Story Behind The Cartoon: Twitter Moms by Rick London

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       When it came to the Internet, I was a bit late to the party.  By 1995, I knew how to Email and use Yahoo!   As a man who has had a long legacy of “starving writer”, I really didn’t bother to learn much about the web, as, in my mind, it was probably just another cool trend that would pass and we’d be comunicating via “vibes” with our brains while floating around the moon, where we’d buying craters and other mountainous property from Newt Gingrich, Realtors, complete with a deed of mistrust. 

      My luck he’d sell me several acres on the dark side of the moon.  Sure, sounds bad but think about all the free Pink Floyd 24/7 radio stations. My wife Lee told me she’d open the only tanning salon if we moved to the dark side.  

    So a few years after “the next big thing” came along which was Google and later MySpace, I had a feeling I better learn this stuff.

     So I signed up at one of the better colleges in the country that teaches how to do business using the Internet. I still feel blessed that I had that experience and learned things I probably could not have learned anywhere else.  It is called Western Governor’s University and is known to have some of the best professors and advisory board of any college in the country. And looking at other’ scurricula  I find it hard to disagree.

     During that time as a student in my late forties and early fifties, Twitter was born.  I was not sure what to think of it.  Could it beat MySpace? Probably so. But what about that other new one facebook?
Possibly.  But I decided to learn both of them and work hard to get my name out there. 

     Though I have no children of my own, I’ve worked with many kids teaching them the arts and martial arts.  This GenX (or whomever they are) are a lot smarter and more savvy than we were at their age.  As far as the birds and the bees, seems like they were born knowing that topic.

      They wanted to talk geek stuff, search engines and later SEO.  I knew a little of some of that stuff so they deemed me “cool” (for an old geezer). I was about 44 at the time. I’m now 59.

      When my workshop/classes ended each day, generally if they didn’t walk or ride the bus home one of their parents. Most of them were age 6-15.  For those of my generations if I told you the kinds of things they talk to each other about (and to their parents) you would screech on breaks.  When I first heard their favorite topics of conversations, I thought I misheard several things due to the fact that my hearing is not that great.

       Sadly, my hearing is fairly good and I heard what I heard.  I’m no prude, and frankly these kids were not rude, not misogynist, or hateful in any way.  They simply talked about topics that were very taboo, especially when I was their age, and even more especially in conversations with our parents.

      So rather than get all depressed and stuff about being an ancient dinosaur, I came up with this cartoon.  I think it explains how I felt, and how they think and talk.

       Not long after we completed this cartoon, my first cousin’s son asked her a question very similar to what was in the cartoon.  She got a very good laugh out of that, as I’d sent her a matted glossy copy. She hung it in his room, and told him he’d understand it one day….my feeling is…he probably already does….after all he’s 5 and a half. 

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for his Londons Times Cartoons which have been Google #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts since 2005. He is married to popular nature photographer /blogger Lee Hiller-London who owns numerous online shops of thousands of products bearing her licensed photography images.  She also creates art with a likeness to Peter Maxx/mixed with nature and sea world scenes. 

I Thought My Wife Lee Was Designing My Twitter Background. She Had Designed A Work Of Art by Rick London

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There are two geeks in the London home. I am one of them, an Internet geek.  The other geek is my beloved talented wife Lee Hiller-London who is more of a software and design geek.  

She taught me a long time ago that though Twitter is an amazing social network with potential beyond most others, if one’s Twitter welcome page is not alluring, nobody will hang around very long.  

She designed my 1st Twitter background about 4 years ago.  Today she decided it was time for a change and designed another one.  It is located @RickLondon (my personal page) and at @LTCartoons (The Londons Times Cartoon Twitter page). 

Thank you baby. It doesn’t get more alluring than this.  I invite all to view what she did with her page as well at @LeeHillerLondon x0x00x  Amazing work.  Hey all, please follow us. 

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Rick London is a writer, designer and cartoonist.  He founded Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons and funny gifts “Londons Times” in 1997. He lives in the Ouachita Mountains with his nature photographer wife Lee Hiller London where they enjoy nature and hiking.  They are active in animal and green causes 

Deleting Haters From One’s Group Is Not Always Easy, But Always Necessary

     I live a simple life.  It is what I would call a good life.  I’m not extremely wealthy; nor do I live in a mansion, but I live in a beautiful part of the world, with the woman whom I love, Lee Hiller-London.     

