Monthly Archives: November 2013

Make Big Money Blogging! Fantasy? Pyramid Scheme? Or Both?

When you have about, I dunno, five followers on WordPress you don’t want to piss any of them off. But I’m pretty sure more than half of these folks followed me so that I would check out their blog, which has some irresistible tagline like: “Turn your blog into a cash machine”, or “Make five figures a month blogging in your underwear”. Supposedly all of these guys and gals are living on tropical islands getting served blended cocktails all day long and only work a couple of hours.

Unfortunately for me I’m a sucker for get-rich-quick schemes, or their more modern incarnation “lifestyle design” programs. My Yahoo mail inbox is crammed full of real estate wholesaling course advertisements, the latest online “affiliate marketing” (the slick new term for something that smells a lot to me like Amway) hype, and doomsday investment advisers trying to get me to come to their webinars or expensive big-shot summit meetings. Maybe it’s the old bipolar kicking in, I get all excited and so obsessed with something that my expectations are way too high. I’ve read “The Four Hour Work Week”, and it was pretty damn good. The fantasy is just too appealing.

How many of you would like to get paid for blogging? Uh, dumb question huh? Probably everyone reading this. So, of course I’m not immune to the allure of blogging for money, but what’s the catch? Well let’s see it seems to involve paying money every month for a service that is free here on WordPress. Then I guess if you want to get those fat checks rolling in you have to get other people to pay their monthly fees and so on. A classic. “But wait, the internet is here and that changes everything!” they say. Yeah but it’s the same model. Instead of having to convince your buddies to buy soap you now have to convince them to buy web services. “But the internet allows you to have millions of buddies, there is an almost endless supply!” Yeah but I don’t want to make friends just so I can sell them stuff!

What’s your experience? Have you too had followers pitching these schemes? Do any of you involved in affiliate marketing want a rebuttal?

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Blogging

2040–A Short Story part I

Sci-fi is not exactly my genre, but I was inspired to try my hand at it by an interesting post on 3D printing and other future technology here: http://redclayandroses1.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/its-the-year-2040-what-are-you-doing/

Oliver scanned the time again. 21:46, three minutes after the last time he checked. It was just two damn easy with his new iView lenses. All his apps ran so much smoother now that he upgraded. A warm breeze blew a parched paper coffee cup down the abandoned street. He pivoted and looked to his left past a row of decrepit industrial buildings, a sleek black Mercedes SL was just turning the corner and coming into view.

“It’s about freaking time,” Henry hissed.

“Try your best to stay cool,” Oliver whispered. “These guys are used to dealing chems so they’re kinda jumpy. Just let me do the talking.”

The Mercedes cruised smoothly on a cushion of air over the rutted and pock-marked asphalt towards the two men. Oliver’s palms tingled with droplets of sweat as he clutched the paper BitCoin wallet in his pocket. He had never held this much money in his life. and it was making him twitchy. He just wanted to get the deal done and get back to the lab. Henry wasn’t helping either, with his goddamn gum smacking all the time. The car silently drifted to a stop in front of them, and after a dramatic pause the front passenger door swung open. The man who emerged was mountainous. It was hard to believe that he actually fit in the car at all. He was about six seven and about 300 pounds of solid muscle. Despite the stifling heat of late summer in Los Angeles  the man was dressed in a dark wool suit and tie. He gave Oliver and Henry a quick emotionless look, then turned to open the rear door.

A small man with deeply tanned skin that was the texture of old leather emerged from the car. He looked to be about seventy, but he moved with the swiftness and grace of a twenty year old athlete. The sun glinted off his pale green track suit as he extended his hand.

“Thomas Radics” he said.”Which one of you is Oliver?” He smiled pleasantly, but his eyes were cold and hard. Oliver switched on his Biometric Analysis app. If this guy was bullshitting them he’d know instantly. The app measures micro expressions, blood flow and temperature changes, heart rate, and about sixty different metrics. It alerts you when they’re nervous, lying, or trying to hide something. Oliver smiled.

“I’m Oliver” he replied, shaking hands. “Pleased to meet you Mr. Radics.”

“I believe you have my wallet,” said Radics. He squeezed Oliver’s hand with a youthful grip, and a deadly serious expression crossed his sun-worn face.

“I have the wallet, if you have the NPS,” said Oliver.

Radics grinned again. Oliver was pretty sure he was wearing dentures, or had caps, because the man’s teeth glowed white like a movie star. Well, this was LA after all. Radics dropped Oliver’s hand and turned back to the incredible hulk. The muscle immediately reached into the car and produced a white metal briefcase. The international symbol for hazardous biological material was emblazoned on the top in bright red paint.

“Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous,” said Radics as he turned the case toward Oliver. He held it up as if it were a prize on a game show, and then dramatically popped open the cover. Vapor hissed and wafted up from the container, it’s contents cooled by liquid nitrogen. “But I don’t know what in hell you would want three pounds of NPS for, unless you’re growing a brain in a jar.”

“Something like that,” Oliver replied sheepishly. His lenses told him that, except for a slightly elevated pulse, Radics was the real deal.

“This comes to us from Argentina,” said Radics, closing the case. “They’re the only country we have access to that still allows human embryonic cell research. We’re not used to dealing with this quantity, it was very difficult to obtain.”

“That’s why Dr. Brown was willing to pay you so much,” quipped Oliver, pulling the slightly moistened paper wallet from his pocket. He handed it over to Radics, who held it up in the light for a moment, admiring the holographic printing. He passed the paper back to the giant, and held the case out to Oliver.

“Then this is yours. I hope you put it to good use,” he said with a bit of sarcasm. The big man opened the rear door of the Mercedes. ” It was a pleasure doing business, please call us again for all your neuro-plasma substrate needs.”

“I think this should do it,” said Oliver, feeling the weight of the case in his hand. “Thanks.”

The car immediately pulled away, hardly disturbing the thick layer of soot and dust on the cracked roadway as it’s engines whined. In a few seconds it was out of sight and the two men were again alone in the street. Small brown finches chirped and fluttered in the sumacs that grew up through gaps in the pavement. Oliver turned to Henry.

“Let’s go.”

4 Comments

Filed under Short Stories

NaBloPoMo Me

Are any of my adoring followers taking part in NaBloPoMo?

For two weeks I’ve been setting up the basics of my blog: experimenting with themes, writing a few posts, reading and commenting on other blogs, etc. It’s getting near the end of November and I just figured out what NaBloPoMo stands for, duh! I could have just Googled it but I was too busy changing diapers, editing my WIP, feeding my animal horde, paying bills, and all those terribly mundane other chores that make up my daily life. I’ve been walking around in my usual fog thinking “what is all this NaBlo crap they’re writing about? Some kind of contest?” Again Google, duh. Finally I clicked one of the numerous prominent links here on WordPress and discovered that there is a month devoted to blogging every day and this slacker just plopped himself right down in the middle of it. Sigh.

Did I mention that I’m currently employed as a house-husband? Yup, I take care of our ten-month-old baby while the wife goes off to work. Pretty sweet gig huh? This only relates in that I’m using nap time for blogging. Supposedly I’m using this opportunity to complete my novel, and blogging is just to stretch my writing muscles, but it’s a bit addicting isn’t it? Besides, who has time when you have an infant to take care of? I find myself having to write at two-thirty in the morning and that can’t be effective. Maybe a post on house-husbanding would be interesting?

The point of all this is just to ask those of you who’re into the NaBloPoMo thing what your experience has been so far? Is it a challenge to post everyday? Do you feel like an underpaid journalist yet? Please comment, and thanks for reading!

 

12 Comments

Filed under Blogging

I Am the Thermostat

Thirty four degrees outside. The fire is just a small bed of coals that I keep raking into a pile. This old farmhouse with all it’s little rooms ranges from fifty six degrees in the back storeroom/laundry room, to a comfortable 72 in the dining area where we have the stove. Usually this room is lava hot and you need a fan, but I’m letting the fire die so I can shovel out some coals.

I have a new respect for the humble thermostat. It does it’s job quietly, twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week without fail. With some kind of technological sorcery the temperature in the house stays where you set it. This isn’t the case when you heat with a wood stove. I have become the thermostat.

The only real advantage that I have over that small device is that I can anticipate the change in outside temperature. The thermostat never knows it needs to get ready because the sun’s going down and it’s going to start getting colder. The little fellow is totally blindsided when a front moves through and the day warms up quickly. I know these things and that little gadget doesn’t, hah!

Oh but wait, there’s programmable thermostats. There goes that argument.

In any case they don’t work with wood stoves and so I’m stuck with the job. Fortunately we’ve developed an ingenious system of strategically placed fans to pump the cold air into the hot stove room, and let all that hot air convect out into the rest of the house. It works pretty well and all the way upstairs in the bedrooms it stays around seventy. That is, it stays that way if I dutifully keep shoveling wood onto the fire.

When it’s just about freezing outside our stove can handle it no sweat. I just need one log cooking away or even just a bed of coals and the house stays toasty. Problem is when the temperature plummets, and I’m zonked out in bed dreaming of barbecued ribs, it get’s darn chilly! This happened the other night when it got down into the teens and I let the fire die out.

