xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: July 2013

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Out of, and into, the mouths of babes

I go into the kitchen a little bit ago, where the kids are having breakfast, and I say to the room "Here's the plan for today, guys. I want everybody dressed and out of the house for at least a few hours."

See, if it was up to them, they would sit around in their underwear watching TV all day and doing nothing. They need to at least see the light of day for a bit, get some vitamin D, etc. I'm not going to be responsible for creating cute little vampires, I'll tell you that much.

They don't like the idea of having to get dressed and leave the house, however, so Child 2 comes up to me with this sad, doe-eyed expression on his face and says "But I don't feel good.

So I say "then put down the bacon."

And then he does this:

You can tell this kid is mine.

Friday, July 26, 2013

If you didn't make it then you don't own it

I have a bunch of Facebook friends who make memes about autism awareness and then share them. What happens to them (a lot) is that other pages find them and then, basically, steal them. When my friends complain, most of the time what happens is that the page owner just ignores them, so they're forced to make a complaint to Facebook about theft of intellectual property. Most of the time the picture gets removed by Facebook, but oftentimes what may happen is that the page owner will balk at the idea of being accused of theft. They will then post to their wall about it, and from reading what they write, and from what their commenters write, it's clear to me (and my friends) that most people on Facebook have no idea how copyright laws work, particularly when it comes to digital images and online media. They complain because "it's all about autism awareness," and that "bickering about images" is just petty and wastes our time. Actual quote: "I guess you don't believe in adovcacy if you won't let me use your pictures."

What these folks don't understand, though, in addition to copyright law, is that my friends spend their time and energy making these images and they don't want their work to be stolen!! It's like if you copied a Van Gogh, signed your own name to it, and then when you got sued you said "I'm just trying to spread the word about sunflowers, isn't that our mutual goal?" There's a difference between advocacy and theft, and if your goal is advocacy, you need to understand the law.

Here's the thing: all images that are posted online are subject to the laws of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. This act protect artists and content owners in the same way that standard federal copyright laws do. Facebook, Google, Pinterest, you and me... we're all bound by these laws whether we like it or not.

I'm going to explain the right and wrong way to share images on Facebook, but I'm writing this because there's an important message here, one in which I'm guilty of, as well: if you didn't personally make the image, regardless of where you find it, you're not allowed to use it. That means on Facebook, but in particular, as far as this post is concerned, on your blog. But I'll get to that in a minute. First, a Facebook lesson:

So I'm browsing The Book and I see an image that I like. Cool! Let's share it!!

So, how do I show this to my Facebook friends? It's a simple task to do it legally: you hit that "share" button:

then you'll see this:

hit that "share photo" button and BOOM. You've done it the right way.

Then how do you do it illegally? Well, that will happen when you download the image and then re-upload it to Facebook. Some people will go so far as to alter the image to remove the identifiable information from the author. In that case it's pretty obvious that this person is a thief, but it's possible you could just be doing it wrong and you don't know, which is why I'm writing this tutorial.

Here's what you don't want to do when you see this picture:

and then...

Why? Well, according to Facebook's terms of service, by uploading an image to your profile or page or group, you are giving Facebook "a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license." That means that Facebook has the right to show your image, but only the owner of the intellectual property has the ability to give Facebook these rights. By uploading an image like I've shown in these pictures here, you are making the claim that this image is your intellectual property. This is all part of the really long User Agreement thingy that everybody just scrolls through and never reads.  That's why you can hit the "share" button with no problems, because once the image is uploaded, it belongs to Facebook and they control the share button.

Is that confusing? In a nutshell, "upload" means "I own this." And if you didn't make it, then you don't own it.  And if you do most of your Facebooking from your iPhone, you will already know that the only way to "share" photos is to download and upload; you don't get the option to just share. If this is the case, then just move along, because even on your iPhone upload means "I own this" and you don't own it. Don't be illegal just because it's what's more convenient for you. It's also more convenient to drive too fast if you're late but that doesn't mean you're going to get out of that ticket: you broke the law, and you know it. Wait until you get to a computer or just don't share it at all. If you really care about advocacy then you should respect the rights of the advocates who spend their time and energy making advocacy images.

Okay, so, let's get to the part about the blogging, which is the part that affects ME. And it's all about me, you know; I've got my priorities.

