Someone Stole My Name!

Someone stole my name!  I know I am probably not the only Cheryl Huffer in the world, but someone had the audacity to steal my name!

I once had this blog at cherylhuffer.com.  And then it was stolen!  No, do not open a new tab and look at the miscreant’s page!  Do not give them the satisfaction.  Keep reading and all will come to light.

About forty days into the 366 days of my 42nd year of life, I decided I wanted to buy a domain.  For a measly $22.00 a year, I could provide direct access to my blog instead of asking my followers (I think I had a whomping  50ish followers by then) to go through the generic WordPress page.

As a firm believer in Hollywood movies that show people being “discovered,” I knew this one change was going to lead me into the paid writer world.  My pIan was to write something  genius, have it go viral, and because I owned my own domain, some publisher or editor would easily find my brilliance and insist on flying me to New York and offer me a writing contract on the spot!

So, Life as I Understand It officially became available on cherylhuffer.com in February 2012.  My foot traffic did increase, but that might have just been through my own marketing and WordPress access to users.  Thus, it worked, sort of.  It was easy to tell people how to find me.  However, besides for an amazing day in November when I was Freshly Pressed, I didn’t get much more than a hundred views a day.  Sure, my following increased, but my phone never rang, and like the bride left at the altar holding a bouquet too garish for any sophisticated wedding, I never did catch a big break.

Needlesstosay, I continued to write, and the next February, I renewed my domain.

My writing became sporadic, but still the next February, I renewed again.

And the next February…I let it lapse.  At that point, I hadn’t blogged in almost  a year, and people could surely reach me by means of WordPress once again.

A few months in, a faithful friend called me.  He said that he was trying to reference my blog to show it to someone.  Yet, he couldn’t find it.  It all but disappeared.

Frantic, I logged into WordPress and all my posts were still there, but the access points had changed to default, and it was more difficult to find.  I grappled with the necessity of having a domain; I decided it wasn’t necessary.

However, last year, I realized that my blog was funky.  I sentimentally went on to read “My Frank McCourt Moment,” one of my favorite pieces I have ever written, and I realized I couldn’t find it.  The website was haywire because my simple domain did not match well with the generic WordPress domain.  Fearing that I would lose some of my favorite stories to cyber space, I decided I needed my baby back.  I took out my handy-dandy green Citizens Bank Visa. I opened up the purchase page, I typed in my domain… and it was no longer available!  cherylhuffer.com had been bought!

Of course, I immediately opened a new window and found that some hacker stole everything: “Life as I Understand It.”  “Where Insight and Humor collide.”

My name!

My title!

My tagline!

The most egregious component of my stolen identity was that one of my blogs was still attached to the page– a little ditty I titled, “Say It Ain’t So, Joe;” and the only entry the rapscallion had written was about gaming.

I was besides myself.  I am not a gamer and I did not want my domain associated with a topic that had no understanding, no humor, and no insight.

So what is a girl to do when she has been wronged?  Rectify the wrong.  I bought a new name.  A better name.  cherylhuffer.org.  The “org” makes it more swanky, don’t you think?

So here I am today–blogging once more.  I still have my tagline, my title, and my watchful eye.  So, feel free to keep reading and tell your friends. It’s an easy Google search away.

Oh, and if you cheated and looked, you already know– the other blogger who tried to steal my identity no longer exists.  The gamer lost the game!

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I am Big Brother!

I have always loved espionage and spy movies, but not just because they are action packed and keep me on the edge of my seat.  No.  I have always enjoyed these movies because of the implications of what a government can do.  The idea of spy satellites and secret codes and Top Secret documents fascinates me.  In my world of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chauffeuring kids to and fro, it seems outlandish that people exist who participate in a full-blown, combat-zone mentality.

