Uncategorized · Writing Stuff

Don’t Be Vocal – Read the Fine Print

close up of eyeglasses
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

Terms of Use:
“You retain ownership of the intellectual property rights in your User Content, subject to the license you grant to the Company below and elsewhere in these Terms of Service.

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.

Well, at least they pay me, right?

How to Earn Money:

“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.

But. Please. Read. The. Fine. Print.

Uncategorized

Stop. Calling. The. Police. Just. Because. Someone. Is. Black.

auto automobile blur buildings
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of my neighbors, black, had an uncle come to visit to ensure that his nephew, who had gotten out of jail for stealing stuff, didn’t get in trouble again or start getting his brother in trouble.

One of my neighbors, white, murdered his wife and hid her body in the garage for at least a month.

Theft: not cool.

Murder: oh my god that is so beyond no cool and goes straight into burning in hell.

If you need to call the police on someone, maybe you need to be looking for a lighter skin tone. 

Uncategorized

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself *

close up photography of two starbucks disposable cups
“…so far away from me…”
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

*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.

Political Rants

Imagine all the families…

illustration of gray wire
Photo by izhar khan on Pexels.com

Imagine this:

You live in a country with a sub-standard level of medical care, police, and education.

You are constantly threatened by drug runners and/or their gangs.

You have a four year old child who clearly has a disability, and so the gangs exploit it, knowing that your child wouldn’t understand not to go with them. Your child has no sense of danger.

You cannot get help from the police, or the police may be working with the gangs.

You are in fear for your child’s life.

You are in fear for your own life.

You have heard you can go to America to apply for asylum.

You pack up a few belongings, leaving behind family mementos and other important parts of your history because there are only two of you and you will need to take turns carrying your child.

You undertake the journey.

You make it to the border filled with hope. Your family will finally be safe. You can work towards citizenship. You can get jobs.

Instead, you are immediately stopped, ignored when you ask from asylum, separated from you child, put into prison, and hear that your child will be moved to a “camp.” You have no idea what this camp will be like, and you fear that, because of your child’s disability, they will be ignored and in great danger.

You child has no coping skills. Your child cannot do many things that their peers cannot do: they cannot feed themselves, they cannot speak, they cannot use the toilet or wash themselves.

Now.

Imagine that you’re that child.

Now.

Go back to being yourself. And explain to me why this concept of separating and caging families is acceptable in any way?

[I do want to note that right now, families are not being separated at the border. However, the changes are not true protections in any way – it merely says that families be housed together “where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.” As per CCN, “It was not immediately clear whether the caveats would still result in a substantial number of separations.”Separations has already become commonplace and acceptable to many Trump supporters, and I am afraid it will happen again.]

 

family

I should know better by now

Sometimes we expect more from others because we would be willing to do that much for themAs the awesome singer/songwriter Emma Wallace once said, “Pumpkins don’t turn into a coach anyhow. But I still grow ‘em in my garden patch, though I should know better by now.”

The same thing can be true of family. I should stop expecting anything, but sometimes, it’s hard to realize that people that are supposed to care just don’t.

My son just turned 16 this past Sunday. He had a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese because he loves it. Pictures of the events, showing him enjoying himself, went live on FB.

My sister saw the images. She even commented on one, noting how much fun he looked to be having. But she didn’t say happy birthday. 

No one in my family did.

I admit, my family is pretty small: I only have a sister and a father, and I’m not exactly close with my father for various reasons, but just because I’m not close to him doesn’t mean that he can’t at least try to reach out to his grandson. His first grandson. His older grandson. He didn’t. My sister didn’t.

I don’t even ask for presents for him, although that would certainly be nice. But a simple “happy birthday” on FB, in a text message, or even during a phone call would make a difference.

Sending a card, I think, isn’t too big a deal either – a stamp costs less than $.50, and if you go to the Dollar Tree, you can buy a cute birthday card for $.50, too. A dollar. Spend a dollar. I don’t think that’s asking for a lot, really I don’t.

The problem with all these things, though, is that they all expect the person on the other end of the situation to set a date in their phone or write a date on a paper calendar. That’s the effort I think is lacking. The simple act of remembering.

So, it’s another year of nothing.

Nothing.

I should know better by now.  

Uncategorized

When is fettuccine alfredo not fettucine alfredo?

What vegans think food looks likeWhen it’s a raw vegan fettuccine alfredo.

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?

And is it still fettucine alfredo?

 

Uncategorized

“O bed! O bed! delicious bed! That heaven upon earth to the weary head.”

bed image meme credited to iFunny.comMe at 8 PM: I definitely need to get to sleep before midnight tonight.

Me at 10:30 PM: Fell asleep taking a bath, but avoided drowning by waking myself up with my own snoring.

Me at Midnight: I should totally go to bed now, but I’m almost done dealing with the checkbook and the bills.

Me at 1:30 AM: This episode of “Lock In” (county jail edition) is almost over…

Me at 2:15 AM: Damn, I’m not even tired!

(Title is a quote taken from Thomas Hood, Miss Kilmansegg – Her Dream.)