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Elena Banfi
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This day comes every year, like any other. But this day must not be forgotten. 
In Memory

I have thought long and hard before posting this picture. Perhaps an explanation of how this photograph came to look the way it does and the feeling it evokes every time I see it, will help give a better understanding of why I am posting it today.

The picture was taken many years ago, the summer of 1995 if memory serves me right. My boyfriend and I had just come back from a trip to Mexico that lasted about 10 days and led us through forests and ruins and a variety of other places both unique and exciting. On the way back, because I lived in Syracuse at the time, we decided to visit NYC. When we came by the towers, we were taken aback by the sheer size of the buildings and I was fascinated by the silhouette they formed against what was a wonderful end-of-summer blue sky. Alessandro was musing at the height of the buildings at some point wondering how many of the more familiar and much shorter edifices from his home town could be stacked to reach the top of one tower.

We had all intentions to go to the top but decided that our schedule was too tight and that we would, for sure, have the time to visit them in the future We were wrong but we did not know it then. Wanting to take a good picture and not sure on how to go about it, I just laid down somewhere and took this shot. Unlike digital, that lets you see what you did immediately, I could not really tell what kind of picture I would get, being too inexperienced to visualize it in my mind. But I still have that very vivid image in front of me as I think of it, the one I saw through the lens. I was so excited.

I did not develop the rolls from this vacation until later which is when I discovered that a chemical mix up had “stained”, and in some cases burned through, the slides. The photo went forgotten for a few years until my mother decided to bring the batch to a trusted lab in my home town. I eventually received from her a digital version of this picture together with a few others from the same trip. When I finally watched it, it was by then past that horrific day of September 11th. My heart sank. All the memories came back, of that day, when I first took it, when no one would have ever imagined something so horrible could have ever happened. I had the sudden stark realization that the red tint was now taking a whole different, ominous meaning. It no longer represented something trivial, like a ruined vacation photograph, it turned into a visual imagery of what was and the sickening reality of what was to become. There was the innocence of that day, the eyes of wonder that saw that place like a child would, and the painful images of a day so tragic no one could have ever believed it possible.

When I first moved to Dallas, I remember asking a lot of people who were alive during the Kennedy assassination what they remembered about the day and how it had impacted their lives. I was curious to know how such a shocking moment in time shaped their lives. It is no longer necessary to ask having seen what happened on 9/11. It is a feeling you cannot describe, the sinking sensation that something so unimaginable could happen and, in this modern tragedy, be seen from many different perspectives and through vivid images. I do not care how much times goes by, seeing those images will always be sickening.

As I ready myself for a family vacation, I do so mindful of the fact that there are others who will never be able to build memories with their loved ones, victims of such a senseless act. It has been ten years, but the impact has not lessened. My intention is to let us pause and spend some of these days ahead remembering the lives forever lost and be close, by means of compassion in this shared human tragedy, to those who have lost someone on that tragic day. May other generations be left to wonder what it is like to live a day like that rather than having to find out on their own.

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Google Alerts: A good way to monitor one's name online

There is a tool on Google that is not as well known as it should be called Google Alerts. When you set up an alert, what you are doing is telling Google to alert you whenever new content is created online that matches a search term of your choice.

One excellent use of Google Alerts is to create one to monitor your name online. Depending on whether your name is common or not, you may need to enter additional search terms. For example, in a recent online article the writer described how a fake account had been created on Facebook in her name and using one of her pictures. The only reason she found out is because the "fake her" sent her a friend request. Spooky and creepy, I know, but at least useful in that she knows now there is a fake account. The writer has what I find to be a rather uncommon name so a Google Alert to match the last name only should be useful in monitoring the web for new pages matching her last name including new Facebook pages. A last name like "White" would be more problematic and could be narrowed by tailoring the search to match, for example, the first and last name. I added the link to Google Alerts below for more reading on the matter. 

It goes without saying that the tool can be useful in searching other terms like a company or product. Some may even get so ambitious as to try use the alert to find new job postings but that is a whole different can of worms. Bottom line, this is another example of useful tricks from Google and a tool one would be best use together with that other gem known as the 2-step verification.  

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It's that time of the year again. Time to bring the tree down from the attic, dust off the ol' ornaments, and yes, time to put lights on the darn thing. We all love that part. Twenty twelve being a not so good year for me and all, I got lucky at least in some regards.

For starters, my shoulder hurts, that's not the lucky part, so a dear friend "volunteered" to help get the boxes all the way to the first floor. It really counts like cardio so he should thank me. I am lucky because the cat and I watched as he did the work. And yes, I know, cat, Christmas decorations, need a man's help with said decorations ... I am still single, I get it.

Second, I found a better way to handle the whole lights situation. I had suspected for years there was an easier way. Particularly the one time when a whole strand of mini lights went dark and it took hours to find the culprit. This time, even though I did not have to fully execute since my helper-friend did, I am glad I found the article. 

In the spirit of Christmas I will share it. A gift, particularly to all the men out there who do not give a darn about Christmas decorations but suffer silently through it to help their mothers and sisters, wives and lovers, women who hopefully will share more than chores with them, or just partly-injured friends (in the latter case knowing darn well they will get a nice meal for it - if my mother cooks the meal, it still counts).  

One more thing, when buying a tree, remember, the taller it is the more lights it will need... I really really need to remember that. 

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Coming up in Dallas:

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Very interesting. Check it out. 
Welcome to the Google Online Courses page! In July, we launched the inaugural Google Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), Power Searching with Google. This page is designed to announce new Google-sponsored online courses as well as to publicize tools for creating online courses. We hope you will learn with us, share your experiences, and experiment with us as we launch new learning experiences and tools.

If you could learn more about any Google product, what product would it be and why?

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The Google Art Project, if you have not had the time to check it out, then you must. 

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