      I have a few digital design, computer, and marketing skills, which makes it easy for me to choose a place I want to live.  Thanks to the Internet combined with those basic skills, I can fairly easily make a living from my living room as can Lee after developing her photos from her hike.  She knows the importance of me hiking several times a week with her as I bring along with my one of my professors told me to call “my genius pad”. Nature has a way of bringing out the genius in the most mundane of all of us.  I remember telling him, “But I’m not a genius. What is the use of carrying the pad? “He responded, “You will be when you jot down the fleeting idea on paper that 99.9% continue to let fleet until they forget it by the time they got home.

     This theory has proven itself over and over again; no I don’t consider myself a genius by any means but I clearly see why the brightest of the bright keep a pen and pad always within reach wherever they are.  

     This week was a very bad week.  No, it wasn’t because I forgot my “genius pad” or couldn’t think up anything funny that would make it as a cartoon, it was people. Personality conflict. 

     I will start with facebook “friend #1. Let’s just call him FBF#1 for now. I rarely talk to him, but I always got along with him growing up. He seemed friendly and occasionally visited one of my more popular facebook groups about growing up southern.   I occasionally like to kid around; just to see if people are awake and paying attention. I found an old movie marquee with Dorothy, Toto and one of the flying monkey-monsters and said, “You guys want believe this but I just discovered a new film on Netflix called “Wizard Of Oz”. It has cool special effects, flying monkeys, a wizard who speaks from behind a curtain, a tornado scene and all kinds of cool stuff. I think it’s going to be a hit.  Most of my friends had this or that funny sarcastic thing to say except for one. 

     FBF#1 was someone I’d known in real life, but not that well…fortunately.  He added, “Oh, and look at the monkey. It looks just like Obama and I didn’t know he was acting too”. 

     I didn’t take the post down immediately nor did I take his racial slur down. He is allegedly a respected man around my hometown, and I wanted people to see who he really was. 

     A few days later he sent me a private message telling me I was so wrong that…ready…..”Some of his best friends are black” (I kid you not); do people still fall for that old faux line?  Worse yet, do people still use it? I guess so. But it gets better.  When the event happened, his icon photo was that of a bright red Indianapolis 500 racecar.  When he wrote me the private message to basically “go straight to hell” (not his exact working but I got the picture”, he had taken off the Indie 500 racecar and found a picture of himself in an office with a black man’s arm around him.  Big buds.  So, within 48 hours, he was able to find that photo to prove his point (thinking I didn’t remember what he had up) and change it to prove me a liar. 

    Sadly, he is not savvy in the least about facebook and bullying. He is more so now.  I not only took a screenshot of what he actually said, and what I actually said, and kept one copy and sent one copy to facebook security.  They are now monitoring his every move. Last I saw he started a group exactly like mine (so he is as original as he is IQ-challenged). I hope he gets 5 times the membership I have. Then he’ll get to have to play arbitrator and see what it’s like when a conflict occurs. And there will be many in his group. He offers no rules or terms of service.  If he goes with what his philosophy is, racism is okay, as long as it is comparing a U.S. President he doesn’t like to a monkey.  He’s in for the time of his life.

     He told me in his private facebook mail to me that I called him a racist, bigot etc.  Problem is I have the actual screenshot which is considered CYBER-DNA proof; and he is lying; so he’s probably lying to others as well.  Good thing he is nobody of any significance. I get the feeling the people who run in his circle would be better off thinking I’m a liar and no good SOB.  All is better that way. They stay out of my way and I stay out of theirs.  But if it ever came to a head. Facebook security thanked me the screenshot; and if he ever causes trouble with it, he’s up against them, not me.  Good luck big bad guy.                            

    More irony is, I couldn’t care less if he doesn’t like Obama.  He can even say so I a tactful way but not attack the candidate as that is not allowed in our group. The same is true of Romney. No personal attacks against people period, politicians or not.  It has worked very well for me. With over 900 members, we’ve only had to ask 7 to leave in a year’s time.

