Fried catfish: On identity theft

Yesterday afternoon I got a message on Flickr from a user I didn’t know. He alerted me that someone on Facebook was using my photos and also harassing him and his family.

Someone used my photos for a fake profile

I didn’t know if it was real or not but it couldn’t hurt to search Facebook.

I searched and found some weird stuff.

Someone used my photos for a fake profile

Um. What?! I don’t have anything against the employees of Walmart, but I’ve never worked there or any other retail position. Also, I’ve never heard of the name “Consuela,” but I do know a couple of Consuelos.

Someone used my photos for a fake profile

I checked out the photos and “Consuela” had been using my personal and family photos for almost a year.

Someone used my photos for a fake profile

Someone used my photos for a fake profile

Someone used my photos for a fake profile

Hey, look, my sidebar photo. Also, that wasn’t a nice summer day in Pueblo, Colorado. It was hot summer day in East LA.

Someone used my photos for a fake profile

I guess we have something in common. I really like this photo too and have used it since ’08 as a profile or avatar photo.

Someone used my photos for a fake profile

This one really bugged me. That’s my family! Using my photos is one thing. That’s creepy, weird and just plain wrong, but using photos of my family is on another level. I’ve seen enough episodes of Catfish to know that this kind of thing happens, but never wanted to search for my own photos on Google Images. Where would I even start? I have thousands of photos online. By the way, I searched the stolen photos later. None showed up on the Facebook profile probably due to privacy setting. My photos did show up where they’re supposed to: my blog, Flickr account, friends’ blogs, and blogs where I occasionally comment thanks to Gravatar. I believe “Consuela” downloaded the photos from my blog based on the photo sizes and the fact that all my photos are friends only on Facebook. My download settings on Flickr are limited too.

After going through the photos, I sent a couple of messages asking “Consuela” to remove the photos. I also looked up how to report an impostor account and submitted my complaint. I posted about it on Twitter and Facebook. Several friends reported the fake account as well by saying the user was pretending to be someone they knew. Each time they submitted a complaint, I’d get a message:

Hey Cindy, it looks like this person is pretending to be you. You should report them for impersonation if you think they are.
Report “Consuela” for impersonation

I haven’t received anything from Facebook, but later in the evening I noticed my photos were gone. A friend told me a few moments later that there were new photos up on the profile. I’m assuming “Consuela” stole those too.

Down with Downcast

For several years, I put off getting an iPhone. My main opposition to getting one — other than pure laziness inertia — was the increased cost to my cell phone bill. I know I can afford the cost, but that doesn’t mean I wanted a 75% increase in my mobile costs.

Now that I have an iPhone 4, I don’t see myself going back to the old school flip phone.

It’s not about the games, access to my email and internet at all times. It’s not even the camera and social networking with Instagram. I’d miss those things, but I’d be fine without them.

Playback speed

I’d have much more trouble giving up my favorite feature: various playback speeds for podcasts.

At first, I just listened to podcasts via iTunes, but then Sean told me about the app he uses to download and organize his podcasts: Downcast.

Downcast playlists

Downcast is officially my favorite app. I subscribe to almost 40 podcasts through Downcast. The app allows listeners to organize playlists (e.g., news, music, favorites, shorts) and listen at various speeds. While iTunes only allows one to listen to podcasts at 1.5x and 2x speed, Downcast has 9 different speeds from 0.5 to 3x speed. I usually listen to podcasts from NPR or other public radio shows at 2x speed.

Favorites playlist

I’ve been a podcast fan for years now, but I never was able to listen to everything and would build up quite the backlog on my iPod. I still have a bunch of un-listened episodes, but there are fewer on the list since I can get through the same podcast twice as fast while cleaning my apartment or doing some student tracking at work.

Sopa and SOPA

SOPA opposition

All this talk about the blackouts today in opposition to SOPA/PIPA is making me hungry. It probably wouldn’t be appropriate to make sopa de fideo. Too bad. It’s one of my favorite foods. But I’ll give up my favorite angel haired pasta in a tomato/chicken broth to support the protest against internet censorship.

More on the SOPA/PIPA blackouts at Mashable or Google. But not Wikipedia.

My blog is my constant: A decade of blogging

Birthday cake

Ten years ago, I started Lotería Chicana and became a blogger — even though I didn’t use either terms back then. I signed up on Diaryland with the same alias I used for AIM and posted four sentences about applying to graduate school and the World Series:

grad school update
11.07.01 // 11:43 a.m.

I’m gonna leave L.A. and escape to the Bay Area. I’m tired of the smog, traffic and the LA-ness of this place. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I need to get out for a few years... perfect excuse to go to grad school in Berkeley (or San Diego). In other news, the Diamondbacks rock!

Tigres del Norte

At the time, I was a college senior in the middle of fall quarter. It’s clear from subsequent posts that I was avoiding writing papers, reading for class or studying for exams. I didn’t do a good job balancing a full course load with my work-study job, student leadership positions, teacher education program applications and social life. That last part was pretty distracting considering I was going to a few concerts that fall — Los Tigres del Norte (above), the Roots and Res, and Jaguares — and distracted by my crush in San Francisco. Apparently, I had time to watch the World Series and hate on the Yankees. (Sorry about that, Sean). I did okay that quarter. I passed my classes, started dating that guy in SF and abandoned grad school plans temporarily. It was for the best, I didn’t really want to be a K-12 teacher.

