Facebook’s On This Day. How to Protect Your Sanity.

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Yesterday, I blogged about Facebook’s On This Day showing me posts from the day I learned a dear friend died. And I realized, with the amount we share- most of us likely have days that we’d rather not relieve.

Deaths of friends, Anniversaries with Exes. People who turned your life upside down.

Thankfully, there’s a way to avoid what happened to me.

Log in to Facebook on your computer (you can’t do this on your phone, sadly), and from your notifications pick out your On This Day reminder. Just under the banner, you’ll see a settings wheel on a button labeled Preferences.

onthisday-01

Click on it, and a window will pop up giving you one of two options.

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Yes, you can use this to keep people from showing up, as well as being able to filter out specific dates. Hopefully this information keeps your On This Day a mostly positive space.

Note: If you blocked someone on Facebook, their posts to you will not show up in On This Day. Comments from them, however, will show up.

Blindsided by grief. Thanks Facebook.

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151208-grief-blogI’ve written a lot about grief- dealing with the sudden death of my best friend Jerad. (Technically, he was my Rejershnivit – we made up a word because it was impossible to pin down what we were to each other. Platonic soulmates is close)

I have a habit in the morning. A routine, to be precise. I go through my email to delete the junk and flag important things to look at. Then I open my Facebook app to see what I’ve posted in years past. It helps me wake up, considering I’m not a morning person.

The On This Day function is fun – you get to see things that happened in years past. I’ve been treated to pictures of my boys, sometimes moments that I’d forgotten.

Yesterday, I logged onto Facebook, not thinking about what day it was. And in my On This Day section, I scrolled past a blog post about Jerad’s death (which I knew I’d see sometime this week)… to see the FB status I’d made five years ago.

I was blindsided by my own words. That day I’d found out that Jerad had passed away, and I needed time to wrap my brain around the fact that the man who’d always been there, wasn’t. So I was vague. Said I had received some terrible news and would be absent as I needed time to process it. But I felt the bottom of my stomach drop away. The same helplessness. And the void in my life that still exists without him.

While I’d known it could happen, I was still off guard. I just wasn’t expecting those comments to pop back up, as odd as it sounds.

So I found myself immobilized by the wave of grief. In years past I was angry. I was so angry with him for years. For lying about being there when I needed him most, or that he’d have my back forever. Instead, I felt sad. I felt alone.

I was a mess by the end of the day. In sweats, sitting on the couch watching Christmas movies. Double checking a recipe I knew by heart.

I should say that the void in my life isn’t as stark as it was, even a year ago. When he died, the two closest people in my life were Jerad and TheBoy. And slowly, I’ve let other people in. People I hop online to share my news with- good or bad. People I text when I land in a city after a plane flight- just so they won’t worry. People I’ve made new inside jokes with. Bared souls in late night conversations. People I send ridiculous pictures of things that made me think of them.

I’ve grown so much, even with all the setbacks. (I often wonder if he’d be proud. Lately I wonder what he’d think of Hamilton, too. I mostly think he’d be yelling at me to surf less, write more.)

Has social media reopened old wounds of yours?

(PS – I’m posting a sister post to this tomorrow. All FB how-to, no emotions. Just in case you’re wondering how to deal with Facebook’s On This Day)

Trailer: Batman vs Superman

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I’m in Las Vegas. There’s been a lot going on, and I’ve started and scrapped three drafts of a post about the shooting in San Bernardino. (I can sum up my reaction in two sentences, it seems. Thoughts and prayers have done nothing to stop mass shootings, which are tragic and should not happen with the frequency they are. This is the time to call your senators and congresspeople to ask them for action.)

Now that I’ve said that, I’m offering something a little lighter… the trailer for Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice

I admit, I’ve never been enthusiastic about this. I’ve been more excited about Wonder Woman and Aquaman. I wasn’t entirely sure about Affleck or Jesse Eisenberg – though I’m certainly more comfortable with Ben Affleck in the role now. Eisenberg? I’m not sure. The wig, the voice – it seems a bit much out of context. But I would be willing to see the movie to gain that.

Your thoughts? Would you agree that Wonder Woman steals the entire trailer? I bet she steals the entire movie.

The Civil War trailer is here!

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Just in case you haven’t seen it yet, the Captain America: Civil War premiered during Jimmy Kimmel tonight.

Who’s side are you on? And what do you hope makes it into the movie?

(I hope that we get the moment where Bucky punches Iron Man in the crotch. It’s long been one of my favorite panels. Just because)

Captain America: Civil War comes out in theaters May 6, 2016.

Review: The Good Dinosaur

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TheGoodDinosaurI was fortunate enough to get to see an advanced screening of Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, and I wanted to get this review up in time for you to decide whether or not it’s right for your family.

As someone who writes Alternate Universe fanfics, I ask myself a lot of questions that start with “What if”? As a mom, I get asked a lot of questions that start with those words two. In the Good Dinosaur, Pixar asks What if the asteroid that led to the destruction of dinosaurs never hit Earth? What would the world be like later on?

