The Snoozeletter @

Fond Memories Of The Newsroom From Hell, #2: Powerless. 

August 7, 2018, 11pm, NBC News Radio: The power shuts down, inside our building. Our announcer gets stuck in the elevator. After awhile, a mucky-muck comes in, walks up the three flights of stairs, and explains that our computers are on an emergency generator, but our A/C and lights are not. He really brings home the company's priorities. Outside temp is hovering near 100 degrees (38°C). Inside temp is shooting up to match. I ask the mucky-muck if he's gonna order some pizza, to show that the company appreciates our willingness to work in these horrifying circumstances. He ignores me. It's dark. Really dark. Part of my job involves reading numbers off a printed page, so I pull up the whitest computer screen I can find, to throw some light on the d*mn paper. We all keep working, while sweating our balls off. After a few minutes, the mucky-muck finally decides he's had enough of these unbearable conditions, so he heads for the exit. I yell after him, "Pepperoni and spicy sausage?" He chuckles and continues out the door, never to be seen again.

Fond Memories Of The Newsroom From Hell, #1: An Imaginary Conversation About A Thieving Soda Machine.
Friendversary, my a**.  

Facebook now sends automated reminder Private Messages.

F*ck you, Facebook, and your unwelcome invasion of my privacy.
I'm A F*cking Genius. 

When I named my screenplay's Facebook page Côte d'Azur, I never dreamed that French travel agencies would inadvertently insert the title into their Facebook postings, and not check to see where the link ended up.

Free advertising. Not targeted very well, but still, it's eyeballs... ;-)
Août To Lunch. 

[Follow-up to Glass Half Full.]

After I pitched Côte d'Azur to some British agents, one of them replied:

"Unfortunately, we're not able to do much with your screenplay, simply because the majority of the British Film & TV media are looking to set stories here in the UK, unless you're a film-maker with the clout of Ridley Scott or Danny Boyle who can influence that choice."

So I figured that maybe I should approach some French agents. When I was living in Nice during 1977-8, I noticed that almost everybody in France took a one-month vacation in August (Août). Of course, I assumed they outgrew that - after all, you can't shut down the WHOLE COUNTRY for an ENTIRE MONTH. It's 2019, fergawdsake. But then I received my first response (an auto-reply) from a Paris agent:

"L'agence est fermée pour la trêve estivale du 26 juillet au 31 août."

Which means: "The agency is closed for the summer break from July 26th to August 31st."
Lemons = Lemonade. 

My old workplace gave me 15 vacation days per year, but allowed me to schedule only 6 at a time. So in February, Anikó and I designed our 6-day May holiday. We paid for the flight, the rental car, and the cottage in the English countryside.

Then, in April, I got fired. No explanation. So we said whatthehell, and tacked several days in Wales and London onto the end of our vacation. It was the nicest holiday we've had, in more than ten years.

When we returned, I got sick and nearly died. So I cranked out a spec screenplay about my wasted youth, thinking it might be the last thing I ever wrote. After being converted into an eBook, it appeared almost immediately on Amazon's Performing Arts Best Sellers list.

I'm so glad I got fired and nearly died. And I'm especially grateful for that misspent youth.
Côte d'Azur eBook. 

La Côte d´Azur (ca. 1920), by Charles Morel de Tangry (1857-1930), for the PLM (Compagnie des chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée) railroad company.My latest free eBook:

is online:

, in 8 different formats: .mobi (Kindle), .epub (iPad, Nook, Android, etc.), .html (browser), .pdb (Palm), .lrf (Sony), .pdf, .doc, .txt

It's also at Amazon:

, but they arbitrarily set a minimum of $0.99, and I'm trying to get them to match Smashwords' $0.00 price.

LATER: Amazon was very high-handed when they rejected my price-match request ("We retain discretion over our retail prices") that included link #1, so they received links #2 through 6 in reply:

They finally caved. ;-)

STILL LATER (8/10): The eBook is currently #1 on Amazon's Performing Arts Best Sellers list!
Glass Half Full. 

