Monthly Archives: November 2012

Putting a 13-Year-Old Child Safely on Facebook

Putting a 13-Year-Old Child Safely on Facebook 
An e-mail in my inbox Monday morning from my editor had a scary subject line: “Help!”
When I opened the message, I read this: “My daughter is 13-years-old today and so, as promised, I let her sign up for Facebook. YIKES. Now I am freaking out over her privacy settings!”
Even for an adult, Facebook’s privacy settings are as daunting as trying to do your taxes with an abacus. For teenagers, unaware of the consequences of their online actions, using Facebook incorrectly could potentially leave a digital trail that might follow them all the way through high school, college and into the real world. What’s more, there are also creepy people out there on social networks.
Here’s what I told my editor.
First, you should sit down with children and explain that anything — stress the word anything –they post can and will be used against them on the Internet. This includes private messages and photos they believe are visible only to friends and comments they leave on people’s pictures or status updates. Although all of these things can be set to private, a friend-turned-enemy could take a screenshot of something your teenager has shared, then send it around school for all to jeer at. Teenagers should assume that there is no such thing as private on Facebook. The company has repeatedly changed settings that were once private, to public, and there is nothing to say Facebook will not do this again. Even so, you will want to go through your child’s Facebook settings to make them as private as possible.
To begin, click on the arrow in the top right and then scroll down to Privacy Settings. Once inside, the first thing you will want to do is ensure that anything your child posts on Facebook is only visible to Friends, not the Public.
Once you have done this, methodically go through every setting — be aware, there are dozens of them — and change your child’s account to only be visible to Friends.  I would recommend leaving the “Who can send you friend requests?” tab open to Everyone for the first week or so. Like a child’s first few days in school, let him corral friends on the social network, then you can go back into this option and change it to only allow Friends of Friends later.
To prevent an excerpt from your child’s Facebook page from showing up in public search engines, including Google and Bing, be sure to go to the Apps tab in the privacy settings and click on “Public search.” Then make sure you disable “Enable public search.”
One of the most important privacy settings is how personal information is used in ads. This is where Facebook uses you, or your likes, in advertisements on the Web site. For example, if you like Coca-Cola, Facebook will show your friends ads for Coke using your name as part of the advertisement. (A bit creepy, I know.)
To change this, click on the Facebook Ads tab. Then click on the two links that say “Edit third party ad settings” and “Edit social ads setting” and change these options to “No one.”
When I talked to my editor later in the day, she mentioned that her child had logged into the new Facebook account on a friend’s iPhone that day. This, you should stress, is a very bad idea. If your child forgets to log out, the person can now see everything on their Facebook page, including private chats and messages.
Just like teaching a teenager how to park a car until they get it right, I would recommend sitting over a child’s shoulder and watching them log in and then log out of his or her Facebook account in a way that doesn’t save the password.
You can see other tips from Facebook on the site’s Teen Safety Area.
Oh, and one last thing: Friend your teenager on Facebook.

The Barrier Part Two

A/N: So umm…I was just thinking that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to have this go on forever, so I’ll try to make this a short story. It’s going to be kind of hard though.


I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Andrew materialized next to us, but I freaked out when he said that the demons would be here in a few minutes.

“You’re kidding!” I said, even though I knew he wasn’t.

“Rina, you know I’m not,” he said. “In fact, exactly two minutes and 47 seconds.”

Oh, are you confused? Andrew can predict exactly when things will arrive and stuff like that. So when we play catch, Andrew never misses. I can heal. Like, show me a wound or paper cut, and I’ll put my hand on it, and three seconds (yes, exactly three seconds) later, it’ll look like nothing was there. But doing this takes energy. The bigger the wound or the farther away the object is that Andrew is predicting when it will land, the more energy it takes.

Derek looked at us. “I guess we have to seal the hole.”

Lani interrupted. “Can I come too?”

Derek, Andrew, and I all stared at her.

“What?” she asked defensively. “I did just pass my Assessment, and so now I can do whatever I want and make my own decisions!”

I sighed. “Fine, you can come.”

Andrew and Derek stared at me like I was crazy.

“Lani, you can’t come. It’s too dangerous.” said Andrew.

Crap. He shouldn’t have said that.


Andrew was always the only one who never had to cover his ears when she shouted. In fact, he yelled louder than her. “NO YOU’RE NOT!”

I interfered before Lani shouted at him again. “Come on, just let her try.” I said.

