Free Transcript Project – #13

Pushing Upstream – Episode 01 – St Louis Post Dispatch & DNA Testing

YouTube Channel : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRCr8a7XCdy164safAuDIOw

Host :
Twitter : @WinstonWolfe333
Steemit : https://steemit.com/@winstonwolfe


 

[INTRO MUSIC]

Winston Wolfe (Host) : My name is Winston Wolfe, and you’re listening to “Pushing Upstream”. I was born in 1979, in the midwest, and adopted eight days later. Now, at almost 39 years old I’ve begun the search for my birth family, and I started this podcast to document my experiences. I invite you to join me on my journey… Today is June 22nd, 2018. This is Episode #01. The day after I recorded the pilot Episode #00, there was an article that was posted by Kurt Erickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. [This] could not have come at a more perfect timing, in my opinion. The name of the article is “Long wait for adoptees seeking birth records in Missouri”. Essentially, whenever the law went into enactment on the 1st of January, for those over the age of 18, people were warned that the wait period could be between three to six months. However, it looks like – considering the number of requests they received; which they didn’t anticipate – apparently the wait time has actually been extended to nearly nine months. Now I personally have not been able to submit my form yet, [although] I stll plan to. But it looks like I’m going to need to plan for a wait period of probably up to about a year. Needless to day, this is a little disappointing. According to the article it looks like 848 people have been provided with either a copy of their original birth certificate, or notified that the agency dd not have a record on file for them. This is something I’m kind of worried about – not necessarily that they won’t have a record; that would be disappointing in and of itself. But also to find out that information may have been redacted. As I said in the previous episode, there is a form you can submit if you are a birth parent, if you decide you don’t want that information divulged. The way I understand that it works is [that] if both parents fill that form out the record is completely unavailable. If only one of them fills out that form, then essentially, you would get a record that has that information marked out. But to be honest, even if I’m not able to get any sort of document – anything that shows any information about either one of my birth parents – no matter what the outcome is going to be I plan on submitting it anyway, and basically planning for probably up to about a year to get anything back, as I said. In the meantime, however, there are plenty of other things I can be doing. I can be searching online. I can also submit my DNA – for example, through Ancestry.com, or through 23andMe.com. Since I released the pilot episode about four days ago I have joined all kinds of Facebook groups for people who are essentially “adopted and searching”. I know that’s actually the name of one of them. There are several different groups like this too, and I’m seeing stories popping up by the hour – from people who are getting results back, people who have had results and have tried contacting the people that it says they are connected to; both positive and negative. I’m seeing things where it almost seemed as if the birth families were simply waiting to be found, and accepted their long-lost child – [laughter] now an adult – with open arms. This is kind of what I’m hoping for maybe. Meanwhile, other people are finding it very difficult to contact their birth family – some of whom are saying things like, “We have come to terms with what we’ve done, and moved on, and we really don’t want to talk.” This is heartbreaking to me – [these] people who are on this journey of self-discovery, [to] find out where they came from, and to see what kind of people they came from, and are being rejected. I’m even seen cases where people are contacting half-siblings they never knew they even had, and are very easily able to talk to some of them, but whenever they try to talk to the actual birth parent [they’re] being rejected. Now, the thing with Ancestry.com – just to kind of talk about that for a minute. This is something I’m actually kind of excited about, because even if I don’t find anybody I can still get some information about my genetic health background, which is very important to me, and important for me for my son. But essentially, for about $100 [USD] from Ancestry.com you can order a DNA kit. It just comes with – to my knowledge – when you receive the kit it comes with a kind of tube, and you fill it up with some saliva and that’s it. You just sent it off and wait for about a month [or] two months, [or] something like that, for your results. [It’s the] same thing with 23andMe.com. Both of these services offer family genetic testing, [which basically will] show you who, genetically, you’re linked to, if the people that it says you’re linked to have decided to make it public, and make themselves able to be contacted. With 23andMe.com, however, not only do you get that, and not only – like [Ancestry.com] – do you get the ethnic background test — which, by the way, I understand should kind of be taken with a grain of salt, because it’s not perfect. But they also offer a service for $199 [USD], which provides that information, but also gives you your genetic health background. Like I said, this is important to me – for me and my son – because I know nothing about my genetic background, obviously, and my son only has half of the information that he needs – which is on his mother’s side, of course. Now granted, I’ve not really ever been terribly sick, aside from just the normal sicknesses people get on and off. [For example], I’ve never had to go spend the night in [a] hospital. I never had a surgery. I’ve never broken a bone. I don’t even wear glasses. But