Stolen Picture (Courtesy to Use a Person’s Work)

When I was Googling images for “youth tennis” yesterday to get some ideas on how to take better pictures, I noticed that one of my pictures stored in Flickr under my own account is being used by somebody else without my permission.

That picture was taken by myself in an event called IA Drake/Ames Tennis Academy Winter Invitational is Des Moines, IA back in November of 2009. I originally stored that picture in Flickr which I was a “pro” member (meaning I paid the annual fee to have my pictures stored in Flickr:

I had set the license to “All Rights Reserved” instead of granting people the right to use my work without asking. I’m surprised to see that whoever put my work in their website without asking could just take it under Flickr’s nose.

I emailed Yahoo’s Copyright/IP Policy department yesterday, to better understand how anybody could take my picture from Flickr. I tried to do the same thing. I looked for a different picture with the same license setting (All Rights Reserved), but when I right clicked on that picture, it will not let me copy/save it. Instead it shows “This photo is © All Rights Reserved”. So how did they get mine?

This morning, I contacted the “Tennis &  Racquet Sports” website owner who published my picture. I could not find any email address so I left a message on their ‘Contact’ page; hoping it will reach the person who is responsible for the site. I introduced myself as the owner othe work, that I’m fine for them to use my work but they’d have to mention me for the work that I have done. Also, to ask if they could ask permission first before using anybody’s work. Especially when it’s clearly copyrighted.

We’ll see who is going to respond first…

2010 In Review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 5 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 244 posts. There were 6 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 12mb.

The busiest day of the year was May 7th with 69 views. The most popular post that day was Age Denial?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were tatterscoops.com, search.conduit.com, google.com, facebook.com, and search.aol.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for calvin and hobbes, why are chinese people so rude, calvin, demanding people, and calvin & hobbes.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Age Denial? March 2009
18 comments

2

Are Asians The Only Rude People? March 2008
72 comments

3

Vegetarian vs Yogurt March 2008
16 comments

4

“It’s Called Side Sweep, Hon… Not Bangs!” January 2008
14 comments

5

Why Shouldn’t Women Raise the Toilet Seat Up When Done? May 2008
19 comments

Confession of a [Former] Cat Owner: What Happened When You Read “A Dog’s Purpose” by W. Bruce Cameron

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When I agreed to read “A Dog’s Purpose (A Novel for Humans) by W. Bruce Cameron” offered by a coworker, I was not expecting where  it was going to lead me. The book owner had warned me that, “You’re going to laugh and cry reading it. It’s a very good book. It’s written from a dog’s point of view and it talked about it being reborn again and again to find its purpose. “

Sure enough, I found myself smiling reading the first couple of pages during my lunch hour. Later on, when I was waiting for my son at gymnastics, I couldn’t help but laughing when reading Chapter 1 (first life as Toby, a stray dog). Toby lives with Mother and other siblings: Sister, Fast, and Hungry (the runt). 

 Sister and Fast fell all over themselves to get at the frog, who managed to land in a pool of water and kick away in silent, rapid strokes. Sister put her muzzle in the pond and snorted, sneezing water over fast and me. Fast climbed on her back, the frog — my frog! — forgotten. Sadly, I turned away. It looked as though I lived in a family of dimwits.

I couldn’t hide a chuckle.

My smile didn’t stay for very long as the story was going the other way. The area that Toby and family live was called the Den. Every now and then, Toby heard a truck driving around with some humans checking the Den area.

Hungry (the runt) was already died when the Den was ambushed by Senora and her helpers (Sister ran away). Hungry had been sick from birth and not long for the world.

Then they were all taken to the Yard, to live with other dogs.  Toby wounded his foreleg because of the fight with Spike, a former fight dog. Apparently the Yard owner (Senora) hoards dogs, and it was raided by the authority who told her that it’s ‘Inhumane’ to have so many dogs in such poor living condition. At the end of chapter 4, Toby was unadoptable and  was put to sleep.

