Friday, April 29, 2011

Social Guard

I am really hungry but have to write about this first.

I was stumbling around the internet this morning, bumping into some Mean Girls/Harry Potter tumblrs when an ad caught my eye on the side of the page.

It was a fake Facebook post (it said "advertisement" at the top, so people won't get confused and try to "like" it or something) that had a girl saying

Some Girl: Can't wait for tonight! Party at my house and it's going to be aMaZiNg!
Bitchy Girl:  No one wants to go to your loser party!
Some Dude: Sounds great, what is your address please?

And then next to the two posts this X pops up and says BLOCKED or something dramatic. The fake profile melts away to present what the ad is selling: Zone Alarm Social Guard.

This is a program designed to recognize key words and phrases to block cyber bullies and potential stalkers. Bitchy girl was a cyber bully and using the word "loser" flagged her, and that dude is probably a 43 year old because he asked for her address. Right?  They couldn't possibly be being sarcastic or just need her address. While I do fully understand cyber bullying and it's new prevalence and severity, I still don't know if I like the idea of this product.

The website says "SocialGuard scans millions of records using a unique algorithm to determine threats and sends warnings to you the minute they happen, not just once a day like the competition."
This program sends parents alerts at the tiniest sign of trouble. Woah. That's like if you got emailed every time your kid was picked last for softball or ignored at the lunch table. These things happen.
I believe that the answer to bullying is to start at the child; to promote tolerance and compassion and help kids see that they can bond together because this happens to everyone.  This is not always a parent's battle, and although you want to do anything you can to protect your child, I do not believe that being an internet helicopter is going to do any good.

Alerts you to alarming words used in private messages, status updates, and wall postings.
Alerts you when someone who may be a stranger is trying to interact with your kid on Facebook. 
Age Concerns
Flags friends that are much older than they claim to be; someone who may be pretending to be a kid. 
Dangerous Links
Catches dangerous links sent in private messages, status updates, and wall posts. Prevents viral attacks and data theft. (this thing checks private messages. hm)

Rules for being on the internet:
  1. Don't "friend" anyone you do not personally know. Even if you have friends in common. Meet them in person first.
  2. If your child is too young to be on Facebook, don't let them on Facebook.
  3. I can't think of any more, I'm too hungry.
I am getting all confused in my opinions. This thing really threw me off guard.
I hate bullies, and of course I hate internet predators, but this SocialGuard seems so...
I don't know.

What do you think?

Monday, April 25, 2011

a brief glimpse into the mind of a crazy person

Sorry about the brief hiatus. If anyone noticed. Today is the last day of classes, so of course this past week or so has been hellish.

I have had a few ideas for posts but haven't had the time to write anything that didn't involve the words "independent variable" or "arbitrary matching to sample."  So here are a few mini-posts. Let's call them vignettes.

25 April: 
This weekend was Easter weekend, which unfortunately got overshadowed by the sheer magnitude of work I had to do for Happiness class and Conditioning and Learning. On the brighter side, I was able to spend a good part of Saturday enjoying friends, hot dogs, sunshine and pool floaties.
this is not me. but I DO really want that floating fruit table.
On the redder side, this left most of my upper body sunburnt and angry.  I sat at my computer for hours gulping down ice water to counteract the heat emanating from my body and my overworked computer, to no avail.

When I finally went to sleep, I considered throwing my down blanket on the floor, but decided against it. (Our floor is really gross.) Instead I went to sleep in my sports bra and shorts (let me know if this is too much information).

Soon after closing my eyes, I heard a strange scratching sound coming from my ceiling, right around the overhead light.
...and my imagination ran away with itself....

(WARNING: the following is not factual, but a brief glimpse into the mind of a crazy person)

I open my eyes and look up to see thousands if not millions of fat angry cockroaches pouring out of the hole where the light used to be, coating the ceiling as they crawl out of their hiding place toward each wall. I see this, and calmly hop out of my bed, potentially spraining my ankle as I land clumsily on the small rug beside my bed.