I'm used to querying American screenplay agents, who very rarely acknowledge that I've contacted them, even after several weeks have passed. So with my new script, I decided to approach British agents as well, and after just THREE DAYS, I've received FOUR lovely rejections, including this one:

"Thank you for submitting Côte d'Azur to us for consideration. Jonathan and his team enjoyed your work, but I’m afraid in the end it fell a bit outside of what he is looking to take on at the moment, and he doesn’t feel best-placed to sell your work in the way it deserves. So he’s going to step aside, and wants to leave the field clear for you to find the right person to represent your screenplay."
Pelosi v. Trump. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says Trump's slogan of "Make America Great Again" would more accurately be described as "make America white again."

Trump says: "Speaker Pelosi said 'make America white again,' that's a very racist statement."

Net result: Trump supporters are now switching to Pelosi.
"Searching for Bobby Fischer" (1993) trivia. 

Early in this film, young Josh Waitzkin (Max Pomeranc) finds a chess piece in the dirt at Washington Square Park. Vinnie (Laurence Fishburne) offers to trade a baseball for it. In the next scene, Josh takes out a flashlight and examines the chess piece in his bed, before going to sleep. It turns out to be a knight from the Lewis chessmen:

It's surprising that I can't find anything about this on Google.
Somebody in the Props department was obviously on the ball.
So to speak.

LATER: The knight is not even mentioned in the shooting script (PDF p5-9).
Côte d'Azur screenplay. 

La Côte d´Azur (ca. 1920), by Charles Morel de Tangry (1857-1930), for the PLM (Compagnie des chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée) railroad companyI just finished my latest screenplay, Côte d'Azur!

Log line:
"There's nothing quite so romantic as spending one's youth in a foreign land."

You can view the 71pp screenplay PDF here. Yes, it's short. I hate wasting words.

*** NOTE: seeking investors or producing partners. Option or sale offers also welcome. ***

eMail: HotTip [at] (replace [at] with @)

Facebook fan page.

Free eBook drops soon!

Eric is a 20-something American guy who's having the time of his life on the French Riviera. Or maybe Eric is the 60-something who's looking back on his earlier years with nostalgia and trying to alter the course of his life. This screenplay was inspired by Lawrence Durrell, and his experiments with metafictional techniques in The Avignon Quintet and The Alexandria Quartet.

So, we fly to London on Thursday, May 16. We settle into our digs, a beautiful cottage near a charming English hamlet, and spend a few days just drinking in the atmosphere and recovering from the jet lag. I might have drunk in a bit too much of the atmosphere, because I started having trouble with the stairs. My knees felt like they had knives stuck inside. Finger joints, too. By the time we began our daily outings into the surrounding countryside, on Monday, May 20, the pain was so bad, I could barely get out of the car. Not fun, but I gamely soldiered on, with just a few breaks for bitching and whining. OK, maybe more than a few.

When we broke camp and headed for Wales, on Saturday, May 25, I was starting to get used to the pain. I figured this was my introduction to the infirmities of old age, that this was the way it was going to be from now on, and I had better "man up" and stop whining so much. Getting out of the car was still like having nails hammered into my knees, but I learned to cover my reaction to the pain with twenty or thirty short gasping breaths, followed by a quiet whimper.

London on the 28th was a challenge. Most of the stuff we wanted to see was within walking distance, but for me, the 30-minute walk to the British Museum was comparable to the Bataan Death March. So we tried applying liberal quantities of Guinness. It helped. Guinness always helps.

It was a fascinating vacation, but I can't tell you how happy I was, when we climbed onto the plane to return home on Saturday, June 1. During the flight, my left nostril started spewing copious quantities of a clear liquid, and my left ear nearly exploded during landing. There were no improvements by Thursday, June 6, so I figured I was f*cked enough to consult a doctor. She prescribed a Z-Pak (Azithromycin), which I now know triggers a severe allergy (hives), so I ended up being double-f*cked. She said the only thing I could do was pray for death. No, wait, that was me - she said I should treat the respiratory infection as an extreme case of the flu (bed rest, liquids, cough drops) and hope that death came quickly. No, that was me again.

There were many days that I didn't really want to live, because it seemed like nothing was improving. But I have a good wife, who slaps me around (figuratively) when I whine, and she got me past the praying-for-death stage. It's now July 1, and I ain't healthy, by a long shot (the skin on my hands is currently peeling off, like a molting snake), but I'm headed in that direction. Yup, I can finally see the light at the end of the Chunnel. Thanks again for all your good wishes.
First do no harm. 

