14 December 2009

The North Pole Creed

I believe in Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, granter of children's wishes, who is seen at malls, yet unseen Christmas Eve.

I believe in Saint Nick, Sinterklaas, who sees you when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist.

For us and for our children he comes down from the north, carrying a bag full of toys made by elves.

For our sake he was persecuted under Burgermeister Meisterburger; he was captured and jailed.
He escaped with flying reindeer; he ascended to the North Pole and built his workshop.

He will come each Christmas to judge the naughty and the nice, and his legend will have no end.

I believe in the spirit of Christmas, which doesn't come from a store, but means a little bit more.

I believe that Christmas comes but once a year.

I write one letter per year for the gift of toys.

I look for peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

Merry Christmas!

(CC) BY-NC-SA 2009 LKS

Creative Commons License
The North Pole Creed by Lee K. Seitz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

16 November 2009

Rom, van decoration

Just a quick note. Maxim has included Rom as one of 12 Superheroes Who Should Be On '70s Vans on its site (not in print). He's #11. Thanks to ~P~ for the tip.

14 October 2009

Is this the end of the Rom trademark saga?

If you've been wondering what's the latest in Parker Brothers' attempt to renew their trademarks on Rom, you're not alone. So have I! Unfortunately, there had been nothing to report until now. (Well, actually a few weeks ago when I started this entry, but life interfered with finishing it until now.)

First off, let's tackle the four "Rom the Spaceknight" trademarks. I said previously that I was most looking forward to see Hasbro's response on those, particularly the one that would include comic books. Sadly, I've been denied. Hasbro failed to respond in the six month response period about these four applications, therefore the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has mailed an abandonment notice to them. This notice informs them that if they don't respond in an additional two months, the applications will be considered abandoned. I guess it's their "final final notice."

So, that leaves the four "Rom" trademark applications. The first, for software and video games, has hit a snag. When it was filed, it included various types of equipment. Hasbro's response to the USPTO's earlier claim that the category specified was too broad had them change it to include "downloadable software" for video game consoles and cell phones. The USPTO now says downloadable software does not logically follow from all the equipment (hardware) they specified in the original application. Frankly, I wonder if the original attorney really knew what he was doing in regards to the categories on the original applications. Anyway, Hasbro now has another six months to reply. At the moment, this is the final issue for this application.

The second application, for entertainment like movies, has been suspended pending the approval of an earlier application for "The Rom" by a company called Curious Sense, Inc. That application is for an "online community website featuring educational and entertainment related digital music content, video gaming, online shopping and social networking features". Curious Sense has less than a month remaining to either show they're using the mark in commerce or ask for an extension. We'll have to stay tuned for that one.

The third application, for paper and office goods, and fourth, for just about every game and toy you can think of, have both been accepted and will be published in the USPTO's Official Gazette on October 20, 2009. Barring, of course, objections by any other parties. The last one, of course, is the most important if Hasbro wants to actually bring the toy back.

So that's where everything stand now. Out of eight applications, four appear to have been abandoned, two are approved, one is awaiting clarification, and another is held up pending the approval of a similar but earlier application. But even those two approvals aren't the end for those applications. Hasbro will have to actually start selling something related to Rom to secure them! So, consider this just another step in what's becoming an unending saga.

[Next trademark update]

30 September 2009

Hannah update: 1 year

Hannah turned a year old earlier this month. Hard to believe a year has passed already. Unfortunately, she doesn't have a doctor's appointment for a bit yet, so I can't give any official growth statistics. We have noticed, however, that her 6-9 month wardrobe is finally getting a bit tight, so we think she's had a growth spurt.

Developmentally, Hannah's still at or above where she should be. She's been walking since 10 months, which is well ahead of when either of her brothers started walking. Her vocabulary pretty much only consists of "mama" right now. Sometimes she'll say "baba", which usually refers to a baby doll. Rarely she'll manage "dada". Dorothy has tried to teach her some sign language, but she doesn't yet consistently use any of it. And at the moment, she's up to seven teeth: four on the top and three on the bottom.

Hannah's already taken on a chore for herself. If she's around when I start emptying the dishwasher, she'll bring me the silverware to put in the drawer. Usually this means one piece at a time, although recently she was doing two — on in each hand. The bad part is when I start putting the dirty dishes in, she'll still try taking the silverware out to put in the drawer.

