Faceless on Facebook

August 2, 2010

Facebook has over 500 million active users.  On any given day, 50% of those active users log on to FB. The average user has 130 FB friends.  People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on FB.

These are the facts as stated on Facebook’s pressroom statistics page.

What the stats don’t tell you is how many of the average 130 friends have been blocked or hidden from view by the 500 million users.

I’m new to FB.  I have only 31 FB friends. In the five or six weeks that I’ve been a FB user, I’ve already blocked 5 of those people.  And this morning I blocked Barack Obama … don’t know how his post made it onto my page:  I specifically designated posts from “friends” only …

When I made my “friend” requests, I was thrilled that no one turned me down. Then a few weeks passed, and no one commented on my posts, which, BTW, were few, and had nothing to do with paint drying or what I had for breakfast. I tried asking a question to see if I could spur a response. I sent a few messages to my “friends” in response to their posts.  Still nothing.

Either I’ve been blocked or hidden by all of my “friends” or I am the dullest person on the face of the earth. But wait, I’ve read others’ posts … you really can watch paint dry.  Worse yet, people comment on the status of that paint drying.

I am beginning to accept the fact that I am invisible on FB.  Now if I could only break the habit of checking in every 15 minutes to see if anyone’s missed me …

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Chelsea Clinton’s Wedding: Who Cares?

July 31, 2010

It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood when Chelsea Clinton and her multi-million dollar wedding are the leading news headlines.

Estimates for the cost of the wedding range from $3 to $5 million.  Oprah, Streisand, and Ted Turner will be there, along with 400 of Chelsea’s closest friends. The FAA has issued a temporary no-fly zone around the Rhinebeck, New York area where the wedding will be held, stating “VIP movement” as the reason.  The bride’s gown will be either a Vera Wang or an Oscar de la Renta, a Clinton family favorite.

And that’s more than I want to know.  I imagine that many folks find the details of this over-the-top, fairytale wedding an escape from the worries of their everyday lives.  I don’t.  I get hung up on the burgeoning ranks of the unemployed, people without health insurance, the death toll in Afghanistan, all of which get in the way of my delighting in Chelsea’s oh-so-special day.

Obama on The View: LOL

July 26, 2010

No matter how you translate LOL – laugh out loud or lots of luck – both are appropriate for President Obama’s scheduled guest appearance on Thursday’s airing of The View.

Laugh out loud because it’s another politician playing celeb rather than going to work.  Perhaps President Obama thinks The View is a good place for him to expound on his ideas about the economy, the disaster in the Gulf, or the war in Afghanistan.  And maybe that’s so, but keep reading.

Lots of luck if you think the Prez will get a word in edgewise.  The last time I surfed past The View, Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd were all talking at the same time.

As usual, I won’t be tuning in, and I won’t make an exception to watch the first sitting President appear on a daytime talk show.

Barking Dogs, Dirt Bikes, and Other Annoyances

July 20, 2010

Just mention a neighbor’s barking dog and you’re sure to get a rise out of many people.  Unleash the dog and watch the dog-defenders come out of the woodwork.  Complain about their kid’s dirt bike and the gloves come off.

It’s been my experience that the supporters of annoying behavior are far more vocal than those who find the behavior irritating. Dog barking, noisy machines, loud music, dead cars in the front yard … when someone’s behavior disturbs or annoys another it seems that countless voices rise to defend the right to be annoying.

For all of you who suffer in silence, listen up.  Being a nuisance is not a privilege every U.S. citizen is entitled to.   A little consideration used to go a long way.  Now you have to go a long way to find a little consideration.  Being considerate was and still is a good quality. If you find the state where all the considerate people live, would you please email me?

Spying 2010

July 13, 2010

Say what you want about Anna Chapman, she’s definitely not James Bond-worthy.

She’s been called “femme fatale,”  “red hot,”  “stunning,” and “seductive.”  Even Joe Biden told Jay Leno that it was not his idea to send her back (to Russia) … there’s another good argument for keeping politicians off late-night talk shows.  She may be the first to carve celebrity status out of a crime against our nation.  I doubt she’ll be the last.

I imagine the old Russian joke that goes “how many spies does it take to mail a copy of USA Today” isn’t funny anymore.  Ten of theirs for four of ours speaks for itself.

Boz Scaggs is Still the Boss

July 8, 2010

Last night’s concert at Sovereign Performing Arts Center in Reading was more than I expected.  I’d read several reviews of the show, some of which mentioned his rather dry approach to presenting the material.  But the show was about the material, not the banter in between songs, and Boz delivered the classics and the blues all with amazing precision. The entire evening rated more than five stars in my book.

The opening act, David Jacobs-Strain, a blues slide guitarist, started the evening.  Much to my disbelief, the audience chatted loudly through his first four or five songs.  When the audience finally shut up, the singer and his guitar took control of the room.  I’ve never in my life heard a guitar play anyone quite that way.  The artist and the instrument truly were one, and the audience finally acknowledged the young man by actually listening to the performance.

Boz was Boz.  That incredible voice still in perfect tune.  At 66 Boz is still the commanding presence that he always was, delivering the goods in extraordinary vocals and skilled guitar work.