who’s to say that somewhere down on my birth father’s side they don’t have a history of early-40s heart attacks, or anything like that. I need to know what it is I’m up against. Of course, aside from being able to get those services, those two places – [Ancestry.com] and 23andMe.com – they also offer you the ability to download, essentially, the raw data on your DNA. Then once you’ve got that you can upload it to other databases that people upload that information to. For example, MyHeritage.com, GEDMatch.com, FTDNA – which is also [FamilyTreeDNA.com] – and [Promethease.com]. I understand that Promethease actually has a huge breakdown that they can give you on a lot of information about your DNA. I’m interested in submitting to all of these. You’ve got to set those trot lines. Another really useful resource I thought I found, actually, was on a website called AdoptionDatabase.Quickbase.com. I actually found that one by simply Googling “adoption database for Missouri”. That’s really it. There’s all kinds of listings. When you go in there – again, it’s going to be one of those things where it completely relies on the people you’re looking for having gone there and paid to make an entry. I think it’s like $10 [USD], and you can make an entry saying, for example, “I’m a birth mother, and I’m looking for an adoptee who was born on [this] date, in [this] county, in [this] city, in [this] state, on [this]…” you know, and “… you can tell at the hospital, [and] you can tell at the adoption agency that was involved ..” On that particular web site I found an entry that was very, very similar to mine – so much so that I thought, ‘You know what? Even though there’s this one piece of information, of all of the available information on this entry, that’s incorrect, I’m still going to take a look. I’m going to go ahead and see what I can find out.’ I’m going to talk about that, but not on this episode. But to sum up, essentially, everything on that entry that I found was on par with what I expected to find, except that the birthday was wrong. Now, I almost didn’t look at this entry, but then after reading article, after article, after article on advice for people who are on this journey, and on this search, in particular the one thing they said was, “Even if some information is incorrect, if your gut tells you that it’s worth looking into don’t pass it up. Look into it.” So I did, and again, I’m going to save that for a different episode, because that was an interesting experience. It was the first contact I made, and while it was a little bit of a letdown at the same time, I can’t help but wonder if this is not just kind of part of the process for a lot of people. I’m sure it is. I don’t have to really wonder. I’m sure that it is. I know that it is. [There’s] lots of “false positives”. [There’s] lots of getting not only your hopes up. but the person you’re contacting – getting their hopes up too – and having to apologize for that, and then wishing each other “better luck next time”. Now one thing that I will talk about [is that] in the last episode I mentioned several different things that I had wondered over the years. For example: Are they still alive? Are they looking for me? Have I met them and not even known it? That one in particular – that last one about having met them and not known it – there was something that happened to me about 18 years ago, when I worked at a camera store. There was a woman and her daughter – who must have been probably five years younger than me, or so – who came into the store looking for a camera for the young girl. So, of course, I helped these folks out, [showing] them a lot of the point-and-shoot cameras, and I think she might have been interested in one of the Olympus models. The more I was looking at her [I thought] to myself, ‘She could be my sister. This girl could be my sister. She looks like I’m looking into a mirror at a female version of myself.’ I can’t be the only person that’s had that experience, where they’re looking around at people and they find somebody and just kind of look them right in the face and go, ‘My god!’ You know? How do you approach that? How do you go, “Did you by chance have a child that you adopted out in 1979?” How do you drop that? [laughter] You don’t. [There’s] no socially acceptable way to just stumble into that conversation, like, “Nice weather, huh? Did you ever adopt a kid out?” [laughter]. It just doesn’t work that way. So I just had to kind of stand there, and I helped them just fine. I sold her a camera, but I never saw them again, to my knowledge. I just [have] never had that experience with anybody else – to look at somebody and go, ‘I wonder?’ You know, there’s enough similarities in physical appearance that ‘I wonder’. Now, of course, here we are in 2018 and it’s so easy to do a DNA test now, and throw that data into a database to see who links up to you. How much would that have cost 18 years ago? I don’t even know. [I was] probably pretty expensive. I don’t even think the technology was nearly up to par then as it is now – just as with, of course, any other technology – so we really do live in the future [laughter], so to speak. So yeah, that was a unique experience that I wasn’t sure how to describe, [and] I wasn’t sure how to share, over the years. It’s just been one of those things, but it is what it is. This afternoon, on one of the Facebook gourps that I’m a part of for adoptees who are searching, or family members looking for other family members, there was someone on here who wrote – as if they were speaking to their birth child – a post on their 40th birthday. Now I won’t read the whole thing, but I do want to read a couple of highlights, and I think you’ll like where this ended. She said, “You are 40 today. I don’t want to interrupt your life. I don’t want to upset you. I only want to know that you are okay. I was very young when you were born. I