you to those five roommates? (Still not sure I’m ready to move that from a question to a statement just yet.)

I do need to point out that in the event your male counterpart forgets to put the seat down after they finish their business please don’t start in on them about it. It happens, we do forget sometimes. We never get thanked for all the times we leave it down, but the second it slips our mind and we accidentally leave it up once out of a thousand times, we get instantly reminded and/or lectured about it. We don’t appreciate getting in trouble for this especially when it rarely happens. By letting this slide and simply putting the seat down on the random occasion when it happens, it will strengthen your relationship.

Also, from a feminist perspective I would like to point out that the “toilet seat down” rule is completely anti-feminist. Feminism is about equality, and then you require that the male counterpart in the relationship always put the toilet seat down, this is a request for special treatment and removes the fundamental belief in being treated equal … I’m just saying.

Still, the “toilet seat down” rule is something that all men have experienced and agreed to follow … that is until my brother Mike mentioned in passing conversation that he doesn’t have that rule. I just started at him in disbelief. The other guys around him were equally flabbergasted. The first one to reply to his comment struggled a bit trying to get clarity about what Mike had said, “Wha … you … you don’t have … how is that even possible?”

Mike just smiled as we looked at him with the same awe and admiration as when we watched Indiana Jones for the first time on the big screen discover the lost ark. I had a few questions of my own for Mike. Things like, “Who are you?”, “What have you done with my brother?”, “Why haven’t you gotten any endorsement for this?”, and “What is your secret oh great and powerful Oz?”

“I just said we should both be responsible for looking to make sure it’s down before we sit, making it an equal thing for both of us. She tried to say that if the seat gets left up and in the middle of the night she gets up to use the restroom and falls in because the seat is down then it is my fault. I told her it is her fault for not looking, just as it would be my fault for not looking if I fall in in the middle of the night. I only seemed right that we are accountable for ourselves.”

We all had the same response, saying it in unison, “And that worked?”

For him it did. He make the “toilet seat down” rule about personal accountability, and that is why I have escalated Mike from the status of brother to the shared status of “my brother, the hero.” I think any guy that learns about his Yoda-like handling of the “toilet seat down” rule debate would agree.

Before ending this Smirk I do feel it’s important to point out that I am not recommending that all men currently following this rule go and revisit the debate. No good will come of this. If the action is second nature now and something you do automatically, do not, I repeat do not mess with the rule. However, if you have not yet found yourself in this discussion, you are now a little more prepared for when it does finally come up. And remember, don’t thank me, thank Mike.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: hero, toilet seat, I forgot, and Indiana Jones.

© Richard Timothy 2011

What Kind of Camper are You?

What Kind of Camper are You?

This Smirk began as a Facebook post that I borrowed from some random post on ruminations.com, a highly entertaining resource for random thoughts and observations made by everyday people. In fact a lot of my random one-liners I post on Facebook come from there. The post I’m referring to is, “If you’re camping and you have WiFi, you’re not camping.” Turned out, this got me thinking about camping and what it even means anymore.

I know what it used to mean. It meant complete isolation from the populated world. You embraced the nomadic lifestyle of our hunter/gatherer ancestors and would strap an industrial sized backpack with padded shoulders straps and a belt to help take some of the weight off your back and shoulders. You brought your house and your bed with you (a tent and sleeping bag), and food, or something to catch your food with like a gun or a fishing pole. You had to go find your own rocks to build a campfire circle and hunt for wood dry enough to be used for your camp fire, and “cheating” was considered bringing some lighter fluid to help you start a fire, although some of the “puritan” campers would say that bringing matches let alone a lighter was cheating.

On more than one occasion in my youth I went camping in the middle of winter, of course it was for scouts. Now perhaps I leaned some valuable survival skills being a part of a club that requires you to take part in a winter camping weekend where you go into the woods and spend the afternoon digging a snow cave that you actually use as shelter for the night, and your only heat source is a candle you personally constructed using wax coated cardboard rolled up and placed into an empty tuna fish tin. That experience specifically brings a lot of memories to mind and, well, let me just say… screw you Boy Scouts of America! Seriously, that organization did more to cater to and sculpt my hate for spending the night in nature than all the Friday the 13th films combined.

