Friday, November 29, 2019

In a Fraction of a Second...

On the last day before Christmas, I hurried to go to the supermarket to buy the gifts I didn't manage to buy earlier. When I saw all the people there, I started to complain to myself: 'It is going to take forever here and I still have so many other places to go... ''Christmas really is getting more and more annoying every year. How I wish I could just lie down, go to sleep and only wake up after the holidays."

Nonetheless, I made my way to the toy section, and there I started to curse the prices, wondering if kids really play with such expensive toys. While looking in the toy section, I noticed a small boy about 5 years old, pressing a doll against his chest. He kept on touching the hair of the doll and looked so sad. I wondered who this doll was for.

Then the little boy turned to the old woman next to him: "Granny, are you sure I don't have enough money?' The old lady replied: 'You know that you don't have enough money to buy this doll, my dear.'

Then she asked him to stay here for 5 minutes while she went to look around. She left quickly. The little boy was still holding the doll in his hand.

Finally, I started to walk towards him and asked who he wanted to give this doll to. "It is the doll that my sister loved most and wanted so much for this Christmas. She was so sure that Santa Claus would bring it to her.'

 I replied to him that maybe Santa Claus will bring it to her after all, and not to worry. But he replied to me sadly, "No, Santa Claus cannot bring it to her where she is now. I have to give the doll to my mother so that she can give it to her when she goes there.'" His eyes were so sad while saying this, "My sister has gone to be with God. Daddy says that Mommy will also go to see God very soon, so I thought that she could bring the doll with her to give it to my sister'.

My heart nearly stopped. The little boy looked up at me and said, "I told daddy to tell mommy not to go yet. I asked him to wait until I come back from the supermarket." Then he showed me a very nice photo of him where he was laughing. He then told me, "I also want mommy to take this photo with her so that she will not forget me. I love my mommy and I wish she didn't have to leave me but daddy says that she has to go to be with my little sister."

Then he looked again at the doll with sad eyes, very quietly. I quickly reached for my wallet and took a few bills and said to the boy. "What if we checked again, just in case if you have enough money?'

"Ok"' he said, "I hope that I have enough," I added some of my money to his without him seeing and we started to count it. There was enough for the doll, and even some spare money. The little boy said, "'Thank you God for giving me enough money".

Then he looked at me and added, "I asked yesterday before I slept for God to make sure I have enough money to buy this doll so that mommy can give it to my sister. He heard me. I also wanted to have enough money to buy a white rose for my mommy, but I didn't dare to ask God too much. But He gave me enough to buy the doll and the white rose. You know, my mommy loves white roses."

A few minutes later, the old lady came again and I left with my shopping cart. I finished my shopping in a totally different state from when I started. I couldn't get the little boy out of my mind.

Then I remembered a local newspaper article 2 days ago, which mentioned a drunk man in a truck who hit a car where there were one young lady and a little girl. The little girl died right away, and the mother was left in a critical state. The family had to decide whether to pull the plug on the life-support machine because the young lady would not be able to get out of the coma. Was this the family of the little boy?

Two days after this encounter with the little boy, I read in the newspaper that the young lady had passed away. I couldn't stop myself and went to buy a bunch of white roses and I went to the funeral home where the body of the young woman was lying in state for people to see and make a last wish before burial.

She was there, in her coffin, holding a beautiful white rose in her hand with the photo of the little boy and the doll placed over her chest. I left the place crying, feeling that my life had been changed forever.

The love that this little boy had for his mother and his sister is still, to this day, hard to imagine. And in a fraction of a second, a drunk man had taken all this away from him.

Now you have two choices:
  1) Send this message to everybody that you know.
  2) Or delete it and do as if it never touched your heart.

If you send this message, maybe you will help prevent someone from drunk driving.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Snow in Canada

 - or 30 days to a nervous breakdown...

It started snowing. The first snow this year. My wife and I took our cocktails and sat at the window for hours watching huge wise flakes float down from the sky. It looked like a fairy tale. So romantic - we felt like newlyweds. I love the snow.

