Remembering Free-Lance Work of Yesteryear

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When I graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1991 with a masters degree in English, I began to look for work in my field of English/Communication/etc. Books – probably dozens of them – chronicle what a person can do with a degree in English. None of the jobs mentioned in these books talk about teaching much, probably because the pay is lousy and the opportunities few. I took the first job I was offered, working at a hospital in public relations. The pay was $9 an hour.

The job, itself, was great. I wrote articles, prepared news letters and designed a magazine. One of the best parts was getting to suit up and go into the operating rooms and observe, then write about procedures. I was in technical writing heaven. But my boss, who had been there forever, was a woman without much education. She was a veteran of the school of hard knocks, and was extremely protective of her turf. She was frustrated by my productivity and my lack of errors, so I began making some little errors that she could correct. If she didn’t catch them, I fixed them myself, before going to print. I had great success in getting our articles printed in the local newspapers, who insisted on putting my byline on them even though I told them not to. I remember several days I came to work and had to deal with my bosses’ anger over seeing my name in print, again. I took it for a year, and then I begged the local newspaper to take me on, and I left the hospital, took a cut in pay, and became a news reporter.

Three years later the Tulsa World asked me to write for them, so I did. It was freelance work, and I had to leave the newspaper to do it. But they paid me very well. I worked for them as a correspondent for about eight years before taking a job teaching at Missouri Southern State College, in Joplin. Again, I was asked if I wanted the job. But I missed working as a free lancer.

In truth, I have made more money as a writer, working freelance, then I have ever made as a full-time employee. And now I’m back at it. Only this time, instead of working as a reporter, I’m writing technical documents for clients and doing publicity. I wish I could make enough money at this to do it all the time, but unfortunately, I’ve lost my momentum. It seems I do better when I’m employed full time in a good job, and then the freelance opportunities roll in nicely.

I was ten years old when I decided I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. My parents were skeptical. My father, particularly, told me that nobody really made a living writing, unless they were famous. I was discouraged by everyone from making that my profession. In 1960, the idea of being a writer was for people who lived in a city or who had connections, I suppose. I lived in McDonald County, Mo., and had no connections. But I could write, effortlessly, from an early age. One of my first inklings that I could write happened in fourth grade. We were assigned the job of writing a poem for Thanksgiving, and I worked on my poem for days. I’d never written one before, and I wanted to get it right. It went something like this:

We thank thee, Bees, for honey; We thank thee, fields, for rye; We thank thee, God, for raindrops that fall down from the sky, and give a drink of water to everything we spy.

There were about four verses, but I can’t recall them now. I remember I that I wrote the verses on an old theater program because we didn’t have a lot of paper and I was making corrections and changes as I went. Later I transferred them to fresh, lined paper, and turned it in.  I was very proud of the poem, and was sure it would net me a good grade.

A week went by after I turned it in, and then we came back over a weekend and the papers were up on the bulletin board, along with artwork we had done. My paper wasn’t there. I was really worried, but sat in my seat and didn’t say anything. That morning, the teacher taught us a new word – plagiarism. She accused me of stealing my poem from a source, and gave me an F for the assignment, after humiliating me in front of the class. I was in shock. But I was also a little proud, despite the shame. She thought my poem was good enough to be a REAL poem! My mother ended up having a word with the teacher, I was exonerated, and in the end I became the local poet laureate, and regained my status. But the one thing I really wanted never occurred – My poem was never “published” on the bulletin board. It was my first rejection slip.

That same year, we were tested for IQ, and I and another student were singled out for having extremely high scores. It made me feel a little strange; the other student, a boy, had a higher score than I, but I was considered an anomaly and they didn’t know what to do with me. Instead of moving us up, they whispered about “what to do” with these two students who had such high scores. In the end, nothing was done. Today I can laugh about this, because I didn’t know at the time what my score was. Today I know my IQ is high, but not unusually so. I have a score of 130-140,  which is higher than 99 percent of the rest. It doesn’t mean anything, really, except that I have academic talent. As my husband will point out, if you ask him, it has nothing to do with horse sense.

How to Survive the Apocalypse

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Half Past Human? You decide.

Cliff High’s latest report on the future forecasts a global economic collapse, natural disasters that result in the death of more than a billion people, accompanied and followed by mass chaos and a diaspora on a global scale.

Nice picture, huh? Cliff High and George Ure have been working on this project for more than a decade. I’m not going to try to accurately describe what they do, but here is what I can tell you that I understand.