    So I finally caught my breath and that was over.  We live in volatile sensitive times and I realize some people are ill (compulsion is an illness) and they cannot help themselves when posting such filth. I compare it to pornography and in many ways it is. The reaction of the creator of it is meant to do the same thing.  And I don’t allow pornographers in my tweet stream.

     As if that incident was not enough to raise my blood pressure (remember we are trying to keep it down); after 2 major heart attacks and my only arteries working on stents, that kind of behavior especially cannot be tolerated.  In fact, my cardiologist says block it immediately.  Do not get caught up in others neurosis, sociopathic, or psychotic behavior.

     Then two days later I was blind-sided by another one. This time it was a librarian friend from many years ago; about 20 years to be precise.  I welcomed her to facebook when I saw she’d just shown up and invited her to my Southern Group. I then left and went about my business of designing or promoting as I often do. 

      I usually check in every hour or so but something told me to do so earlier.  People were posting their favorite childhood shows as we often do, but there was one problem.  This university educated librarian who has worked with children for years, listed her very favorite as “Amos And Andy”.  Though I understood the post, I did not understand the “no follow up. Let me explain.

     Most of u were about three years old when that show was produced, and most of us found it funny. Of course we did not have a clue what “black face” meant; and that the show was specifically created to use white men and woman to depict African-American men and women to make them seem to have a lower IQ.  

    So she could have easily said, (and felt like I did); when I was 3 I loved Amos And Andy, but of course I was too young and immature to understand that the producers were utilizing the media to further their agenda of insidious (close to Machiavellian racism), and if I had known better at the time, chances are very slim I would have watched it.  I can surely understand why it was taken off the air and removed from syndication and most if not all the law suits against it were lost (by the producers of the show).

     The librarian didn’t understand I was trying to help her I did not say a word in public. I took it private; to her facebook message box.  So she would know I had no intention of embarrassing her but I had to let her know the rules (TOS) which she’d not read.  Of course she really wouldn’t have had to read the rules to know if that was right or wrong.  She’d been to college and worked with kids for several decades. 

     Her answer was, “Then Rick, you might as well fight to keep people from talking about the Bill Cosby Show, Fat Albert, Sanford & Son.  She really didn’t get it.  She thought I was giving her a hard time and that my beef was with childhood favorites that had black characters. 

     My problem was with white racists who produced the shows in a manner that made them funny, hard to hate (the characters were likeable); I l enjoyed the whole cast of Amos And Andy, but I was 3 years old for goodness sake. I am 57 now and the librarian is nearly that age.  Does she think the same now as she did when she was 3? I so, of course therapy is in order and soon.  

      I am not the man I was even ten years ago, and hope I never go back to who he was; he had a few good qualities but he did not live up to the ideals I had set for myself.  And I sure as hell hope that ten years from now, I am still the man I am today.  If I haven’t changed, someone just take me and stick needles in my eyes.  I like a lot of my qualities.  But I am not even close to the type of man I hope I am becoming. 

      But I must have learned and made some positive changes since I was three.  For instance, I know without a doubt, that Amos And Andy (and any black face show) was created for a dual purpose. One was to entertain (and it often did that quite well) and the other was to subtly keep us in a vicious cycle of hating a race of good people, without even knowing why; to think we were better than them, again,   for not even knowing why. 

      My hopes were to give the librarian another chance.  I knew her to be a better person than what she was presenting herself to be.  I’ve worked in major network TV. I know exactly how those slants and spins are done with “agenda shows” and though black face is no longer used, socio-political issues that were barely mentioned a decade ago; are so today. And sometimes that is a good thing. If it gets a message across such as explaining the U.S. Constitution in easy terms, I’m all for it.  Some have a very hard time with it and get it mixed up with their early Sunday School teachings.

     Sometimes the two parallel, and sometimes they are diametrically opposed. Our personal religions and faiths are for us, not for the world.  And the USA is loaded with persons of all kinds of faiths (and many with no faiths at all).  Everyone in this great country deserves equal rights, no matter what they believe, or not (believe).  That is the main item on the “menu” of the U.S. Constitution that makes it so much different than the Constitutions of so many other countries. There are websites now in which you can read the Constitutions of the world; in fact; type in “Constitutions of the world” into Google and it may surprise you to see how very much all our Constitutions are; except for a few little subtleties which make America great.  That one about equal rights for all is one of “the biggies” and unless it flies; we might as well be living in Syria or the former Iraq or Libya.  I wish I were kidding, but any scholarly sociologist or other expert can easily back me up on it.