Andrew glared at me. Derek looked like all this amused him. “It’s too dangerous for a novice like Lani though…” Andrew protested weakly. Then he stiffened. “They’re here!”

I whirled around just in time to see the first of many demons crest the hill behind us. I won’t even describe the expression on his ugly face – it really was disgusting, not to mention the actual demon himself.

While we were arguing, reinforcements had arrived. The first few people charged ahead to attack the demons, while we ran off, me dragging Lani with us.

Andrew and Derek were faster and Lani and me, so they reached the exit of Tian before we did.

“You ready?” asked Derek. Lani and I both nodded, and Andrew replied, “Yes.”

Without another word we marched through the grand, spiraling arch. Suddenly, a question popped into my mind.

“How did the demons get into Tian from the hill? I thought the only entrance and exit was right here!”

Andrew looked confused, but Derek knew what I was talking about. His face paled. “It means more holes have opened up.”

I already felt like the world was on my shoulders. Now it felt like someone dropped another ten tons of world on me.

Before long, we arrived at Zhong. I could see the whole place starting to disintegrate, and if we didn’t hurry, the entire place would dissolve in a week. Just then, Lani tripped.

“Ow!” she exclaimed, as I bent over to see what she tripped on. It was a small hole, but it showed a tiny bit of Di. I saw something extremely unpleasant. Tens of thousands of demons were rushing by, underneath us, trying to get to that huge hole that opened up. All of them were rushing right, so I told Derek and Andrew that we should head that way.

“Hey Rina, before we go on, can you take a look at this?” Lani asked me, pointing to her knee.

“Oh yeah, sorry.” I said.

Lani’s knee wasn’t as bad as it looked. I brushed my black hair out of my face and  placed one hand on the wound. In three seconds, it was healed, but I felt a little more tired.

Lani smiled at me. “Thanks a lot, Rina!”

We started walking toward the hole. Before long though, the ground was starting to have holes every ten feet. Most were small, but sometimes I saw a slightly bigger one.

After several hours, I was beginning to think that this was too easy. I mean, we’ve done nothing but walk for hours, and nothing happens?

…crap. I shouldn’t have thought that, because, coincidentally, my necklace with a sapphire pendant that matches my eyes and can sense demonic activity begins to pulse.


On Wednesday, I went to Joplin, Missouri to do community service for rebuild Joplin. I had to wake up at 7:00 am and went to 195th and Antioch at McDonald’s. We went there to carpool to Joplin, because it’s not convenient to bring, like, 10 cars to the middle of Missouri.

I carpooled with Mulan, Katrina, Elaine, and Erin Bailey (who was my awesome friend from fencing). It was a 2.5 hour car ride from Kansas city to Joplin. On the way there Katrina, Elaine, and I were talking about randoms, and how LUCKY PEMBROKE STUDENTS ARE HAVE i Pads FOR THEIR OWN RECREATION because Mulan and Erin were playing Minecraft in the back. Minecraft is pretty awesome.

Our entire group, (Cindy Wang, Cindy Wang, Andrew Liu, Bill Liu, Regina Yan, Mulan, Erin, Katrina, Elaine, Bryan,  me, Eric, and freddy.) got a brief orientation of the tornado that destroyed Joplin. Then the under sixteens went to an empty lot to use sledge hammers and tear down a concrete foundation in room to build a house. It was really fun, because it was a day to be angry. We would swing the hammers into the foot-tall walls and they would crack. The other girls were raking the smaller debris out of the dirt lot. Mulan, Erin and I also carried the really heavy and really big concrete blocks into the giant trash bin.


Sorry, I hope this doesn’t sound too much like I’m bragging, but my mom wanted me to post this on the blog… I know it’s kinda late to post this because it’s about the State competition, but oh well. And it’s almost like a story…

The trophies sat, gleaming, on the steps as the two ladies announced the results for Plan C, Grades 5-6, Group Three. I waited while they called everyone up for a Certificate of Participation, hoping that I won. My heart pounded in my chest as I waited silently for the list of I Ratings to begin. Several people I knew were called up to receive I Ratings, and I almost expected my name to be called. But when it wasn’t, a flood of relief washed over me.

My hands clenched together as I wished that I wouldn’t be called for an Honorable Mention either. All I really wanted was a trophy. Not a medal. The three or four names for Honorable Mention were completed, and excitement started building up in me. I had either gotten Runner Up or first!

