January 2, 2017

Beneath the Rainbow

Beneath the Rainbow

Somewhere beneath the rainbow
Laughing in a sunny field
At a grasshopper startled to flight
A little girl in sandals and pink
Serious suddenly upon hearing her name

Called brusquely from a distance
How quickly the sun seemed to vanish
And dread silence upon the field fell
Broken only by the heartbeat thrum in her ears
A dutiful step back towards a brutal space

Heavy with worry no child should know
Oh to be like the grasshopper
Driven to strength by innate understanding
Knowing to flee before danger could strike
Tall grass for a cover

A blanket of leaf
And wings, glorious wings.
To never know inadequacies or shame
Perhaps tomorrow, but that's far away
So she lowers her head and obeys.

© 2016 by Gina Locke

New Year Rising

New Year Rising

Then it ended
And a new season rose to reign
Born of the echoes of history
The wars, the fears, the neglected seeds of hatred
Revived by the nurturing hand of the wealthy
And planted in the hearts of those without souls

To blossom in the fertile ground of their decaying minds
While neon warnings reflect the past
Only to fall beneath the graves of those
Who also disturbed the rage
That seethed behind white shrouded faces
Raise a toast to the future

A glass of rotted fruit
Flecked with gold flakes and hope
Of profit and pleasure and a soft landing
Cushioned by the bodies of the drudges
Now it begins
Take your place in the brave new year

To become an echo in history
By the time a new season begins
Buried in a fragile garden
Of neon, or will it be hatred
With which you'll fill your glass
To ring in the Happy New Year?

© 2016 by Gina Locke

May 14, 2016

You're Never Out of the Game: by Fletcher Long

Is it ever too late? Are you living in fear, or in despair over events of the past, present, or that may happen in the future? Read the following. I hope you will be inspired by this article written by Fletcher Long, titled...

"You're Never Out of the Game."

I am not going to protect this blog, though my blogs are usually for the purview of only those people whom have joined Warriors4Justice.  Today, I leave this blog open and accessible in the hope it may reach that one person whom God knows needs this message so that he or she may find their way off the ledge.  Amen.
A really tragic event occurred at the most historic and prestigious private, college preparatory school in the South, Montgomery Bell Academy, which is an all-boys school.  A young sophomore tragically ended his own life.  I was informed of this by a friend of mine whose own son attends MBA and is on the baseball team and a Junior.  This friend thought to reach out to me, as he doesn’t know my brother, but he does know I have two nephews at the Academy both of whom were on “The Crew” with the recently deceased.  I thought I would offer a few thoughts.  Novelist, David Foster Wallace once likened the “psychotically depressed” to someone trapped in the high-rise of a burning building.  According to Wallace, “…the fear of falling remains a constant.  The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors.  It’s not the desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames.”  Wallace goes on to relate that “[y]ou’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
I have experienced a great deal of terror, self-inflicted or not.  I would tell Wallace I have felt the flames and have, at least, wondered if the terrors in front of me were more or less terrifying than death.  I have lost my career, been subjected to national, public humiliation which impacted my wife, kids, siblings, parents, in truth, all my family in cruel and even unfair ways.  I have felt shame and seen the mocking and reproachful looks from lifelong associates with whom I have had some measure of acquaintance as they scornfully looked down on me mentally recounting the many opportunities they believe I have squandered.  I have lost every dollar I ever saved and the income stream which I developed over nearly 20 years of employing trial skills most would claim were somewhat skillful.  I have lost my independence, my self-esteem, and in many ways the essence of what made a “man” peer back at me in my mirror.   So, David Foster Wallace, who are we kidding?  No one, and I mean no one, has stood much closer to the abyss while, simultaneously, feeling heat from flames creeping up behind them.
I won’t kill myself, and you shouldn’t either, no matter how many times I contemplate of which fear am I more afraid, falling or burning.  Here’s why.  I could remind you many denominations of Christianity teach it is a “mortal sin,” not to mean it is unforgiveable because I, personally, believe God, who loves us, never closes the door to our salvation regardless what sin we commit, but, nonetheless, it being considered a “mortal sin” still wouldn’t deter a secularist.  I could tell you it is a cowardly way to go, as I have heard that often argued, but that doesn’t really help avowed cowards; and I am not sure that is always true.  As Wallace sets forth, jumping from the ledge metaphorically requires some courage, I would think, as one does confront the fear of falling.  I could tell you it destroys the people whom you leave behind but that has little impact on narcissists.  So I am going to tell you the one thing 47 years of hills and valleys has taught me.  You’re really never out of the game.  When you are at your lowest, when you feel you can’t go on, you’re still just one move, one break, one blessing away from righting the ship and finding the shore.  As long as the game continues, you’re still in it.  So long as the fire hasn’t yet engulfed you, even though close, there is still a chance the water will reach you first.  You truly haven’t lost, and the game isn’t over, till the horn sounds.   
I have started a new career in Radio and you can hear The Long Version every week-day either over the air or on the internet.  As my agent, Chris Keaton, has assured me, while Act I of my career may be over, that doesn’t mean there isn’t an Act II.  As long as I have breath, as long as I have ability and talent, as long as I have opportunity to see the sun crest over the horizon every morning, I still have a chance baby, and the same is true of you!  We owe it to each other to stick it out and ride the wave all the way to the shore.  I’ll do if you will.  Shhhhhh, the curtains going up…
Take it for what it is worth, because…

