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Workout Music in the 21st Century ("A Horse is a Horse...")

Sunday, September 14, 2014

You knew that sooner or later this day would come. Over nine months of radio silence is over, as not unlike Mr. Ed, I have something to say. Today's blog-worthy topic is workout music. (Yes, those of you who remember me from the olden days when Sparky was but a toddler, know that workout music was an oft-visited blog topic. And for those of you who only wish to read about successes and failures of the eternal Battle of the Bulge, skip, move on, complain to Sparky, delete me as a Spark Friend already for crying out loud.

For the rest of you, fasten your seat belts, for here goes nine months of pent-up blogginess:

Shamed by Thing Two who accuses me of being anti-technological and thus aging rapidly before his very eyes, I have been dragged kicking and screaming into the world of 21st century digital music. But first, some historical perspective is on order:

In high school I was the guy with the most records (albums and 45s) and a fast-growing collection of custom mix-tapes. In college I was the guy with the biggest speakers in the dorm windows and the electronic muscle to pump my (stuck in the late 70s to early 80s) musical taste into the quad. Mix tapes were a specialty and a road trip necessity; I was the only person I knew with two ultra-expensive cassette decks, for their (relatively effortless at the time) preparation.

At summer camp I was the DJ (so to speak) for Saturday night dances, more often than not. My car stereo similarly was a source of (irrational) pride and expenditure. When Elvis Costello sang "Radio, Radio", he was targeting me.

The radio was my best friend, and often the only constant in my life that regularly warped out of orbit, from high school, to college, to graduate school with various far-flung summer experiences between.

Video came along to kill the radio star. I eschewed MTV (other than Martha Quinn); I liked the music more before I knew what the artists looked like.

Times changed again, and (after missing the Kazaa and Napster revolution entirely because of priorities on a career, dating, marriage, and fatherhood) ultimately I found my way to subscription music downloaded from the internet.

I was an early adopter of Yahoo Music, later purchased by Rhapsody and its go-anywhere music, played on special (if really poorly engineered) mp3 players that could handle this weird take on limited digital rights music. Again I was on the vanguard, or so I thought.

Around then I also became an early Pandora user (way before everyone and his brother heard of it), and still have close to 100 personally-planned stations there, all the while my musical tastes evolved but at a much slower pace than the technology.

These days the large speakers no longer are in the windows, and the wattage of my receiver has given way to more sophisticated devices. Music is more of a personal experience and not so much a communal one.

I relish my headphones for the gym, and my waterproof mp3 player for the pool. The music is for me and less for everyone else within earshot. They have their music and their incorrect tastes in songs and artists. Live and let live; I'm not going to change them and have given up trying.

For the moment, my amazing new headphones (light weight, washable, gym-worthy and amazingly tuneful) still are connected to my Rhapsody DRM-compliant mp3 player when walking or working out. However, my Smartphone is fast being discovered as an entertainment device, already being relied on to deliver me Orioles games on the radio anywhere.

Now a new music technology is here for my Smartphone, beckoning with its power and simplicity to abandon all what has come before. It's called Spotify and its revolutionizing all that came before, yet again. At least this time I'm not quite the very last person to have heard of it or used it.

I downloaded the Spotify app and I see its power, simplicity and to put it bluntly, its inevitability. If only I was not so invested in other, aging technologies and platforms.

I have not brought myself to cough up the $10 a month for a fully-enabled, ad-free Spotify subscription, but I suppose that too is inevitable.

PS - For anyone who elects to be snarky about a broken New Year's Resolution here in mid September, my Spark Friends list is in front of me, and my hair-trigger finger is on the delete key. We don't want things to come to that, do we?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PICKIE98 9/15/2014 4:48PM

    I still have the 78's, 33's and 45's from home. WWII records too.
I still have a cassette player in my stereo along with a turntable .. own every Beach Boys album made..

Cherish my Alice Cooper Schools Out album(the cover is a working desk.) Who remembers Cheech and Chongs ZigZag album cover??Got that too..

Miss hearing about your adventures this past summer....What are the Things up to now? How did drivers ed pan out?

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WORLDSERIES11 9/15/2014 3:02PM

    emoticon you have been greatly missed!! Who else can I talk sports with emoticon
I made the progression from albums/45's, to cassette's, to 8-tracks, to CD's(and still have some of each!)...but I stopped there. My technological skills and interest haven't advanced from there, so some would say I'm still in the stone age:-)

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BONOLICIOUS2 9/15/2014 8:24AM

    Is that your wedding pic?!?!?! Awesome!

I havent forked over the $10 yet either but I feel like that day is coming... ahhhhhhh

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DEENANATAF 9/15/2014 12:59AM

    So glad you wrote -- I have missed you and your blogs. Happy and healthy New Year to you, Susan and the Things.
Deena from Jerusalem

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LE7_1234 9/15/2014 12:29AM

    I'm with PHEBESS--you made it to the New Year! emoticon

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PHEBESS 9/14/2014 8:40PM

    From New Year to New Year, right?

And I thought I was with it since I have an iPod. Sadly out of it once again. I have visions of returning to the US some time in the future and having zero clue how to work any of the new technology. Like, how to cook a meal. Or make a phone call. There will be so many new technologies, and I'll be so out of it.......

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CHARTHESTAR 9/14/2014 8:35PM

    I also loved your wedding picture you shared.
I have heard of spotify but right now I am happy with what I am doing.
Good to have you back from your radio silence.
Also- been keeping up with your laps this summer. WTG!