The Runner Up was called, and when it wasn’t me, I was actually disappointed for about half a second before I realized what that meant for me. Just when I realized it, my name was called for first. The victory I had worked hard on for months was now here, and mine! I hoped and didn’t want to hope (just in case the opposite came true) that I would be first. I walked up to receive my trophy, and I just couldn’t stop a smile from spreading across my face.

The Barrier

Author’s Note: I’ve gotten kind of stuck on my Skyra story, so I think I will just discontinue it. But I promise, THIS story WILL BE FINISHED. ABSOLUTELY. Okay?


I stared at my reflection in the mirror, seeing what I always saw. Blond hair, green eyes, and pink lips. Just an average sixth-grader. Nothing special or extraordinary.

I only had three hours to get myself ready for The Assessment. Either the pride and joy of your family, or their disgrace. So a lot of pressure was weighing on my shoulders.

All The Assessment was was just a test to see how well your powers were developing. Mine were pretty advanced, at least according to my friend Sabrina. I could sense emotions. When I used my power, people turned into colors. And the colors all represented different emotions.

All people with powers could also telepathically communicate. So that’s what I often did with Rina. And Andrew. They were my two best friends. Period.

Going to my closet, I tried to find something suitable. Not a dress, but some training clothes. I decided on a white tank top and sweatpants.

Rina barged into my room without knocking. She has a bad habit of doing that. Anyway, she asked, “You ready?”

“No.” I said.

“Too bad, we’re leaving anyway.”

And with that, Sabrina  Eline Fracot grabbed my wrist and practically dragged me out of the room.

When Rina finally let go, I rubbed my wrist. Then I looked up to see that we were outside, and the sky was gray. Not good. The last time someone had an Assessment on a gray and rainy day, well… it didn’t turn out too well.

The courtyard we were in was wide, with a fountain in the middle, and gardens surrounding it with bright yellow, pink, purple, light blue and white flowers.

Suddenly, a group of people materialized next to us. They were the people who would be testing me, I guess.

Rina bowed. I remained still.

“May I present the only Delani Cassandra Miller.” she said, in a formal voice.

One of the people rolled his eyes. “Rina, stop that.”

Rina immediately relaxed. “Nice to see you, Derek! How’re you doing?”

“I’ve been fine, lately.”

Another person, a middle-aged woman, interrupted their conversation. “We need to see how well Delani’s skills are.”

I surprised myself by talking. “Call me Lani.”

She glanced over at me. “Alright then, if you want.”

The group spread out and faced me. I looked at them nervously. What was I supposed to do?

Derek explained. “Lani, you have to use your powers. We will be watching and doing stuff, to see how well your powers are.”

I nodded, and then we were all silent. Focusing hard, I tried to sense the emotions of the people around me.  Within a few seconds, I felt the world shift slightly, and when I looked up, the people were gone. Replacing them were their emotions. Most of them were concentrating hard, a few were relaxed, and others were tense.

After a few minutes, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, so I just stopped. The people became people again, and they looked at me approvingly.

I sighed in relief. “Did I pass?” I asked.

“Yes.” one of them replied. The circle then disbanded, and Derek went to talk with Rina.

I cleared my throat. “Rina? What do I do now?”

“Whatever you normally do.” she said, and waved me away.

Well, that was helpful.  With nothing to do, I started to head home when I heard a scream.

Without another thought I raced back, my powers already working, to find a little girl, out of breath from running, with a dark aura of fear. The darker the aura is, the more scared that person is. Right now, that little girl was, on a scale of one to ten for fear, a twenty.

Rina was already there, brow creased in worry, as she asked the little girl what was wrong.

“Demons have broken out of Di! There’s a huge hole in Zhong!”

Everybody who heard gasped. Di was also known as The Ultimate Prison, for demons. Zhong was The Barrier. It had been keeping out demons for centuries. I mean, there were a few leaks every now and then, but never a huge hole like the one the little girl said there was. The place that we live, Tian, is just Sky.

So if Zhong was breached, then it won’t be long until the demons come storming to us, and kill us. We were the ones, us with powers, long ago, who drove the demons away and imprisoned them in Di.

Andrew materialized next to me. “Lani, the demons are coming!”

“I know!” I tell him.

“No, I mean, they’ll be here in a few minutes!”

