Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Speaking of Things That Shouldn't Still Be Happening to Women in 2024

Ad for Pitney-Bowes postage meter, 1953. So easy that even a woman stenographer with "no mechanical aptitude" can operate it! (Apparently, the title a "joking" argument that it should be okay to kill her, if she can't?)

I'll get to the reason for posting this old ad in a bit, but first  ...

So I took a little break from blogging to self-examine and reflect on some things.  As you may recall, the last time I wrote, it was just after the new transcriptionist job went South. 

For those unaware, the company itself was awesome, one of the best  large companies I've ever worked for; however, my direct boss asked me to provide a voice sample to test a new AI product for internal-meeting use only, then sold it to a client, to use to say any old thing they like, without my permission or compensation - and he lied about it.

Then, when I politely questioned him about it, he threatened my job and belittled me (after previously praising me daily). 

So, I quit and left a letter to HR, to avoid retaliation, as well as to avoid creating a bunch of drama in my work environment, which probably wouldn't end in my favor anyway. (I was a woman versus a man, a new employee versus a manager.)

I went back to my old job, full-time. I hadn't left, actually, I had just gone to "spillover" status only.  Though the work pays on production and has been slow, I adore my boss and can trust her, which is invaluable to me.  

And yet was feeling a little down, after it all.  

No worries, nothing serious, just felt like being quieter, that's all  😊

I've also been focusing on my physical and mental health, to include indoor biking and eating healthier after the holidays, as well as doing my January deep-clean/organization of my house, practicing mindfulness as I do, as well as something I came up with myself, which is "intentional living." It's related to mindfulness, but goes further, as there are so many things we do every day out of habit and routine, while thinking about/worrying about other things, without really thinking about what we're doing in the moment, with intention. 

Additionally, I think I've lost a friend over this situation, a friend who works in AI, who didn't really seem to think that this was a big deal  - and my trying to explain what it meant to me in text, while upset, didn't help 😥

So in addition to being 55 and job prospects dwindling, with my job being replaced by AI in general already being very daunting, those who know me well know that having a voice - both physically and theoretically - is especially important to me.  

That is because once upon a time, when trapped in abusive situation, I nearly stopped speaking because it always caused trouble, if I did.  In fact, this is why I developed severe social anxiety.

So I've been reflecting on how much trouble my voice has caused me in life.  In this situation, even though I wasn't trapped in an abusive situation again, I felt nearly as powerless.  

So I initially came to the conclusion that no one wants to hear my voice anyway, unless I say exactly what they want me to say.  

There's some truth to that, actually.

I also went over and over anything I could've done differently, and though there were several options, like ultimatums, waiting and screwing him over some other way, those things really aren't me. I'm not very vindictive and not much of a Karen. I do still have a lawyer on standby to send a letter asking for them to destroy the voice file, but I halted that, because as I said, "How much trouble is my voice really worth anyway?" 

Plus it feels like people take what they want from me, and if I say no, there's trouble, and maybe that's just the way life goes for me and I should just accept it. 

At least this time, I didn't stay in it and send the message that it's okay and they can do it again, right?

Helping me feel better was my brother-in-law, who is a financial executive for a major broadcasting network in LA, who said that was the best way to do it - resign with a letter to HR.  It's the least amount of drama, but hopefully prevents it from happening again, or at least makes them aware, so that even if they don't believe me/protect him, it's not like they weren't warned if it happens again.  
He also said it's a Richard Branson company, and they are known for being employee-friendly, so he's in hopes the company will take it seriously.

And it would happen again to low-level employees working under him, and had I stayed, he would've done it again and worse if I'd stayed and let him think it was okay. .

Thank you, M 

I also remembered my own past words, sort of my mantra when other people have "done me wrong" in the past -  that it's not really about what happens to that person in justice -  focusing on that is a sure route to bitterness.

No, instead, it's about what happens to me, as a result of their actions - and that, I DO have a choice over.  

Because nothing can devastate me without my permission - and this situation does not have my permission, right?

Acknowledge, feel,  learn, heal, move forward - in that order.

Thanks to another friend who said:
"Yeah, but this time, you're not trapped.  You're not being punched, kicked, or your head banged against the wall.  You're not trapped in a hotel room or locked in a closet, or all the phones weren't taken away so you can't tell anyone, gaslighted if you told anyone.  He didn't literally remove your voice, he just stole it for his own use and profit.  which means, now you're shutting your voice down yourself, continuing their power abuse ... on yourself."

Wow. True. Thank you, different M 😊

And finally, thank you to the last friend who wrote me just last night and essentially said: 
"The most important people in your life listen to your voice.  Get up, dust yourself off, and move forward."

This reminded me of a bible verse, Matthew 10:14: 

"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet." 

Amen 😊

Also true - but then again, I'm not preaching the gospel, just using my voice in general, but it's still a good rule of thumb in general, yes?

Thank you to you, too, C 

Hugs all around 

Okay, so finally getting to the point of my title.

(As my Pap would say, I went round Robin Hood's barn to get here, whatever that means 😆), 

So I thought my first post should be about this stupid commercial I saw for SpyFocus home security cameras.

I can't find the actual ad - they may have pulled it because apparently, I wasn't the only one that wrote them.

Anyway, the ad says "Easy to use, whether you're a CEO or a housewife with no electrical experience."

Worse, the woman in the ad is lounging on a chair with a glass of wine, "cheersing" to the camera, as if that's what "housewives" do all day!


Is this 1953?!?

(Thus, the reason for the ad at the top of the page.)

Okay, so first of all, I've worked for a male doctor who couldn't pump his own gas, he had to be walked through it.  

Secondly, I know women with Master's degrees in electrical engineering that took breaks from work to raise their small children. Also, I know tons of single moms who know more than most men about how to set up electronics. 

Thirdly, if that "housewife" IS lounging about and drinking wine all day, then she's either clinically depressed or some other mental  ailment, as well as possibly addicted, and thus needs treatment - OR she IS lazy and likely robbing you blind, probably also doing some shit you don't even want to know about (the best case scenario being addiction to online shopping, gambling, or gaming, and the worst case scenario would be catfishing people online out of boredom, or both).  