I remember in the late 1970 I was shopping with my parents at an outside mall close to
Chicago. We had split up to go our separate ways and I went into the Sharper Image. WHAT AN AWESOME STORE. I had never been in one before and they had the most coolest awesomest thing in the world. Digital CD's where you would eventually be able to mix your own CDs. I dragged my parents back there. At that moment you couldn't make your own CDs but he said that the technology would be available soon. How cool- no more sitting my the radio to catch your favorite songs. The kids nowadays will never know that type of anticipation and then frustration when you ran out of tape before the song was over.

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IAMAGEMLOVER 9/14/2014 8:12PM

    emoticon I kept checking you SP page to see if I was still subscribed to your blogs and maybe just not getting notice. You know the mail. You are way ahead of me on technology. I still have a record player, albums and a few 45's Precious and Few is one of them. I love that song. I have a MP3 player that Gary bought me for losing the 120+ pounds but I don't know how to use it so never have. It's a nice one to according to my nephew. I finally received a DVD player for Christmas. Maybe one day I will learn how to use it. emoticon

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SPARKFRAN514 9/14/2014 7:51PM

    emoticon emoticon I am with in the dark ages in music dept thanks for sharing the picture you and Sue hope we don't have to wait so long for the next one emoticon just so you know you are a head of me with your M 3 player and down loading music my cell phone is in the dark ages its only a cell phone and a radio shake 19.99 one at that emoticon

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BOOKAPHILE 9/14/2014 7:14PM

    Welcome back from radio silence!

You are more current than I. I haven't used Spotify. I might need a tutorial...

The walk down memory lane was fun! I think I became a dinosaur when I wasn't looking. I don't even have a "smarter than me" phone.

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CHEBBA 9/14/2014 6:55PM

    Well, I may be up to date with much of my current technical stuff, but that doesn't mean that I haven't still got the remains of my past! I found a WALKMAN in a box of 'stuff' the other day - good grief! I also have vinyl records of 45rpm, in another box - and some going back to when I was a CHILD, so they're around 60yrs old! I've even got some pretty, semi-translucent rainbow-coloured 45rpm's, like oil-slick colours, on records which I bought as a teenager living in Cyprus in the mid-'60's - I wonder if they're worth anything?

Now, my nearly 93yr old father… if you want to know about old kit, he's in a different league! His valve-operated radios and stuff which doesn't work, have now reached the status of having to be kept as they're probably collectable! Yesterday, I even cleaned the tile floors with a 60yr old burgundy-coloured Hoover, borrowed from Dad, complete with two rotating bristle brushes and its original burgundy-coloured cable! It's made of Bakelite, so will be highly collectable.

They don't make 'em like they used to…. eh? !

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MARYANN2323 9/14/2014 6:42PM

    Loved your blog. However you're speaking to THE poster child of the technically challenged. I still have my cassettes, although I do admit to also owning an iPod Shuffle, remember that? (which was uploaded with songs of my choice by my hubby) So I have to bow to you, Oh Lord of the Sound Waves.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DALID414 9/14/2014 6:42PM

    When my Zune died ages ago and the laptop that held my downloaded CDs for the Zune crashed and burned, I thought I was done with music. Until my boss said to play music at the office! He even bought me some small speakers for my phone. I use the I Heart Radio app.

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ILOVEMALI 9/14/2014 6:07PM

  Add to your Spotify: Fleetwood Mac, Santana (Carlos, not our puppy) and the OST from The Commitments. Makes for a fun half hour.

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WATERMELLEN 9/14/2014 6:02PM

    Delighted to hear from you -- and on such an interesting topic historically and to the present. Spotify you say!! Sounds very cool!!

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1CRAZYDOG 9/14/2014 5:59PM

    HEeee’s BAAAAAACK! Ah yes, nothing like a teen aged Thing to spark action, eh!

Step awaayyyyyyy from that delete key! I am glad you broke your radio silence. LOVE the pic of you and Susan.

I admit, I’ve heard of Spotify, but never used it. Maybe my kids are right . . . I’m a dinosaur!

I remember the days of the cassette players and boom boxes too.

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ACRAIG921 9/14/2014 5:39PM

    Thanks for sharing!! I absolutely love music. I am also realizing the entertainment potential of my smartphone, but I also still enjoy going to the store and buying a cd. I haven't totally jumped on the download music bandwagon!!

I hope you have a great day! emoticon

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Autopilot Behind the Wheel of the Caravan

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

You knew this day was coming,. It is here. And you will be just fine.

The ladies who sit in the front row of the Caravan - I call them collectively the Sisterhood - and they know full well who they are - worry about me. They think I need to blog for my psychological well being, and to stop cold turkey will work about as well as stopping cold turkey does with anything else. I tell them not to worry and that I am fine. They do not believe me.

Those of you with whom I have been connected for a year or more, sit in the middle row of the Caravan. You have witnessed the rise - and fall - of my Sparky popularity. Just like the pretty girl who achieved the pinnacle of her life, socially, in Junior High School, or like the grand finale on the Fourth of July, a brilliant display and then nothingness, all too soon. After the fireworks on the 4th, you sit in traffic and ultimately get home with your sunburn intact. Well, I still have my belly, ill-deserved Sparky popularity or not.

For those of you with whom I connected more recently, there was room in the back row of the Caravan for you. There was a time before me and there will be an even more pleasant time in the future. What will you do with the time recovered from having been wasted reading and commenting on my blogs? Track food more carefully? Another lap around the gym? You will be fine.

It is possible that one or more of you still may inspire me to blog on rare occasion. Solstices, equinoxes, the loss of 10 pounds, constitutional conventions, Orioles World Series appearances - something now-and-then like that. Nothing like the pace it has been. I need my time back, and I need my Sparky energy to focus on the humdrum of daily tracking and even doing a better job of interacting in a more meaningful way with you.

My 2014 Sparky resolutions (other than not to blog):

1. Lose 1.5 lbs a week, all year long.

2. Track everything. Put Sparky back in detailed quantitative control. WATERMELLEN and many others of you are right - you can't out-exercise a poor diet.

