Blogging and plagiarism

I check my blog statistics quite often. I’ve been this way ever since I had the ability to check my site statistics, which has been most of my 7 year tenure as a blogger. I love to see who has linked to me and what search words are used to find the blog. Sometimes the words are weird and creepy, but occasionally they inspire a future post.

I rarely find something upsetting.

Four years ago, I noticed a link from a Chicana college student. She linked to an entry I posted about old school Mechistas. I perused her blog and found that she’d heavily borrowed and copied other parts of my blog. In some parts she’d taken the format for my “about me” section and substituted the original text for information about herself. In another section, she copied a list of favorite quotes. There was no attribution or links.

I was mad. I talked about it with a friend and he said something about feeling flattered. I was flattered, a little, but I was more upset about being copied without credit. And even if she had given credit, I still would have thought it weird that she adapted the profile section I wrote. You’d think that a section about herself would be original, right?

The budding academic in me (I had just started graduate school) was ready to send the young Chicana to the dean of students for plagiarism and to the writing center for a lesson on proper citation. Yeah, I know my blog is not an academic paper in a journal, but if you use my words, you should link. In academia, it’s even more stringent. If I even used your idea, I’d have to cite you. I can’t write a paper without stopping to cite someone every two sentences.

In blogging, I think it’s fair to credit someone if you lift a passage or are inspired by a topic covered in another blog. If words are borrowed, they should be quoted or indented like longer quotes in academic papers. Links should always be included.

I ended up drafting a short email to the girl. I explained why I was upset and asked that she remove my words. She apologized and said she’d take down her whole blog (not just the offending posts) because she felt she needed to start anew.

And then I felt kinda bad.


A few years ago, I went roller skating with a few friends. I was uncharacteristically shaky on my rented skates. I’m no expert roller skater, but I know how to skate well enough. I used to roll around the neighborhood in a cute pair of white and lavender skates. I loved those skates and was sad when I grew out of them.

But this time, I was shaky and scared. I didn’t want to fall. I was sure that falling would cause a break and that would mean insane medical bills I could not afford*. At the time, I was between being a full-time employee at UCLA — where I had great benefits — and a full-time student when I’d have access to the graduate student health insurance plan.

That’s the only time in my life I’ve ever been one of the millions without health insurance. I’m fortunate as is most of my family. (I know insurance companies are often a headache, or The Devil as Dom suggests.)

But not my cousin. She’s currently dealing with some health issues and the costs are piling. And she doesn’t even know what’s going on and why she feels sick. She’s worried. Her family is worried. My uncle (not her dad, but another tío) called me asking what kind of resources were available for a full-time student who had aged out of her parent’s health insurance policy. I searched around online and found some stuff from her school.

If you have any other info, let me know. I’d appreciate it.

* Like most people who have roller skated, I’ve fallen many times and never broken anything. However, my sister did break her arm when she was a kid while on roller skates. So I wasn’t just being paranoid.

Wishful thinking

Last night I was dancing at a friend’s party. I danced as the DJ played music of all genres in English and Spanish. 80s freestyle? Of course. Con ganas, even. Cumbias? Con más ganas. I just kept on dancing up a storm with my friends. It was fun and the only way to keep warm on a cold night.

At one point toward the end of the evening, the DJ played “Un Puño de Tierra,” one of my favorite Ramón Ayala songs. Of course you can sit down, drink and sing along to such a song. But I wanted to keep on dancing. But it didn’t feel right. I needed to dance with someone.

No one offered to be my partner so I just held my arms up as if I did have a partner and kept on dancing. I hoped someone would notice. And someone did.

A cute guy — who I hadn’t even noticed at the party — grabbed my hands and we started dancing. We danced through “Rinconcito en el Cielo” and then took a break.

I like when wishful thinking comes through.

Flaky childhood

The A's at Barro's pizza, after winning our league During a late night dinner in Little Tokyo we talked about the event we’d just been at, grad school and childhood. Well, I talked and he listened. It’s often like that when I’m around new friends. I give up all sorts of information and dominate the conversation out of fear of uncomfortable silences.

I don’t remember why I brought up childhood, but I did.

“I was a Girl Scout.”

That’s right. I was a Brownie in more ways that one. But before I sold my first box of Thin Mints in third grade, I was already a veteran of the typical suburban children’s activities. I’d played little league baseball, danced in a ballet folkórico group, sang in the Spanish and English language choirs at church and did nature-y and crafts-y things with the Girl Scouts. In high school, I focused on academics and band. I extended my band career to my first two years of college.

“What did you play?” he asked.

“Guess! No one ever guesses correctly on the first try.”

He looked at me for a moment before answering, “trombone.”

“You knew that already!” I said, assuming he’d seen that somewhere on my blog.

“No I didn’t,” he defended himself.

I continued talking more about my activity-filled childhood in Hacienda Heights.

“How long did you dance/play/sing/sell cookies?” he asked.

“A couple of years.”