You gotta give a guy a break, I’m still new on the job and I’m sure I’ll get a handle on it.

9 Comments

Filed under Homesteading

Searching for Eileen part II

My second-cousin Chris told me that I just needed to call the adoption secretary at the family court, and that would start me on my way to getting my original birth certificate. This was interesting. I knew I had a birth certificate with my adopted name, but there was a birth certificate with my original name? The document was the key to everything it seemed, because it also had my mother’s name and birthplace.

I would have thought that the records would be with the court in Boston, where I was born, but they’re kept in the family court that is closest to the adoptive family. In my case this was the Family and Probate Court in Canton Massachusetts. Each court has a person who handles adoption records, and in my case the woman in Canton was extremely sympathetic and helpful. She explained that I just needed to write a short letter asking the court for the records, along with a reason for the request. So I wrote the letter citing family health information as the reason for wanting the records, and within a week a bulky envelope arrived at my PO box. I quickly walked to my car and sealed myself inside.

My hands trembled a bit as I crudely tore open the envelope. Inside was my mother’s name, something I had long wondered about. Her name may be the key to finding her, but it could also give me a hint at my ethnic heritage. This is kind of a guessing game with adopted children, maybe even more so once we have children of our own. My kids always ask me, “What are we? Are we German, or Irish, or Polish or what”. The document in the envelope might hold a clue.

There was a heavy official looking paper that looked just like my other birth certificate. My stomach roiled when I saw my mother’s name. I felt like a kid from Nebraska on his first whale-watching trip and was thankful that I was sitting down. Her surname was immediately recognizable as Irish, so a big question was answered right there.  The weirdest part though, was that I had a new name.

That infant that held so tightly onto the edge of the mattress was never “William”, he was “Michael”. Did the sisters at the Catholic Charities know me as Michael, or did they even know my name? In some ways this was good. It distanced me from that dark and scary time. I messily plopped the envelope and it’s contents down on the passenger seat and started the car. I didn’t want anyone to see me crying.

Now that I had my mother’s name and the city of her birth it should be a breeze to find her. Or so I thought. I searched Google and got a lot of people over in Ireland and lot’s of dead-ends. Facebook had nothing, even though most married women there use their maiden names too. Classmates.com? Nope, nothing current and nothing from a search of high-school yearbooks in her hometown or even the state where she was born. I tried Peoplesearch and a number of other sites and still came up empty. It seemed like she was trying not to be found. Maybe I would have to hire a detective? It would probably be expensive. So I just put my search on hold for a while and game myself time to process everything.

Processing things was sometimes a bummer. I wondered if my bio-mom had just given a fake name to the hospital when she delivered, it certainly seemed possible. The feelings of abandonment that sometimes come from being given away at birth were amplified when I considered that she may have changed her name or otherwise tried to stay hidden from me.

Then came Ancestry.com. My wife saw a piece on some news show about a guy who was stolen at birth and how he used Ancestry.com to find out some of his heritage. So I signed up for an account and started searching all of the public records for my mother’s name. There were tons of records about people who may have been family members back in my bio-mom’s hometown, but only one record with her entire name on it. Hundreds of old street directories from all over the country have been scanned and now reside somewhere on the internet. I was able to look at an image of the Boston street directory from 1966. There was my mother’s name, and address, and even her occupation and workplace! This was amazing news for me. It confirmed that there actually was a person living in Boston at the time of my birth and that the name on the birth certificate was probably real. It also gave life to a whole narrative of how I came into this world.

In 1966 my mother lived in Boston’s Back Bay and worked as a secretary for a law firm. This firm was just a little partnership back in the 60’s but it still exists today. My wife suggested that bio-mom might have had an affair with one of the partners in the firm, who was a married man. After she became pregnant, she may have tried to hide out for a while (with the assistance of her lover) and even kept her condition from her family. I don’t know how available abortions were back in 1966, but my bio-mom was obviously Catholic and so adoption would have been the only option for her. With help from a lawyer, she may have changed her name and tried to have other records erased, or maybe I’m just paranoid. However, it may be that even to this day my existence is a great big secret to a lot of people, and if they’re still alive, my bio-parents are probably hoping it will stay that way. Ooops, so sorry, while you were waiting they invented the internet!

3 Comments

Filed under Adoption

Searching for Eileen

Are you ready for a serious and intensely personal post? There’s mystery and intrigue and probably a little secret romance too, so I promise not to bore you. Why now? Well, it’s my birthday today and so I might as well tell the fragmented and shadowy story of my entrance into this world, adoption, and–47 years later–the search for my biological mother.