I realize that the camping has changed since I was a kid. It has gone through a bit of an evolution and honestly I’m all for it. Now, even though I’m not really a camper, I can still “camp” based on the new hybrid camping options for people not willing to commit to the true and pure form of camping. As I see it, here are one’s current camping options:

True Camping
This is the type of camping where there is no question of whether you are camping or not.

  • Camp Access: Zero road access, you have to hike at least half a mile to get to your camp site. 4x4ing or using an ATV to get to the camp site does not count; it’s cheating and will never count as true camping. However, using horses, or canoes is an acceptable option.
  • Shelter: A tent that you had to haul with you and put together once you arrived at the camp site. Using a tarp draped over a branch to make a self made tent is not only allowed, but does qualify you as a “hard core” true camper. Note that there are a number different variables that qualify you for this extreme camping classification, but will not be addressed in this Smirk (fell free to add them in the comments if you have your own).
  • Sleep option: A sleeping bag. If you want some cushion use hand pulled grass and place it on the ground under your sleeping bag. In some warmer climates it is common to sleep on top of the sleeping bag under the open sky, or in a hammock.
  • Running Water: Rivers or creeks only, and if you want hot water for your coffee/tea you have to boil it over an open fire.
  • Cell Phone: Zero coverage. No bars, no texts, no emails, and no Facebook updates or Tweets. In fact the only thing your phone is good for is to tell time and as a flashlight at night until the batter dies… there is absolutely no recharging your phone in true camping. Also, the only allowable electronic device when truly camping is a flashlight, and possibly a digital camera for documenting the trip. Any MP3 players or any device that allows you to watch a movie or play a game automatically demotes you from “true camping.”

Mostly Camping
This is the type of camping where ones addiction to their toys limits their ability to become a true camper. Most of the essentials of true camping stay intact, such as using a tent and sleeping bag, and not having any artificial running water like showers or toilets. Road access is still a no no, but how you get to the camp site can alter a bit. This usually happens through the use of one or multiple ATVs getting your goods to camp. This equates to foam pads you can sleep on, and food in coolers, even ice cold beer that does not have to be stored in the river to keep it cold. Bringing a grill to place over the fire to cook the store bought meat is also a possibility. However, electronic components are still out minus the previously mentioned camera and/or flashlight, and some sort of music playing device, either electronic (iPod, etc.) or music instruments that you personally play (guitar, harmonica, bongos, etc). I stand firm in supporting the idea that the key reason for camping is to unplug and get closer to nature.

Sort of Camping
The first thing is that you have road access, but you are in a forested and/or nature filled setting. Like when you go to assigned camp sites in national parks or forests, or KOA campgrounds (but only if you are sleeping outside and in a tent and not in one of their little cabins). Yes, you still need to be in a tent or a similar structure for sleeping. There are out houses or restrooms close by, and in some cases you have running water, and sometimes you will even have access to take a hot shower. However, in some instances the water dispensers will have a sign next them informing you whether the water is safe to drink or is only for washing up. You may or may not have cell phone coverage, but you can easily recharge it in your car, which is about 10 to 40 feet from your camp. Also, if it gets too cold or a storm begins you can always leave your tent and escape to sleep inside your car for the night.

Pretend Camping
Pretend camping consists of sleeping in a nature filled area, again like a KOA campground or a some similar place, but you end up staying in a place that has a solid floor, a roof overhead and an electrical outlet. These places have beds and one light… in short you experiencing a “roughing it” hotel visit. I once stayed in a yurt in on a beach in Oregon, yes it was a big tent, but there were three beds and an electric heater. We were right by the beach, but I had no disillusions, we were pretending to camp.

There is a different type of pretend camping where people set up a tent in their yard and “camp” for the night. Traditionally this is reserved for the smaller people of the world, and no, I am not talking about that group of people that prefer the PC identifier of little people. No, I mean kids, and just because you are spending the night in a tent, if you can still have a plate of pizza rolls hand delivered at a moment’s notice by your mother… all you are doing in that tent is pretending… and maybe staying up late reading comic books. In truth you are having a sleep over and nothing more… which brings me to today’s final camping category.

