Don’t talk to strangers

In an odd coincidence, given my post about cell phone contents from yesterday, and my general boggling at the volume of content that “kids these days” produce, I got a first-hand look at how that happens last night. (Update: Amusingly, I just found this, too.)

From time to time people misuse two of my email addresses. I don’t think a lot of people understand that Gmail doesn’t recognize certain spacers, so sock.monkey@ goes to sockmonkey@. Also, people forget numbers and things, so what should have been sockmonkey2000@ ends up going to sockmonkey@. You get the idea. Well, sockmonkey@ is me, and fairly regularly I get signed up for online kids’ games and social networks, emails from teachers, emails from grandmas, and all manner of other stuff. I also get mobile-centric, like iMessages and people trying to FaceTime with me.

Most of the time it’s just mildly annoying. When I can, I get my address removed from accounts, or login and do it myself. I let teachers and grandmas know they have the wrong address, and I refuse FaceTime requests and ignore texts until the people clue in. Sometimes it’s worrisome, as teachers have sent me pictures of people’s kids, and pre-teens have tried to have texting conversations with me.

There’ve also been messages that I’m not entirely sure were actually from kids. It’s a tactic predators can use to crack open the door, so to speak. And some “kids” have said some rather odd and aggressive things. Blech.

So last evening when I was in class at krav, I got some texts. Good thing my ringer was turned off, because when I left and got out to my car, I discovered I had 135 texts — within less than an hour and a half. Needless to say I was a bit surprised. (I might get that many texts in six months, usually.)

Turns out a girl who’d been accidentally texting me for a few days (but who I thought had clued in and stopped), added me to a group chat with 13 other kids. And they were talking. A lot. Actually no, they weren’t. Most of the messages were emoji. A surprising number were from kids added to the chat, pretty annoyed, demanding to be left alone.

Note that all of these kids were added to the list by email address or phone number, and I could see all of them. And I’m pretty sure these kids weren’t even in high school yet. (I googled the girl who’d added me to the group a few days ago, and it was scary how much I could find and how easily.)

Things were reasonably quiet overnight, and I figured I’d just ignore it as I usually do, and it would go away. Except then they started up at 7am. I was not impressed. So I told them that they had the wrong email address and to stop texting me. I also pointed out that they’d sent all of their contact information to a total stranger.

Instead of taking that seriously, I got a bunch of replies like, “I’m not a stranger, I’m _____!” Yep, I had their emails and phone numbers, and now they were telling me their names.

Then the girl who added me to the group said, “That’s not a stranger, that’s my friend Gabs!” I replied that no, I was not “Gabs”, sockmonkey@ was not her email address, and that she should really be more careful. That apparently got through to her.

I got a flurry of, “OMG sorry!!!” and was asked to delete the messages. I replied that I had been deleting the messages for a week, and to remove me from the list. (Yeah, because deleting a message will fix everything.) Finally, the messages stopped. I kinda hope they were a tad freaked out when they got to school that day.

All told, over 200 messages in ~12 hours, and they weren’t even saying anything. And I would love to have a chat with their parents…

“We are the media.”

Hat tip to Amanda Palmer for the title (at least one of the most widely quoted versions).

I was reading this post, and was stopped dead in my tracks.

Not from the facts and realities of the case, with which I am more than well acquainted at this point. But with numbers. Numbers that illustrated, in spades, just how much I am not “the kids these days”, nor create/share media (especially mobilely) with anywhere near the prevalence they do.

Read the numbers below, and then ponder a moment the various implications of that much content, that much of their lives shareable with the whole world, pretty much instantly. Oh, and stored, edited, data mined…

According to ABC News, “[t]he contents of 13 cell phones were analyzed, which amounted to 396,270 text messages, 308,586 photos, 940 videos, 3,188 phone calls and 16,422 contacts.”

Or broken down a bit, per person/phone, on average:

texts: 30482.31
photos: 23737.38
videos: 72.31
calls: 245.23
contacts: 1263.23

And that doesn’t even say how long each person had had their phone. Or the contents that had previously been deleted and wasn’t recovered.

Given the aforementioned blog post, “pics or it didn’t happen”, indeed…

“Let them…”

While I’ve never managed to be a fan of her music, I do enjoy the art and adventures she gets up to, and really enjoyed Amanda Palmer’s recent TED talk. Which, I think, applies to communities well beyond the boundaries of evolving the music business.