Casa de las tiranas does Halloween

I never followed through on that first sentence I wrote 10 years ago. I never left LA nor UCLA even though I almost went to Michigan for grad school. I didn’t even leave the apartment I shared with my then-roommates Pato, Ome and Vane. I’ve been consistently flaky for a while. I still don’t care much for the Yankees even though Sean has tried his best to get me to.

And of course, I’m still blogging. While the platform, name, URL, and look have all changed at least once, my desire to write and interact with other bloggers and readers never waned. Some of my interests have changed. I don’t think I could run a mile without stopping in 2001 and now I write about training for marathons and half marathons. On the other hand, I’ve been writing about access to higher education for undocumented students and telling stories about my family since the beginning.

I’m really glad I’ve kept at it this long. The friendships alone are worth it. If you’ve been reading a few years or just a few months, thanks.


A coincidence
While preparing this post on Saturday, I looked up my Fall ’01 course schedule, just so I could see which classes I was taking and what was keeping me busy then. One of the classes was Ethnomusicology 120A, Development of Jazz with Gerald Wilson, literally a living legend in the jazz world. His lectures were more like story time about the jazz greats he once played with than the origins of jazz itself.

I didn’t think much about Professor Wilson until the next day. I got in my car to run some errands and heard the announcer mention Wilson’s name as he introduced one of his records. The DJ spoke briefly about Wilson’s contributions to jazz and the LA-scene and then mentioned his age. “He’s about 90 years old now.” Wikipedia says he’s 93. Damn. I knew he was old when I took his class, but I wouldn’t have guessed he was 80+.


If I don’t get lazy, I’ll have more for the 10 year anniversary posts including:
– My favorite posts (if you have one, email me citlalli31 AT gmail dot com)
– Things I’ve learned through blogging
– People I’ve met through blogging


Previous anniversary posts:
Four years and counting
Fourth grade blues (9 years)

31, Westwood & most popular posts

My artwork

Last week I stopped by Rite-Aid to grab a drink before heading in to work. At first I was surprised to see that they were already had Halloween candy in stock. Then I wanted to grab a bag of fun size Snickers. I resisted. Plus, I barely had enough money to pay for my drink.

The thought of Halloween (and all that candy!) being a couple of months away excites me. I have fun picking my costume and putting it together as well as helping others come up with affordable, creative and sometimes culturally relevant costume ideas. I started the whole thing as an alternative to the super short, tight and sexy costumes.

I’ve also found that my low budget costume series has been quite popular and brings lots of visitors to my site. Check out my overall 10 most popular posts as defined by the Popularity Contest plugin (in descending order):

  1. Halloween on a budget: Old School Chola
  2. Halloween on a budget: La Chilindrina
  3. Halloween on a budget: Frida Kahlo
  4. Halloween on a budget: La Adelita (Funny thing, my cousin Nancy told me she wanted to dress up as an Adelita. I told her I did it once. She said, “I know, I searched on Google and you were the first to come up.”)
  5. Halloween on a budget: El Chapulín Colorado
  6. A Chicana outlook on Ruben Salazar
  7. The definitive guide to wearing your ethnicity (this could really use some updating)
  8. Nopalitos
  9. Halloween on a budget: La Catrina
  10. Concert buddy search revisited

All of these posts are more than a year old. Some as much as 6 years old. I wonder if this means I’ve already peaked as a blogger. Probably.

Not so anonymous

Fun with a fan

A few weeks ago, Sean and I went to our first Hollywood Bowl show of the season. Along with thousands of others, we watched Grease and sang along to the classic hits. It was a fun night and my inkling that the beloved musical isn’t really kid-appropriate was confirmed. A few choice words in “Greased Lightening” were censored on the big screen with pictures (e.g., a cat, cow and can of whipped cream).

I usually don’t stay all the way until the very end of a show at the Hollywood Bowl. I’ll listen to the last song as I make my way out. Not this time. We were stuck in the throngs. On the walk back to the parking structure at Hollywood & Highland, we navigated the crowded sidewalk like we would in Times Square. Soon we were ahead of the crowd of drunk, slowly walking Grease fans. We only stopped when we had to at lights or driveways.

I was a little impatient as we waited for an SUV to exit the parking lot at the Methodist church on Franklin and Highland. That was until the woman in the passenger seat leaned over to the driver’s side window and said “I read your blog.” I couldn’t hear her, but was able make out the words. I was amused. I smiled and waved back and then she was off.

This is the third time I’ve been recognized while out and about. The first was at an education conference. A few months ago, I was recognized on the track at UCLA.

I don’t mind being recognized. If I wanted to avoid getting recognized, I’d be anonymous like The Militant Angeleno or El Chavo. I’ve admitted that I’d try to be nice if a random reader stopped me to say hi. Still, it’s always unexpected and throws me off guard even if I’m genuinely flattered. I hope I don’t come off as a dork, or worse, a jerk to my readers.