So I hobble into the doc's office with painful joints, coughing and lotsa phlegm. I now know that she had a choice between treating it as viral (drink fluids, take cough drops, bed rest for at least a week or two) and diagnosing it as bacterial (Z-Pak! 5 days and done!!). She could see my eyes light up, when she mentioned that she had a 5-buck Z-Pak coupon from WalMart, and when she asked if I had any allergies, I replied, "None that I know of."

Fateful last words. Turns out my body was allergic to the Z-Pak (Azithromycin) poison, and it left me with an excruciatingly painful case of hives. The last time I developed hives, over a 22-month span in 2006, 2007 and 2008, it took one regular doctor, one osteopath, two emergency room docs, three allergists, three acupuncturists, two homeopaths, and a hypnotherapist to bring me back to normal.

I hope this case won't last 22-months, but I still can't help hearing these words, running through my mind, over and over, "First do no harm."
#InfoSec (Facebook Bug Bounty): "he said, she said." 

Facebook Bug Bounty programMy latest report - Memory Corruption: Facebook Is Truncating Postings
Vulnerability Type: Memory Corruption

ME: I am including 2 examples from 2009: 1, 2. As a published author, I write in complete sentences virtually all the time, so these postings jumped out at me.

FB: In order for us to investigate this would it be possible for you to deliver the original content of these posts? Otherwise, do you have any other proof that these aren't just the original posts?

ME: Do you really believe that Facebook members keep verbatim copies of the material they posted ten years ago?! This material popped up on the Memories page that Facebook generates for me every day, and these truncations have been occurring for many months now. You don't trust me (and rightly so), so even if I provide "proof" that this problem actually occurred, you still would not believe me. By the way, do you really think I wrote truncated messages ten years ago, so that I could lie to you now?! C'mon.

FB: We can confirm that your posts have not changed since 2009 and that we're not truncating the posts. Note that Facebook has changed a lot since the time these were posted and many people used Facebook differently even though that might not be clear to present users as many changes were added gradually and therefore the way our services are used change over time from user to user without users explicitly noticing how the way they're using Facebook might have changed.

For those keeping score at home, my record is still perfect: 0 for 6.

Updates: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
#InfoSec (Facebook Bug Bounty): "significant security or privacy risk." 

Facebook Bug Bounty programMy latest report - Photos Can't Be Hidden From Page Timeline and News Feed
Vulnerability Type: Identification / Deanonymization

FB: Thanks for reporting this issue to us. After reviewing the report, this issue does seem to introduce significant security or privacy risk. [...] As we might introduce changes in the future to fix this issue, we won't be able to reward you under our program.

ME: If the issue introduces "significant security or privacy risk," why am I getting no reward? And if you "might introduce changes in the future to fix this issue," it sounds like you're stealing the info that I provided to improve Facebook.

FB: Sorry that was a typo :) What we were trying to say that the issue does not introduce significant security or privacy risk to pass the minimum bar for our bug bounty program.

For those keeping score at home, my record is still perfect: 0 for 5.
Happy International Workers' Day!
Facebook Doesn't Really Want To Know, When Members Die. 

One of my high-school friends and I have been creating Facebook memorials for our departed classmates:

, and if I discover that the deceased has a Facebook account, I memorialize it:

, so other people won't receive ghoulish suggestions for People You May Know, ads or birthday reminders.

Actually, I USED to memorialize my classmates' accounts. But now, Facebook tells me: "you'll need to provide documentation to confirm you're an immediate family member or executor of the account holder."

In my experience, family members or executors don't normally care about the Facebook accounts of people who have passed away. Or, if they really DO want to memorialize an account, they can't figure out how to do it. It took me several tries, before I could decipher Facebook's byzantine documentation.

So Facebook now seems to be taking the position that most of the 10,273 Facebook members who die everyday will continue to haunt us.
Rainy Day Femmes #12 & 35. 