Sockbeasts

Recently I was trying to remember when I made my first sockmonkey. I was home at my parents’ for a few days around Christmas, and I still have the result. His name is Jean Chaussette. But he’s not talking.

I don’t know if it’s been 10 years, but it’s getting close. Little wonder, then, that the last two seasons (I only work on them in winter) I have made fewer and fewer. I am not great at sewing, and have gotten about as good at making sockmonkeys as I’m going to get.

I’ve thought about making other animals before, and have seen and bookmarked instructions for dogs, octopi, and all kinds of other cute things. It was kind of just a matter of time before I cut up the socks a bit differently. This is the first result of my experimentation. The sockalope! (A gift for the proprietors of my favourite coffee shop, whose mascot is the jackalope.)

The next project is already in progress. 🙂

sockalope

A Calendar of Tales

One of the initiatives for the BlackBerry 10 launch (I started working there in May, as you’ll recall) was bringing on board three celebrity ambassadors to do various things with their crafts, involving a Z10 phone. While I am interested to see what Alicia Keys and Robert Rodriguez do, they are not my primary interest. However, my love of Neil Gaiman and his works is well known.

That love increased exponentially when he announced his project, A Calendar of Tales. He asked 12 questions on Twitter, one relating to each month of the year, and then wrote stories based on 12 selected tweeted responses. Alas, none of my responses were selected, but he did retweet my January response, which pretty much gave me an all-day nerdgasm.

That was part one, and the stories were published yesterday. Download the PDF for your reading pleasure.

The next part is art. Those who’ve been participating via Twitter, or anyone who reads the Tales, really, is invited to make art relating to one or some or all of the stories. Medium is up to you. Then 12 pieces — one per month — will be selected, and A Thing will be made. A calendar, a book… something.

Can’t wait. 🙂 Gotta say, this has been cool enough and community-creating enough to suspend my cynicism about (anyone’s) corporate marketing… for a bit.

A bird may love a fish…

Humanity is going to become extinct. Not, as you may suspect, due to environmental catastrophe, nuclear holocaust, or zombie apocalypse. No, our extinction will be the result of a species-wide inability to woo. And shallowness, apparently. Yep, we’re all doomed and it’s those whippersnappers’ fault.

Recently I read the article A Million First Dates, which filled me in on the fact that young people are growing into adulthood relationship-impaired. Basically, thanks to technology, young people don’t have to do much work to find partners (sexual or relationship), and so they don’t know how to communicate well, learn compromise, and generally commit to doing the work that long-term relationships require. Why push through the rough or boring times when there are Plenty of Fish in the online (pun intended) sea?

Additionally, according to The End of Courtship, apparently that same technology, combined with soulless hook-up culture, has left young people clueless about how to go about wooing and dating at all. Which hasn’t left anyone very happy (and has even spurred some backlash!) Apparently eventually you have to pursue something more than casual, meaningless (and often recreational substance-enhanced) sex.
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Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve made a few batches of these now, and someone asked for the recipe, so easiest just to write it up and link as needed. Hat tip to PJ at Nom Nom Treats for the original Paleo cookie recipe that this is based on. 🙂

Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

2¼ cups almond flour
½ cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
½ cup packed brown sugar OR ½ cup honey/maple syrup/agave nectar (if you’re making the recipe Paleo)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup chocolate chips (ideally dark/bittersweet) – that’s two-thirds, not two or three cups (no symbol for that, apparently)

Preheat oven to 325F/160C.

Mix all dry ingredients except sugar together. Mix all wet ingredients, including sugar, separately. Combine all ingredients.

These cookies will not spread/flatten when they bake, so form them to whatever shape/size you want them to be when they’re done. Space evenly on a greased/parchment-covered/Silpat-covered cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Recipe makes ~20 cookies.

So that’s how that went

I find some of my mildly obsessive tendencies come out on December 31st and January 1st. I ritualize little things, as if that will affect how one year ends and the next begins. Pink sweater or green? Latte or flat white? Meaningless, ultimately, but we humans do love our patterns and to try and convince ourselves that we have some control over our world. (I went with the pink sweater.)
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Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a little boy trying to climb a wrought iron fence, with his mother trying to haul him off of it by pulling on the long “tail” of his Winnie the Pooh backpack, which was really just a semi-disguised child harness. (It wasn’t working.)