Thursday, December 2, 2010

Things That Stick In My Craw - Parents With Heads In The Sand

It really saddens me when I go to give a talk about online safety for kids to parents and not one parent shows up. When talking with school personnel, it's mainly because some parents just don't care what their kids do online or they're afraid to find out what their kids are doing online.

The Internet is not going away, folks. Neither is cyberbullying or social networking sites like Facebook, or webcam sites like ooVoo, Skype, Tinychat and other sites kids and teens use like Formspring, Tumblr, Twitter, Myspace and Youtube.

Here's a clue for you parents: You need to know what your kids are doing online! If you say no to them getting a Facebook account because you don't have one, I can bet you they will open one up anyway. So meet in the middle and the two of you open your own accounts up and be your first mutual friends. If you don't want them to have an account because you feel they are too young for one yet, explain that to them and make a deal of some sort. Something like if they bring their grades up, do chores around the house, etc, you will consider letting them get an account. Technically, Facebook only allows kids 13 and older online, but because they don't make the kids verify their age or identity, many younger kids (some as young as 8, yes, 8) have Facebook accounts now.

You're the parent - act like one! As long as your child lives under your roof and you're paying for the Internet service and their cell phone, you have every right to see what they are doing online and on their cell phone. Make them give you the password to any accounts they have online, but don't be over vigilant and look over their shoulder or check their computer every time they log off. Give them some space, but do check once in a while to see what they're doing online.

As far as their cell phones, make sure they know they cannot delete any texts sent/received until you see them. If they do, then take the phone away from them or get monitoring software (I'll give you links in a minute).

Encourage your kids to come to YOU for help if they encounter something online or via their cell phone that makes them feel uncomfortable. Whether it's what turns out to be SPAM, a stranger trying to get them to reply or send them info/photos, or just someone trying to pick a fight, DO NOT freak out and make them feel like they are responsible for what they come to you with.

It is NOT their fault.

They did NOTHING wrong.

Show them you understand that and I can bet they will continue to come to you for help with anything else.

LISTEN to them and I mean REALLY listen.

If you don't understand what they're talking about, ask them to show you or explain it.

LEARN what they are doing online - ask them to show you how ooVoo, Tinychat, Formspring, or wherever they hang out, works.

Kids like to show off what they know - let them!

As far as Facebook goes, if you see a post or photo you don't approve of, don't tell at them and again, don't freak out. Suggest they change what they posted. If it's a photo, find a photo that's comparable but one you approve of and ask them to substitute with the one you like better.

It all comes down to meeting in the middle, folks.

As I wrote before, the Internet isn't going away anytime soon.

Learn to live with it. Learn what you're kids are doing online. And for heaven's sake, if your school or community offers you a FREE chance to have an expert like me come teach you how to keep your kids safer online, then make the time to come to the talk. We're not all a bunch of bores. And you just might learn something.

For info on monitoring/filtering software and more, go to:

WHO@-KTD Resources Page

Monday, September 6, 2010

Things That Stick in My Craw: Snooty People

I hate it when I go somewhere and someone thinks they are better than I am. Case in point: My sister and her husband came to visit last summer. We live in a touristy town, so we took her to the beach area where there are a lot of restaurants and bars. We know most of the owners of these places. We hit our fave sushi bar first for a drink, then went across the way to a new restaurant we'd heard raves about. It was up on the second floor of an old hotel that had been refurbished. As we walked up a beautiful set of wood stairs, we marveled at the wonderful work that had been done. We asked if we could sit out on the deck. No problem.

So we sat, laughed, talked and waited for a waiter. And waited. My hubby went to the outside bar and asked the bartender if we could get a waiter. We waited some more. The specials men, which was photocopied and nothing fancy, had my sister and I making paper airplanes and flying them off the deck. We giggled. We were having fun. The waiter finally came and took our drink orders. We asked for a menu. We had planned on having appetizers there, then dinner somewhere else.

The next thing we know another waiter came to our table with menus. We asked where our waiter was. We were told he asked to switch. My sister asked if she could smoke on the deck (it was outside). She was told she had to go downstairs and outside. Hmmmm. We waited some more for our drinks.

The hostess closed the sliding doors to the deck. I know we were not that loud. We *were* having fun and laughing. I didn't know that was against the law. She then kept looking out at us giving us dirty looks. There were hardly any tables inside with customers.

My sister and my hubby went downstairs to have a smoke. While they were down there, I heard my sister loudly say to someone how the smoke was coming right up on the deck, so why couldn't she smoke from up there? She had a point. Our drinks finally came, the waiter wouldn't even smile at my brother in law and me and I had had it. I admit, I went on a bit of a vocal rampage. I told the waiter I had never been treated so rudely, the place was pretentious and that we were not regular tourists - we lived here year round and I was going to make sure I told everyone I knew in town (and I know a lot of folks) how horrible this place was. I informed him we had planned on eating something, but I wouldn't touch the place again with a ten foot pole. He asked if I wanted to speak to the manager. I told him to forget it, give us our bill and we were leaving.

