Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Please fasten your seatbelts, We have started our descent.

Today, my youngest was awarded his driver's license. I expect that this was a much bigger event for him that it was for me. Hard to tell though, he plays it pretty cool. Not at all like his older sister. She gave the impression that getting her license was really the only, final thing, that forced her to have any extended interactions with her parents. As if, not having her own license was akin to that little drawstring bag that dog owners have dangling from their waist that contains bone shaped treats. The only reason their doting, prized yorkie pays any attention to their requests. Our ability to modulate her activities by controlling her transportation was, in her mind, the last step before parole and complete freedom.

You might have not even realized that our son's 16th birthday and the freedom it afforded was approaching. Of course there was the shift in the driving routines. Instead of either my wife or I driving and our son riding in the back seat, it got a little bit more complicated. At first it was business as usual if we were taking the freeway, but if it only involved city driving, then one of us would sit in the back, and he would get to drive. It seemed that even if the freeway would have been the best route, city street driving was chosen. So consequently, all trips got much longer.

Then, as his quiver of skills developed to include freeway driving, and then evening driving, it became more natural and it was more like we had 3 drivers in the house. Other then did certain pecking hierarchies between my wife and I that were previously understood, but heretofore never spoken, were brought to out in the open. This all resulted in a rule that particular one of us would never be the one who sits shotgun while the other rides in the back seat when our newest "driver under supervision" was at the wheel. This made for some awkward moments when boarding the car, but I am sure that it probably allowed for us to remain married.

So, now we are no longer required in order for him to get to school, to practice, to friends houses, to volunteering, to pick up something needed at the store. Other than being the source of the fuel in the vehicle and a check for a scheduling conflict, we are no longer part of that aspect of dependency.

That's actually the thing. Our son is a little bit less dependent on us to conduct his life than he was just yesterday. That is an incredibly wonderful thing for him, even if he is not letting on that he gets it. It really is. At the same time, it is also a bit more freedom for us, the previous chauffeurs. Our son's activities no longer requires an interruption of our activities in order to deliver him there, or pick him up. Now that we're there, I expect I'll miss that opportunity for discussions, arguments, laughing, or just listening to music (or whatever it is that he listens to).

Time will tell how much less interaction we will have between now and when he leaves for college in a couple years. But there is no denying that this is a major milestone in this trip.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Why do you post what other people ask you to?

Note to friends.

Sometimes, a Facebook message, E-Mail, comment or other, suggests that you type something into your status or comments. That may not always be a great thing to do.

Right now, there is a popular Facebook image going around suggesting that you type in the '@' symbol, some other symbols, and some combination of numbers from your cell phone. What happens is that Facebook ends up replacing it with some other words, usually a person's name.

Here's why this is not a good thing to do:
1) You are typing something into Facebook (known for their high regard for your privacy) that you have know idea what it will do. In this case, it is fairly innocuous. It simply is interpreted by Facebook as a macro to replace with the title of a page it knows about. I could give you a special number to type in there and it would replace it (for all of your friends to see) with the title of the page "I am Gay". Sure, no harm. But, you had no idea what it would replace it with that. What if it was the title of a page that was very offensive to you or your friends. What if it replaced it with your Facebook password. Or it randomly picked a photo that you had deleted in the past that you didn't want shown. The point is, as soon as you type something into Facebook that you are not sure what it does, you are at risk of something happening of which you have no idea.

2) Sometimes, even things that look safe, can give away a little bit about you that you don't want to give away. In this case, you might have just put in the last three digits of your phone number, and it converts it into words. Someone could easily convert those words back into part of your phone number. With that, and other information about you in Facebook, it would be simple to figure out the entire phone number. Maybe not a big deal, but that is probably more information than you planned, or realized you were giving out.

So, before you type something into your status that a friend, acquaintance, or stranger tells you to. Stop. Think about it. Do you know exactly what it is going to do? Are you prepared to share your decision to do that with all of your friends?

Finally, notice that I am NOT asking all of my Facebook friends to put this in their status.