Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A scam aimed at writers

I came across a blog post today … “How to make a six figure income from freelance writing”.  

A six figure income?  I was more than a little sceptical, especially since yesterday I talked with Susan B., a rather successful writer, who told me that although writing supplements her income nicely, she can’t make a living from it.

I learned a long time ago that, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  I mean, earning $100,000 a year with writing, wouldn’t just about everybody who can type do it?

How many folks drag themselves out of bed every day at some ungodly hour to get ready for work?  How many travel up to an hour and a half by car, train or bus to get to their destination?  How many hate their job, counting the hours until they can go home?  Why do they do that, when here there is a blog that offers them a six figure salary to stay home? 

I did a little digging and found that in order to get to that six figure salary, one must pay $25 to become a member of a writing website.  Paying $25?  That’s strange, I’m a member of several writing sites and never had to pay a cent.  On the contrary, they pay me. 

Carol T. does things a little differently.  She charges her “clients” $25 to give them advice on how to write and how to land big paying clients.  In addition, she offers $50 for a guest blog post.  Yes, these are her own words … “And in case you’re not aware, THIS blog pays writers for guest posts. $50 a post. And of course, this site is free to all.

$50 for blogging!!!  Well, let me sharpen my pencils because for $50 a pop I can easily write 10 blog posts per day.  $500 per day, times 31 days, that is $15,500 per month.  Holy cow, why doesn’t everybody blog for this woman?

One of her clients, Joshua, told me that thanks to Carol, he now writes emails at $300 per message.  “One of the clients I got through Carol’s job board is now my BIGGEST paying client. They pay me $300 per email I compose for them

$50 to write a blog post … $300 to write an email message … people, this is getting better and better.

Then there is Sean, a self-proclaimed ex-ghostwriter.  He too will show you the way to make thousands of dollars.  His blog post is peppered with  where people have to insert their email address.  No less than 6 times does the  appear. 
In all other blogs I’ve seen there is one, just one, “Follow by email” button, or an RSS option.  Why is he so desperate to get your email address?

Anyway, what is everybody still doing working for a boss?  Why not be your own boss?  If you were to believe Carol, you can make money hand of fist.

Of course, you don’t need me to tell you this is a scam.  The first thing publishers and literary agents tell writers is “Never give money.  If someone asks for money, it’s a scam.”
In Carol’s case it’s a pyramid scheme.  Upon investigation I found out that I have to pay $25 for her “services” and in turn I have to create a website asking writers to join me for $25.  I get a portion of the $25 and she gets the lion share.
She calls it “becoming an affiliate”, I call it “becoming a sucker”.

How stupid does Carol think writers are?  No offense, but I suppose more than one writer will fall for her scheme, because writers are notoriously badly paid.  Here and there, there might be a writer who earns some nice dollars, Euros or whatever the currency, but a six figure salary … I don’t think so.

If you earn that much, I’d love to hear from you.  I have a couple of writing friends who will hang on my every word sharing your “advice”.  

Then again, Carol T. considers you a bunch of losers.  Yep, that's what she said.  When I said that nobody in my writer's circle earns a six figure salary she said "What are you doing wasting your time with those losers?"

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Do bowling balls have a mind of their own?

Anyone who has ever played ten-pin bowling has, at one time or another, wondered if that ball has a mind of its own.
There are times that the ball seems attracted to the pins and smoothly knocks them down.  Other times he leaves some standing.  Sometimes a single pin, sometimes more than one, and sometimes – heaven forbid – a dreaded split.

If not a strike or a spare is made, is it the fault of the bowler, the ball or the pins? 

Expert bowlers make it seem so easy.  They take a swing, put the ball down and it curves nicely toward the pocket.  You try and do that … and prepare for frustration.

Honestly, in everyday life some people are perfectly well behaved, but let them pick up a bowling ball and suddenly they use language that would make a sailor blush.  They swear at the pins, curse the ball and occasionally give themselves every name under the sun for making such a stupid mistake.

Where lays the secret in making that perfect game?  What does a bowler need to do to score those elusive 300 points?  Experts will say it’s about consistency.  Putting the ball down, twelve times in a row, in same spot, with the same power. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve been doing that – or at least trying to do that – for years and years and I can tell you, it’s not working. 

Occasionally, when the bowling gods smile down on me, my ball veers nicely toward the pocket of the pins and boem … strike!  Most of the time though the bowling gods frown or look elsewhere and my ball goes straight, or veers off to a place where he’s not supposed to be. 

Then again, maybe it’s just as well that I don’t make a 300.  A few years ago a man did just that and never made it off the lane.  When he knocked that last set of pins down and realised he had made a perfect score, he had a heart attack and died.  What a way to go …

Still, we try.  Before every game we have high hopes.  When we start a game off with a strike, we smile.  Two strikes in a row makes that smile grow even bigger.  Three strikes gives us illusions of grandeur and we can see that 300 in the distance.  Is this is?  Is this the time when it’s going to happen?

