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Alright, Here’s the Deal with Comments

Comments Mean the World to Me

 

I really do mean that. Every time someone leaves me a comment it tells me that what I wrote was significant enough to cause someone to pause what they were doing for a moment. Publishing content that’s worthy of such an action isn’t as easy as it used to be, what with the busy schedules most people follow and the millions of other blog posts out there vying for attention. Whether it’s comprised of 12 sentences or two words, it all still validates what I’m trying to do, but only if it’s a true comment.

Comment spam has become such a huge issue now that I’ve barely started work on this blog and I’m already plagued by nonsense. I have less than 100 subscribers (though that number is growing a lot faster than I anticipated) but I still end up with at least a dozen spam comments a day, a lot of them repeats from a few stubborn sources. It’s because of this onslaught that I’ve decided to post a short explanation of how I handle the comments here.

 

If You’re a Real Person…

 

…then I welcome you with open arms and I hope you like what you see. If you want to speak up about something then please do, even if it seems contradictory. The best compliment you can pay me is to join in on the conversation. All I ask is that you don’t start trolling and you show respect to others.

 

If You’re a Spammer…

 

…then you’re wasting your time here. There’s no point in even trying to get your irrelevant, greedy comments on my blog, so you might as well leave now and be done with it.

 

“Rule is Rules”

 

I have some pretty basic conditions for comments here. I’d also like to point out that I moderate every single one of them, so it may take a short while for yours to appear. I’m very diligent about it, though, so if you still don’t see your comment after a day or two let me know and I’ll check to see if it accidentally got deleted. If you happen to be a spammer then you’re out of luck, and better off preying on some other blog. I just want to be sure that I’m loud and clear on this, so here’s the deal: every single comment, real or not, that gets submitted on my blog is sorted into moderation folders, and none of them are actually published until I approve them. I know the repetition is getting annoying, but it bears repeating.

Here’s the criteria I use when looking for spammy or unacceptable comments:

  • The first thing I do is look at the poster info. If you use a regular name it still doesn’t allay my suspicions entirely, but it helps. If you use a name like “cheap homes 4 sale” or something else that sounds commercial it automatically throws up a red flag. But if the name happens to fall under the same topic I used for the article I might approve it, depending on other considerations.
  • My next step is to take a look at the link provided to your own site. Unless I’m already certain the comment is spam, I always pull up the preview window and get an idea of what you’re all about. If all I find there is an attempt to sell stuff it doesn’t bode well for your comment, but it isn’t an instant failure, either. If you happen to be the type that provides useful information to your readers while selling a few of your own related products then this aspect won’t be a problem for you.
  • And, of course, I look at the content of the comment. I try to be as fair about it as possible, but if any of these problems are consistently presented then it’s a good possibility that your comment won’t be published: gibberish, which tends to have a lot of special characters throughout it; text lingo (I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t look nice and it’s hard to read); rampant spelling, grammar, and vocabulary errors (so much that I would have to practically rewrite the entire comment); going off on a topic that isn’t even remotely close to the original one I used in the article (I can understand little detours, though); writing in all caps (using it for emphasis here and there is alright, but digitally screaming through most or all of a  comment is just rude); suspicious links, like affiliate links and those that lead to unrelated products or sites; anything directly inflammatory toward anyone (you can say you don’t like someone, but if you start name-calling and such you’re done); and tons of profanity (I can handle a curse word here and there, but I’d prefer it if you tried to keep your comments fairly clean).

 

Common Sense Rules Here

 

I know a lot of what I’ve said is obvious to most people, but it’s best to be upfront about it. Mostly, I’m posting this in the hopes that some of the spammers who continually submit the same comments day after day will get the message and stop wasting time. Other than that, I thankfully haven’t had any other comment trouble, like fights and such (probably because I have awesome readers). Before I wrap this up, I’d like to note that a few errors here and there is nothing to worry about (you’re human, after all, and so am I). Usually I leave typos alone, but if it makes part of the comment a little confusing I’ll edit it. If this happens I’ll leave a small note at the bottom that explains that the content has been altered.

Well, that should be it, so thank you for reading this and happy commenting!

 

Just a quick note: the “rules is rules” quote is from Family Guy.
 
pretty spam

“Spam” by Neil Motteram (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrdodgy/) in its original form. Used under a Creative Commons License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode).