Rainy 600x788 o609x800Robert Bly wrote, in 'Iron John': "The naked woman's body is a portion of eternity too great for the eye of man." Pablo Picasso was somehow able to expertly capture that portion of eternity with a few seemingly-offhand lines, but I've always been much too dazzled by the unclothed female figure to capture anything more than a pale approximation.

This sketch is one of a series, drawn from many incandescent memories of the women who allowed me to see the contours of love. The title is an homage to the music of Bob Dylan ['Rainy Day Women #12 & 35'] and to the simple-yet-elegant line drawings of Picasso [see example, just below: 'Femme']. Picasso's sketches were destined to become high-quality anastatic etchings in a legendary boxed hardbound book with hot-foil embossing, whilst my efforts ended up as, among other things:
--an 8.6-foot tapestry,
--a greeting card,
--a coffee mug,
--a spiral notebook,
--an iPhone X case,
--a pull-over hoodie sweatshirt,
--a baby onesie,
--a yoga mat,
--a round beach towel,
--a shower curtain,
--a Sherpa fleece blanket, and even
--a duvet cover: I highly recommend the 3D viewer, which allows you to check under the bed for scary monsters. ;-)
Fragments de corps de femmeFemme 295x435 ("Fragments of a woman's body"), also known as Femme (1931), is an etching by Pablo Picasso. It depicts the back and buttocks of a female figure, in a sensual and erotic way. A copy can be viewed in the National Gallery of Australia.

Albert Skira founded a publishing house in Lausanne in 1928 and contacted Picasso about having a book illustrated by him. As a result of discussions between Picasso and Pierre Matisse (the painter's son), it was decided that the book should be based on Metamorphoses, an epic poem written in dactylic hexameter by Ovid. This subject fascinated Picasso because parts of the poem dealt with a whimsical incident in which women were transformed into fish. Skira suggested to Picasso that he should make 15 sketches to be included within the book. Picasso delayed quite a while, but eventually began to work in September 1930 and created a total of 30 etchings. The artist was nearly 50 years old, and had recently met a young mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter. He installed her in an apartment just a few hundred yards away from the marital home on rue La Boétie in Paris. Picasso was very enthusiastic about this new affair and many illustrations of his new love appear in the book.

--Wikipedia ~ Print ~ Book ~ 12&35
John Tucky (14 Sep 1958 - 01 Mar 2019; Age 60). 

John just received word that a dear friend passed away. Liver failure. He lived alone, and was discovered by a neighbor.

John and I processed words for a large law firm in Los Angeles during the 80s and 90s. He also did graphics projects on the side, and I programmed macro productivity systems. The firm rewarded us both with bonuses for the extra work, and we were relatively happy with our lot in life. We both enjoyed working for our female boss, a lovely woman who put up with our horsesh*t... er... idiosyncrasies, and kept the attorneys off our backs. We both had a passion for writing screenplays, and we both enjoyed sharing a social drink or three. Then our boss announced she was planning to leave for greener pastures, and we began to sense the impending collapse of our comfy little world.

The woman chosen to replace her was one of our co-workers, and we both knew she was a stone-cold b*tch. John was smart enough to develop a model-kit business that he could run from his own home, and I tried to trick myself into believing that I could get along with the b*tch. Right up until the day I got fired.

John commiserated with me during my period of unemployment, and I helped him program the HTML for the first draft of his website - but he learned fast, and was soon doing his own webmastering. A few years later, after I got married and moved one state to the right, he had transferred his online business presence over to Facebook, and we reconnected.

John loved the horror genre, and even though I generally dislike violent stories, I have to admit his horror screenplays are works of art. I sent him a link ("Creepy anatomical jewelry and housewares") last month, with the comment: "This should be right up your alley..." I think he must have enjoyed it, because he allowed it to appear on his timeline and clicked on the "Haha" laughing emoji.

As it turns out, that was the last time we... yeah.

R.I.P., my old friend.
Pączki Day is coming up on Tuesday. 

Mark your calendars.ączki

#InfoSec (Facebook Bug Bounty): "intended functionality." 

Facebook Bug Bounty programI posted a message on this Facebook Page:
, which contained a link to a thread in a Closed Group:

Facebook says that only current members can see what's posted in a Closed Group, so I assumed that any non-members who clicked that link would just see a description of the Group, along with a button allowing them to send a request to join the Group. But instead, FB displayed a Preview of the posting in the Group, which made me wonder if everybody could see that Preview.