What goes through a bowlers mind when he has scored eleven strikes and lines up for the twelved time?  How does he feel when the last set of pins fall and the scoreboard flashes 300?

If it ever happens – and a 911 call is not needed – I’ll let you know.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cats on crack

Charlotte waiting to get her ball back

Whenever a new toy comes into the house, it’s always a bit of a crapshoot whether or not the cats will like it.  Whether they will play with the toy or be more interested in the box it came in.
Since “meeting” Sandi, the guesswork has been taken out of cat toys.  Every toy is a hit, thanks to Sandi’s not so secret ingredient … catnip.

Yesterday the latest shipment of toys arrived and it immediately had the attention of Chanel, Charlotte, Mickey and Gabriel.  Wrapped in plastic and stuffed in a bubble envelop, they knew this package was for them and gathered around.

Tree balls and a gingerbread man came out of the envelop.  Chanel claimed the gingerbread man for herself, leaving Charlotte, Mickey and Gabriel to divide the three balls among themselves.

All of them had a ball.  They held the toy between their paws, rubbed their cheeks against it and bit the toy until it was sopping wet.  They rolled around with it, threw it in the air and caught it, and rolled around some more.

Twenty four hours later, the gingerbread man is still around, but two out of the three balls are AWOL.  
No playing today, the Manero lot is too tired to lift a paw.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Age discrimination

Age discrimination is against the law, but it would seem that companies have found a loophole.  While they can’t specify in the ad that only young people need apply, there are other means of letting older people know they are not wanted.

This week I saw an ad …

“Wanted.  Executive Assistant with a flair for writing.  Salary $45,000”

Perfect, I thought.  Not only have I been an assistant for more years than I can remember, I have written three novels, two children’s books and about 600 articles.  An interview had to be forthcoming.

When I didn’t hear from the agency I gave them a call myself and asked to speak to the person who handled the job ad. 
After some uncomfortable hmm’s, aah’s and euh’s, the woman told me that the company was looking for someone they could train and mould to their requirements.  

Fine, I’ve had training before, I could do it again.  As for moulding, for $45,000 a year they could mould me into anything they wanted. 

“Yeah, but you’re probably set in your ways,” the woman said.
No, I’m not set in my ways.  If a company wants me to do things their way, I can change.

Eventually the consultant let the cat out of the bag … the company wanted someone with no more than two years experience.  In age discrimination language that means … we want a young dolly bird.  Strange, I thought, $45,000 for someone with hardly any experience!

On to the next ad I had seen.

“Assistant required for VP.  Minimum 5 years experience.  Advanced knowledge of MS-Word, Exel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Acrobat.  Superb keyboarding skills.  Some bookkeeping required.  Salary between $25,000.”

Well I’ll be damned.  Here an assistant to a VP, who had to have at least 5 years experience and needed a string of software knowledge was offered a measly $25,000 while in the other ad a young bird, who didn’t need to have knowledge about anything – the company would train her to their specifications - was promised $45,000 . 

How does that add up?

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I wonder about meteorologists.
Back when I lived in Belgium we had Herman Pien as a meteorologist.  Where they man got his degree is a mystery to me, as he constantly got it wrong.

When he predicted rain, the sun would shine.  When he predicted sun, clouds would appear and in due time it would rain.
The man got so frustrated that eventually he would bet on all horses.  He would predict some sun, some clouds and some rain.  He was bound to hit one out of three.

When I lived in South Africa the meteorologists’ job was as easy and boring as could be.  Between September and May our region (Johannesburg) got sun, sun and more sun.  Occasionally there would be some surprise clouds and rain, but the folks would be so happy with water from the heavens, any mistake made on the meteorologists’ part was quickly forgiven.

You would assume that the meteorologists’ job in Canada is equally easy.  You would think that in winter they only have to mention how cold it’s going to be, but that’s not enough for our weather specialists.  They like to have a little fun.

Take last night for instance … 
The weather channel predicted a maximum for Toronto of -10 C (14 degrees F).  When I looked this morning it was -25 deg C (-13 deg F) with the wind chill.
Yes, rather chilly, but not worthy of the “extreme cold” they were talking about or the cold weather alert that was issued.

Had I taken their word for it, I would have called a cab to take me to my morning destination, but I preferred to feel the temperature for myself.  As mentioned before, it was cold, but not nearly cold enough to issue an alert.

Perhaps I should take up a career in meteorology.  I would simply say “Folks, it’s going to be a cold one tomorrow.  Then again, it is January, this is Canada so … deal with it.”