By the end of my tirade, my hubby and sister had returned and both knew it takes a lot to piss me off, so this was serious. I had my brother in law pay, because the waiter practically threw the bill on our table, then I stormed out of the place, my sister and hubby trailing behind, loudly saying I'd never come back to this restaurant again.

We ended up eating at a place next to the sushi restaurant and the owner there had no problem with us smoking outside. We told him what had happened and he told us he'd heard nothing but complaints about the restaurant we'd been in.

Why is it that some people assume they are better than you or me? I hate when people presume and point their nose in the air and act like they are better than me. You know what? You're not. You're a sad little person. At least I'm happy with what I have.

So there.

So, who has ticked you off?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Things That Stick In My Craw - Tourists

I know I live in a tourist town. For those that don't understand - we live near the beach in southern Maine and from Memorial Day through Labor Day it's tourist hell here.

My husband grumbles a lot, but most of his clients are tourists with summer places up here, so he tries not to complain too much.

Me, I'm complaining.

Yesterday, I was at the beach with my dog, resting in between runs. A car with Massachusetts plates pulls up. "We were going to ask you where (a certain restaurant) is, but we see it now," one of the four women in the car said.

I laughed and pointed at the restaurant, literally about 20 feet from us.

So, lady, why did you still pull over?

I hate it when I'm in the middle of running with my dog and someone flags me down for directions. I hate to be rude, so I always stop, but it gets me mad. The two of us get into this rhythm when we run and I hate breaking the stride when we get to that point. If I'm walking, it's different. Stop and ask me anything. If you see a person running, leave them alone.

If you realize you passed the road you were supposed to turn on, put on your blinker as you slow down so that you can safely turn around and go the right way. Do NOT do what some jerk did to me yesterday:

I was following my husband in my car to drop his truck off at the dealership for a tuneup and inspection sticker. A green truck with out of state plates in front of him suddenly turns left into a driveway. My husband blissfully continued on. As I drove by, this jerk, without even looking around, steps hard on the gas to back out of this driveway into the other lane and came thisclose to hitting my car. My heart was in my throat as I swerved and almost went up on the sidewalk and into a telephone pole. It happened so fast I didn't have time to hit the horn or yell at the idiot.

He drove off. I got myself back in my lane and caught up with my husband, but my heart was pounding. And I was mad.

Please don't turn around in our driveway. When you pull in, we think you're coming to visit us. There are plenty of public places to turn around in just down the street. And it's a pain if you're in our driveway and we're trying to pull in. One person actually gave me a dirty look as I impatiently waited for them to move out of my driveway.

If you bring your dog with you to our beaches, there are signs up and down that state they are not allowed on the beach from 8 am to 6 pm. This rule is for EVERYONE, not just locals. So, if we can't bring our dogs on the beach, that means you can't, either. I wish the police would ticket the idiots that still do this.

If you do bring your dog on the beach in the time they are allowed there, please keep your dog away from mine. She is on a leash for a reason - huskies love to run and run and run. She likes to play with smaller dogs. Big dogs scare her. So when your lab, retriever or german shepherd comes running up to us off leash, she goes into scared mode and lays down. This is not funny to me, even if you think it's funny. You're supposed to have voice control over your dog if they are off leash. I have yet to see that. Control your dog, folks!

When I travel and end up in a touristy town, I do everything I can to try to not look like a tourist. It's worked so far. I try to go to local places and blend in, sitting at the bar and talking with the locals, or just minding my own business. I've actually had tourists ask me where things were. That makes me chuckle. I do hate it when I see tourists who are loud, obnoxious, and rude. And I see that more often than not. I really hate seeing them when they come to my town. It's almost like they feel that because they are "paying good money" to stay here for a weekend or week, that us locals have to bow down to them and let them cut in line at the store or drive over the speed limit.

Speaking of, cops in my town love to ticket speeders. So year round we always watch our speed, especially on our road, which goes right to the beach. The speed limit starts at 35 mph when you turn on our road, then goes down to 25 mph. I can't tell you how many times I have a tourist behind me giving me the finger or honking their horn, or even passing me (over the solid line) because they think I' going too slow when I'm going maybe 28 mph. I love it when the cops pull someone over in front of my house. Revenge is sweet.

Just remember, folks, when you're on vacation, treat the locals with some respect, please.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Things That Stick In My Craw: Running and Dogs

We live near the beach. Every morning, unless it's pouring rain or sleet or blinding snow, I run to the beach with my Siberian Husky, Phoebe. She has a six foot leash, all her tags and I bring a "poop" bag, just in case.

So what sticks in my craw about this?

