Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Online Privacy

So I've recently been made aware of individuals who criticize the extent to which I share information on my blogs and Facebook accounts. Apparently the main objection is oversharing in a public forum b/c its "online and everybody can see it".

And so I have had Online Privacy on my brain and in a lot of ways, I do think "Online Privacy" is an oxymoron. I live in a house. I use banks and ATM cards. I've owned credit cards in the past. I use utilities, cell phones and the internet in a post-9/11 America. Thanks to the Patriot Act I have no delusions that ANYTHING I do is actually, really truly private.

If I was REALLY worried about privacy I think I would have to live in a wooden shack I made myself with materials I smuggled to an undisclosed location that I definitely do not own in the middle of no where and rely strictly on cash and avoid any and all technology or paperwork. Then you MIGHT be able to keep Big Brother from tracking you. Maybe. Odds are you'd probably just get put on a watch list.

No, I don't think I need to go don a tinfoil hat or anything but I think anybody who lives in a house and uses credit cards and phone lines or the internet is deluding themselves if they think they have any REAL control over who reads their stuff.

I fully expect everything I post online is probably getting routed through some server somewhere where an algorithm reviews its content to check for something that could be threatening to the public safety and if flagged then probably gets reviewed by some poor analyst some where who attempts to determine if the threat is legit. Maybe I could be over stating the power of Big Brother, but I think I'd rather assume that he's watching and be wrong that assume he's not watching and be wrong again.

My father taught me when I was a kid to make absolutely sure I never put anything in writing I wouldn't want posted in the village square. And by and large I have taken that advice to heart. So as much as I do overshare with the world (I fully admit I am a blunt person prone to sharing more than some of my more conservative friends and family), believe it or not there is A LOT that I think and feel that doesn't get posted in a public forum.

Why? Most often its because it could be hurtful to certain individuals should they come across the post. And believe it or not I try very hard not to stomp on other peoples feelings. I don't always succeed but I do apologize when its made known to me that I screwed up.

Occasionally it has more to do with the opinion not being very PC and while I will take some liberties with political correctness, I do respect the internets ability to keep anything alive forever somewhere and I'd like to not completely toast my chances at landing a job should I need to go hunting for one in the future.

However, I would also like to point out that as much as I think its a joke to think that Big Brother is not watching, I do take advantage of Facebook's Privacy filter. B/c while Big Brother might be watching, I definitely don't want to make it easy for Joe Blow to stalk me online. In that way I do think its possible to have some small measure of "Online Privacy", if only from my fellow netizens.

I am very familiar with FB's privacy settings and have carefully reviewed all of them and use most of them. Probably 95% of what I post on FB is Friends Only. And while I've got a big friends list, only about 9 of those people I have not actually met in real life. I know some people "friend farm" and will friend anybody, but almost everybody I'm friends with on FB are people I know from high school, college, my mission or places I've lived.

So keep in mind, that while you might think I'm oversharing in my FB status updates - not just anybody can see it. In fact some of my status updates I limit to a much smaller list of close friends and family. I am aware that anybody could surf to my blog and see it and therefore try to be a bit more judicious in my posting of close personal information. I also don't post when I'm out of town online until I get back as an added security measure (unless of course Adam is still at home b/c then someone is still in my house so whats the diff?).

I don't allow FB access to my GPS on my phone. I don't check in at places 99% of the time b/c I don't want to paint a target that says "Hi I'm not at home right now, please go rob me".

So I'm more private than you might be aware, but if I share more than you are comfortable with I will state the following:

I'm a stay at home Mom. My poor husband is one of the only outlets to my ranting and I do in fact talk his ear off but its still not always enough to help me feel better. So FB is how I connect with my friends (quite a few of them are fellow stay at home Mom's) and we lend each other a sympathetic ear. It helps. A lot.

Also, as I stated when I first started this blog, I'm not blogging for fame or fortune, I am blogging as a therapeutic outlet, so this thing is going to read a lot like a journal.

