Tag Archives: Facebook

Get your hand basket out

friends-tv-showWow, I don’t know about you, but it really seems like that old saw “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” is really happening. Maybe not for me (I’m knocking on the proverbial wood right now) and hopefully not for you — but lately I’ve been inundated with super sad news about my friends — and their friends or family members.

I find some of the sad news on Facebook. In my newsfeed, where I like to dilly-dally and scroll through funny videos of cats terrorizing dogs, or babies and puppies sleeping together, I’ve been stabbed in the gut with updates that are definitely not warm and fuzzy. And again, I don’t know about you, but every time it happens — and like I said, it just seems like it’s happening more and more — a small part of me that I am definitely not proud of, makes my finger waver over the thumbs-up “like” button. Sometimes that small, almost tiny part of me (thank God it’s nearly infinitesimal) rolls on by to the next, hopefully, much more upbeat update. Maybe another funny cat video.

But I really do like my friends — even all of my Facebook friends, some with whom I am really not that well acquainted.

And I do really want to help if I can — with a kind word, a sympathetic sentence or two. It’s a kind of a new way to reach out, and I’m not sure we are all yet comfortable about it. God knows, we have a hard enough time reaching out in person. I think it’s harder yet to do so with the buffer of a computer screen or phone scroll. Nobody knows you’re really there, right?

But like I said, I do, I want to help — and, when I can muster it up, sometimes a “comment” is all I’m good for. And many times, so many times, I wish I was better at saying something special or meaningful or coming up with some magic words that will ease my friend’s pain or suffering. Or maybe help her find a smile. maybe make him laugh.

Because, me too, I hate cancer, house fires, car, motorcycle and bicycle accidents. I despise crippling diseases, autism and Alzheimer’s. If I was a billionaire, I would give all my money to all my friends, hoping that in some way, I could buy them what they need or at least make it so their pain might be lessened with 500 pounds of ice cream, or their burden eased by an exclusive, intimate Louis C.K. in-home concert.

But all I got is words. And here they are. Today, although I am heartsick about one of my friend’s sister’s recent cancer diagnosis, and another of my friends whose husband was in a tragic motorcycle accident, and another one who is dealing with the mind-numbing trauma of visiting her mother who doesn’t remember her name or her face — I am going to single out two of my friends who are dealing with hardship. I am going to tell you about them, I’m going to tell you their stories, and maybe you will tell your friends about them and maybe they will tell their friends — and maybe we can just all pitch in to make a difference.

And if we can do that, we can be as good as billionaires toting suitcases of cash. We could bring as much joy as ice cream and maybe even bring as much happiness as a night with Louis C.K.

My friend Christine: Christine (who many call Queen or Queen of the Universe) lost her home and all her worldly possessions — yes, even her iphone — in a fire just before Christmas. She ran out of the blazing inferno with only the clothes on her back — and those were hacked off in the emergency room. Oh yeah, and she miraculously came through this ordeal relatively unscathed, except for eyebrows, eyelashes, singed hair — and a really nasty third-degree burn on the back of her leg. She just completed her third skin graft at the burn center in Salt Lake City.  There is a fund set up for her that you can donate to:


And my friend Will is putting together an event fundraiser that will be held at the Visual Arts Collective Feb. 21. Music, art, silent auction and more with all proceeds after bar tab going to Christine.

Here’s my second friend’s plight and plea: Meet Alex’s sister, Monica

When my brother Dan passed away a few years ago, one family who came to his memorial was not one familiar to me — but one with whom Dan had become close to. They worked at Dan’s favorite restaurant, Baja Fresh. He went there at least a couple of times every week and they knew to start his order — he always ordered the same thing — when he pulled into his parking space.

Alex — her name is actually Alexandra — had dropped out of high school and Dan constantly chided her about it, telling her to get her G.E.D. — “I’ll pay for it,” he would say. Alex did get her G.E.D. just a month ago. And, sort of filling in for her Dad and his promise, Dan’s daughter Dana stepped in and paid for it. I was the lucky person who got to deliver the check: 1619589_10202452354262866_1224159130_n

Well, while I was there, Alex told me about Monica, her 25-year-old sister. Monica has kidney failure and needs a kidney transplant, and hey, she also just had a stroke and found out she has a bad heart. Her mother, who, yes, is still working at Baja Fresh on Broadway in Boise, is frantically trying to figure out ways to make money to help her daughter. They need to raise $5,000 for the surgery and so far are up to a little more than $1,500. You can donate here:


This is the only way I can think of to help my friends. (Not a billionaire, remember?) And I vow to help as many as I can. I vow not to skip over their Facebook posts for funny cat videos — I will still watch the cat videos of course, but only after I say a few heartfelt words to my friends.