The Devil’s Advocate – The Transit Feud of Portland

Where Walking Can Be A Health Hazard

 

Those who live in the Pacific Northwest or have visited Portland before are probably aware that there’s a rift between commuters, particularly those who drive and those who use alternative means (biking, walking, public transit, or a combination of the three). Portland has worked hard to be a ‘walking city’, where those who chose to walk or bike have clear paths and safe routes, but there’s still a lot to be done, and I sometimes get the feeling that some drivers feel slighted by the lack of attention they get because of the focus on other means. Yes, it’s a little unfair, but it’s hardly like pedestrians have ‘the good life’ considering the complete lack of actual sidewalks in many areas, and the narrow roads that create problems for drivers also affect bikers, who are unofficially required to share the street when possible so they don’t cause accidents with walkers and joggers. Long story short, everyone’s getting the short end of the stick here, but the issue goes a lot deeper, and the danger here is higher than a lot of other cities.

 

Time for Some Numbers

 

Because of the ‘work in progress’ state the Portland Metro area has found itself in and other considerations (which I’ll talk about soon), this area has become one of America’s most dangerous cities for pedestrians according to Smart Growth America, an organization dedicated to researching and improving the nation’s transportation systems. Now, we aren’t the big numero uno (that dishonor goes to Orlando), but we have been rated 45 out of 51 major cities, and have even somehow become worse than New York, San Francisco, and Boston. So despite the City Council’s enthusiasm for safety measures and cleaner forms of  travel, Portland isn’t doing nearly as well as we’d like (or as our leaders would prefer the rest of the country to think).

I stopped watching the news quite some time ago, but I still hear about major pedestrian accidents all the time, a lot of them taking place downtown, and many of them involving someone on a bike. I even remember an accident that involved a TriMet bus driver mowing down several people on foot who happened to be in a crosswalk, and at least one of the people who were hit died. Most of the time, the driver is clearly being reckless when these kinds of accidents happen, but they aren’t the only ones that deserves some of the blame.

 

I’m Almost 30 and I’ve Never Owned a Driver’s License

 

In the secluded woods and mountains of eastern Washington and northern Idaho, where I spent the majority of my youth, it can become embarrassing if your license is suspended (if you’re old enough to have one, that is), and it can be even worse if you never get one, like I did. When I was 16 and everyone around me was either already driving or gearing up for it, all I did was watch. I wanted to drive just as much as everyone else, and it made me stick out like a sore thumb that I didn’t (everyone thought there was something wrong with me, like I couldn’t handle the simple motions required to steer a vehicle), but fear, laziness, and distraction kept me from fulfilling the one right of passage teens still follow. It hasn’t been fun, I’ll say that much, especially when you live in an area that doesn’t have a single bus or light rail train.

Living in Portland is a lot easier for a non-driver like me, and at least here I’m not alone, but it can still be tricky to get around. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be a driver (I’ve driven before and I’m going to lie; I suck at it), and even if I did become one at some later date I’m still a pedestrian now. In the underlying antagonism between drivers and pedestrians, I usually side with my fellow walkers, but that isn’t the point of this series. Now, it’s time for me to ‘turn on my own kind’. I call ’em as I see ’em, after all.

 

Pedestrians are at Fault, Too

 

The drivers here are nuts. They cut me off when I’m in the crosswalk (and the light tells me to go), they come close to grazing me, they give me dirty looks, and sometimes they even throw stuff out of their windows at me (like an almost full can of beer). They are straight-up rude, and despise pedestrians. Sometimes it gets to me because I’m a very conscientious walker. I stop and let cars go first when they’re pulling into driveways because I don’t want them to get rear-ended; I only cross the street when the lights tell me to, and at the smaller crossings that only have signs I always look for oncoming traffic; when someone’s trying to turn onto another street I walk behind their car so they won’t miss one of the few windows they might have to dart into the thick, constant traffic; and if I absolutely have to cross a street in between crosswalks or blocks I wait patiently and don’t dart out in front of them like some sort of retarded deer. Unfortunately, I’m a rare breed and most people aren’t so considerate or aware of their surroundings. And despite my strict personal rules (which no one can convince me to break) I’ve still been hit by a car while crossing the street. But there’s a reason why drivers here don’t care about the fate of pedestrians, and honestly, it’s a pretty valid grievance.

Over the past several years I have observed some downright idiotic behavior from pedestrians, particularly walkers. Bikers can live dangerously, too, when they’re both on the sidewalk or in the bike lane, but they tend to be a little more circumspect than some of the people who pound the pavement around here. Sure, I’ve seen stubborn bikers take risks (I think a sense of entitlement contributes to this kind of thing), like when they’re in the bike lane and end up right next to a bus when they stop at a light. The problem here is that the bus will be pulling over just beyond the intersection, which means cutting across the very path the biker needs to take, but some bikers won’t hang back and let the bus go first. They just keep pace with the bus as if they’re playing chicken or something. Yes, bikers have just as much right to be on the road as cars, but that bus could squash them in a second, so I don’t think that’s the right time to make a statement. Besides, it’s just common courtesy to let the bus go. They have tight schedules to maintain, and the people riding those buses have places to go and people to see. Anyway, I’m getting a little off-topic here.