Hannah has an amazingly good temperament. She fusses when she's hungry and sometimes when she doesn't get her way. We recently bought a gate and when we put it up between the living and dining rooms, she did not like it if someone went over it without her. We've since moved it to between the dining room and kitchen and that doesn't seem to be as traumatic. She doesn't fuss so much when she's tired; she just keeps going until Dorothy nurses her or she's put in the car, in which case she'll fall asleep quickly. She doesn't fuss over wet or dirty diapers, which is sometimes to her detriment because if it's a day where we're busy, busy, busy, we'll sometimes forget to check her diaper as often as we should.

Hannah's still not sleeping through the night, though. Well, at least most nights. She'll go to sleep around 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. and stay asleep until around when Dorothy and I go to bed two or three hours later. Then she'll wake up, but go back to sleep until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. After that she's a bit restless until, of course, around 6:00 a.m. when I get up.

Hannah hasn't had a proper haircut yet, but Dorothy did trim her bangs a bit, as seen in the adjacent photo. Note that her hair was wet, so it's not its usual, curly self. As I recall, Dorothy was able to get the trim done without major drama.

For her birthday party, we invited her grand- and godparents, plus many friends who had children around her age. All the grandparents plus a great-grandmother and two out of three godparents made it and a few friends. It seemed like everyone had a good time. The party had a zoo/jungle animal theme and the kids seemed to have fun playing with inflatable, ball-shaped elephants, lions, and other animals.

So here's to Hannah celebrating a year of surviving being in the same house as her brothers. She's managed to avoid major injury so far. Life is certainly getting more interesting since she got more mobile, such as the scare with the paperclip. We look forward to what the next year will bring.

04 August 2009

Mantlo in Wizard

The latest issue of Wizard (#215, Sept 2009) contains a five-page article about Bill Mantlo. Titled "Tragic Talent," this article by Christopher Lawrence doesn't cover much ground that Mantlo fans don't already know, but it's great for younger fans who might not be aware of the breadth of his work. It summarizes his career, focusing, of course, on the accident that has put him in nursing home for the rest of his life. And it has some nice quotes from other pros who knew and worked with Mantlo during his career, including Keith Giffen, Mike Mignola, Carl Potts, Roger Stern, Walt Simonson, and Al Milgrom, who was Manlto's editor on Rom. Perhaps best of all, however, is the original, two-page spread by Greg Horn featuring a figure in Times Square surrounded by signs with some of the characters Mantlo was most associated with, including Rom.

If you're searching for it on the stands, note that there are two different covers. One features a jam cover of Marvel heroes for Marvel's 70th anniversary. The other features a photo of Iron Man from the movie for the story on Iron Man 2.

Thanks to Jerry Whitworth for the tip.

30 July 2009

Rom tidbit of the day

In searching the Web, I came across the following tidbit from The General Mills/Parker Brothers Merger by Ellen Wojahn (2003).
Most interesting for the designers and marketers in-house, ROM made breathing sounds that made for great intra-office obscene phone calls.
No doubt this occurred to many people who had a Rom action figure back in the day, but I must sadly confess that I'd never thought of it.

27 July 2009

The Rom trademark saga continues

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has updated half of Hasbro's trademark claims, namely those for just the "Rom" mark, with Hasbro's response. Sadly, the ones for "Rom the Spaceknight," which were the ones initially refused in part because of Marvel's "Spaceknights" trademark, have not been updated at this time. I would ascribe this to delays on the USPTO's part in updating their databases, not Hasbro's in responding, but that's only a guess.

In essence, Hasbro's lawyers did three things for each application. First, they disclaimed any relation to Rom and computer memory, essentially saying that their product is not called Rom because it contains Read Only Memory computer chips. Second, they narrowed the classifications on each one to show that their products would not conflict with those of other companies that already have related trademarks. And third, they reiterated that the applications were for "intent to use" and that "at this time [Hasbro] has not yet developed specific, detailed factual plans for the goods/services" (where it's "goods" or "services" depending on the application in question).

Despite their supposed lack of detailed plans, the new classifications give us a much better idea of Hasbro's potential plans for Rom: market the stew out of him. The new classifications include action figures and vehicles(!), playsets, plush toys, stuffed toys, ride-on toys, building toys, inflatable toys, water squirting toys, board games, card games, electronic hand-held games, and jigsaw puzzles. And that's just the toys and games application. Then we have computer games, video games, gambling machines(!), movies, television shows, DVDs, and soundtrack albums spread across two more applications. And finally, we have just about every paper good and office supply imaginable: coloring books, story books, fiction books, party supplies, wrapping paper, trading cards, lunch bags, book covers, posters, pens, pencils, stationery, rulers, and temporary tattoos. In essence, think of all the common Star Wars products created in 30+ years. Hasbro wants to leave the door open to make those for Rom.