Lastly, I'm no electrical whiz personally, but I have been the one to do the initial set up all electronic devices in our home.  And to this day, I am the one that has to reset the digital clocks on our microwave and regular oven with time changes, because my husband with a Master's degree in IT doesn't care to take the time to know how.

(That is not a critique of my husband, he's obviously very intelligent, he just doesn't have the patience for certain things.  I'm the same way with products that are tightly packaged in plastic. I know how to get them off, of course, I just lack the patience 😖 😆)

And having been a single mom and my own IT tech for years, as a remote medical transcriptionist, he swears that I'm a better IT tech than most and that I should look at jobs in that field, but I have no official work experience, just know-how from having to be my own tech for a couple of decades.  If there was an aptitude test, I could probably pass it, but they just look at resumes, so ... no.

Regardless, I wrote a brief, polite letter that they had my attention until that line.

They just wrote me back today that they were aware of the issue and are replacing the ad with a new commercial and hoped to earn our trust back.

Nope,  no thank you. 

Not unless you hire women techs who can show you how much "electrical experience" they have, and perhaps you can start with single moms who have no one to do these things for them - does that count as "experience?"

Apparently, you need them - because the reviews on your product suck - which, by the way, were all left by men, talking about how difficult it is to set up and link to their phone!  😆😆😆

How's THAT for using my voice again? 😆

Perhaps some would like it to go back in the box, and I'm quite sure no one that I mentioned above was talking about blogging - but blogging is how I first came out of my shell again after those experiences, so it's a start?

And if you don't like my voice, then don't read it or listen - but some do.  Even if no one does, I will use it just because I still have one.

And no worries, I was still polite, regardless 😊

Sunday, January 7, 2024

After Quiet Reflection ...

 *Edited - content added.

I decided to just do some quiet reflection for the last few days, unplug from everything, self-examine ... and to be honest, had a good cry yesterday? 

At first, I may have teared up a couple of times over just general disappointment and loss, over this situation, but I didn't want to give the douchebag new/former boss the satisfaction of making me cry.  

Then, after an uncharacteristic response from a male friend who actually writes code for AI, I just shut down for a few days to self-examine.

A couple of days later, when less emotionally close to both the job situation and the unexpected response from this person, I found that I felt exactly the same about the job situation - and there is nothing I would've done differently.  

Believe me, I've gone over it and over it 1,000 times, and the only thing I would've changed was maybe to stay two more weeks and endure whatever came at me from him just to get the pay, because I made 3x what I'm making now at my old job.

But after I reread the chat - in fact, I read it out loud to a couple of other people to make sure I was really seeing what I thought I was seeing- I realized it would be two weeks of likely more of that, and not so great for my PTSD.

Then I reread the texts between Mark, myself, and this friend who writes AI code for a living.

Quite honestly, I was surprised - because though I said a lot in text, I don't see where I was harsh or intense - and believe me, I can be intense and harsh if I wanna be - especially going through menopause!

But it usually takes a lot more than that, something coming as a direct missile at me - but actually, I was surprised when I reread it because - I don't see that.  Maybe because there's no tone on how I actually meant something?

I asked pointed questions because I was confused, as this appeared a change in attitude.

But in fact, it seemed the other way around to me, and Mark just smiled and said:  

"See, I told you?  I'm not sure what's going on with him, I felt like we were actually talking to AI lol.  Maybe it's because he writes AI and feels he has to defend its use - but even when someone literally stole your voice under false pretense, put it on a product, and sold it to a client, though you're in an admin position?" 
"Everyone else thinks what your boss did was absolutely horrible - except him - and it's odd and very unlike him." 
"Like 12 other people, both women and men, said what your boss did was horrible - but you fixated on what one person said, because you love and respect him so much."
"If someone plays the card he did, you tend to just apologize right away and assume the person is right, you're wrong, it's conditioned in you with your history of abuse." 
"You did write probably too many texts all at once -  but it was also pretty clear you were confused as to what he saying, because it DID seem out of character for him, I noticed it myself before you said anything."
"HE was the one being harsh and actually cold and dismissive.  It seemed he just didn't like that you were pointing out, the change in his attitude, which I noticed myself."  


"Believe me, I have seen you be harsh - and most of the time, it's after a bunch of shit has come your way, so it's usually warranted lol - but this wasn't it." 
"Most of the time, I wish you'd be even more harsh with people, but then I'm from Detroit and I already told you how I would handle it, lol. Like I would have told your boss to eff off and die before I left, then gotten a few buddies to drag him out of his house and kick the living shit outta him.  It's funny, someone at work suggested the same lol. But you're right, he's not worth it, and that wouldn't actually solve anything." 


"I think certain types of people play this card when they just don't want to hear what you're saying - because they're afraid you're right or they take something you said too personally, though it wasn't meant personally - because they know it works to get you to back down/silence you because of your abuse history." 
 "That's why I came at him a bit about it, it was unfair and almost mean, especially on the heels of what just happened to you, and given your abuse history, which he has sensed and asked about before."   
"It's actually a shitty card to play to any woman, but especially one with your history.  It's worse than asking if you're on the rag or going through menopause, and more akin to gaslighting, because they'd rather make you a sudden problem than have take a look at themselves and what they're saying or doing." 
"I never would've expected that from him, ever.  He's always had a very high opinion of you and values your opinion, or he wouldn't ask it as much as he has, so I don't know what's gotten into him.  I think it's work in AI himself, he doesn't want to feel guilty about its misuse"

I reminded Mark that there were no victims here - my boss, yes, but this person, no - and that we both felt misunderstood/hurt, even though he didn't say exactly that, he said it in guy way., and I didn't mean to hurt him probably any more than he meant to hurt me.

But for the record, my husband has never, played that card. A lot of men do, to women in general, even some women have with me - but it's usually when they're hiding something.  

But my husband never has, not once.  

Because the truth is, Ladies and Gents -  if someone truly cares about you and was worried that something is off with you lately, emotionally or mentally - and you didn't like attack them or something - even if disagreeing about something, they would say this in a caring, loving  way, i.e, "I'm worried about you,  your reaction to this"

They would NOT say it as a weapon - and if it is used as a weapon, and you didn't literally attack them or something, it usually means they're afraid you're right and don't want to take a look.  