My heart suddenly aches. Something clicked in my brain; and for a minute, I couldn’t do anything but staring at the book. It felt like an invisible shovel was digging an old wound buried down in my memory. As that blurry memory was coming in to shape, I recognize what it was. The unpleasant death of my cat. My eyes started to feel warm. My throat tickled. I had to close the book, shake my head and blink my eyes a couple of times and like always, trying to supress that memory.

Everytime I came across the ‘unpleasant’ part of the book (in other words, death), that memory’s becaming clearer and clearer. At the end of chapter 17, Bailey was put to sleep.

“You can let go, Bailey. You did a good job; you took care of the boy. That was your job, Bailey, and you did a good job; you are a good dog, a good dog.”

That’s when I bawled. I remember taking one of our cats (was it Bubu?) about 17 years ago to the vet when he got into a fight and was scratched nastily across one of his eyes. Of course, I didn’t know where Bubu went after he got hurt. He came back to our house with a severe infection where the scaratch was. I remember crying in the cab while holding my cat. When he’s not better, we decided to take Bubu to the pet hospital and that’s when he died. I was crying so hard, it drained the energy out of me. I think at that point I made a promise to myself not to have a pet anymore; not a cat, at the least. It’s too hurtful. Bubu was one of seven (or eight?) kittens of Nala. The first time I met Nala was when I rescued her from the gutter by the road on a rainy day. She was meowing so loud, I could hear it from inside the house. Since then Nala lived with us and has kittens (in Indonesia, it’s uncommon to spayed/neutered stray cats). I named all of kittens, which all started with a ‘B’ and Bubu was my favorite because he was kind of ugly. Still, I loved him dearly.

I’m glad I read this book. It had lead me to deal with something I otherwise tried so hard to avoid. Yes it’s hard to think about it again, but it’s kind of relieving. Living in the U.S. and to have a family with children, it’s hard to avoid owning a pet. It’s still hard for me to say ‘yes’  to a cat. Couldn’t tell the kids the truth behind my stern ‘no’, but we now have a mutt named Max. And even though I dreaded the day when we have to say goodbye to this loving and friendly dog, I’m enjoy having a pet again.

Cursing Cursive?

She sharpened her pencil cautiously. When done, she lifted it up to examine it like a jeweller examining a masterpiece. She blew the tip of the pencil, tilted her head close to her exercise book on the table, and start to write meticulously. She wasn’t aware that her tongue was sticking out at the corner of her mouth, and her forehead frowned as she concentrated to  looped her ‘l’ and ‘d’ perfectly in cursive.

“Oh, man!” she cried. “I didn’t connect the ‘l’ and ‘d’ properly. She started to erase her work.

Mother encouraged, “Honey, I think it looks good. For an eight year old, you write cursive beautifully.”

“No, no. It has to be perfect, Mom. My ‘d’ isn’t closing properly like the examples in this book,” she pointed at ‘Handwriting without Tears’.

Mother sighed. Daughter’s been nervous about entering third garde since a year before. “They start cursive in third grade!” she exclaimed, eyes widened in what seems to be anxiousness and joy combined.

Now that Daughter is in 4th grade, the penmanship subject (writing in cursive) is getting more advanced. Instead of practicing one or two letter at a time -like in 3rd grade- they’re now writing words. They have to tackle downcurve, undercurve, and overcurve. If that’s not  confusing enough for the most nine year olds, they also have to know how to join ‘undercurve to undercurve’, ‘undercurve to downcurve’, and ‘undercurve to overcurve’. What in the world?

In this 21st century, when looking for a job, it’s more likely to see a requirement for typing ability (wpm or words per minute you can type) instead of how pretty you can write. Somebody who knows how to do steno (takes and transcribes dictation) would also still needed, although technology is now replacing stenographers with stenography machines.

There’s no doubt that it’s important to learn how to write so you know how to write a check, fill out forms, and to  take notes throughout school/college years. It is faster to take notes using cursive instead of blocks, but you don’t need your handwriting to be so beautiful. Unless, of course, you’re doing calligraphy. 