December 9 
When we woke up again, a huge, beautiful blanket of white snow had covered every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a better place in the world? Moving here was the best idea I ever had in my life. I shoveled snow for the first time in years and felt like a little boy again. I shoveled the driveway and the sidewalk. This afternoon the snowplow passed by and pushed everything back in, so I took the shovel out again. What a great life.

December 12
The sun has melted all our beautiful snow. What a disappointment. But my neighbor says that I shouldn't worry, we will have a white Christmas. No snow at Christmas would be terrible. Bob says that we will have so much snow by the end of the year that I never want to see snow again. I don't think anything like that is possible. Bob is very nice - I am glad that he is our neighbor.

December 14 
Snow, wonderful snow! 30 cm last night. The temperature has dropped to - 20 degrees. This cold makes everyone sparkle. The wind takes your breath away, but I warmed up while shoveling. This is life. By the way, the snowplow came back this afternoon and pushed everything back in. I don't know if I have to shovel that much anymore, but it will get me back into shape. I wished, however, that I would not have to gasp and puff so much.

December 15 
60 cm snowfall forecast. I sold my station wagon and bought a jeep. At the same time a set of winter tires for my wife's car and two extra shovels. I filled the fridge. My wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity fails. I find that ridiculous - after all, we are not in Alaska here.

December 16 
Ice storm this morning. I fell on my ass trying to sprinkle salt in the driveway. Hellish hurting. My wife laughed for an hour. I find that quite cruel.

December 17 
The temperature is still far below zero. The roads are too icy to go anywhere. The power went out for five hours. I had to wrap myself in blankets in order not to freeze to death No TV. Nothing happens but to stare at my wife and try to irritate her. Now I think we should have bought a wood stove, but I would never admit that.

December 20 
The power's back on. But also 40 cm of this damn white stuff last night! That means for me even more shoveling. It took the whole day. The fucking snowplow came by twice today. I tried to persuade the neighbor children to shovel snow. But they say they don't have time because they have to play hockey. I think they are lying!

December 21
I wanted to buy a snow cutter. But they didn't have anymore. We won't get any back until March. But I think they are lying as well. Bob tells me that I urgently need to shovel snow, or the city will do it and send me a bill.

December 22
Bob was right about the white Christmas. Tonight we had another 30 cm of the white stuff. It is so cold that the snow will probably not melt until August. Today it took me 45 minutes to get dressed for shoveling. But then I had to pee. When I finally undressed, peed and dressed again, I was too tired to shovel. I tried to hire my neighbor Bob to push snow for the rest of the winter. He's got a snow-blower on his truck, but he says he's got too much to do. But I think the motherfucker is lying.

December 23 
Only 10 cm of fresh snow today. It has warmed up to 0 degrees. My wife wanted me to decorate the house today. Maybe she is crazy. I have no time for it. At least I have to shovel snow. Why didn't she tell me about decorating a month ago? She says she did. But I think she is lying.

December 24 
20 cm of fresh snow. The snow is so firmly pushed together by the snowplow that I have broken off the shovel. I thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever get this ass driving the snowplow, I will punch him!

December 25 
Merry Christmas. Again 60 cm from the white sh....  The thought of snow shovels makes my blood boil. God how I hate snow. Then the driver of the snowplow passed by. He asked politely for a donation. I pulled the shovel over his head. My wife says that I have no manners.  But I think she is an idiot.  If I have to listen to her Wolfgang Petry's CD again, I will kill her.

December 26 
We're still snowed in. Why on earth did we move here? It was all YOUR idea. She gets on my nerves so much.

December 27 
Temperature's dropped to -30 degrees. The water pipes are frozen. And broke...

December 28 
It warmed up to - 5 degrees. We are still snowed in.

December 29 
Another 30 cm of snow. Bob says to clear the roof or it will collapse. That's the craziest thing I've ever heard. How stupid everybody thinks I am.

