Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Privacy Please

This blog isn't about my birthday. My birthday was last week, so it's history.

But see the card I got on my birthday? It was the only card I received on my actual birthday. And my mother made a special trip to the post office to make sure the card she sent to me arrived on my special day. It didn't, arriving the next day instead.

When I opened the above card, it said happy birthday with a message that read in part, "In honor of your birthday, you may be eligible to receive two round trip airline tickets to any major international airport anywhere in the continental USA . . . "

So it was a pitch for some travel company. Isn't that a bit unnerving? I mean, their marketing department somehow knew it was my birthday and knew what date to mail the card so it arrived on my birthday.

I go through great lengths to protect my privacy, and ultimately my identity. My Facebook profile has only a modicum of information, not even my hometown. Just to be sure, I Googled my name and Facebook. Some other guy with my same name popped up again and again. Not me. Boo-yeah.

But still I wonder. For example, I recently got an e-mail from a hotel chain asking how I enjoyed my recent stay at a specific hotel in Iowa. I enjoyed my stay there. What I would like to know is how they got my e-mail address since I didn't give it to them.

It seems like every day I read or see in the news how our privacy is becoming compromised by the internet. There is a new site called Spokeo.com where visitors can supposedly acquire a wealth of information on just about anybody.

Hmmmmmm. I went to the site and typed my name in there. They did have my correct address, my correct zodiac sign, and listed my wife and kids' names there correctly as well. But they also had an extra person living in our house, somebody I didn't know. And they listed me as only having a high school education. Wrongo!

For the fun of it, I looked up my brother Gary. That was more interesting. The site did say he was retired, plays sports and is interested in physical fitness. All correct. But it also said he owned cats, enjoys gardening and has a graduate degree. That's all news to me.

I still think I'm pretty good at operating under the internet radar. That's good too because my sitemeter has been tracking an unusual number of hits from the Middle East and Egypt in particular.

These visitors found my blog because of a doctored photo I posted, with some attractive looking women admiring a billboard picture of my mug. I'm hoping these blog lurkers are coming to check out the women in the picture and not yours truly.

You just never know though.


Blogger Lynilu said...

It doesn't seem to matter a lot about how much information one puts out there, if someone wants you, they'll find you. And as often as not, as you point out, it is wrong, but it is there. It"s unnerving, isn't it?

8:25 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

I typed in my real name and a nickname I use frequently and neither got a hit on the real me. I'm not sure whether to feel happy or neglected.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LYNILU--I get regular e-mails from classmates.com saying that people signed my guestbook and tempting me to come, pay their fee and find out who it is. Like you, I figure if they want to track ME down, they can.

JAN--I typed in my brother-in-law's name and couldn't get any hits either. I think it helps to have a common name.

3:49 AM  
Blogger TechnoBabe said...

That's one of the reasons we don't do facebook. But I agree with your first commenter, Lynilu.

5:13 AM  
Anonymous Enforcer said...

Francesco better not find the cats. I didn't know I had a graduate degree, must have been all the safety classes I attended.

5:15 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

TECHNOBABE--I'm not a big fan of Facebook but everybody I know seems to have their own page there now.

ENFORCER--I think if Francesco ran into more than one cat, it'd be the dog I'd worry about. Come to think of it, I don't think I would put money on Francesco to come out ahead in a scrap with one cat.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Carine said...

Since returning to writing-I google my name once a week and get updates via google Dave. I found out once that a story wound up on a VERY racy site!!!

now I check to make sure it doesn't happen again!

oh-happy belated birthday

1:58 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

CARINE--Thanks. Are you telling me they have really racy sites on the intenet now? What's this world coming to? Seriously, it's terrible how easy it is to steal intellectual property nowadays.

3:52 AM  
Blogger Carine said...


1:49 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave ~~ It is a bit of a worry isn't it? We want to feel close to our friends, but who knows what the
others read and think about us.
Glad you get a chuckle from my jokes.
The electric blanket I bought are for spare rooms that do not get a lot of use - a day or so here and there. The old ones were still going okay, but I am glad I replaced them.
John took the old ones home to remove the works and use for his little dogs. Take care my friend,
Regards, Merle.

6:25 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

Happy belated birthday, Dave...every day is a celebration....private or otherwise!! ;)

6:40 PM  
Anonymous cassie-b said...

I looked up my name and was in there. But the data was not very good. And there was no picture. What a shame.

12:34 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

MERLE--Some people are worried too about what I might write about them on my blog, I think.

LEE--True, life is a gift to be celebrated every day. Too bad so many things that accompany celebrations are fattening or otherwise bad for you.

CASSIE--I've noticed that the data at that spokeo.com is kinda like what you might get from a psychic. They'll get a couple things right that might surprise you, but a lot of things wrong too.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave ~~ Just a quick note to wish your wife a very Happy Birthday.
I hope she has a great day and maybe
a meal out on the 9th. My eldest son is 56 today 8th. Makes me feel older again. Take care, Regards, Merle.

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I searched your name too. No mention of any fantasy football titles...interesting.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

MERLE--Wendy says, "Thank you, Merle."

ANONYMOUS--They just mention the REALLY important things, I think. I looked up my nephew who won the fantasy football crown this past year and it just said he likes shopping and enters sweepstakes.

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your nephew sounds like a cool guy.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

ANONYMOUS--He is cool. On my birthday he promised to trade me his first round fantasy football draft pick for a player of my choice. What a guy.

3:02 PM  

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