Come to think of it, when children show interest in writing around 5 or 6 years of age, they print first (meaning non-cursive or also know as ‘block’). They print either their names or any words that don’t make sense but they’d know exactly what they meant. They’d continue to learn to write this way until school introduces cursive; which is 3rd grade at our school district.

It’s nice to have cursive introduced to schoolchildren. But we need to catch up with thechnology. The amount of time and energy a child spent to learn cursive, in my opinion, should be equal, if not less, to learn computer and keyboard typing. Daughter started to learn computer keyboard typing at home when she’s 8 years old (3rd grade). So when her classmates in 4th grades were starting to learn ‘Keyboarding’ recently, she’d known more than the rest. Although it’s repetitive to Daughter, the Technology/Media teacher was happy to have her to help out.  

Some complain that kids nowadays aren’t writing letters anymore. They send emails or text messages. Other than a sentimental value, I actually don’t see anything bad with that. Especially if you have other family members live in a different country. Keeping in touch with snail mail will be a pain. Worry about unable to write checks? Do online payment.

Strangely enough, doctors -an occupation which a lot of parents would like their kids to be- do not write neatly. It’s so hard to read their handwriting; which made me suspicious if there’s a special class in med school on how to write badly.

Hopefully Daughter would have much better resumé by the time she’s applying for jobs instead of just ‘Able to write cursive beautifully’ :)

Tell Your Child to Move Away from Mine, I’m Taking a Picture!

“Pictures that are taken on a field trip or at a school activity may not be posted on Facebook. Each family has the right to want their child’s picture taken.”

How many of you parents received this notification from a recent school’s Parent Open House? Did you know that you’re considered as ‘violating’ a family’s right to want their child’s picture taken by innocently uploading a picture of your child with some friends for a personal, not commercialized, purpose?

What parents don’t enjoy taking pictures of their children? In some occasions, the picture taking would’ve include them being with friends; either at birthday parties, schoold field trips/activities, and sport events. For those who have family halfway across the globe, the easiest way to keep them updated, is online. Uploading the kids’ pictures to the Internet (blogs, Facebook, or online photo album such as Flickr) make it easier for a grandmother in Indonesia to see how tall her grandson had gotten instead of waiting for school pictures to be snail-mailed from the US. Emailing it? Well, not everybody has the luxury of having PCs with an Internet connection in their homes, especially for developing countries (Indonesia is ranked #43 of countries by number of broadband Internet users, while the United States is #2 – Wikipedia). They’d go to Internet Cafes with slower-than-turtles Internet connection.

In some occasion, those pictures uploaded to the Net of the beloved child, would also contain other children’s pictures. This was done innocently, simply because the intention of showing how the child interacts with their peers. “Oh, look at my grandson and his classmates. Isn’t he adorable?” or “That’s my sister’s daughter in a school field trip to a museum. Look how excited they are!” This kind of reaction is what’s expected to be heard. Very rarely, you’d write your child’s friends full name as a caption. After all, you’re showing off YOUR child, not others.

So what’s the big deal? Why can’t you upload a glorious picture of your child who scored a goal, with a surprised look on the goalie’s face and three or four other kids falling down on the grass to Facebook? Why can’t you upload a picture of your just-turn-six son blowing out a birthday candle with his Kindergarten classmates around him, to your blog? Because the other kids’ parent -from the quote above- ‘has the right to want their child’s picture taken’. Does it even make sense? Should parents who go on field trips or school activities start carrying consent forms to have permission from parents whose kids might have been captured in their picture taking? Or perhaps you should start  covering the kids’ eyes with blank ink (well, it’s going to make them look like criminals)  in the picture before uploading it to Facebook?

As a parent, we all want to ‘protect’ our kids from being ‘exploited’ or ‘published’ on the Net because freaks and perverts are everywhere. If you objected to school/teacher that other parent took a picture of your child with their child in a school trip and upload it to Facebook, maybe you shouldn’t upload your kids’ pictures in their skimpy swimsuits on your blog. Just sayin’

If the intention for the warning above is to protect the children from ‘predators’, then why only limiting it to Facebook? Because there’s an easy solution for that. Don’t set the pictures’ privacy setting to ‘Everyone’ or ‘Friends of friends’. Limit it to ‘Friends only’ where you know that you don’t have psychos among your friends; or even choose ‘Customize’ to have less people to see. Easy peasy.