I don't think to grab anything as I race to the door, calling to Marca who is finishing watching Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (it is Easter, after all). I slam the door shut behind me and try to coax her off the couch and downstairs where it is safe. She doesn't believe me at first, until the hoard begins crawling from under the door and oozing across the floor.
We bolt down the stairs and outside, where it is safe.

Who do we call? What do we do? Can I ever touch my stuff again?

As things calm down, I realize I am outside wearing just shorts and a sports bra.
And I realize, I am OK with it.

And that is the moral of the story.

Welcome to my brain.

from right: Tory Belleci, Kari Byron, and Grant "Third Wheel" Imahara

Jake and I were watching Mythbusters a few weeks ago when I wistfully stated something to the effect of "I wish Kari's baby had been Tory's. I want them to be together." There was talk of whether this exists on the world wide web in the form of fan fiction, and it probably does. But alas, I have been too busy to research further. 
Jake suggested that I write some, and I said something like "haha sure" which really means "that's funny, but I probably won't. Also DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO."  As I was falling asleep the other night a few lines came to me, and I will post them for you. But that's as far as it's gonna go. 

"Kari," Tory began, "I love the way you spell your name weird and how your nose squinches up all cute when you use a sledge hammer to destroy a car," she blushed, "but we can't let the world know about us.  They're just not ready. We're just not ready." She opened her mouth as if too argue, but he continued, "I'm too reckless, you're too refined. You're an artist! Plus, Grant will be outed as a third wheel-" 
She silenced him with a passionate embrace. He was almost thrown off-balance by the surprise. She pulled back, looked into his eyes and said, "I'm pregnant."

In reality she married some artist with a mustache. Puh.
And that is all you are getting. I feel ridiculous. And hardcore nerdy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mob mentality

It's pretty clear I am avoiding writing a paper. Technically, I am avoiding researching for a research paper. Which is dumb because that may be the easiest part. This is my third research paper in three weeks, and I have a rhythm down. I just don't feel like being in the rhythm right now. So I am listening to Alexi Murdoch and Brother and Freelance Whales and allowing myself to get distracted.

Now a little story.

I came back from my extra long meeting (planning next year for CSA) and sat down to my computer, resigning myself to actually do work. If I get down the research on paper, take a few pages of notes, and do the bibliography, all I have to do is write 7-9 pages tomorrow! Cake. 

I checked my email and this was the only new message:
(that's not sad, it means I am on top of things. For now.)

(Important: This is not exaggerated, but copied straight from my inbox.)
Sender: Lauren R*****
Subject: REMINDER: Meeting today
Hey Guys!
This is just a reminder about our meeting today at 5pm at Stern Center Gardens. Look forward to seeing you there!   -Lauren

Um. What.

  • I have no idea who this girl is. Luckily, she has a really distinctive name like Lauren, so I can narrow it down to 500 girls at this school. And 5 or 6 dudes.
  • I have NO IDEA what club or organization this is for, and she doesn't bother to say.
  • I had Mass at 5, so I couldn't go anyway.
Then I started to think what if this wasn't my fault? What if this is a brilliant ploy to create an "accidental" flash mob?

Picture it: This email goes out to everyone on campus. It's bland enough to apply to anyone, any group, any meeting. In the rush of exams, group projects and final papers, everyone is forgetting things and shirking responsibilities. A student receives this email and thinks "oh no! I forgot. I can't tell what this is for, but I should head over to see what it's about just in case."
When hundreds of people think the same way, you have droves of semi-curious anxious students wandering around Stern Center with a look that asks "did I leave my keys over here?" and BAM. You've got yourself a flash mob of unintentional flash-mobbers.

Or is it flash-mobsters?

EDIT: It was not a flash mob, it was for some honor society thing. If I had bothered to search my inbox for her name I would have found that out. But congrats to my friend Aaron on being president!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I scream, you scream!

Yesterday was FREE CONE DAY at Ben and Jerry's.  Also know as "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," "The Happiest Day All Year," "Best Day Ever" or "Ice Cream Gorge-fest 2011."  I may have gone a bit overboard in my excitement this year.