3. Drink the water. A lot of it. No, more than that. No, even more than that much. Yes, I will Spark from inside the bathroom, a lot.

4. Use the Sparky Activity Tracker. It should arrive any day.

5. Use the space limited by status updates to opine on Sparky things I wish to share. Like Twitter, it forces one to be concise.

My parting thought is this: We are are headed down the weight loss escalator together. Some of us got on it sooner, and some got on it later. Some stand on the escalator, and some march down the steps with decided purpose for awhile. Some of us even reverse course and endeavor to walk back up, involuntarily or otherwise. A growing number get to the bottom, and may or may not stay there. Some get off on an intermediate landing for awhile, voluntarily or otherwise.

However, we're all on the escalator. We're in this together. Blogging, or otherwise. Think about Aretha Franklin in her iconic song Think: "... You need me... I need you..." All of us. Together. Strength and safety in numbers. I'm still here; i assure you I'm going no place. Talk to me and I will respond appropriately. Meanwhile, thanks for reading the blogs and Happy New Year one and all.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LISAN0415 5/28/2014 1:43AM

    Hey those are great goals! I do want to join your new team, It sounds very helpful!


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CASEYTALK 3/19/2014 4:50PM

    Just checking in with you. I wish the setbacks weren't a way that we seem to parallel, but we're having almost the identical Spark journey, so no reason why this wouldn't be a part of it.

Don't give up. You're right to focus on tracking. It's worked in the past and will work again. I've been setting the weekly menu with the spark tracker and using the shopping list to be sure I have everything I need. That never worked for me when I was cooking for the whole family, so that may not work for you and your family, but you could give it a try. It saves the problem of "I'm so exhausted I can't think about the programme for now -- so I'll take some bread and cheese and maybe some of those cookies because I've had such a hard day." The food is in the house, the tracker has already listed the foods so all I have to do is check them off, and none of it is tricky to prepare.

Stay with us! So your 'popular blog' titles aren't coming as quickly as they did. What's important is that you are working on your health. Don't give up! I won't give up on you!

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IFDEEVARUNS2 1/20/2014 3:48PM

    Goodness. Just arrived and you're gone. I'm not sure how I got here, but good luck on the escalator.

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NANCY- 1/4/2014 6:01PM

    "Talk to me and I will respond appropriately." Really this from the
Chief Naysayer, Contrarian and Staunch Opponent of Change?
As you saw two of my guys, they must follow their own path and have their own priorities. Thankfully my son is smart, kind and loving. I was quite impressed with his parenting skills. This is what he chose to be.
What do you chose for yourself?
What is your highest priority?
You know what you need to do for you!

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BOSS61 1/1/2014 8:57PM

    Please accept an an open invitation to the Caravanners, who are serious about weight loss and willing to invest the sweat equity to track and hold one another accountable in quantitative detail, to join the new Spark Team "Unrelenting Accountability" now that some semblance of a team structure has been established. The only per-requisite is that "you wanna."

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MARYANN2323 1/1/2014 5:44PM

    And a happy and healthy New Year to you. May we push each other over our respected finish lines!

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NOMIS1 1/1/2014 8:34AM

    Happy New Year.

I will certainly miss the blogs - but I wish you well - whatever it takes.

Hope we both stay on that down escalator.

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PHEBESS 1/1/2014 5:22AM

    Ain't no mountain high enough
Ain't no valley low enough
Ain't no river wide enough
To keep me from gettin' to you babe.

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ALLYALLYT 1/1/2014 2:15AM

    Darn, leaving when we have just become friends emoticon Seriously-have a fantastic 2014, may your dreams and goals become reality!

Comment edited on: 1/1/2014 2:16:03 AM

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IMLOCOLINDA 1/1/2014 1:59AM

    A new year is a sunrise for the soul. May your coming, blogless year be bright, beautiful and blessed. Susan and the Things will appreciate your time. We'll miss your lively chatter...but we'll all survive. May 2014 be your best year yet, Mark!!

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DALID414 1/1/2014 1:09AM

    ...which reminds me, time to purge that 'friends' list!

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ILOVEMALI 1/1/2014 12:12AM

  You will love the tracker. Sparky got confused by the drive south in the pick-up -- thought that walked part of the way --but otherwise, it works for me. I figure +/- 10% is accurate enough for me. Sparky makes me aware of how much I'm moving (or not) and motivates me to get up off of my tush.

Happy New Year, Pal --

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    Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't question the reasons you cite for curtailing your SP blabbing, er, blogging and perhaps other forms of SP sociability. You've already been told that I'm available for whatever is legal and proper. If you disappear altogether, I'll be cross with you. And what about me? Does any of this mean that I'm on my own when it comes to thrashing my computer?

An aside: I like your friend, Pickie. Anyone who knew mimeograph, even if only for a year or two, is A-OK. Anyone who knew A-OK is good, too. I promise that I've never before written or uttered the locution.

Don't wander too far afield.

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MACMOM57 12/31/2013 8:37PM

    Seems I'm stuck on the first stair. But making slow progress. Wishing you a very Happy new Year.

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NUMD97 12/31/2013 8:10PM

    As Bob Hope would say in his signature song, "Thanks for the memories". It was fun while it lasted, but if you, indeed, have passed on the baton to another, we wish you hail and fare thee well.

And if you should change your mind, we, the dedicated sisterhood of the first row, will welcome you back with open arms. And without judgment.

And if you should need a private query, you know where to find us that way as well.

Happy new year, Mark, and all blessings upon you for the coming year for you and for your dear family,


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EDDYMEESE 12/31/2013 6:53PM

    See you at the water cooler!