Recently, I saw a woman slowly walk into the middle of a very busy street (5 lanes wide, including the turn lane), looking like she was just taking a leisurely stroll, and she wasn’t even near an intersection. Normally this wouldn’t be notable since tons of people, including myself when it’s safe, do that all the time, but that nut job chose to cross just as a huge fire truck was speeding along. They had their sirens on and I’d started hearing them several minutes before, so there’s no possible way she didn’t know they were coming. She showed no indicators of blindness, deafness, or mental defects, yet she timed her progression just right so that the truck barely missed hitting her. To make matters worse, as she started to draw near the other side of the street she cut off a car that had pulled over for the fire truck just as they were pulling back into their lane. So she almost made two vehicles hit her.

I see pedestrians cutting off and disrupting traffic all the time, especially downtown, and the worst part about it is these people do this during the height of rush hour, making it even more difficult for drivers to get where they’re going. I’ve even seen a mob of people completely halt traffic because they decided to walk in the middle of the street. These same people show a similar disrespect to other walkers by taking up the entire sidewalk and forcing others to detour around them, sometimes making people walk out into the street just to get clear. They block driveways, they ignore others, they act as if they have the right-of-way in every situation, even if they legally don’t, and as soon as an angry driver cuts them off they get all offended and violent. It seems that some pedestrians think they’re the king of the road even though the smallest of cars could easily kill them. It’s no wonder drivers are so disgruntled here.

 

 As Aaliyah Once Sang, We Need a Resolution

 

Alright, alright. Aaliyah was talking about the difficulties of love in that song, but it still applies. The only way we can reduce this problem and remove Portland from Smart Growth America’s hit list is to deal with this in a more direct fashion. Just pretending the issue doesn’t exist or downplaying it is only going to cause this discord to grow. And this is where I turn on my fellow pedestrians.

Honestly, I think those on foot are more responsible for this problem than the drivers. Every time one of us forces a driver to heed to an untimely, inconvenient crossing it only adds fuel to their fire. Now, the idea is ‘share the road’, not ‘hog the road’ or ‘relinquish the road to those who are bigger than us’, so I don’t think pedestrians should be expected to just give cars priority at all times, but if we simply abide by the rules and laws that we’re already supposed to follow it could do a lot to calm some tempers. All you have to do is be a little patient and display some manners. Really, pedestrians should be the ones to offer an olive branch to drivers, too. We should publicly acknowledge the issue and pledge to make changes, to be more considerate, because when you get to the bottom of everything, this whole crazy little war is mostly sustained by our actions, and we need to own up to them. If we don’t the only thing we can look forward to is more accidents, more deaths, and more animosity.

It may take a while to see a solid change, but I think it’s worth a shot.

 

Are you a driver? A biker? What kind of transportation issues have you observed in your own community?

Reason to Believe: Part Two

This article is a continuation to a previous discussion for a Daily Prompt. While it isn’t required to read the first part I would appreciate it if you did. The first part can be found here.

 

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Reason to Believe

In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day, people find some reason to believe. What’s your reason to believe?

 

Verse by Verse

As I said before, I think the best way to present my answers is by going through each verse. Remember, these are just my own interpretations of these lyrics. The beauty of music is that everyone hears something different.

Verse One

Seen a man standin’ over a dead dog lyin’ by the highway in a ditch 
He’s lookin’ down kinda puzzled pokin’ that dog with a stick 
Got his car door flung open he’s standin’ out on highway 31 
Like if he stood there long enough that dog’d get up and run 
Struck me kinda funny seem kinda funny sir to me 
Still at the end of every hard day people find some reason to believe 

This verse demonstrates how some can have faith in the impossible being accomplished, or hoping for a miracle even when observing death. We know, without a doubt, that death is final, but there’s always that lurking anticipation that maybe a higher power could negate it. This verse makes me think of something in my life that isn’t entirely impossible, but the odds are stacked against me. I’ve dedicated a huge amount of time and energy to growing my career, so much so that I work seven days a week, and sometimes spend 16 hours of the day on my computer. My goals are high, eventually culminating in a company I’ve dreamed of establishing that will take a stand against the dirty business practices so many giant corporations have used to make an extra buck.

