Tag Archives: Internet

Happy Birthday From Google

Happy birthday to me from Google. This was the Google Doodle on my Google Chrome homepage on my birthday. Thank you, Google. (I think...)

Happy birthday to me from Google. This was the Google Doodle on my Google Chrome homepage on my birthday. Thank you, Google. (I think…)

The Google Doodle changes every day.  Yesterday, when I opened my Google Chrome home page I saw that the Google Doodle was composed of birthday cakes. I thought “Well, isn’t that a coincidence, today’s my birthday.”  Well, there are no coincidences with Google. When my mouse passed over the Doodle, I got a birthday greeting.

Of course, Google knows my birthday. And pretty much everything else about me. Yikes!  I can’t complain, because I’ve willingly given Google my information so that I can use its services.  I haven’t told Google my cell phone number, yet. I’m sure Google knows that, too, though.

I checked my husband’s Google home page yesterday, and his Google Doodle was different from mine, the one for the ordinary non-birthday people.

Usually, I don’t pay that much attention to the Doodle except when there’s a fuss over the Doodle subject. Google sometimes features obscure and controversial figures rather than major events and holidays. I guess that’s a way to keep things interesting. It got my attention!

Next year, when I’m expecting a birthday greeting from Google, Google may ignore me!

To learn more about Google Doodles, check out this blog post from my friend Planetjan.

About Google Doodles from Planetjan.

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Filed under Commerce, Communication, Humor, Internet, Life, Technology

Picasa, Farewell

Google is replacing the multi-talented desktop based Picasa (left) with the minimalist cloud-based Google Photos (right.)

Google is replacing the multi-talented desktop-based Picasa (left) with the minimalist cloud-based Google Photos (right.)

Changes in technology come with breakneck speed. Some we embrace, some we don’t. At least when WordPress streamlined its format, it allowed us the opportunity to use the more beefy original administrator. (Thank you, WordPress.)

One change I’m dreading is the loss of the Picasa photo editing website.  Google is retiring it in spring 2016.  Google has every right to do so, especially since Picasa users pay nothing for its use, but it’s still a bitter blow.  A lot of Picasa users don’t even know it’s going bye-bye yet, although apparently people knew it was coming a while ago. Google is focusing on Google Photos, which is quite different from Picasa and not as useful for my needs. Supposedly, we’ll still be able to use Picasa, if we already have it installed on our desktops, until it dies out from bugs and glitches. We’ll see.

Google Photos is a nice photo storage system, but not a good replacement as an editing and design tool.  In Google Photos, you can upload all of your photos to the cloud for free in a small version, which is probably large enough for most uses, and pay if you need to upload large files when you exceed your large-size quota. I’m transferring all of my large-sized photos to external hard drives.

My son gave me the heads up on Friday night on Picasa’s impending demise, and I was shocked. I was working on my taxes, so I was already in a foul mood, and I quickly went into mourning.  I taped a black ribbon to my monitor. I searched the web (using the damnable Google) to find an alternative.  I use Photoshop a lot, but Picasa is just so darned easy and could do so much. It has lots of design and editing tools and is great for  organizing my photos into files and albums. It will still be usable on your desktop, if you already have it, but won’t be getting any support from Google.

I used Picasa to edit this photograph that I took of Harvest, a cat available for adoption at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Missouri. Using Picasa, I could easy crop this photo to the pixel size and aspect required for uploading to the website. Also using Picasa, I could add my initials so that the shelter administrators would know who took the photo if they needed a larger size. Auto contrast, auto color, straightening and sharpening were Picasa tools I often used.

I used Picasa to edit this photograph that I took of Harvest, a cat that was available for adoption at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Missouri. Using Picasa, I could easy crop this photo to the pixel size and aspect required for uploading to the website. Also using Picasa, I could add my initials so that the shelter administrators would know who took the photo if they needed a larger size. Auto contrast, auto color, straightening and sharpening were Picasa tools I often used.

For more than five years, I’ve been using Picasa to edit the photographs I take of adoptable cats for an animal shelter’s website in Kansas City, Missouri. It makes it so easy to tag the photo with the cat’s name, attach a watermark and be able to find the photos later.  As far as I can tell, you can’t tag photos in Google Photos. Face recognition will not work with cats.  Because of the ease of use and because it was free, Picasa has been a godsend for other volunteer cat photographers who aren’t photo editors. Now, we’re scrambling to find an alternative.