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PICKIE98 12/31/2013 6:34PM

Why not make up a form, like a true/false, yes/no format and use it like the Proverbial mimeograph sheets in grade school? Time saver, ,, okay,, I am not sure where I fit in your Dodge.. methinks I am the old lady strapped to the back bumper.. let us know when you come back from Pluto,, "So far away,," emoticon

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KING_SLAYER 12/31/2013 4:20PM

    Happy New Year Mark. Best of luck with your goals for 2014, the no blogging may be the biggest challenge of them all!

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    Happy 2014 to you also.

From the back seat. emoticon

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1CRAZYDOG 12/31/2013 3:18PM

    The women in the front row are definitely awesome and will keep things on this caravan moving. BUT (and isn't there always a big BUTT!) it won't be the same in sparky-land without your blogs. I hope you DO check in even if you don't blog!

Wishing you, Susan, Thing1 and Thing2 a happy, healthy New Year.

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BE-THE-CHANGE 12/31/2013 2:30PM

    Happy New Year!

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_BABE_ 12/31/2013 2:16PM

    Happy New Year! I recently started weekly blogs for accountability....which after the 1st should do well for me...but that's me. One thing I have learned is that we each come at this in our own way...whatever works for you! emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 12/31/2013 2:09PM

    I've no doubt whatsoever that you are doing what YOU need to do to reach goal weight and then maintain it: and we'll be cheering you on.

Love your blogs, but your best and highest use of your energies is probably something other than entertaining us. As entertaining as you are!

Popularity? Doesn't matter. Addiction to the approval of others is probably the most insidious addiction of all says Steve Siebold: and I'm betting it's also related to the addictions we fight hardest.

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ECOAGE 12/31/2013 1:57PM

    Words from the first class seating section?

I believe you. I know you are a survivor and you are going to be just fine. Keep doing what is right for you ... plan, track, plot your next move.

I worry. That's me. I worry about my friends and all the other folks that I care about. Yup, that's me. And you know where to find me. I'm not going anywhere either.

Happy New Year!

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BOOKAPHILE 12/31/2013 1:52PM

    Happy New Year from one of the people in the back row of your caravan. Blog writing is time consuming. You'll do very well if you use the time gained to do something besides eat (says the voice of experience!!) I'm glad I'll be able to hear your humor in status form... that's not cold turkey withdrawal the way silence would be.

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SHERYLDS 12/31/2013 1:34PM

    to Youm SUSAN818127, Thing 1 and Thing 2.....
A very Happy and Healthy New Year.

Keep in Touch

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GREENGENES 12/31/2013 1:25PM

    Wait! What? You're not going to blog any more? emoticon

Way to go out on a high note with Aretha Franklin! I knew you had to have a little Motown in your soul.

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STRIVERONE 12/31/2013 1:24PM

    If you put the effort into goal one that you have put into your blogs this past year, you will surpass it by a long shot.
Happy New Year.

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PAULOBRY 12/31/2013 1:16PM

    and some of us find that we found the entrance to the up escalator when we were looking for the down escalator. So, we gotta walk around the jewelry and/or perfume section to get on the right escalator.....

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SLIMMERJESSE 12/31/2013 1:09PM

    Wishing you the best.

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Dating Rejection Deja vu - The Next Generation

Sunday, December 29, 2013

As I close my failed experiment with blogging here (yes, ECOAGE, yet another farewell), I've reflected back on the odd, humorous, pointless and occasionally poignant missives with which I may have wasted your time. One of my most heartfelt was September 23 of this year, when I explained the challenges (and my permanent anger) that a lifetime of obesity have meant for me, socially. If you missed it (or are too new a Sparkfriend), here you go:

Yesterday evening I had an odd almost deja-vu experience with respect to the profound dating challenges of my teens and young adulthood. By now you have been introduced through cyberspace, in various blogs, in my photos and in my statuses to Thing One and Thing Two. Both now teenagers, sometimes its hard to watch, with bitten lip, just how they navigate the perils of that age that I myself handled so dramatically poorly.

Thing Two avoids dances and the like as though they were the plague. No amount of me saying (in whatever words I choose), "You may come to regret the fun you are choosing to miss" changes his preferences to while away his Saturday evenings in cyberspace combat with online gaming enemies and/or to put new dents in our large collection of ping pong balls with yours truly.

Thing One differs. She is a 17-year old social butterfly and Hilary Clinton wannabe. Like Hilary, she is driven and articulate but sometimes is too much like her Type-A parents for the typical dating prospect to appreciate. More commonly, she holds them to standards of behavior (mine?) that they are ill-equipped to achieve. There have been occasional dates, and even the occasional boyfriend. These fledgling relationships, few and far between, seem to last a few weeks, if that. She badly wants a more vibrant dating life, as her Mom certainly had enjoyed. (I was the [chubby] ping pong kid at home - see above).

A week ago I got to transport six giggly girls to a high school dance. While the non-communicative "It was OK" was the answer I got to my query as to how the dance was, yesterday and as an outcome of the dance, Thing One had a date with someone new. A first date. In the modern era, seemingly first dates are at Starbucks (or at the Mall) and not uncommonly in the daytime.

1. Took Thing One on her date, with the boy who shall remain nameless. Thing One does not yet drive.

2. Cooled my jets in a local bookstore, while Thing One and the boy who shall remain nameless, shared a romantic Java Chip at the Starbucks across the parking lot.

3. Received a text from Thing One, 45 minutes later, that she was ready to come home. She broke the date, in mid-date.

4. Childhood remains firmly intact. Adulthood will wait a few more hours, and the boy shall remain nameless (and de-friended on Facebook apparently - the ultimate act of social rejection) forevermore.

