Just another Online Citizen

So I have decided to join Facebook – and why not. Encouraged by school folks I joined LinkedIn about a year ago. I don't really keep up with connections much (unless someone wants to link to me) or spend too much time adding information, but I found that it's better to be there than not. The online community trend isn't going away - the younger generations are leading the charge. Cyber-neighborhoods are not exclusive to geeks anymore – anyone is welcome, and it seems everyone is heeding the call.

Many people, perhaps most, use these communities as soapboxes to share their thoughts, likes, dislikes, etc. These are people that do not care to (or know how) design something from the ground up for this purpose – and that's fine. I chose to do my own thing of course.

Many others use these as networking tools - this is where I can see some potential value. To find how useful these communities actually are, I used them to search for a couple of old high school friends that Google can't find. I have to say I was surprised to actually find them quite easily (one in one and the other in both). I didn't try to make contact; I don't know if I will. It was still interesting to find them there. So I figured, if anything, being in these communities can be a gateway to be found by people from my past (do I want to be found?). Networking backwards and forwards is what's it's all about, right?

Here's the deal though – upon doing searches for “Felipe Herrera", I found that my name is as popular as discussed previously. Facebook returned 29 results; LinkedIn listed 9. I guess I may still be shielded behind a layer of anonymity although a half-witted sleuth would have no problem navigating through the list and finding me. And although it sounds like it, I'm not hiding – I just don't know how thrilled I am to be found by people from my past. That's all.

As a side note, and because it'd be remiss to ignore it, I'd like to mention MySpace - breeding ground of tweens, teens, computer illiterates, and the people who prey on them. If Facebook and LinkedIn are the New York City and the Paris of online societies, MySpace is the Calcutta. A look into this community is like taking a peek into a very full trashcan. It's an abomination. This is one online society I choose not to be a part of.

Created: 7/24/2007

No ma'am, it's not me

A little while back now I got a call from a police officer of some small town in Texas. The lady left a message on my machine, stating her name, rank, and location, and expressing her desire to have a word with me.

I was perplexed, but mostly nervous - not because I had anything to worry about, but because it's not common for me to get a call from a police officer. Although I have traveled in Texas, I couldn't recall ever stopping or even driving by the location she'd mentioned. "What the heck can she want from me?" I wondered.

The next day I called from my office making sure no one was around to overhear the conversation - this time not out of nervousness, but trying to spare myself some embarrassment.

The officer picked up and was very cordial. She was looking for a specific Felipe Herrera - a Mexican national - that had committed a crime in her vicinity. Doing a random search, she'd come across my name and number and figured it couldn't hurt to dial me up.

After I answered a few questions in a manner satisfactory to her, she kindly said goodbye and I never heard from her or about this again. A sense of relief overcame me - yes, unwarranted because there was no reason for me to be nervous in the beginning, but still quite palpable and refreshing.

It is a shame to know that there is at least one (of perhaps many, but hopefully not) Felipe Herrera that is tarnishing my good name. I hope he's caught and deported. The last thing we need in this country is a criminal Felipe Herrera running amok.

Equally shameful is the thought that a police officer expects an honest answer out of a suspected criminal. If she did ever find the number for the sought Felipe Herrera, called him, and actually got him on the phone, do you think he would answer her questions honestly?

Created: 5/31/2007

Environment vs Genetics

How much of who we are is determined by our environment? How much is predisposed by our genetic structure? These are questions often analyzed by way more than just Behavioral Scientists. It is indisputable that people are born with some innate skills and abilities. This is specially noticeable in most top-tier atheletes. Lance Armstrong's heart "condition" makes him extraordinally equipped for a sport like cycling. Like sports, science also has its superstars. Albert Einstein didn't just get smart by reading books - he had a brain predisposed for scientific exploration.

It is fair to say that had those inherent yet latent attributes not been exploited, these men might not have gotten to be great.

Conversely, we're also born with genetic deficiencies, propensity to specific diseases, physical and mental impairments - all these inherited traits, coded into our DNA.

Created: 5/29/2007

A dime a dozen

Felipe Herrera is a popular name. Perhaps not quite the hispanic version of an American John Smith or Joe Jones, but popular nonetheless. If you google it up, you will find that a Chilean Felipe Herrera was the founder and first president of the Inter-American Development Bank - he even has a library named after him.

A Juan Felipe Herrera born in California in 1948 is "a poet, performer, writer, cartoonist, teacher, and activist who draws from real life experiences as well as years of education to inform his work" (as written by wikipedia).

At the very surface and without much effort I have found two Felipe Herreras that cover both ends of the spectrum - a sucessful banker and an inspired artist. I find it ironic that I often find myself treading in the tumultuous waters between those two worlds.

Created: 5/29/2007

Who are YOU?

...and what the heck are you doing here? I'm the one asking the questions here. Who I am is irrelevant or if relevant it is burried in this on-going diatribe of interconnected and unrelated topics and random thoughts - you will just have to figure that out by yourself. The important question I'd like answered is "who are you?" and "what are you doing here?"

I come here to deposit ideas and thoughts and express my opinions on things I might sometime like to revisit - a mental repository - a creative outlet of sorts. My purpose is clear. This is my site. I birthed the concept, designed the graphical interface, and programmed the back end. I created it for the purpose of serving me and me alone, yet knowing I would not be its only visitor.

That you are here tells me that I was right. So, why are you here? I assume you come here to find out information about me - who I am, what I think, what I like and dislike, who my friends are, what soap I use, where do I shop, everything. What else would you be here for but to satisfy some level of curiosity.

If you made it this far, and that is assuming you didn't start here - with this particular text, there has to be some reason for your continued interest. This is just one inconspicuous site amongst billions - it's not flashy, doesn't have free music, games, or pornography. If you came here, it is very likely you knew exactly where you were going - or at least thought you did. Your unquenchable curiosity compells you to continue reading in hopes to find the one "ah-ha" moment in which you irrefutably conclude that I am indeed the person you were looking for. I have been there. It's a triumphant moment. It makes you feel accomplished - like you solved some sort of mystery after meticulously connecting the pieces of a large monotone puzzle. Knowing how sweet it is, I hope to enable you to achieve that feeling at some point.

Created: 5/30/2007