Marching For What We Believe In

On Saturday, we met up with a friend and headed down to downtown Albany. We were going there to join up with our local Woman’s March. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting. Albany isn’t the biggest city around so I knew we wouldn’t come close to Washington D.C. or New York City’s numbers.  I guess I figured a few hundred people would show up, we’d march down the sidewalk for a bit, and that would be it. What actually happened both surprised and inspired me.

First, we arrived. We got off our bus (we weren’t going to try to park downtown) and followed a light crowd to where the meeting place was. We were about 45 minutes early, but there was already a pretty large crowd gathering. They weren’t done arriving, though. More and more people came up behind us. Eventually, I couldn’t see the start or end of the crowd. We were in a sea of people waiting to start our march.

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At around 4pm, the street was closed off so we could march down it. Thank goodness, because there was no way we’d all be able to march on the sidewalk with traffic going by. You know how I said I thought there would be a few hundred people? The organizers actually thought there would be about 2,000 people. There were easily over 7,000 people and possibly close to 10,000! We marched slowly down the street to the Capital building. There, we all gathered and listened to a few speakers. Though, I’ll admit I couldn’t hear much. My one criticism was that the sound system wasn’t up to par. Then again, they had planned for about a quarter of the attendance so I guess that was the one downside to the very good upside of great attendance.

Now, you might wonder how a man feels marching in a Women’s March. First of all, I wasn’t the only man there. There were plenty of men just like there were people of all races, religions, ages, sexual orientations, etc. I realize that women’s issues don’t just affect women. If women get access to better health care, better protections over their own bodies, and more freedom from sexual aggression or discrimination, it actually helps men also. If something happened to my wife, it wouldn’t just impact her and leave my sons and I unaffected. We’d be hurt as well. If my niece or my sister had something happen, we’d be affected.

Though NHL declined to go (combination teenager and Asperger’s/not doing well with crowds), JSL came with us. I want my boys growing up knowing that women aren’t objects to be used, but human beings who deserve to be treated just as well as any other human. I’m doing my part to forever shatter the old “a woman’s place is in the home” saying. Let that be something that our kids and grandkids study in history books in disbelief that this was ever the case. I’m teaching my boys that a woman’s place is where ever she wants to be. That might be the home or a boardroom. It might be as a doctor, a scientist, in the army, or any political office.

Oh, and JSL and I proudly wore our pussy hats.

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My one regret with the march was that we didn’t make signs beforehand. Some of the signs that people had were incredibly creative. I’ll end with some photos of the rally and the signs we saw.

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2016 The Celebrity Killer

The year 2016 has not been a good one for celebrities. We started the year off with David Bowie passing away. Soon after, Alan Rickman joined him. Later that year, Prince died. Singers and actors weren’t the only ones to go, though. Supreme Court justice Anton Scalia passed away as did Morley Safer, Muhammad Ali, and Elie Wiesel. Most recently (as of this writing), George Michael died. At every turn, it seemed like 2016 was robbing the world of another celebrity. I began to wonder if this was true. Is 2016 a celebrity killer? Or were we so acutely tuned to celebrity deaths that it seemed like a lot when it was really a normal amount?

To answer this question, I did some searching. At first, I tried Wikipedia, but they listed many people that seemed to be unknown outside of a small area. I was more concerned with names that most people would recognize – not ones that would require a repeat visit to Wikipedia to explain who they were. After some more searching, I found the website FiftiesWeb.com. They had a handy listing of deaths by year starting in 2000. The result was quite intriguing.

As you can see, 2016 did indeed see a spike in celebrity deaths. In fact,it has had almost 40% more celebrity deaths than the closest nearest year (2005). The good news is that I think 2016 is an aberration. Next year will likely see fewer celebrity deaths than 2016. The bad news is that it looks like the “normal level of celebrity deaths” is increasing. This makes sense as many people who became celebrities in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s are now 60’s or older. As the years go on, this crop of celebrities will die off resulting in more and more years like 2016 – albeit years with slightly fewer deaths.

Someone please keep an eye on our remaining celebrities. Although this year is days away from finishing, I have a feeling that we’re in for a rough 2017 as well.

