Did You Know That People BUY Followers?

In an era of fake news, it comes as no surprise to me that a thousand or a million likes on social media platforms are actually fake.  Celebrities and politicians buy fake followers to boost their popularity and to move political agendas.  Yup! Companies like Devumi offer Twitter followers, views of YouTube, plays on SoundCloud, and endorsements on Linkedin – often for as little as a few cents per follower. It doesn’t just stop here in the US, this is happening in China, Ecuador, and all over the world. According to Rami Essaid, founder of Distil Networks, a cybersecurity company that specializes in eradicating bot networks, “Social media is a virtual world that is filled with half bots, half real people.”  What you see on social media may not be what you think it is.

What’s wrong with insecure people buying followers – kind of like buying friends?  It makes the rest of the population feel insignificant by comparison.  So many young people suffer in silence as they see how popular others are.  Aspiring artists and musicians feel depressed when their follower stats are low. 

I hope cybersecurity companies can reveal true numbers and shame abusers of the system so we can establish some sort of semblance of real facts and real news.

Birthdays Are About Being Together

Birthdays are about being together. It’s not about parties or gifts – it’s getting off the treadmill and doing fun things that they normally don’t have time to do.  I turned 60 last weekend and planned a family getaway in Pismo.  After watching the girls plan Rob’s Surprise 60th birthday party last year, I knew I had to come up with a plan before they started making plans for a similar-type celebration for me. Hint: I don’t like surprise parties! 

So we caravanned down to Pismo with good friends, and the girls and their friends met up with us.  We stayed in the same beautiful beach house that we’ve stayed in for 15 years.  After I cleaned the windows – okay, I’m a little eccentric – everyone appreciated being able to see the ocean and dunes. We played Super Deluxe Scrabble, a family tradition, and our newcomer friends needed PTS support and debriefing as they played with us.  Yes, Sam, Nicole, and I are a little competitive… 

We rode our ATVs all over the sand dunes on Saturday and Sunday.  The sand dunes in Pismo are right next to the ocean, which provided the perfect backdrop for our traditional group photos.  They made me the leader – not sure why because I have no idea where to go – and they tied a giant “happy birthday” balloon to my ATV pole flag.  Well, they were able to spot me from anywhere in the dunes! Sam got 5-6 feet of air and went over a 15-foot stretch!  Naturally, everyone just had to try to beat him.  Besides a few minor accidents, we all made it without any broken bones!

Next year, we want to rent an RV so we can play Scrabble on the way down and back again.  We’re all about making the experience fun.  We rented an RV about 10 years ago and camped on the beach.  I’d prefer playing games in the RV as we drive to Pismo and then stay in the beach house.  Just saying… 

Last Summer Hurrah!

Just returned from the best houseboating getaway on Lake Shasta with Jaclyn and Alex and friends!  It had been awhile since we waterskied and tubed, and now we’re all feeling muscles that we forgot we had. 

Driving the ski boat on the lake brought back fond memories of our Pine Flat waterskiing parties.  Just being away from cell towers (no internet or wifi) was such a liberating feeling – being disconnected from the rest of the world! Our houseboat came with a full-sized fridge, dishwasher, compactor, gas grill, stereo, TV (we didn’t use this!), jacuzzi, wet bar, and most importantly, A/C!

When not waterskiing, tubing, or wake boarding, we kayaked and paddleboarded. Thanks to Tim Niemier for shipping us his prototype for the new Origami Paddler (paddleboard that conveniently folds into thirds) just in time for this trip! I like the short length and buoyancy – this was my first time paddleboarding.  The water level was surprisingly high thanks to El Nino.  Johnny and Lori took toddler Azalea on our 3-person Ocean Kayak, and Jaclyn and I took Radar on the other kayak.  Not sure if Azalea or Radar liked being a passenger but it was still entertaining.  We traveled down to the dam and watched what happens (to another boat) when you pass through the buoys and get too close to the dam… the sheriff appears out of nowhere with sirens and loud speakers!

Finding creative ways to go down the slide quickly became a competition, and Alex catching a can of beer (nice toss Johnny!) mid slide won the biggest roar of laughter. When the sun went down, the 20-somethings soaked in the hot tub under a gorgeous full moon while drinking champagne.  A D’Arcy tradition, we played Taboo but apparently the elders had an advantage (you’d never know it by the scores) because it was an “older version from the 80’s.” Really made me feel old when they didn’t know who Walter Cronkite was or never heard of “Bonanza”… Good food is always at the heart of our adventures, and Rob planned a healthy and delicious menu with everyone’s favorites: Thai Chicken Curry, Goi Ga (Chinese chicken cabbage salad), and fried rice and eggs.

These boating trips take lots of planning to round up the players and gather up all of the toys for each group – and it’s all worth it!  We’re already planning our next houseboating adventure for next summer!

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