I asked my wife, who's a non-member, to check, and she saw everything posted in the Group. I assumed that meant the entire FB community could see all the postings. So I immediately reported the breach ("Privacy of Closed Groups is compromised") to Facebook's Bug Bounty program:

In the process of tracking down the bug, I discovered that my wife's role as an Analyst on the Page linked to the Group was causing the problem. But even according to FB's own chart:
(column 2, row 5), her permissions in the Group should have been "None." After a few days of thinking this over, FB said that "None" really meant "Member" permissions, and that the bug I reported was "actually just intended functionality and therefore doesn't qualify for a bounty."

Update: Facebook gave the above bug report a score of -10 (Not Applicable):
My reply to FB: So "None" actually means "Member"... thanks for clearing that up. I really enjoyed the phrase "intended functionality," too!
Translation: "intended functionality" = "we rigged the game, so you lose." Or "it's a feature, not a bug." ;-)
#InfoSec (Facebook Bug Bounty): Gender confusion. 

Let's face it, I don't belong anywhere near the Facebook Bug Bounty program:
Why did I ever think I could run with The Big Dawgz? Those dudes (I haven't seen any gals on that list) are heavy-duty programmers. Hackers Extraordinaire. Compared to "real" security researchers, I'm just a lightweight. Those guys know and use tons of computer languages. They operate web tools that I haven't even dreamed about. They drink Red Bull, Club-Mate and Jolt Cola by the case.
If I have more than a half-can of Dr. Pepper, I get dizzy. And I've never gone on "a 36-hour coding tear":
After 20 minutes or so, I usually get distracted by something shiny on the Interwebs.

Background - I arrived at this point in my life almost by accident. My delusions of hacker grandeur were fueled by many years of dabbling in Computer/Internet Stuff. In between my non-cyber attempts to earn a living, I did these sorts of things, just to pass the time:

-In the 60s, I was kicked out of a Fortran programming class for intentionally submitting a deck of punch cards to the Michigan State computer center that contained an infinite DO-loop.
-In the 70s, I operated a room-sized IBM 370 mainframe for Bechtel in San Francisco and wrote a manual that documented the job. (Remember the 3336 disk pack that weighed 25 pounds and dislocated your shoulder whenever you tried to load it up? Remember the refrigerator-sized 3420 tape drive that kept the tape cued by sucking loops of it up and down inside two vacuum columns? If I took the right kind of smoke breaks, I could watch those hypnotic dancing loops for hours.)
-In the 80s, I created an IBM Displaywriter template library for the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm in Los Angeles. (Remember those 8.5-inch floppy diskette drives? If I took the right kind of smoke breaks, I could actually imagine they were toasters.)
-In the early 90s, I designed a WordPerfect macro productivity system for the Sheppard Mullin law firm in L.A. (When those macros worked only too well and earned me a few hundred extra dollars in incentive awards, the partners decided to get rid of some of us peons. So I took the buyout rather than face my co-workers' torch-and-pitchfork parade.)
-In the mid 90s, I created Screenwright(R), a screenplay formatter based on WordPerfect macros. (Corel offered to buy it, but the deal fell through when Michael Cowpland, Corel's head honcho, was accused of insider trading.) Later, I adapted Screenwright(R) into an OpenOffice template that won a $3,333 award from Sun Microsystems. (Sun became defunct when it was bought by Larry Ellison's Oracle, and OpenOffice forked into LibreOffice when Larry pissed everyone off.)
-In the late 90s, I met a Hungarian cutie-pie on the Internet and co-wrote a screenwriting book with her, via email and IRC. We later met IRL, got hitched and lived happily ever after.
-In the 00s, I designed and taught a Blogging 101 course for the University of California. (My pitch to get the gig went something like this: "I began manually programming an online journal in early 1996... before the term 'blog' was coined, and long before automatic blogging software was invented.")
-In the 10s (starting in the late 00s, actually), I wrote a book about becoming a social networking junkie, and later began reporting bugs to Facebook, for fun and profit.