There's one, however that may bite them in the butt: comic books. Fine for the plain "Rom" applications, but if they include that in the "Rom the Spaceknight" ones, they'll run smack into Marvel's "Spaceknights" trademark. This is the response I anxiously await to read. And after I do, I'll let you know about it here.

[Next trademark update]

02 July 2009

Hannah update: 9 months

By popular demand, Hannah updates are back. In short, she's doing great. She's running small on most measurements, particularly weight, but developmentally she's exactly where she should be, if not ahead. For the record, the measurements were 27.75" long and weighs 15 lbs. 2 oz.

She's dangerously close to walking. She can walk as long as bigger person holds her up or she can cruise holding on to furniture. In fact, she seems to prefer cruising to crawling. I fully expect her to be walking before 12 months.

She also has gotten her first two teeth. They're the two bottom ones. Hopefully you can make them out in the adjacent picture. She was starting to eat solid food even before the first tooth came in, but still gets plenty of mom's milk, too.

We had a scare over the weekend. Hannah spilled a container full of paper clips. Dorothy thought she had picked them all up, but then Hannah found another one, which Dorothy got away from her. Then, just a bit later, Dorothy thought she saw Hannah put something in her mouth. She checked and couldn't find anything, so she thought maybe she'd imagined it. Just a few minutes later, though, Hannah started choking. She spit up a bit of food and seemed to be fine, but that was scary enough that we took her to the pediatric ER.

It turns out they make teeny little hospital gowns for babies, as seen here. There was a bit of a wait, but it wasn't too bad, and much more pleasurable than going to the regular ER. Finally, we got an x-ray technician who loaded Dorothy and me up with lead smocks, as it was our job to hold her still during the procedure. We had to remove Hannah's cloth diaper, because of the snaps on it. The technician then seemed way too concerned about exposing her privates during the procedure. I mean, give me a break, she's just nine months old and the only people there were him and the three of us!

After another wait, we got the good news that nothing was found in the x-ray. So one $175(!) co-pay later, we were free to go. The cost made us feel a bit silly about the whole thing, but really, the peace of mind is priceless.

In other family news, our church had its music camp a few weeks ago. It was the story of the apostle Paul. Walter played the part of Peter. His main job was to do roll call for the rest of the apostles, which he did well. Andrew—seen here with his friend, Andrew—was in the sailor chorus, but also got to "stone" Stephen, which is what the costume he's wearing in the photo was for.

16 June 2009

Found needed 2600 cart for -$1

It hasn't happened in a long time, but today I got a 2600 cartridge I didn't have before: Pete Rose Baseball. Unfortunately, this wasn't a quarter find at a garage sale or flea market, but when you've got as many 2600 games as I do (about 300), you'll take about anything new. And in reality, I actually made money on the deal. Well, sort of.

You see, a few weeks ago I found out via Craigslist that there was a new used game shop in town. It deals exclusively in consoles older than current. That is, everything that's not Wii, PS3, or Xbox 360. They've got PONG consoles on their shelves, for Winslow's sake! While I never completely lost interest, collecting video games has been on the back burner with me for a long time. Finding this store, however, has got me interested again.

My interest was mildly renewed upon finding another used game store a few months ago. But this newest store is an improvement over that one in two ways. First, while the other does have some 2600- and NES-era games, the selection is very limited. Second, it's closer. :-) And in general, it's just nice to have a couple non-GameStop video game stores in town.

So, getting back to the point. My trade bait is an absolute mess. I came to realize I've go to pare things down a bit a while back, but haven't done much towards that yet. One of the things I acquired that's got to go are some used Genesis games I'm not really interested in from the local Freecycle group. Those were handy, so today I took them down. There was a couple versions of Street Fighter II, Primal Rage, and some sports games. Unsuprisingly, they only offer $0.50 for sports games, so I wound up with a grand total of $5 for them.