On the way home, her suspicion that he is highly-functioning Asperger's or similarly challenged was explained, as was the lisp, his unfiltered brutal honesty, etc. Recalling all the times I was rejected based on superficiality (i.e., weight) I felt bad for him. To a point. Thing One is my daughter and is entitled to feel as she does. Or, more accurately, NOT to feel as she does.

The young woman I drove to the date vanished. The little girl I have known for the last 17 years, happily returned home, chatting with me all the way. I was happy. To a point.

Thing is, I related to the unfriended boy (he of no name, whom I will never meet), who was dismissed by the smart and pretty girl for reasons that are, at the end of the day, beyond his immediate control to resolve. I don't mean to equate Asperger's Syndrome and obesity, except that one generation apart, they both were criteria used by the smart, pretty girl to reject the awkward and socially inexperienced boy.

I was that boy, in a way.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOSS61 1/1/2014 8:57PM

    Please accept an an open invitation to the Caravanners, who are serious about weight loss and willing to invest the sweat equity to track and hold one another accountable in quantitative detail, to join the new Spark Team "Unrelenting Accountability" now that some semblance of a team structure has been established. The only per-requisite is that "you wanna."

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ILOVEMALI 12/30/2013 10:48PM

  ah, we were all That Boy and That Girl. I even was, occasionally, Thing One.

One of these days, you and I will have a drink together and commiserate -- I've relived my life through The Girl -- although she is petite, and smarter, funnier, prettier than her mother ever was. Just as I always hoped.

Forget about being That Boy. That Boy grew up to be a Fine Man, a Good Father, and a Great Husband (ask them -- they'll tell you!).

Happy New Year!

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PICKIE98 12/30/2013 3:41PM

    Th most important thing here is not whether Miss Thing rejected or accepted said guy.

Her motives and methods are what should come into play here.

What attracted her to him in the first place? Was she meeting him because HE asked her out or vice-versa?
Did she do it to REALLY look for a possible romantic thing, or just to shut him up?

Did she keep him as a friend and will she still say "hey" to him in the hallways, or make him an invisible person ,especially around her friends?
Just the fact that he accepted a date with her is remarkable.. why she ended it so quickly wold kill me NOT to know..

In a more mature situation they cold discuss the Asperger's, offering each other stories and ideas on how to approach situations differently with it..

I Do hope she still acknowledges him in school, this will be something he will remember the rest of his life.

Your daughter is teaching herself some valuable life skills, after your parental influences.

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    Loved the blog, thank you.

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BLUENOSE63 12/29/2013 6:41PM

  You are such a great Dad! Thing 1 and 2 obviously paid attention to what you have been saying all these years. I wasn't allowed to date until I was 16 nor did I want to for that matter. Glad to know that dating is in the daylight at the mall -- sounds perfectly safe and good for you for not hiding around the corner.

Have a great holiday.

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EDDYMEESE 12/29/2013 4:20PM

    I have a reason for why Thing 1 did great, so bear with me...

Just read your "How I Came to Hate Those Who Make Weight-Based Pre-Judgments" blog.

I can absolutely relate. I was always chubby. It became worse because my family has always been so image-oriented. I can remember spending the summer with my aunt and losing a bunch of weight because she literally starved me (with that said, I looked much better). I used to eat at night, because if I (god forbid) wanted a second helping and made even the slightest movement to reach for another serving, I got such a look from my father, I didn't dare. So I ate at night. I ate when I was alone. Getting a driver's license really helped. My mother was in the same boat, so we gained weight together. When my dad was away on business, we'd binge. Daily. That's a part of my personality that I am having a hard time breaking away from - when I feel the need to de-stress, I eat.
I remember that my brother got teased because I was so fat. I think that was the first time I started to feel self-conscious. I was in 6th grade. Strangely, I don't remember any friends or classmates ever laughing at me growing up, it came mostly from home. I was such a tomboy, I never cared if a boy liked me or not, although I did have a crush on a boy named Joey, but of course, we were just good friends. I never got asked to sit together at lunch. Also, went to Orthodox Jewish schools, so there wasn't much dating and certainly no school dances, lol. Once we entered public school when I was 16, that's when everything changed. I never got asked to a dance, never had a date, and any boy I had a crush on was just a really good friend...again.

But when I left school and went into the army, everything changed. I lost so much weight and was asked out a lot. It felt amazing. I have to admit, as embarrassing as it is, that having gone from no attention to an excessive amount of attention, I made a lot of bad choices. I hadn't created the kind of respect for myself that I deserved, and it showed in the choices I made and in the boys I dated. I really wish I had grown up with more self-esteem and understood that I deserved better. When you're a woman who grows up with low self esteem, you tend to make the kinds of mistakes that create a lot of shame and only continue to wreak havoc on your self esteem. I think it kind of goes back to the idea that a boy goes out with a lot of girls is "lucky" but a girl that goes out with a lot of boys is "easy". While my girlfriends were being wined and dined and making their beaus work for their attention, I didn't think that I deserved the same. It wasn't until I met my husband, to be honest, that I realized that I deserved only the best.

All of this is to say that as much as you saw Thing 1's actions as reminiscent of your experiences, I can tell you that I am very proud of her for setting such high standards for herself. At 17, it is so easy to want to please everyone and be popular and have a boyfriend. To be able to recognize what she does and doesn't want in a prospective boyfriend at her age speaks to the fact that you've raised a strong, confidant young lady. As you very well know and as so many of us know, you do not want to grow up being the kid that gets picked last. Believe you me, not enough young girls have the kind of self-esteem that she seems to have. You did a great job and you should be proud. Seeing as you did such a great job, I'm sure Thing 1 broke off the date in a very respectful manner!