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons in 1997 in an abandoned tin Ms. warehouse. It has been Google’s #1 offbeat Cartoon since 2005 and Bing’s #1 since 2008.  They both also have his funny gifts ranked at #1.  He is married to his love and best friend, nature photographer Lee Hiller London.  who runs the very popular blog HikeOurPlanet.com.  Both enjoy hiking and photographic their beloved Ouachita Mountains at Hot Springs National Park.

 

Bullying, Politics, Herman Cain, Joe Paterno & You Name It..It’s Here by Rick London

              I just read a Twitter post about bullying written by a guy I know to be a bully.   The government of Iran wants to blow us up.  Herman Cain probably chases women, and is sort of sure who President Obama is and what Libya is.  Jerry Sandusky is very ill and a criminal.  Joe Paterno went from hero to great disappointment and possibly a criminal along with the ex President of Penn State.  Syracuse has come out with similar allegations.  Let’s not be surprise but there could be more.  Ironically I’m not that much of a news junkie and certainly not a political animal.  I love nature, hiking, and watching Netflix movies with my wife. I occasionally make people laugh with my cartoons.

        On the other hand…………………….

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      Our economy is on the skids, and politicians are circling the Presidental wagon. Rick Perry says “Whoops” in a cute way in which he does not pronounce his “W’s”, but we’re in big big trouble when Ron Paul has to give him the answer to an easy beltway trivia question.  The thirty year old Natalie Wood case is being reopened. Famous Hollywood Couples are announcing not only their divorces but “What the marriage meant to them” on Twitter.  Newt’s wife likes Tiffany’s.  Newt “did it with women” for our country.  One has to ask, did she yell “Oh Newt baby Sign me with you John Hancock” at, um…the end of the act?  Michele Bachman applauds our founding fathers for freeing the slaves.  She’s anti-socialism but got one of the largest social farm grants ever (then voted against it).  Romney passed a health care bill more socialist than Obamacare while in Ma. (but says now “that kind of bill only works in states). Oh.  LOL.  Uh, Mitt…this is the United States. 50 of them. Ok, never mind.  The whole thing, Democrat and Republican is the keystone cops we’ve come to expect

      My homestate  of Mississippi voted on a bill called Personhood. Fortunately it was unanimously voted down but had it passed something like a wet dream and one could have found oneself life in Parchman or even the chair. A miscarriage could have meant solitary confinement or something like that.  God knows what a menstrual cycle could have gotten ya.  I don’t even want to know.  Kudos for Mississippi for knowing better than insanity.  Much better.

John Huntsman is quiet….and sane; and is actually the only one of the candidates on either side who has stated publicly exactly what the job description of President is.  Can you imagine..a candidate that actually understands the job. I know, I know…he’s not exciting/charismatic enough but has cute daughters.

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     Obama is smart but not in the least when it comes to economics (excellent on snuffing out big time terrorists and my hat’s off to him for that).  Congress is dismal.  Occupy Wall Street is worldwide but can you imagine the greedy 1% suddenly begin throwing money to them out their high-rise windows in complete shame and guilt with tears running down their eyes? Ain’t gonna happen.  Life is compromise and both sides will one day learn that.  Maybe the hard way.  Hope not.       

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       I am a designer and write cartoons and blogs and am sometimes asked, “What goes through your head?” (see above paragraph).  And even when the items in the above paragraph (to borrow a phrase from Herman Cain “are twirling through my head”), there is always the chance of creative or writer’s block.

      When that happens, I have learned over the years never to mention it, at least not on social media or in public.  When I used to, I found myself surrounded by the dregs of society known as “life coaches” willing to sell it back to me (for a nominal fee starting at app. $5000), but I get a lot of their cool cd’s and workbooks).  So it’s a tough decision.  When questioned what they have done on a creative level etc.  I’m often led to their “free ebook”.  They have a similar demeanor of an Elmer Gantry or a moat of crocodiles surrounding a once creative human in a moat who could write and swim but suddenly has writers and swimmers block.  The only difference between a crocodile and a life coach is the crocodile has not learned to charge exorbitant fees for eating you alive.