Checking the 2600 games, however, I discovered the Pete Rose Baseball. A game I actually needed! Although worth more, it was $3.99, so she gave me the game and $1. All for a bunch of carts I got for free. So I guess that's:

1) Troll for games on Freecycle.
2) Trade them in.
3) Profit!

08 June 2009

Old photo of Douglas Adams, insane resolution

If you hadn't heard, Jason Scott of textfiles.com is working on a text adventure documentary called "Get Lamp." His latest update mentions the PR photo of Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky that made the rounds back when the Infocom Hitchhiker's game was released. Scott got to scan an original slide of the photo and has now made it available at 8760 x 6010! Go to the previous link for the blog entry, which gives a bit of context, then click on the photo there for the Flickr link.

04 June 2009

Hasbro's Rom trademarks refused, but it's not over

Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a lawyer! So take anything I say about trademarks with the grain of salt.
In checking on the status of Hasbro's trademark applications for "Rom" and "Rom the Spaceknight," I learned a little bit more about just what information the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has available throughout the registration process. It turns out that the USPTO had issues with every single one of Hasbro's applications. Letters were sent in January and Hasbro was given six months to respond. So we might know something by July 21!

While we're waiting, I thought I'd explain briefly the problems with the filings. First, in every single case Hasbro was told the classification they requested was too broad. Hasbro's lawyer(s) simply copied the description of the entire classes of goods they were applying for. The USPTO wants something more specific in each case. For example, rather than "games," they want something like "computer game consoles for use with an external display screen or monitor."

Second, all the trademarks for "Rom" were initially refused for being "merely descriptive." In other words, Hasbro can't trademark "Rom" for something involving "Read Only Memory" because it's a common descriptive term. Similarly, in all the "Rom the Spaceknight" applications, Hasbro was told they must disclaim the word "Rom" as part of the trademark. In other words, they can claim a specific, stylized logo including the word "Rom," but they can make no claim to the word itself. (I should point out that Hasbro did not submit any specific logos with their applications.) It turns out Casio already has a trademark on a "ROM" logo they use on memory cards for some electronic musical instruments, as seen below.

But the best refusal I've saved for last. Three of the four applications for "Rom the Spaceknight" were refused because of the registered trademark Marvel got for "Spaceknights" back in 2001! Yes, you read that right; Hasbro was refused because of Marvel's limited series featuring Rom's children. Oh, the irony! And unlike Parker Brothers/Hasbro, who let the original Rom trademark expire, Marvel applied for an extension in 2007, meaning Spaceknights should remain a registered trademark of Marvel until 2017, at which time they can apply for another ten-year extension.

Now as I said, Hasbro can refute the USPTO's refusals and answer their calls for clarification, but they're quickly running out of time. I don't know how much lag there is between the USPTO receiving materials and updating their database, but hopefully we'll see something by the end of next month. I promise you that once I know something, I'll share it.

[Next trademark update]

28 May 2009

Purpose of the blog revisited

You might have noticed a dearth of family related stories lately. That's because, as mentioned earlier, I'm on Facebook now. I was iffy about publicly posting so much information about my family in the first place. Now Facebook has become the default place to post photos and keep people updated. This is because 1) I (theoretically) control who sees the information and 2) it's been much easier to get people to look at things there than to coax them to my blog. I'm still considering whether I should cross-post the blog to Facebook.

So, what will you find here? Well, it's still the home of the Rom blog. I'll also use it to rant on those rare occasions I feel something must be ranted about. And, as I said originally, I'll be going back and posting pre-blog items here.

And that's what I've spent this evening doing. First, there was the "thoughts and tips" section of my home page. That's now done, although I had to guess at some of the dates. Then there was a couple Usenet posts about collecting video games and a Weird Al concert I wanted to preserve. That's now done, too. The links to them can be found below. I've turned commenting off for these back-dated posts, so if you want to comment on them, do it here.

24 May 2009

A look at a Rom that wasn't

Back in 2000, thanks to Usenet, Rom, Spaceknight Revisited posted a bit of information of a circa 1998 proposal for a return of Rom by Benny R. Powell and Jim Calafiore. Well, right now you can find a page of Calafiore's art of the redesigned Rom on eBay! Frankly, I'm not sure Rom's the same with fingers, but I'll let you judge it for yourselves.

21 April 2009

Impressive custom Rom figure

I've seen several custom-made Rom action figures on eBay over the years. They have all obviously been labors of love, but of varied skill levels. Today I've come across what I feel is the best effort I've seen to date.