I turn now to the Beatles :

Please let me know if you have friends who need a little help from their friends.

Peace and love


Strange days

Have you had an exceptionally weird week? I think I can stand up and proudly say: I HAVE!

The first weird thing came from one of my Facebook friends. Now, even if you are one of my 400+ friends (I know, I know, that sounds like a lot but I started out “Friend”-ing every Tom, Dick and Harry, so to speak; I’ve mellowed out a bit on that front), I dare you to try to figure out who sent me the message about how the great state of Kansas outrageously, egregiously bans the sale of um, er, what I like to call “pleasure givers.” I hope you’re with me because I don’t want to spell this one out, if you know what I mean.

And, just in case one of you happens to get a likewise seemingly ridiculous message from one of your old time, high school or college buddies, don’t jump to conclusions and guffaw, posting the cut-and-pasted message on his or her Wall with “OMG — some one hijacked your Facebook ID and sent me this crazy thing — can you believe it?!” — like I did.

It turns out that he or she may have had a totally legit reason and wasn’t out of his or her mind at all. And she — or he — definitely did NOT want the er, potentially embarrassing and possibly mortifying tidbit on his or her Wall for all his or her friends to see. (Thank goodness you have a “delete” option, Facebook — thanks Zuckerberg!)

True, they may have had a glass of wine or two prior to posting the message and their judgement might have been a tad impaired by some sort of inebriating substance — but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a point.

The point is — I hope you’re still following me on this because I feel dreadfully close to losing my place here — there is nothing wrong with getting a little pleasure out of life — I endorse it. And as for it being — WHAT? ILLEGAL?? — that just goes beyond the pale.

So come on, Kansas — and Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana and Virginia. Get on the stick — and I mean that literally.

Some of us don’t lead a movie-star life. We can’t afford to jet-set around and we don’t have the money — or the inclination — to jump out of a plane on a daily basis.

We just wanna have fun.

Okay, so that was the first weird thing. And it took my whole lunch hour to tell you about it. Whew! The rest of the story? It’s coming…

Unemployment FAQs

In an attempt to set the record straight, here are some “frequently asked questions” about what it’s like to be laid-off, let go, fired, unable to find work, jobless, etc.

1. Don’t you get tired of eating chocolate and watching soap operas and Oprah all day long?
This is a myth I’m sad to dispel. For one thing, I think chocolate has a lot of soothing qualities and it tastes so good. And I admit, I love the idea of rich, beautiful young people having a life even more messed up than mine (soap operas) and who doesn’t love them some Oprah?! But truth be told, being unemployed is a full-time job — and then some! Which leads us to the next question:

2. So… what do you DO all day long, anyway?
Some days I wonder how I was EVER able to fit a 50-60 hour work week into my schedule! First you sit down with a cup of coffee and search ALL the job Web sites for new listings (yes, there are many besides Craig’s list and the Labor Dept., plus a whole heck of a lot of companies — cities and schools included — only post jobs on their very own Web site, so you must be diligent, early bird catches the worm or so they say).
Craft your spectacular resume and tweak it for each and every job you send it to. Ditto for your cover letter(s).
Get on Facebook and check out any possible networking functions.
Ditto LinkedIn.
Go through your contacts and (gulp) contact them. Don’t worry, 9 times out of 10 you won’t hear anything back.
Be sure to log into Twitter several times a day to see if anything is going on and to let your Tweeps know you are fantastic. Which leads us to the next question:

3. What do you mean, “networking?”
To the unemployed, networking sometimes seems like a magic bullet. If you can have coffee (try not to schedule lunch, you’re on a budget!) with just the right in-the-know person, you might hear of a job — wait for it, wait for it — before it’s even posted! You can also attend monthly meetings for folks in your career field but you’ll likely be spending those two hours with other unemployed saps — people with a job can’t just leave work for two hours!

4. Don’t you get tired of being at home? Do you have an office in your spare bedroom?
This is a two-part question and through the magic of wi-fi and laptop computers, you don’t have to spend all your sad, mopey, unemployed time at home shuffling around in your robe and flip-flops. You can take your show on the road as long as you have enough change for a fancy cup of coffee. Set up your office at your favorite coffee shop for a change of pace AND possible networking — bonus!
To answer the second part of the question: I haven’t really settled on an office at home yet. I’ve set up temporary digs in the kitchen, on the couch, in my hubby’s office (that worked for about three hours), back to the kitchen and now I’m trying out the basement. It’s a little difficult to get the feng shui figured out, though.