How about the people who take up the whole sidewalk when there is only one of them? Instead of moving to the left or right so that we can pass safely by them and not in the street, they firmly stick to the middle.

A few times I've encountered a group of schoolkids with their teachers. Phoebe and I politely cross the street and the teachers have actually yelled at me for being near the kids. Um, hello? It's a public street. I'm busy running. I don't care about your students. I care about my dog getting her ears or tail pulled by *your* students.

Sometimes I happen to run at the same time there is a marathon or road race in town. Don't tell us to move out of the way just because we're not in the race. Again, it's a public street. The race doesn't own it. I pay my taxes. As long as I'm not in the way, leave us alone, please.

People who let their dogs poop on the sidewalk and don't clean up after them, or do clean up and leave the little plastic bag. Are you serious?

Going to the beach at low tide, keeping Phoebe firmly on her leash, yet everyone else lets their dogs run wild. Of course those dogs come running over to "play" with Phoebe. She's a rescue dog. She's still skittish. Instead of controlling your dog and asking if it's all right for her to meet your dog, your dog is humping her, biting at her neck or scaring the daylights out of her. When Phoebe is backed up against my legs and almost in my arms, it's time to get your dog away from us. It's funny how the local law is that the leash has to be in hand at all times. Some dog owners think that means in their hands and not on the dog. One of these days I'm going to snap at these people to control their dog.

We usually run the length of the beach, then turn around and walk back the length to the street. If you see me running with my dog, don't ask if you can pet her while we're running. We're usually on a roll and in rhythm with each other. Phoebe loves to run. Let us do our thing and we'll stop by and let you pet her on our walk back.

I do like the people who ask if they can pet Phoebe. I don't like the ones who just reach out, especially people who have kids and the kids begin petting her all over. Please ask first. No, she doesn't bite or bark, but she may be skittish. I've worked hard to get her to where she is today, no longer afraid, and you could set her back.

I don't like people who tell me I should let Phoebe off leash and let her run free. For one thing, it's against the law (it's called a dog at large). For another, she's a Husky and she will run until she's worn out and may not come home. That's why she's on a leash at all times. That's why we have a big fenced-in yard.

And if you come to our house, please remember this is also Phoebe's house, which means you need to be aware to not leave a door open to the outside so that she can run away. I love my dog. She's beautiful and honestly, someone would just take her home if they saw her loose. I don't want to lose her.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Things That Stick In My Craw - Air Travel

These are the things that stick in my craw about air travel. . .

Airlines - get your frelling act together! Either charge everyone for everything or stop charging extra for what used to be free. US Airways, on the first leg of one of my flights, was charging for *everything* including water, coffee, tea, sodas, juice and pillows/blankets. So when I got on the next flight, I made sure I had a pre-purchased soda with me. Come to find out, the rest of my flights on US Airways provided FREE water, coffee, tea, sodas and juice, plus we got pretzels. And a pillow if we wanted one.

If you're going to charge the average Joe $25 for the first bag, then charge everyone. It got confusing when on one airline I had to pay, then the next I didn't. And if you're going to charge for checked bags, then make people pay if they have to gate check their bags. I almost checked one bag on a recent flight, but decided to carry it on. I had to gate check it. . .for free. WTF? So from now on, I'm carrying on and hoping they gate check it so that I don't have to pay the $25 to have it put in the same damned cargo hold. I mean, hello?

If you're stupid enough to miss your flight, for crissakes, don't take it out on the gate agent across the way. I experienced seeing a woman (who appeared to have been in the bar, if you get my drift) come across the airport to our gate to begin to berate the gate agent that she missed her flight because no one told her the gate changed. The gate agent patiently told this woman an announcement had been made several times. The woman burst into crocodile tears and asked who was going to tuck her children into bed that night and read to them? Then she said how could the gate agents have missed her red hair? The gate agent patiently told her that they don't know what passengers look like, so they wouldn't have been able to flag her down personally. Then the woman cried out, "Who will be with my babies (not children) tonight?" At this point, I called my husband, cracking up, and said next she'd claim she was pregnant and who would explain this to her fetus?

It ended up that three TSA agents and three local cops took this woman away. The rest of us in the gate area had been hoping the woman would start punching someone, but no such luck.

I really wish people would stop rushing up to the gate door when the flight is announced to be ready for boarding. It's like if they get on first, the flight will take off faster. Good lord, people, move away and let the people get on in the order they should be. If you're in Zone 4 and Zone 1 is boarding, move your fat asses. I hate it when I have to weave around people and they get mad at *me* if I bump into them when they're the ones in the darned way.

Next time I'm asked to change seats with a mom who wants to sit with her two kids, I will make sure my new seat is far, far away from them. I was nice enough to do this on a long flight from San Francisco to New Jersey and the boy was right behind me and proceeded to kick my seat for almost the entire flight. I don't care how sweet you think your child is, if they're rude enough to kick the seat in front of them, reach around the seat to grab that passenger (which this kid did and almost grabbed my breast), pull on the seat, put the tray up and down with force and generally can't behave, then you shouldn't be flying with them.

