Privacy? Please?

My gosh, it’s gotten ridiculous.  Technology leaves us ever more vulnerable to spamming, to intrusion.  And the irony is, part of me desperately wants to be left alone, and part of me needs that tether to the outside world.

But some tethers are seriously too much.  My email spam is assinine.  A lot of it is clearly age-related (senior dating, oxygen, burial costs, walk-in tubs?  folks, when I need this stuff, trust me, I’ll find it on my own, thanks).  And then there’s the hundreds of emails that are so senseless…tinnitus?  Is ringing in the ears an epidemic that I don’t know about?  Military grade flashlights?  Where the hell do you people think I live?  And my first name is NOT Carl.  I don’t want a thicker, longer anything, thanks.

What really gets me is clicking the link at the bottom.  Unsubscribe.  As if I subscribed to any of this shit in the first place.  Pretty sure all that does is verify they’ve hit a valid email address.

Then there’s phone spam.  Reduce your credit card debt!  Once, I stayed on the line, and actually waited to get one of their reps, then demanded to be put on their do not call list.  She had the nerve to tell me they don’t have one.  You ever get the ones where they try to trick into thinking you have a real person?  “Oh, let me adjust my headset!”  Ok, Tiffany, you do that.

Those are annoying, but stupid.  The ones that are really annoying are the ones that spoof numbers.  I’ve called numbers back, not sure if it was a doctor verifying or changing an appointment, only to get some bewildered soul saying, “I never called you.”  And I believe them, because I’ve been on the other end of those calls.  So, what’s the point?  Ring twice then hang up?  Are they verifying that’s a valid phone number?  Because I don’t quite get how you plan to sell me something without me hearing anything you have to say.

Here’s the newest one, and I’m not sure why, but it aggravates me the most: Facebook messenger.  It’s happened with Facebook business themselves (I blocked them til it eased up), and some other business, and now an author.  Hey, I’m an author, and I’m all in favor of supporting each other.  But I find it offensive and intrusive, that if I like your page, you find that an invitation to spam me on Messenger.

As soon as I clicked like, this popped up:

Hey (my name here) ! I just want to make sure you haven’t been captured by an evil dragon and forced to subscribe against your will. If you’re happily free of nefarious dragon wiles, reply YES.

Subscribe?  I maybe misunderstood.  I thought I was subscribing to a few emails, like when you have new books coming out.  So, stupid me, I replied yes.

Then, bam:

Welcome Carol! 👋 Thank you for subscribing. The next post is coming soon, so stay tuned!

If you ever want to unsubscribe just type “stop”.

P.S. Here’s a portal to Faerie I discovered last week. Don’t get lost! 

Huh?  I get it.  Cute, clever.  Engage the readers.  But not for me.  I’m working on things on my desktop, and these are becoming intrusive.

Hi Carol! Are you new to my books, or have you read them all already?

I’m new!

 

From here on in, I admit, it falls on me.  I don’t know if I thought they were giving away free copies or downloads, or why I allowed it to go on.  And it really is a clever thing, clearly automated to puke up links and polls on a regular basis.  As someone who really needs to get out their and promote their own book, I get it…it’s simple, it’s automated, so minimal work, and it’s probably cheap (just whatever software).  But in the end, it’s another means of spamming.  You gave me your Facebook page, you gave me your website.  If I want your book, I can now easily find it.  So, go away.  Go write more books.

I can’t do this.  I’m one of those people who “hates to bother anyone”.  I am also not a particularly good salesperson.  Not in my nature.  You tell me no, and I’ll respect that.  I don’t want to tell you why you need this product but just don’t know it yet.

I’m just tired of having to question everything.  To click or not to click?  At this point, I mostly don’t click, at least in Messenger.  If friends have sent me something legit, and I miss it because I don’t click, I’m sorry.  The risks have become too much.  There is too much identity theft, too many fake profiles, too many viruses, too much clickbait.

So, um….buy my books.  Or my artwork.  You can click to do it…right on this page…BUT, remember, you are here of your own free will.  And I don’t follow up with messages or emails (nor do I discourage them).

Oops…one last thing.  Some people have read my books, and messaged me about them, or about getting the next one, or what Con will be at next.  If you do this, and don’t get an answer, forgive me.  If you aren’t on my friends list, Facebook won’t send me the message.  I’ve discovered this the hard way.  Now I try to go in and check filtered messages (so make sure you let me know who you are), but I’ve felt horrible in the past, seeing a message of praise seven months after it was sent.  That poor person probably thinks I’m the biggest asshole ever….