Please Join In – Thanksgiving Holiday Art / Poem / Short Essay Fun

Dear talented stars,

How about let’s do something fun and creative to make this Thanksgiving Holiday different and special? I would like to propose that each of us posts his/her own art work (including photos you take), poem, or a short essay, or even a recipe with the theme of Thanksgiving holiday.  We have so much to thank for – so much that we can’t even count.  A nice greeting card you make to your parents or siblings or teachers or friends also counts.

Show us how creative and thankful you are. Share with us your happiness, joy and thankfulness.  Deadline: Noon, Nov. 25, 2012

I will collect all of your posts and make them into a collage for our end-of-year gathering!

Forever and Always-Part 3

Chloe tumbled out of bed, her hair a mess. Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, she got out her flint kit and quickly made a fire. The crisp, cool, morning air had already made its way through her clothes. Slipping on a coat from a hook near the door, she walked outside breathing in the fresh air. Dew drops shimmered like diamonds on dancing blades of grass. The lake sparkled in the rising sun.

As she walked back in, she noticed a note taped on the door.

Dear Chloe,

                        I’m extremely sorry about that night. I will admit I went a little crazy. I hope you know that I didn’t mean to call you what I called you. I wonder if you will ever find a way to forgive me.



          At the bottom of the note was a necklace.  Flowers carved out of thin, delicate pieces of gold were grouped together. In the middle of each flower was some kind of precious stone. This was hung on a sparkling string of silver. The flowers were put in a way so that it made a shape. A heart. Chloe stuffed the necklace at the bottom of her bed then ripped the note in half.

She knew that the fight was the silliest thing in the world but, after what Carter called her, in her opinion, this was a great reason to be mad. After taking a couple of deep breathes, Chloe pulled out a knife and a loaf of bread then took a jar of honey. After eating a meal of rich honey and bread, Chloe took a basket and walked outside.

Without hesitation, Chloe took a path that led deep into the heart of the forest. She finally reached a clearing where herbs grew everywhere. She got to work right away.

Beep, beep, beep! Carter groaned as he reached out to slap his alarm clock then when back to sleep.

Five minutes later…

“Carter wake up!! You’re going to be late for the school bus and I’ll have to drive you to school again!” Carter’s mom yelled, banging on the door. Carter groaned and stuffed his head under his pillow. His mom walked in, ignoring keep out signs plastered all over his door. “Carter wake up!” his mom yelled again. Carter responded this with yet another groan. “Humph! It’s not my fault that you were up till midnight doing your homework because of what reason I don’t know. Sounds suspiciously like sneaking out to someplace.” Carter’s mom siged, “Two minutes and I expect you to be downstairs ready for breakfast.” then Carter’s mom walked out and slammed the door.

“Bossy old lady” Carter grumbled then tumbled out of bed. Three minutes later a boy with a ridiculous bed-head and his shirt on backwards walked downstairs. The way he was walking you would have thought he was a zombie.

Carter’s mom started the engine then turned around and glared at him. “This is the last time I’m taking you to school mister.” Then she snapped back around focused on the cars in front of her.

As Carter got out of the car, he was stopped by a girl named Ashley. She was part of the “popular crowd”, you know, every school has one.

“Hey Carter!” Carter rolled his eyes then slowly turned around. “What” he grumbled. “Awww,” Ashley cooed with mock sympathy, “You look tense. Up all night worrying about your girlfriend?” Ashley expertly tossed honey colored tresses over her shoulder as her friends broke down laughing. Carter turned red then walked away mumbling “She’s not my girlfriend.”



Violence is the Answer

Jade Featherstone had never been outside. She was pale, and her skin was lightly freckled. She was nothing like her sisters, Carlie, Jacen and Avery. Both had tan, bony faces. They had soft edges, and Jade’s jawline was strong. Once, Jade remembered she went outside as a child on their large farm, and her mother yelling at her to come inside when she saw uniformed men walking down the gravel path to the Farthing’s barn.

On Jade’s fourth birthday,  she remembered when Mother baked a pound cake, and when it was cut open, blueberries tumbled out. That day, They had buttermilk, and Katjie, the cat spilled some. Jade was about to walk towards the window where the spill was, until her Uncle Garth grabbed her by the waist and literally threw her on the old propped up mattress that served as a fragile  couch.

“Don’t you EVER go near the windows, again. Do you hear me Jade?” Uncle flared up. Then his composure returned, and he became gentle again. “Please, Jade this is for your own good.

Jade was now in closet, which was her room. Permanently

November 6, 2012 – Who Would You Vote For and Why?

