Helping a Friend Through a Disaster

Hurricanes are weird. They can predict their coming days in advance, so you have plenty of time to prepare, and plenty of time to worry.

I don’t live in a Hurricane zone, but my best friend Monika does. She and her family were right in the predicted path of Hurricane Irma and it sure looked like they were going to be in deep trouble.

This post is about the lifeline I helped provide to Monika while she prepared and lived through the most dangerously threatening hurricane Florida has seen in a long, long time. She asked me to write this to help other people understand just how vital their remote assistance can be in times of impending disaster.

When Monika first called me crying saying she had a Cat 4 hurricane headed her way and their house was only rated for Cat 3 winds or lower, my first impulse was to try to deny this was really happening. I had already agreed to be her out of area contact and felt a sense of responsibility I wasn’t sure I was ready for. Over the next day or so, she sent me photos of her kids’ clothes with both hers and my number written on the inside of them. Visions of her children getting whisked away in a tornado and me being called to help identify the bodies were disturbing to say the least. We talked about her will, and her legacy to her children should she not make it through the storm. These are the sort of moments you don’t want to have to think about, until you realize that you must.

Imagine for a moment that your death could be imminent, but that your chance of survival could be much higher if you take the right precautions.  You need to focus on taking those precautions, and let someone else worry about the other stuff. My job was to deal with the other stuff. So while Moka was freezing ice in bags, prepping food, talking to neighbors about securing their house, I was in touch with her family letting them know what was up, and checking the news and weather frequently, sending her brief missives about what she needed to know from local news. She had no time to sit on the computer and try to figure out the track of the storm, the wind strength, whether or not the shelters in her county were full or if her neighbors had power. I could provide that info and did.

The best moments might have been when, late Sunday night, she was texting and asking me where the eye of the storm was. I had probably six different sites open but was having trouble finding the eye. It was as if a miracle had happened: the storm was beginning to break up, and the eye was dissipating, right as it got to them. From my look at the radar, I could tell her that the eerie calm she was hearing outside was not actually the eye, it was pretty much the end of the storm.

Fast forward to the happy ending…they got through it alright…two trees fell on their neighbor’s house and around the corner, four trees fell on another house and punctured the roof, leaving a gaping hole in the baby’s room.

So next time you have a faraway friend in a danger zone, see if you can reach out and help. It might just make a bigger difference than you can imagine.

 

Advertisements

Twin Peaks stole my friends, but who needs ’em

I keep hearing some buzz about how Twin Peaks is back, or something. I never watched the original show, but do recall the sadness of wishing I could hang out with certain friends on nights when Twin Peaks was on TV in the early 1990s. They were glued to their TV, and although I could share the same room, I could not have their attention when the show was on. Instead of thinking, “must be an awesome show, maybe I should watch,” I just cringed at the creepy-ass soundtrack, and got resentful of Twin Peaks for stealing my friends.

Fast forward to now, where there are so many options for entertainment-on-demand. I still get a little sad when I realize that I don’t share the same interests in entertainment with the majority of people I know, but it matters less. Ultimately, I’ve realized I really don’t need the company of others to be happy.

 

This post feels pretty immature, but whatevs. 😛 <–that’s me sticking my tongue out.

Facebook Learning Curve

I’ve been using Facebook for a long time, and so have many of my Facebook friends, but some things about it are just not intuitive.

Who Can See What You Posted?

Here’s an issue that crops up a lot for me, because I only share to Friends, rarely ever to Public. So what happens is I post a link to an article, then one of my friends thinks it’s great (thanks!), and then Shares it directly from Facebook, rather than clicking on the link and posting from the link. (The depressing thing about this is that they may not have even looked at the link at all, just saw the headline and pressed Share underneath.)

The trouble is that the thing they just shared will only be visible to themselves and the Mutual Friends we happen to have, if any. Everyone else will just see “Attachment Unavailable” or something like that.

I’m guessing a lot of folks are using Facebook on their Phones and either can’t see or aren’t aware of the icons (below) that show who can see a Post. Check out these little pictures (ignore the time stamp, it’s just there to clue in to where you will see these icons in FB):

 

Friends

 

 Public

 

Friends of Friends **

 

So if you see that something is marked as Friends, you won’t be able to share it directly from Facebook and have your Friends actually see it. (Hi Mom!) If it’s a link, click through to the site and post to Facebook from there.

**Whoa, how do you post to Friends of Friends!?

I just started using “Friends of Friends” for things I don’t mind being a bit more Public that just “Friends.” It’s not obvious how to do this, so here are the steps:

As you are posting, click the button next to Post, select More, then See All, then Custom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then start typing in the box “Friends of friends” and it will look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Select “Friends of friends” and Save Changes.

Now let’s look at a different topic that has been affecting several of my friends, mainly female ones.

Fake Friends

You get a friend request and don’t recognize the person. The vast majority of the time, you should absolutely not friend these strangers. In fact, you may even want to take the extra step of blocking them. Why? They could be scammers trying to get personal information. They could be trolls wanting to harass you. Some extra reasons to be suspicious:

  1. You have no mutual friends
  2. There’s a disconnect with the profile picture vs the person’s page, for example, the profile picture looks like a stock photo of a female model but the page appears to be a man’s
  3. The person’s page contains extremist language or hateful memes
  4. They’ve been on Facebook less than a year and have posted very little
  5. Their profile pictures all look like stock models
  6. They’ve combined attempting to friend you with a private message containing poor grammar and misspelled words
  7. They appear to have a set up a page for the sole purpose of selling something