In other words, trying to get you to distrust your own perception is a lazy - and often guilty - person's way of shutting down an disagreement - particularly with women - rather than stay on the actual point. 

He says he sees that line that he could cross to win an argument with me, but realizes it's actually a cop-out rather than address the issue at hand that at the time, he just doesn't feel like looking at at from my perspective.  So if he feels that way, he just says "I don't feel like getting into this now."

He's also never pulled the "are you hormonal, right now?" card, because he learned a long time ago that that is always a bad idea with any woman.


Because FYI, men - being hormonal doesn't make you just make shit up, unless that woman has other mental issues or disorders already.

Though it does affect your mood - more negative, anxious, irritable - it mostly just chemically fuels reactions to things that you would have had anyway to be stronger reactions.

He might say "What's going on with you today?" - which I say to him, too, when there's a change in mood - and then we talk about it. 

If it's hormone fueled, I tell him what's bothering me and that it just feels more intense than usual because of hormonal issues, and that the intensity will pass, but the issue would still bother me anyway.

Regardless,  I DID text this friend a lot, which I tend to do when anxious or upset -  and I DO need to work on more, I can see where that annoys - but it wasn't rageful or overly emotional - as I said, I hadn't shed a tear yet. 

It just seemed like he didn't understand at all where I was coming from about what happened.  But, ya know, men can take stands, without their jobs being threatened - especially if they are in power.  

In fact, he famously took a stand over ethics and AI himself at work once, so what has happened since - he just rolled over?

And keep in mind, I took my stand very gently and it was over my literal voice - just asking how this happened (my literal voice stolen to sell on a product, as a new, low-level employee, under false pretense and without permission or compensation).

My job was threatened after gently questioning how this happened and saying I didn't appreciate it - so I had three options:  

1) Go along with my boss doing it, acting like it's okay, which is sending him a message that he can continue to do this without consequence and worse, for a paycheck - a paycheck which, though was 3x what I was making at my old job, still wasn't that great in this day and age.


 And if you don't say anything after the first time, HR's first question to you later would be "Why didn't you do something the first time?

2)  Tell HR right away and risk his retaliation, then being fired for using too many paper clips or something while the investigation goes on.  

Nobody knows you yet, so they can say whatever they like about it, and especially if female and the boss is a male, it usually ends in bullying, that you're a Karen, a whore, or crazy, or all of the above, and I don't want to put myself through that.

I have seen this time and time again, with many others, and once myself.  

I have never seen this route work out for anyone, ever, who isn't already rich, famous, or powerful - because HR is there to protect the company from lawsuits, not the employees from each other.   

So you are damned if you do, damned if you don't tell HR - if you wait, you stayed because it really must not have been that bad, or you must like it, in sexual harassment cases - but if you tell right away, you're a reactionary Karen - total Catch-22. 


3)  Stay and threaten him with HR to get a voice-acting contract, or act like I went along with it and then eff him over at the first opportunity as corporate strategy (but considering I'm not fake, duplicitous and vindictive, that's a big fat no.)


4) Quietly quit without telling anyone why but HR with a letter left,  in case it happens to someone else later. 


Go back to my old job of 4 years, where pay is based on production, has become scarce, and even on a good year, I don't make a third of what I would've made at this new job - but my boss is truly the best boss I've ever had - seriously, the smartest, kindest, and most ethical boss I've ever had - and that is invaluable to me.

I chose #4 - and I don't think my friend understood why I quit or was upset, or why I was considering a lawyer now - not to sue, but a letter regarding the destruction of my voice file to ensure it wouldn't be used again for profit without my consent.

I'm not sure why he reacted the way he did, which seemed very uncharacteristic.  Or why he couldn't understand why someone threatening your job if you don't go along with something being essentially stolen from you without your consent, or why this loss of income would be upsetting.  Or why you would quit over it.  Or why I would I would need to walk him through why this would be so bothersome.  But okay. 

I haven't said a word since I apologized for upsetting him and sounding harsh, because I didn't mean to.  And looking back, I don't really see it that way, but then I know my tone and he doesn't in text.  

And that's what really got me - that I'd made even one person whom I love and respect uncomfortable with my opinions over it. 

All I know is, I didn't deserve to be swindled like this by my boss.  I was a good employee, already completing projects ahead of schedule, was kind to everyone - all of these things Sleaze-Ball boss had said himself and told other people, right up until this happened.

And I enjoyed my job immensely until this happened, which happened so fast right after Christmas, it made my head spin, Id did not expect this - and everyone was out for the holidays, I wasn't sure what to do.  

I was trying to be a team player by lending my voice to a department-meeting test experiment, not to sell to the client, and I made that very clear, though if anything, I was perhaps too polite about it and should've been firmer - but I was assured that would not happen, and if in the off event a client heard it and locked it, they would set up a voice-actor contract for me, because at present, I was hired as a transcriptionist - basically a secretary.

But I know if I had stayed, it was like telling him it was okay to do to me, to any low-level employee,  and "Please, Sir, can I have some more?" when it isn't okay - not just for my sake, but because it's bigger than me.  It is not okay to "punch down,"  power abuse and exploit your low-level employees.  

I've done that in both previous relationships and jobs and I've learned that if someone takes advantage of you and/or "punches" you once - and is not remorseful - they will do it again and again.  Sometimes, even if they ARE remorseful, they'll do it again, just because they can, you're less powerful and they know there's not much you can do.

The only other option would've been to go to HR and raise a big stink, and I have never once seen that work out for anyone.  It may work out for the rich and famous exploited or harassed, but not for the everyday woman.

So in a way, I'm kinda proud of myself, actually, after my history of abuse  - I didn't stay too long after the first warning sign from someone with an abusive/exploitative personality?

They're all charming and supportive, until you tell them "No." 

With a true abuser or power abuser/exploiter, they'll reveal themselves to the less-powerful target(s) within the first year - they can't hold that false charm out for long.  