The movies show how any of us could suddenly be under scrutiny.  Poor Will Smith was minding his own business when suddenly he became Enemy of the State.  His life was open for investigation: he was bugged, photographed, and followed by satellite imagery.  (Okay, that last part freaks me out.  I am just an average every day Josephina who has average every day experiences.  What if some whack-a-doo over in the Pentagon goes on a fishing mission and finds satellite imagery of Tom and I…. well, you know.  Does he video tape it?  Should I be worried about showing up on You Tube?)

All of the movies bring the reality of technological advancement to the surface.  We are watched: there is no escaping it.  And if it’s not the government, it’s someone with a cell phone–someone recording our every move and every word.  How many lives have been interrupted and changed because of a recording that the person never knew existed?  How many of us go through life under a veil of anonymity thinking that we actually remain obscure and unknown?

However, could not some observation and some spying be good?  What if average citizens had access to such technologies?  We could monitor our children, our spouses, our lives?  Three weeks ago, when I lost my iPhone and had to download an ap called “Find my iPhone” I realized that I do have the power to spy, if only on my own family.  I can monitor where they are by tracking their cell phones.  Technology has given me an ability I never could have dreamed about twenty years ago.

The reason I mention any of this is because Tom has been a bit busy travelling for work.  He went to Dallas last week, and this week, he had to go back again.

While helping him fold his clothes and pack, I thought I’d make light of his second trip in two weeks.  “Seems a little suspect you have to go to Dallas again,” I said skeptically.

“I know, right?” he goaded.  “Maybe I’m just flying off to see my girlfriend.  Maybe there is no business trip at all.”

“Haha, funny.”  We both laughed because it was funny.  I know that Tom would never cheat on me.

(Aside: I had postpartum depression after Maggie, and one day I flew into such a rage that I scared us both.  I had never been on the verge of throwing knives, but that day, I almost did.  I think Tom knows this rage lies latent deep in my loins, and if he ever betrayed our sacred bond of marriage, I’d have to go all Lorena Bobbitt on his ass, or penis, as the case may be.)

Needlesstosay, I took the opportunity to play a joke on him yesterday.  He texted that he was out to dinner with the client, and I decided to see if I could figure out where.

So, there he is in Dallas, Texas, having dinner and a drink with a client.

So, there he is in Dallas, Texas, having dinner and a drink with a client.

Oh wait, I can zoom in.  He seems to be on MacArthur Blvd.  Got to love them Texans-- naming roads after WWII heroes!

Oh wait, I can zoom in. He seems to be on MacArthur Blvd. Got to love them Texans– naming roads after WWII heroes!

Look, I can even zoom in closer!

Look, I can even zoom in closer!

.....And closer!

…..And closer!

Now, this isn’t Google Earth; I could not look at the exact building, nor does this ap have the capability of an international satellite;  I could not see what he was doing.  Nonetheless,  I could pretend.  (Hee Hee)

I'm funny!

I’m funny!

Thank God this ap did not exist when I was a kid.  In 1986, I told my parents I was going to sleep at a girlfriend’s house in Rocky River.  Unbeknownst to them, I picked up my friends and we drive to the eastside to see Cheap Trick at the Front Row.  Had this ap existed, I probably would have been a bit more hesitant about lying and exploring my youth.  I’m glad I grew up when I did.

Day 357: What We Need Is Love

My heart is still very heavy about what happened in Newtown, Connecticut.  More than once since Christmas morning, I have paused to watch my children play, and I have felt pain for the parents who can not watch their children play with their new Lallaloopsy doll or Lego set.  I cannot imagine how difficult it is to wake in the morning, and I hope it is not too selfish to say I hope I never have to know this feeling.