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BE-THE-CHANGE 12/29/2013 3:29PM

    I don't know, the thing that caught my eye was "his unfiltered brutal honesty". Perhaps Thing 1 was not so superficial and there is more to the story. (This from the fat smart girl in high school...two strikes against me.)

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1CRAZYDOG 12/29/2013 3:14PM

    OH boy, I agree with TRI-ANGLEWOMAN. Kids start dating waaay too young (as she says . . . about 1st grade!) and it's a difficult road to navigate.

Well, I remember the Past Me @ age 17 and I was probably lots like your beloved Thing 1, so I get it. Looking back with adult eyes, I see how you feel too!

It's fun having teens, isn't it! emoticon

Mark, I hope you stay sparked . . . it is always a pleasure -- honestly! -- reading your thoughtful, humorous blogs.

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MARYANN2323 12/29/2013 2:24PM

    This might give you an inside look on how it was with the girl/girls of your childhood. As you said, it was not all the boy's fault. Take that to heart.

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PHEBESS 12/29/2013 1:41PM

    While your daughter rejected the nameless boy based on something over which he has no control, she was rejecting him based on his personality - which is a whole different thing than something superficial such as obesity. And, well, you wouldn't want the brutally honest kid to be a future son-in-law, right? You want someone who is friendly and chatty and willing to cheer on the Ravens with you.

So while you identify with the kid in some ways, I can assure you (from 25 years of teaching, including students somewhere along that autism scale) that he probably isn't feeling as upset or hurt or rejected as you are. If he truly has Asperger's, he's more confused by her emotions than he is hurt. Just how the brain processes things.

Hugs, buck up, she'll find someone, and you'll eventually cry and rejoice at her wedding. (Dare I tease you by calling you Grandpa already?)

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ADARKARA 12/29/2013 1:05PM

    Rejection most certainly comes in many forms! The most hurtful ones for me have been because of my weight, and that one guy who told me he couldn't see me any more because I was "interfering with his relationship with Jesus". Re-friggin-diculous.

But I suspect that you, like me, have found the right person for you in the long run, so perhaps it isn't all bad? emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 12/29/2013 1:00PM

    Your daughter IS "entitled" to make her own decisions about whether she finds a new date compatible -- and (given she would apparently like to have a more vibrant dating life) I've gotta assume that she gave this new dude a fair opportunity.

I reread your earlier blog -- and reread my comment on that blog. Yeah. There IS discrimination against the obese in our society and that's a fact. But I'm still pretty much in agreement with (duh, no surprise) my previous comment. Just wish wish wish that I had figured out much much much earlier that the work it requires to manage my metabolism was worth it. And applied as much energy to managing it as I did to achieving various other stuff . . .

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SHERYLDS 12/29/2013 12:57PM

    Thing 1 and Thing II are gorgeous kids and you are very very lucky.
I gave my poor Dad ulcers . By the time I was a Junior in High School, I was sneaking into dances at Fordham University with fake proof.

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WOUBBIE 12/29/2013 12:27PM

    Human beings negotiating the minefield of relationships... Ugh. The greatest revelation I ever had about myself in terms of relationships was when I tested my personality type and showed up as an INTJ, lol:

BR>No, really, I'm totally NOT THAT DULL. (Or am I?......)

Not sure how accurate these statistics are, but "The INTJ personality type is one of the rarest and most interesting types – comprising only about 2% of the U.S. population (INTJ females are especially rare – just 0.8%)." Don't I know it!

Actually, learning about my personality type gave me a measure of relief, because I realized that I am who I am and that someone out there would appreciate that fact without my having to change anything. (Bless your heart, Dear Husband - you da man!)

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ECOAGE 12/29/2013 11:53AM

    "I give you the Tralfamadorian greeting: Hello. Farewell. Hello. Farewell. Eternally connected, eternally embracing. Hello. Farewell."

Lucky for us that we can continue practicing the social graces here in Sparkyland. High school never ends.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GREENGENES 12/29/2013 10:58AM

    Thanks! I missed this the first time around while I was "lost". Very touching and insightful. I occasionally think back on all the opportunities I missed during those years because of silly "fears" and have tried to help Junior overcome them but it is a lesson we all have to learn in our own way.

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NOMIS1 12/29/2013 9:22AM

    What a touching blog.

I was that fat, quiet girl so I can feel that boy.

Some things just never change.

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KANOE10 12/29/2013 8:56AM

    I was also an awkward and socially inexperienced teen who was chubby and never reached the social acceptance of others. I made up for it in sports and academics. Teens are a rough time for everyone. I am glad you are close to both of your children and yes, I also feel for the boy involved.

The good thing is that we do grow into adults and get past the teen need for peer approval and start accepting ourselves.

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 12/29/2013 8:16AM

    No child should be "dating" in first grade and this when the sport and heart break begins now a days. Kids today are raised to view dating and relationships as a sport/game/entertainment instead of what it is really for - finding the future father of your children.

Luckily, I homeschooled my kids for 15 years and when they finally went to public school, they were grossed out by what they saw and the attitudes they encountered.

Mission accomplished. They are not prudes by any means, but they believe in improving themselves before they have anything to offer another person. Boys would be well schooled to think the same as any boy they smile at or have a conversation with thinks they want to date/hook up/have some sort of relationship with.

Stop the maddness and tell your kids to wait until they are in a bigger and more selective pool to fish (college and/or real life) It won't kill them.

Comment edited on: 12/29/2013 8:17:21 AM

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Darmok - Or All the Calories She Had Had Had Had

Saturday, December 28, 2013

With just a few days to go until the no-blogging resolution takes hold, nothing like going out with a bang, huh?

