“Welcome to Cityline!”

Before we really had the internet and podcasts as a limitless fount of information, the residents of my hometown had Cityline. I loved Cityline. It was a phone system done by the local newspaper where you used a directory to call and listen to information. It was updated regularly and had some great regional info and some fun syndicated content.

The earliest mention of it I could find was from this USA Today newsgroup post archived on MIT’s website from 1992:

SPOKANE BUYS CITYLINE SYSTEM:
   The Brite Voice Systems Inc. says it has sold a Cityline system 
to the Spokane (Wash.) Chronicle & Spokesman-Review. The system 
provides a variety of telephone information services to the 
Spokane market. Spokane Chronicle & Spokesman-Review serves 
Western Washington and Northern Idaho. It is owned by Cowles 
Publishing Co.

That’s pretty dry, but from my research was kind of a unique move on the part of the Spokesman-Review. And the Spokesman-Review used the heck out of it. Searching around in their archives you can find many articles that reference it. “Call Cityline to hear a song!” “What do you think? Call Cityline and leave us a message!” It’s all over the place.

Thanks to Google News and the Spokesman-Review, I can show you a clipping of what the Cityline Guide looked like. I think this eventually doubled in size.

A phone tree for a city information line. A variety of topics are listed with phone numbers.

As a kid, I know I called up and listened to the comedy recordings, which were usually a person doing a bit with a funny voice or a lame joke. Mr. Science’s World of the Really Amazing I remember checking out every week. The trivia games were good, too – you would answer by pressing a number on your phone. It was interactive in a basic way. There was choose your own adventure style stories later on, listed under the heading, “Adventure Stories”. I had forgotten that, but reading this reddit thread jogged my memory. There were also mini-soap operas, if my memory serves me. It updated the entertainment pieces weekly, so I can remember looking forward to dialing in and listening to the latest installment of my Cityline numbers.

Sometimes you’d end up stuck in one section of the phone tree and you’d have to hang up and try again. Sometimes you’d find a neglected number that hadn’t been updated in some time. There was also entering a random number, too, and seeing where it led you. I’m sure I tried to listen to all the extensions at one point.

And the voice of the main announcer… I can still remember it. I tried valiantly to find any recording of Cityline but they just don’t exist. The latest mention I can find of Cityline is from a Spokesman-Review article in 1998. Googling the number shows it was acquired by a local cinema, which is kind of a smart move when people are used to dialing it up for movie times.

I just told my husband I was blogging about this. “It was the thing I would call up on the phone when I was bored with no friends around.” He made a face. “It’s really dumb and dorky.” He agreed. But you know what? It kept me company. It was a formative part of my pre-teen years. I was informed and probably slightly obsessed with it.

RIP, Cityline. Thanks for the memories.

I quit subscription boxes.

A pile of cardboard shipping boxes with the text 'it's not you it's me'.

My first subscription box was at Quarterly. Quarterly gets really neat people and businesses to curate boxes of cool stuff every quarter. You buy in at a set rate (like $50 per box) and select your curator. Their box gets shipped to you and the items within are totally secret to you until they arrive.

It’s a great concept. I jumped in when one of my favorite blogs, Unclutterer, was getting in on the action. It was exciting! Like Christmas! A box with secret items on my door step. And I liked the idea that these were selected by someone whose opinion I valued. The objects within would be worth my money.

But soon the novelty wore off. I had $50 of items to help me organize my home, but they weren’t all things that I would be able to use. Or return. I canceled before my next box came.

This is the problem with these subscription services. If you’re not familiar, they’re showing up hot and heavy on the internet lately. It’s a model very similar to Quarterly (described above), but with different products. There’s clothing, makeup, accessories, toys, pet treats, meals… all kinds of things. Selected for you by the experts at these companies and shipped to your home.

The companies are nice enough. My experience with Stitch Fix and Dia & Co., two services that evaluate your style and send you five clothing items to try, were great from a customer service standpoint. (And each of them shipped me items made in America when I asked if they could!) The folks at Blue Apron were kind, too, when I canceled after my first week. The food wasn’t too shabby, either.

But the clothes are never quite right. One or two items will be okay… or I’d have to settle on one article of clothing so not to lose my styling fee. (The fee is $20 you pay initially, which gets credited to the price of an item you keep.) Blue Apron had meals that weren’t really my style (or had nuts in them, but those are easy enough to omit or avoid) but I tried them anyway.