Everybody knows that Facebook had, and still has, a lot of bugs. Beginning at the 2004 startup, Mark Zuckerberg's mantra was "Move fast and break things." Which meant that Users were forced to become Beta Testers. FB supposedly changed its motto in 2014, but the company still doesn't require any sort of quality control from its programmers. Zuck wants new tools and features on his platform, and he wants them now, but he doesn't really care how reliable they are.

Luckily, there are usually several ways to accomplish any given task on FB, so I got really good at designing workarounds. Every now and then, I'd try to report a malfunction through FB's Help Center:
, or I'd post a question in the Help Community:
, but those reports and questions were almost completely ignored. Then I discovered the Facebook Bug Bounty program. Given the privacy sh*tstorm that FB faced last year, Zuck was finally forced into paying some lip service to privacy issues. Nice. For me, at least. The Facebook Bug Bounty report form:
now contains an option under Vulnerability Type to specify "Privacy/Authorization" with a subchoice of "Identification/Deanonymization." Right up my alley. There's also an "Other" option. Hm, I wondered. Is FB finally paying attention?

You see, my current day job (actually, night job, working the graveyard shift as an Editor/Writer for NBC News Radio) requires a laser-like focus, in order to catch errors and uncover discrepancies. In fact, news editors need to cultivate an obsessive/compulsive/anal attention to detail. Their continued employment depends on it.

So I can't avoid noticing sh*t. It's in my DNA. And on FB, I notice a LOT of sh*t. The first time I reported a privacy issue, I thought it affected many users. But as the bug hunting process unfolded, the issue slowly became smaller and smaller, until it almost disappeared by itself. Almost, but not quite. Any decent programmer would have fixed it.

But this next time, I decided to put FB's security engineers to the test. Would they (1) pay attention to a bug that affects so many users and is so obvious that anybody can see how stupid it is? Or would they (2) sweep it under a rug?

If you guessed #2, you win a whip or a doll, anything on the top shelf.

Facebook Bug Report - So, this was my report, in a nutshell: "Pages display the wrong gender." If you visit the About tab on my wife's Author Page:
, and scroll down to the Gender area (careful, keep your hands to yourself), you'll see that it's set to Female. Naturally. That means FB should use the pronouns "she" and "hers," rather than the Male form of "he" and "his," or the Neutral form of "they" and "their." But if you look at this posting:
, FB uses "their." It's plastered all over my Pages. Your Pages, too. This bug has been around for years, and I've reported it at least twice. You might be tempted to think that FB's elite security engineers would be embarrassed that their company is making such a fool of itself. You might be tempted to think they'd delegate this egregious bug to the grunt bug-fixers, rather than saying, "Not my yob, mon." You might be tempted to think they'd thank me for taking the trouble to report it, yet another time.

If so, you'd be wrong.

FB said the above bug report "doesn't appear to be a security vulnerability" and gave it score of -10 (Not Applicable):

How predictable.
#InfoSec (Facebook Bug Bounty): Anonymity on a Facebook Page? Think again, chucko. 

Facebook Bug Bounty programFacebook has probably compromised your privacy. Again. Try clicking the "About" link at the top of your Timeline and scrolling down to your Notes section. If you can answer "yes" to the following four questions, it's likely that your identity as a Page Admin/Editor has been revealed to the entire Facebook community:

1) Do you have a Page Role that gives you posting privileges on a Facebook Page?
2) Did you ever post a Note on that Facebook Page?
3) Were you posting as the Page (not as yourself)?
4) Did you avoid clicking the "Add yourself as a team member" link on that Page?

Many Page Admins and Editors have an expectation of anonymity when they're working on a Page (authors who use pseudonyms, for example), so when they discover that Facebook has "outed" them, it will come as a nasty shock. Engineers in the Facebook Bug Bounty program:
have indicated to me that they are unwilling (or perhaps unable?) to address this issue, so the only fix (other than Hiding your entire Notes section) is to delete the offending Notes and re-post them.

Full disclosure: even though this bug is still "outing" people today, I can only verify that it was triggered by Notes posted before 2016. However, I suspect the malfunctioning code was still active through 2018.