         So I have these online shops you see and they sell my designs on products like tees, mugs, mouse pads, aprons, etc ., and its starting to get busy again.  I asked myself why, as I could tell many were buying gift items.  I never used to shop for Christmas or Hanukah gifts this early, but some started in the summer.  Why?  It’s simple.  Best prices and service (which still exists as I decided to keep it all the same all the way through the 2012.  But also many like to get it out of the way. Keep in mind these are usually folks who’ve not been bankrupted previously by the crafty lifecoach. 

        When (again thanks Herman) my mind begins twirling with all the things around me, I think of why I’m grateful. I have the most wonderful wife in the world.  Our home office eclipses the most beautifully mountain in the Ouchita Range (possibly the world). We hike it and others when we want to. Our quality of living is very high, cost of living very low.   We have no debt. Our cars are paid in full.  We both are published authors and have our own brand businesses. 

      Are we smarter, more talented, better than anyone else? Not in the least.  I mention that because people sometimes ask “our secret”.  Its far from being a secret.  I can only say, “Start where you are; even if its at the bottom. That is where I was.  Learn. Ask questions.  Stay persistent.  Keep working.  And when something sidetracks you (and it will); forgive yourself and go back to work.  On several occasions over the past year, Lee and I found ourselves entrapped in “helping someone else build their empires for slave labor”. We gave them every opportunity to offer some kind of compensation.  They totally ignored they were doing anything wrong….our answer?  We totally ignored them. 

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     We don’t mind helping others succeed, but help us back.  It need not be money. It can be promotion, co-branding, etc. but please, please, understand fully what that means.  It can’t be what you want it to mean, or what some life coach taught you.

     Otherwise, Lee and I design some of the most unique (we think) gift items on the planet. So its okay if we go it alone (we have a great deal of fun).

      That is the way it should be for you too, but please be advised,  chances are good it won’t happen overnight.  I’ve been at it 14 years and Lee has been at it 2 years.  There are many sleepless nights and lots of fires to extinguish and still much to learn (for us). 

And we both started at middle age.   So can you.  Now get to work but first visit our shops and buy things so you’ll know even better how its done.  J    See, I can act like a life coach too.    

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I’m just a goofy vegan mountain man who has developed a few talents (though that is a matter of opinion). I’m a freelance writer, cartoonist, and designer. I write music; and my wife Lee Hiller-London and I are active in childrens, animal, and environmental causes. I founded Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts in 1997 which have remained Google’s #1 ranked on the Internet since 2005.  I founded the world’s only famous love quote shoes & gifts called Shoes That Amuse (USA Today Like’s ’em), and Wisdom Quote Shoes & Unique Gifts at my Rick London Wisdom Shop. 

 

 

Quote Theft On Twitter & facebook by Rick London

There is a new kind of plagiarism that is sweeping the Internet by storm.  Quote theft.  Taking a famous, or not-so-famous quote about love, philosophy, inspiration, motivation etc. and leaving off the original author of the quote, or changing the wording just a bit, calling it ones own and posting it into social media or into one’s blog is intellectual property theft.

Before leaving old England, our founding fathers (and mothers) were sick and tired, not of just of losing rights to tangible property, but also to non-tangible property such as their writings, often including quotes they had written, and being credited to someone with more power.  They keenly understood that creating such quotes and writings is real work, no different than plumbing, medicine, law, or any other profession.  The word or art that was created was their property, no different than land that we purchase and have ownership rights. If someone came along and partitioned off a section of our property, we would not stand for it, most likely.  Hopefully if we see one of our creations, whether it be words or art, copied, but without our name, we would speak up.

When I first started in cartooning, this happened to the point to where I couldn’t handle it myself and had to call in an attorney to warn those posting my works without my credit. It was not that I was that great, and everyone had to have my work and take credit, it was that they were that bad, and couldn’t come up with something on their own.  I’m not feigning modesty…and its not that I’m that great now, I am, in my mind, presentable, and people enjoy my work. When I look back to much of the work that we created at the start fourteen years ago, I cringe at much of it.

I enjoy writing quotes. Mine are often humorous quotes (or at least that is my intention), and nothing like “the masters” such as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, etc.  A day doesn’t go by that I don’t see this type of theft conducted on both facebook and Twitter; often by otherwise “respectable” sometimes even household names.

