Category Archives: Family

Social Intelligence and Stubenville

So, just a quick time out from my usual techie posts to ramble for a bit. The Internet has gotten huge these days and once the information is out there it’s almost impossible to put the horses back in the barn. Case in point and what people are talking about right now is the verdict that just came down in the Steubenville, Ohio rape case.

Judge Thomas Lipps issued a cautionary note to children and parents, urging them to reconsider “how you record things on the social media so prevalent today.”

In today’s world where twitter feeds are archived by third parties and people who know people post their own messages of support, no matter how well intentioned, things will never be kept secret and this girl now has to live with the repercussions of what happened to her, no chance to put it behind her, unlikely that she can keep any sort of privacy.

In my own life, I really try to keep my Internet persona and my real name as separate as possible. People who know me or that I want to reach out to know my alter ego, but hopefully a random google search of my name or a couple of key facts about me don’t lead to a huge Internet trail of photos, tweets, and posting made two or three years in the past (personally, I’ve found a couple of my old posts from 15 years ago still out there).

So back to Steubenville. I read an article in the news, and quite frankly was a bit skeptical. So as I sat there on my tablet, I did a quick google search. That popped up a little more info, which then led to a little more. Long story short, within the space of about 10 minutes I knew real names, friends, random posts showed up two or three years old, even pictures of the victim from happier times. I was stunned at how much was out there. Even with all her online accounts closed, the wealth of information that is indelibly marked out there is heart breaking. Bad things happen to good people and sometimes being paranoid about protecting your name isn’t just being paranoid. Taking these lessons to heart, rules for my kids using social media:

  1. Never use your real name as your twitter handle
  2. Never use your real name on Facebook
  3. If you post or blog about your friends or family, use first names or code names only (one friend posts about her daughter as PT…. Pink Tornado)
  4. No “Internet only” friends, you should have already met people that you friend online
  5. If people tag you in photos with your real name, ask them to retag you with your more anonymous Internet handle. People who know you will still enjoy the pic, but random strangers won’t
  6. Be paranoid, always.

In today’s connected world where posts, pics and even thanks to apps like foursquare, your location can easily be tracked, I think the it takes the whole “stranger-danger” lessons from when I was a kid to a whole new level for the next generation.

The Work-Life Balance Myth

So I was spending a few minutes researching some other stuff and this article caught my eye:

Amy Wrzesniewski is a professor at Yale who studies work patterns, and has identified what she calls “orientations,” or psychological motivations, toward work. They are three: Job (money), career(advancement, power, prestige), and calling (meaning, purpose and fulfillment). Not surprisingly, individuals with a calling orientation tend to have higher life and job satisfaction and miss fewer days of work, she found in her research.

Why? When your job is a calling – and if you are lucky, you are in such a job now or remember when you were – time flies by. There are times you don’t want to go home. The best part of the “work-life” balance equation is the work.

Basically what this boils down to is, “Do what you love, love what you do.”  When I was teaching at the local community college, I always told my students that my goal was to never work a day in my life.  Not that I would quit my job of course, but that as Confucius put it: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I think that I am fortunate in that I really do enjoy working with technology.  I spend my free-time setting up test servers in my home office.  Before I got married my dining room table held an entire server farm.  I always want to know about the latest technology and find myself attending SharePoint Saturdays and SoCal Code Camp on the weekends.

This even creeps into my hiring decisions.  One of my standard questions as a hiring manager is, “How did you first get into computers?”  Their answer and their attitude are one of my main factors in deciding between two qualified candidates.  Hint: saying you got into computers because you heard it was a good money is not the right answer!

Saving Money and the Environment By Washing Dishes

Washing dishes is a chore, sometimes they pile up.  But eventually they get done. As with any modern family, washing the dishes at our house means getting the scraps into the compost bowl and placing them into the dishwasher. Not that hard.  I tell myself that for every load of dishes we wash we’re saving about $20. It’s not a precise calculation, but here’s the rationale:

I typically think in terms of opportunity code.  We spend around $40 every time we go out to eat as a family. I guesstimate that we spend about $10 to $15 on groceries when we cook a meal at home. Add to that another $3 to $5 for water, electricity and dishwasher detergent. If you’re an accountant, you can factor in depreciation of the plates, silverware and dishwasher itself, but I prefer to keep things simple. So basically, we spend $20 for a meal at home instead of $40 at a restaurant. Voila – $20 savings.

Consider how this example can play out over a year’s time. We run the dishwasher four to five times per week.  Extrapolating out, that means we’re saving $80 a week by washing dishes at home. Multiply that by 52 weeks in a year. That’s a savings of $4,160 over the course of year.

Economics of running the dishwasher:

$20 savings per load versus not dining out
$80 saved per week at 4 loads per week
x 52 weeks
$4,160 potential savings per year

The takeaway: If your family hates doing dishes as much as ours, calculate the opportunity cost of the alternative – dining out. Once you have convinced yourself that washing dishes at home more often is better than dining out, it will give you the will to step up and wash dishes a little more frequently. That goes a long way in boosting your credibility when you assign the task to others in the household.

My Daughter’s Adventurous Spirit

There is a timely post over at Discovering Dad called “Do It Because I Said So!”

Timely, because I find myself guilty of using the “because I said so” to the questions of “Why?”. Oh, I try to explain it, but after about the fifth or sixth why, I fall back on the old standby, maybe it’s because I can’t stand up to my daughter’s superpower, the mind bending power of 4 year old logic.

We have trees in our backyard. Beautiful plum and fig and apple trees. They make for excellent climbing, and she often uses them for these purposes. As I used to climb trees as a kid, I let her indulge herself for about 5 or 6 feet before I start to get the nervous pit in my stomach and then out comes parental mode!

  • ME: Don’t climb any higher please <parental concern>
  • HER: Why?
  • ME: I don’t want you to fall. <describe consequences of actions>
  • HER: It’s ok daddy, I won’t fall!
  • ME: You might climb too high and the break a branch. <property damage>
  • HER: I’ll be careful
  • ME: If you fall, you’ll hurt yourself <personal harm to herself>
  • HER: I’m not going to fall daddy!
  • ME: The tree won’t be able to support you if you go higher <limiting factor>
  • HER: I can see really far!
  • ME: OK honey, time to come down now. <ending the activity>
  • HER: Why?
  • ME: Because I said so. <Doh!>

So, looks like I’m off to the library to go check out the book Mike recommends on his site:

How to Work a Room, Revised Edition: Your Essential Guide to Savvy Socializing
by Susan Roane

Read more about this title…