Here’s a Hibiscus poster (below) that I created using Picasa. I used the posterize function to transform my hibiscus photograph, I used the add a border function to add the initial two-toned border, created a wider border with the collage tool, then added another two-tone border. I added the text of Hibiscus waimeae above the flower and added a band of an hibiscus font that I uploaded, which automatically transferred into Picasa when I downloaded it. Picasa allowed color matching so that I could match the greens and reds of the hibiscus photo to the font and background colors. Though there were many steps, it was easy. I don’t relish learning a new program to do these functions.

If you know of an easy, inexpensive alternative for downloading, editing and organizing photos, let me know in the comments.  I’m checking into FastStone.org.  Anyone have any experience with that program?

Hibiscus Waimeae Square Canvas Print

R.I.P Picasa: Google shutters aging photo service

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Scientists Discover Google

Facebook and Google “know” too much about me already, yet I can’t let go. I promise to post my writing soon. It’s in the works. But Shouts from the Abyss always has something intriguing to say, so I’m happy to share. Google, are you listening?

Shouts from the Abyss

In the spirit of Don’t Be Evil, I’ve got something to say.

View original post 1,025 more words

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Spammy Christmas

I'm not sending Christmas cards this year. I'm sending spam! Isn't that better than a one-size-fits-all Christmas letter or a family photo in which we all wear matching sweaters including the cats and dog! I awoke this morning to find three pages of returned mail in my inbox of people whose mail programs rejected the spam hijacked in my name for Viagra sales. Plenty more people got the email.

One of the first things I do each day is check my email, cheerfully hoping for a few personal emails in my inbox. I got some personal emails, all right, from people telling me that I’d been the victim of a spammer who had hijacked my address book to contact EVERYONE on it with a link to Viagra sales.

I checked the returned mail, and the faux address on each link was different. Many sounded harmless, such as “How to remove pet stains,” which is exactly the sort of link I would send. Others were a bit racier, including the word jerk or similar, and these weren’t recipes for jerk chicken. No matter what the link said, apparently they were all for Viagra sales.

On the bright side, I heard from people I hadn’t heard from in years, which was delightful. I emailed as many people as I could to warn them not to open the link. I realized that there were many people in my address book I didn’t even realize were there, such as people who were on other people’s mailing lists who emailed me. There were city councilmen, customer service addresses, people I freelanced for (now I look super duper professional sending out that spam crap, eh?)

Anyway, I hope I didn’t do any damage. I’m grateful for everyone’s understanding, and I’m even fortunate to have touched base with some old friends! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year.

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Constantin Films Claims Copyright Violations on Hitler Film “Downfall”

Enjoy these parodies while you can.  There are more than 145 of them.  Take the poll.

Constantin Films claims copyright violations on Hitler film “Downfall.”

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Farmville on Facebook

farmville

A cousin's virtual farm.

I signed up for Facebook a few years ago to see what my children were doing at college.  Yes, that sounds like spying…. Instant Messenger, MySpace, Facebook.  They signed up, I signed up.  (They weren’t sneaky enough to keep it a secret.) As soon as they moved on — it took me a while to catch on — I trailed after. (The latest is LinkedIn.) I wanted to reassure myself that my children were still alive, since they weren’t big on calling home or answering their cell phones, which never seemed to be charged — or so they said.   When my daughter was very sick with mononucleosis, I saw it first on her status update. She had dragged herself to her computer, typed in that she had never been more sick in her life, and then collapsed.

Both children are graduated now, and although my anxiety is no less, I have found that I’ve been sucked into some of these sites without giving much thought to my children’s online activities. (They seldom post anyway…)  A recent Time Magazine article reported that Facebook  isn’t even for young people anymore, even though it was started for college students.  Too many parents have invaded it.  Middle-agers are the ones who seem to use Facebook the most.  I’ve re-connected with far-flung relatives and friends.

