Tracks

Two dogs, one chair
When The Graduate visits, the dogs greet him like they were waiting specifically for him since he was last at the farm. Maybe it was a week and maybe it was a month, but they bark and leap and lick and wiggle. When he is getting ready to leave, they watch him pack, their brows furrowed, their ears drooping down the back of their necks, their bodies curled into impossible knots of worry, their long legs sticking out at strange angles as they both try to be on the same wingback chair. They know.
After a year and a half of living at the farm, the dogs know the property. They know where the fox lives, where the latest deer carcass is, where the best corners for marking their territory are. I usually walk them in the afternoon, when it’s warmest. We walk the perimeter, a just-under-three kilometer route, with a hill. I take leashes, just in case, but generally let my dogs run ahead so they can be dogs.
We got snow last week, and then a day of rain followed by some cold nights.  The snow is no longer fresh, and it has an inch-thick frozen crust. Anywhere we have walked, our old tracks are icy from the compression.
Some days, we go counterclockwise, up the hill and then down, and around and up again. Other days, we go clockwise, down the hill and across and up and then down a ways. If the timing is right, I pick clockwise hoping to catch the beginning of sunset at the top of the hill. Dogs don’t care about sunsets.
Cherry is 12 now, and quite white in the face but still willing and interested in running. The icy snow has made it painful for her starting out some days this week; she seems to tiptoe around, her four feet clenched into teeny tiny paw-fists, her steps short and her back roached. She once stopped to complain, and I told her that her feet would be numb soon enough, and I was right.  She galloped ahead of me once she forgot to be upset about her cold paws. We are only ever out for a half an hour, an hour at the most. I make them wear jackets below 40F, and two layers below 20F. I am aware that she could wear boots, but if I buy dog boots I have to make the dog accept wearing dog boots.  Snow is temporary.
So we tough it out, and Cherry copes, staying on top of the snow and leaving only the tightest little prints in the surface of the unbroken snow.
Captain gallops along, full-throttle, his feet spread out wide. Those paws are webbed, for swimming, and make excellent snowshoes, and he’s so relaxed and happy outdoors that he slaps along the cold snow like it’s the best thing to run on. He loves to run on grass, too, of course, and on pavement, as well. He runs uphill and down, through the woods and over the trails, down the marked paths and the unmarked, diving into the bushes and emerging covered in ticks in all seasons except this one. Sometimes I find thorns stuck in him. He is so happy to be running outside, he just doesn’t care.
I pick my path with care. I stick mostly to the path of the day before, putting my steps not into the footsteps of yesterday because they don’t fit, end to end, or front to back. I’m constantly trying not to fall, looking for the best route, but I trust what I did yesterday; I didn’t fall yesterday, I can walk that path today. I fit my feet in the spaces between my tracks from before. Cherry picks her way around. In the iciest patches she walks behind me, in my footprints. Captain’s footfalls leave holes and after a day are great frozen paw prints, sunk down in the snow, like a marker of his impact. His prints are much bigger than his paws ever appear to be. He runs ahead and around and has to be called back.
The snow should all be gone tomorrow. We are expecting a front with warmer temperatures and lots of rain. There will be mud. Perhaps more snow will come again in another week.

Today, I had a Facebook message from an old friend who’d emailed last week and not heard back. My oldest friends use my oldest email, and I never remember to check it. It is always so full of junk (here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here), I avoid it. If she hadn’t used Facebook, I might not have known for another month. It’s not that I’m hiding; I’m just retracing my steps.

Still Yet Another Absolutely True and Completely Unexpected Message #2

Dear Sir,
On behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria FGN/ Presidency and the Federal minister of Finance (FMF), I wish to bring to your knowledge that the Federal Government of Nigeria FGN, have decided to bring a lasting solution to all long delayed payments. We have received a lot of complains from different Countries saying that the Nigerian Government refused to release their payment and we want to correct that impression. Right now the Federal Government of Nigeria has instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to offset every payment owed all the foreign beneficiaries through Atm-Card and it will be monitored by me to ensure accurate and decent delivery to every beneficiary to avoid any hitch. This method of payment has been tested
and confirmed as the fastest and safest means of paying foreign beneficiaries their money. I am Her Excellency, Mrs. Patience Dame Goodluck representing the Federal Government of Nigeria/Presidency to make the announcement for 2013 payment.
The Federal minister of Finance (FMF) in joint venture with the Central Bank of Nigeria, will commence action immediately we hear from you.
President, Jonathan Ebele Goodluck (GCFR) my (husband), has made funds available through our FUEL SUBSIDY REMOVAL, just to make absolutely sure that the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN offset all debts. We have the official list of all the beneficiaries whose names are listed down. Now we are getting in touch to all the beneficiaries who have not received email regarding their payment. Please do not inconvenience us if you have received your payment. But if you have not, kindly contact us back in your return mail with your full information for immediate action, this was the order given to me by Mr. President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (my husband) & the Honorable Minister for Finance. Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.
Regards
Mrs. Patience Goodluck,

Her Excellency, First Lady Federal Republic of Nigeria,

I started laughing after, “Dear Sir,” and had to collect myself after seeing, “Nigeria,” in the first line. I wonder if there is some sort of scam inside Nigeria where people are taught how to make these mass emails at some cost to themselves.