I recently read an article (h/t HH6) about using pictures from Google images, which we all do, and I was very very surprised to read the following:
Current Fair Use image copyright laws say that you’re financially liable for posting copyrighted images, even if:

• You did it by accident
• You immediately take down the picture after receiving a DMCA takedown notice
• The picture is resized
• If the picture is licensed to your Web developer (Getty Images requires that you get your own license, thank you very much)
• You link back to the photo source and cite the photographer’s name
• Your site isn’t commercial and you make no money from your blogs
• You have a disclaimer on the site
• The pic is embedded instead of saved on your server
• You found it on the Internet
HOLY CRAP. So... if I get a cease and desist notice about the kitten I used back in May of 2011, even if I take it down immediately, I have still broken the law and still could get sued. In this case, they were sued for $8,000 !!!!  And they ended up paying, because downloading and uploading from google images is the same as doing it on Facebook. If you upload anything, you are making the claim that the image belong to you. And... like I said... if you didn't make it, it doesn't belong to you. Even if you erased the artist's logo and added in your own. (That actually makes you an asshole, in addition to being a thief).

Well, I sure as hell don't have $8,000 so I'm going through my blog today and taking down all the pictures I've illegally taken from Google images. It will take a while, but... I need my money.

**Note: the images that you see in these screenshot have been used with permission of the awesome hot chick at Four Sea Stars.

**Note2: I'm not a lawyer. Don't take my advice, do your own research or consult an attorney. But more important than that, just don't be an asshole. You don't need to be a lawyer to give that piece of advice.

**Note3: Here's a great royalty-free photo site that I've been using to replace pictures of cats on my blog: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Dive Bar Welcomes: A Daughter

Just a reminder for the newcomers that I don't write Dive Bar posts. For more information see the tab at the top.

You. You cast judgment on me and tell me things about myself I try my best not to believe. But I do. I let myself sink into doubt about my own parenting and worth. Thank God for my support network of friends and very few family members who reassure me you’re fucking batshit insane. Who remind me of who you are at your core.

You. I’m able to laugh off some of your “wisdom” because I was there. I know the depth of your parenting skills and just how far your poison reaches. Guess which one goes deeper?

You. You’re able to cast yourself as the victim when I’ve finally had enough for the year or whatever span of time and lash out. You clamor for support and ask people to intervene who weren’t there when you left your children with strangers who hurt them or their own family members who killed off their innocence. Correction: my innocence. 

You. I live with the knowledge that my own mother must hate me because why else would you say the things you do and act how you’ve always acted? You once told me to “let it go, you’ll be stronger one day for it.” I am, but I should not have to be. But thanks for teaching me to never leave my children with strangers or family members who had abused me. Lesson learned.

You. You blame everyone but yourself for your problems. Demons are a bitch, aren’t they? I know seeking solace in a bottle must have been hard. I get that. But do you know how hard it was to grow up with a mother who was a ghost? Who, when she was there, might as well not have been? You’re not my permanent crutch, neither is what happened to me - repeatedly. I hate you’ve allowed your past to be yours.

You. I hate myself for being born to you. I hate we share DNA and some similar traits. I love that I would go to the ends of the Earth for my children, but I would never harp to them about all that I’ve done for them. Because you do that to me and it’s sick. My biggest fear is that one day, I’ll wake up and be you.

You. I’m writing this because I’ve been the keeper of your secrets for so long, I almost cannot separate yours from mine and it hurts. You want to bring up the past and I want it to stay buried. I’ve had therapy but I was too scared of revealing too much. You taught me to lie for you and for our family and that stayed ingrained in my being. That exposing our secrets would bring shame on me. It doesn’t shame me; it reveals that you are less of a mother and more of an asshole than anything. I knew this, but I still lied to my therapist and she proclaimed me “healthy.” What a fucking joke.

You. I have the sickest relationship possible with you. I hate that my children love you so much that they count down the days until they visit you. I hate that I encouraged them to love you in the hopes that you would love me back. I look to each visit with a mixture of incredible trepidation and hope that this time will be different. That you will have changed. But you never do and it’s always my fault.

I hate and love you so much. 

Monday, July 15, 2013


Awww, look how adorable this spawn of Satan is. It's like he's wearing a mask!!!!!!!

Last night, it was relatively early, it had just gotten dark. Child 2 and I were in the kitchen and the door was open; we have a deck-type thing right off our kitchen door with a chain link fence behind it and some big trees. Anyway, the door was open and we watched as a Mama raccoon and 2 babies walked past the open door, across the fence and up the tree. Child 2 was delighted, to say the least. "AWWWWWWWW," he says, "look at the raccoons! AWWWWWWWWW!!!!" I did not sputter with surprise and disgust, in order to maintain an air of calm, and just watched as the demon creatures slowly walked by our OPEN DOOR.