I have partaken in Free Cone Day quite a few times in the past five years, but not until college did I realize that I had the ability, nay, the talent required to finagle more than one.

Freshman year I went after lunch and then returned (gasp!) after dinner. Two in one day. I felt guilty. I worried that the scooper would recognize me from earlier, but luckily she didn't say anything.

Last year, I was a bit more ambitious. I went early with a friend, ate my free cone outside the shop and immediately reentered the line, this time putting my hair up and pulling on my sweater.
They were fooled. I felt unstoppable. Like many other times in my life, I thought to myself: wow, I could totally be a spy
I walked back to campus, fresh from my double-ice-cream-invincibility high. As i passed a friend, I told them of the good news:
Me: It's Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry's!
Friend: No way! Let's go!
Me:  Alright!
 This happened two more times, and I ended the day having consumed FIVE free ice cream cones.

When this year's FCD rolled around, I had one goal:
beat last year's total.
However, these are not the carefree days of freshman year or the relatively unburdened days of sophomore year. I have worse classes, more obligations and more work. This year, I knew I had to eat six cones, and I knew that I had to do it in two hours. My classes ended at 1:30, and I had to get to work at 4:30, which (with walking times accounted for) gave me between 2 and 4 to wait in line for and consume six free cones. 


I would like to thank Ben and Jerry's for creating this wonderful event, Michael and Shane for partaking in the first cone of the day, and Jake for sticking with me for two hours, helping me keep pace and giving me someone with whom to share the horrible experience of Jimmy Fallon's new ice cream flavor. 

Here were the flavors in the order I ate them (I did repeat once):
  1. Phish Food- chocolate ice cream with fudge fish swimming in marshmallow and caramel swirls
  2. Mango Mango sorbet- deliciousness, and a nice alternative to cleanse the palate
  3. Chocolate chip Cookie Dough- classic
  4. Late Night Snack- Jimmy Fallon's flavor- vanilla ice cream with a salty caramel swirl and chocolate covered potato chip clusters. Like biting into a chocolate covered salt-lick.
  5. Mango mango (again)- I needed to recover from the salt-lick.
  6. Americone Dream- ending the day with a favorite. Stephen Colbert's flavor- vanilla ice cream with a caramel swirl and chocolate covered waffle cone pieces.

Monday, April 11, 2011

we have popcorn at home

My online movie services are harrassing me. So I did something about it. That's right! I stood up to the bullies.

A few weeks ago, my friends and I meandered over to the Blockbuster on East Bay and reveled in the glory of three dollar DVDs and close-out candy.  Like almost every other Blockbuster, this store is being liquidated. Is that the right word? I don't care. It's closing and EVERYTHING MUST GO. Including the gumball machine. True story.

So we perused the stacks of discs for what seemed like hours, found a few keepers and proceeded to check out. I got distracted by the discount candy and popcorn (did you know Orville Redenbacher makes "Spicy Nacho" popcorn? I wish I didn't.) and became fixated by the popcorn that comes in its own bucket (just like at the movies!).  The kind I always begged my mom for and never got because "we have popcorn at home." Exactly. Boring popcorn. Popcorn that comes in a bag. How blasé

So I bought it. And it was the perfect size to store my new movies in! When I approached the check-out counter, the man working there informed me that if I signed up for a Blockbuster online that I would get some fantastic percentage off my final purchase. And of course I agreed. It was free and would get me extra movies for a month! And that's how I signed up for Blockbuster in addition to my well-used Netflix account and bought three movies and a bucket of popcorn for $6.

End of story? Not quite.

Apparently signing up for this Blockbuster thing was not enough. It wants attention. It wants love. But sadly for Buster, I already have a movie love, and that is Netflix. So Buster got jealous. It seethed as I spent hours enjoying movies and TV online and cursed as I basked in the new excitement of connecting the x-box to this wonderful online service. Eventually Buster grew tired of expecting me to notice how mad it was and started trying to remind me it was there.

Email from: BLOCKBUSTER online: Your queue is low- add new titles. Now. 