Really, I’m more of a medium.  Enjoy your weekend!

Midsummer

Some days I’m fine.  Some days I sink right down.

Even depression and anxiety can be at odds with each other.  I get miserable because I’m lonely, but then I get an invite to go out and do something, and I can’t bear the thought of leaving my safehome.

Recently, it’s because I can’t bear how I look.  This hernia…diastasis recti not a hernia?…looks like I swallowed a beach ball, and while I’m glad the back doctor brought it to my attention, I’m not real happy about how she did it.  I’m so self-conscious about it now, it’s agonizing.  I can’t stand going out.  Nothing I own is baggy enough to hide it.  I look pregnant, yet it’s painfully obvious I’m too old to be pregnant.  It’s bigger when I sit.  It’s all I think about.  It doesn’t help that pants which would normally be loose no longer fit because of it.

I wasn’t this hung up when it was just fat, although I did have esteem issues over that.

And I look old.  Oh, friends will tell me I look fine, but I’m feeling so shattered these days.

I think what makes it worse is how RUDE society has become.  No, not all of us, but there is a lot more attention on people being flat-out nasty to each other, often with no provocation.

One example that affected me…driving home from work, right around the Brickhouse Tavern on Troy-Schenectady Rd, a car was drifting back and forth between lanes.  I gave a short beep of the horn.  Short.  I didn’t lay on the horn.  I just wanted the driver to realize what they were doing.

The passenger instantly whipped around and flipped me off.  She was an Asian girl, maybe 20.  I gave her a double bird back, and that set her off.  She began making faces, making all kinds of obscene gestures…she literally went nuts.  And then the driver got into the act (because she was paying spectacular attention to the road before this?).  She could have been the twin to the passenger, so I’m guessing sisters.  Very young.  Very stupid.  I mean, people, YOU’RE DRIVING IN TRAFFIC!

To a degree, it was funny, because after my initial response of flipping her off back, i chose to ignore them.  And that seemed to infuriate them.  In fact, after a minute or two, I began screwing with my radio, so that I wasn’t even looking at them (yes, I was watching the road), and their antics got even nuttier.  They were looking back, and craning their necks, and making more wildly obscene gestures.

Really?  Because I beeped at you once?  Because you were so busy reading Facebook or texting that you couldn’t pay attention and stay in one lane?

I used to believe people didn’t like conflict.  Now I wonder.  Clearly, those girls loved it.  So can you imagine what someone might say to me over my beach ball stomach?  Or my crooked teeth?  Or anything, because these days, its all about skin color or looks.  It’s all superficial.

I don’t.  And that’s just one more reason.  I want to be with my friends, my loved ones.  But holy crap, I can’t bear to leave my house.

 

 

July Hot Hot Hot

I probably shouldn’t post this.  I shouldn’t even be near a computer when I feel this way, but I have the fan pointed at it.

Yes, even I am getting a little weary of the heat.  I tolerate it much better than most, but I worry about Spirit.  I worry about killing my not-so-great AC.  I worry I’ll owe National Grid a pound of flesh (although I can spare a lot of them).  And even tho I don’t often feel the heat like others, I’ve had my run-ins with heat exhaustion, so I do try to be careful and I get a little worried.  Mostly, tho, I worry about Spirit, who seems to have found a couple of hidey-holes where he’s comfortable, but I still run around throwing ice cubes in his water and asking if he’s ok (he sort of answers) and trying to brush away all that fur.

And today…well, I can’t help it.  Another reason I shouldn’t be near a computer, but there it is.  I see pictures of parties and barbecues and pools, and here I am.  Alone.  Staring at the computer.  Or the wall.  Or the fan.  Throwing ice cubes into a dish of water in the sink.

You would really think I’d be used to it.

It’s worse for some people.  I can’t be the only person who doesn’t have family.  I can’t be the only person alone.  And I’m pretty intelligent (usually), so I can still find ways to entertain myself.  I read, I watch Netflix, I do puzzles, I draw.