After 14 songs, I was just getting warmed up.  I could have listened all night.

Only In America

July 5, 2010

My faith in this country is restored after last night’s party at the White House.  Nowhere else in this world could you find a rock concert on the front lawn of the capitol building.  The view of Darius Rucker and Gladys Knight performing for thousands of people on the lawn of the WH was nothing less than exhilarating!   Happy 4th.

Annual 4th of July Celebration: A Shot in The Arm or A Shot In the Gut?

July 3, 2010

On Friday night, my husband and I went to a friend’s house for an impromptu cookout.  Nothing fancy, hamburgers, veggie dogs for the vegan teenagers, corn on the cob, and good conversation.  We covered topics from the oil disaster in the Gulf to the kids’ plans for the future.  It was a typical American cookout.

When we got home, I turned on the TV.  I surfed past President Obama and his wife – he in black tie and tails, she in an exclusive designer gown.  I stopped for a moment and watched Lioned Richie perform for the audience filled with politicians and other important people.  What I had stumbled upon was the Annual 4th of July Celebration at Ford’s Theatre.  About the third time the camera stopped on the President and his wife, I felt an uneasy gnawing in my stomach.

Was this TV special supposed to boost America’s spirits?  I looked at the movers and shakers in their formal wear and wondered if they were thinking about the oil gusher spewing 1.47 million gallons of oil into the Gulf Coast with no resolution in sight.  I wondered if this “celebration” made any of the nation’s unemployed workers (9.5% of the population) feel any better.

If the powers-that-be truly want to convince the American people that they are “in touch” with the population, I suggest they try a shorts-and-shirtsleeves barbecue in the backyard.

And Then I Got the Credit Card Bill

June 28, 2010

(If you’re new to the blog, read “It depends on how you define free” first)

The plot thickens, but not the hair …

I returned the unordered and unwanted package of hair goo to the company as they requested.  It cost over $13.00 to send it back to them with a delivery guarantee.  I thought I had heard the last of this California company.

Then I got the credit card bill.  They had charged me $98.00 for the “free stuff” and another $103 and some change for the shipment I had returned.  I was really steamed.

No one told me that I was going to be billed almost one hundred dollars for the hair products that I thought were free.  I understood that my credit card was to be credited for $98.00 for the stuff I returned (no refund on their shipping costs) and eventually they did issue a credit.

So I filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the FTC, the state Attorney General, and I contacted the credit card company.  It took several hours to do all this, and my time is worth something, but it was the principle of the thing.  I was out about $25.00 in shipping and I darn well was not going to  pay $100.00 for “free” products that didn’t rate as well as drug store products.

After several letters back and forth, the credit card took off the first charge and sent me a letter saying that if they received evidence that the company had acted within the law, they would put the charge back on.

Here’s the moral of the story: caveat emptor has taken on global and devious proportions.  Be very careful when you’re playing around on the internet, lest you find your mailbox full of stuff that costs ten times as much as it would in a brick and mortar store.

It Depends On How You Define Free

June 26, 2010

Now I know how Bill Clinton felt during his 1998 Grand Jury testimony on the Monica Lewinsky incident.  When asked if a statement he made to his attorney in which he said “there is absolutely no sex of any kind, manner, shape, or form” was true, Clinton’s response was “it depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

Like everybody else, I laughed when I heard it.  Then I recently responded to a pop-up on the internet that offered a “Free” sample of haircare products.  I usually ignore internet solicitations of any kind, manner, shape, or form, but that day I was having a particularly bad hair day .  I couldn’t refuse.

The offer said all I had to do was pay $4.95 for shipping and handling.  Cool, I thought, I’ll pay the freight.  I scanned the screen for any mention of “terms” … the fine print where you sign away your first born and you get super volumizing shampoo, conditioner, spray gel, and miracle restoration cream in return.  There was no mention of terms.  Usually when you’re signing away the heir to your fortune a new screen pops up where you have to click on “Agree,” but not this time.  I paid my $4.95 and waited for my magical goo to arrive in the mail.

About five days later the package was in my mailbox.

About two weeks later, another box from the same company arrived.  It appeared that the manufacturer had placed me on their “automated delivery” program.  I called the 800 number and was told that I had not returned the “free” products and had therefore “agreed” to receive and pay for automated shipments.  “How much is this stuff,” I asked.  “$98.00” said the call center rep.

After I stopped laughing, I told the rep that I had not agreed to any such purchase, that I had not clicked on an “Agree” button and for that matter, I was never “asked” if I agreed.  She fired back with a well-rehearsed speech about how their company has no “fine print” or “deceptive advertising practices.”  She said that the company does not give “free samples,” although the site clearly had a HUGE BRIGHT GREEN “FREE!” plastered front an center.  She then read to me a statement that claimed there were three places where their practices were clearly explained.

While I don’t doubt that somewhere, embedded in the HTML content of their web site was some explanation of what they expected from the suckers who jumped on the “free” stuff offer.  Maybe it was hidden under the GIANT “FREE!” that lured me to bite.