“I get it. You do something for a few years and then move on.”

I was a slightly offended. He made the kid-teen version of me seem flaky. I explained that I stopped some activities because I aged out (Girl Scouts) or chose something else (band over folkórico). I’m glad I made those choices too. I had a fun childhood thanks to my parents who had the time and resources to support me and my siblings.

Te pareces a…

Tere ushered me in to my great-aunt’s Epifania’s bedroom. It was the first moment she’d had a chance to pull me away from my all my uncles, aunts and cousins. They didn’t notice my absence as they were too busy preparing the elotes they’d just picked from the milpa.

I could still hear my uncles talking and the kids running around when I walked in to the cool, dim room. Across from the door, tía Epifania was lying in her bed.

Tere announced, “Abuelita, viene Cindy, la hija de mi tío Carlos, a visitarla.”

I moved closer to greet her, expecting that she wouldn’t remember me and barely remember my dad. After all, my dad’s visits to Salamanca have been sparse over the years.

She greeted me kindly and then studied me from her bed.

“Se parece a Luz, a su mamá” she said to my cousin Tere.

I was surprised. I don’t hear that too often, except when I’m around my dad’s family in Guanajuato.

31 firsts for 2008

Of course, there’s more firsts for this year, but I wanted to keep the list limited to 31 (and to not-so-personal topics).

  1. Checked out Rose Parade floats at the end of the parade route
  2. Passed my qualifying exam
  3. Wrote a haiku for someone and sent it via text message
  4. Craved coffee
  5. Went to a country music concert (this was at the Houston Rodeo)
  6. Visited Austin and had beer in a movie theater
  7. Met some of my favorite bloggers and attended monthly informal meetings with other Latino bloggers in LA
  8. Hailed a cab in NY
  9. Was recognized by a blog reader
  10. Watched Lost with someone who likes the show much more than me
  11. Partied on Tijuana’s Avenida Revolución
  12. Enjoyed Chican@ (or post-Chican@?) art at LACMA
  13. Served on a jury
  14. Watched Yo Gabba Gabba! (my life has not been the same)
  15. Played Wii
  16. Won two free ticket giveaways for the same concert
  17. Made a movie using iMovie
  18. Had veggie soy tacos, and really liked them
  19. Went on a blog-strike
  20. Fell for someone outside my age range
  21. Talked about blogging as part of a panel at two different academic/professional conferences (NACCS and UNITY)
  22. Ran around barefoot in the Crown Fountains at Millennium Park in Chicago (bonus: really enjoyed Chicago)
  23. Took pictures in an old-school photobooth
  24. Used a dishwasher
  25. Raced go-karts at Speedzone
  26. Participated in a presidential campaign
  27. Told off at a stranger at a Dodger game because he said something racist
  28. Was in an art show (not as an artist, but as a subject in a portrait)
  29. Celebrated on election night
  30. Got caught in hail (in San Francisco)
  31. Felt an airbag deploy in a car accident

First for 2009? How about I really make headway on earning my PhD.

A few of my favorite things… from 2008

Yeah, I know I’m about a week late for 2008 favorites lists, but I was too busy enjoying the last week of my vacation to stop and write about an overall pretty great year. Thanks to Sean for this concept (and for contributing to #10).

In no particular order, my favorite things of 2008:

  1. MacBook: I finally made the switch when my Fujitsu LifeBook died. The switch was smooth and simple. My only gripe is that the LifeBook was much lighter.
  2. Wii: one of the best birthday gifts ever. I spent most of my time playing the games I downloaded from the virtual console like Donkey Kong Country. It’s strange how I remember secrets and other details about the games despite not having played in ~15 years.
  3. Muxtape: The concept was simple. Choose 12 songs (or less), upload them to the site, title your mix and then share with friends. I made a few mixes based on different themes and shared them with my friends. Sadly, the RIAA shut Muxtape down.
  4. This outfit, sans giant sombrero. I wore dresses and skirts a lot more often this summer, but this one was my favorite.
  5. Headbands: I cut my hair shorter than ever in June. There was little I could do with it and it was too short to pull back. I took to wearing thin headbands and liked the simple look.
  6. The stools in my parent’s new kitchen (forgive the rude brother): the kitchen and living room were remodeled over the summer. The new kitchen is nice. My favorite part is the tall stools for the counter/table. I love them because they make me feel tall.
  7. Jay Smooth’s videos: people, people, people! His videos are smart and entertaining.
  8. The Ojitos series, plus comments: I had fun telling the story and keeping people guessing. Plus, it opened me up to writing more vignette-ish posts.
  9. Free admission at LACMA after 5 pm: I’d taken advantage of this before, but this year I seemed to go every other week. During my visits I discovered this dog. I want this dog.
  10. Concert buddy application CDs: okay, so no one who sent a CD lived in LA, but that was okay because several of the songs/artists on those CDs quickly became new favorites.

Honorable mention:
My canas. I’m beginning to really like them.