In my current situation it will take several more years of near-constant struggle to get there, and there’s no certainty that I’ll see a return on my efforts. I own nothing of value and can’t even get a micro-loan, so there’s a lot of factors against me. The same goes for my writing career. I’d love to someday attain the type of prestige authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling have achieved, but the chances are slim. Every day I face failures and discouraging results as the ‘fruit of my labors’, but I still keep trying. However, it isn’t any sort of faith that urges me to open my laptop every morning, especially not in myself.

I’ve dealt with poverty since my earliest memories. I know that the only way I can dig myself out of this hole is to work, work, work, so that’s what I do. But it isn’t just myself that I want to help. Because of my direct experience with many of the darker aspects of life I’ve always wanted to help others to overcome their past. If my only concern was bettering my life I’m sure I’d never reach my goals, but thinking of the thousand, even millions, of people and animals that also yearn for a brighter future pushes me to carry on more than any enticement or daydream of glory every could.

Verse Two

Now Mary Lou loved Johnny with a love mean and true 
She said baby I’ll work for you everyday and bring my money home to you 
One day he up and left her and ever since that 
She waits down at the end of that dirt road for young Johnny to come back 
Struck me kinda funny funny yea indeed how at the end of every hard earned day you can find some reason to believe 

This verse shows how love can be blind, how affection can hide the truth from you despite the clear evidence that you’ve been used and abandoned. I’ve been in a similar situation, but with a different ending. I feel in love with my third boyfriend very quickly, partly because I was young and naïve, but after a few months a mutual friend delivered some distressing news: another girl that he’d shown interest in for some time had moved back into town and he was trying to convince her to start a relationship with him. He didn’t even have enough respect for me to tell me to my face, and avoided me for the two weeks that this took place. All he told me was that he needed time to think and he’d let me know.

Over the time that we were apart I never got angry; I only fell into a depression at the thought of losing him. When he later returned to me he insinuated through a vague explanation that he’d chosen me over the other girl, but I soon found out from another source that that had been a lie. The reason he stayed with me was actually because the other girl had turned him down, telling him that she had no interest in him, but even after hearing that I still wanted to be with him.

With the assistance of a previous ex-boyfriend, I later realized that I deserved better than someone who could leave me so easily, so I ended the relationship, but at the time of our discourse my love-induced delusions about him made me willing to do anything to get him back. That’s what made me believe that he would choose me and be faithful once we resumed our relationship. I was wrong, of course, since he cheated on me after that, but perceived love can be very strong. My proof is the scar that runs down my arm, a result of my broken mind turning to pain in an attempt to distract itself from the emotional anguish I was going through.

 Verse Three

Take a baby to the river Kyle William they called him 
Wash the baby in the water take away little Kyle’s sin 
In a whitewash shotgun shack an old man passes away take the body to the graveyard and over him they pray Lord won’t you tell us, 
Tell us what does it mean 
At the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe 

I found this verse very interesting since, to me, it talks about people keeping their faith in their god even after said god has taken someone they love from them. It’s also a fantastic description of the cycle we must all follow and how people can continue living their lives even thought they realize death will come for them some day. I’ve actually struggled with this one a bit, but eventually the will of someone I cared about helped me soldier on.

The bond I had with my mother was so strong that even as a child I couldn’t imagine my life without her. Psychiatrists call it enmeshment and say it’s unhealthy (which I can understand now), but there were a lot of upsides to such a relationship. She was my best friend and greatest confidant. She happened to be a heavy smoker and was diagnosed with emphysema when she was in her 40’s. As she came into her 50’s the disease tore her apart, and smoking two packs a day certainly didn’t help. I knew her death was imminent, but I had no clue how I was going to live without her, so suicide became even more appealing than it already had been (see The Value of Stupidity). I couldn’t lie to her, so I never hid my intentions, and it was my blatant behavior that stopped me.

Any time I hurt my mom it destroyed me, even if it was an accident, so when she responded exactly as a loving mother would by telling me how much she didn’t want me to die with her it penetrated my fear of being without her. I’d always held her needs above my own, even to the point of stalling my career so I could care for her and spend time with her, so her resistance to my plan is what prevented me from following her the day she died. It was her belief in me, that I could function, even thrive, without her that kept me alive.