On a day like today, a day where people are celebrating, that sounds so sad.  A couple weeks ago when I was recovering from the cyst, and the antibiotics made me so sick, I started to feel a little down.  Oh, yes, friends checked on me, sending me messages once in a while, and I was so grateful for the help I got at the Con where I almost collapsed.  But after that, I couldn’t bother with social media much, or do anything, because I was nauseous all the time (I mean, really, what the hell was in those?  I’ve had antibiotics before and never had that kind of reaction), and I came to realize in one of my more morbid moments that I could probably lay dead in here for about 10 days before anyone noticed.

Except work.  They would definitely try to find me.  You can’t just drop out of the ticket rotation, you know.  Death is no excuse.

The antibiotics are done, and my back is better, but my stomach is still so-so.  And my mood has seriously gone dark and darker.  So ignore me.  But don’t ignore other people.  Some don’t handle loneliness as well as I do.  I’ll get it off my chest, mope for a day, then back to work and a semi-grind to occupy my mind for a while.  But there are probably others you should be checking on, particularly in this brutal heat.

So, what are you reading my self-pity for?  Go check on them.

 

What We Have To Fear

The following actually happened to friends of mine.  I could have shared it on Facebook, but this is a bit more far-reaching.  And I want the names left out because…well…because people have gone more insane with every passing day.  There are those out to crucify the innocent, should their views be different, or those who get justifiably outraged but choose to take vengeance into their own hands…because, at this point, who is there left to turn to?

“Today, about an hour and a half or so south of the northern New York border with Canada, my wife and I hit a US Border Patrol checkpoint driving back to Troy from Plattsburgh.

Yes… the Border Patrol. That far from the border.

We were made to hand over our IDs, get out of the car, sit over on the guardrail, and watch an agent search our car for nonexistent contraband that their dog had supposedly had a hit for on our passenger side.

Over the next 15 minutes, we just sat and waited, answering basic questions about where we were from, where we were coming from, where we were going, etc.

We had pulled over to stop prior to the checkpoint. The agents claimed that they had seen us dump something out of the vehicle when we stopped, they knew we’d done it, the dog was already back there searching, etc.

One agent came back and told us we could go, and to have a nice day. When we pointed out that we didn’t have our IDs back yet, we had to wait another five minutes or so to get those back.

Tonight, the US government terrified my wife into thinking we might end up in prison because one of their agents might plant evidence in our car because of our anti-Trump bumper stickers.

And honestly, I’m not sure how unreasonable that fear really is. This is another instance of where me being white-passing probably made my life easier. I can only imagine how the scenario could’ve been different if I were a few shades darker, or if I had an accent or a more “ethnic” name.

I hate what this presidency and this administration have done to us all.”

 

See?  Stand up for others, man, because next up…it’ll be you and me.  Two everyday folks.  One works in IT, one in a call center.  Not rich.  Not packing weapons.  They love their dogs, their friends.  They’re having a housewarming, because they just bought a house.  They aren’t subversives.  THIS IS WHAT OUR “AMERICA” HAS BECOME!!

Fucking wake up.

Random Musings

I don’t know why after such a lengthy absence posting I come back with this, but it bugs me.  I drive by it 5 days a week.

They opened this thing on Route 2 called Dog’s Retreat.  There were signs up before it opened, and for some reason, they made it sound so insanely fun.  Like daycare for dogs, but what an amazing daycare!  They’d get to play with other dogs, they’d run, they’d exercise, someone would fawn over them however many hours, blah blah blah.

So now it’s open.  It looks something like a huge storefront room, with part of it sectioned off by a white fence.  It doesn’t even look like a real fence.  Ok, yeah, I’m zooping by at about 55mph (traffic in that spot starts to slow at that time of day), but I’m pretty sure its only something that looks like a fence.

I only ever see 2 dogs, 3 at most.  And man, do they look bored.  They’re either standing there, looking at each other.  Or lying there, looking at each other.  Or sitting there, looking at each other.

It strikes me as false advertising.  This was supposed to be Six Flags Over Latham for dogs, wasn’t it?  A regular Puppapalooza.  I don’t know if I expected rides, but I mean, outside of it being a bit more spacious than a kennel…what’s the excitement?  They stare at the road and pretend they’re the ones doing 55, tongues lolling, heads out the window?

I don’t even own a dog.  Why do I feel so ripped off?

Oh, well.  I got the cheffy cat, and he’s plenty of entertainment.  spiritsammich.jpg

“Mommy!  I din’t make dat!!  Where you get BREDZ??!!”