“You’re Not Camping” Camping
If you are staying in a furnished log cabin, or in an RV, guess what? You’re not camping. Even if you are out in the woods surrounded by nature, there is nothing remotely campish about this type of camping. Still, some people chose to call it camping, which is why I’ve added it to the list. I think the general rule of thumb is that if you have a fully functioning kitchen, running water, a television and DVD or gaming consol, central heating and cooling, and a bed with sheets and a comforter, well, you can call it any word you want, but you my friend are not, and never will be camping in this type of environment… I’m just saying.

Well there you have it, my list for deciphering the type of camping you enjoy and the type of camper you are. Personally, I prefer the “You’re not camping” camping. Don’t get me wrong I like to see nature, take pictures, and go on nice walks together. It’s just that I’m not that interested in spending the night together… can’t we just be friends and leave it at that?

What kind of camper are you?

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: camping, camping in snow cave, hiking with backpack, camping by car, and RV camping.

© Richard Timothy 2011

Things I Learned from this Year’s Cold

Things I Learned from this Year’s Cold

It always seems to happen, once a year my immune system decides to go on holiday and I catch a cold that keeps me on a strict regiment of cold medicine and unconsciousness. Due to being under the influence of night time cold medicine, but at a state of consciousness that my mind is sure I’ve had enough sleep for the day, I figured I’d get this week’s Smirk created and shared, before the sleepiness comes for me again.

That being said, here are a few things I’ve noticed this week in correlation with me being sick:

  • I have a kick ass voice when I’m ill. I could be a blues singer with a voice like this, I’ve got enough bass for it. Imagine the voice of Louie Armstrong, now drop it an octave or two and there I am. Granted, once I get better I have a voice that makes the sound of ally cats engaging in “behind closed doors” acts a melodious and almost operatic experience.
  • I’m pretty sure I’ve exceeded my over sleep quota for the month and possibly year. I’m pretty sure I’m owed one all-nighter in the next little bit once I get better.
  • It is staggering at the sheer amount of mucus your body can produce when it decides that whatever it is inside you that is making you ill needs to be evacuated from your body. In a week I have got through three full rolls of toilet paper… for my nose (an important distinction I feel) and two boxes of tissue… for the same nose. I now have the face of someone who has a problem with huffing gas fumes for recreational purposes.
  • It’s amazing how much time you get to spend alone at home, even when your partner is there. Yes, they make it very clear that they love you, but they don’t want to be around you… something about our wedding vows not including sharing each others cold if possible. Well, that and she has her conference next weekend that she refuses to be ill for. I do think she has willed my cold to bugger off and leave her alone, and it has.
  • Working for people that will let you work from home while you are sick is pretty groovy. The trouble is, when you are blowing your nose every three to five minutes, it makes being productive a little difficult. Of course this holds true if I was at work working as opposed to at home working, it’s just that at home I can wear pajamas and grab a blanket when the fever kicks in. Plus, I get to feel good about myself for not sharing what I’ve caught with my co-workers.
  • One word of warning though, do not have a Doctor Who marathon while waiting for the night time cold medicine you took to kick in… I have not spent that many dreaming hours running to or from “end of the world” scenarios in my entire life. Although my dream self is much more fit as a result.
  • Oh… and one last thing… if you have a case of the sneezes, make sure you put a layer of plastic wrap over what you are reading… especially if it’s a library book. It can take a while to clean things up otherwise.

I think that’s gets to be it for today. My brain feels like it’s starting to move slower that the rest of me. Night time cold medicine always does that to me when it starts to kick in, I’ll move my head to the left and then it feels like my brain will move in that direction to catch up. Good thing I don’t have to drive home. With all that being said, I’m officially at that point where I’d happily give up my Barry White voice of soul and my excess of sleep for a clear head and dry nose. Until next week, when I’m a bit more, well, me, stay happy, keep smirking, and keep healthy. I’ve got enough cold for at least ten of you, so you should be in the clear.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: blowing nose and sneezing.

© Richard Timothy 2011

A Facebook Time Out

A Facebook Time Out

Well, it finally happened, Facebook temporarily suspended my account because their system detected I had engaged in abusive behavior. So what was this abusive behavior? It’s not like I was going around typing flatulence sounds on people walls, or going to cat fan sites and saying how much better dogs are than cats, or going to the Tea Party Facebook page and telling them that Obama is the only Christian in power that will save this country. Nope, what I did was efficiently ask people from my home town for a little help. Efficiently being the key element here.

