I’m used to mosquito swarms during summer, even the end of summer, especially when it’s been especially wet and rainy, like it is right now. But this is not the normal level of swarms.
They swarm the front door, turning it from its usual not-so-clean white to a mottled grey with moving bits.
They swarm into the car the minute I open the door to get in. (And then I’m in the situation of not crashing the car trying to swat at a bug, which, of course, I would never ever do, but, for argument’s sake, let’s say I did, and let’s say that I believe the wasp in the car died when I hit the telephone pole, so it was sort of an even trade: the front end of the VW for a vicious little bastard of a wasp.)
They swarm me the minute I sit on the back porch. I wind up not being able to do anything, including just sitting there and watching the dogs run around or listening to nothing, because I spend every second swatting them away, and I still get covered in bites.
There is a bit of joy in the situation, though. There’s nothing like the feeling when you get revenge on one for landing on you. But by then, it’s probably already bitten you, so that revenge is tempered by the fact that there’s often a little splot of blood when you kill it. The blood that splots out might be yours (gross! Bloodsucking bastard!), or, even worse, someone else they bit before they bit you (extra gross! You bastard whore of a mosquito!).
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hate mosquitos. I hate them very, very, very, very, very much. But not as much as I hate Trump. So there’s that.
And for your viewing pleasure – the In-Laws from 1979! Peter Falk’s description of tsetse flies is what I think of when I see our current mosquito swarms…
Yes, you. The mom with the stroller. Or maybe the soon-to-be-mom with the bun-in-the-oven look going on.
Wait, who the hell called it a bun in the oven? What kinds of buns do you have that get so big that they distort the oven itself and then burst free? I don’t think I ever want to eat at your house.
Anyway, yes, you! The one who either has children in strollers, a fetus that is currently acting as a parasite and destroying your body in ways that it will never recover from, or both.
I stole your parking spot.
First off, though, let’s be fair: it’s kind of weird that the library made *that* it’s go-to rallying cry that got two marked spots right up front by the door.
I mean, I know that there are a billion kid events, especially over the summer, but don’t pop ‘em out if you can’t bundle them up and drag them screaming into the library.
Please note: I didn’t specify if they were screaming out of joy or misery. I think that’s pretty dependent on the event, the kid, and a whole bunch of other kid factors, including whether or not they were able to share the dog’s food in the morning.
Second, if you’re going to put them there, then why right there? I mean, they’re next to the accessible spots. Do you honestly believe that anyone with a disability wants to deal with your screaming kids?
Again, no blame for why they’re screaming. Just saying that it’s a distinct possibility that they will be screaming.
Third, first come first serve, bitches. If I’m there, and if that spot is open, I have every right to it. There is no fine. There is no real reservation. Just a “please kindly listen to the sign,” which, being from New Jersey, I have absolutely no respect for.
Fourth, well, my fourth reason is my real reason.
There was a single accessible spot left, but there were two mother spots.
We have an accessible tag in the car for my son – he has disabilities, and while they are not physical, they do affect our ability to function in a parking lot at times. Like lately, with all the weather we’ve had moving in, the skies are filled with seagulls. And for reasons I don’t understand, the parking lots and skies are also filled with grackles. Big ass, bitchy ass, annoying ass grackles. They sit on cars, swoop down low, and even hide in the bushes.
And that’s the problem.
Simon is pretty much straight out terrified of them. If you’ve read my blogs over at Not So Simple Simon, you’ll see that he cannot handle birds when they are in quantity or when they seemingly threaten him.
So, back to the point: there were two mother spots, and one accessible spot.
I took the mother spot.
Come at me, bro. Just not with your screaming kids.
I’m a mercenary. I want to be paid to do things, and I’ll do a number of things to get paid.
One of the things I do is write content for various online sites. A lot of them are kind of wonky in how you get paid – page views, sales through Amazon affiliate links, all that kind of good stuff.
I thought I might add to my current sites, so I wandered around the interwebs, and I came across “Vocal.”
Interesting place, I thought. There seem to be a lot of users and a lot of user generated content. It seems to be good content, too. Stuff that will draw in readers.
Maybe I should sign up!
But then…I did what you should do. I read the fine print.
By transmitting User Content on or through the Services, you grant the Company a nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, fully paid, assignable, transferable, sublicensable license to use, reproduce, store, modify, edit (e.g., fixing typos, making editorial changes), truncate, aggregate, display, perform, distribute, prepare derivative works based on, and transmit such User Content, in any medium that now exists or may arise in the future, and otherwise exploit your User Content (including, but not limited to, use of your name in association with your User Content to identify you as the “Creator”) in connection with the Services and the Company’s (and our successors’ and assigns’) businesses, including after your termination of your account or the Services, and you waive any and all moral rights and publicity rights in such User Content. You represent that you have all of the necessary rights to grant this license to the Company for all of your User Content, and that such license is granted without infringement or violation of any third party rights, including without limitation, any privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, trademarks, contract rights, or any other intellectual property or proprietary rights. You agree that this license includes the right for other users of the Services to access and use your User Content, subject to our terms and conditions regarding such use and the right for the Company to allow its third party business partners (including social media services) to use your User Content and that this license has no restriction as to the medium, dissemination method, type of services the Company or its business partners may offer, or the type of systems or products that may be used in conjunction with your User Content.”