wanted to keep you, but couldn’t. The reasons seem trivial now – now that I’m older, and wiser, and not to naive. Do I blame my mother who told me I couldn’t come home if I brought you with me? No, I should have been braver. I should have been stronger. But I wanted you to have a life, a home, a family. Not what I had – a turmoil. You came early – very early. You only weighed one pound and fifteen ounces, but you were beautiful, you were a screamer, and you were mine. I always worried that you had health issues because you were so small. I hope not. I pray not. You are mine, so I know you are a fighter. so if you’re looking I am here. If you’re looking Im not ashamed. If you’re looking, you have family who know about you, who care about you, [and] who want to know you. If you are looking, find me.” Then further down she says, “I wrote you a letter that was supposed to be given to your adopted parents, but who knows if it was given to them. I’ve never kept you a secret, and anyone who knows me knows about you. I hope to meet you one day. I hope to be as much a part of your life as you will allow. I love you.” So I actually went ahead and responded to her, because as somebody in her birth daughter’s position, I think [that] for somebody who sounds so distaught over it – and no blame there – that maybe she could use a little perspective from somebody in our position. I told her, “I’m about two-and-a-half weeks away from being 39. Both of my wonderful adopted parents have passed away recently – dad four years ago, and mom just this past September. I remember thinking years ago that I would feel guilty for searching for my birth parents, because I didn’t want my adopted ones to believe that I was doing it to replace them, or because they weren’t good enough. But I remember one of the last things my mom said to me before she passed away – and keep in mind [that] she had kidney failure and faded into a coma before passing a few days later – was that she was sorry that she didn’t know more about who my birth parents were – or who my birth mother, in particular, was. But I somehow feel that it’s more respectful to them that I waited to embark on this search for my birth parents until now. At one point I’d made peace with not knowing. But now that I’ve got a little boy of my own I feel like I need to do it. I’ve got a non-identifying letter, that was given over to my adopted parents with me at the time of the adoption, as well as a stack of children’s books, a greeting card congratulating my parents on their new baby, and a ring that she wanted me to wear when I got older. Just because they are 40 I don’t think you should convince yourself that they don’t think about you, or that they’re not maybe trying to find you. I just began my search four days ago, and I’ve got some tasks ahead before I can even get a first wave of any useful information. If I can find her I just hope that my birth mother is as anxious to hear from me as you are of your daughter.” So there it is. As I continue on my search I’m learning a lot about other people, and I’m also finding that my story is pretty cut-and-dry, compared to a lot of the ones I’m seeing. For example, I’m finding a lot of people who aren’t adopted, but are doing DNA tests for trying to do family trees, or find out about their ethnic backgrounds a little bit deeper – and in my detail – and in the process they’re uncovering some pretty ugly family secrets. I can think of one instance where a brother and a sister both did a DNA test, and when the taste came back the brother only had half of the people connected to him as the sister did to her, but also had an entire list of people that they’d never heard of before. So essentially – for a lack of a better way to put it – it seems as though the mother in the situation may have been unfiathful. This is a huge secret that can just be blown wide open in a family, and [I have] to admit I’m grateful that that’s not something I’m worried about. I’m not connected to anybody, so everyone I find is going to be a surprise. My hope is that I’m not the secret. On the other hand, I need to go by what I originally said, which was, ‘No matter what the outcome, I want to do this.’ I can be tactful about it, [and] respectful. I get it. [Whenever] I talk about my letter – and I’ll read it, like I’ve said before; I’ll save that for another episode as well. I think you’ll find, like I did, that it seems that my birth parents were probably pretty young, [and] they weren’t ready. I get it. You know, adoption is a fantastic option. It beats the alternative. If you’re not going to keep a kid it beats the alternative. Like I said in the last episode, I’m grateful for the life I’ve had. I don’t know what it would have been had I not been adopted, so I’m not going to speculate, but I certainly have no complaints about the upbringing I got. By as I said, I think that’ll probably do it for this episode, and I’ll go ahead and kind of leave things where thy are right now. In the next episode I think I’d like to discuss the experience of making that first contact – doing the research, and ultimately how I came to the conclusion – before even making that contact – that I was probably not on the right trail. In the meantime, thank you again to all of my listeners. I enjoy recording these episodes and releasing them, and your feedback, of course, is important to me. In fact, I’ve created a new email address for you to send questions to if you want. That email address is : PushingUpstreamPodcast.Gmail.com. For those of you listeners out there who are on your own journeys, don’t give up. Never stop searching, no matter how discouraged you get, because ultimately you don’t know if the people you’re looking for are waiting to be found. But for now, that’s it for this episode. I hope you’ll join me in the next episode, and of course, thanks again for listening. We’ll see you next time…

