Monday, September 15, 2014

Are You Safe Online? Part 1- PICTURES

During the teen technology workshops we talk a lot about things that put us in danger, especially on the Internet and with Social Media. We creep around these sites and find things people are doing that are putting them at risk so we can talk about them; how to avoid making these mistakes and how to help others be safe.

We discovered a bunch of good ways to use these sites, but the ways that put up red flags made us really nervous because... well, we were all doing them!

The trouble areas are all grouped in a few places I decided to dedicate a post to each of these places. So let's look at pictures first.

They are so easy to post online. I can do it from my phone and put it on several different types of sites. I can email them from my phone, and one day (if someone wants to show me how) I might be able to text them. Cool. Handy. But if I don't stop and think about what is in that picture, I might be putting myself at risk because they aren't so easy to remove. Once a picture is online, it can be stored in the archives forever. It can be shared via various social media, saved to other computers, phones... and basically take on a life of its own. It doesn't mean it will, but it can.

This is our list of things we found that put us at risk:
  • Anything embarrassing to anyone. (anyone includes our friends, our children, our teachers... EVERYONE) They are SOOOO funny! But! They stopped being funny when I asked what a future boyfriend or a college would think about these pictures? What if they wanted to run for mayor or their children found it one day? Or what if it became a Meme!?
  • Inappropriate pictures of  anyone. 
  • Parents posting pictures of their children. This one really annoyed them, and these teens were born after parents started doing this. I'm not so sure how these babies who we follow taking their first step, first pee, first big boy pants are going to feel in fifteen years about those pictures of them with their names over them and the date stamped on it. One teen commented, "I know this is funny, and so cute, but if it was me, I would be pissed that my parents posted this and it went viral."
  • Tags. Being tagged in a photos is fun, except when you don't want to be. We found all sorts of examples from being caught at a party you were not supposed to be at because a friend tagged you, to being linked in a Google search to someone negative because they tagged you in a photo.
  • Not asking permission to share, but worse, sharing things you don't want public. This happened to me; I found a neat picture, I asked the host if I could share it and suddenly the picture vanished... hmm. A good rule is to never post things in public you don't want shared. Please stop. Please ask. 
  • Viruses. We did not know that liking or sharing a picture was leaving a digital trace that exposed us and everyone we were linked to through this share. Think before you click. A good example was the picture of a celebrity promising cash to someone who shares this photo. 
  • Sharing personal data. We spent an entire class learning how to protect our reputation and then we learnt that with each Like or Share of those pictures, we were helping to create a personal data base of our preferences. We tested it out and I'll share the results in a different post.
  • Leaving geo-location on them. Heck we even met someone who was using a pen name but left his real life name, date, and location stamp on the picture. Handy for stalkers like us.
  • Personal information. Taking a look, a good look at what is in a picture. Names of churches, schools, street names, house numbers, little brothers peeing it the back. Ohlala. 
Do you have any pictures of yourself out there you wish you could take back? Any pictures that made you cringe? Do a search of your name and images that link to it... surprised? Any other feedback is welcome.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Tombstone Game

Ever hear of the tombstone game? I read about it in a book.

How it works is that you ask someone randomly what they want on their tombstone. Tell them to really think about it because these are the words they will be remembered by forever. Their answer is apparently their goal or belief in life and it's what they aspire to be.

So one might say, "A fun guy."

Regardless of what they say, it probably won't surprise you and will be easy to remember. I look at my friends with this info in the back of my mind. He wants respect. She wants friends. She wants to be happy. He wants to be remembered. She wants to make a difference. He wants to touch lives.

Now what do you do with this information? Lots. My fav is to bring it back up to make their day. In the case of my example, when this "fun" guy does something fun, you toss the compliment out, "Wow, you are so much fun to be with." and bang! It's amazing how they beam and warm up to you!!!

So I use this a lot... sometimes to get my way. Sorry, but magic works that way. My own little magical whispers.

And this week I started using it on my characters. I know each one well, I thought he'd want this or that, it would be easy. But it wasn't. Because this goal we set ourselves is deep and this is what we really want but it's like an impossible goal only we know how to live by. So here are a few examples I pulled from my WIPs:

  • My guy who lost his memories said all he wanted on his tombstone was "lived a happy moment". I was shocked because he runs around helping everyone and is nuts about finding out about his past... yet knowing what his own goal is, changed the ending because now I know why he does that, and I just have to give him one happy moment to remember. I can do that. 
  • My one character born into a dark family, well, I knew he didn't want to be evil, but what would he put on his tombstone? "You only have to save one." And really, it made sense. He believes he will save himself by saving his father. 
  • So the father? He's just nasty. What did he want? "Finally Free." Wow. That's right, the entire book his goal is to die. (immortals are weird that way.)
I learnt so much about my characters-- about as much as I learnt about my friends-- with this little experiment.

So what would you like on your tombstone? Think about it, because it might change what you do today. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Legend of Whisperers

In the beginning of time, when God made the world, he split the creatures into two. Those with magic and those without. Every creature had a place but those with magic were fascinated by those without. They intervened in the non-magic world known as the mortal realm to teach. One group in particular began to integrate themselves into this mortal world: the Whisperers.