Growing Up with Flood

1982, rainy season in Jakarta (pop 8.5 million), Indonesia. A 9 year old girl with a boyish hair cut was playing in the flood at a school field. Around her were some other boys who appear to be around her age if not 2 or 3 years older. They’re playing in the flood like they’re in a wading pool. The flood water was about their knees, yet they didn’t hesitate to throw themselves in to the murky brown water. Every time a car passed by, created a ‘wave’ for the water, the kids went berserk and did a ‘body surfing’.

The girl definitely didn’t mind the flood. Liked it, actually.

When the girl’s Mom passed the school from work, she was furious to see her daughter playing in the flood. To add insult to injury, she’s the only girl! The Mom yelled the girls’s name out and grabbed her by the ear all the way home.

The girl definitely didn’t mind at all. She smirked, actually.

Since the school was flooded, she didn’t have school for the next two days. Schoolboards put a sign up for the students to volunteer to clean up the classrooms when the water had resided. They were asked not to wear their uniforms (Indonesian public schools requirement), but pair of shorts and ‘old shirts’ instead; and to bring some cleaning supplies. They scrubbed the floor, cleaned the tables and chairs, making sure everything is spit spot clean. The kids had to be on their fours to do this cleaning, got their clothes wet, and their bare toes were shriveled from the water. 

The girl definitely didn’t mind this at all. She was actually having fun playing while cleaning.

She continued living with the flood in Indonesia until her adult years, befriended it as it’s part of Indonesians’ life. During the rainy season, there’s no way to avoid it. Stuck in traffic or couldn’t go to work because of flood, had to push the office’s car in the middle of flood (because her co-worker thought he could drive through it), she’s been there done that and very used to it.

Fast forward to eighteen years later, half way across the globe: United States of America. When a small town Ames, Iowa, in the Midwest made the national news due to the flood in early August (broke the records set in 1993), the girl -who is now a woman- was there. She had lived there for more than a decade, but this flood was her first since she lives there. It wasn’t a big deal for her since she’s born and brought up in a country that has flood almost regularly. But it threw her off a little because she hasn’t dealt with one for more than 10 years.

On Wednesday 8/11/2010, after a night of difficulty sleeping from thunderstorms and heavy rain, what usually takes her 15-20 minutes to go to work, turned out to be 45. Her usual route was blocked due to the flood. Road blocks were every where, streets were underwater. Small town Ames (pop 56,000) was almost paralyzed by the flood. A lot of the clinic workers, including physicians, couldn’t make it to work. It was a crazy busy day at the clinic, as working with a skeleton crew’s never fun; especially when the phones were ringing over the hook and walk ins.

The woman didn’t mind it at all. She’s glad that she had made it safe to work and help people.

Later that afternoon, after tired hearing of so many loss (including people’s lives who were dragged away by the flood water), the woman heard the flash news that Ames’ underground water main pipe was broken. They couldn’t fix it being the location’s underwater, thus with the flood, making the water source to the people of Ames, ‘contaminated’. She also heard that the city had shut the water off and ordered people to boil water to drink/cook for probably a week. This caused a panic. People rushed to grocery stores to stock up on water gallons/bottles. She was unsure what to do, but reluctantly went to the nearest one by her office, just to get a few. She was shocked to see so many people flocked the grocery store and how frantically they were piling up their carts with water gallons/bottles. It was even hard to leave the parking lot because people just parked their cars wherever, impatient and afraid that they’d be out of luck not getting any.

The woman dind’t mind not stocking too many water bottles. She’s used not having the luxury of drinking straight from the tap water, fridge, or bottled water. Back home in Indonesia, water needs to be boiled first, then after it cooled down, she’d strain the water using some cheese cloth on a funnel to be bottled, then store the bottled water in the fridge.

