First Take on the Great #TwitterMigration

You’re online and reading a blog, so I’m going to assume you know that a multi-billionaire has purchased the microblogging site Twitter. This has caused great controversy and anxiety among the Twitter community. Some people seem to have left immediately, a couple of corporations have (temporarily?) suspended advertising on Twitter, and many people are flocking (pun absolutely intended) to other social media and microblogging sites.

The most popular of those is Mastodon, which is not actually a website itself; it’s open-source software used to build individual sites, called “instances,” that are run by volunteer administrators. Some instances are open for people to create accounts, a few are limited to certain users (the most famous of which is probably the European Union‘s instance), and a few more are personal instances with a population of one.

If you use WordPress for your own website or blog as well as reading here you’ll understand: WordPress is software that is used to create many individual sites. There’s also a website called WordPress, but it is far from being the whole of WordPress. Mastodon (the software) is similarly used to create social media platforms; some actually have the word “Mastodon” in their name but most don’t.

Although I don’t plan to quit Twitter any time soon, I have had a Mastodon account since 2018 and I just created another one on an instance dedicated to writers. So if you’ve been following me on Twitter, you can find me on Mastodon, too. By all means, give it a try and say “hello.” And if you have any questions, please leave them in the Comments; I might put together a longer post on how to get started on Mastodon if there seems to be interest.

Mastodon

Ghost Bikes and the Value of Human Life

One year ago today I attended the dedication of a ghost bike honoring Alex Cordero, a seventeen-year-old who was killed when his bicycle was struck by a tow truck. I had seen ghost bikes before, and even helped maintain a couple by clearing weeds and touching up the paint, but this was the first time I’d attended a dedication. Alex was the sixteenth cyclist killed in New York City last year; ultimately there would be twenty-nine deaths. [Note that the link indicates 28. Even transportation-safety minded journalists had a difficult time keeping up. There’s a note at the end of the article that it was updated to show twenty-nine deaths.]

2019-09-05 Ghost Bike Dedication - Alex Cordero SAM_2980
I didn’t realize it when we assembled for the dedication but I was standing near Alex’s aunt (the woman in the grey t-shirt holding a bouquet). Photo © 2019 Karen E. Lund

I was drifting off to sleep the night before, thinking of the day’s news and of my plans for the dedication of the ghost bike to honor Alex. Half asleep, my mind attempted to find a connection between the previous weekend’s gun violence (nine people had been killed in Dayton and twenty-three in El Paso) and Alex’s death while riding his bicycle.

Eventually it fitted together. Not with an answer, but with a question: When did we decide to give more rights to steel than to human flesh? Was it a conscious decision? (Probably not.) Who decided? Continue reading

I Fought Junk Mail and Won (One Battle)

One of my more satisfying accomplishments in 2016 was defeating a junk mailer who had repeatedly violated my credit reporting opt-out. The first part of this post comes from a draft letter I wrote, but never sent, to the three mail credit reporting agencies. It summarizes what happened between February 2015 and May 2016: at least five “pre-qualified” automobile loans sent to me in the mail, despite the fact I have never had a drivers license.

Here’s the story:

In February 2015 I received a notice in the mail that I was “prequalified” for an automobile loan by [Name Redacted] Auto, [Address Redacted].

This was a surprise, as I have never in my life had a drivers license. I called the telephone number on the letter and attempted to explain that they were wasting their time and mine, but was put on hold, transferred to voicemail, transferred to a number that rang but was never answered, and generally ignored. So later that day I called the “Prescreen Opt Out” number on the back of the notice and opted out of such notices.

A few weeks later I received another notice from the same company. Not sure if my opt out hadn’t yet “percolated” through the system or if I had not completed the process correctly on the phone, I again opted out using the Internet address provided. This time I received an on-screen confirmation, so I knew it had been completed correctly.

Continue reading

Poached!

My return to blogging experienced a rude shock when I discovered that The Buddy System for Job Seekers had been copied in its entirety on half  a dozen other sites.

When I mentioned this to a friend who has sometimes earned her living as a writer, she immediately responded that it would almost be a compliment, if it wasn’t plagiarism.

Indeed, it was a little creepy.

My first clue came when WordPress’s Dashboard informed me of a “pingback.” After seeing two blogs that had lifted my entire post, I did a Google search and turned up more.

Continue reading