A friend, also on Facebook, recently urged me to sign up for the Farmville game on Facebook. I’d never seen much from her on Facebook, but she is very active on Farmville.  She claimed it was addictive.  I signed up as a favor, since you need neighbors on Farmville.  But you can’t sign up and forget it.  Immediately, my strawberry crop withered because I forgot all about harvesting it.  Farmville is a very interactive game, because you help out your neighbors, rescue their crops, give them livestock and other gifts, etc., a very idealized version of the real world.  You can’t rise in the Farmville world without helping out your neighbors or getting help from them.

It’s only been a week since I’ve joined, so I don’t know how long I’ll last. I’m not a video or computer game player. I’ve accepted other invitations for other Facebook games and never played them.  I waste too much time already in the “real” world.  However, I already feel responsible to my neighbors in this virtual world.  I was amazed to see how many Facebook friends were playing this game. You can publish your results on Facebook, but most don’t, so it’s not until you join that you see the “closet” players.   It’s fun to see what different “neighbors” have chosen to plant or raise. Masses of daffodils, vast herds of cows, avocado trees, acres of corn….An Aussie Facebook friend playing Farmville has a lot of leisure equipment, a pool, many topiaries and a lovely banana grove on her farm, which looks more like a resort. Those Aussies know how to live!

P.S. on Nov. 8, 2009.  On Farmville, a popup informed me that I needed to buy more coins.  I said ok, but it asked for real money!  I could pay with a credit, paypal, whatever.  Pay real money, no way!  I feel I’ve logged enough hours that I should get paid! 

Here’s the Time Magazine article.  Oh Crap. My Parents Joined Facebook.

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I’m Addicted to Digital

My Newest Addiction!

My newest addiction! My photographs are the tabby cat in the second row and the Texas waffle in the third row. After all of the "arty" photographs I've taken and submitted, I never dreamed that my two most popular photographs, featured on the RedBubble home page, would be my cat and a waffle I made for my breakfast.

Last month, I stumbled across a photographer’s blog that mentioned the RedBubble art and photography website, so I checked it out — then I signed up.  Now, I can’t stay away from it.  The amount of incredible excellent art and photography on cyberspace is mind-boggling — and from teenagers, even.  

If only we’d had digital photography and computers when I was a kid.  (We did have electric typewriters with correction tape.  And boy did I need the tape! ) All of my hard-earned darkroom skills are now archaic.  Using film, an enlarger and developing chemicals these days is like listening to your music on vinyl disks.  You have to be hard-core to do it.  I love the instant gratification as well as the ability to edit in so many ways in digital photography!  We “edited”  in the film darkroom, too, but it was limited.  And I only did black and white.   (I won’t even go into cameras.  More on that later.)

I dsicovered that birds are an extremely popular photography subject.  You need a twist.  Here, a cardinal holds on for dear life as he's buffeting in a snow storm on a pear tree branch. encrusted with ice The blossoms are covered with snow.

Birds are an extremely popular photography subject. You need a twist to stand out from the flock. I took this photograph of a cardinal holding on for dear life as he's buffeted in an early spring snow storm on a pear tree branch outside my kitchen window. You can't see the detail here, but the blossoms are covered with snow and the branches encrusted with ice. The poor cardinal, as brave as he is, is probably too common.

I started with Flickr, but I love RedBubble’s Aussie cheekiness.   Etsy is fun, too. (I discovered Kenna Foster on Etsy. She’s also on Flickr.  She’s on my blogroll. Check her out!)  I don’t know how many photography and art sites are online, but there must be tens of thousands of photographers and artists looking at and commenting on one another’s work, everyone from professionals to the people posting their first work.  It’s inspiring, overwhelming and humbling at the same time.

This photograph of Paddington with his mis-matched eyes has been very popular.  Paddington is tired of me pursuing him with a camera and is going to take out a restraining order against me.

My photograph of Paddington with his mis-matched eyes has been very popular with other cat owners and lovers. Paddington is tired of me pursuing him with a camera and is going to take out a restraining order against me.

On RedBubble or Etsy, there’s a chance that someone will see one of your great photographs or artworks and decide that they can’t live without it. On Etsy, the artists themselves produce and deliver the work.  

If you order through RedBubble, RB produces and ships the art as a card, print, canvas, calendar or poster.  I suspect that much of the art sold on RB is to the artists and photographers themselves.  I bought my own photograph (below) of the View from the Sydney Tower on canvas.  Those RedBubble people know what they’re doing!