Verse Four

Congregation gathers down by the riverside 
Preacher stands with his bible, groom stands waitin’ for his bride 
Congregation gone and the sun sets behind a weepin’ willow tree 
Groom stands alone and watches the river rush on so effortlessly 
Wonderin’ where can his baby be still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe

Ah, love. Once again, another clear example of how love makes you ignore what could emotionally crush you. Really, it’s more of a survival instinct than anything else. This verse is a little different, though, since there’s no suggestion that the groom has been hurt by his bride before. His devotion to her is so strong that he believes something bad would have happened before the chance that she got cold feet and ran. I’ve never been stranded at the altar (knock on wood), but I have experienced an unexpected break (who hasn’t?)

When I was 15 my family moved to a small town where everyone knew each other and shortly after I started dating my second boyfriend. He had a very bad reputation for breaking hearts and only staying with any one girl for a few weeks at most, but we’d clicked really well (or so I thought). We’d built a friendship beforehand and he’s still one of my friends to this day, so I know we get along well. Everything was progressing nicely and I was deliriously happy, but one day he wouldn’t say a single word to me. Before that he’d always seemed eager to see me, but later that day he broke up with me by handing me a note (why I always ended up with guys that didn’t respect me enough to deliver bad news in person I’ll never know).

Despite my thorough understanding of his distant, promiscuous habits (stories abounded about his exploits, and every one of them had the ring of truth to them) that note was the last thing I’d expected from him.

 

What do you see when you read these lyrics?

Lyrics found at AZLyrics.com.

I Don’t Have Beliefs, But I Do Have Ideas

Because this article became unruly by the time I finished it I’ve decided to break it into two parts. If you’re interested in reading my interpretation of the lyrics of Reason to Believe there will be a link to it at the bottom of this post.

My Brain Hurts!

I have to say, whoever wrote today’s Daily Prompt kind of stumped me for a bit. Of course, trying to figure out a viable answer to such a strong, open question when you haven’t even had coffee yet gets a little tedious, but I think I’ve got my answer figured out. I took a moment to look up the lyrics for the song mentioned in the question (I’m not a huge Springsteen fan, but my mom loved him), and noticed that he speaks of a few different aspects of life to believe in, so I figure I’ll give a quick example and answer for each verse. But before I do that (and before some people mistake me as an atheist) I’d like to explain the title I chose for today’s article.

Religion Means More Than Following a Set of Rules

If you’ve never seen the movie Dogma then I urge you to track down a copy somehow, but I have to warn you that some who are very serious may end up offended from this film. It was never meant to be an affront to organized religion, merely one man’s take on the behavior of certain religious practitioners. He demonstrates his own idea of Christianity as well. Every scene is rife with comedy, but important points and lessons lay beneath the typically light dialogue. Dogma is one of the best movies I have ever seen, but that doesn’t guarantee  that everyone else will love it, too. The scene from which I’ve derived my title involves a woman on a holy quest who’s asking a man named Rufus (portrayed by Chris Rock), who was once the 13th Apostle and, therefore, knew Jesus first hand, to explain what Jesus was really like. He has many interesting answers for her, but one was absolutely brilliant. Here’s the discussion:

Rufus: He still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name – wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always, built a belief structure on it.

Bethany: Having beliefs isn’t good?

Rufus: I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier…

Source: IMDB

There’s nothing wrong with having beliefs, but history has shown us how difficult it can be to adjust them. Everything is always changing around us; our way of life, our ideals about beauty, our views on morals and what constitutes a sin. It only makes sense that eventually those beliefs will have to adapt as well. They don’t need to be completely overhauled and rewritten from scratch, but small tweaks do need to be made. Here’s an example that George Takei posted on Facebook:

An interesting sermon comparing the similarity between divorce and homosexuality in the bible.

An interesting sermon comparing the similarity between divorce and homosexuality in the bible.

I could go on and on about this topic, but it seems I’ve digressed from the question at hand, so let’s move on.

Today’s Daily Prompt:

Reason to Believe

In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day, people find some reason to believe. What’s your reason to believe?

 

 Answer

 

I know this article doesn’t seem to make much sense as an answer to the Daily Prompt (I seem to be thinking like a ferret today), but I couldn’t make myself delete everything. When considering only the content of the question itself it’s very difficult for me to answer. I don’t even know exactly what beliefs they’re talking about. Do they mean religious beliefs? Faith in love? The surety that everything will work out even though the present is horrible? It’s because of this that I decided to break down the song by verse and write out my take on the song itself. So…

 

Be sure to read Reason to Believe: Part Two

Fearlessness – How Much is Too Much?