Update: Facebook gave the above bug report a score of -10 (Not Applicable):
In other words, here's how the deal went down:
1. I reported a security bug.
2. FB said: "We can't reproduce it."
3. I sent them a screenshot for proof.
4. FB said: "We don't wanna fix it."
5. I said, under my breath: "Do your f*cking job."
6. They scored my bug report: -10 (Not Applicable).
7. I scored their response: -20 (Not Arrogant At All).
How To Organize A 50th High School Reunion. 

I've recently helped four different high school classes with their 50th reunions, and some of my friends have asked for tips, so here's what I've learned:

First, you'll need a Point Person, and the PP needs a disposable email address -,, whatever.

Second, the PP needs helpers (a "reunion committee"), so s/he can delegate the scut work, and shift the blame, when things get screwed up. Because you know things are gonna get screwed up. ;-)

Third, the organizing effort for each of "my" four reunions (see above) started in a Facebook Group, but I have come to believe it's a mistake to rely solely on FB as a way to disseminate information. Only about 20 to 30 percent (at best) of your affinity group will use FB with any regularity. The rest either [1] don't trust FB, or [2] are disgusted with FB, or [3] are "taking a break" from FB. If you do go ahead and create a FB Event listing for your reunion, you'll be tempted to associate the Event with your FB Group, or create a Private Event. Resist this urge. Make it a Public Event. Don't force potential attendees to join your FB Group, or to become your FB Friend, just to get access to reunion info. Some of them may still hate your guts because of that thing you did in the high school gym many years ago. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. ;-)

Fourth, you can try posting a reunion announcement on, but only about 30 percent of your classmates will have an account there, and only about 10 percent of the ones who have accounts will respond to the announcement. (After you post the announcement, tell CM to send out a reminder email or update alert to everybody.) CM may not be a total waste of time, if they have a scanned copy of your yearbook, but that's becoming less and less likely as more yearbooks start appearing on the Internet Archive (MA digitization) and issuu.

Fifth, you'll eventually need a public website, because most people won't want to input usernames/passwords into FB or CM, just to get reunion details. Some of your classmates won't even own a home computer! So if someone in your class knows HTML and can put up a simple page, great. Otherwise, you might try Google Sites, Wix, Weebly, etc. The reunion website is where the majority of your classmates will get their info, but they will probably visit it only once or twice, so KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Sixth, nail down your venue. A hotel is good, because that will keep a lot of drunk people off the road.

Seventh, start updating your names/addresses database from the previous reunion. This site was very useful to us - - but I'm sure other free people-locator sites will pop up from time to time.

Eighth, establish a timeline: [1] upload the public reunion website about 8 months in advance, [2] mail out Save The Date cards (w/website address) the next day (affix full letter rate postage so undeliverables will be returned, and you can learn which addresses are wrong), [3] mail out invitations (prices, times, order form, website, etc.) about 4 months in advance.

Ninth, don't be disappointed if only about 30 to 40 percent of your surviving classmates show up. And at the 50-year mark, about 15 percent will not have survived. It might be nice to set up a memorial to honor them.

That's about it. Have fun! And here are some examples: reunion website (2) and online memorials.

LATER: If You Get Talked Into Planning Your High School Reunion ~ Class Reunion Dos and Don'ts ~ 75th High School Reunion ~ Why High School Reunions Are Good For You, Really ~ Go To Your High School Reunion, Dammit.
Suicide By Taillight. 

Our relatively-new Mazda CX-5 has all sorts of standard-issue bells and whistles, most of which are designed to be VERY high-maintenance. Take the headlights, for example. The adaptive front lighting system (AFS) automatically adjusts the headlight beams to the left or right, depending on which way you turn the steering wheel. This means there are left-right adjusting motors on each headlight, just waiting to burn out. The auto-leveling headlight motors (up-down adjustments) are also secretly waiting to malfunction. You can turn off the AFS with a button, but you have to remember to push the d*mn button every f*cking time you start the car. I don't want twitchy headlights that dart around, left and right, up and down, like some nervous serial killer. I just want a set of basic headlights that make the road a little less dark.