This article is written by Fletcher Long, a radio talk show host out of Tennessee and a true Warrior for Justice. You may read this articles and others by clicking RIGHT HERE. Most are articles you must sign up to read, but this one is free! (and it's worth signing up for, especially if you listen to The Long Version) If you go to the main page, you can listen to podcasts, but you can also listen live by finding WJZM on TUNE IN, which is a free app for use online or on your smart phone.

© ? This article may or may not be copyright. To ask permission, do not ask me, Gina Locke, like you normally would for articles on here. The article was written by Fletcher Long and reposted with his permission. Please click on his link, underneath the article, and ask him directly if you wish to reprint it.

May 13, 2016

Flutes, College, and Funding

Do you appreciate music? Do you appreciate talented young people who wish to make a career for themselves in the music field? If so, please consider helping fund a flute for college, to be given to this hard working, talented young lady. She is a dedicated musician, but professional instruments cost more than a pretty penny. The campaign was made with a bit of humor, so don't be thrown by the name. :-) Her name and full photo was left off to protect her privacy. Feel free to private message me with any questions.


May 12, 2016

Is Scribie a Good Way to Make Money from Home?

I asked this question in April of 2016.  I wanted to make extra money at home, and becoming a transcriber sounded like fun, but many online places have multiple rules. I needed a place that would let me get a bit of experience in and improve from there, rather than expect perfection right off the bat.
Enter Scribie . Other places had rejected me, which was a bit surprising. I am an amazing typist and English language, literature, and writing are things I have taught. I simply needed a bit of experience with paying closer attention to the nuances of the spoken word and repeating them in type. Scribie allowed me to do that. I went to their website, took a test, and spent almost two hours transcribing six minutes of audio.
Yikes! But I passed, and earned my first single dollar with them.
Sounds pretty horrible, right?
But here's the thing. I wanted that dollar, and I wanted more dollars. My next 6 minutes of audio took 45 minutes. I kept going. Frustration stinks, but I knew I could become a review after successfully doing 10 of those 6 minute clips. Reviewing means you listen to what other people transcribe, simply adding time stamps and fixing any errors.
Here's the other thing. I'm curious. I'm so ridiculously curious, and those files are so dang interesting sometimes! I can't believe some of the things I get to learn or overhear. It is FUN for me! Sometimes, I don't even care to get paid. If the audio is hard, I'll sometimes click anyhow just to hear the story being told, then cancel the job. Which is something else you can do. You can listen to a few seconds of the audio and choose whether or not to take the job.
Let me just start at the beginning. Here's how it works. You get on there and you see a list of available jobs to transcribe. They are 6 minute clips that often start in the middle of the conversation. You click on one to listen, and if you like it, you accept it. If you don't like it, you don't. It's that simple. Sometimes there are 130 jobs. Sometimes there are 18 jobs. Some are very heavy accents. I leave those for people who understand very heavy accents because frankly, I am horrible at them and they lower my grade. Thankfully, I'm allowed to do that. I am practicing though, and hope to get good enough to start taking them. I'm only doing that because I enjoy improving. I'm weird. Even if I only end up doing one and getting a good grade, I want to know I can.
So anyhow, I did my ten clips and became a reviewer. Yay! Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it is difficult. It can take me seven minutes or it can take me 30 minutes. After a while, you can start reviewing your own work. Which means that you can pick a file, transcribe it, than review it yourself. That means you get one dollar for transcribing it, then another dollar for reviewing it. Yay Scribie !