Ok so here’s the thing, hmm, it’s a little tough to write about since it’s a surprise birthday present, and if the person happens to read this and I give specifics the surprise factor loses all of its ‘sur’. Ah screw it, here’s the situation, I’m trying to collect stories about my dad from his students. We was a teacher for over 25 years in the same little town, and since he’s turning 70 this year I thought it was be a nice gift to surprise him with a collection of stories/memories from people he worked with and/or taught during those years.

I even managed to find a site on Facebook that is dedicated to people who grew up in this little town. So I’ve been sending everyone on the site messages asking them if they knew my dad and if they have a story they’d care to share. In order to be efficient, I wrote one master letter explaining all this. Then I cut and paste the letter to 10 to 20 people on the site and send them the message. I send messages until I get that warning that says I am engaging in spam like behavior and I stop for the day.

This is because I am cutting and pasting, instead of writing the same thing over and over again and wasting a bunch of time. What they notice is how fast I am sending these messages and not the content of the messages. I was told I was behaving like a spammer… and in a way I guess I am spamming people I don’t know, but it is directed at people that grew up where he taught, so there is a good chance they may know my dad even if they don’t know me. Besides, it’s for a good cause.

Now I’ve got two weeks to go, and am a little unsure how to proceed with trying to contact more people about writing about my dad. I really don’t want to lose my Facebook account because some program flags my actions as abusive, just because I’m trying to get some stories about my old man… shame on you Facebook for trying to destroy an old school teacher’s birthday surprise.

I mean, I do get it. I understand the “leave people you don’t know alone” concept. However when you have a creation like Facebook that is about interacting with other people, wouldn’t part of that experience also include making friends with people you don’t know? I’ve met many brilliant people from all over the world as a result of asking strangers to be my friend for the sake of taking a peek at my writing in hopes that it will make them smirk a bit. Thank you all by the way. I’m very grateful for the opportunity that Facebook has given me to introduce myself to, to connect with, and to call these people friends.

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the details Facebook sent me about this “abusive” behavior.

“Facebook’s security systems are meant to make everyone on Facebook feel safe sharing and connecting with one another.

Your account will be permanently disabled if you do not follow these guidelines:

  • Do not use the site to contact strangers thought the Messages feature, friend requests, or other avenues.
  • Do not send messages or friend requests to strangers for the sole purpose of increasing membership in your Facebook groups, Events, or Pages.
  • Do not send messages or friend requests to strangers to gain advantage in games or applications on the Facebook Platform.
  • Do not use the site to recruit or network with strangers for the purpose of promoting your business, event, or other opportunity.
  • Do not provide false information on your Facebook account. Your account must accurately reflect your real identity, including your real first name and last name. “

Apparently the way to be respectful of others on Facebook is to avoid contacting strangers in any way. For being a site that is all about “Friends” that sure doesn’t appear to be very friendly behavior now does it?

I guess the thing that strikes me as silly about all of this is I get a message like this and when I restored my account the first thing to greet me on my Facebook page was that row of Facebook Ads, which are doing exactly what Facebook says I are not allowed to do. Difference being is that others are paying Facebook to behave the way that would get my account permanently disabled. I mean, isn’t all an ad on Facebook trying to do is recruit and network with strangers. Aren’t these ads essentially a message being sent to thousands of strangers (or more) by someone on Facebook? They might not show up in the strangers message Inbox or as a friend invite, but they are messages posted on strangers Facebook page in the form of an advertisement. Ahh capitalism, whoever says you’ve left us?

So is the birthday book at a “cease and desist point”? No. It’s just more at a “we need to talk” point. I think I might have a new plan that just might work. For now I’ll need to rely on the kindness of friends who know strangers that might have been taught by my dad. Wish me luck! I sure hope it’s not considered abusive behavior to cut and paste a form messages to hundreds of my Facebook friends that grew up in your home town asking them to send the message to people they are friends with from my home town. In the immortal words of one princess to one desert roamer, “You’re my only hope.”

If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: time out, spam, new friends, Facebook ads, and you’re my only hope.