I work at night, and one night, I noticed a motorcyclist following me, just a few feet behind the car. At first, I thought it was a cop, but then he pulled up beside me. My peripheral vision could see a leather-clad dude on a chopper. Three feet away from my driver's-side window. Was it road rage? I studiously avoided making eye contact, and my mind raced, trying to remember if I had cut him off. But then, I could see that he was smiling, and indicating that I should roll down my window. Was it a trick? Against my better judgment (it was 9:54pm, in a sh*tty part of town), I opened the window. A crack. He yelled, "Your taillights are off - you need to change the settings!" So I ruefully thanked him, then pulled into the parking lot at my workplace. Sure enough, he was right. The external lights have three settings, and each setting (even the default position) turns on the headlights when the car is moving. But the default position also leaves the taillights OFF.

WHAT THE F*CK?! What kind of madness is this?!! I had assumed, since the headlights were on, that the taillights were on, too. But noooooooooooooooo! Mazda has thoughtfully provided me with a carefully-designed set of Kamikaze Taillights®.

So this morning, I took a look at the owner's manual. The problem seemed to be connected to the Daylight Running Lights (DRL). In Europe, they require headlights to remain on, all the time. But DRL are optional here in the States, and the manual said that only a dealer could turn them off.

F*ck that sh*t. I emailed Mazda USA, and they sent a do-it-yourself Procedure (below) for disabling the DRL. However, trying to read the instructions was, for me, much like attempting to learn the Macarena. I can't dance at all, but I practiced by doing the Hokey Pokey, then patting my head and rubbing my tummy.

OK, deep breath, GO!

1. Apply the parking brake.
2. Set the ignition switch to the ON position (engine off).
3. Press and hold the brake pedal.
 • Continue to press the pedal until the procedure is completed.
 • The entire procedure must be completed within 23 seconds after pressing the brake pedal.
 • Start Step 4 within 2 seconds after pressing the pedal.
4. Turn the headlight switch from OFF to the parking light position 5 times and end with the switch in the OFF position.
 • DO NOT turn the switch all the way to the ON position.
 • Step 4 must be completed within 5 seconds.
 • Start Step 5 within 2 seconds.
5. Press the hazard warning switch 10 times within 5 seconds (on-off-on-off-on-off-on-off-on-off).
 • Start Step 6 within 2 seconds.
6. Turn the headlight switch from OFF to the parking light position 5 times and end with the switch in the OFF position.
 • DO NOT turn the switch all the way to the ON position.
 • Step 6 must be completed within 5 seconds.
7. Confirm DRL setting is changed by releasing the parking brake.
 • If DRL is activated: - PARK BRAKE OFF = DRL ON, - PARK BRAKE ON = DRL OFF.
 Note: The setting will not change if the DRL procedure is not completed within the time limits noted in the above procedure.

So I carefully perform the above Procedure TEN F*CKING TIMES, with and without a stopwatch, but no dice. I then check the owner's manual again, which says I can ask any "Authorized Mazda Dealer" to turn off my daytime running lights. But when I take the car over to CardinaleWay Mazda Mesa, the dealership's service manager tells me it can't be done. I respond: "It says right here..." The manager confides in me that the owner's manual covers a lot of different model types, and that on my model, it simply can't be done. So I write to Mazda USA again, and they say the procedure is a bit difficult, but they'll send instructions to CardinaleWay Mazda Mesa. I think: "Sure, and replacing an oil filter is a bit difficult, if you haven't been f*cking trained on how to do it." Then Mazda USA sends me another email, saying the service manager at CardinaleWay Mazda Mesa refuses to perform the procedure. REFUSES?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! AND YOU STILL LET HIM CLAIM TO BE AN AUTHORIZED MAZDA DEALER?!!!

Moral: I'm left with a car that lulls me into a feeling of security during my nighttime commutes, when the headlights turn on automatically. But unless I remember, every d*mn time, to also turn on the TAILLIGHTS, someone is very likely to come speeding up behind me and buttf*ck/ram into the a**-end of my non-taillighted car.

Consolation: As I drive down the freeway at night, I notice several other makes and models of new cars, driving without taillights. Are automakers really that stupid? This is a class-action lawsuit, just WAITING to happen. And I want a piece of that action. Remember, you heard it here first.

Update: My apologies. I think some of you may have mistaken this rant for a How-To article. It's not. It's a What-The-F*ck article. ;-)