Thursday, June 11, 2009

"People IS strange!!!" and other quirky observations!

When I was a young teen, I worked part-time in a little Mom and Pop gift and novelty shop located in an old-style Main Street type shopping district. We sold “classy” items such as gaudy, glittery and flashy costume jewelry, scented silk flower arrangements, rhinestone encrusted hair ornaments, lots of fake fur home décor items and, the true hot-sellers: large plaster animals like tigers, elephants and owls! Many of the latter were painted in wild colors never to be seen in the natural jungle or wilderness.

Now, one thing we had going for us was the fact that we were located right next door to a local watering hole that featured a rather popular Happy Hour. Many a man who “stayed too long at the bar” wandered in our doors in search of a peace offering for “the little woman” he knew would be in a bit of a tizz by the time he arrived home. Many of those ladies received a shiny silver or gold Plaster of Paris cougar as a make-up gift. By the way, it was probably 3 feet tall or larger! (I may have discovered why the divorce rates in this country skyrocketed in the late 60s and early 70s!)

My boss, Miss Liz, would turn on the charm to sell these atrocious creatures to the poor unsuspecting drunks. She’d even throw in a free gift bow as they walked out the door lugging the eye-sore. As they moseyed down the street carrying their gift, she’d stand and shake her head and declare, “People IS strange!

Over the years, I’ve expanded that statement, adding, “and strange people do some pretty odd things!” A related axiom also seems to be “Some very strange things often happen to very innocent, unsuspecting folks.

Which brings us to today’s observations, thoughts and comments…

One of those “strange people” apparently resides in or near Columbia, South Carolina. Wednesday night, a number of “witnesses” called 911, reporting they saw a man jump from the I-26 bridge over the Saluda River. All assumed this was a suicide attempt and police, firefighters, paramedics, rescue boats and others swarmed the area. The police finally traced the tags on the vehicle he had left on the road and found the man at home. He had run out of gas and called a friend who picked him up by boat from the river below. After speaking with the police, he did obtain some gas, returned to the vehicle and drove off on his merry way.

Strange situations” do happen to innocent, intelligent Moms:

Surfacing on the internet news sites today was a story about Danielle Smith of Missouri, an average married mother of two, who writes a mommy blog and often posts photos of her family and children and comments on their life in general. Danielle’s blog, like most of ours, is publicly accessible and, until recently, she assumed her average readers were other young mom’s dealing with the adventures of raising children in this world. Danielle also recently established a Facebook account, which, incidentally, is not publicly accessible. Through Facebook, she re-established some old friendships and has been in contact with folks she had not spoken with in years. Photos were exchanged.

One of those friends happens to reside in Prague and while riding down the street recently saw a super-sized version of a photo shared by Danielle with him on Facebook and with the world on her blog. The huge copy of the photo was being used as an advertisement for home food delivery by a small grocery store in his neighborhood. (Remember, he lives in Prague!) he took a photo of the ad which was filling the window of the grocer and sent it to Danielle who was utterly shocked!

When all was said and done, it was established that the grocer had simply lifted the photo from the blog and used it in his ad to show a happy, satisfied family, inferring their grocery delivery service pleased these folks. He had not asked anyone’s permission, neither Danielle’s nor the photographer’s. Perhaps he did it innocently. Perhaps Danielle, an educated, intelligent lady with media experience, was naïve. She definitely was aware that people all over the world might read her blog and see her family’s photos. She was simply surprised that they could, or would, copy and use her personal photos. In this incident, no one was harmed. The grocer has taken steps to stop using the photo. I have no idea whether she intends to pursue any other sort of compensation but Danielle has learned something from the experience. She says she will use a poorer resolution or watermark future photos she publishes on the blog or on any social media.

All of us bloggers need to note that the world does read our rambling thoughts. Most of us want that. We like reaching so many so far away. It is important, however, to be fully aware that what we say or show on these worldwide systems can be used in ways we never intended. There are ways to protect our photos - play with the resolution so that a good copy cannot be taken, use watermarks or use security systems that prevent copies at all. Never reveal personal information that specifically identifies your home address. Many bloggers never refer to their children by their real names to protect their anonymity. Never state on any social media that you and your entire family will be away from home for a specific period of time, it will merely tell the burglars what time period they have to work with.

Think and consider before clicking that publish button.


In a totally unrelated article, it seems a group of people have been petitioning “the powers that be” (I don’t recall the name of the government group - some sort of meteorological organization) to add a new type of cloud to the list of established cloud formations. That particular story was somewhat run-of-the-mill but what caught my eye (and thoughts) was the fact that there is actually a Cloud Appreciation Society. I’ve heard of some pretty frivolous organizations and activities but this piqued my curiosity. The group was founded in the belief that clouds are unjustly maligned and that life would be immeasurably poorer without them. Wow, I’d never given that concept much thought!!

I immediately attempted to check out their website which supposedly was named as “the most weird and wonderful find on the internet for 2005.” I don’t know who gave them that honor as I could not access the site due to heavy user traffic! I may try later, but probably not, I wasn’t that interested.

I know. I know. I am easily distracted and I should have been busy working on my orders and new merchandise. I’ll go do that now.

So, what caught your attention today?


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