So is it worth it? Well, that depends on you and your situation. Here is mine: I quit my job because of health issues. I wasn't going to work at all, but I was bored to tears and have kids in college. College is the anteater of parent funds. I need to feel productive, and sitting on the couch in pain wasn't cutting it. I needed a distraction, I needed stimulation, and I wanted a few extra dollars while doing it. I was SO MAD at first, seeing how slow it is to make money there, but you know what? I didn't make any money sitting on the couch or playing Candy Crush. (don't get me wrong, I love Candy Crush but they don't pay me to play it!) So I would rather dedicate a few hours a day to something I enjoy and that rewards me for my efforts. I started on April 7th of 2016. Today is May 12th, 2016. So one month, and five days. Right now,  my balance is $410.10, which doesn't include a bonus that is, thus far for May, $30. It will increase as I work more, since it is $5 for every three audio hours completed. (for those doing the math, this mean I did 18 hours in May, so that's a $30 bonus on top of the actual pay) So at the end of May, even if I do no more work right now, my total amount earned in 35 days will be $440.10. Not too shabby for what I made for sitting around doing nothing.  Thanks, Scribie !

So is becoming a certified transcriber with Scribie right for you? I don't know. Is it? It depends on your personality. I find it vastly entertaining and worth my time. At first it made me angry and frustrated, but I'm not a quitter. I wanted to keep hearing the audio. Yeah, I'm weird. But here's the thing: It got easier, and I got promoted rather quickly. Probably because I'm a weirdo who loves it. But I will warn you... I had to get past the insanity of working for TWO HOURS for one dollar. I did it pretty fast though. Sometimes you work on something and feel proud of yourself, but it gets rejected. You can appeal those rejections, but sometimes they're just accurate because you did a bad job, which may not be your fault. It may have been poor audio and thick accents, but you wanted to try because you're weird like me. Well, too bad. Ha! No dollar for you! But wasn't it interesting to try? If you really want the dollar that bad, try one you understand. If your grade is high enough, you can practice on accents and not worry about it, but I highly suggest you just try the practice files instead, or find audio on your own to practice with.

Oh, and the other thing is that you're on a timer. It's a very long timer though. Two hours. Now that first thing I transcribed, I was so careful that I took almost the full two hours. Now, because I have kept working at it so hard, I am much faster. I don't want to tell you how long because it really varies, plus I have medical issues that cause some inflammation, so my time may not be yours. I will tell you that actual transcribing of a six minute file can take me anywhere from 20 minutes to 30 minutes, and occasionally more. It depends on the file, my hands, if I get up and go make coffee, if my dog is acting pathetic, if my internet connection stays up. On some days, I transcribe and review my own work. On other days, I only review other people's work. Reviewing is faster, unless the transcriber wasn't too great. But if they are horrible, you just report that they're horrible and get another file. Or you do it anyway because it's already opened and you are interested in the story...but again, I'm very weird! I enjoy the challenge. Sometimes you'll need to look up the names of places, or sports teams in other countries, or how to spell some weird ingredient being used by a chef in Japan. I think I've learned more from Scribie than I did teaching. Ha!

So, now you're wondering if I'm getting paid to say nice things about Scribie . No, but that doesn't explain why I'm linking it, right? I'm linking it because if you start working for them, I get a bonus. Yeah, I'm just gonna say that right out. I want that bonus. If people follow my link and actually work for them, I get a small amount for referring them. I like that idea. I feel like I gave you an honest review. It is hard, it is low pay, but if you're like me and you weren't really doing anything anyway and you like listening to other people's conversations, it's fun and it's extra money. Since I haven't taken any money out of Scribie yet, it is actually a nice chunk in just 35 days. My daughter plays flute and is just graduating high school and going on to college, and she is playing flute. A new flute will cost between $4,000 and $7,000 dollars. This money is going towards that fund. I'm not going to argue if someone wants to throw that onto PayPal for me. The link is on this blog on the left hand side, it says PAYPAL DONATE or something like that. But I'm getting sidetracked...this actually is about Scribie and working for them.

So go do it. I linked it about 5 million times. Everywhere you see the word Scribie , you can click on it if you want to try and become certified transcriber with Scribie . Be patient and stick with it! I worked at it and got promoted twice in under 20 days. How cool is that? Again, I have a keep interest in most of the topics and find myself at the computer a lot as much out of curiosity as a desire to toss yet another dollar in my account, but I know I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Come be weird with me! If you do, please let me know in the comments. And if you think it's totally insane and you hate it, put that in the comments too. I'm curious to find out who are my soulmates and how many just don't like it at all.