 

[OUTRO MUSIC]

 

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“Day 5 : Evaluating Online Transcription Companies”

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It has been roughly a week and with a little ambition I have managed to connect with an online transcription company which is feeding me a slow but steady trickle of projects to practice on and make enough income to keep afloat while I utilize some of the many free online resources to build more work and increase my skill level. I have also connected with the wider global online transcription community which is providing some excellent leads and reviews on the numerous online transcription companies and links to their web site and other contact information. While I continue to evaluate the new projects as they appear on the “available jobs” board of the company’s online system, the reality is that many of the jobs tend to be boring and/or above my skills level. Luckily, some of them are adequate and interesting (roughly one per day or two), but I am thinking that it would be ideal to add another online company or two to the mix to increase potential work. In addition, in the current system, once you accept a job you can only work on one at a time. So, for instance, if you take on a transcribing  job which has a 15 hour deadline you will not be able within that time to accept any other projects – for instance, a shorter editing job which you could complete in two hours while you are working on the transcription project. Ideally, you want to be in a situation where you have the most options open, especially considering that the jobs come onto the board and are swooped up by other transcribers rather quickly.

So I begin the process of assessing some of the other online transcription sites throughout the internet. I figure that it will take some time to go through each site (as different sites will have different designs, functionality and amount of content). To save valuable time and effort, it seems that the most efficient way to proceed is to go through the web pages, group and forum posts which have reviews of the various companies which have been written by transcribers who have had experience working for them. The reviews usually contain some valuable information which helps you narrow down which companies are more appropriate for your needs and goals. For instance, some companies specialize in different kinds of transcription (ex. podcast, academic, interview, focus group, etc.). Some companies have a more polished user interface which is highly automated (including the application test) while other are less so (having you submit your application and correspondence via email).

Since I am a big fan of automation and communication I decide to seek out those companies whose system is most automated AND who have a strong web presence (including quality blog) and significant communication resources with the general public, customers and the transcribers who work for the operation. I believe that in the modern digital age these are ESSENTIALS to the progress of any business (especially an online-based one) and the bottom line is that if you work for dysfunctional companies it only ends up limiting you in the grand scheme of things. The operating costs of running a business in the digital age are low enough that skimping on quality is no longer an option. You also lose out on gaining the more quality and positive experience of working with a better organization, and this builds a better resume into the future.

There are numerous transcription-related sites which have compiled very helpful lists (often with reviews) of the plethora of companies out there. Different lists focus on different criteria (ex. lists for : newbie, general/legal/medical transcription, overseas companies, etc.). The following list is a good one to get you started. Just go down the list and click through to the ones which resonate best with you :

List of 30 Stunning Transcription Companies Hiring Now

Since there are many sites which have already listed and reviewed the various transcription companies based on their experience applying and actually working for those companies AND since I am a specifically experience onlined and social media marketing guru-of-sorts, I think it would be most helpful for me to focus on analyzing the web presentation, site functionality and interactivity qualities of some of the companies I have evaluated. I believe that this is most helpful to newbies (and even some veterans) as it doesn’t depend on actually being ACCEPTED into the companies. That is, I am focusing my analysis on the features of these companies which anyone is able to see at the point of arriving at the company’s web site and through the application process (whether or not you actually pass the transcription test and are accepted). In this way, we are looking at the overall operation itself AND focusing on the free content provided by the company to the general public (in addition to merely the prospective transcribers). It’s like when you evaluate a company when you are decided whether or or not to buy shares of its stock. You have to look at the fundamentals. That is, the big picture of how the operation presents itself and operates in both the short and long term senses.