Whisperers were immortal. They called themselves a conscience for mortals and they took upon the task of guiding them along their intriguing journey.

Purposely, Whisperers led their parties astray to see what would happen and to study the results. God grew tired of the abuse and decided to offer them a chance to live as the mortals do. Each immortal was split in two. He ordered them to pair up with mortals and learn hands on how to live without magic, to die, and to love. He offered their magic to demons and promised that if Whisperers found their other half and were content with what they’d learnt, He’d allow them to return to the heavens as the immortals they once were. 

Time passed. Powerless and confused they were forced to try new things. Some earned back their magic from demons; others discovered memories and secret worlds known as realms. Always, they had this need to guide and teach the creatures from the mortal realm and sometimes, magic seeped into to their teachings. They didn't limit themselves to just humans, but animals, elements, even insects were at their mercy.

Slowly Whisperers found their powers and each other. They regrouped into families with leaders, counsellors, and rules. They left behind Notebooks to remind the next family of Whisperers of what they were and what they could do with their spells. They called their enchantment spells, whispers.

Each Whisperer grew in a new way and focused on a unique ability to whisper to as their calling. A Storm Whisperer whispers to nature. A Light Whisperer guides and controls the light that is someone’s spirit. A Love Whisperer or cupid controls their emotions. A Dark Whisperer encourages good people to do bad things. And so on...

In these families, they grew more powerful and vowed to never whisper alone. As they passed from life to life, reincarnating, pairing up with human souls, demonic souls or even with each other, they changed. This change was seen in their souls as a greyish colour. The transition could take one breath or thousands of lives.

As Grey Whisperers, their ultimate goal became to reach enlightenment and return to the heavens as gods. They remembered why they were here and in the remembering came an understanding. They mastered magic. They travelled to other realms. They understood concepts others didn’t and enjoyed teaching and learning. Some found their soulmates. All struggled with a new sensation; they felt more mortal than Whisperer, and this made them hesitate to return to the heavens, as they finally understood that they were unworthy of whispering to mortals

They deepened their studies and worshiped false gods in hopes that they would one day be worthy.

Their legends are many...
                                   their stories touch our lives...
                                     their whispers change the world.


*Note: in 2109 mortals had no idea what demons were and when demons took over the mortal realm, turning men to stone, they called them bogies, which came from a legend of a boogie monster that hid under children’s beds. The monster was actually Demon Mischief and the legend is true.

The first of the Whispering Tales by Tanya Reimer is PETRIFIED

It's takes place in 2115. They have Notebooks they don't understand and they have each other. But is that enough to save the world they've come to love?
Cover by Amber Rendon

PETRIFIED 

A Whispering Tale 
By Tanya Reimer
Sunbury Press
ISBN: 978-1-62006-358-3 (Trade Paperback) 
ISBN: 978-1-62006-359-0 (Mobipocket) 
ISBN: 978-1-62006-360-6 (ePub)

Legends say that when all hope is lost, Grey Whisperers will save the world.

It’s 2115 and hope is lost.

Bogies attack on the Saskatchewan prairies turning men to stone. Grey Whisperers have vanished.

Yet one boy has faith. Gabe might only be thirteen but he’s studied Notebooks written by Grey Whisperers
all his life. He believes they will come.

Even after bogies haul off his brother and pick Gabe as their next target,
he refuses to give up.

On the run, he befriends two special Whisperers. Together they use his Notebooks to tame the ghostly monsters with nothing but magical whispers. The trio set out to fight the enemy behind the attacks but the truth puts in question everything they believe in, even their friendship.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Peach Almost Killed Me

I was an accident prone child. I am still a klutz, a gal gets used to it.

Probably the weirdest thing that just about killed me was the peach. I remember it in detail even though I was probably only three at the time. We had a new car and Dad bought a box of peaches on the way home. We stopped at a Drive-In A&W. (back then we didn't have drive-thru but drive-in; we pulled up, rolled down the window, someone took the order and brought the food to the car, on a red tray that hung on the window. Very cool. I remember every detail that matters.)

So anyway, this new car had a new feature; windows that rolled down with a button!!! The buttons for these were on the armrest of the door.

So my dad gives me a peach and tells me to bite into it. I'd never had such a thing but it smelled great. I bit into it and was shocked. It felt like a caterpillar was in my mouth! I rushed to spit it out, but didn't want to spit in the new car so I spit it out the window. Standing on the armrest. I must have stood on the buttons for the window because it started to close on me.

New things are sometimes confusing and there was a lot of screaming going on... and panicking. None of it from me. Still the window kept closing on me until I passed out.

I woke up in Hell. For those of you who have never been, it's a white room with florescent lights that pulsate and a demon woman tries to shove something up your bum, and if you fight her, she will restrain you.  Not a cool place. Someone saved me from it because when  I came to again, I was home on the couch with Dad. There were no peaches in the house, and I never got to eat another one until I moved out.

I have never just bit into one since, though-- that would be suicide. I always peel them, cut them and share them in a wide open space where spitting is allowed.

Anything weird almost take your life?