Other people may not even see it, because they're less close to the situation, so it may be difficult for them to even believe, because that person isn't their boss or they aren't the target  -  or if a personal relationship, they're not in a  relationship with that person - so all they see is charm.

Then again, I also know that anytime I have ever spoken up for myself, it literally has never once worked out, with sugar on top or not, so I still toss around the idea that I'm the common denominator and therefore must be the problem.

On the other side of that argument, though, if Trump has taught us nothing else, there certainly are a lot of like-minded, toxic people out there, more than even psychological professionals realized - and scapegoating of a minority by a majority is a very real thing.

Thus, the old phrase for treating people with depression/anxiety may apply: "Before you diagnose your client, make sure that they genuinely aren't surrounded by assholes."

Good therapists knows that most of the time (but not always), you're getting the victim in your office, not the perpetrator.  

Unless mandated, perpetrators usually wouldn't show up for therapy or stay in therapy, because, of course, nothing is wrong with them - and if they do, they're so sick that they genuinely don't remember events clearly and think they're the victim.

Either way, true perps never even truly consider that the problem is them, so if a client is truly questioning themselves, it's more likely that they're the victim.

I don't know, still weighing this out, but what I DO know is people  expect me to always be the genuinely kind, nurturing, joyful, compliant, easygoing me all of the time - even though there are times I don't need to be?

Thursday, January 4, 2024

On AI and Ethics ...


This morning, someone made the argument to me that "There is nothing inherently malicious about AI itself."  

True.  In fact, AI has no inherent ethics at all, it's not capable.  Thus,  the ethics of AI are only as good as the ethics of person in charge of how the AI will be used.

Well, this is a person I love (not my husband) who does AI for a living lol

Menial labor like me has had to up with lots of things in the workplace just to keep a job.  

But now, they can now use my voice with AI to say whatever they like for a product that I didn't endorse and God knows what - gleaned under false pretense and without my permission or compensation.

No one should be okay with that.

If my name was Donald Trump or Joe Biden, using my voice sample - obtained under false pretense - to sell a product without their permission or compensation would be a travesty - but because I'm a low-level secretary, it's not?

It should matter more - because the voices and votes of women. low-level employees, and other vulnerable and poorer groups are all we  have!

As I've said, I've put up with a ton of crap in the workplace and life in general, turning down hopping on a family lawsuit just recently.  

I could've sued over lots of things previously, in the workplace and life in general, but I didn't so as not to cause too much trouble, plus I was poor. You do lots of things when poor that rich, entitled people would never do.

HOWEVER - this is my actual voice.

Now, I'm suddenly a Karen because I say "This is my actual voice obtained without permission or compensation, used to sell a product and say whatever they like, and my hours and job were threatened when I politely questioned it!  NO MORE!" ... ???

I don't want money - I don't even want a lawsuit unless absolutely necessary.

All I want is the voice file destroyed and not further used for profit, - AND - for them to take this seriously enough to implement an ethics policy regarding AI ...

... particularly protecting their lower-level employees' literal voices to say whatever they like - just so they don't have to pay their contracted voice actors.

Legislation on this IS coming eventually - might as well have your ducks in a row now - and ounce or prevention is worth a pound of cure.


PS - Look, I know I don't deserve much in life.  In fact, I usually blame myself first and apologize, even when perhaps I shouldn't.  

So I don't become easily outraged.  I've been told by people that I'm one of the kindest, most fair-minded, easygoing, level-headed, even-tempered people they've ever met (except too hard on myself). 

So when one of those same people now tells me that my outrage is too much, I listen (and it's not Mark, but it is someone I love and respect). 

So what is clear, is that when I've finally had enough and do become outraged - even if righteous outrage - it's too much for people - particularly men.  

Not my husband, mind you - but it does seem particularly to be men, yes - but not exclusively men.

Thus, I am taking time out from all communication to self-examine and gain insight, trying to learn how and when are the right circumstances to stand up for myself and still be able to handle the backlash of doing so.

At present, it seems my approach doesn't matter, even when I do stand up for myself and say, "I'm sorry if I misunderstood, but is this what's going on?" - even with my voice shaking, with sugar on top -  it never works out for me.  But I should know better than to get frustrated to the point where I'm now just saying  "WTF???" to people lol

I don't know if I can stop standing up for other people who can't speak up for themselves, that's just my nature.

But as for me, I think I just need to go back to taking the shit and eating it without so much as a blink and never saying a word and being the fair-minded, level-headed person I am and everyone expects me to be, at all times. 

Because anything else - even if what was done was severe, even criminal  - even if it's after months, even years of BS - me becoming outraged with anything at all is unacceptable.  

It seems everyone else, even women, can actually throw fits, etc.  - but for me, there is only one way that's acceptable for me to be - the fair-minded, easygoing, level-headed, kindness advocate they regularly see from me - nothing else is allowed. 

I'll figure it out.  Until then, best to all.


Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Timely Quote ....


Sign Me Up ... x3? 😉😂

So these were sent to me privately, over this situation, to either encourage me or make me laugh.   😂

First, was this is the proposed legislation from California that will protect actors and artists from using their voice likeness without their permission, being voted on soon.

Just one problem - I'm not an celebrity or even an actor, I'm a transcriptionist -  and this isn't California.

HOWEVER - I did not sign the separate voice-talent contract they have for voice actors because I was not hired as voice talent, I was hired as an audio transcriptionist - and promised if in the "far fetched" event that a client were to choose my voice over contracted voice talent, one would be presented to me - but it wasn't.

Thus, there was no permission at all, to use my voice with AI scripts as the voice of an actual product,  just on an internal demo presentation - and voice as has yet to be defined as "property," intellectual or otherwise, anyway - but at some point, the courts will have to define just whose property that is - do they really want the courts to decide that for them?

And yet still, it's in the works legislatively, so we shall see if a precedent is set - and how much my former company is prepared for that coming legislation, which I don't think my former supervisor even thought or cared about when he made these reckless decisions. 