The next couple of days were interesting. She heard from patients that they ‘accidentally’ brushed their teeth and/or wash some vegetables with the ‘contaminated’ tap water, uncooked! Oh dear… the terror! Am I dying? Please, I need to speak to a nurse immediately! She also found it amusing to hear some people were adamant about giving their pets bottled water, not tap water. The woman had given her dog the oh-so-scary tap water, and the pooch is still alive and kickin’. She had brushed her teeth with the tap water and told her kids to do the same, and nobody suffered gastroenteritis from it.

The woman was glad she’s born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. The flood back home had ‘trained’ her to be a tough cookie.

[Happy belated Independence Day 8/17/2010, Indonesia!]

Bye Cafe Northwest, Hello Pammel Grocery (Best Greek Food in Town)

 

It’s been a long time since we ate at Cafe Northwest, especially after they had moved to the new location, east of town. It’s now by the Tip Top Lounge, All Animals Pet Hospital, and the Dollar Store. Yes, that part of town of Ames, IA. It has bigger space with a separate bar called “Sopranos”. Yet from what we experienced last night, the food or service is not bigger or better. There was only one waitress and a host.

Not only it was a slow service, but also low quality. If this was a cafetaria-like restaurant, I’d understand. Claiming “Good food, good drink, good people”, you’d think they’d know their shit. Not only they didn’t pick up the empty beer bottle after putting the new one on the desk (of course, we had to ask first); they screwed up our orders. Although it may be normal to be out of a certain entree (in my opinion, the waiter/waitress should be able to have that info ahead of time when customer’s ordering instead of returning after a long time when the waiter/waitress brought out the appetizer), it’s almost unheard of to be out of frequently-requested sodas.

Their menu stated, “As you feast on genuine Greek specialties prepared with the freshest, hand-selected ingredients, you will savor that only the most
experience chef’s can create!”.
So we ordered their $4.95 Greek appetizer, Sagnaki, which is fried Keseri cheese and sausage “served flambe at your table”. They flambed it alright, but the waitress could not get the fire out, so she kept squeezing the lemon juice to it. Too much that it killed the flavor, it was so unbearable to digest. OPA!

Ordered three main courses: Greek Salad, Greek Spaghetti, and Kotopaula (Greek chicken: full half chicken oven roasted using the finest Greek herbs and spices).  Well, the salad came first. It was quite ‘plain’ with no kalamata olives or boiled eggs like a Greek salad should, though their menu stated so. When asked, the waitress said, “Oh… did you mean to order the main course of Greek Salad?” Duh.

When she’s back with the Greek Spaghetti (which turned out to be bland), she told us that they’re out of the Kotopaula (Greek chicken). “Would like to order something else?” the waitress asked. Why didn’t you tell us earlier? Frustrated with trying to order Greek food, I tried to play it safe, “Just give me your Basic Burger, please.” Nothing should go wrong with good ol’ Iowan beef, right? Wrong! They screwed it up again. It was dried and bland.

So we’re not planning to go back to this place again. But we love Greek food. What to do? No fear, Greek food lover, for there is a better place to go: Pammel Grocery/Pammel Deli. It’s been here forever, with their original location on Stange Rd, when it was just a small grocery store and was only selling gyros.

Now it’s located at the west side of Ames, 113 Colorado Ave. It’s now a bigger store with a deli tucked in at the back. One of Yelp user wrote:  

This is quite possible the most overlooked, undiscovered place to eat in Ames.  While it’s largely an ethnic grocery store, there is a fantastic restaurant in the back.  Hands down the best gyros in town.  Ahmed, the owner, tends to make everything from scratch – a big plus in my book.  If you get a chance to get the lamb shishkabobs – don’t hesitate.  But don’t order them if they don’t have some that have been marinading for a while.  You can’t force this stuff along in a short time frame.

Ames people thought the best gyro in town is the gyro stand in Campustown on Welch Ave. Some said it’s Flame & Skewer’s at the mall. You should really try gyros from this place, it whooped the other places’ gyros.

If ambiance is what you’re looking for, then head down to the mall. If it’s the taste that’s important to you and you wouldn’t mind sitting in a cafetaria-like place, then Pammel is the place to go.

 

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