Anyone who signs up for RedBubble (It’s free) can also get a free photography website, which is very cool.  You can organize your photos into galleries.  It was incredibly simple.  You can join a huge number of specialty groups on RB, such as landscapes, sunsets and sunrises, wildlife, doors and windows, old theaters, rivers, pets, food, skies  — in fact not even the sky is the limit.   Each group has sub-sets, too.  There are groups with minimal standards, and there are groups by invitation only, and everything in between.

I like to photograph oddball things, such as this van parked at Bondi Beach in Sydney.  I think the driver is trying to contact the mother ship.

I like to photograph oddball things, such as this van parked at Bondi Beach in Sydney. I think the driver is trying to contact the mother ship.

Featured photographs and art usually are exceptional, awe-inspiring, off-beat, fresh or eye-popping or else tug at your heart-strings (or else the person who selected it just took the next artwork that came along…..)

I know many of you out there are photographers.  What is your favorite photography website?  What are your favorite subjects. What do you do with all of your photographs? Do you print many?  Why do you take photographs?  I wanna know!  If you want to see a RedBubble website, here’s mine.  I’m still working on it.  My favorite gallery is “Fun Stuff”.  Catherine Sherman Photography.

RedBubble.      Flickr.   Etsy.  Beholden to Nature – Kenna Foster Photography.

Thanks to my daughter for saving the RedBubble screen shot for me.

I thought this view from the Sydney Tower was spectacular, but the number of spectacular photographs in cyberspace seems to be infinite!

I thought my photograph of this view from the Sydney Tower was spectacular, but the number of spectacular photographs in cyberspace seems to be infinite!

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Filed under Art, Entertainment, Howto, Internet, Life, Photography, Random, Shopping

The Strongest Links

These rock climbers are linked together in Zion National Park in Utah.  It's a metaphor for how we are all dependent on one another -- and a good excuse to use one of the photographs from my recent tour of the park!  I won't mention how crazy those guys are!

These rock climbers are linked together in Zion National Park in Utah. It's a metaphor for how we are all interdependent -- and a good excuse to use one of my photographs from my recent trip to the park. These three men are halfway up a half-mile tall canyon wall. They were barely visible. My telephoto lens didn't help much. The craziness of rock climbers is a topic for another post.....

Paula of Locks Park Farm bestowed a “proximation” award on my blog.  She explains it very humorously here.

The award is intended to link many people together who have become friends online so that we can all enjoy new friends.  It’s sort of like the blogging version of the chain letter, but nothing bad will happen to you if you break the chain.  You’ll just miss out on the fun! Okay, so it’s a little trouble. Get over it!proximade

The award seems to be translated from Spanish.  I won’t change the wording, because it has its own quaint charm.  I’m thinking “bows” means ties, for example. 

This blog invests in and believes in the “proximity,” meaning that blogging makes us ‘close’ . They all are charmed with the blogs, where in the majority of its aims are to show the marvels and to do friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize, and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut, or that they propagate? Then let’s try to give more attention to them! So with this prize we must deliver it to 8 bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text.”

I’ve been on the road for a week speeding through southern Utah, gaping and gawking at the magnificent scenery, so I’ve been out of touch. (My husband did the 1,500 miles of driving out of Las Vegas, while I had the hard task of capturing the sights on my camera….ha, ha.)  I’ll be posting photographs and my awe-struck thoughts and observations in a future post or posts.

In the meantime, I’m eagerly reading everyone’s blogs again and am thrilled to be able to share these blogs with you.  The honorees can bestow their own “proximation” awards, if they want.  Many have already earned numerous awards.  You’ll enjoy these blogs, I promise.

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My Run for President

My friend Anita sent me a humorous video of her internet campaign for president.  Computer technology is so amazing that it can make anyone a candidate.  In true political fashion, I’ve thrown my hat in the ring on top of hers and have hijacked her campaign.  You can see how successful I’ve been by clicking on this link Catherine Sherman for President — News at Five on Channel Three  You need to click play.  (Update:  The video is no longer valid, alas.)