What does that mean?
You might “own” your content, but they can do whatever they feel like with it forever and ever, amen.
“You may be paid for user engagement with certain User Content that you submit to the Site. The Company determines amounts payable to users derived from User Content based on proprietary algorithms developed by the Company and subject to change in the Company’s sole discretion, without notice to the User. Generally, the algorithms measure and assign weight to such user engagement metrics as popularity of the content with visitors as measured by number of unique visitors; visitors’ interaction with the content; amount of time spent by visitors on the page; and shares on social media. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Company reserves the right to modify its algorithm at any time, which may result in decreased revenue to users for similar content, and to suspend monetization program altogether.”
So, let’s review, shall we?
You own your work, but they can use it as much as they want, however they want, in perpetuity, and you have no say over any of it.
That sounds fair.
And you get paid, but they figure out how much they pay you, unless they decide to stop paying you, and they can’t actually tell you exactly how they figure out how much they pay you.
Another totally fair aspect of writing for them.
Now, maybe I’m being harsh, and maybe you think that you’re digging this place and going to write for them.
Clearly, this one is not right for me: I don’t want people to use my stuff ad infinitum without having to pay me or get my approval to change and use, and I really don’t want them to stop paying me just because they don’t want to pay me.
But if you like them? Cool.
I will never tell someone that they should only write for money or that they should only write for free. As a writer, it is up to you to decide what you want for what you do. You have your reasons, and I’ll stay in my lane and let you make your own decisions.
*I actually wanted to name this blog “Rethink before you act like a bitch,” but that doesn’t rhyme or sound half as familiar or attractive as a blog title, amiright?
So no shit, there I was, standing in line at the Starbucks in the Target, mostly because I was too lazy to drive to the real Starbucks, and the line was insanely long. For some reason frappuccinos were on some random promotion, and everyone was buying them as if they were stocking their Trump-pocalypse bomb shelters.
It didn’t help that there was only a single barista. She rang up the order of the current customer, went off and made the drink, then came back and repeated the process. One person making half a dozen frappuccinos takes about as long as most people would expect it to. How long is that? Too long.
The group of three people in front of me were muttering, shooting daggers at the barista with their eyes, which she couldn’t see because she was busy running as many blenders as she could. I couldn’t help but think that she felt it, though. Even if she couldn’t, she probably at least knew that people in the line were pissed. Shuffling, grumbling, tapping on their carts. Not hard to figure out that people were getting pissed at her.
I was one of those people.
Frustrated. Caffeine deprived. Super bitchy.
I got to the front of the line.
A Regina George moment was coming on.
I took a deep breath…and I said, “Wow, did they seriously just leave you alone to deal with this line? That sucks.”
She explained that the other barista was on lunch, it hadn’t been that busy, and now she was swamped.
I smiled, asked for my drink, thanked her, and moved on.
I didn’t do it because of the old, stupid “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” That’s bullshit.
You shouldn’t need a reason to be kind.
You shouldn’t have to imagine that a person is fighting a battle. They could be having the very best day of their life.
You should still be kind.
Even if you have been waiting for more than ten minutes for coffee.
So here’s the thing – raw vegan food is…not real food.
According to the well-known, well-researched, amazingly trustworthy source, Wikipedia, “raw veganism is a diet that combines the concepts of veganism and raw foodism. It excludes all food and products of animal origin, as well as food cooked at a temperature above 48 °C (118 °F). A raw vegan diet includes raw vegetables and fruits, nuts and nut pastes, grain and legume sprouts, seeds, plant oils, sea vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, and fresh juices.”
Had I know in advance that the “restaurant” I agreed to go to served only raw vegan food, I might have to question my mental health in making that decision. Instead, I just knew it was vegan, which is somewhat acceptable. I’m a vegetarian, and I like some of the ideas behind veganism, but I’m not down with the idea of raw veganism any more than I’m down with the ideas of breatharians. (I worked with a breatharian, but more about that in another blog…)
Their menu claimed it would be actual food: Fettuccini Alfredo – served raw veggie noodles. And it comes with cashew butter with some lemon juice (or so they told me).
Then they brought it out. And I wanted to cry.
How the hell was that fettuccine? Or alfredo?
Trusting to the wisdom of Wikipedia once again, we can see that “Fettuccine Alfredo…is a pasta dish made from fettuccine tossed with Parmesan cheese and butter. As the cheese melts, it emulsifies the liquids to form a smooth and rich sauce coating the pasta. In other words, it is pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese (Italian: pasta al burro e parmigiano), one of the oldest and simplest ways to prepare pasta.”
As I stared at my bowl of not fettuccine alfredo, I was reminded of a paradox I’d heard:
My grandfather had an axe that had been handed down through the family, and he finally handed it off to me.
Unfortunately, after many, many years of use, the handle broke.
I brought the axe to a hardware store, and I got a new handle attached to it.
Then, a few years later, the axe head broke, so I brought the handle to the hardware store and got a new head.
The question is – is it still my grandfather’s axe?