Is it perfect? No, there's several details that are a bit off. The back of the head is probably the most noticeable. But if I wanted a Rom action figure on my shelf – and I do – this would be the the one.

Unfortunately for me, bidding has already proceeded directly from $0.99 to $66.00, which is out of my price range at this time. So if you'd like to bid on it, be my guest.

24 March 2009

Could this be the return of the Wraiths?

Since Marvel began Secret Invasion, there have been a few mentions of the Dire Wraiths. The question is, are they building to something or is it all merely coincidence?

First, we have the Skrulls! one-shot. This is from the same group of writers who produce the Marvel Handbooks, but written from the Skrull perspective. It includes a Dire Wraith entry, which is completely understandable since they're an off-shoot of the Skrulls. There are numerous other minor characters featured in this book as well, so by itself this isn't a big deal.

Then, during the Secret Invasion cross-over, two books mention the Dire Wraiths, although none are seen. First, a Skrull mentions them in Runaways/Young Avengers: Secret Invasion #2, basically treating them like the boogeyman. Next, a passing mention of them is made in Black Panther #39.

Now, we have another Handbook-style entry, this time in the Dark Reign Files. I must admit that, to me, this one seems a bit out of place. Except for Volx, no Dire Wraiths have been seen on Earth since Rom left. Why include them in a list of super villains?

Well, one thing to keep in mind is that the Handbook's writers are fans themselves. And most, if not all, of them are long-time fans. So I'm sure that occasionally they put in entries simply because they like them, regardless of whether the subject has appeared recently or is likely to in the future.

From all indications, Marvel has the rights to the Dire Wraiths all to themselves, so there's nothing to stop them from bringing them back. Will they, however, when they can't use Rom as well? You can't really discuss the Wraiths on Earth without bringing him up. Heck, they mentioned him in the Dark Reign Files entry! Obviously, Marvel's lawyers have cleared purely textual references to him. It seems that only showing him in his armor is the big no-no.

My personal opinion is that Marvel doesn't currently have any plans to bring in the Dire Wraiths in a major way. They've just done Secret Invasion, so at this point the Dire Wraiths would only come off as a rip-off of that story. (Even though in reality it's more like the other way around.) It's possible, if a bit unlikely, that their recent Handbook-style entries have been bids to maintain some sort of rights to the name and concept, but I think the recent spate of mentions is largely a coincidence.

(Thanks to Kenny Doug and ~P~ for pointing out the mention in Runaways/Young Avengers: Secret Invasion #2, Sean Koury the one in Black Panther #39, and ~P~ for the entry in Dark Reign Files.)

23 February 2009

More Tales of Appliances

For the two of you that might possibly read this, my apologies for being away so long. In the past few weeks I've discovered Facebook, so I've been spending most my online time there. But there's a whole 'nother possible blog entry there, so let's move on to my recent adventures with major appliances.

Thanks to a bonus, we were finally able to purchase a new dishwasher to replace the one that died months ago. After months of washing dishes by hand, I should never complain about having to unload and reload the dishwasher again. I didn't say that I won't, but I shouldn't.

We selected a mid-range model and while I might possibly have been able to install it myself, I've seen some of the difficulties in doing so and opted to pay a professional to do it. We even bought a service plan on it. Historically, this is something we avoid, but given our history of problems with dishwashers, it seemed prudent this time, especially considering all the things it covered.

If you read my previous entry about making an emergency clothes washer purchase, we bought it at the same store as we did that. This time, however, since we had a bit more leeway, we didn't opt for "what do you have in the back right now." Oddly, this still worked out in our favor. The store called the morning of the delivery and said, essentially, "we don't have the model you selected, but would you be willing to take the next model up for no additional charge?" Naturally, we said yes and wonder just who turns down such offers that they feel it necessary to ask? I mean, it was still the color and manufacturer we selected, just a model that might offer an additional feature or two and cost about $100 more. Looked at from a certain perspective, that essentially means we got the five year service plan for free.

I'm no Eastern philosopher, but it seems karma dictates that this good fortune come at a price. A few nights later, around midnight, my wife woke me up to tell me the clothes dryer was making a funny noise. I checked, and yes, it was. Seeing few options, I took it apart. Just after 1:00 a.m., I had diagnosed the problem: one of the rollers for the main drum had worn out. It had obviously been working on it for a long time, but I guess something just finally gave. (I apologize for not thinking to take a picture of our laundry room with bits of dryer spread around it.)