The first time it happened to me by one of the big dogs; my wife Lee Hiller-London found it in a high profile well-respected online tech magazine.  They offer blogs to their “reporters”. One of their bloggers lifted one of our early cartoons, removed the text and credits, typed his own and posted. The only problem was he forgot to remove the tag; and we found it on Google under his name at his blog. That tech magazine is owned by one of the three major TV networks.  I immediately shot off an email to their legal department and even though they removed it the same day, it was not before it was picked up by hundreds of other blogs.  Normally I would not get so shaken, stirred but never shaken, but the author, who had to be “on something” not only removed all our credits, but added credits in his article adjacent to the tampered cartoon.  He used our good name to attack a major corporation with which he apparently had “a beef”.

Other than lack of creativity and/or motivation, there is another perfect reason not to conduct this type of activity.  There is a new breed of lawyer that “hangs out” at Twitter and facebook looking for this very thing.    Early on, I explained this to my facebook and Twitter friends and many of them took my advice.  Many others kept doing it, and yet others continued to take well-known quotes; change a few words, and take credit; just as repulsive.

After fighting with the large TV network and their tech magazine to get my altered cartoon removed, I decided not to spend a lot of time and energy on instructing other adults how to prevent making a big mess.   Lee advised me to “Not clean up other adult’s messes, even if they are friends”.  That is hard because I was taught “that’s what friends are for”, but she’s right; you can instruct a friend, and hope they heed the advice, but if they don’t it is only enabling if trying to go in to clean up the mess.  I rely on friends who know more than me to counsel me as well on all types of topics.  Most of it is common sense behavior, “Do unto others…” etc.  But some has shades of gray and I often need advice and ask for it from others who have trail blazed before me; and I’m grateful that often they do so.  When I mess up, and I do, it is not intentional (I’d be perfect if I thought that could ever be possible); but the best I can do is try to mess up less today than yesterday; and that is more than just a lofty goal for anyone I think.

Last night, I  was reading my stream on facebook.  Suddenly I had a very sick feeling in my stomach.  I saw a quote by the great philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (slightly altered) and posted by a relative of mine flow down the facebook stream. Kierkegaard’s name was not attached to the quote.

My initial feeling was to send a private message to my dear relative and explain the importance of “not shoplifting quotes”.  But I decided on Lee’s counsel who gave me the same common sense approach that applies to friends. “You can’t clean up other adult’s messes”. I rebelled a little with a response, “But this relative is young, in college, and may not know better. Maybe some of her professors are doing it, and do know better but don’t care”.  (I hope readers are getting my point here; it’s not just a mean thing to do, it is Unconstitutional and anti-everything for which our founding fathers (and mothers) stood.

So I turned off the computer, and faded into an uneasy sleep; knowing that, no matter how much I love a friend or relative,  it is my responsibility to understand the important boundary that they are adults too (even if some young adults). I can’t modify or change a behavior in anyone but myself (and as I mentioned, in case you didn’t notice, I am far from perfect).

The best I can do is write blogs like this and hope that the ones I love, and even the ones I may not love so much “get it”.

Addendum:  My wife Lee writes gorgeous quotes about life, wisdom, the universe, love and much more.  She has a wonderful coffee table photography book “The Nature Of Love” at Amazon, B & N, etc featuring many of her early “love quote” muses to me and nature photos.  We can’t even count the times people have lifted her quotes; changed a few words, and posted them on facebook or Twitter (or both) giving themselves credit.  The oddest thing of all is, this has happened more often with “so called” friends with whom we’ve both chatted, not complete strangers. We still are at a loss how to handle that one but if anyone has any ideas,  please advise.  It is a hideous thing to look up and see your own quote slightly altered, going down your social media stream.  For those who don’t understand, writing such quotes (along with her photography and product design) is her work.  People who do this are stealing her work even if only one word is altered and removing her name on the credits.

 

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Rick London is a freelance writer, designer and cartoonist.  He and his wife Lee Hiller-London are active in animal and environmental causes.  He founded Google’s #1 ranked offbeat cartoons “Londons Times” and numerous stores featuring over a quarter of a million funny gifts bearing his cartoon images.