Blogging and plagiarism

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

I rarely find something upsetting.

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

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

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

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

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

And then I felt kinda bad.



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

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

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

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

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

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


Wishful thinking

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

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

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

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

I like when wishful thinking comes through.