Here’s my core issue. It’s something that can’t be erased by the fuzzy happy feeling that is “I’m getting a special package in the mail with a surprise inside!” Nor free shipping. Or coupon codes.

These companies employ experts to handpick a package for me. But… they’re not experts on me. How could they be? I am one lady out of thousands. The allure of asking an expert to pick something especially for me is tempting but it’s a hard fantasy to deliver on.

I’m sure there are people out there who are like, “Yes! Nailed it!” and end up with five new clothing items in their closet. I’m sure there are people who thrive in the structure a food delivery service gives them. Who are excited about new makeup. New toys. New stuff. But I can’t seem to find a groove. Usually it’s a hit and miss.

I think I’ll keep to being my own personal shopper. I know what I like to wear and what I can eat. If I see something in a store, I can make a decision about it without having it shipped to my house first. There are a lot of wonderful things on the internet that I’ve enjoyed doing  and buying – this just isn’t one of them.

As for all the subscription services I’ve listed above, just remember – It’s not you. It’s me. Thanks for trying.

Alt Text

Okay, this is a little PSA on alt text. What is alt text? If you use WordPress or design websites, you might have seen it as a field on your pictures. If you do web design, you might recall hearing about it. Alt text is “alternative text” and it has it’s roots in the earlier days of the web.

This goes back to the days where we had dial up internet. Remember that? WEEEEE TRRRRK ACK ACK ACK. The modem dialed up and you waited for those sweet, sweet internets to come to you. Well, back in those days, images were slow loading. Alt text would explain what a photo was before it loaded. Or if it didn’t load… which was a common issue back then!

Well, there’s a case to be made for why it’s still relevant on the web today and it has everything to do with accessibility.

I found out about this issue from a good buddy of mine named Miller. Miller’s my age and completely blind. A childhood friend of my husband’s, they grew up together. Miller was sighted back then but lost his sight in his 20s. But Miller, god bless, is a nerd like us. So not being able to see the internet won’t keep him from using it.

He uses a screen reader. JAWS is the most common. And it reads the internet to him. The reader goes SO FAST. Everythingseemsstrungtogetherwithnobreakjustthislongalmostbuzzingsoundthatisthetextbeingread. He says he can keep up. Sometimes I wonder if normally paced conversations are agony for him.

For Miller and people like him, alt text is how they can know what a picture is supposed to be. It is read to them along with the text in the article/site/page/etc. In my gig as Online Editor at my school newspaper, we incorporated alt text day one. And while it is kind of a long process, I’m glad we do it.

Take a look at the last photo you took on your phone. How would you describe it to someone who couldn’t see? How would you describe it to someone who might not know what colors are?

See? Kinda hard, right?

It’s not only the right thing to do, there’s been laws and legislation passed that require compliance and reasonable accommodations be made in regards to those who need an accessible internet. Alt text is just the beginning. Some websites are designed in such a way that it is incredibly hard for screen readers to navigate.

I will say, I can be better. I’m going to go back and make sure all my photos on this blog have alt text. It’s just a little thing that makes a huge difference for folks. It’s something maybe you can do, too, if you have control over your content.

I’ll end this post by linking to a video of Tommy Edison, noted film critic who was blind since birth,  describing colors, which is just as interesting as it sounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59YN8_lg6-U

My “Must Listen” Podcasts

I love podcasts. I used to bike to and from work for years, listening to podcasts with one earbud in. I started with NPR – a ton of NPR – but then comedy podcasting started taking off. Comedians I loved were putting out content for free. What they lost in time they gained in notoriety and new fans. Then there were shows diving into weird, niche topics that only I really cared about and I couldn’t imagine why they existed… except to entertain me. The bike has been replaced with a car, but I still fill my commute with podcasts. They fall into two categories: serious, interesting stuff and dumb, silly comedy stuff. Folks are always asking me what I’m listening to, so here’s a list of my go to podcasts.

Oh, and if you have a show to recommend, let me know! I am always looking for new stuff to listen to.

Here’s the interesting ones!

 

Oh No Ross and Carrie: Ross and Carrie investigate different religions and spiritual/pseudo-science experiences… and they do it from as neutral a place as they can. I was introduced to them when episode one of their series on Scientology dropped. They’re nice people and not looking to expose – just experience and report. Which is why I think this show is so good. Episode to try: Going Preclear (Part 1)

Criminal: This show profiles different crimes and the criminals that commit them. While the topic seems like it would be very narrow, just a rehash of those true crime TV shows you see on all the time, the podcast is fresh and intriguing. Episode to try: Episode 40 – Pappy

Reply All: This show is still all about the internet and still one of my favorites! I’ve talked about them before, but this is a reminder that you should be listening to them. Episode to try: #47 – Quit Already!