Raccoons: they suck. Here in the flatlands of Berkeley there are a SHITLOAD of raccoons during spring and summer. They come into the house through the cat door and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it. The people who live around here think these fucking things are their pets, so they leave food out for them (and, I shit you not, when they go out of town they actually will ASK YOU TO FEED THEIR RACCOONS WHILE THEY'RE GONE.) So the raccoon population is not only smart, as raccoons are, they're also practically domesticated. But when they come in the house to eat the cat food, they make an enormous fucking mess of the place. They eat the food and they wash their little paws in the cat water (ok, that's actually kind of cute, at least in theory, but not at 7:00 in the morning when I come downstairs to a giant bowl of mud) and sometimes they just fucking trash the place for fun, I think. They break into bags of food and if they're energetic enough they'll go through your garbage, take the stuff they want and then scatter the rest of it all around your house.

So, what do we do about our nightly invaders? Nothing, really, there's nothing we can do. We can't block off the cat door, which is the simplest option, because we have 4 cats and no litterbox and they need to get outside to crap (well, we might actually have 3 cats now; I'll get back to you about that next week). What used to work was this thing where you take a radio and set it to NPR (any talk radio will do but this is Berkeley so NPR is kind of the law) and put it on the floor near the cat door. The raccoons will hear the voices and think there are people inside and not want to come in. The problem with this option is that 1. raccoons are really fucking smart and over the course of the summer will eventually figure out that it's just a radio and not a person and 2. the raccoons around here have no fear whatsoever of humans, so they really just don't give a shit if you're in there or not. You've got the cat food so they're coming in the door after it; that's just how it is.

For a while, when we only had 1 cat, we had one of those fancy magnetic collar thingies that the cat wore around his neck; the cat door was locked closed with a magnet and when the cat gets close to it the thingy he wears unlocks the door so that only he can get in and out. The problem with this version, however, is that raccoons are really fucking smart, and they figured out that the door isn't actually locked and all you have to do is press this little button thingy with one paw and then you can lift the door open with the other. But opening the door like this was was a bit of a process for them, so whenever we would come downstairs and try to chase them away, they would bolt for the cat door and find themselves locked in. They're smart, but apparently not rockets scientists, because when trapped like this none of them could ever figure out how to get the door open to escape, so they would then turn and run in a different direction... FARTHER into our house. And then we would be stuck with this fucking panicky raccoon running around our house, which is SO much worse than just an empty bowl of cat food, so we got rid of this option.

Don't be fooled! If a raccoon ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!
One time this happened and the goddamn thing ran up the stairs, into our bedroom, climbed onto our bed where a toddler Child 1 was sitting, sat on MY PILLOW, drooling and fucking growling at us. It was perhaps the most insulting thing I've ever experienced. He was on my bed! Drooling! And fucking growling! Are you kidding me with this shit? This is MY house you striped bastard, you don't sit on my pillow and growl at ME. Eventually hubs brilliantly thought to start the vacuum; no animal is immune from the vacuum, I don't care what species you are.  Too bad we can't just leave one running next to the cat door all night long....

Images courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Snarky Bookkeeping, Incorporated

My little side job of Bookkeeping is starting to do pretty well, so on the advice of my attorney (Father) it's time for me to BECOME A REAL BUSINESS. YAY!!!

The problem now, though, is that I need a name. And, being a Bookkeeper, I lack creativity.

I asked Child 2 for help and for some reason he found that really embarrassing. I asked Hubs for help and he said "why don't you blog about it?"

So, here we are. Help me fill in the blank, would you?

_____________________ Bookkeeping, Inc.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Was it the tuna?

I was thinking about this Saturday Night Live skit I saw in the late 1980s: John Larroquette is dead and in heaven, and he meets the Angel Gabriel, played by Dana Carvey (or somebody, I didn't google the details so I could be getting many of them wrong) and he gets this chance to ask all the questions to things that he would never have known the answers to otherwise. Questions like "Is professional wrestling real?" (it is) and "which is the one true religion?" (it was something crazy like snake handling or Assembly of God [CS: *wink*]), and I was thinking about all the things in the world that we don't actually know. We may think we know the truth, with our research and our strong opinions, but the reality is that for some things, we really and truly just don't know. And we never will (as long we we're alive, anyway).