 
*NOTE: The fearlessness aspect of this article is actually derived from the Daily Prompt and not just an attempt to misdirect readers to another topic. This is based on a memory I had of a food challenge at a sushi restaurant that involved eating an entire roll that contained ghost chilies (the hottest pepper known to man). The cooks who prepared the rolls had to wear goggles because concocting it was dangerous, and most of the people who attempted to eat it ended up in the hospital, some in very bad shape. That’s what led me to pondering the boundaries of being bold, and it made me curious about where the line falls for other people.

 

Alright…

 

When I first read today’s Daily Prompt I was a little disappointed. The question was so simple and boring (sorry!) I thought I’d never come up with an article longer than 100 words. If I’d taken the straightforward approach this post would be drab, but after thinking on it a few minutes hours I think I’ve figured out how to answer this question in a fun way. What’s really nice is that the seemingly mundane Daily Prompt has now inspired a new series I’d like to start, known as How Much is Too Much. As you’ve probably guessed, this series will take a look at the extremes of certain actions in an attempt to understand what everyone feels in acceptable. Now, these articles will work best if a discussion actually ensues after it’s posted, so please feel free to drop a line with your perspective. Alright, enough chit-chat!

 

Today’s Daily Prompt is:

Ring of Fire

Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?

 

 My Answer

 

Here’s my cut-and-dry response to today’s question:

I absolutely love spices, so much so that Mexican cuisine is my all-time favorite ethnic food (the real Mexican food, not the Americanized stuff like Taco Bell), but there is a limit to my tolerance of it.

Now, Let’s Have Some Fun

 

The only other information I could add to that answer is the fact that I used to take down super spicy food with no problems, but now I can’t because of a medication I have to take that makes my tongue sensitive. Now I have trouble with ‘mild’ curry, and I had to switch to the mild Pace from the medium I used to adore. Do I miss being able to enjoy heat? Of course! But it isn’t worth going off my medications for it.

One of my favorite principles involves balance. There’s always an ebb and flow to everything in life, but nature holds evidence that all the components work together so they can eventually obtain harmony. A perfect example is ecosystems; as soon as you remove a certain type of animal or plant everything else in that area goes haywire, causing complete mayhem for those that remain.

Fearlessness can be a very handy attribute, and those who posses it are usually admired, but there’s a limit where it becomes ridiculous. And, of course, the opposite of fearlessness (cowardice, timidity) is just as unappealing at times. Everyone has their own opinion and their own boundaries when it comes to such behavior, so if you have a spare moment feel free to leave a comment with your own views on this topic.

 

Fearlessness

 

Being fearless usually means you have the strength to accomplish feats that most people would shy away from, but this edge can be misused. I can empathize a bit with thrill seekers, and some people think I’m a little nuts because I want to sky dive and bungee jump, but there are risks that even I won’t take.

For me, the line between reasonable fun and behaving like an idiot isn’t immediately apparent. Some feel that anything involving dangerous heights is too much, but some acts that look like a suicide attempt are actually safer than most think. I always try to look at the whole picture, which is why I wouldn’t cliff dive for a million dollars, but I’d love to go sky diving. Here’s how I compare them:

Cliff Jumping

Though some don’t realize it, cliff jumping is quite dangerous, even at a lower height. The only way you can know exactly how deep the water is and what may lay underneath the surface is by using gear to dive and explore that entire area. I’ve heard countless stories about people jumping off cliffs with perfect form only to run head-first into submerged cars and other detritus, effectively killing themselves. Another issue involves your nerves, which will try to restrain you. If the urge is strong enough it will slow you just enough to throw off you jump, causing you to end up too close to the face of the cliff. If there happens to be an outcropping below you it’s almost certain you’re going to break bones when you collide with it. The third large risk of cliff jumping is hitting the water at a skewed angle. Unless you’re on a prestigious diving team the chances are decent that you’ll end up swiveling mid-air by accident. The impact with the surface of the water could be so intense that it throws you into shock, and at the least you’ll probably get the wind knocked out of you or end up with that horrible stinging sensation associated with bad belly flops.

Sky Diving

The key to being safe when sky diving is choosing an instructor that has a solid amount of experience and a good track record, which is fairly easy to do now that the internet has opened new avenues for finding reviews and information. An experienced instructor packs the parachutes with infinite precision, taking as much time as needed to ensure that no snags will happen. Most even pack them, take them back out, and pack them again, just to be sure the job was executed perfectly. Though you can jump on your own, most instructors, as well as state laws, require you to tandem jump with them at least once before you go solo. This allows you to enjoy the ride without the worries of forgetting which cord to pull and when. It also reduces the chances of ending up in a tree or perilous location when landing because the instructor performs all the steering required. Though problems can still happen despite these safety measures the chances of dying are slim. Discovery News had this to say on the matter:

According to the United States Parachuting Association, there are an estimated 3 million jumps per year, and the fatality count is only 21 (for 2010). That’s a 0.0007% chance of dying from a skydive, compared to a 0.0167% chance of dying in a car accident (based on driving 10,000 miles). In layman’s terms, you are about 24 times more likely to die in a car accident than in a skydiving one.