 

If you’re a big dumb comedy nerd like I am, try these out!

 

Comedy Bang Bang: CBB is my must listen to podcast every week. Comedians come on and become silly characters and have an improvised conversation. It is often weird and raunchy and is sort of the quintessential improv comedy experience through your ears. It has introduced me to characters I love. It has a TV show now. It is not 100% Grade A every time, but it makes me laugh. If you’re a serious comedy nerd, I’d recommend it wholeheartedly. Everyone else will probably just find this weird and judge me a lot. Episode to try: #338 – Be My Guest, Literally! They usually don’t just have regular people in the studio but their special guest plays along really well. If you like this, I’d listen to the “Best of” episodes to see if you’re in.

Spontaneanation: Comedian Paul F. Tompkins didn’t start out as a king of comedy podcasts, but he is now. Prolific and a great improviser, he’s a frequent guest on other shows. But did you know he has his own?! Yes! It’s a funny improv podcast of a different sort. Paul has on a guest, that guest has a conversation with him and then he and his “improviser friends” make up a scene based on the chat. I am especially fond of improv and PFT so, again, if you’re not a deep comedy nerd maybe not your thing. Episode to try:  #4 Savannah, Georgia. It’s just a silly time with silly voices and gives you a good idea of what this show is all about. BONUS RECOMMENDATION: Watch PFT and puppets on ‘No You Shut Up!’ on YouTube.

How Did This Get Made?: Paul Scheer from “The League” sits down with his wife June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (one of my favorites) to review terrible movies. Comedy and terrible movies are two of my favorite things, so this is just a natural win. Fun fact! This podcast is the reason why I went back and watched all of the Fast and the Furious movies! Episode to try: If you see a movie on their episode list you’ve watched, go for that, but otherwise try #53 Anaconda. You can listen to this without having watched the movie because they do a good job talking about it, but… you also pretty much know what you’re getting into.

An Update on the Laurens

For those of you who might not know, there are several people who share my name and frequently use my email address when they go about their daily lives. It’s a minor annoyance but I figure it’s my duty in the universe to be a good ambassador of my name.

With the holidays came a new flurry of activity and I thought everyone would appreciate knowing what they’re (I’m) up to.

  • Almost joined the Nextdoor website when someone invited a Lauren for their neighborhood. It’s social media for your physical neighborhood so you can, I don’t know, arrange block parties and complain about that lady who feeds the stray cats. If I were evil that could have been fun.
  • Invited to a track meet.
  • Proof of insurance for a car.
  • Someone loves shopping at Anthropologie!!!
  • Registered a Playstation.
  • Signed up for French daily deal emails. For, well, France.
  • I joined two employment seeking websites in the UK! (Which if she can’t type her email address in correctly does not bode well for her at all.) (I wonder if this is the UK Lauren with the debt service and the disposable phone?)
    • Note to self: she is quickly turning into literary fodder.
  • Had not one but TWO spa appointments. The conversation was great as I fumbled though, “Look, I’d love to take her up on the massage but I think the travel to Florida would disrupt my day.”
  • One Lauren had something (???) destroyed so I was greeted with an email titled, “CERTIFICATE OF DESTRUCTION” which might be the most metal thing I’ve ever been emailed.

But then there’s the sad ones. Where some family member has made a mistake and emailed to let me know there’s a loss. There was one especially heartbreaking one right around Christmas. Grandma wanted everyone to know how she was doing that season, especially since her husband had died recently. She was sad but said she was surrounded by loved ones and it made a difference.

I always let them know that I’m not their Lauren. But I also let them know that loss and grief is something shared by many people. We’ve all been touched by it in one way or another. I hope for their peace of mind.

I never get a reply on those emails and it’s fine. I’m sure they have a lot to think about. But I hope their Laurens are reaching out and trying to help them. We need to take care of each other. It’s what humans do. Even if it means that we don’t get a spa day in Florida.

Minions: New Voice of The Internet?

Minions are everywhere. Surely, you’ve seen them. The adorable gibberish speaking monsters? creatures? aliens? things? from the Despicable Me movies. They’ve taken over movie theaters, McDonalds… and our HEARTS? To say that the public is obsessed about these little things is a huge understatement. But I must be honest. A couple weeks ago, I had no idea what they were. It wasn’t on my radar.