Oh wait - here's the other thing. With Scribie , you don't need special equipment or software. I actually bought a foot pedal. I can't even get it to hook up with the site. I just use keyboard shortcuts. They have stuff on their website that allows you to just use the shortcuts and type in their screen. I use Google Chrome, which works great with their site. I do recommend using it. Oh, and don't forget to LOOK at what you can use on Scribie. You can slow audio down, speed it up, go back five seconds, go forward five seconds, etc.. You know what would have been helpful? If I had LOOKED at the screen before spending two hours on that test! ROFL So seriously, it is so much easier if you use those options. You don't have to keep going back to the beginning and restarting if you pause. You can slide the line at the top of the screen, where the counter is, to wherever you left off, should you get lost.

Anyhow, I hope to get some comments soon and hear about your experience with Scribie .

March 31, 2016

Opinion: Why Do So Many Americans Support Donald Trump?

     Why now – when inclusivity, tolerance, being offended, and “love wins” all reign supreme – are people rallying to support Donald Trump as a presidential candidate?  My conclusion is this:  Americans, sick and tired of being bullied, see a chance to even the score. Who do you want on your side when you’re being bullied? A bigger bully, that's who, and sn’t it surprisingly easy to overlook the flaws of the bigger bully when he’s on your side?
     Increasingly, citizens are realizing the government of the United States, packed full of bullies, is no longer on the side of the average American citizen. Perhaps they were slow in discovering this, but history shows that sometimes, brute force wins when intelligence fails. So they found a bigger bully. Trump. Supporters relish watching him crack down on those suits who take their money and their rights. Those newcomers with the audacity to seek refuge in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Those journalists who slant news and hide facts. And one thing is for sure…it makes a good show. This is the epitome of entertainment. Almost everyone enjoys seeing the bad guy get his or her comeuppance, even if further research shows the guy may not have been that awful after all. Why be concerned anyways? Isn’t one politician, or one immigrant, or one woman, pretty much the same as the next? So as a supporter of Donald Trump, sit back and soak it all in as Trump delivers token blows to everyone who wronged you, perhaps in a past life, or this one, or who looks like they’re on the verge of wronging you, and if not you, what about your loved ones?

     You even have an excuse, an out, for ignoring all the evidence around you, the evidence that screams "DANGER! TURN BACK NOW!" , American citizens, and choosing to apply Trump as the solution for our problems. It is a tried and true excuse used by some of the most highly regarded humans in this country. When you get questioned on why you supported Trump, on why you let him destroy our nation, on why you elected him to be your President, why you put that smoking gun in office and allowed him to do the dirty work you were too much of a coward to try yourself, because deep down you knew it wasn’t the right way to handle things and you needed a bully to do it, someone to take the fall if it all went wrong, you just look people in the eye and say the magic phrase: “I. Felt. Threatened.” Trust me. It works.
     Just to add to the madness, enjoy this unprofessional photo of an egg claiming to be the egg of all eggs. And happy voting!

So You Want to Call Child Protective Services

"Can I take something to remember Mom and Dad by?"
     The social worker denied her request and hurried her out the door, telling her and her brother to say goodbye to everyone, including the puppy, and get in the back of the van.
They were adopted months later, into the family of a relative both children had reported being sexually abused by for as long as they could remember.

     Far too often, Child Protective Services (CPS) serves to perpetuate the real abuse of children. After all, there is money to be made off taking custody of children, the medically fragile, the mentally ill, and the elderly. The ultimate power over families is the power to destroy them, and that power, coupled with financial incentives, is destroying American families.

     Perhaps you are a grandparent and very upset that your grandchild is moving away from you. Maybe you disagree with how the child is parented, and feel it is in the best interest of the child to live with you. So you want to pick up the phone and call Child Protective Services, hoping that you will get custody. What happens if the child is actually taken?

     First, consider the impact this may have on the child you care about. Here are a few points to consider:

1. The loss of a parent is traumatic. In foster care situations, the child may not be allowed to grieve this loss. The parent is not dead, but suddenly presented as “bad for the child,” and the child is expected to come to the same conclusion.

2. There is no guarantee that your grandchildren or other children will be placed in your care. If they are, remember that you are just another caregiver to CPS. They may take the child from you without warning or recourse. Perhaps they will decide it is not in the child's best interest to see you at all. No matter who you are, the judge and social workers will make that decision.