Secondly, I was sent the below video, because in addition to the multitude of horrifying things Mr. Sleaze Ball Supervisor said, he also said he he "didn't have a heart/empathy for humans" several times, that he loved UFC fighting (which is fine, but not in the workplace), that "people here are almost too nice, we could use some bullying," and that bullying is evidence of "survival of the fittest."

Yeah - people who believe in Social Darwinism are usually the Tonya Hardings of the world. 

In other words, the weakest, worst representatives of our species, born without hearts - who know they couldn't otherwise win on their own merit, often cheat the best of our species -  not over survival, but over a few extra bucks, a gold medal, or 15 minutes of fame - which disproves Social Darwinism entirely.

The difference is,  Tonya just got caught - but there are many Tonya Hardings in our society that haven't yet.

Regardless, though I don't condone violence, THIS was fun to think about, with Mr. "Survival of the Fittest"  - who wouldn't last five minutes in an actual UFC ring with, oh, say a Muy-Thai trained former Army Ranger. 😉

But that will never happen, so no worries. 😊

I do not condone violence, except in true physical attack scenarios - and yet this was very satisfying fantasy 😂 

This is not an actual event, by the way - it was a promo ad for a Russian martial arts studio.

Since the above video can only be viewed on YouTube,  since it's age restricted, here's another clip of it, only shortened (so it misses the part where he almost hits her with his car while she's crossing the street first, gets out and blames and pushes her) ...

As I said, only in self-defense from actual physical threat.

And I discovered years ago, with physical threats - I'm a kicker, not a hitter.

Like that time, during a verbal argument, that my toxic older sister literally tried to choke me at Christmas 2000.  We were both adults, mind you - I was 32, she was 37.

So  I put up my hands above my head, to prove I hadn't and wasn't touching her, then said to her husband, my little sister, and my grandmother "Get her off me or she's going down." 

No one moved, everyone just stood there, stunned. So I kicked her in both kneecaps and down she went, crying "Look what she did to me - wahwahwah."

Bitch, you literally tried to strangle me during an argument, without  any physical provocation -  and I did warn you.  Did you think I was just going to let you, Princess Karen?😂

We were arguing, yes, but she lunged at me with her hands around my throat, pinning me to the wall.

(This is one of the many reasons why I haven't talked to the toxic dumpster fire that is my older sister in 17 years.)

That kicking also came into play later, too, with someone trying to lock me somewhere, when trying to escape, it saved my life - but that's another tale.  It suffices to say, I had/have a very strong high kick - and it straight to the face, and then other leg to the groin immediately afterwards.

And lastly, I suddenly have a bevvy of attorneys calling me after a few people encouraged me to at least ownership of my own voice back - big-named ones, because this is a hot-button issue, right now..

Sign me up x3? 😂

Well, I think I'm too emotionally close to the situation still to make that decision, right now, and my intent was to quit so I wouldn't have to put myself through the circus.

Regardless, my old boss already had a project ready for me to start on, so all's well that ends well 😂

An ethical boss who doesn't think fighting and bullying is fun entertainment, and values both my work and me as a person, and vice versa, is invaluable to me, worth the loss of income.

Life has enough drama, but some people want more - and if you say anything about it, you're creating drama lol.  Best to just walk away and let them.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Where We Are Now ...


Ya know, I really can't stand when Karens call attorneys at the drop of a hat because somebody made their coffee too hot or something.  

Plus it's  just a very white-privileged thing to do, right?

You don't hear people of color saying "I'm going to sue!" often because they're not entitled,  they often can't afford attorneys for stuff like this, and they already know they'll lose against the rich and powerful, so why bother?

And there's probably several things, over the course of my life, I could've and should've sued for, especially during the recession as a single mom and some things that went on at work, but I didn't because: 1) I had no money, 2) The rich and powerful with fancy lawyers will always win against the poor, in our society,  3) I think our society is already overly litigious, and 4) I don't want to put myself through all that, I'd rather just walk away and find better people, right?

And my whole point in resigning from this new job over it was to keep myself from being put through a bunch of drama, I didn't want to make big stink about anything.  I've gone back to my old job, everything's fine - won't be making as much as I did at this new one, but it'll be fine.

HOWEVER .... this is my literal voice ... like, literal ownership of my actual voice, obtained and used under false pretense by my supervisor and used for profit - how much is it worth it to me to get the rights to my own voice back?

So when I sent my letter of resignation, I asked, in good faith - assuming the company didn't know what he had done - if they could just reassure me that the file would not be used or it would be destroyed.

They did not do that. They didn't say anything at all.

They just locked me out of all accounts and sent me an email to my private email address saying they'd send a box for me to send my equipment back in.

That's fine, that's standard corporate procedure when you resign immediately, for whatever reason - but I was hoping for reassurance that the voice file was destroy/not be used.

But I can see where legal might've said "Don't mention it, any admission that we have even have it in our possession may be an admission of guilt."

But it really, really irks me that they can use my voice to say whatever they write in a script now - and not just me, but anyone - when I specifically said in an unfortunately unrecorded call meeting, NOT to use it that way.  

I mean, the software they'd bought had a stock voice sample titled something like "middle-aged news voice" that sounded exactly like former news anchor, Brian Williams -  super scary!  

So I was recommended a specific media/IT/employee rights attorney, and encouraged to call them, just to see what we could do about not getting my voice back without actually filing a suit.

At first, I immediately pooh-poohed this idea because the whole point of me resigning was to avoid a fight or trouble.

So I really liked the guy, he was super honest with me, and said that the precedent has not been set yet on AI use of images or likenesses without permission, it wasn't officially illegal yet, so he didn't know how far we could get at present.

But he added that certain state congresses were in the process as we speak of protecting not just celebrities' voices, but everyday people from unauthorized use of their voice. 

However, in my case, it's not just unauthorized use of voice for profit, it's violating privacy, it's labor exploitation, it's defining who actually owns my actual voice and the rights to it - there are so many violations here in like a Venn diagram.

He was completely intrigued, but realistic in what could actually be accomplished according to current law on all of those fronts of violations, not just unauthorized use of voice.

I made it very clear that all I wanted was my voice back, not money - if I'd wanted that, I would've fought for compensation rather than quit. 