The most thought-provoking and conversation-elucidating Star Trek episode all time, by far, was a story from Season Five of "The Next Generation" called Darmok. Our intrepid Space-farers, living in a future where there simply was no obesity (see it's a Spark blog) encounter a powerful alien species and endeavor to communicate. The aliens are chatty enough (they have have not gone Sparky incognito - see previous blog) but what they have to say is completely nonsensical. You see, they speak in metaphors.

Metaphors, all the time. Nothing but metaphors. With the TV audience as bewildered as the crew, one astute cast member remarks that the alien conversation is as though when meaning "romance", the words used would be "Juliet on the balcony." A grounding in the culture and history of the alien world would be necessary for comprehension, even if the words themselves could be translated (and in the Star Trek world, a universal translator exists).

Even the metaphors, used frequently enough, were shortened to the first word. Much like the court case that established the rights of the excused being called Miranda. Out of context and without cultural references, Miranda means nothing. Try "tea party" - a political effort to reign in excessive government spending and its manifestation of taxation. Not obvious, from the words.

Ultimately, through trial and error with the TV audience learning right along with the crew-members, some halting basis of communication was achieved and a potential war was diffused and the credits rolled.

So let's try this means of communication out in the World of Spark:

1. Hindenburg - I hate so much I feel I could explode.

2. Richard Simmons wear - tight, fitting, shiny spandex gym clothes

3. Perrier Poisoning - Overdoing the Sparky water

4. Bugs' Plate - lots of raw veggies, like Bug Bunny would have eaten

5. Jake and Elwood - Four whole fried chickens and dry white toast

Bonus entry - "All the calories she had had had had no effect on her effortless attainment of her Sparky weight loss goal."

Now you try it. Do better than me. Be metaphorical, alliterative, or grammatically accurate if in a most incongruous way!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WOUBBIE 1/2/2014 8:31AM

    There's snow on the roof, but a fire in the furnace - Time to buy some Loreal Excellence...and some Spanx.

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BOSS61 1/1/2014 8:58PM

    Please accept an an open invitation to the Caravanners, who are serious about weight loss and willing to invest the sweat equity to track and hold one another accountable in quantitative detail, to join the new Spark Team "Unrelenting Accountability" now that some semblance of a team structure has been established. The only per-requisite is that "you wanna."

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EDDYMEESE 12/29/2013 3:48PM

    La-Z-boy --- the need to recline rather than falling over after your non-sparky meal?

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PICKIE98 12/29/2013 8:07AM

    Not sure if this one really counts, but I learned it in the third grade:
Mary possessed a diminutive mutton, whose corpulent integritence was endowed, with nivious abification. Everywhere that Mary moved throughout the geographic locations, the mutton speedily ensued.

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PICKIE98 12/29/2013 7:59AM

    I though crapulent was things I let my sister use,but promised to return! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SHERYLDS 12/29/2013 7:29AM

    somebody stop me... I'm having way too much fun with this

thanks for the compliments

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SHERYLDS 12/29/2013 7:23AM

    the new you review -- updating your body image

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SHERYLDS 12/29/2013 7:18AM

    The Commentator Terminator -- someone who knows just how to say the wrong thing at just the right time

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SHERYLDS 12/29/2013 7:12AM

    A Walking Billboard -- someone with a little too many tatoos

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SHERYLDS 12/29/2013 7:10AM

    Houdini -- someone who does a disappearing act whenever there is work to be done

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LE7_1234 12/29/2013 12:07AM

    Yup, congratulations, Sheryl! Do we name something after you?

That blog's a real Sheryl--metaphorical, alliterative, grammatically accurate… and to the point.

(The other terms are fun, too!)

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DALID414 12/28/2013 10:46PM

    Sheryl is a little TOO good at this!
After reading hers, I've got nothing!

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WOUBBIE 12/28/2013 7:34PM

    "Shaka, when the walls fell." Metaphor for the waistline during the holidays.

Lucky Lindy Landing in France. Metaphor for the scale showing a loss!

(I love that episode, by the way. Had never known the story of Gilgamesh before that!)

(Also, don't ask me why I know this but crapulent and crapulous mostly refer to hangovers; it's from the Latin word for intoxication (and an earlier Greek word), but was extended to mean overindulgent from both eating AND drinking.)

Comment edited on: 12/28/2013 9:30:53 PM

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SHERYLDS 12/28/2013 7:29PM

    maybe Crapulent has a second meaning
Crapulent -- being well versed in B.S. emoticon

Comment edited on: 12/28/2013 7:30:41 PM

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SHERYLDS 12/28/2013 7:03PM

    Alice in Wonderland -- someone in desperate need of a reality check

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PHEBESS 12/28/2013 6:59PM

    This is a real word - look it up:

Crapulent (or crapulous) - overstuffed from eating, as in how you feel after a Thanksgiving meal non-Spark style

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SHERYLDS 12/28/2013 6:57PM

    Withering Heights -- getting shorter as you age

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SHERYLDS 12/28/2013 6:53PM

    A Headless Horseman -- a short senior citizen whose head is barely visable over the steering wheel

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SHERYLDS 12/28/2013 6:43PM

    The Grifters -- when kids start behaving and volunteering to help, in anticipation of asking for something they want.

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SHERYLDS 12/28/2013 6:40PM

    Bora Bora -- a long business meeting where they take hours to discuss something that should only take 1/4 of the time

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SHERYLDS 12/28/2013 6:24PM

    Lord of the Rings -- A teen with an overabundance of body piercing

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How to Delete a Privatized Spark Friend's Page

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ever peruse your own list of Spark Friends? Ever see that some people are not clickable, and that you cannot view their page as you once have? This is because they have taken their pages private, which is their prerogative and also is yours. Many people opt for the social media side of Sparkpeople, but also many do not. Increasingly, some play with the social media side for awhile, tire of it or come to be creeped out by people like me, and elect to adjust their settings and privatize.

