I Like to Learn but I don’t Like Being Taught

I’m very contrary. I like to learn but I don’t like being taught.

Headlines like: “# Things XYZ Can Teach You About…” make me cringe. Some place in my brain I am thinking, “well, let me teach you a little something…”. Or something like that. I am not very good with authority figures. Not that I am especially rebellious – I just don’t like someone who thinks they know more than I do. At least until they prove they really do.

A lot of people online will write as if they know what they are writing about. Making yourself an authority on the Internet is a marketing scheme – so, of course, they are all rushing to appear authoritative. In reality, they may have only had one site up, one month before they put out their first ebook explaining what a blogging guru they are.

You can’t really be an authority without some history and experience.

Even then, anyone who really considers themselves an authority has an inflated opinion of themselves.

It really is true – that saying about the more you learn, the less you know. There is always more to learn.

No doubt I have trust issues which come into the whole not liking authority thing. But, who hasn’t found a few reasons to mistrust any type of authority by the time they reach some form of adulthood? Those rose coloured glasses come with the protective bubble, make sure you stay in it!

If there is a point to this post it must be about thinking how you communicate with people.

It’s not just how you talk but how others hear and/ or understand what you say.

 

What do you Think About Gratuity Free?

gratuityfreeestablishment

The image comes from a restaurant owner in Brooklyn, NY, US.  The idea is older. Tips for service aren’t a new idea but the feeling that a tip is owed for service is still fairly new. I don’t like a tip being expected and I really don’t like (and won’t return to) places which automatically include the tip on the bill. Tips began as appreciation for good service. A way to show gratitude. When tips become expected they lose that meaning. I strongly feel I am not offering to pay anyone’s wages each time I use a service. The business owner is responsible for the wages for their employees, not me as the customer or client.

How do you feel about tipping and a restaurant which bans tipping?

In Canada, a restaurant tried to go gratuity free but customers did not like it. The restaurant went back to the old way of paying staff less due to expected gratuities/ tips from customers.

Would you tip for poor service? I know people will do so. Tipping is so expected that people fear a backlash if they don’t tip and tip well, no matter what kind of service they get. Gratuities has become a very socialist thing – everyone gets paid whether they work or not. Funny how turned around the concept of leaving a gratuity has gotten.

I worked as a cashier for years and did not get tipped. The only difference was in the wages paid to a cashier versus a waitress/ waiter. The job itself is quite similar. If wages were paid – which was the idea of having a minimum wage – the service people would be making the same money. Tips extra. Would you tip all the service people, cashiers included? Or do you tip out of obligation to pay wages to restaurant staff?

If you haven’t guessed… I only leave a small tip. I used to leave none, unless I really wanted to. Peer pressure about tipping got to me though and now I almost always leave a tip. I begrudge leaving a tip for average, standard service. As a customer and someone who has worked in the service industry it feels very unfair for restaurant staff to expect customers to pay them and for businesses to be not pay them the minimum wage due to expected tips.

I do not tip for poor service. I may or may not complain about poor service but I will not thank them for it.

The Everyday Sexism Project

The Everyday Sexism Project exists to catalogue instances of sexism experienced by women on a day to day basis. They might be serious or minor, outrageously offensive or so niggling and normalised that you don’t even feel able to protest. Say as much or as little as you like, use your real name or a pseudonym – it’s up to you. By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.

everyday sexism project
via the everyday sexism project.

What story would you add? Think over your day (today or yesterday) don’t go beyond that into the past and dig up big issues and events. Sexism creeps in to so many little things every day.

I don’t mean things like a man holding a door open for a woman. That is still a courtesy, unless he lets it swing shut on the next woman who isn’t as young or pretty. Don’t take common courtesy and good manners as sexism. Manners are a form of respect in our culture.

Today I read a Twitter post about a woman who gets asked “Where’s your boyfriend?” when she carries boxes herself. That is sexism for both men and women. However, I don’t think it’s sexism to offer to help her. I’m a woman and I might help someone carry something. On the other hand, I’m glad when my brother helps me carry groceries up the steps and into the house. I don’t ask for the help. I know I’m hoping he will.

I don’t see that as sexist, especially when I see how much easier he carries everything than I would have done. Plus, he feels manly helping me. I’m happy to make him feel good. If he stays I offer to make coffee and he likes to sit back and be fussed over a bit. I like doing it, for him. I wouldn’t feel the same if it were someone else.

On the other hand… he thinks I’m over reacting when I feel threatened by a man who touches me too much, gets too close, etc. His attitude is everyday sexism but it comes from not knowing how I feel as a woman: vulnerable to a bigger, stronger person who can react in ways I can’t predict or control.