Buster was angry. And hurt. I ignored it again.
A movie came in the mail. I forgot about it. Eventually I watched it and sent it back. Another came. I forgot again.

So what did I do? I deleted it for good today, and turned my attention fully to Netflix once again. I feel guilty for treating Blockbuster the way I did, but the truth is it deserved better. And I just don't have the devotion or attention to give.

And Netflix welcomed me back with open arms. It knows what I like:
"British Comedies with Strong Female Leads" or "Emotional Father-Son Comedies" or "Witty Workplace Sitcoms" or "Cerebral British Period Pieces."
It gets me.

And I am happy.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Resume writing is hard.

I am not as adept at talking about myself as I thought I'd be.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Hipster on the Roof: Tradition- you've probably never heard of it.

I overheard an interesting conversation in my Happiness class today, which is pretty unsurprising because there are some pretty interesting people in that class. Like not-really-my-freshman-roommate-girl, Dizzy Teddy and Brah-ms, the girl with the loudest snacks ever, and MetalSlayer guy, to name a few.

Add to this list Red-headed Hipster Guy and Hipster Girl with Immaculate Make-up. These two always sit together, but from my amazing abilities of eavesdropping I have deduced that they do not know each other from outside of class and are not friends. I assume they just gravitated towards the only other person in the room besides themselves dressed head-to-toe in Urban Outfitters.

This hat is $34
She looks like her make-up is professionally done everyday. At first, it was off-putting. (She wears lipstick! Who wears lipstick anymore? She might as well be wearing pantyhose). But now, I am transfixed by the effort she puts into her appearance. Her boots are perfectly scuffed, her clothes look like she just threw them on- which usually means they took serious thought and money- and  her hair is perfect. Immaculate.

He is equally purposefully-unkempt, with longish red hair sticking out of an ironic "vintage" flat-brimmed baseball cap. He too has scuffed boots and effortless style.

For how outwardly interesting these two are, you would think their conversations are equally stimulating. Alas, it is not so. This is what I heard today:

Girl: So, how was your weekend?
Guy: It was...pretty good, you know. Something actually happened to me that has never happened to me before.
(my interest is piqued)
Girl: Oh, really. Cool.
(she shows a natural curiosity.)
Guy: Yeah. The other night, I was on a rooftop. And...I saw another person on a rooftop...
... Which is weird, because not that many people do that. You know? It wasn't like, some air conditioning repairman. It was another dude sitting on a rooftop, like I was. It was weird.
Girl. Huh. Yeah.

Yup. Welcome to your future, America.

As I was leaving, I walked past him and his group talking about their research project: Marijuana and Happiness. Hm.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"Did you know that there are four hundred and fifty-two official government cheeses in this country?"

I am sitting at my desk waiting to leave for Middle School Youth Group, watching an older episode of Parks and Rec, drinking an IBC cream soda, and eating brie and french bread. What a nice Saturday afternoon.

I don't have much to report on besides my recent infatuation with French cheeses.  Last Friday the girls went out to eat at a little place called Fast and French on Broad St. Since it was Friday, I couldn't eat meat so I ate vegetarian escargot instead. Yup. It was just mushrooms in garlic butter with lemon. And a plate of a creamy cow's cheese with a sliced baguette. Mmmmmm....

 Now I am a full-on junkie. The World Cultures Fair was on Wednesday, featuring tables from all the different cultural organizations: the Germans had pretzels, the Indian club was giving henna tattoos, etc. OH and there were five different cheeses at the French club table. Brie. Bleu. Camembert. My tastes are getting too expensive.
Today I sampled a cheese at the grocery store. I ate it before I read what it was. White American. Ew.

What is becoming of me? Am I going to be one of those people who "becomes accustomed to a certain standard of living" and only buy groceries from Fresh Market or Whole Foods?? Will I stop liking Pita Pit and refuse to eat at Taco Bell? I don't want to be that person.

Please. Don't let me get out of control.

EDIT: fueling the obsession: A Cup of Jo: Guide to creating a good cheese plate.