Because as mentioned a few posts below, once upon a time, I was in an abusive situation where I wasn't allowed a voice - and in fact, began blogging in 2005 (different blog, under a pseudonym), just to preserve it somewhere until I could escape that situation.  

I promised myself that no one would ever control the use of my voice again - so having my voice is one of the most important things in the world to me.

Interesting that life often forces you to face again what you fear most, isn't it? 

Regardless of what I decide, as mentioned in the post below, being that they decided not to address the voice file in response to my resignation letter, these posts - without the company's name - will stay up until I have assurance that my voice is no longer being used without my permission. 

So if you receive a call from a major pharmacy chain with an automated voice in 2024, telling you that your refill is ready, asking for you to confirm your address, or respond to a customer-service questionnaire, it very well could be me - only I didn't say any of that.  My voice was used to read a script that they created - over and over again - without my consent or compensation.

And again, I'm not a voice actor - I'm a transcriptionist - basically, a secretary.  

If they can do this to me, they can do it to anybody - everyone from janitors to CEOs, doctors, lawyers, actors, musicians, presidents, prime ministers, royalty -  saying anything they like for profit, because there are no laws to prevent it - AND they can say it's a "AI-generated likeness" of the person, not the actual person - but the consumer won't know the difference 😔.

And if you're going to have this software, how smart is it to put someone with a complete lack of ethics in chare of it - or do you WANT legal headaches?

As for me, I won't make any decisions about whether I want to pursue this legally while I'm still emotionally close to it, plus I don't know if I can afford it anyway, at least not now.


PS - 

In case you're wondering, like I do, how could someone like me come across so many unethical, even scary situations in her life - does she just love drama?

I don't know, I've been in therapy a long time, trying to figure that out.

And it's when I try to get out/back away from them that I get the most trouble - I try to avoid conflict, drama, and attention as much as possible.  It's why I blog in the corner, here, without my comments open.

So if you care to tell me what I did to bring on this drama, when all I did was apply for a job, get it, and then be asked to do something for them, which I did out of good will and to be a team player, only to be cheated like this, then feel free to tell me?

I guess I'm an idiot that doesn't listen to her instincts from the get-go about people, chalking it up to her alarm bells screaming at her to just being her PTSD and dismissing it - again.

But I DID say in 2 private call meetings that I specifically didn't want it used this way without compensation.

Or you can read this previous post about the hypervigilance of PTSD making you notice things you don't wish you hadn't seen/heard and not being unable to shut it off lol.

Monday, January 1, 2024

In Answer to Some Questions ...

I was asked some questions privately by someone on what my cryptic post means two posts below.

Well, as mentioned, I started a new job in November as a transcriptionist, transcribing health-related phone responses to automated questionnaires, initiated by voice actors.

A new AI product was about to be launched where once one of our voice actors provides a single voice sample, their voice can be used to virtually say anything written in a script for outgoing calls.  

It's very cool software, but also scary - thus, all of us appeared to be worried about the ethics of it - what could happen with using anybody's voice to have them say anything.

As a transcriptionist only, I was asked to lend my voice as an internal test sample demo only, for an internal presentation  of the new AI voice product.

I agreed, but specifically said that if for some "far-fetched" reason, the client were to actually choose my voice versus our actual voice actors for their product, we might need to discuss my job description further, but of course I would, if I can help the company with an INTERNAL presentation, because I'm grateful for this job, want to be a team player, plus it was fun to do.

My supervisor said in unfortunately an unrecorded call that if that were to happen, instead of altering my job description and having it assessed for new monetary value through HR, he'd draw up a contract for me as a voice-actor contractor, like the other voice actors - separate from my current job responsibilities.

The problem is, as I said - he said this in an unrecorded Teams meeting :( 

Because what happened next is that he told me in Teams chat on Friday that the client actually DID ask to use my voice to be their public-facing outgoing voice versus our contracted voice actors , he approved it, and they launched the product. 

I was never asked if my voice could be used on an actual client product versus actual voice actors, they do not have my permission, voice acting is not in my job description, and I was not compensated for doing so. I was only ever asked to provide a test demo sample for internal use for a presentation.

My my supervisor also had said that in the unlikely event they chose my voice over the actual actors, he'd ask me first, then draw up a voice-actor contract.

That did not happen. 

My supervisor told me in chat on Friday - after it was already done. 

I was floored. I didn't know what to say or do. So I decided to just politely ask questions trying to understand what happened.

So I responded to my supervisor that I was flattered, honored -  but asked what happened, I thought he was going to ask me first, in the "far-fetched" scenario this would happen? 

He said there was no time and he was on vacation when they asked. 

(I highly doubt this - everybody was away for the holidays, including likely the client, except me as the new girl - so I highly doubt the client closed any deals during that time.)

Then I gently asked him: "Isn't this something we'd normally use one of our voice actors for?"

He got mad and said:  "I wouldn't complain, if I only had two hours of work a day, right now, if I were you."

So I said, "X, that isn't fair  😔 I have no control over the work flow during the holidays, and you said to just hang out and claim the hours anyway, it would all even out after the New Year, - but I refused - I told you it felt dishonest and wanted to save labor cost. It's all right here, in this thread."

"But I'm so sorry -  I didn't mean to sound like I was complaining, my intent was to just ask questions because I'm confused as to what happened. But I've clearly offended you and made you mad, I'm so SO sorry, forget I said anything, please?"

Then he said something about "not having enough regular work for me to justify my current position anyway" (work had dwindled during the last two holiday weeks, but would surely pick up again) - a sort of threat that I wasn't worth my keep anyway and this would justify him keeping me on.

He also said that "assistance with audio editing in your current job description could be construed in this way."

Then I said, "Okay, but have we thought about how we're going to bill this to the client?  We personally have to enter time with a code into the billing system to bill the client.  How are we going to bill them for this?  This isn't a free service for the client, so our company itself loses money if we don't bill them correctly for this."

He said that is "Above his pay grade, that wasn't his problem, the account manager could figure that out."

That isn't true - like I said, we personally have to enter anything we do for each client into the billing system with a specific code down to the half hour. 

So, I just stopped talking to him after that, in chat, did my job, and logged out.