When I was pregnant with Child 1 I ate about 4-5 cans of tuna a week; I thought it was good for us, with that healthy fish oil and Omega whatevers. He was about 2 months old when the media first reported on the high levels of mercury in fish and the effects that could have on a developing fetus. I remember saying to somebody that since the kid wasn't born with 3 eyes I guess there were no problems there! Later on, after he was diagnosed, we read about the symptoms of mercury poisoning and how they can mimic autism. Was there a connection? Like I said earlier, I can research my ass off, and I can have an opinion on the subject, but the truth is that I will likely never actually know the truth; the real truth, that only Dana Carvey could tell me after I die.

That would be my question, though, if I end up like John Larroquette, getting all my questions answered (although probably not by the Angel Gabriel, because Supernatural fans will know that not only is that dude a total dick, he's also totally dead): Was it the tuna? If I hadn't eaten all that tuna when I was pregnant, would Child 1 not have been autistic?

Now, don't misunderstand me here, I'm 8+ years past diagnosis and I've moved well beyond blaming myself. They didn't give you those warnings not to eat fish when you were pregnant in 2001, I didn't know. Nobody knew, except probably the tuna companies, and so nobody was able to tell me. If there is a connection, I know that it wasn't my fault. And I'm not asking for articles or studies that prove or disprove the theory: trust me when I tell you I've already seen it. I'm just saying that before my Reaper leads me off to the neverending Dead show in the sky (Shoreline, August 1991) it would be nice to be able to actually get an answer to the question. SNL style.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013

Well, that explains things

I have a blue shirt that is totally ordinary in every way. There's absolutely nothing interesting about this shirt, except that it's blue and I wear it on occasion. Today I put it on to hang around the house, and I look down and notice that there's a circle-shaped stain right above where the shirt lands slightly above my right boob. I took notice with some mild interest, and I wondered how I got this perfect circle of a stain in that particular spot. The moment came and went.

It's actually a tank top and not a tube top, but I don't know how to draw tank tops.

Later on, hubs was BBQing (OMG he makes the. best. fajitas. I could have seriously eaten 40 of them) and I'm hanging out on the couch drinking the margarita he had made for me. (I was also watching a Star Trek TNG marathon and life at that time was absolute nirvana).

Pants are for pussies!

Hubs calls to me from outside, for some help, so I put down my drink to get up and go outside. On my way I notice that I had a fresh circle-shaped water stain on my shirt, just above my right boob and just above where the other stain was.

Things suddenly became clear.

Now I get it: apparently my right boob is a coaster.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

America, I made you some cupcakes

Happy Independence Day everybody!! Here at the Smo house, we're celebrating like regular Americans should. Some BBQ, some friends, some family..... and, as always, we know that freedom isn't free and every day we thank the Patriot Act for keeping us safe!!! Because we're good Americans. We are. I'm serious. WE ARE.

 \:D/ Have a great holiday you guys, and remember, whoever is watching... NO AUDITS. :wave:

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Thank You #VOTY

Yesterday I found out that I won kind of an award. In the world of blogging I think it's kind of a good one, in my mind it's definitely something to be proud of. In BlogHer's Voices of the Year, I won the People's Choice Award in the category Heart.

It was for a post I wrote a few months back about bullying. Regular readers will know that Child 1 is headed off to Middle School next year and I'm having a bit of a freak out about it. So I wrote a post asking parents of typical kids to have a talk with their children about mine. About how he is different, but that's okay.

I nominated myself for VOTY mainly because I wanted to get the information in that post out as far and as wide as possible. What's the point in writing something to a general audience if nobody will see it, right? I submitted my nomination in April, I think, and then the voting period closed and I thought that was the end of it, but it clearly wasn't. Apparently it takes a while for the judges to read 2600 submissions!

But yesterday they told me I won the People's Choice Award. That means, I think, that my post got the most votes in my category. And I didn't even ask for votes, really. I posted on Facebook a few times, but it wasn't like I was on a campaign. I just... won it. I can't even believe it. I've never won anything before, and for a post that means so so much to me? I want to cry from the magnitude of this.

I haven't been blogging much lately, in case you've noticed. The reason is the same as the reason I posted about back in December.  But now that I'm a motherfucking People's Choice Award winner? Maybe that will inspire me to try harder.

But, really, this post is just to say thank you. Thank you for voting for me! Thank you for picking me as the winner in this category. Thank you for reading that post and for helping me spread the word. Thank you for reading this blog, at all. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for your comments and messages. Thank you for loving and supporting my kids along with me. Thank you for loving and supporting me.

Edit: Forgot to mention that I won't actually be attending BlogHer. I hadn't thought about it before and now it's too late to get any affordable airfare or a hotel room. Next year, though!