Using software they created, they have a network of computers scanning the Web for words that crop up. Everything is scanned – everything in English, anyway – with the hope of finding phrases and unique word groups that collectively, can be used to forecast the future. Originally, the project was meant to be used for business – the forecasting was intended to be a barometer of the stock markets around the world and in the U.S., and the software was used to generate reports that the duo intended to sell to brokers and investors.  But then things changed. They began to pick up phrases that seemed to forecast other things – things about the future that seemed frightful and pointed to a coming apocalypse. At the very least, High and Ure were seeing indicators of a massive shift in the world’s fortunes, and in the way the United States would face unthought-of crisis in the years to come.

The first inkling that they had actually stumbled upon something was the spring, 2001 report. Something big was coming – around September, 2001. The markets, already soft in August, would crash after this event. War would be declared.  After the events of September 11, a growing interest in High and Ure’s project bloomed, and they began selling reports of a more general nature to the public.  Around 2009, the expense of the project and the pirating of their work around the Web, made them rethink what they were doing. For one thing, both men have bought into their predictions, wholesale – in addition to building a “grow house” to grow produce, both were in survival mode. If the world was going to change drastically, they wanted to be ready. But then they read the latest report and realized they must continue.  The reports are rather interesting reading – in fact, difficult reading. It helps to remember that High and Ure are often incorrect in their interpretations of the data. After the fact, it becomes clear that they have freely placed their own bias and fears on the predictions, which have never panned out to be quite as bad as they portend.  Each report is prefaced with words like, “beware,” and “very very grim material indeed; NOT necessarily life enhancing.” Whether that is a ploy to get people to buy or just an extension of their own paranoia, the fact is that it works. People buy. I bought. I’m a sucker for a good story.

Here is a summary of their latest report, released May 25, 2010. I’m not saying I believe everything here; and I’m also saying you should read the report yourself, after purchasing it at www.halfpasthuman.com. You can pay with a credit card or Paypal, so go for it.  I have only hit the highlights. There’s more – much more.

Summary

First, before going in to bulleted items in a summary, it is important to understand that High and Ure believe that the Earth is populated by alien seed, and that an alien civilization is really in charge. They also point to a war between certain “Powers That Be” that is happening right now, under our  (we uniformed persons) radar. They also believe that something cataclysmic is coming in December, 2012 – something that will end the world as we know it. They just don’t know what. My belief is, this: there is definitely something worth reading and thinking about in these reports. But you don’t have to buy in to the hype of High and Ure to get some inking of what may be coming, and prepare for it. For example, I do not believe we are under the “ownership” of a race of aliens, beings who are more reptilian than human; I do not believe that a “shadow government” is really in charge of the United States, and I do not think Obama is only a figurehead. However, if I had listened to Cliff High and George Ure in 2008, my husband would not have lost his retirement portfolio in the stock market crash. Let me put it this way: High and Ure are seeing something here, and you can almost take it to the bank. But the way they tell it, the world is being run by people in Halloween costumes.  I say, take off the costumes and you will see the true picture. Or, at least, get a little bit of it. I’m not telling stories on these men: they admit it, themselves, referring to the “Monkey Brain” as their misinterpretation of the message. For example, In an earlier report, lthey were convinced that what they saw indicated an “Israeli mistake” would culminate in a nuclear explosion in 2010. But this week,  with the explosion blowing up the oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and with talk on the Web of using a nuclear explosion to plug the leak, High and Ure have decided that this  is the nuclear explosion; and the diaspora from Israel is actually  a huge diaspora of most of the people in the Southeastern Southern coastline, who leave because of the planned blast.  I still think this is far fetched, but I guess we can wait and see.

  • Prepare for things to get worse as 2010 progresses in these areas: the economy, here and abroad; The weather – hurricanes and their international counterparts, tornadoes, floods; volcanoes and earthquakes; You name it.
  • Hastened by the demise of the Euro and the Chinese currency, the dollar will begin to decline in value; something will occur internationally that will cause the dollar to be considered worthless, and the U.S. will become virtually bankrupt, and be unable to purchase goods with dollars. Because we buy just about everything from somewhere else now, and don’t have a strong manufacturing base, the United States will be unable to cope.
  • The military will assist in detonating a nuclear weapon inside the leaking oil well. This will happen for sure; however, it is unclear whether this happens in July, August, or November.
  • The first 12 days of August will be very emotionally  trying for the Obama administration; we can expect there to be some sort of crisis and the administration dealing with it very carefully until August 12.
  • November the 8th is a very important day; nuclear explosions, followed by earthquakes and unrest among the populace will cause a civil war in the United States that will last for three months, ending in January 2011.
  • Something will cause the New Madrid fault to literally explode open, and earthquakes in the central U.S. will cause serious damage and death. This will happen after or concurrent with November 8th.
  • The oil spill and the nuclear explosion will cause a die-off in the Gulf of Mexico that will also affect the Altantic Ocean and cause political and diplomatic strife between the United States and other nations. Several Carribean nations, who are impacted the most, will appeal to other nations to take up their cause.
  • In 2010 and 2011, crops will fail to such an extent to endanger the planet food supply; famine, rising prices and scarcity will result in riots and massive protests and unrest across the globe. Revolutions will take place in so many places, it will seem as if World War III is here.
  • The infrastructure will collapse.
  • The food supply chain will be destroyed.
  • 1.289 billion people will die.
  • A social upheaval will change the world’s governments.