Rated PG, The Good Dinosaur was directed by Peter Sohn – his first director credit for a Pixar film. It’s the latest in a long line of Pixar movies where a director was switched out in the middle, but it didn’t feel like two movies put together, unlike Brave.

The Good Dinosaur feels like a classic Disney movie. Part Bambi, part Lion King, and one part Western – it follows Arlo, the tiny dinosaur in a family of farming dinosaurs (in this movie, it’s the dinos who have human-like tendencies. Arlo’s family worry about harvesting before the winter. There’s a family of cattle-driving T-Rexes!) who finds himself far from home and has to overcome his own fears to get there. Along for the journey is a little “critter” – the literal inverse of a Boy and his dog story. It’s a boy who is a dog. If that makes sense.

So, should your kids see this movie? If they’ve survived Bambi or Lion King, they can handle the Good Dinosaur. It’s not uncharted territory, in the animated movie genre, but it’s charming.

There are situations where Arlo and Spot (the little boy) are in peril, and there is a character death (neither Arlo or Spot). In the good and bad territory – Pixar has mastered photorealistic water, and it’s a marvel to see. It also makes for a terrifyingly real river.

While the movie does get a little loud, and scary at times – there were a fair amount of kids at our screening, and the theater was often silent except for a few gasps (mostly adults) and quite a few laughs (from everyone). Behind me was a three year old who was seeing his first movie ever, and he stayed awake through it, and was very pleased.

The short beforehand, Sanjay’s Super Team is definitely worth the cost of a movie ticket. (Oddly enough, the kids behind me thought it was scarier than the movie)

The Verdict: While it isn’t exactly new territory, it’s a good movie – and definitely one you’ll find yourself getting wrapped up in. Definitely a good way to spend Thanksgiving weekend.

The Good Dinosaur opens in theaters on Thanksgiving day.

It’s DONE.

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When I first attempted NaBloPoMo – I mentioned that our kitchen had been undergoing a renovation. And… it’s finished! While most of the work had been done when I took the picture below, we were waiting on the electrician to come up and finish a few things.

Kitchen!!

So this is our kitchen. They ripped out everything to the walls, moved outlets, ripped up the floors and repainted. (Not to mention we had to move everything from the attic so that they could reach the wiring in the ceiling)

While the dimensions of the kitchen didn’t change, there’s so much more room, and just last night there were four adults in the kitchen moving around, and it didn’t feel like anyone was in the way. Before, if you had three people in there, it felt cramped.

We also tore up the floor in the living room and dining room- and painted those walls. There’s new furniture in the living room, and the only thing that isn’t finished yet is the dining room table. We’re currently eating off a long folding table.

But it’s such a relief to be able to make dinner using more than a microwave.

So how did I survive?

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Tumblr: Goodbye Replies and Hello Messaging.

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I have long been a fan of Tumblr. While it’s hard to describe, it’s a very visual way of communicating. And it’s fun, most of the time.

Now that Tumblr has been acquired by Yahoo, they’ve slowly been migrating towards a more homogenous social media experience. Which means what? It’s acting a lot more like Facebook, and less like it used to be.

Goodbye replies.

Tumblr used to have a little chat bubble at the bottom of text posts, where users could reply to posts. They would show up in the notification stream. And with handy plugins like xkit, they were things you could reply to!

It’s been two weeks since replies went away, and in that time… it feels more like posts are just out in the wind. You meet a lot of people who feel fine leaving a one line reply on a post, but who aren’t comfortable sending a personal message. Or who don’t want to reblog a post just to tack on a comment – since it means all their followers could see it. So they just don’t say anything.

There’s a rumor that replies are returning, but I haven’t seen any announcements from Tumblr.  xkit has an extension to add replies back.

Hello messaging.

Tumblr recently rolled out a messaging feature, that acts a lot like Facebook’s messaging system – minus the inbox, that is. It pops up on the bottom of your screen if you’re on your computer, and a separate tab if you’re on the app. You can have one to one conversations, which is nice. It’s linear, unlike the fan mails it’s going to eventually replace.

But there are a few problems. There is no opt out for messaging. The most you can limit it is by only allowing people you follow to message you. And you can only message 50 people a day, so for popular Tumblr users, this could become a problem very rapidly.

My two cents? Messaging was supposed to take over the functionality of replies, and it hasn’t. I regularly message with three of my close friends on Tumblr and that’s it. Few others have reached out and I find I’m uncomfortable reaching out to most people (I’ve messaged a few people privately when they said they were having a bad day), because it seems invasive to just start up a conversation.

Want to try out messaging?  It’s being deployed sitewide, but if you have a friend who has messaging enabled, just ask them to send you one.  (Or you can send an ask to wingedkiare – I’d be happy to set you up.  Just tell me that you read this post and want to try messenger.)

So what are your thoughts?  I’d post this on Tumblr to ask – but nobody would be able to comment there!

NaBloPoMo #5 – WE HAVE A KITCHEN!

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In post #1 this month, I talked about the kitchen renovation, and how stressful it’s been. And this week was probably some of the craziest, just because of the number of people working on the house at a time.