Here are some of the planks of my platform:  Free yoga classes for everyone, a hummingbird feeder installed on every home, mandatory viewing of Jeopardy (you’ll love it!), and free delivery of my blog to your inbox every time it’s posted. (Hey, you can get that now.)  I’m quite serious that we should all take care of our planet home.  It’s the only planet we’ve got, and as far as I know it’s the only one with chocolate. Vote for me!

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Googleganger

We all suspect we have a double out there in the world, but the internet makes it easier to find dozens of them.  A couple of years ago, I googled my name to find one of my articles so I could email it to an editor.  Dozens of Cathy and Catherine Shermans appeared.  Only three of them were me, but some were so like me in what they studied or pursued or were employed in doing that if I didn’t know better I would have thought they were me.   Poet, science writer, photographer, artist, museum worker or in jewelry sales —  work or hobbies I’ve done.  Others were college students, a counselor, realtor and attorney.  So far, I haven’t found any with a criminal record. One received a humanitarian award (Not me….) Rosanna Arquette even played a Cathy Sherman in a movie, “Good Advice.”

Others with my name were so different from me I thought there’d be no way anyone would mistake those tough gals for wimpy me!   Long-haul trucker, another one a school bus driver, one a personal trainer.  There’s the young teenager named Cathy Sherman who won outrigger canoe contests in Honolulu. But, I thought, hey, if those Cathy and Catherine Shermans can do it, maybe so can I!

Googleganger is the name for this phenomenon — googling our other selves, our doppelganger (German for double going.)  A story in the New York Times (See link to the story below) explains the psychology behind why we feel pleasure and seek out others with our name and lists lots of examples of people who have plowed this googleganging earth before I did.  It also describes the hunt for our other selves. People have written books on it.  As for the word, googleganger (imagine a pair of dots, an umlaut, over the a,), it was named “most creative” word last year by the American Dialect Society.  My friend, “Planetjan,” (see blogroll), put the word in her “Quotation Rotation.”

Some people with really common names will laugh at the thought there’s a bond.  To them, it’s probably annoying.  You get the wrong mail, or even go to jail.  Some people have even gotten arrested for the antics of their name double.  

My name is just common enough to have googlegangers, but not common enough that I know anyone with my name.  I thought I owned my name.  Wrong!

Sherman Tank.

Sherman Tank. Don't get in the way of a Sherman!

It wasn’t until I received a facebook friend request from a Cathy J. Sherman in Australia that I thought it might be possible to actually get to know some other people with my name — without going to a lot of trouble. I’m now adding Cathy and Catherine Shermans to my friends list. So far, I haven’t had to deal with the dilemma of what to do with a Kathy with a K. I never thought of Kathy as the same name as mine, but I shouldn’t be so picky.  After all, they are Shermans…..

Rosanna Arquette is not a Cathy Sherman, but she played one in a movie.

Rosanna Arquette is not a Cathy Sherman, but she played one in a movie.

I have ancestors named Catherine Sherman, but despite all of these doubles, I’ve never met another Cathy or Catherine Sherman.  I came close once.  I got a report from my doctor that I had an abnormal finding on a test.  I needed a different test. I drove in an ice storm to get to my procedure, after worrying for a month.  The nurse asked me a couple of questions. It turned out that another Catherine Sherman had had the same test in that office the same day I had. It was her abnormal result, not mine. I was relieved for myself, but concerned for my double.  This confusion wouldn’t have happened had I taken my husband’s much more rare last name.  But I wouldn’t have any googlegangers.  Medical mixups are a small price to pay. 

Finding a host of Catherine Shermans led to a lot more people with the last name of Sherman in a facebook group called “Shermans Unite!”  I’m now a proud new member.  People grouping together with the same name isn’t a new phenomenon, although it was much harder before the internet.  You had to rely on the old-fashioned phone directory.  How quaint is that?

Growing up, I didn’t know anyone else with the name of Sherman other than my immediate family.  If we Shermans have nothing else in common, we do have similar nicknames, including being called Sherman by friends instead of our first names.  It makes it confusing when I go out with my three brothers and their five sons.  My two sisters kept the name Sherman, too.  (If you were lucky enough to have that name, would you change it?)

