Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Google Google

I Googled myself today. No good reason, just did it. I imagine most people have, but it doesn't really seem to occur to me to do it very often. Once every couple of years?

I don't like social media. I don't like my internet activities tracked by dozens of companies to sell what I do to marketing companies. I use Firefox so I can install add-ins that not only block ads but block the ability of companies to track my web activities. I have a possibly vain belief that most people wouldn't join Facebook, etc. if they were fully aware of their behind-the-scenes pervasiveness. I'm not fully aware, either, but enough so that it troubles me significantly. I'd much rather pay twenty bucks a year for a membership but if that were Facebook's model they'd probably have never become Facebook. (And I hate that name.)

So the first entry that comes up in my Google results is for LinkedIn, another social media site. I may have signed up when they first came into existence many years ago, but I don't recall: at that point, there didn't seem to be much value. So why is it the first entry in my results page? My first guess is that LinkedIn pays Google. My second guess is that it isn't me.

When I lived in Florida and worked in IT, someone showed up in Clearwater with a suspiciously similar name, another "Richard Ollerman." At first I suspected identity theft or some such, but it appears that there is actually another person with my name. As time went on, he appeared to move to Tampa, and later possibly even to St. Petersburg. I had lived in Tampa and then in St. Pete. Somewhere along the line he seemed to start going by the name of Rick Ollerman, too.

The rest of the entries on Google return page all pertain to me. At least ten pages came back and I only looked at the first two. Some references I didn't recognize but when I opened them they too were about me. But there were still a few for the other Rick Ollerman, who now lives in the same area I used to and works in the same field I used to.

I know what you're thinking: I got drunk somewhere and embarrassing pictures were taken and now I'm trying to blame the other guy. No. But I do wonder: who gets the worst end of this deal? The other guy doesn't have any Amazon listings in his favor, but I do. That may be his LinkedIn entry and not mine. A few weeks ago an author I haven't personally met was inviting me to his LinkedIn circle but I couldn't even decline the invitation. What did the other me do? I have no idea.

Maybe he'll get drunk and have embarrassing pictures taken; then he can blame me. This is a strange situation. I thought it a bit odd when Harlan Ellison trademarked his own name and it now appears on his books with the circle-r trademark symbol after his name.

Sadly, it's probably too late for me to take over all possible usage of my name, er, our name. I know there are Ollermans in South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, one in Arizona, my parents in Florida, and another guy, with my name, in my old profession, in my old town.

I find this a strange situation and have no idea what, if anything, I should do. I could travel back to St. Pete, rob a bank, and drop my name, but somehow that doesn't seem to be a permanent solution.

I probably don't want to push anything. It may turn out he's better looking than me, and a better writer, and more appealing to my Golden Retrievers.

I don't think I'll be Googling myself again for a while.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Beach Blanket Cover Bingo

One day, years ago, my then-girlfriend now-wife and I went to the beach in Florida. We may have been at Clearwater, but possibly Pass-a-grille, which would be more poetic since the late Day Keene once had a house there and hung out with Gil Brewer, Harry Whittington, Talmage Powell, and others.

Anyway, off I went to get us something to drink and when I came back, two guys were hovering near her with a camera. As I approached they disappeared. "What was that about?" I asked, not sure how to feel.

"They wanted to take my picture."

Okay. "What did you tell them?"

"I told them okay. People have asked me before, you know."

One thing I've learned about girls with nice figures is that they like to show them off. Anyway, some years later a book from a particular publisher arrives in the mail, written by a bestselling author under a pseudonym. The cover was painted by a very talented artist. It featured a girl in a bikini, pushed up on her elbows on her beach towel, big sunglasses, and the shadow of the photographer showing he was standing at the lower right hand corner of her towel.

My wife came home. I said, "Who does this remind you of?"

She looked at it and said: "That's my bikini, my glasses, my towel, my hair, and oh, yeah, that's me." There are a couple of other distinguishing things I won't mention, as well.

And we remembered that time at the beach when I was off getting us drinks....

"What do you think of this?" I ask her. She shrugs. "Well, I think it's cool." It is a fairly prominent book.

So I look up the artist's website, send off an e-mail, saying we are asking for nothing, but relating the story and asking him to confirm. He never responded, and I can understand why. If you're using someone's likeness to profit from, you need a release and some form of compensation to have all your legal bases covered. I used to sign the paper and get a dollar bill in order to appear in commercial skydiving films. All that happened here was a, "Do you mind if I take your picture, miss?"

More years go by. I'm in a bookstore, talking to the owner, see that he has several copies of the book on his shelf and tell him the story. A couple of days later I stop in with my wife. He says, "I know you," and I think he's talking about me but he's looking at her. He went to his shelf, pulled off the copies, and had her sign them with her name and the designation "Cover girl."

Ask her about it today and she says with full confidence, "That's me." Look at her, look at the picture. It's her. The swimsuit and towel are probably long gone but the books remain.

Sadly, my wife has now signed more books than I have. Never underestimate the power of the bikini.

Be Nice to Amazon Day

Why do I have to always specify "Arial" as a font twice in Blogger before it actually uses it? Hm.

In light of my recent comments about Amazon's awful book packaging policies, I want to say something nice. Their book packaging still is a random mess of people who just don't seem to care, but they got the pills my dog needs to me days earlier than I thought they would.

See? I love those guys.