 

Conclusion

 

For me, taking risks are an important facet of life, but that doesn’t mean you need to be stupid about it. In short, anyone who blithely runs into a dangerous situation without thinking about the consequences is going too far. Of course, there are cases where you have no choice, like getting attacked by an animal, but breaking your ankles because you jumped off your roof and missed the pool is too far. I wish I had a clear answer for you, but in this instance I have to evaluate every situation before I can decide whether I think it’s acceptable or not. Now, for the important part of this article:

 

Where do you think ‘too far’ falls?

In the next “How Much is Too Much” article we’ll take a look at the opposite of fearlessness: cowardice.

 

Other Notable Answers to Today’s Prompt:

New Twitter Profiles – Love Them or Hate Them?

Oh, Twitter, How I Hate to Love You.

 

I won’t pretend to be an experienced, long-time Twitter user. In fact, I used to believe that only tweens and people who randomly chattered on about the most inane happenings of their daily lives used Twitter. I never had any urge to even sign up, but I once felt the same way about Facebook and now I’m accessing it daily. However, my reasons for finally utilizing both sites are quite different, as are my current impressions of them. I joined Facebook because all my friends eventually migrated there from Myspace, swallowing my protests in the interest of maintaining relationships. I didn’t start using Twitter until I decided to use social media as a marketing tool, but I had no idea just how effective Twitter could be for such practices. Facebook still bothers me in many ways, especially from a business point of view (which I’ll explain in a later article), but after only a few weeks of using Twitter I began to admire the site.

 

At this point, I’ve been a Twitter user long enough to understand its features and I’ve become completely familiar with its design, but a short while ago (maybe a few weeks, at most) I noticed something interesting that sparked my curiosity. I was in the process of reading articles on social media marketing when I came across one that explored the many parody profiles that had grown substantial followings. When I decided to check out one of the clever profiles it had a lovely, professional appearance I’d never seen before. I’d made a mental note to conduct some Google research to see if the administrator had used some sort of third-party code or what-not, but my focus shifted to urgent matters and the topic slipped my mind. At least, until today…

 

Simple. Clean. Professional. What More Could Users Want?

 

What you see when you first land on a new Twitter profile.

What you see when you first land on a new Twitter profile.

As you can see, some aspects of the new pages are the same (at least, for now), like the bar at the top and other such elements, but just about everything has been completely rearranged and a few nifty new tools are now available. I’ve tinkered with the new profile layout for a few hours and I’ve already figured out where everything is, so it’s easy to navigate as well. So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the new design.

 

PROS

In the interest of being thorough I feel that it’s best to take a systematic approach when tallying points for or against a topic, so I’ll be going through everything by page or section. Here’s what I’ve found:

 

Landing Page/Tweets

 

New navigation bar makes it simple to move around and get details about the profile.

New navigation bar makes it simple to move around and get details about the profile.

The new navigation bar located toward the top of the page takes a more direct approach than the old ones. The colored line at the bottom indicates which page you’re on and the upfront tallies beneath each title cut to the chase. The only aspect that confuses me is the “More” tab, which only has a link to the user’s Lists. I don’t know if Twitter plans on adding more features that will later be added to this tab, but if not they should consider making a change there. All in all, it’s an improvement in my eyes.

New option allows you to peruse a user's tweets without digging through replies.

New option allows you to view a user’s Tweets without digging through replies.

Just below the new navigation bar you see a fantastic little feature that allows you to control the types of Tweets you see. Now you can skip the public conversations a user has had with another, giving you a clear list of only Tweets and ReTweets, thus cutting down on confusion. (If Twitter had a feature like this before then please let me know in the comments so I can remove this entry. Like I said, I’m not an expert, but I don’t recall ever seeing anything like this before.)

The "Follows You" icon is now more secure.

The “Follows You” icon is now more secure.

As is the "Confirmed Account" tick mark, which is harder to now.

As is the “Confirmed Account” tick mark, which is harder to counterfeit now.