General William Tecumseh Sherman

General William Tecumseh Sherman

 According to “Shermans Unite!” Sherman is the BEST LAST NAME EVER!  The facebook group says “that people call you by your last name, all of the time, because it’s just that great.”  And this is true.  And it’s never mispronounced.  If for some reason people tire of calling you Sherman, there are tons of nicknames — Sherm, Shermie, Sherm-dog, The Shermanator (From American Pie), or Tank, from Sherman Tank.

People are bound to be jealous and will try to use the name maliciously.  When my father played high school basketball, the opposing teams tried to rattle him by chanting, Sherman, Sherman, you are it!  S H for Sherman, I T for It!  But there is no stopping a Sherman.  We’re like tanks.

General Sherman Sequoia Tree in California, large single organism in the world, and named after a Sherman!

General Sherman Sequoia Tree in California, largest single organism in the world, and named after a Sherman!

The most famous Sherman is the Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman. My father did some research and didn’t find a link there.  We claim him, anyway!  Other famous Shermans include General Sherman’s brother John, who authored the Sherman Antitrust Act, and was a senator and Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State.  He was also known as the “Ohio Icicle.”  Hmmm.   James S. Sherman was the 27th vice president of the United States.  All of these Shermans are part of a vast political family that spans the history of the country, beginning with the patriarch of the family, Roger Sherman, a senator from Connecticut, who was one of the Committee of Five who drafted the Declaration of Independence and then was one of the signers.  In fact, he was the only person to sign all great state papers of the U.S.: the Articles of Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Conferderation and the Constitution. That’s a big deal.  Way to go, great-great-great-great grandfather!  (Ok, it’s just wishful thinking.) 

To see more about this family, go to www.wikipedia.org and search for the “Baldwin, Hoar & Sherman family.”  Isn’t wikipedia great!

Thomas Jefferson said of Roger Sherman:  “That is Mr. Sherman of Connecticut, a man who has never said a foolish thing in his life.”  That, perhaps, is a clue that I’m not related to him.

My branch of Shermans was originally French-speaking Catholics from Alsace-Lorraine, a province that was tossed back and forth between France and Germany.  The Roger Sherman family is Anglo-Saxon Protestant, originally from England.  The name Sherman is from Middle English shereman for “shearer,” so maybe our common ancestors were all shearing sheep together somewhere before some of the Saxons moved into England.  (The Celts would say invaded!) There are Jewish Shermans, too.   Sher  “scissors” plus man is yiddish for tailor, according to www.answers.com  There are also some non-Shermans who like the name so much that they give it to their children as a first name.  Sherman Helmsley was one of the lucky ones.

Mr. Peabody and his pet boy Sherman

Mr. Peabody and his pet boy Sherman

There are lots of other famous Shermans. Don’t forget Mr. Peabody’s pet boy Sherman from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. The work of photographer Cindy Sherman, who uses herself as a model, is in museum collections across the country. There’s Ben Sherman, a clothing designer, and Nat Sherman, tobacconist to the world.  Remember comedian Allan Sherman (Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah song) and Bobby Sherman, the teeny bopper singer?  My brother’s name is Allan, so we sang that a lot.  My father’s name was Bob, so he got a lot of phone calls from giggling girls when that singer was popular — or should I say “more” popular, because Shermans never lose popularity.

General Sherman gave his name to the Sherman tank and to the General Sherman Sequoia tree, the biggest tree in the world.  It is, in fact, the largest single organism by volume on earth!

There’s Sherman, Texas, and Sherman Oaks, Calif., and counties named Sherman in Kansas, Nebraska and Texas. If your name is on a county in Texas, you have hit the big time! The Texas county and city are named for Sidney Sherman, who fought in the Texas Revolution.  Those Shermans are fighting all over the place!

Cindy Sherman explores her many selves through photography.

Cindy Sherman explores her many selves through photography.

I feel happy to be among my tribe, even if we are united only by one glorious name!  As to the subset of Cathy Shermans, my googlegangers, I’ll be happy to see what you’re doing out there in the world.  Now when I see my name listed multiple times on my facebook birthday calendar all year long, I don’t have to groan about getting older, I’ll just celebrate more!

Names That Match Forge a Bond on the Internet a link to a New York Times article about finding your name double through google, called googleganging.

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