Then I started seeing things like this on Facebook:

minionblock

What the what? I was confused. I knew they were from a movie but not much else. I investigated and asked friends about it. “They’re so cute!” “They’re hilarious.” “They’re the best!” “What do you mean you’ve never watched the movies?!” Some weekend media binging later, my husband and I were caught up. We even went and watched the new movie. They are cute and hilarious.

But… how did they become the voice of the internet?

I mean, I understand how they came to meme status. (Quick explaination of memes: when the internet makes something like an inside joke, often using pictures and text, it’s called a meme.) Minions share a lot with the fabled LOLcats of years ago. They’re cute and loveable in the eyes of most people. They have no color or creed or affiliation. They don’t speak any specific language, so you can project whatever you want on them. They are anything to everyone.

towleycomp

Except for some crucial differences… Minions are a symbol of friendship. They are friendly creatures. Cats are aloof loners who would gladly stab you to pieces and burn down your house, if they had the thumbs to do it. They “cannot haz friends”. Minions do, which is why the memes above all have a friendly tone. (Except that one that one caters to the mischievous crowd. But you know the comments on that one were all, “OH TAG CHERYL! THIS IS SO YOU”.) Minions are also LIKE people. Being humanesque makes it easy to project ourselves onto them.

And finally: they’re well known and (because of how popular children’s characters work) they’ll probably be around forever. Before, when Grandma would see something on Facebook like a LOLcat, she’d be confused. “Why is that cat talking in broken English about a hamburger?” But as soon as someone posted this to her Facebook wall:

miniongramps

All of a sudden, Nan is like, “aww Abigail was just showing me this on the TV!!!!!! IT IS WONDERFUL THANKS FOR SHARING KISSES XOXOXO NAN PS SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS I CAN’T TURN THEM OFF”

So the Minions are your mom’s LOLcats.

I will say, though, that I’ve seen some odd spinoffs of this meme. Like, for example, the art featured above is someone’s handcrafted derivative of a minion because they needed ones that looked like grandparents. Okay. And then there’s this:

strongminion

I have so many questions. I know why this is a sentiment that resonates with people, but:

  • why does it exist? like who was like, “I’m going to type this up, it’s IMPORTANT”
  • why slap a picture of a minion on it? the subject matter has so little to do with it
  • is the minion thinking about strong, beautiful women?
  • why not put a picture of a STRONG, BEAUTIFUL WOMAN on it?
  • what’s with the wonky justification on the font? (now I’m just being nitpicky)

I know, I know. The answer is “because internet”. That’s how these things work. You get something influenced by something influenced by something else and then we’re down the rabbit hole looking at something like this:

minionswearswhy

I’ve seen a lot of things come and go the internet. Especially little image based fads. Is this one a keeper? Maybe for a certain demographic. I certainly don’t see it going stale anytime soon.

But it is still pretty weird.

Clickbait is terrible.

I considered writing this post and naming it, “When I see the way article titles are written now, you’ll never BELIEVE my reaction!!!” (Which is annoyed.) But I didn’t want to be a part of the problem. You see, an emerging trend in the realm of digital media/journalism is to have a headline that doesn’t actually reveal what an article is about. You’ve surely seen these online. Let me give you an example I’ve made up:

Newspaper Headline: Food Drive Collects Record 500 Pounds of Goods

Clickbait Headline: When they asked for help, the response had me IN TEARS!!!

The newspaper headline lays out exactly what you’re getting into. The clickbait headline doesn’t tell you the who/what/where/when for a very specific reason: they want you to go to their website. They want to lure you in or trick you into going to their website, so they can show you ads and track your information and get you to like their Facebook page, etc. etc. That’s why it’s called ‘clickbait’. It’s a lazy, deceptive, and gross practice. You’re being misled.

I understand that we’re in a time where people are giving away content basically for free and that ads are paying for the hardware and people that brought me the video of a puppy and baby who are ~best friends~. But often the website bringing you that information via a clickbait headline didn’t make it. They’re just dropping in someone else’s video or a link to a news story where someone else did the legwork. They just slapped it up on their site and passed it around Facebook with their crummy headline. I just think that there’s got to be a better way to go about this. Like producing quality content that will drive people to your site. Partnerships. Anything else. Just make it worth my while to click by telling me what I’m clicking on!