The issue of everyday sexism is interesting because there is so much more to it than it seems on the surface.

Pay for Comments?

Granted, this will never happen. We’re still clinging to the idea that comments give people a voice. Plus, the idea of “community” and “engagement” is still too powerful—money depends on traffic, and traffic depends on readers, and a lot of sites confuse “making readers feel involved” with “giving readers and drive-by randos a platform to say basically anything with our tacit approval.”

But failing that, there is a way to save comments and shore up the flagging news industry simultaneously. It is this: Make comments cost money.

via An ingenious way to save the comments section.

Maybe it’s how you view the Internet but… I haven’t noticed a real problem with comments. Nothing different from the old newsgroups which would get flame wars and endless spam. Give people a forum where they can get a lot of attention without showing their face or taking responsibility for what they say… it becomes a free for all.

I think the problem is how comments are moderated. Some people think they have to give everyone a voice and let each person be heard. To delete a comment is awful, denying someone their chance to be heard. But, this is the Internet. Anyone can set up a free site and rant about their issues.

But, setting up a site, maintaining a site and promoting a site is work. It’s so much easier to steal the space someone else has created and worked to build. That way you can pick the best site, or a lot of sites, and drop your comment bombs like a cowbird leaving her eggs in another bird’s nest.

If you run a site, just don’t let the cowbirds comment. Moderation is all about “everything but in moderation”. When you run a site you are not responsible for giving anyone else a voice, or letting them be heard. Choose the comments worth keeping, those which add value to your site and the conversation.

Or, turn off comments and leave people to post comments via social media like Twitter or Facebook, or Tumblr. Somewhere off your site, yet connected.

I think Twitter is the best choice. Not only does it limit the length of comments, making people choose their words, it also lets readers choose who they want to read. You can follow someone who interests you and not follow people who don’t interest you. Readers of your site have the same option. So, in that way Twitter moderates your comments for you, or your readers moderate the comments themselves.

I agree with the post as far as not having to end commenting. I just don’t think asking people to pay for comments is going to work. Comments should not be based on how much money you can spend on them. Those who want to spew and rant will spend money on it. Those who might actually have said something interesting will likely not leave a comment. I wouldn’t. I already don’t like registering for any site in order to leave a comment so I sure won’t be getting out my credit card on top of that.

The Art of Comment Spam

This is a comment sent to one of the sites I write for:

Excellent article. I am experiencing a few of these issues as well..

Would you accept this comment or moderate it (delete it/ mark as spam)?

Less experienced blog publishers would tend to accept and publish this comment. I did not. Why?

It’s generic. It helps if you know the post this was left for was about a cartoon collection called “Love Is…”. So, yes, there are issues, romantic issues, life issues and dating issues. But, the actual post was more about cartoons and collectibles than issues. Does that help you decide to keep or reject the comment (above)?

It is an art (in a way) to create a generic comment in hopes of getting it posted. The goal is to have your link accepted (the one you add to your comment with your name and email). If you get enough links accepted then they show up as published (accepted) comments and this helps sell those links as viable/ non-spam links to Google and so on.

Anyway, the part of that I find interesting at the moment is the art of writing a generic comment – appearing to sincerely comment while actually saying nothing. Have you heard of double speak?

Come up with a few truly great examples of generic comments a blogger could be fooled into accepting as real, sincere comments. Remember to keep it just generic enough that you can get away with posting the same comment everywhere, on any kind of post.

Could you Sell Your Old Books?

I have a lot of books, too many books really. It’s so hard to resist an interesting book. I find them with the new books and I like the way they smell. I find vintage, retro and just plain old books at the thrift store and the second hand book stores (one of my favourite places).

I’ve begun trying to limit buying books. I really need to because I’ve got a hoard of books, more than I have storage space for really. So, I’m sorting my books and trying to part with some – even some that I would love to read but have to be practical and realize I will (in reality) never have enough time to myself to read all these books.

People who don’t love or hoard books don’t understand the love of books. My family are not book people. They read them and forget them. Some of them seldom read anything more than the occasional street sign or grocery flyer. But, I love the non-fiction books. I want to find out more about everything. As a kid I wanted to know about everything and I wondered how long it would take me to learn it all. I estimated I’d be in my thirties by the time I was done. As a kid, that seems old but, as a kid, the world seems much smaller too. In reality, as an adult, the more I learn the more I know I have yet to learn.