5. Don’t you get depressed, hearing all the bad news, more people out of jobs and work than ever before in the history of the human race; your unemployment is gonna run out pretty soon and that spendy Cobra insurance, too… does that make you feel depressed? How do you cope?
First of all, it’s really true that being laid off is one of those experiences, like death and divorce and moving, that bring out all those emotions you have whenever you go through the grieving process: Denial. Disbelief. Sadness. Despair. Anger. Confusion. Self-blame. Desperation.
You tend to want to drown all your sorrows in a bottle or take some happy pills or watch mindless television (see question 1.)
But, for me, at least, getting laid off is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It has given me the opportunity to spend some time in self-reflection. I looked into myself and remembered that exercise made me feel better so now I teach 80s aerobics five days a week. I’ve had some interesting pick up gigs: picked up some freelance writing jobs, taught a social media class, helped write and edit a book — and started this blog.
But I admit, every once in a while, I plunk down for an episode of “General Hospital” on my self-imposed lunch break. C’mon, those people are SO miserable and SO beautiful — how can I resist?

More FAQs to come — feel free to send some in!

Good conversation

Michael Samuelson is all a-Twitter. Literally. Samuelson sent a pat on the back about “First the good news…” and an invite to join the fast-growing world of Twitter, a sort of shorthand, Web-based communication system.


Thinking I ought to, gulp, get ready to take the Twitter plunge, I thought I’d better find out more about this Twitter thing — and you might want to, too — so I emailed Samuelson and asked a few questions:


JH: Tell us a little about yourself.

MS: I’m a Web developer working for the Idaho Commission for Libraries. I live in Caldwell, but work in Boise, where I was raised. I have a long bio at http://mlsamuelson.com/content/about-michael-l-samuelson  and I sometimes do consulting and Web development on the side, but it’s not my main focus, of course.


JH: How long have you been, um, Twittering or tweeting (not sure of the proper lingo)?

MS: It’s called ‘tweeting’ but I usually can’t bring myself to use that word. Just seems, um, wrong. I usually say ‘twitter post” or “twittering.”

I’ve been Twittering from almost a year now. I work with the an open source (free, community developed) content management system Drupal (http://drupal.org) . Last year at the annual N. American Drupal developers’ conference I joined Twitter so that I could “follow” the Twitter account for the conference, and was pleased to receive updates from that account, pushed to my cell phone as a text message, noting when sessions I’d planned to attend were canceled due to sick presenters, and to get directions to after hours get togethers. I’m not a big “joiner” but I came to realize that Twitter had a real potential for useful communication, and provided me with an opportunity to subscribe to other’s streams of thoughts – sometimes silly, sometimes profound, sometimes helpful (like when I get to find out what one of the leaders in my field is reading…)


JH: In a nutshell, as briefly as you can, describe Twitter. Is it free, what are the benefits?

MS: Twitter is a free micro-blogging service that asks its users to answer the question “What are you doing now?” It’s an amazing opportunity to create connections with people. The two main avenues people seem to connect on are where they live and what they’re interested in. You can follow trend-setters in your field, build your own personal “brand” by sharing your thoughts and observations, and of course you can network. I’ve seen a person be laid off and quickly find another gig via her Twitter network — that’s powerful!


I recently heard talk that Twitter may start charging companies that have accounts, but I haven’t confirmed that.  Lots of companies use Twitter. Dell sends out coupons, and is able to identify people with complaints (they monitor http://search.twitter.com/search?q=Dell)  and to have a real person engage them and try resolve the issue and repair the company’s relationship with that customer — additionally, Twitter offers free insight into what customers are thinking/wanting.

Congressmen use Twitter to communicate with their constituents (http://twitter.com/johnculberson), and for campaigning (http://twitter.com/BarackObama) .   The State of Idaho has a Twitter account — http://twitter.com/idahogov  — and I’m impressed with how well they use it. We’re discussing doing a similar Twitter account for a program run by the state agency for which I work. It would be a great opportunity to let Idaho residents know about a fantastic resource they could take advantage of for free, and to provide support to users of that service.


The main thing about Twitter though, is that it’s about creating connections between people. Businesses that don’t get it treat it like a commercial and people stay away because there’s no discernible human voice behind it.


JH: Okay, I’m already spending hours sifting through email and wandering around on Facebook. Isn’t Twitter just one more time suck?

MS: Yes and no. I find I spend a lot less time reading blogs to find the diamonds, and instead have them delivered to me via my friends on

Twitter. But, yes, Twitter can be a time suck, however, it’s also hanging out with friends… It can get a little consuming, though. I like to read http://www.seyboldinc.com/2008/11/avoiding-the-urgency-addiction-of-social-networking/  when that happens.


