Saturday, January 30, 2016

Beware The Silent Facebook Friend

Ponder reality for a moment. Consider your friendships, relationships, and acquaintanceships. Within each unique bond lies a multitude of personality differences. Some people are crass, others provide intentional comic relief. Some are accidentally flirtatious, and others are perpetually cynical. Though a handful may be grouped together, no two friends are exactly alike.

Now ponder your enemies, frenemies, and those who fall somewhere in between. Your enemies are quite aware of their relationship status with you and as a result of the mutual animosity, you have no contact with one another. Your frenemies are either in denial or have readily accepted your relationship for what it is. They have thusly reciprocated contributions to the fa├žade that is your "friendship". Those who are in between are swiftly swinging to either end of the spectrum.

There is one category missing from distinction, the Silent Ones. They lack classification because the nature of your relationship remains undefined. In the real world, a friend has made clear to you at least, that they are in fact a friend. The same can be said of an enemy. Even those who lie in between are inevitably headed toward classification as friend or foe. But in the real world, no one calls the Silent Ones "friend", for their intentions are unknown.

Now let's examine cyber space. Social media is our collective alternate reality. In the realm of Facebook, we are but SIMS exercising free will. We say, do, and become what we want with often the most minor of consequences. There are most certainly exceptions. But by far, most of our actions on Facebook are free of consequences. It is this free range environment that enables our unbridled behavior. We even have the freedom to hand pick our very own audience by way of making, accepting, and denying "friend requests". We can perform for that audience at will and ad nauseam every minute of every hour if we so choose. We often crave their feedback through "likes" and "shares" and outbursts in the "comments" section of our posts. Some people are lonely and desperate for even the most fleeting of interactions with the other SIMS in the Facebook realm, while others are merely actors seeking to entertain or to be entertained.

So then, what parts do the Silent Ones play in the realm of an alternate reality? Why be there in the first place? If the purpose is not to perform, be entertained, or to be socially sustained, why exist in the on Facebook at all? The simplest answer is observation.

Much like the mythical beings commonly known as The Watchers, The Silent Ones exist only to observe. Their responsibility is to document all that they see or hear us do and say. They do so by scrolling through our posts and clicking on each and every photo in our photo albums. They even sift through our friends list to familiarize themselves with the type of people with whom we choose to associate. All the while, they never type a single word. They never click "like" or "share" for to do so would expose their presence. Better to remain silent and therefore forgotten. It is the only way to continue to go about rummaging through our lives whether they be factual or fictional portrayals.

In the real world, we would never allow such a thing to go on. We would distance ourselves from the Silent Ones for they cannot be trusted. No one trusts the unknown. We do however attempt on some level to explore the unknown. Should a Silent One expose their reasoning for being the way they are, shy perhaps, afraid to say anything because they know it will get back to someone they cannot afford to disappoint, we would be willing to trust them. Understanding breeds trust. But one cannot understand a mystery. The Silent Ones must offer information to receive it in return from us. But this is not true in the realm of Facebook. There, all that is required is the acceptance of a friend request. With one click of a computer key or one tap on a smartphone screen, we have granted the Silent Ones unrestricted access, backstage passes to our lives on social media.

Whether or not we aim to, at some point we all share more of ourselves than we should. And though we've forgotten about the Silent Ones lurking in our friends lists they haven't forgotten us at all. They now wield the power to use a photo, comment, post, screenshot, or video that we posted at their discretion. Perhaps the most unsettling part about that is, we still don't know why they're there in our friends list in the first place.

The next time you come across that friend who overshares, or that other friend who posts every five minutes, or the other friend that only posts once a month but always clicks "like" or "share" just to let you know she cares, be grateful. Be grateful that they are showing you who they are be they, crazy, crass, conspiracy theorist, or political analyst. But should you ever find yourself in a position where you cannot figure out how private information about you was revealed to people who aren't on your friends list, look no further than the Silent Ones.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Make Your Own Dusting Spray

I ran out of Pledge one day. It was then that I realized I had the same bottle of Pledge for over 5 years. My furniture just never really acquired dust. I have more electronics than furniture, arguably, so I do go through electronic dusting spray every other month. When I went to the store, I found that I didn't like the chemicals in Pledge or the build up. I tried the Up and Up brand from Target. It had significantly less build up but after one use, the can ceased to dispense anymore. It would hopelessly clog itself. So I stopped buying dusting spray.

I tried using a mix of soap and water in a spray. It got rid of the dust and prevented resettling, but only for about an hour or so. I found that when the dust did settle again, it was sticky because of the soap, making it even harder to remove the second time around. I pretty much stopped dusting after that until a janitor told me that he uses an orange oil and water spray to dust his home. He had a lot of old wooden furniture and it worked wonders. The water thins the oil so it can be sprayed and the oil removes dust and prevents it from resettling. But what about the stickiness that sometimes comes from not dusting in awhile, or that persists on ceiling fans? Good old fashioned vinegar does the trick. So I combined these elements to make a dusting spray that worked better than Pledge, was organic and environmentally friendly, and of course, cheap!


2 parts water
1part vinegar
1 tbsp. of olive oil per part of vinegar
a few drops of citronella oil (or other favorite scented oil)
Small spray bottle

Shake the bottle vigorously to mix the oil and water before each use.

For my first bottle I used 2 cups of water, 1 cup of vinegar and 1 tbsp. of olive oil. I like the smell of citrus so I used citronella. The furniture was shiny but not oily or greasy. The dust stayed gone for about a week or two before I needed a rag dampened with the spray to touch everything up.

Mastering Kindergarten Sight Words

If your preschooler or kindergartner is in the process of memorizing sight words, you may be in need of some tips to get things moving smoothly and quickly. Your child may be stuck on certain words or have some difficulty applying certain phonetic rules to irregular words. After reading the list of Sight Words Level 1 you may have noticed that sounding out words works perfectly but doesn't work with Sight Words Level 2. Here are some tips that come from a kindergarten teacher to help your child master sight words.

Make Flash Cards

Flash cards make learning easier. This method is best when information needs to be memorized and recalled on sight. At first, you want the words to be in the same order that they appear on the sight words lists. Then as your child begins to memorize them, mix the words. Set aside any words that prove difficult and have them reappear in the stack more than once so that your child will see it more often.

Increase Frequency

Flash cards or simple list reading must be done at least twice in a day for your child to commit it to memory. If your child is not in school yet go through the flash cards in the morning, before lunch and before bed. Studies show that information is more easily retained if it is acquired before sleeping. If your child is in school, have them do their sight words after they come home and have had a snack or lunch and again before bed.

Supportive Reading

When choosing books to order from Scholastic, or from the library, look through the books to see if the words form your sight word list are featured. Find a book where the sight words appear more than once on each page of the picture book. The child is more likely to commit it to memory if they see it in their favorite books. If your child is tired of flashcards, read bedtime stories to them that feature their sight words.

Real World Application

When looking at signs or packaging in stores, look for sight words. Point them out to your child to get them in the habit of recognizing a word on sight. No matter the context the word may become more easily recognized thus improving the ability to master a list of sight words.


PBS and other public channels can be your best friend. With shows like Sesame Street and Super Why, your child will definitely come across their sight words. Also, shows like Super Why or The Electric Company on Netflix will show a child how to break down a word to sound it out. Netflix is filled with a library of public television shows that you may not have even heard of, that will help your child master sight words.


Have your child trace or write the words on large, lined paper that you can find at any dollar store. have them sound out the letter they are writing. When they attempt the sight words again, they are more likely to remember them.

You can find a list of level one sight words here and level two sight words here.