Why don't I just buy a journal? B/c for some reason sending my thoughts out into the great cosmos of the internet is somehow infinitely more cathartic than putting it on paper and locking it away on a shelf somewhere. I don't know why, I just know that it is. And I do check my stats so I have no delusions that anybody is really reading this blog. I occasionally get a little spike on a post that I cross post to FB and then my stats go right back to dead. And I'm okay with that.

I just know if I write it down in a journal, A. I can't write fast enough, handwriting is annoying and SLOW to me. I've tried typing things up instead and while that helps the speed I'm still left with problem B: After I'm done, I don't feel 100% better. I still feel like I need to talk to somebody and process more. I have no idea why posting to a blog is so cathartic to me but it is.

So its oversharing on the internet or emotional constipation and emotional constipation breeds all sorts of problems for me and I refuse to do it any longer (I used to have SERIOUS problems in that area). So long story short, if you don't like it suck it up. If I hurt your feelings please tell me and we'll talk about it. If you think I'm jeopardizing my safety or the safety of my family, please talk to me b/c I'd like to understand and discuss your rationale.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gun Safety

I really need to rant right now. So I'm gonna do it here and just let my soap box rip until I get it all out and feel better. Fair warning I am 24 weeks pregnant and have a wicked case of the hor-moan-ies (think My Big Fat Greek Wedding) so this maybe more ... virulent than my usual ranting (yes its possible. I think).

Lemme give you some context. I saw THIS story in the news today:

If you're too lazy to click thru and read it (and really I can't blame you there) the gist is that a 5 year old who has his very own .22 caliber rifle, shot and killed his 2 year old little sister on accident. His parents left the gun down where he could get it b/c they thought it was unloaded.

A FIVE (5) YEAR OLD had a 22 caliber rifle. The rifle is made for kids. He's had it for over a year.

Ya know I can get my mind around the existance of a .22 rifle made and sold for kids. Its important to have a gun that you are comfortable using. Its safer that way. Maybe you really like to take your 8 year olds target shooting, or a really small 12 year old could use it.

But really WHO ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH thinks its a good idea to give a 4-5 year old a REAL gun?? Hell, I wouldn't let my kid have a bebe gun until he's AT LEAST 6 and probably closer to 8. Its a weapon. I'd like my kid to be old enough to have some judgement.

My father was a police officer. I have been raised around guns my whole life. I like guns. I'm a big fan of my 2nd Amendment rights but that story just blew my fricking mind. I had gun safety drilled into my little head from a very young age.

RULE #1: You NEVER, EVER point a gun at another living thing unless you intend to kill it. I don't care if its loaded or not. If you want to play cops and robbers, go get a plastic toy gun and go to town. Real guns ONLY get pointed at real bad guys.

I think that disturbs me the most - the fact that these people apparently let their kid PLAY with a REAL gun like it was a toy. A real gun is a weapon. It is a very dangerous tool. Like a chain saw. Chainsaws are very useful tools but you'd better make sure you know what you're doing and that you use it with the utmost respect at all times b/c the one time you don't it will kill you with out even trying.

They left the gun down where the kid could get it because "they thought it was unloaded". That blows my mind as well. Another rule my Dad GROUND into me was to ALWAYS assume a weapon is loaded unless you have personally verified that it is NOT. They assumed. They had to have. If you're going to be dumb enough to let your kid play with a real gun like it was a toy, I would assume you'd at least be religious in making sure to unload it after firing. And clearly they didn't teach their kid basic gun safety b/c he didn't check either because its a toy and its down low therefore it must be safe...

I see lots of different debates on how to keep guns in the home safely. Lots of people in favor of keeping the guns in one place with the ammo someplace completely different. Everything is locked up in safes and even has trigger locks on top of that.

I think thats just plain dumber than a box of rocks. If I ever have a gun safe its because I have so many guns I like to lock up the spares to keep them safe from robbers. Thats about all I think a gun safe is good for. My father raised us in a house full of guns and he kept them all loaded at all times (well, all the handguns are always loaded. The rifles usually have a loaded magazine there with them). And I think that was the safer option. And I'll explain why in a moment.