So then what…? I’m taking a look into selling my books. I bought them in the first place, who better than myself to know the advantages of owning such a great and interesting book?

My Friend (Deanna) Has Written about Selling Books Online and Kindly Gave me the Interview Below

An Interview with an Experienced Book Seller

Before we begin, please introduce yourself and give us a summary with your experience as a book reviewer and seller.

I’ve been reviewing books online for over a decade, and as a result, have review copies filling my mail box weekly. (Please note, there are precautions to selling review copies; not everyone knows or respects the rules!) I’ve been selling books as well as antiques and collectibles online since 1997, I believe it was… That includes buying, and then selling, entire estates full of books. And I’ve been reading and collecting books for decades, of course.

Do you consider yourself a book collector? What do you think makes one person a book collector versus someone who reads books or someone who hoards books – where do you draw the line?

I actually believe there are several categories of bibliophiles. There are readers, those who just love to read but do not need to keep or save books or periodicals. There are the book lovers, magazine lovers, etc., who need the objects themselves. Then there are the collectors, who consider the pursuit of works as important as the keeping of them. As for hoarding, there’s the seriously negatively impacting disorder which is pathologically compulsive (which I’m not capable of addressing) and the state hoarding which many of us joke about doing. As someone who professionally writes about collecting, I’d say the true distinctions between “collecting” and “hoarding” are about the focus in the accumulation of and care of that is given to the objects themselves.

For the record, I am a book-reading, book-loving, book-collecting bibliophile!

Are there different methods of selling books online, beyond using sites like eBay?

Oh there are likely hundreds of options! It depends upon what kind of books you have, as well as your personal goals and preferences. Each site or marketplace varies as much in audience (types of buyers) as they do in their terms or conditions and fees. It’s not just a matter of what sites you like or trust, but where the buyers are for specific types of books and how much they are willing to pay. This not only affects how much money you are likely to get for your book, but how quickly you are likely to get it too. Depending on how much you sell, these sites work perfectly for keeping track of your sales. This can come in handy for when you file taxes at the beginning of the year. Depending on how much you sell, these sites work perfectly for keeping track of your sales. This can come in handy for when you file taxes at the beginning of the year.

Along with online marketplaces, there’s also just tossing up your own site, using PayPal buttons for purchasing. Blogging software, like WordPress, now offers ecommerce plugins so that you can sell online easily. Of course, those options require you driving your own traffic to get sales, but the rewards can be greater too.

Where have you found your most success as a book seller?

Matching the book for sale to the appropriate sales platform in order to get it in front of the largest group of most likely buyers is really important.That’s how you get the best prices for your items.

Do you sell books offline, in flea markets for example?

I sell a lot of books at flea markets and at good old fashioned rummage sales in my backyard too. These books tend to be more common books; think “used books” rather than “valuable books”.

I also sell a number of books at the antique stores we have booth and case space in. These tend to be antiquarian books, rare titles, and other collectible works which are perhaps not as commonly sought after but fetch higher prices.

What are the extra costs for selling books online, like shipping?

Shipping is a cost — and that includes boxes and mailers, packing tape, shipping labels (the ink and paper you print them on), and other items for packaging. There’s also fees for shipping insurance and tracking options. If you don’t consider those costs, or are charging less than you should, those amounts can really eat at any profits you may have.

And then there’s your time. There’s the time it takes to ship items, but even before you get to that, there’s a lot of time invested in properly listing books to sell. You’ll need to research each book to have an idea of its value in order to set your price or start the bidding at. You’ll need to accurately describe the book and its condition; you may need to photograph or scan the book itself. You may need to respond to questions from potential buyers. And then there’s the time spent organizing your books for sale. (You have to be able to find a title quickly to answer questions and to ship it.) This time can add up surprisingly fast.

As the saying goes, time is money. If, after you take out the fees for listing and selling at a site, you find you are only getting a dollar or something for your book, it may not be worth your time to sell books online.

Is there a danger of being ripped off by a book purchaser?

Most sites have protections for both seller and buyer. Sites like PayPal favor the buyer a lot, which means you are best off using the insurance and delivery tracking options to protect yourself. But still, even when you’ve accurately described the item and taken the shipping precautions, issues may still arise. There are fewer scammers than one fears; but there is always the element of just bad luck with a sale or shipping. Sometimes things just end up going sideways and aggravating you, if not costing you money outright.

What advice would you give to someone starting to sell their own books online?

Whether you are simply down-sizing your book collection or planning on generating income by selling books, it’s really important to know what you have. Not just in terms of the books themselves and their values, but your time constraints, skill sets (or willingness to learn), and desire to want to do the work it takes.