 

Health Update

Another long absence.

Few things holding me down, or trying to.  The arthritis in my hip is actually a long-ago broken bone in my back, which now has the vertebra slipping and pressing the nerve.  Oh, there’s arthritis there too, but overall that’s mild.  Good news, exercises at PT seem to be helping considerably.  Which is good, cause the hell if I’m doing cortisone shots.

https://www.completepaincare.com/patient-education/conditions-treated/spondylolisthesis/

Next, that bubble of fat on top of my fat is the result of muscle walls pulling apart and weakening.  Mine are very weak.  So I have to see a surgeon for that.  I’m holding off a little bit, til some of the back stuff is behind me (see what I did there?).  It’s not a hernia, but you still don’t want to strain it.  It’s also common from binge dieting or pregnancy, anything that stretches the muscles apart, and my doc said its an easy surgical thing with a patch.  More to you, as I know more.

Seriously, can I get a little peace here?

Sadly, Texas doesn’t look to be happening soon, either.  Still trying, but right now I’m planning a few Cons and events into the fall.

Next up, Upstate Collector’s Show June 10, in Cohoes, at the Venue.

See you there, bulging belly, bad back and all.

Some Undead Oz

I haven’t posted any excerpts in a longish time, and since Oz is the popular book, and I just got some copies in, here’s a little taste.

 

You see, when Tinna said the City of Shattered Opals was not so very far, she was going by a dim memory of her own experience, and that experience included being towed by a lorry, which meant that she was traveling all upon wheels and at a much faster rate.

She still had wheels, but Dawthy, Thatcher, and Monk only had feet, and were more limited in terms of speed.  Monk might have turned into his lion shape and carried the other two, but he could not control his changing yet, and under the bright yellow light of the sun the change wouldn’t happen on its own.

Not that it mattered so much.  Without a distinct day and night, there was no way to tell how long it took them, but by the time the huge, shimmering gates came into view, Dawthy was exhausted, dirty and sweaty, and her legs and feet hurt badly, and she was hungrier than ever before.

“Do you think the gates are closer than they look?” asked Monk hopefully.

“I think it’s a trick of the sun that they might be further,” said Thatcher.

“We must stop, then.  Dawthy needs to rest.”

“Oh, no,” she protested.  “I can go on.  Really I can.”

“Nonsense.  Your feet will be nothing but blisters if you try.”

“What a silly goose am I!”  Tinna exclaimed.  “Why didn’t I think of it before?  You two, boost Dawthy up onto my back.  Wheels don’t get tired, or blistered.  She can ride to the City.  And you, Thatcher, hand over that hat, so her head isn’t right out in the sun.”

The others looked at each other and nodded and made comments like, ”Well thought!”, and were stunned that not a one of them had come up with any of this sooner.

“Don’t blame yourselves,” Dawthy soothed as they boosted her onto the back of the tin maiden.  “You aren’t used to dealing with the living; you’ve said it often enough.  I’m just as silly; I didn’t think of it either.”

“You are, at that,” Thatcher said, although he was really only teasing.  He looked funny with the top of his head exposed: a huge tuft of straw stuck straight up from the canvas of his head, and he kept scratching at it.  Dawthy looked nearly as funny in his charred hat, which was a size and a half too large for her.  All the same, it offered some relief from the sun.

“It doesn’t solve the problem of food and water, though.”

Monk shrugged.  “It will get us to the City faster, and she can get real sustenance and rest there.”

With that settled, they started off again, and at a much faster rate.  Tinna revved her wheels and zoomed right along the fairly smooth road;  the stones were in much better repair as one got closer to the city.  Thatcher and Monk, with no need to breathe, managed to keep up.  Perhaps on four legs Monk could have gone faster, but it was still better than when they were all walking.

Dawthy had her arms wrapped tight about Tinna’s neck, and if the speed hadn’t raised such a wind in her face, she might have dozed off right there.  Walking and sore feet aside, so much had happened in such a short span of time, it was more than the most energetic little girl could handle.

But they made excellent time and were before the gates soon enough.  Despite her exhaustion, Dawthy could only stare at the wondrous beauty before her.   Huge walls of shimmering greens and blues stretched on in either direction, while the gates were a deep pewter color (they weren’t really pewter, though, for pewter is very soft for a metal and wouldn’t have offered much protection at all).  Off to the left was a small building that also looked to be pewter, and from it came a curious creature.