December 30
The roof collapsed. The snowplow driver will sue me for DM 50,000 in damages. My wife went to her mother. They predicted another 25 cm of snow.

December 31
I ignited the rest of the house. Never will shovel snow again.

January 8 
I'm all right. I'm all right. I like the little pills they give me all the time. Why am I tied to the bed?



Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Authors: Fight for Your Copyright!

Signing publishing contracts are now more dangerous than it was fifteen years ago. Because fifteen years ago, books would go out of print, and then the contract would end. Now, books don’t go out of print anymore, thanks to ebooks and audiobooks.

Kristin Kathryn Rusch: "I’m waiting for the first big lawsuit from a writer against a publisher, as the writer tries to find a new way out of a contract.  Musicians have been filing those lawsuits for years now, and for the most part, getting no traction due to their signatures on the dotted line. Not understanding the implications of what you sign is not a good defense in most contract cases.

International Entertainment Conglomerates
Traditional publishers learned how to revise their business to make even more money. These publishers will be around for a long time, and writers will continue to sign with them.  But writers need to know what they are up against.  They are not signing up for a partnership with a production and distribution company like they had in the past."

"Mostly, these days, writers are signing with an international entertainment conglomerate that wants to exploit its assets for as long as possible."

"Books have moved from widgets to assets on the conglomerate’s financial statements.  The contracts—and the hardball that publishers now play—reflect this move.  When writers do business with an international entertainment conglomerate, they should be prepared to walk away from what initially looks like a good deal.  Because, in most cases, the writers will lose the right to exploit that property themselves for the life of the copyright."   See more at

Contract Terms Writers Need to Know
Your words are your creation, your identity, and your currency, and scam artists will try to steal them from you.  Trade publishers will hand you a contract and claim “it’s standard, everyone signs it.” Don’t believe anyone. Every contract is negotiable, especially when you know what to negotiate.  Here are some basics terms to help you understand contracts:

A license is a right to use only. You, the creator, will retain actual ownership of the copyrighted work.  99% of the time, a writer will be granting a license (not an assignment).
A license is similar to a lease.  Suppose you are a landlord, and you lease portions of your property to various tenants.  You still own the building.  Some apartments may be exclusive to one tenant, while other portions, such as the lobby, may be used by all tenants and are non-exclusive.

Licenses may be exclusive or non-exclusive, worldwide or geographically-restricted, short-term or perpetual, royalty-free or royalty-paying, limited to particular formats such as audiobooks, print, e-books or language; the permutations are endless.
But you will only know what you are granting if you read the contract.  Carefully!

If you grant an exclusive license to a publisher, then this publisher has the right to stop everyone else from using your work, even you.
Never grant an exclusive license without understanding exactly what you are doing.  Never grant an exclusive license to someone who cannot exploit your work for your benefit.
There are contracts out there from vanity and trade publishers in which the writer grants the company an exclusive license in every format for the life of the copyright plus seventy years after your death.  Even the author cannot use her or his own work. 
These aggressive clauses are buried deep in the document. Search them out. If you see one, do not agree.

When you transfer actual ownership of creation, that transfer is called an assignment. An assignment is forever (with few exceptions), so do not use the word casually.  While a license may be terminated if the licensee fails to pay royalties or exceeds its rights, an assignment is rarely reversible.
But there are times when you want a full assignment of rights.  For instance, you hire a freelancer to create your cover, website or custom illustrations, then that freelancer should assign all rights to the final work to you upon completion and full payment.
An indemnity is a promise to defend and reimburse someone from a legal claim and economic loss.  As a writer, you will sign many agreements in which you “warrant” your work is original and non-infringing and you agree to indemnify the other party from any claim to the contrary. This means you must hire the attorneys and pay everyone’s legal fees, damage awards and settlement costs. 

Read all representations, warranties, and indemnities in your contracts. Ask the other party to explain what the contract means in an email, and save that email - and also consult an attorney. If you cannot make the warranties with confidence, then revise them to reflect reality.