My wife said she hadn't expected me to take it apart. However, I've seen the appliance repairman do so once before, several years ago. They're not that complicated inside. If the drum is turning and the heating element is working, there's not a lot left to go wrong with a dryer. I might point out that this dryer is probably 20-30 years old. We bought it from the people who sold us the house 15 years ago, and it was old then. I've been told, probably by the same appliance repairman I watched, that a dryer can last through about three washers. Most people replace them at the same time just so that they'll match. As we're not in the habit of inviting friends over to watch us do the laundry, we don't really care. They're both white and box-shaped, so I suppose that's close enough. Oh, and we're on washer number three.

Now, at 1:00 a.m., there's not a lot of options for getting dryer parts, so the cloth diapers she was trying to dry would have to wait to go out on the line when the sun came up. I did so before I left for work. Naturally, it rained during day while Dorothy was away from the house, so they didn't get dry. Luckily, some friends down the street let her use their dryer so we at least had clean diapers. I, unfortunately, had a meeting right after work. I hit one of the big-box hardware stores afterward, as they were the only things open. While they did have some generic dryer parts, as I feared, they didn't have what I needed. Thus ended the second night without a dryer.

The next day, before work, I attempted to visit the appliance parts store I'd been to once before, but they'd moved farther away from us. Next I checked what I could do online. Sears.com – it's a Kenmore dryer – led me to the where I could buy the parts. They weren't too expensive, but having them shipped next day delivery just about doubled the cost. So I called Bob Wallace Appliance, a locally-owned store listed in the yellow pages. They confirmed they had the part, so I went by on my lunch break. Once there, I told them I wanted to replace the belt too, at which point he said, "let's check the price on this maintenance kit." It turns out there's a set of pre-packaged parts that covered what I wanted/needed to replace, plus another part. And it cost less that buying replacement rollers and the belt separately. I'm sold!

So, on the third evening I go to work. I didn't pay attention to how long it took, but I eventually had all the new parts installed and the dryer back together. And it seems to work. I mean, it's been a week or two now and the clothes are getting dry. Paying $32 for parts certainly beats a service call, even if it took a couple days.

04 January 2009

The dark side of Facebook

Until now, I mostly stayed away from social sites like Facebook and MySpace. I flirted briefly with MySpace when Weird Al began his account there, but the interface was so horrid I deleted my account after a while. Then an online acquaintance invited me to Facebook about the same time I found out my next high school reunion was being discussed there. So I joined.

Wow! So this is where everyone I've ever known has been hiding online. I've found people from grade school – well, only because they also went to high school with me – to college – well, mainly because I was still in touch with them – to past jobs – now some of those were surprising. In this respect, it's great; I get to find old friends I remember fondly and find out what they're up to these days. I've only been able to do this sporadically until Facebook. And I've found it to be incredibly addictive. I've found friends I haven't seen high school graduation, my old band director, and the boss from my first full-time job, all of whom have been kind enough to accept me as a Facebook friend.

But there's another side to this coin. You start getting friend requests, too. Some might be from old friends you just hadn't searched for yet. Some are from classmates, but you were never close. Some are from people you'd done school activities with, but you'd mostly forgotten. And others . . . well, others you happened to go to school with, because you can find them in your old yearbooks, but they weren't in your class and didn't seem to be in any of your activities. What do you do then? Did they "friend" you because you inspired them from afar? (Be nice if they'd said so in a message with their request.) Did they have a secret crush on you? (That would be flattering to know, too.) Has your brain become swiss cheese when it comes to 20-year-old memories and you just don't remember that one class you had together? (Maybe.) Or are they just trying to accumulate as many Facebook friends as possible? (Most likely.)

I'm still new at this, so I'm unsure how to handle it. I hate to ignore someone that I did at least go to school with. But on the other hand, I don't really want someone I have little connection with being able to see all my information, either. I guess my main problem is this paranoid notion that I was somehow important to this person at one point and I don't want to snub them. Is there accepted etiquette for this? It seems rude to ask. (But then, it seems rude that they didn't say, too.) There is, at least, the plus that if you ignore them, they don't get a message saying you've done so. (But it's easy to figure out if they're paying close attention.)

At least it's taught me one lesson. If I'm friending someone I haven't seen in a long time, I make sure I include a message with my request to help jog their memory.