In my personal philosophy guns have 3 purposes. First and foremost, my gun exists to protect me and my family. Second thing guns are good for is hunting and the final is target shooting for fun and practice (so I can be prepared to protect my family).

If the bad guy is breaking into my house in the middle of the night, its going to be dark, I'm going to be scared. My adrenaline is going to be pumping and my hands are going to be shaking. I do not want to have to fiddle with keys and combinations, and go to multiple places and have to assemble and load my gun before I can use it to save my child's life. Thats asking for it. An unloaded gun is worthless.

I also think an unloaded gun is more dangerous to your kids and here's why: Kids think an unloaded gun is safe. If you make a habit of leaving them unloaded, then its something safe to touch and look at and the one time its NOT unloaded you have a horrible accident. I knew every gun my father owns is loaded. Why? Because its a weapon and needs to be prepared to shoot the bad guy at any moment. That means I NEVER EVER touched one when I was little.

I was taught from the time I was small enough to remember that if I managed to find one of Daddy's guns I should not touch it and run and tell Mom or Dad that I found it. Then they would move it. Dad is a smidgen paranoid as a result of his profession so he keeps them strategically stashed around the house.

This was gospel doctrine as far as I was concerned. You don't run out in the street. You don't poke things in the electric outlets. You don't touch Mommy's knives in the kitchen and you do NOT touch Daddy's guns.

I'd watched him clean them and he would point out the parts and show me how it was put together so it wasn't mysterious or anything but I understood that if I touched it me or somebody else could get bad, bad owies. And he would teach me how to use it when I was bigger.

I remember the very first time I ever touched one. I had managed to find one on accident (because kids get into EVERYTHING) and went and told Dad, I was probably 5 at the time. And he shocked the life out of me by telling me to bring the gun to him. I was like, "Say what???" And he told me to pick it up by the handle, keep it pointed directly at the floor and bring it to him. It was maybe 20 feet. I remember being absolutely shocked by how heavy it was. lol.

And he did keep his promise to teach me how to use them when I got older. In fact, he made sure my mom, sister and I were trained to use every single weapon he had because a weapon you don't know how to use, you can't protect yourself with. We started off with my cousins bebe gun when I was a kid and moved up slowly to larger rifles and hand guns as I was big enough and strong enough to safely use them. Good gun safety was an absolute must if you wanted to be allowed to touch the guns. They were great fun but they were deadly serious.

We were taught you never, ever point a gun at a person you don't want to kill, loaded or not. Because even if its not loaded, you don't want to get in the habit of pointing them at people because you're leaving yourself open for an accident. It only takes once.

Unless you are aiming at a target you keep that gun pointed at the ground at all times. If its set on a table, the muzzle is pointed away from people. I'd sooner drive with my eyes closed than wave around a gun, loaded or not.

You never even put your finger inside the trigger guard unless you are aimed and ready to fire at your target. There are more rules but I will stop there.

And every single time we went shooting, we'd gather the guns that were going with us. Then was the ritual of unloading of the good ammo. Dad keeps really expensive ammo loaded in the guns for defense purposes.

Hollow points are my preferred bullet for defense because the problem with a regular bullet is it can go through the bad guy, through the wall, and hit the innocent person in the next room. This is bad. Hollow points hit the bad guy or the wall and thats where they stop. They do lots and lots of damage to the bad guy b/c they fully transfer all of their kinetic energy to your target. But they're expensive so we always switched out for cheaper rounds for practice.

Then we'd go shooting. And that was so much fun. I'm very proud of my ability to blow the heck out of the center of the target. And I definitely feel safer and more confident knowing that I can defend myself if I had to. Occasionally growing up we'd get people who resented a bunch of girls intruding into their Man Territory at the gun range. They'd shut up once they saw us shoot tho... ;)

Then when we came home was the ritual cleaning of the guns and then reloading with the expensive ammo and replacing them in their various homes.

We never once had trigger locks or gun safes and we were safe growing up because my Dad taught us excellent weapons safety rules as was appropriate for our age and abilities.