I have been paying attention to the news and to conversations about this tragedy, and everyone seems to have an answer.  We need to ban guns; we need to arm the teachers; we need police in every school; we need better facilities; we need to provide more funds for mental health care.  As much as each and every one of these ideas has validity, it seems that these approaches are similar to the way we approach everything in America: all or nothing and very reactionary.  I am assuming that banning guns will only cause a hiccup for the person who wants a gun; it will not stop gun violence.  I am assuming arming teachers seems like a good idea until some aggressive high school boy wrestles the gun away from the teacher and kills everyone in the class.  I could go on, but hopefully you see my point.  It is impossible to react to a pervasive problem and expect it to just disappear.  It’s like the little candy store in St. Paul that is being threatened with a $500.00 fine if it does not pull the candy cigarettes and bubble gum cigars from its shelves.  Are we really that naive to think that kids are going to smoke because of candy?  Are we really that naive to think that putting a policemen in every building will eliminate violence?

As an English teacher, my favorite literature to teach is dystopian literature.  I think we can learn a great deal about ourselves and what we deem “progress” by reading authors such as Huxley, Orwell, and Vonnegut, men who had insight into a future world that was anything but utopian.  Maybe it has not gotten to the point of DoubleSpeak or Hypnopediea, but the nuances of the arguments made in these novels are realities in which we now live.

1. Technological advancement has caused some social problems among people.  In every dystopian novel, technological advancement numbs the individual to true feeling and individual thought, and the society is desensitized into believing that more technology is better, that less individual cognition is better for the society at large.  So we bury ourselves in our smartphones, our tablets, our Internet access.  We clamor for more advancement because within weeks, we are already bored with the old technology.  Newer is better.  Out with the old, in with the new.

2. Commercialism.  In most great dystopian novels, propaganda promotes consumption, and people believe that buying will bring happiness.  Commercialism drives this nation, and it seems that we have lost site of what is important while trying to get ahead.  We want more but we have fewer people to share it with.  Possessions take the place of people.  Paradoxically we have more than we have ever had, but we are lonelier, angrier, and less satisfied than we have ever been.  We are convinced that happiness is a tangible thing; we have lost sight of the fact that happiness is not about what you own but the person you are.

3. Religion is either banished or deadened.  To me, I feel that as an American society, we are so politically correct and so worried about offending anyone by mentioning God, God has lost His place in our society.  Without a societal demand for adhering to a moral code, the lines are blurred and what used to be considered amoral is now completely acceptable.  I do not think we need to tote one religion is the end all/be all of all religion, but I think people need to bring prayer back into their days.   Religion promotes kindness and goodness and hope: three types of emotions that can inspire people.

4. My last idea actually does not relate to any of these novels, it relates to a sense of oneness.  Post 9/11, we came together as a nation to help those who needed us– the grieving families, the wounded innocent, the overworked firemen and policemen of NYC.  We banned together to show the world that we were not going to allow anyone push us around.  We hung our flags, we said the Pledge of Allegiance, we sang the National Anthem.  We felt patriotic and that patriotism brought us together.

However, that nationalism was short-lived.  Within weeks, Rush Limbaugh was belting his complaints about the Democratic party and Glenn Beck was calling for change.  The nation fell back into its routines of dissidence, contention, and strife.  The sense that we can disagree on an issue but remain neighbors and friends changed.  People dropped friendships over political opinions that were different from their own.

The worst part of losing nationalism is that it is happening at younger and younger ages.  Elementary schools across the nation are discontinuing the daily Pledge of Allegiance because some students or their families find it offensive.  Offensive?  To feel a sense of unity and identity is offensive?  To look around the room of children of all races and creeds and know that you have a bond with each and every one of those children because you are all Americans is not wrong, it is the most correct action that can happen in any day.  We need to encourage children that they belong to something bigger then themselves, that they are not individuals alone in a vast sea of contradictory opinions.  I truly believe that children should hold our nations flag in high regard; I truly believe they will grow up more respectful of other individuals within this nation; they will want to protect each other and to help make this nation great once again.

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I believe we need to put down the remote controls, stand together, say a prayer, and love each other.  We need to bond as a nation so that we can remember that what matters is the warm smiles, the kind words, and that the best moments are moments shared together.  Maybe if we could remind each other that we all matter, those who used to think life was expendable will see it as something of value.