There’s one I just saw on Facebook that had a headline like, “Her dog died due to a TRAGIC mistake. The killer could be at home!” Awesome. Let’s scare people into going to your website. By the way, the dog ate sugar free gum with Xylitol in it, so be careful and keep an eye out for that. It’s harmful to dogs. I just want you to know because it’s important and useful information, no clickbait needed.

There’s a twitter account I love called @savedyouaclick that’s directly fighting against this by doing the same thing I just did and spoiling the headline.

You’re an angel, @savedyouaclick.

I wish I had a more proactive ending to this post, like a suggestion of how to better monetize your website so you don’t have to be a skeezy guy with clickbait headlines. But the reality is that it’s a much bigger problem than one person can fix. All I can do is appeal to the people writing these things and say, “Please don’t be that guy.”

“It’s a show about the internet.”

When I heard those words I was already hooked. I love learning about the internet. Not only did the internet change almost everything about our lives, there is just a wonderfully fascinating culture that has emerged from it. My status as a total nerd is pretty well established, but my love of all things internet just affirms this.

Reply All is a new podcast that I have been devouring. There are so many stories they cover… situations and tales that wouldn’t exists without the internet: An ex-girlfriend breaks up with her boyfriend, only to use an app later to hire a stranger to deliver a message to him in person: I fucking love you. A man invents the pop-up, much to the ire and upset of the rest of us. A man who has dedicated his Sunday nights to amending Wikipedia of one specific grammatical mistake. These are stories that I have loved hearing and learning about.

This is going to sound odd, but I love the ads too. Podcasts, for the uninitiated, are ad supported. Most shows just read off copy they’ve been handed, rattle off the website and coupon code, and back to the show. But these guys, PJ and Alex, are using their ads as an extension of the show’s concept in an entertaining way. They have a conversation about how they use the vendors they’re advertising for, which are all digital services that exist thanks to the internet. For Squarespace, where you can build your own webpage, Alex created a page dedicated to whether PJ has met his new baby. Well, HAS HE? You can check out that page here and find out: http://haspjmetalexssonyet.squarespace.com. They also talk about their MailChimp e-mail list, and how, whoops, they forgot one week to send the newsletter. “Obviously, what you’ve just recorded is our ad.” “MailChimp! Works great if you actually send your newsletter out!”

It’s also doing something I didn’t expect: it’s teaching me about the internet. Things I had no idea were happening. Not that I thought I was the end all be all of internet culture, but I thought I was pretty savvy. For example, there’s a thing called swatting where someone as a prank will phone in a threat at someone’s house who’s doing a livestream on the internet. The result is a SWAT team raiding them, live online. Just mentioning it makes me nervous.

This universe is wide and weird and wonderful and awful all at the same time. I suppose that’s part of the reason I’m so drawn to it. I think the other reason is because this culture is my culture. Its history is my history. Much of the family and friends I have are from the internet, as I’ve discussed in previous blog posts. I’ve always said that my dream job would be to become an internet anthropologist, but there’s not a real clear road map for how that would even be a thing, and at age 30 I think I’m a little late to figure it out.

I can’t wait to see what Reply All has up its sleeve. Do yourself a favor, head over to replyall.limo (yes, .limo, since the .com was taken, which is hilarious to me). Check them out. And keep up the good work, Reply All. I’ll see you on the internet.

I’m from the Internet.

I’ve always been a nerd. A geek. A dork. A goober. PROUDLY SO. MY FATHER, A GOOBER BEFORE ME. My earliest computer was a Commodore 64. At the tender age of four, I had video games… but not like the other kids. We typed command lines in before we could play Fisher Price: School Bus Driver. AND WE LIKED IT.

When in the mid-90s AOL started connecting us and the world was logging on, I was right there to watch it happen. (On a newer computer than the C64, of course.) I knew the internet was something different and new. Important. A few years later, I had my own full blown website where I just plucked away at HTML, wrote serial stories with monthly updates (that some of the kids in school found and read along with), and talked about things I liked (things I am embarrassed to list here, but I had a MIDI of the Titanic theme at one point). Blogging 1.0? Eh, maybe. It was a welcome and empowering distraction and I worked on it for years. My friends liked it, strangers found it. I was answering emails from people who thought I was funny and amusing – and they lived in far off places. The internet was magic.

My dad recently mailed up some paperwork from when I was in high school. There it was, a biography written by me: “Lauren’s future plans are studying or working on the internet.” Oh yeah. I was hooked.