My interpretation:

First, I want to say this again: we don’t know if Cliff and George know what they are talking about; they even say they don’t want anyone to panic. However, one thing is always certain, and that is change. Another thing that is certain is that we will be hit by some disaster, sometime. It is a good thing to be prepared.

  • A lot of things are hitting the Southeast and the Gulf states right now; not only do we have the “oil volcano,” but we also have the hurricane season just beginning. I think we can count on a rash of hurricanes in the region that will complicate things. I also think the nuclear option will be used, after the U.S. Government approves it. This will be the 12 days in August, as Congress convenes, completes a round of hearings, and agree with President Obama to take military action. This military action, however, will also mean some over-reaction, not only by the military, but also by the public. Rumors will fly, and these rumors will cause a lot of damage. The economic impact of those rumors will create the food shortages and the “diaspora.” I’m sure a lot of folks will decide to leave, and many will leave for good.
  • November 9 is election day in the United States for Congress and the Senate. Also, many other elections are held in states at the same time for statewide and local officials. Drastic changes are possible and probable on electon day, changes that reverberate all over the country and could cause riots and unrest in some areas. In January, these newly elected officials take office.  I think it is possible that the election will contain a great many surprises and bring some national sturm and drang.
  • I’m not sure what to make of the currency issues; however, it is obvious that the world is in a devaluing mode; All of our currencies, globally, are undergoing stress. I think it is highly probable that some devaluation will occur on a global scale. It is this process that might create some very heavy discussion on the news channels that will create some unrest as people process the information and get a lot of misinformation in the process (repetition was intentional).  This could create a food shortage, as it sorts itself out; much of our food supply is imported. It could also create a problem for food we grow that is imported. And it could result in shortages that create famine, runs on grocery stores, and panic in the streets.
  • Oil is a huge part of the forecast. There will be some disruption in refining and transporting oil. There will be oil shortages, so a good rule is to buy your heating oil, propane, etc., as soon as you can this year.

Suggestions:
I’m making these suggestions based on my own “monkey brain” idea of what would be prudent, based on my past experience with Cliff and George and what would be practical and feasible:

  1. Purchase your heating oil now, or very soon for next winter.
  2. Prepare do deal without power, water, etc. Get a generator and the fuel it needs to run, and plan for a long time.
  3. Prepare how you will function if the Internet is down and TV is disrupted (via cable or satellite).
  4. Have an emergency radio and lots of batteries.
  5. Stock up, reasonably, on food that you can store.  Get canned meat products, beans, milk, fruit and meals in bulk.  Have flour, sugar, cornmeal, beans, oats, rice, and dry milk sealed in storage cans.  Stock up on condiments that you use regularly, and spices. Have enough yeast to make bread for three months. You will also need cooking oil, shortening, and canned butter (buy ghee at the health food store.)
  6. Have a rotating supply of potable water, enough for two weeks.
  7. Decide how you will store “grey water,” water you would not use for drinking or bathing, but water that you would use for flushing toilets, etc. Also think of how you will transport water for this purpose from a spring, creek, or pond. Practice.
  8. Stock up on batteries, bullets, and matches (get some strike anywhere matches and some strike on box. Be sure to put the strike anywheres in a metal canister for storage because they are dangerous).
  9. Instead of candles, which are dangerous, buy a couple of Coleman fluorescent lanterns and have three months’ supply of batteries for them. Also, buy some battery-operated candles to use for ambient light.
  10. Have a three-month supply of any needed medicines, toiletries, and toilet paper.
  11. Don’t forget your dog and cat. Have sufficient food for them for three months.
  12. Have a home library of real books (not just Kindle editions) for reference on anything you might want or need. Also include some reading material for those long, lonely days without the Internet and TV. Look on the bright side: you might pick up a hobby or even your old fiddle or guitar and get some needed practice in!
  13. Make sure you and your family have a plan. If chaos or disaster would strike, and you are away from home, have a plan everyone will follow in order to “meet up.” If your family, like mine, is spread out all over, talk to them about a plan. Write it down and make sure everyone has a copy. Encourage them to do the same as you did – plan for the eventual, even if it doesn’t happen.
  14. Now chill. If we all get blown out of existence in a gamma ray burst, or whatever, none of this matters anyway. Live each day like it is your last. Then you won’t be disappointed.