On writing the future of LA

Last Tuesday I was part of a panel on digital media and blogging at Loyola Marymount University’s annual LAy of the LAnd conference. The theme for this year was “The Wired City: Writing The Future of LA.” I joined Kevin Roderick of LA Observed and KCRW, Juan Devis the webmaster for KCET’s Departures, and Kyle DePinna an LMU senior and co-founder of an electronic music blog, Shifty Rhythms. We were introduced by Rubén Martínez, the organizer of the conference and a member of the faculty in the English department. The panel was moderated by Evelyn McDonnell, a new hire in the department. About 40-50 students attended the talk.

I arrived a few minutes before we were set to start and me the co-panelists and moderators. Although I’m familiar with Kevin’s work on LA Observed and his commentary on KCRW, I’d never met him in person. Likewise, I’d spoken to Juan Devis before, but it was my first time meeting him too. I’ve met many bloggers (and non-bloggers) before and it’s always a good experience. This was no different.

I was a little nervous for the panel as I didn’t really know what to expect and I didn’t want to sound like an idiot. Thankfully, it went well and I’m pretty sure I sounded competent thanks to Evelyn and Rubén who moderated the discussion. The moderators introduced each invited panelists. We then spoke for about 5 minutes about our blogs/sites and our roles in digital media. As Kevin mentioned in his recap, he was the self-appointed old guy who transitioned from old media to new media. He spoke about LA Observed’s early years and it’s growth. Juan spoke about telling the stories of communities through interactive web content. I focused on using personal blogs to tell stories. I read lots of personal blogs. The ones I enjoy most are written by strong writers who have interesting and funny stories to tell, even about mundane things. This doesn’t even have to be done with words all the time. Oftentimes, photos or music are prominent part of the story. Kyle finished off by discussing the role of music in blogs and how he uses his blog to promote local DJs.
Continue reading “On writing the future of LA”

Blog writer’s block

Happy TENTH blog birthday to Sean!

I’ve been dealing with blog-writer’s block. I go through this once in a while. It’s inevitable, there after all I’ve been doing this 9+ years. Sometimes I feel like I’m out of stories to tell or don’t feel like sharing about new experiences. When I sit down to write a new post, order it’s much more difficult than it used to be. I start posts and leave them in a draft folder for months. I talked about this with Sean, a fellow blogging veterano:

Me: did writing blog posts always feel like so much work?
Sean: No. It used to be easy
Me: I know! What happened? I think now I want to be more polished.
Sean: Too many other outlets for expression

I’m on those other outlets. So is he. They have their drawbacks, of course. It’s almost impossible to find an old Tweet and you’re limited to a few characters. Tumblr is frequently down, the search option is trash, archives are unwieldy and the comment function is lacking. I just realized that there’s no way to link to the beginning of a blog. There are all sorts of privacy issues with Facebook, and of course there is no functional archive for the user.

On the other hand, it’s much easier to post a link and say: “Hey read this! Fulanito has a really interesting take on Issue X. What do you think?” If I blogged something similar, I’d probably spend some time taking a chunk of Fulanito’s argument, and sandwiching it between some of my own commentary. I might even look for posts by fellow blogueros who have discussed Issue X and link to their posts. I can’t blog from my phone, but I can send and receive text message updates to Twitter and Facebook, quite useful for when I want to live-Tweet an event.

Still, It all comes back to function and interaction. You don’t need to be my friend or follow me to read my blog. You can just show up, read, poke around in the archives, comment if you like and move on. If you wanted, you could actually go back and see what I was talking about in March 2008 (who remembers la blogonovela?).

I miss my blog and the great things that come with it (feedback and interaction with new and long time readers). I’ve focused on running lately, but that’s mainly for me. I don’t know if anyone cares about my long runs. I don’t intend for this to become a “healthy living” blog where I document every workout, snack and meal. I do want to bring back old features, like “Mil Palabras” photos each Wednesday and the weekly question-centered posts. And of course, I need to get back to what I enjoy most and think I’m okay at, telling stories.

The Persian and Mexica new year is coming up. I can still make some resolutions.

Fourth grade blues

Lotería Chicana turned 9 years old a few days ago. November 7th, to be exact. I don’t keep track of these things like I should.

If my blog was a kid, she’d be in 4th grade.

LC is having a tough time in school. She’s scolded for her poor academic record and many missed assignments. When she does do her work, she lacks the enthusiasm and creativity she showed in earlier grades.

Her concerned teacher asks, “What’s wrong, LC? When you show up to class, you seem distracted.”

LC nods and admits that she is distracted and does miss class often due to her monthly trips to New York. She looks forward to PE much more than language arts, math or social studies. She’s less interested in photography too.

Her teacher doesn’t even noticed that she spends most of class cutting out pictures from magazines, listening to podcasts, passing short notes, and making mixtapes for her crush.

And finally, school isn’t like it used to be a few years ago. Her best friends moved and now go to different schools. Some of them stopped going to school all together.

Maybe middle school will be better for LC.