I say the airlines should have flights that are all families/all kids only and let people know when booking about this feature. If I knew I was going to be on a plane with kids, I'd opt for a different flight that was all adults.

That being said, when the flight attendants tell you to NOT use your cell phone in flight, DON'T DO IT. On that same long flight, I had two women in head scarves pull their cell phones out mid-flight and begin texting someone. I shit you not. I was on the window, I had the kid behind me driving me crazy and I knew that if I hit the call button, I'd probably lose it. So I ordered a small bottle of red wine, put my headphones on and listened to Keith Urban, very loudly, until I fell asleep for what little time I could before the kicking ensued again (besides hiding my boobs from that kid's grabby hands).

If you are sick and you can't change your travel plans, please keep a tissue or something over your face while your coughing, sneezing, wheezing and whatever else is coming up. I do not want to catch what you have. Thank god for Airborne. Ever since a friend told me about this years ago, my colds/flu have gone down significantly. I used to get sick *every* time I came home from a trip. Not any more.

If I'm in the middle or window seat and need to use the bathroom, don't get all grumpy on me and make it seem like I'm bothering you. Suck it up and let me pass.

If your bag is too big to fit in the overhead, don't have a conniption fit. You should have gate-checked it or just plain old checked it and paid the frelling $25, you dumbass. You're holding up the flight while you insist on trying to cram your dirty overstuffed undies in the overhead.

If I have earphones in my ears, that means I don't want to be bothered. Period. I don't care how much of a sweet old lady you are.

If you're airport personnel and you can't get the jetway to connect to the plane the first couple of times, please get us off the frelling plane when it's 1 am in the morning and we're all tired and just want to go home. My last flight ended at Manchester, NH airport where the airport personnel just couldn't get the jetway connected to the plane (it wouldn't budge). A half hour later, some idiot got the bright idea to roll some stairs to the plane so that we could get off. Geez, you think? All this time, three TSA officers were watching us through the windows, just as confused as we were (the TSA guys are in the terminal to the right of the jetway):

Now for a stumper - can anyone tell what's wrong with this photo? If you get it right, I'll be so darned proud of you:

Monday, February 1, 2010

Things That Stick In My Craw - Women's Clothing

Why can't sizing on women's clothing be the same? It's so darned confusing at times!

Underwear size is based on what? The underwear company's whim? If I wear size 6 underwear, the 6 is for what? Not the size of my hips, that's for sure.

Bra sizes. Good lord. You know it was a man who invented this whole deal. But at least it's based on the measurement around your chest. Cup size? A, B, C, D, etc. They should have measured that based on fruit size, like one of those commercials on TV. It would make it easier to figure out what cup size you are instead of having to guess, or worse, have a salesperson feel you up.

Dress sizes. They should be the same as your underwear size. I'm just saying. It would definitely make it easier to choose something. And why is it that "designer" sizes are different from department store sizes? When I lived in California, I was a size 6, which translated into a size 8 or 10 when I moved first to Okinawa, Japan (on a military base), then to the east coast. And who came up with size 0?

Why are there no inbetween sizes? I'm between and 8 and 10, so I'm technically a 9. A size 8 is just a bit tight and 10 is a bit loose. I get so darned frustrated trying to find anything that fits me!

And jeans! Don't get me going there. Why is it men's jeans are based on waist size, but women's are based on their dress size? At least base them on our hip size, which would make a lot more sense. And why do some size 8 jeans fit okay, but others don't? Why isn't there a size standard? Where are the jeans police when you need them?

Women's tops. If they're not numbered (like size 6, 8, 10, 12, etc) they're small, medium and large. Ugh. I'm big up top (yes, in the breast area), so I end up buying a large so that it fits properly. But if I buy sweatpants, shorts, etc, I'm a medium. Talk about confusing!

Socks. How in the frell can one sock fit sizes 4-10? Does the person with the smaller foot swim in them? Why can't they have *all* socks be something like 4-6, 6-8, 8-10, etc?

At least shoe sizes are based on the length of your foot and you can use a foot ruler to figure out what size. But then you have to decide what width. Medium is "normal." I have yet to see a small or large shoe size. And lord help you if you have a wide foot. You get a limited selection to choose from, unless you want to go to a specialty shoe store that has Wide shoes, at a higher price, of course.

Bathing suits. Why is it that they are always one or two sizes larger than your dress size? I already hate wearing a bathing suit, don't make me feel worse about myself.

I say we women need to stand up and tell the clothing and shoe manufacturers we're not gonna take it anymore and we want standardization in sizes, dammit!

What sticks in your craw about women's clothing?