I might also point out that if you set an automatic “out-of-office” reply on your work email, you will automatically reply to any incoming messages of this kind. 

Mostly, I wonder who does reply to these, and how the fraudsters benefit.

Lastly, if you enjoy these kinds of posts, you can check out others here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Why I Hate LinkedIn

Almost without exception, every one of my classmates from business school has a LinkedIn profile.  There is a reason for it: I know someone who added a number of skills to his profile and heard from a new recruiter within 24 hours. The latest wave of people requesting I add them as contacts is a group of young women who were my students in high school; they are now seniors in college, and someone in the career services office is doing her job, directing these soon-to-be-graduates to start building their networks.   You never know which friend-of-a-friend might make you a contact that wins you your next job. My business school peers keep their profiles up to date, and a small handful of them use it to let us know what they’re reading or which professional conferences they’re attending. Allow me to politely stifle a yawn.
Social networks in general are distrusted by some people my age and older, and I have plenty of friends who won’t have anything to do with them. Others perceive that people seem to like it and go ahead and join, only to wonder “what’s the point?” and never get around to turning Facebook into something they use. This is where I am with LinkedIn: I pretty much understand what it’s for, I joined without hesitation, I generally add people who request that I do (assuming I know them), but I don’t go there every day.  I have yet to perceive that I have gotten anything from my membership in LinkedIn. Wait: for a while there was a lot of regular email, featuring the promotions and new jobs of my classmates. I am happy for them, but I found it depressing. I changed my settings so I don’t receive updates anymore.  LinkedIn offers a dizzying array of settings for the annoying email membership will generate, and even if you limit it to weekly updates, it will be too much if you belong to any groups.
On LinkedIn, I cannot have my name appear as I prefer, with first, middle and last; it’s simply not an option. No doubt there are other women and men who find this frustrating.  I am allowed to create my professional “headline,” but must choose from a limited list of industries. What industry do you work in when you left education to get a new degree and are now unemployed? For a while there I used “Think Tanks,” because I thought it was cute.    These days, being unemployed is not very cute.
I do not have a picture on LinkedIn. I do not consider myself photogenic, and I do not have a professional looking headshot. Probably I should get one. I do not have a resume on LinkedIn. I have done a variety of things as an adult, and could easily generate three mostly different resumes, focusing on different aspects of my experience. I tend to need to tailor my resume to the role I’m applying for.   I do not currently have a job, and when I was actively looking, I checked LinkedIn regularly.
Facebook, for all its evils, especially its obvious desire to exploit its knowledge of my personal interests for its own monetary gain, still has enough appeal to me to inspire a daily visit. (If you know me, you know that “daily” is inaccurate, and might better be replaced with “hourly.”)  LinkedIn throws advertising at you, but from what I can surmise from its financial statements derives roughly half of its profits from its hiring services and the rest from marketing opportunities and premium subscriptions.  The platform remains consistent, does not add annoying features, and has not yet proved a breeding ground for dreadful spam postings when members’ profiles are hacked into. In these regards it is much better than Facebook.  Yet I still hate it.
Sometimes, Facebook makes ridiculous suggestions of friends for me, or advertises to me guessing that I am interested in Ugg boots or veganism or over-weight or single or Jewish.  LinkedIn also makes ridiculous suggestions, like to add “Geometry” or “Algebra” to my skills list. Do they also have “good grammar” or “proper spelling” or “biting sarcasm?”  When LinkedIn reduces my profile to a set of searchable key words, I am reduced, flattened, sampled from, and not fully represented. Facebook may violate my privacy, but at least my quilt-making pictures are all there, along with photos of grapefruit, horses, birthday cakes and sand castles.  I can enjoy a small victory on Facebook every time someone “likes” my status.
LinkedIn says they have one hundred thirty-five million members. Here is that number: 135,000,000.  If they can actually help me find a job worth doing, then I will stop hating them.  But I’m still pretty sure I won’t visit them every day.

Yet Another Absolutely True and Completely Unexpected Message

I am not just cleaning out my house. The following email did appear in my in-box on the 9th. 
I am a little busy right now, but perhaps one of you, dear readers, will take up the good work of the lord. 

Hello
My name is Mrs. Natte James Ray am going on a cancer surgery
today.contact my lawyer, Tell him that I have WILLED 14.258M to you for the
good work of the lord. quoting my personal reference number
JJ/MMS/953/5015/GwrI/316us/uk. I have paid for the state tax on this money
to be transferred to you.
My lawyer’s Name: Barrister stacy miller
Email: stacy_miller50@yahoo.co.uk
STACY GRANT MILLER
Attorney at-Law.
S.Miller & Associates LLP
11 Staple Inn Buildings,
London WC1V 7QH,
United Kingdom
+447031875842
Dear friend

That bit at the end really gets me. Interrupted? Copy pasta error? Artistic license?