Slacker Me!

Small life update.

Collar City Carnival was a fun little event, and I’d love to do more like it.  Unlike Reverbicon, which was just too loud to really work for vending, this was a little softer, but still cool music, and a building that is fantastic architecturally (I don’t know if that’s a word, but I would love to get in there and explore further).

Next up, Upstate Collectors Show, at The Venue in Cohoes.  Another small-scale but totally enjoyable event, doesn’t leave me completely wiped out, and the surroundings are unique (a semi-converted church).

Albany Comic Con is no-go.  Tables sold out, but hey, I expected as much.  I’m on the list if someone cancels.

I’d like to do Plattsburgh, but have to know if I’m going to have help, and need to know soon, because that’ll require a hotel stay.  It would be a new market, but run by a guy with a good track record, so I’m all for trying it out.  College towns are always good, altho early August?  Still, fun way to spend my birthday weekend.

Lastly, on the personal note, news about my arthritis.  All this jumping thru hoops and banging my head against walls to figure out why I’m in so much pain when my hip isn’t that bad resulted in an MRI.

Ugh, I’m not claustrophobic but that sucked.  Hard.  And I wasn’t all the way in.  Like, my eyes were just at the edge.  It was holding that position for 30 minutes…it was agony by the end.

My hip doesn’t hurt because of my hip.  My hip hurts because of my back.  Yep, the space between the lower discs has narrowed considerably.  And all those little facet joints have arthritis.  Which sort of fits with other symptoms (and to be honest, until I found this out, I didn’t know they WERE symptoms).

Ever stretch your legs but…it’s like you still feel compacted?  Like you can’t stretch them to your satisfaction?  And my lower back doesn’t get the bad pain like the hip, but it aches.  A lot, and often, but a dull ache.  I thought that was a side effect of the hip, and its really the other way around.

Yippee.

Why Spirit Can Beat Bobby Flay

If you know me, or follow me on Facebook, you know I don’t cook.  My cat Spirit is my chef.  And for a cat, he’s pretty skilled.  And his big dream is to beat Bobby Flay.  (I did offer to look into a MasterChef cruise for him, but the whole cat and water thing…no.)

So after watching a LOT of Beat Bobby Flay, and doing some thinking, and studying the little furbaby, I see it may be possible.  Why, you ask?

 

bbobbyflay

  1. He doesn’t trash talk.  How many chefs can’t beat each other because they’re so busy running their mouths?  Spirit does talk a lot, at least to me, but around strangers, not so much.  And he’s not the trash-talking type.
  2. He’ll be 5 in May.  A lot of chefs pick their signature dish as something they’ve made every day for 40 years, and they think they can do it in their sleep.  Sadly, that usually means they are too deep in their comfort zone, and they’ve become complacent.  Spirit has only really been cooking for about 3 years, maybe 4, and he changes it up every day.
  3. Why does he change it up every day?  Because he’s a cat, therefore, he can’t read, and he’s colorblind.  He doesn’t KNOW what he’s putting a in a pinch of.  In fact, without opposable thumbs, he can’t pinch anything.  However, for a colorblind kitty, he does have a stunning sense of presentation.spiritlamb
  4. Find me one judge who can look at that face and deny him. Well, maybe Simon Majumdar, cause he’s notoriously rough to please.  And maybe a vegetarian judge.  Spirit is, after all, a carnivore, and he cooks like one.spiritfanged.jpg
  5. Animals are simple.  Most competitors who go against Bobby and blow it just overreach.  Signature dish is Salisbury steak?  Oh, I’m going to make mine out of lamb and veal, with a picante guava habanero gravy and a side of heirloom sundried tomatos stuffed with manchego and dill baked under the salamander and an almond-kale-watercress-peanut-butter pesto.  No, no, no.  You want shrimp?  Spirit gives you shrimp.  Simple yummy shrimp.  Granted, he doesn’t get the concept of “cuisine”.  There is no Asian, or Mexican, or Indian.  He can’t read, remember?  So yeah, one dish may include ginger and cumin and cilantro all together, but he’ll make it delicious. spiritcouch.jpg
  6. Lastly, he rivals Scott Conant in grooming.  How much better can you look for television?spiritandscottconant.jpg