Boston City Hospital, 1966. I imagine it was a cold and typically dismal November day when a young woman, hugely pregnant, walked or was carried into the hospital and off to a delivery room. She had already arranged to have her baby put up for adoption with the Catholic Charities, and I can’t imagine what she might have been feeling at that moment. Fear? Is there any woman about to give birth who isn’t afraid? Shame? She was an unwed mother who was giving her child away, was she ashamed? Surely she felt the baby she had carried for nine months would be better taken care of with a nice married couple, or why would she give it up for adoption? These are questions that only she can answer, but it’s fun to imagine some of the images to fill in the narrative.

The messy details of my birth were no doubt carried out by the practiced nurses at the hospital, presided over by a one W. Perkins MD. He signed my original birth certificate four days later. It contained my mother’s name and place of birth, and the name she gave me. I don’t know if it was a routine birth or if there were any complications, but at the time I was apparently a healthy baby boy. At some point the Catholic Charities, who handled many adoptions in those days but have since ceased doing them, took me away to a place that in my childhood dreams was a big dark foreboding building right out of a horror movie.

I spent the first six months of my life here, and although there are no real memories from this time there is some kind of echo deep in my unconscious. It’s not a pleasant or warm echo, because there is a greyness there, images of strange green oxygen tanks and cribs and shadowy figures looming about. I became deeply attached to my mattress, and the smooth hard label underneath the worn sheets. I would rub them with my feet, or clutch onto the edges of the mattress. The dark figures would come and go, sometimes soothing me, sometimes mechanically performing some routine function of infant care. The mattress was always there, and so I clung to it like it was my mother.

The unsettling memories from this very early period in my childhood would shape my life and future in ways I could never have imagined. They are memories turned into dreams  turned into memories, and I held onto them for better or for worse.

Flash forward forty six years. The mother I have always known, my adoptive mother, has died. She never took very good care of herself. Although she ate well and exercised, she was a heavy drinker and even heavier smoker. I had taken her to the hospital four times in the past year-and-a-half and the doctor’s kept telling her, “you will die if you keep smoking”. She defiantly kept smoking. After the funeral we all gathered at a beautiful local restaurant and consoled each other and talked about my mother. A second cousin of mine, also adopted, approached me and offered his condolences. He told me the story of how he had located his biological parents, how easy it was, and how he now had a great relationship with his bio-mom. It was then that I seriously started the search for my biological mother, even though it had been a lingering and chronic nagging curiosity all my life.

My brother, two cousins, and two second-cousins and I were all adopted through the Catholic Charities. We always were told the truth and I respected my parents for that. But as anyone who was adopted early in life must know, there are those unanswered questions that you can try to push away but always come back up again. How can anyone not know their past? Their true ethnic heritage? The story of their birth?

There’s more to the my tale, and I’m afraid I’ll have to post part II next time. Until then, any readers who may have been adopted out there? What are your thoughts on finding your biological parents?

2 Comments

Filed under Adoption

Avalanche of Eggs

Image

My girls–eight New Hampshire Red Hens–are about seven months old and churning out eggs like they were getting paid. Even after several quiches, some baked goods, omelettes in the morning, and a couple dozen deviled eggs, we’re starting to get a surplus. My doctor will probably not like my cholesterol numbers when we next get together either!

I bought 100 new cartons from Amazon and started trying to sell them down at the end of our driveway in a cooler where we had our little farm stand this summer. This is something they do up here in rural Maine, they sell just about everything you can imagine out in their front yards by the road. Zombies aren’t attracted to eggs, so I have no worries that we’re going to lose any to them. The first Saturday my wife and I put them out we sold three dozen, wow! It seemed like we were onto something good. But for the past two weeks we haven’t sold anything, despite putting them out by the road everyday and pricing them at the local going rate of only two dollars a dozen. I even advertised them on Uncle Henry’s, a down-homey alternative to Craig’s List that we have up here in the frozen North. No response. So now the eggs are starting to pile up. The growing stacks of cartons are squeezing out the vegetables at the bottom of the fridge.

I guess from my research on the internet that most of the eggs in the supermarket are anywhere from seven days to several weeks old. They keep well as long as you keep them cold, but everyday I add to the pile and everyday it grows.

Tomorrow I resolve to stop procrastinating and call a local church to see if they have a soup kitchen or food pantry that can use them. Boy this post is boring. There aren’t any car crashes or things exploding or anything. I’ll add them to my tags anyway, just to mess with people.

4 Comments

Filed under Homesteading