3. Foster care is not always the therapeutic, loving situation presented in commercials and on websites. Kids are abused. They are raped. They run. They get bullied. They are forced into gangs. They die.

CLICK HERE to learn more about abuse in foster care

4. Children in foster care are more likely to be given psychotropic drugs. Some question why this happens. Is it the trauma of being removed from family? Is it prescribed to make kids more compliant with their situation?

CPS power allows the department to give permission for children's involvement in drug testing by pharmaceutical companies. Occasionally, stories break that reveal the degree to which foster children are used for this purpose.

5. Children in foster care commit suicide at higher rates than children who remain in their own homes. Professionals write articles specific this well-known issue, addressing not only suicide itself, but the increased suicidal behaviors of foster children. If you believe a child is suicidal, please call 1-800-273 to discuss possible options.  

     Across the nation, CPS violates the fundamental rights of children and parents based on “anonymous complaints of abuse” by grandparents, family members, teachers, scorned lovers, nosy neighbors, and drama seekers. Often, the anonymous reporter seeks revenge. Sometimes they are made out of honest concern for the well-being of a family. For example, a story recently broke where a neighbor called out of true concern. The mom next door found herself struggling with providing for her children after the loss of her job. The neighbor called in the hopes that CPS could offer financial assistance, or perhaps some help with clothing. Instead of help, CPS took the children into care. Were they abused or neglected? No. They were simply poor and at the time, they did not have as much as other children. This is not a crime, nor is it neglect.

     The government isn’t always the answer to life’s troubles. In fact, they are rarely the answer. True love and living to the fullest comes from joining together and helping when we see a need. Unfortunately, our government programs citizens to depend not on themselves or their neighbors for help, but on government agencies. Some situations do require such help. If you see a home on fire, call the fire department. If you witness a kidnapping, call the police. If your neighbor is struggling to pay the electric bill this month, who do you call? Before you dial that phone, try the following. Help them pay the electric bill. Do not call and report them to Child Protective Services. Let yourself be guided by your heart and your hands rather than a hyped up, heart-tugging commercial for foster care that played on your television.

     Dear friends, we live in a time where almost everything about our lives is public, and judged just as publicly.  Fear-oriented parenting is now the new normal. Everyone is suspicious of everything, from the turban-wearing stranger on the street to the non-GMO packaging of gummy snacks. Terrorism and suspicion lurk behind every corner. Does that abandoned lunch box contain a pipe bomb? Are we being poisoned by the products in our water bottles? Is it safe to drink the water? Will vaccinations harm my child? Will saying no to vaccinations harm my child? We are driving kids to middle school in booster seats and subjecting ourselves to full body pat-downs- and sometimes nude on-screen visuals in airports just to feel a tad bit secure.

     This fear-based-parenting brings us to the point of turning in our own family, friends, and neighbors. They do not raise their kids the same, therefore it must be wrong.  Even at times when an issue is obvious, is it really abuse? Will sleeping on a mattress without a sheet truly cause irreparable harm that calls for the intrusion of the government? Will sleeping in a foster home or group foster home with a sheet really outweigh the benefits of being loved and raised within the child’s original family? When does poverty or parenting differences rise to the level of requiring intervention by government officials?

     Not as often as the United States seems to think. Before making that call, take off your hood and cape and use a bit of logic. Are you calling for revenge? Do you trust the government to take better care of the child, and what do you consider better? Remember, more “stuff” isn’t how we judge what is right. Children thrive without name-brand clothing and a new outfit for every day of the week. More and more, young social workers do not understand the concept of actual cooking, and stand ready to accuse families of having no food when they do not find prepared foods in the home. They do not see a month’s supply of bread, rolls, and biscuits when looking at flour, yeast, salt, and baking powder. Their childhood consisted of TV dinners, macaroni and cheese from a box, and prepackaged snacks. They fail to recognize the fact that one frozen chicken can help supply a dinner, sandwiches for lunch the next day, and a hearty soup. This is not abuse or lack of food. Wise people use resources to their maximum benefit, and cooking this way is cost-efficient, loving, and typically healthier than the average American diet.

     Please think before turning your loved ones, neighbors, or friends over to the government. Children need their parents. Parents have the right to raise their children as they see fit. Do not become part of the destruction of America’s families out of fear, jealousy, or anger. The best interest of the child is rarely obtained by forcing them to give up their parents and family in order to become children of the state.
Rise above, friends.