I thought if nothing else, the last thing I said in chat before telling him the transcription report was completed was how to bill the client for this in the system and him telling me it wasn't his issue, it was the account manager's. 

At any point, if he had said "I effed up, I'm sorry, let me fix this" -or sounded remorseful in any way, we wouldn't be here.

But he didn't.  Instead,  he tried to make me worthless, my job pointless, and like I was whining for even asking what had happened.

All of this after previously being so kind to me, singing my praises  to myself and others about finishing work ahead of deadlines, taking so much workload off himself, etc.

In fact, I had said to my husband about a week ago:  "He's almost too nice, like he has an angle. I hate to say that about anyone, because kindness is a rarity, and I've been a very vocal advocate for it, but in his case, it's odd.  Because he has said many times already that he has no heart or empathy for other people, and that life is survival of the fittest, the strong will survive, the weak won't. He loves animals, but hates people - but then he's overly nice? .  

"I told him I didn't believe him because he was so nice and had empathy for cats, so he must have SOME heart. But I can't help  this feeling that if that's at least somewhat true, so he's being OTT nice because he wants something.  And what happens when he asks for it and does not get it?"

""Maya Angelou said, 'When someone tells you who they really are, believe them.' "  

Shouldda trusted my instincts, huh?

Regardless, at first, I had found myself apologizing profusely for making him mad, offending him, or seeming ungrateful or something, that wasn't my intent -  I wasn't trying to complain, I was just asking questions because I was confused about how this stuff works. 

I told him I was so grateful for the job, I would clean toilets, if that was in my job description, but it wasn't - and this is a completely separate job we're talking about and my actual literal voice - and I thought we'd talked about what would happen if this occurred, but we didn't. 

Then to ease the tension, I jokingly said "Well, can I at least put voice actor now on my resume lol?

He said "You can put that you're an astronaut on your resume" - as in "Doesn't mean it's true." 

I laughed to keep the peace, but these were really mocking, devaluing things he was saying now, trying to make me believe my job was worth nothing, my voice was worth nothing, and I was worth nothing. 

Things that, to be honest, would never fly with a man - a man would've punched him right in the face lol. 

But at first, as I said, his guilt-trip and devaluing tricks worked on me, because of my history -  and I found myself apologizing profusely for even questioning, agreeing that I was nothing, should be grateful, etc..

Then when he left Teams to go do something else, I just sat there, stunned - and I realized what he was doing - exploiting labor he already had rather than using the higher-paid voice actors he contracts with, and belittling me as to being worthless, threatening me that I wasn't needed anyway, if I didn't go along with it - and I started to get mad, but said nothing.

Instead, I called my little sister, who is successful at business, as well as our honorary son, B (who works in AI for the DOD), my brother-in-law, who is VP of Finance for NBC/Universal (although he's on a ski trip and hasn't replied yet), and my old boss. (Well, I still work for her when there's spillover work on contract.)

I asked them if I shouldn't be looking at things this way - was I looking at this like an entitled Karen or was this as wrong of him as it seemed?

My sister said "OMG, why did you keep apologizing to him? YOU haven't done anything wrong, he's totally trying to take advantage of how grateful you are for the job and how hard you work! I was worried that when he told you to fudge your hours as work dwindled during the holidays, saying it would all pan out in the end, but you refused, saying it wasn't honest, and would save the company labor cost.  I was worried that's essentially telling him he can take advantage of you, that you don't value yourself .I'm not saying this is your fault, you understand, I'm just saying he took that and ran with it, because men like him will."

"Well, I know why you reacted that way at first, because of your history. But this is HIS eff up, and he knows it, so he's just trying to blame you, devalue you, bully you, and semi-threaten your job over it now, because he knows he effed up."

"This is not what you signed up to do and not in your job description, this is a completely separate job, he's exploiting you - and he offered you job description changes if this were to occur or a separate contract, but now he's reneged."

"He has lied to you all the way through this, wants to own your voice for AI to say anything he likes for free, and then subtly threaten your job if you don't do it? He's sensed that you don't value yourself and is working it, but he's taking advantage of you, Chrystal. I'm glad you're getting mad no
w, it's warranted. Push back!  "  

I said:  "Yeah, but I didn't finish my degree, like you did. This is the world of menial labor.  This what happens when you don't finish your degree - you get hired as essentially a low-level admin/secretary and get exploited all the time.  And I'm 55, now, what options do I have?"

"I've done many things all the time that weren't in my job description, just to keep a job, including literally cleaning toilets, running personal errands for bosses, covered for them to their superiors when they no-showed for days, watched them snort coke right in front of me and dare me to tell anyone, done things that weren't company policy that could even be illegal because they told me to, put up with sexual harassment, being called a dumb bitch, had charts thrown at me, you name it, I've seen it/experienced it."

"And you don't call HR, they're there to protect the company from lawsuits FROM you, and will not protect you from retaliation.  So  if you want the job, you do it, right?"

"And although you're right about cutting my own hours during the holidays when work was dwindling to save the company labor cost is devaluing myself and sending the message that guilt works on me, in the end, I'm glad I did it and that it's in our chat thread - because he can't play the greedy card with me, we have proof otherwise."

She said "Yeah, but you're not alone anymore, a single mom and desperate now, , and this is a completed unrelated and separate job to your current job, it's like doing side art work, and this is ownership of your actual, literal  voice without your consent, Chrystal, gained under false pretense, without your permission or additional compensation - don't let them."

But I reminded her that "I'm a new employee, he's the boss.  He's a man, I'm a woman.  The first thing he'll say is that I'm crazy and made it up to discredit me. And like I said, HR is there to protect the company, not me. They have millions of dollars put aside for any legalities, I have nothing, so they will win despite the truth or how wrong it is, we know this, we've all seen it time and time again except in high-profile cases. Only people with money get true justice, and in most cases, they escape justice."

"Plus a legal precedent has not been set yet for use of AI images and voice, that's what the SAG strike was over, only at least they had contracts already for this type of work, I didn't.  In fact, that's what the NYT is suing ChatGPT and Open AI for, right now, aggregating their articles as a database without paying for them.  There is no precedent set."