But Twitter does have a payoff. I’ve gotten numerous offers for work on projects. I have a friend who’s an independent filmmaker in San Jose (http://twitter.com/alejandroadams) whom I introduced to Twitter, and he and his current small film is getting quite a bit of attention via Twitter. That doesn’t happen via email, or even on Facebook, to that degree.


JH: All right, I see that there’s some real value with Twittering, but here’s one aspect of Twitter that kind of bothers — the whole following thing. Isn’t that kind of like um, stalking? Sorry, it just seems sort of creepy, but I know thousands of people “follow” celebs and I read they followed the President when he used Twitter. They even follow MC Hammer — and I really do think that is kind of creepy.

MS: I felt that way in the beginning, too! It really is weird! But what I came to realize is that it’s like a giant conversation where everyone has agreed it’s okay to eavesdrop. A conversation between two people can suddenly become a conversation between 15 people.


If someone is following you and you’re not comfortable with it, you can block them. And of course, you don’t have to follow anyone you don’t want to. Mostly though, it just takes time to get used to it. I’ve written about that: http://mlsamuelson.com/content/twitter-aha-moment-and-beyond .


JH: Hmm. Let’s turn that around and let’s say you WANT folks to follow you. How do you get people to follow you on Twitter?

MS: One: you follow them — lots of times when you follow someone they’ll follow you back, but not always (you can’t take it personally). Two: you post things that are of value to others — it could be links to a great ginger snap recipe you found, a link to a great article you read, an observation, etc. People will also find you by seeing you in someone else’s follower list, or by seeing  you in a search and thinking you seem interesting.


One of the best things you can do to get followers is to have a fleshed-out profile on Twitter. Put a link to your blog, and short bio about who you are/what you do. That way people can see if you share interests, etc.


Just be who you are, and share what you’re passionate about.


JH: Do I have to buy a special (read expensive) new Web phone to use Twitter? Don’t most people who tweet have a Blackberry or iPhone?

MS: Some do. I’m at a computer a lot, so I just use the Web interface and check Twitter a couple times a day. You can tweet via text message, though. I do that sometimes, but not that often.


JH: What’s your funniest Twitter experience?

MS: Maybe not funny, but fun was tweeting about one of my wife’s puppet shows (she’s a children’s librarian) and having one of my followers whom I’d not met personally Tweet me saying, “Hey, I thought that was you! I was there too!”


Funniest, though, has been chronicling and sharing all the amusing things my three-year old (who’s a little irascible) says. One of the best Tweets went something like, “I was telling my son to behave and he replied, ‘I AM ‘have, Dad!'”


JH: Most embarrassing?

MS: For my daughter’s 10th birthday, she had a tea party where they made hats out of paper plates, paints, glue and feathers. My wife suckered me into posing in one of those hats for a photo “to show off the hat” and wouldn’t you know that photo ended up being her Twitter user picture. Let’s just say that as along as she had that in place I didn’t converse with her much on Twitter, lest someone make the connection.


JH: Best Twitter moment?

MS: Every time I’ve been invited to coffee with local movers and shakers by connecting with them via Twitter, and realizing they’ve become my friends.



SAMUELSON’S TWITTER TIPS: Here’s some advice on “who” to follow for starters.
Who you’re following can make or break your experience!

http://twitter.com/username that’s how it works. When referring to
Twitter users it’s customary to put an @ in front of the username.
Hence, me, @mlsamuelson can be found at http://twitter.com/mlsamuelson

Some great local people to follow:
@tacanderson (HP social media expert)
@brandmilitia (Co-founder of Tricycle brand marketing)
@m3mo (a librarian at BSU)
@totn (NPR’s Talk of the Nation)
@MrTweet (a tool that analyzes who you follow and suggests others you
may want to follow)
@igniteboise (local social media inspired event coming up)
@idahogov (State of Idaho)
@housefloor (US House of Reps.)
@sentatefloor (US Senate)
@jessflynn (RedSky PR)
@SydneyRS (Gallatin Public Affairs, used to be in newspapers, I think)
@hollihigh (Wind energy consultant, or something like that)
@nipper (local patent attorney, funny as all get out)
@LGM1 (BSU, entrepreneur)
@waded (Project manager for a Microsoft project running in Boise)
@JenHarris09 (the lady who found a job via Twitter – back on the look
though, as she was laid off again after a few mos. 😦 )
@lenalou (Creative Director for Idaho.gov)
@GCPL (Garden City Public Library)

All these folks may or may not be interesting to you, but they’ll give
you someplace to start looking. 🙂

HOW TO FIND FOLKS ON TWITTER: You can find others by seeing who the
people you follow are talking with.