Yesterday, the cabinet guy came to make some adjustments and put on the last bit of moulding and all the handles. Meanwhile, we had a group of guys in here painting the dining room and living room and putting in flooring there, too.

And as of this afternoon, we have a fully functional kitchen! Our new fridge is loaded up, all the outlets and appliances work. It’s such a relief, to know that I’m going to get back to cooking like normal.

Now comes the real challenge – finding new homes for everything and weeding out the things that should have been thrown out years ago. My brother-in-law’s girlfriend discovered spices that are probably older than Little Kidlet. I found Tupperware that might have been new when I first met the in-laws. Back when they were just my boyfriend’s parents.

But at least things are going to quiet down. And routines can get back to normal – and I won’t have to worry every day about whether or not someone’s going to shut off the power, and kill my internet access (since I’m a telecommuter). I also will be able to reclaim my room as a private spot, and won’t have to worry about the Kidlets constantly being in my personal space.

We’ve discovered one thing already- pulling out the carpet and switching to hardwood floor means that downstairs is much colder than it used to be. I foresee investing in a few hoodies and shrugs to wear in the house, and bringing out my slippers.

It’s bizarre. It was only 6 months, which is actually pretty short for a kitchen renovation.

I’ll put up pictures later – there’s far too much work to do!

NaBloPoMo #4 – Whitney’s Guide to Introducing Kids to Conventions

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nanoblopomo-4-kids-comicconsThis has been our first year taking the Kidlets to comic cons, and I think we’ve learned a lot. And I thought I’d share our tips to introducing kids to comic conventions.

Take your kids for only one of the days. Sundays are best, because they tend to be the least crowded- and I know a lot of kids get intimidated by crowded spaces and loud areas. If you can, go one day on your own first, and enjoy walking around the floor – and scope out the booths that you think your kids will be drawn to. I recommend this, even if it’s a con you go to every year. Then, when you take your kids, you already know where that wooden sword vendor is – or where the guy with all the Pokemon plush is. Plus, you’ll be able to scope out places to rest, and food establishments they might like.

Prepare. I usually recommend bringing power banks and charging cords just for me, but don’t forget to pack stuff like children’s pain medication, allergy medicine. Because if your child spikes a fever or suddenly starts breaking out in hives – you won’t be able to just run and grab stuff (like you can at most other locations you’d take kids). Also, bring little snacks. Walking will make kids hungry, and if you have to trek aways to a restaurant, they’re just going to get cranky. And trust me. Nobody wants that.

Make sure kids know what it’s going to be like. That there will be lines to get your badges. Lines to check weapons. Lines for bathrooms. Lines for food. That sometimes it’ll be noisy. Sometimes there’ll be booths for scary things. If they know what they’re going into, they’ll be much happier when they’re there.

Encourage them to wear costumes – whether it’s just their old Halloween costume or not, cons are a lot of fun for kids in costume. My kids were stopped by other kids dressed in the same costume – there was definitely a Kylo Ren club that the Little Kidlet is part of now. And sometimes kids want to get pictures with other kids. We just had a long talk with the Kidlets beforehand about con etiquette for asking for pictures.

Don’t bring a giant stroller. Con floors are tight, so if you’re bringing a stroller – make sure it’s maneuverable. This isn’t the place for double wide strollers. Okay, that isn’t really a tip for making life easier for kids – but it’ll be easier for both you and other people around you. I’ve seen far too many parents pushing strollers get stuck because they couldn’t force their way into the flow of traffic, or if they could, holding up the flow of traffic because the stroller was more than half as wide as a lane on the convention floor.

Don’t assume you’ll be there for the entire day. Or that your kids are going to want to go to the panel they said they wanted to check out that morning. While we walk the floor with the kids first, and then go back for whatever item they wanted to get, we let them guide the day. If they want to leave, we leave. If they want to rest, we rest. This is also why I recommend going without kids for a day – that way you can hit the panels you want to, spend time walking around the con floor… all without your kids suddenly hitting a wall and demanding to leave. Because forcing your kids to stick it out when they’re exhausted is just a recipe for everyone to be upset by the time you leave. (I didn’t make it back to a friend’s booth because the kids were just exhausted at Comikaze)

I’m sure that with a couple cons under their belts, and child will be asking to go to panels and stay for the entire day. Or like mine, they’ll start planning out future cosplay and saving up money for merch.

Whitney & the Mini-Vengers at Wondercon 2015

The Mini-Vengers and I at Wondercon Anaheim 2015

Do you have any great tips for introducing kids to conventions?

NaBloPoMo #3 – The Model who ‘quit’ social media

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So for the most part, I’m posting these a day late because I write them late at night, so I publish and backdate them the next day. This blog, however, is an exception.

I’m sure you’ve probably heard about Essena O’Neil the Australian model who quit social media, and posted a video saying that everyone else should too. She had a lucrative Instagram account, YouTube account and Tumblr – but felt her life had become measured by the number of followers and engagement she had on her posts. And that she wasn’t being herself.

So she ‘quit’ social media. By posting a video ON social media.

And sure, she pointed out how superficial it can be – if you’re so caught up in followers and presenting a perfect image. But that isn’t what it is. Not really.

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