EDIT: Unfortunately, after this post went live, it was announced that Carrie Fisher passed away. This brings the number of celebrity deaths in 2016 to 140 – or 46% more than the second place year (96 in 2005). If no more celebrities die this year, there will have been an average of one death every 2.6 days. No wonder it seems like the death notices have been coming so fast.

Here’s a Google Docs Spreadsheet with all of the data. I’ve also updated the graph above. The 2016 spike is now more prominent than ever.

Happy 40th Birthday To My Angel!

27debbb6-ab51-4241-8b6c-771318b72718Today is a very special occasion: My wonderful wife’s birthday. It’s not just any birthday, though. Today, she turns the big 4-0.

Though she might not be in her thirties anymore, she’s just as beautiful as the day I met her. I’m so lucky to have her in my life. She’s a fantastic wife to me and mother to NHL and JSL. Whenever we need her, she’s there for us. If our kids need anything taken care of at school, she’s ready to fight for them. She ensures that everyone takes their medicine, takes care of us when we are sick, and puts up with the boys and me geeking out.

Happy Birthday, B. I love you with all of my heart!

Where Trump Language Spam Is Coming From

A few days ago, I noticed a tweet from Amy Ozten:

I decided to look at my Google Analytics to see if I was being hit with this. When I loaded the stats for my new GhostThiefNovel.com website, I saw a big spike in traffic. My first thought was “hooray! My efforts to get the word out about my novel are paying off.” Sadly, though, my traffic hadn’t spiked all that much. Instead, my Ghost Thief site was being hit with the very Language Spam that Amy Oztan was talking about.

Needless to say, this upset me a bit. And when I’m upset, I tend to do what I always fall back on…

Collecting data.

(What? Everyone doesn’t collect data when they’re upset?)

I checked some other sites I manage and sure enough many of those were hit with the language spam just like my Ghost Thief site was. Thankfully, I was able to create a Google Analytics filter to weed out the spam. It won’t block the spammers from hitting your site (something that I’m actually working on), but it will let you see your actual traffic minus the “Vote Trump” language spam. Fortunately, Google lets you share out custom built filters (they call them segments), so click here to add it to your Google Analytics.

Next, I started to wonder where all this language spam was coming from. Was this spread out all over or was it localized in one region? I went through all of the sites whose Google Analytics I have access to and put together a spreadsheet. The results were obvious right from the start. There was a large array of countries that the spam was coming from including France, Japan, Hungary, and even the United States. By far, though, Russia accounted for the most language spam traffic. Russia’s share was 98.4% of the traffic. The closest countries – the United States and Ukraine – were tied at 0.19% each.

Put in a graph:

LanguageSpamOrgins

 

What’s the takeaway from this? Well, Russian hackers have been in the news a lot, so it’s tempting to bring them up and try to link these two topics. I don’t think they are linked – except in the sense of Internet “bad guys” coming from Russia. Also, it’s tempting to just say “Block all traffic from Russia,” but valid traffic can come from there as well. If your target audience is localized enough, blocking a whole country might work, but this definitely isn’t the right solution for most people. Instead, for now, use the Google Analytics filter to get your real traffic numbers and stay tuned as I work on my “anti-language spam” Google plugin.

 

Oh, and check out my book’s website. It’d be nice for the numbers to spike because of real traffic and not because of some spammers.

Announcing My Big Ghost Thief Black Friday Sale

I’ll admit it. I’m not a big Black Friday fan. I don’t like getting up early and fighting crowds even if the deals seem good. Years ago, when stores first started “Cyber Monday”, that was more my speed. Recently, it seems that Cyber Monday has simply been rolled into an online version of Black Friday. Honestly, this makes more sense and I’ll happily visit my favorite sites to get a good deal.

This got me to thinking. I have something that I’m selling now. Why don’t I have my own Black Friday sale? Of course, I want to give people as much chance as possible to buy my book at the sale price so my “Black Friday” sale will go for eight days instead of lasting for just one.

From Friday, November 25th to Friday, December 2nd, the Kindle version of Defenders of Shadow and Light: Ghost Thief will cost only $1.99. This is a 60% savings off the normal price of $4.99. If you’ve been unsure whether you want to read this book, now’s your chance to get it for under two dollars.

Of course, I can’t sign Kindle copies, but if you want a signed paperback copy of Ghost Thief, you can enter either my Great Ghost Thief Giveaway or GayNYCDad’s giveaway to try to win a copy.

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