FYI – About 2012 Presidential Election

Aleta and the magic bean: My old Story

Guys, All the unfamiliar names mean something in a language. Aleta is Italian. Look it up.

Aleta clicked her fingers once and she started to shrink. Her back arched, and short soft fur sprouted in place of her cloak. Her ears grew tall, and a cottony tail sprang out. In a few heartbeats she had turned into a graceful doe. She had to escape before the huntsman found her and killed her, because the evil queen thought she was Snow White. She was also running away from the Sultan, for her was fooled into thinking that she was Jasmine, and wanting her as a wife, was obviously after her. The Big Bad wolf was drooling for his dinner, and so did other story villains such as Captain Hook.

Aleta {fawn} dove into the depths of the nearest lake after galloping quite a distance. She could hear the Sultan’s raspy voice nearing. She clicked her hooves together once and again transformed into a leaping sunfish, bright red, and flashing as she swam into the channel to the sea. She blew two bubbles into the seawater and as she leaped into the air, her fins extending to become wings, the tail separating to form talons on a webbed foot. At once she was a blue heron. She flew to her secret hideout where her friends, (the other fairytale characters) where.

She was panting hard. Belle, or Cate ran up to her, her feet pounding on the floor of the cave. “Are you okay?”

She pointed to all of them, the princes and princesses, dukes, and duchesses. “Everyone-*pant*-here owes me-*pant*- twice as much as-*pant* a golden lorfax-” Then she broke into a coughing fit. Cinderelly/Sophia gasped, “What’s wrong?”

Carson, who was also no character at all, said, “She’s laughing.”

Can’t  see where we are? Let me describe. All of the fairy tale characters were gathered in an underground cave, making themselves at home for about, oh, I don’t know, a year now. Other than the fairy tale characters, there were the charaless. Character less. They played no characters, but now they were important, for they provided cover, shelter, food, and water for them. Only 10 of them charaless had superior knowledge, all-seeing eyes, and one power.

Aleta was one of those 10. Unfortunately.

Carson (One of the 10 Charaless and her secret crush) ladled out a thick golden soup into the mutilated earthenware bowls that the starving Fairytale characters’ bowls. They all sipped hungrily at it, but soon lost their appetite when Beest/Graham started to slurp disgustingly. Belle/Cate, whom he was dating, told him to mind his manners. “Cate, if you haven’t noticed, I’m not in the shape to use a fork and knife for soup,” Graham said, pointing out the way she consumed her portion, “and I’m too hungry to take little sips. It smells so good. Carson, what’s it made of?”

Carson flicked his head so that his coarse blond hair parted to the side and smirked, “Do you really need to know, Beesty-Boy? Only the best recipe in the Kingdom! Vegetable roots, two grooslings from another book called the Hunger Games, and gnomes’ droppings, all boiled in Betelgeuse.”

Prince Charming/Andrew gagged. “Ya mean dat y’all boiled dis in Beetle juice?” Chang/Timothy (from Mulan) spat onto the ground and rubbed his mouth on his sleeve. Carson Shook his head. “No, not Beetle juice. Aleta extracted liquid neutrons from the flaming star, Betelgeuse. Pretty impressive.” Aleta Blushed.

Graham’s eyes widened in disbelief. “I’m okay with roots and grooslings, but GNOME’S DROPPINGS AND NEUTRONS??”

Aleta snatched her arrow off of the makeshift rack although she would have rather used her sling. “Shut up! I hear something outside!” She turned into a flying Fox and took off.

Moments later she fell in, puffing and her arm streaming with blood. “Its Captain Hook and the Sultan! Scram, kiddos!” Alison helped her limp into the emergency hideout place that she dugout. Suddenly that ground started to shake. Back and forth and back and forth, until pebbles, then rocks, then boulders started to tumble down their side of the cliff overhang. Avalanche.


Carson, compressed in the fallen debris, squirmed until a shaft of sparkling sunlight fell onto his face and lit up the area in which he was squeezed. He wrenched his arm free and punched through the beam of light. Carson sucked in his breath slowly, but heavily, taking in fresh, crisp, air that was scented of smoke. Smoke! Carson whipped his head to the right, which shook some debris out of his hair, and spotted a thin thread of wispy black smoke. He cleared a path by raising his hands palm-up and all the boulders in his path were floating. Straining with a throbbing vein in his temples and quickly moved the out.