"Do I really want to put myself through that battle and the "she's crazy, she's a Karen, she's a gold-digger wanting to bring the company down" backlash?  No."

"And think of people of color, they get exploited and guilt tripped all the time, they would never even think of suing because they don't have money for an attorney and they know they'd lose.  It's a very white-privileged, "I-already-have-power-and-money" thing to do."

(This is why I called M, my bro-in-law, to ask him my rights and what was owned under my current contract, but he's on a ski trip in a place with sketchy cell reception.)

B said he's 100% with me, this is someone he would not want to work for (and keep in mind, he works for the Department of Defense lol) - but as far as my voice belonging to the company now, my supervisor may be right, even if it was gleaned under false pretense and didn't have my permission, it's now company property - that it'd be a legal battle that he knows I won't want to fight and might lose because in the end, anything that's produced as an employee belongs to them, even if gleaned under false pretense and without permission, but he's not sure there's a precedent on it yet..

My old boss, who owns a very successful business in NYC,  said that this was a truly shitty thing to do,  and now my only choices are to shut up and take the paycheck, but never trust him again - or resign.  But if I stayed just to take the paycheck, that would be sending him the message he can exploit/take advantage of me any time he likes?

So I chose the latter - resignation, effective immediately, because it was already clear he was preparing for a war that would not happen, and that he would clearly be a retaliator if I told HR and stayed.

I do NOT blame the company itself - they didn't know until my resignation letter  - and they have otherwise been a dream company to work for.

No,  I blame my unethical and shady supervisor, whom I trusted to just use the voice test sample internally as a demo only, not sell it to the client without my permission or compensation. 

In my resignation letter, I told HR why I was quitting, to prevent this from happening to anyone else and to alert them that someone with a strong sense of ethics is needed to head this AI voice program.

Then I reminded them of the company's stated core values, and then I asked for them to destroy my voice sample. 

Because with this new product, all that is needed is one sample of your voice and a script they write, and they can make you say anything -  even the actual voice actors we currently have will not be necessary anymore, at some point - all they need is one sample of their voices.

I told them I don't want to fight - I know how this goes - I'm a new employee, he's the boss - I'm a woman, he's a man - and HR is to protect the company, not me. 

So I would only ask out of simple good faith, as this happened without their knowledge, for ownership of my own voice back rather than  them claiming it as company property

If they do that, then this post goes down - if they don't, it stays up forever.

And should they have any designs on suing me over this post, to get it removed  - without  providing me with proof that they've destroyed my voice sample - even though I mentioned no names - THAT is when I'd get legal,

Because at that point, I'd launch a countersuit about permissions and ownership of my voice sample, proving it was gleaned under false pretense in writing, to help set a legal precedent on ownership and accountability in these AI cases. 

I'm not very litigious, I think it's a white-privileged thing that only people with power tend to do - so only if I were to be sued, would I ever do it, in countersuit. 

But I don't think it will come to that.

 I think they genuinely didn't know and will just delete the voice sample, all of us having learned lessons in this new AI territory - and we go our separate ways with no hard feelings.

Let's just hope when they do find out, they will do the right thing - and if nothing else, they will have their legal ducks in a row beforehand, now, so this doesn't happen again and prevent their own legal headaches in the future, as well as most importantly, I hope they reconsider putting someone without ethics or morals in charge of an AI program that, in particular, would need someone with a very strong sense of ethics to engineer, even more than most jobs.

Who knows, though - if they don't delete it, you may get a call from a very large  international pharmacy company, telling you, you have a refill, asking for your email address or other personal information, or if you're satisfied with  their service,  and it may be my voice - only I never said it, never gave my permission, and was not compensated..

Happy New Year to me, right? 😆

And I was SO happy there, completely blindsided by this news on Friday. 

I'm quite sure he did this on purpose now, while everyone else was out of the office for the holidays, hoping I'd just keep my mouth shut and stay for the paycheck.  😏

It's interesting, because this was like the ultimate test of everything I've been through in life - personally and professionally.  Everything I've been through in life has brought me here.

So what have I learned?

Because I used to just let people more powerful than me "punch down" on the powerless nobody that is me, throw me  under a bus, or even off a cliff, just to hide what they've done, and I'd just walk away, not even try to fight back, there was no point.  

(I often speak up for others, but really become terrified to speak up for myself.)

So I guess what I've learned is, I still won't fight back, knowing I have no power -  or do anything vindictive later about it  - but if they try to abuse their power and make me the fall guy for their mistakes and throw me off the cliff  - I might just grab their dirty white collars and take them down with me 😉😂

 No worries - I have gone back to my old employer, who said she was "thrilled" to have me back full-time (I was already still available for  her for spillover weekend work, etc. - so all good) 😊

I won't be making as much and work is scarce, these days, but I trust my old boss completely, she values both my work and me as a human -  and that is worth all the money in the world to me 😊

Scary world we live in, folks, with AI now.

Some of the males around me are chomping at the bit to now go kick the living shit out of this sleazy coward, who imagines he's the strongest in "survival of the fittest" as his bogus battle cry - but that would solve nothing and only make things worse.

My husband especially wants to do this because he knows I had no other real option, staying would only be complicit in my own exploitation - but we lost an income that would've taken us out of debt entirely within three months, and I've lost a real retirement fund now, when I already have none from being a contractor for so many years, at 55 - so he's SUPER pissed, the coward sleeze ball did this.

But in the end, though I cut my losses as left, it's not like sleeze ball wins either, really - because he took a big gamble by thinking I'd just comply with he's devaluation and threats, because I needed the job - but he lost, too.

Because at the very least, even if HR doesn't do anything about him, there's no one else to transcribe now, but himself  😏

And there is no one to blame for that, but himself.

Thus why I said in that post: "Whosoever seeks to screw me over, may find  himself screwed."

And I'm okay, no worries - I've seen and been through myself way worse.

And like I said below, "Never let them steal your joy."

Yes, the powerful can abuse their power and steal everything else from the powerless, and there is no justice except for the rich and powerful - but there are two things they can never steal from you - - your education - and your joy 😊