After I moved away from my childhood home, I got my first job at a doughnut shop in Houston. I had wandered in, distraught after a day of fruitless job searching, finding solace in a ring of fried dough. My friend suggested maybe I could work there. My eyes widened. I LOVED doughnuts and it never really occurred to me I could WORK there. A short conversation with the manager later and I was hired on the spot. The shop soon turned out to be a sugar fueled circus, but I hung on.

One night, we were getting ready to close up shop and a woman and her young daughter walked in. My eyes immediately locked in on her shirt. It was a character from the popular (at the time) webcomic, Megatokyo. As I rung them up I was brave enough to chirp, “I like your shirt. Megatokyo is really cool.”

“OH!” the mother explained, “You know what this is? She just asked me to buy it.” The daughter sort of shrunk away a bit, too shy to make eye contact with me. I nodded and explained I read the comic, had for years.

“So you’re from the Internet, then, too?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’m from the Internet.”

BEST. DAY. EVER. I rushed home and had t-shirts made for myself and all my friends. I’m not kidding. I just wore one to an IT networking event last night. (I still have plenty if anyone wants one! Only $10!)

I felt like the phrase totally encapsulated my identity. I WAS from the Internet. A majority of my friends were, too. My boyfriend (now husband) and I had met online. Everything I cared about was online. It was my hometown. It had shaped me more than anything else. I could learn online using podcasts published by colleges I could never dream of affording. I could be entertained online, reading comics and watching videos for free. I found my friends there, people whom I share my specific interests (not the Titanic midi) with. I found a family there… There was a group of us who came to know and care very deeply about each other, talking daily, sharing little pieces of our lives.

I’m sure many of you did this in person. I did it online, in chat rooms and message boards.

I’m still fascinated by the Internet. I have next to me a bookcase that is chock full of information about the origins of the web, how businesses were born and died, and how the web has influenced so many facets of how we communicate. The Internet is an amazing tool and – for better or worse – has shaped me as a person.

So yes. I say it loud, I say it proud.

I’m from the Internet.

There are people whom with I share my name.

Estimate for a Deck

Estimate for a deck. Not mine.

I have what I would guess is a fairly common problem here in the modern age. I have the same name as other people who use the internet. And not only that, I have an email address of that name. Now, you’d think that people would know their own email address. You registered it and using it is much like giving out a phone number – you want people to contact you so you give them your email address. Well, people aren’t contacting YOU when you give out the wrong email – they’re contacting ME.

At first it was little things… like adding me to a mailing list or sending me photos of someone’s vacation or children. A quick, “Whoops! Not your Lauren!” email would set people straight. They’d apologize, and it would be fine. Those instances are the ones I understood. But sometimes they’d say that the offending Lauren had told them what to type. How weird. I’d ask them to remind her that it wasn’t her email and that would be that.

About a half dozen Laurens have made this mistake over the years. These are things that were clearly not intended for me:

  • An Australian Lauren has been asked to umpire softball tournaments via my email
  • I have also been invited to a Tupperware party in Australia
  • I have been signed up for not only a virtual pet service but a virtual magical horse breeding website
  • The estimate for the deck above is for some Lauren in Louisiana and it is LOVELY
  • Lauren in the UK has signed up for a money management service as well as a disposable cell phone
  • Someone named Adam who would accidentally send along emails like ‘my phone is dead call soon’ and fwd: lost high heeled shoes in rental car’ (I think they were dating.)

One is a Lauren in the South Carolina/Georgia area. I got a ticket she bought for a Halloween party. Lucky for her, the phone number was listed on the order. It was one of the more confusing phone calls I’ve made. “Hi, you don’t know me, but I am Lauren and I’ve been sent your ticket for the party you were planning on going to and I got your phone number off the email and I didn’t want you to miss the party. Hi.” She gave me her email address and I forwarded the ticket to her.

I always try to make an effort. Always. I figure if karma exists maybe some will come my way. Plus it makes for an interesting story.

This weekend, a new Lauren presented herself. I’d been signed up for real estate e-mails from Virginia for a couple years now and this weekend I get emails from U-haul and Comcast. I guess she found her new house. I had her address and phone number but I haven’t called her. It’s WEIRD AND UNCOMFORTABLE. Her orders have been placed so is the point moot? Do I call anyway and say, what, “Hey, you’ve been using my email address sooooo… stop?” I’m going to ponder the issue and see what I think I should do. I don’t want to wait too long, because then it’s out of the blue, and I don’t want to wig her out. But it should be addressed… right?

Maybe I’ll send her a housewarming card.