It can all seem overwhelming, I know! But once you have realistic ideas and expectations, the right options for you are much easier to see.

Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed. Is there anything you would like to add?

Just that most of this information applies to used or past issues of magazines and periodicals as well — and anything vintage or antique, for that matter. While a lot of the collecting shows make it sound like there’s treasure in your attic or basement, it’s not as easy as many people think it is. Learning to identify and separate the “gems” from the “junk” takes time and experience, as does the act of selling it. There is money to be made, for sure; but, as the saying goes, there’s no easy money.

And thank you so much for including me in your discussion about selling books!

Promoting Criminal Acts is Not Acceptable

I am not printing the name of the book (an ebook) or the name of the online retailer who has the book for sale. Both have been given plenty of viral publicity in the past couple of days. I first read about it on TechCrunch and I won’t link to them in this post either. I choose not to promote the book instead I am going to speak out about the issue and the fact that people still need to be responsible for their actions. Giving rights and freedoms does not mean we should become permissive, allowing everything and anything rather than using common sense and our own censorship.

We live in a great big world, with a lot of people. Some feel different about issues than we do ourselves. Some are smokers and some are non-smokers. Some are abusive to others and some are too kind. Some believe in sexual freedom and some believe there is too much promiscuity. Some are fond of violence and horror as entertainment and some prefer to give up everything, even their own lives, in order to keep peace in the world.

There must be some lines drawn. We need to protect ourselves, from ourselves. Absolute power corrupts and absolute freedom does about the same. For each issue there is another side. For each right and freedom given there is another taken away or restricted in some way. Everyone can not have everything they want all the time.

The government has put some rules into place. We push the government to make these decisions about morality, what is wrong and what is right. Then it us up to everyone to support the laws created by government. We can protest them, ask for changes. But, mainly, it is the government which must make these decisions for all of us. It is their responsibility.

In turn the media, the businesses and everyone putting information out into the public is responsible for the message they give, sell or promote. Outside of their own personal/ commercial interests must be the standards set by our community via the government.

In the end, we are each responsible for the issues we promote and the standards we maintain. For an online retailer to take standards into their own hands and promote something against the laws of the country they reside in, is not acceptable and should never be acceptable. There is a group of people who do not deserve to be made victims to the rights and freedoms of another group of people who are stepping outside of the government written laws.

I think the online retailer in this case is thinking about their sales, the promotion of their site and not thinking at all about the victims to this activity being promoted by the book they are selling. They fluff off their responsibility by claiming freedom of expression, the rights of those committing criminal activities. This is dangerous. The needs of our community must take precedence over the needs of viral marketing, sales and even freedom of expression.

Great Science Fiction Quotations

Peter Grant has a page of Great Science Fiction Quotes in his blog. I can’t pick just one as a favourite. Here are some:

“There’s no real objection to escapism, in the right places… We all want to escape occasionally. But science fiction is often very far from escapism, in fact you might say that science fiction is escape into reality… It’s a fiction which does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man; our future. In fact I can’t think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues, reality.” – Arthur C Clarke

“Isn’t it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?”

“Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.” – Isaac Asimov

“Experience comes from doing, not from being told. Experiment and discover. Seek and find. It is not machinations of others that compel us to do so; it is our need to know. It is, in the end, the way we learn.” – Terry Brooks, The Talismans of Shannara

“A neat and orderly living space is the sign of a dangerously sick mind.” – Mercedes Lackey, The Black Gryphon

“Reality is the part that refuses to go away when I stop believing in it.” – Phillip K. Dick

I found a few others in my own searching:

“For me science fiction is a way of thinking, a way of logic that bypasses a lot of nonsense. It allows people to look directly at important subjects”. – Gene Roddenberry

“Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science fiction is the improbable made possible.” – Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone

“The mind is a strange and wonderful thing. I’m not sure it’ll ever be able to figure itself out. Everything else maybe, from the atom to the universe, everything except itself.” – “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956)

Boldness has Genius, Power and Magic

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” – From Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

People write about looking at a blank page and getting started with writing. I think the bigger challenge is to look at what you wrote yesterday, find the thread of your thoughts and press on with it. I think it is easier to just write something new each day, something without a past and lacking any errors or regrets.

But, a story needs a beginning as well as a middle and an ending. Keep working on it.

Addendum: There is a little background about the origins of this quote. I looked it up after I was contacted by Terry Rothermich. I also found there is more to the quote. Here is a fuller version, which I liked.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”