I tried digging through my followers in an attempt to find someone with both of those indicators, but everyone on my list was still using the old design. Anyway, I’ve come across a few accounts that had tried to fake both of those icons by adding screen shots of them into their own images, aligning them so that they’re convincing if you don’t examine them deeply. Since the new design doesn’t allow changes to the background behind these symbols you won’t have to watch out for such fraudulent behavior anymore.

Pinning a post is easy.

Pinning a post is easy.

The ability to pin a post at the top of your profile allows you to make important information widely available to anyone who checks you out. It’s just as easy to unpin a Tweet, which involves similar steps used to pin it in the first place.

While there are other aspects to the new design that I really enjoy I’ve decided to omit them in the interest of keeping this article from running on too long, thus making it intolerable. Let’s move on.

Photos/Videos Page

 

The list of photos and videos now looks similar to the tweets they're used in.

The list of photos and videos now looks similar to the tweets they’re used in.

The page detailing all the pictures and videos uploaded by its user now contains more information, allowing you to easily view the story behind the submissions. This does cause the same picture or video to appear more than once if the user added it to multiple posts, but unless the account tends to post spam-like Tweets that shouldn’t cause issues.

Following & Followers Pages

 

A tile-based list give you a deeper glimpse into your network than the previous list-based pages.

A tile-based list give you a deeper glimpse into your network than the previous list-based pages.

What initially appeared to be an inefficient organizational system quickly turned out to be extremely convenient and a major time-saver. If you’ve ever had to dig through a follower/following list with over a thousand entries then you will probably love this improvement just as much as I do. With the old layout I had to click on each user’s name to see my connection to them, but this design shows me that information immediately. There is a bit of a downfall, which I’ll mention later, but I do feel that the benefits outweigh it pretty well.

Favorites

The Favorites section is pretty similar to the previous design and I haven’t found anything extremely noteworthy yet. If I do I’ll be sure to add it here.

Lists

 

As you can see, not a lot of information is displayed when you check the List page, but that's understandable.

As you can see, not a lot of information is displayed when you check the List page, but that’s understandable.

The list of Lists is one of the few points in the new profile where they skimp on information, but that isn’t always a bad thing. The only thing I wish they’d add is the number of subscribers, but I can live without that.

Cons

I will probably always find something I dislike about every page on the internet, but most of the time it isn’t worth the breath needed to speak about them. Unfortunately, there are certain aspects about the new profiles that go beyond annoyance, so I’ve listed them below.

 

Landing Page/Tweets

There's one very important missing element on Tweets that I know will slow down the experience.

There’s one very important missing element on Tweets that I know will slow down the experience.

As you can see, the usual options involving replies, ReTweeting, favoriting, deleting, emailing, embedding, and reporting a Tweet are on hand just like before (the last three are still located under the three dots), but the omission of the “expand” option was a bad move on the designer’s part. I used to love how easy it was to see all the details of a particular post without navigating away from the page, but that ability is sadly no more. What makes matters worse (for me, at least) is right-clicking on a Tweet won’t give me the option to open its link in another tab, causing me to rely heavily on my browser’s “back” button, which I’ve always despised. I sincerely hope that this oversight is changed soon.

Another point that I was a little bummed about was the lack of the ability to add a background image like before. The header images make up for that change, and I understand why they did away with that option, but I’ll still miss it. It isn’t really a severe con, though.

Followers/Following

The old format gave you the ability to open mini-profiles when you clicked on a user’s name, but apparently the designer’s felt it redundant since they added so much extra information to the follower/follow lists. Clicking those links take you directly to their profile, so now getting a sample of someone’s latest Tweets isn’t so simple. At least with this con I can still choose to open the profiles in a new tab or window, but it will still consume more time.

Also, another pitfall I’ve found is that the tile format causes a lot of drag and lag, making digging to the bottom of the list a huge headache. Of course, the same could be said of the old lists, but the failing wasn’t as noticeable then. I compared new and old just to be sure, and there’s a pretty big increase in the time it takes me to scroll to the bottom of those lists.

To any Twitter employees that might happen to read this (I know it’s a slim chance, but it’s worth a shot):

Tell your bosses (or if you are the boss tell your developers) to stop using those infinite scrolling pages. Having to click “Next” a bunch and navigate several pages is way easier to deal with than your fancier means, trust me.

In Conclusion

That should be all the important points I’ve noticed thus far, but if I happen to think of others I’ll be sure to update this post. For me, the pros far outweigh the cons, and I really enjoy using the new design, but that isn’t why I wanted to write this article. So here’s the big question:

 

What do you think of the new Twitter profiles?

Leave a comment with your own review, let me know if I missed something, say how much you hate the changes (or this article), I don’t care as long as you say something!