People who have elected to take their SparkPages private have effectively ended their communication with you, unless its via a shared team or via Spark Mail. In most circumstances and possibly in all, you have no continuing, effective means of communicating with them. They don't elect to share the Sparky experience with you any more, or vice-versa.

As a consequence and over the course of time, you can wind up with some former Sparkfriends who appear on your Sparkpage but are not clickable. If you are like me, over time you might end up with a lot of such former SparkFriends. Maybe they are still actively Sparking and maybe not. The point is, you cannot tell and their continuing presence on your page is neither harmful nor (and here's the point) is it beneficial.

If you are like me (and I feel sorry for you, if you are), you might endeavor to delete such a SparkFriend from your page. Because their page no longer is a live hyperlink, you cannot get to the "Remove as SparkFriend" option on their page. Despair not, for there is a workaround. Here goes:

Step One: Navigate to Start

Step Two: Scroll down to the third part, and click where it says "View My Spark Page"

Step Three: Navigate to near the top right, where it says "edit my Spark page"

Step Four: Navigate to the middle part, and click on the hyperlink where it says "Add/Remove/See Spark friends"

Step Five: When the box pops up, each and every Spark friend, even the subterranean ones, have a helpful "remove" under their icon.

Hope this helps. And may all your SparkFriends be active ones.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOSS61 1/1/2014 8:58PM

    Please accept an an open invitation to the Caravanners, who are serious about weight loss and willing to invest the sweat equity to track and hold one another accountable in quantitative detail, to join the new Spark Team "Unrelenting Accountability" now that some semblance of a team structure has been established. The only per-requisite is that "you wanna."

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GARDENQE2 12/31/2013 1:49PM

I have a few that I just me a feeling of POWER! emoticon

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PICKIE98 12/29/2013 7:52AM

    I think I may hop on my quarter horse and start cutting the loners and lurkers from ,my list.. Unfunny thing is: 99% of those who I will send to the chutes, befriended ME, not the other way around. I never add anybody as a friend first, I always wait for them to ask or just do it..
Every month I sweep my list and reach out and send goodies to those whom I have not heard from in a long time.. or send them a note, asking how they are doing or if I can help with anything..If all I get is crickets chirping, I still wait, I have only ever deleted a friend once because she was scary and freaky.

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NUMD97 12/29/2013 6:06AM

    I have one for you: Once a person "disappeared", went private and I noticed from the master list that supposedly I got deleted, so the person pops up as someone *I* befriended, but the reverse wasn't true [not true - anyone who clicks on me and lets me know I'm now a buddy gets a click in return]. But the kicker was this: After some time had passed the person reappeared, and lo! put me back. So I did, too.

We spend way too much time in SPland I''m afreared, both you and I.

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SYLPHINPROGRESS 12/28/2013 11:13PM

    If someone who is on your page as a friend makes his page private and you can't access, either you were never on that page as a friend or he deleted your mug shot. Otherwise, you'd have access, private or public or ethereal.

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NOMIS1 12/28/2013 9:10PM

    That's the only way I knew how do it. Never knew there was another way. You have inspired me to delete some of my "friends" have already started the process.

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BLUENOSE63 12/28/2013 7:19PM

  I keep my friend list at 45 and every two months I delete the ones who haven't been active for 3 months

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_BABE_ 12/28/2013 6:52PM

    Private or not there are certainly a number of 'friends' who no longer are active and some who are active but certainly not with me....good idea! emoticon

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KING_SLAYER 12/28/2013 6:18PM

    I never even thought about cleaning up my friends page, but now I just might :)

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IMLOCOLINDA 12/28/2013 3:26PM

    emoticon You inspired me to cull 20 more from the herd this cold Montana morning.

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DALID414 12/28/2013 3:03PM

    A couple of my non-actives completely closed their accounts.
I think another reason you can't see their pages is when they privatize their page AND delete you as a friend! (Yes, it's happened to me.)
I delete non-actives with active pages: as in people who haven't shown up on the feed for months. I call it purging my page. I do it New Year's Eve to start the year fresh, it's not like they'll notice!

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MARYANN2323 12/28/2013 2:49PM


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GREENGENES 12/28/2013 1:55PM

    Now I KNOW you're an engineer emoticon emoticon !

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WORKNPROGRESS49 12/28/2013 11:37AM

    emoticon for the info!!

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SPARKFRAN514 12/28/2013 11:22AM

    Thanks it sure helps to clean up the page and keep in touch with with your active friends the ones who have gone private makes me feel they don't want to be my friend or visit with me or they would not have set page to private and if they did and didn't invite to continue to they did not want to be friends. in the past i just moved them to the bottom and just let them sit there. thanks for the tip to clean up the old spark page . Glad to see you are still bloging away. emoticon

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BOOKAPHILE 12/28/2013 10:24AM

    Thanks. I prefer to have the option to communicate with my friends.

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WATERMELLEN 12/28/2013 10:18AM

    I'm gathering you're not a fan of "privatized"? Good to know how to work around . . .

It's the connection that helps me maintain.

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HANDYV 12/28/2013 10:17AM

    Thank you so very much.

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1CRAZYDOG 12/28/2013 9:30AM

    OMG, thank you! I agree, everyone's prerogative to go private, but does, in my mind, as well, negate the "staying connected" part of sparking, which for ME, anyway, helps me maintain.

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CANADIANFROG09 12/28/2013 8:29AM

    emoticon For sharing!

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RIDLEYRIDER 12/28/2013 8:17AM

  Good tip!

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EVIE4NOW 12/28/2013 8:12AM

  Interesting to know. Thank you.

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FENWAYGIRL18 12/28/2013 8:00AM

    click on to your up spark page and where it says edit your page you can get edit your friends list and delete them

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