Since I have found that evaluating two or three of the company sites per day is a most ideal workload I will give my analysis of two of these companies in this post and then follow up with two more per future posts as we work through this process. I am adding this regular analysis of the companies because I believe this is an important part of the process of being a transcriptionist for several main reasons. Firstly, companies are constantly coming and going, so it is beneficial to stay on top of changes in the industry. Secondly, the technology is constantly evolving and so new companies are arriving on the scene which are much more functional and thus can more efficiently help you achieve your goals. Thirdly, the good companies often have blogs where they regularly post quality posts packed with information which can be a valuable addition to your overall research effort. We will thus look specifically at some of these posts as we proceed.

Going down the list of 30 companies (above) I started with the Tigerfish company, which was recommended by one of my new contacts in the LinkedIn group. My first impression of their web site was positive. The design is funky and simple. The “about us” page lists the six key people in the company (but without any bio information). They have a blog but it only consists of two posts and those are simply “about the company” type – that is, not geared towards providing information which is valuable to the visitor to the site, ESPECIALLY not the prospective transcriber who is thinking about applying to the company in addition to building their transcription skills and connections. Finally, the employment section link is hard to find (the link is a simple text one and buried way down at the bottom of the main page). When you finally do make it to their employment page they give you a basic rundown of their transcript employment opportunities (focusing on the fact that they are generally overloaded with applications) and then guide you through their rather tedious (compared to the more automated companies) process of downloading their style guide and audio test file and submitting your test via email.

Now, while I am sure that people over Tigerfish are very nice, San Franciscan hipsters who are fun to work with, from my perspective as prospective transcriber they are just not giving me much to chew on. I feel like I have arrived at the site and they have “given me the hand” in the sense of not giving me much of a desire/reason to connect – other than to look at the funky pictures on their Facebook page or the non-interactive info (which doesn’t even have links to the profiles of the key members of the company who are listed on their “about us” page) on their LinkedIn company page.

After evaluating all of the handful of pages of the site I just didn’t feel the love and decided NOT to proceed with the application process. Perhaps if their blog had some informative and regular posts I would at least connect there and/or sign up for an email newletter, but this is just not currently the case. Maybe TigerFish just simply doesn’t put much focus on the online transcriber recruiting effort. Maybe they have more than enough business through their offline operation. For someone like me, however, who is looking to build connections and work with companies who are utilizing the power of the internet to its fullest potential, it is just better to move on to the next company on the list.

*** I hope that anyone reading this post understands that my motive for writing these critiques is purely constructive. I am not taking a “cheap shot” at the above company, but merely providing marketing feedback from a person who has engaged with their web presence based on my own personal goals and needs. Different people will react differently. I also hope that my specific suggestions may be taken as constructive criticism, and that people who evaluate these companies use their own judgement.***

With one evaluation complete for the day I move down the list in search of another. Since I don’t want to spend more of my valuable research time today on another potentially incongruent company AND since the above list only provides one-sentence descriptions of the companies (as opposed to more informative review) I decide to follow up on a lead given to me by a member of the LinkedIn group for the Rev company. A quick Google search pulled up an informative review by someone who actually passed the application process and worked for them :  Rev.Com For Transcribers – A Detailed Review . After reading the review I was motivated to follow through to the company web site to find out more and do an evaluation.

The Rev.com web site is top-notch. It has visually stimulating yet clear and organized layout of information and some snazzy imagery (both static and animated) which is very user-friendly. They give you the lowdown on all the information you need to know and do it in a quick matter (which is very important for busy people online in this modern age, whoe time and general attention span is limited). Their recruitment section for freelancer transcribers is thorough, well automated and presents a very inviting image with raving reviews by current employees (along with their names and faces) to create a very nice feeling of connection. From a marketing perspective, these guys/gals are pros.

By the time you are finished reading the comprehensive yet concise information about their opportunity (ex. pay rate, job perks, testimonials, list of “Fortune 500” companies they do work for, etc.) you are all pumped up to hit that shiny rad “Apply Now” button, strategically positioned smack in the middle of the screen.

The fun is only beginning, however, as you proceed through the well executed application process. They state that the application process requires 60 minutes, but when I hit the rather heavy writing section I decided it would be best to take my time alternating for several hours (or perhaps a whole day) between producing a proper piece of ~6,000 word writing and reading through their other web site pages and blog posts. It is better not to rush through this, as you want to present your skills as best as possible – especially as a newbie trying to enter the field.

While the company’s blog has a decent number of articles, the topics are a bit random and disorganized, and the main blog page itself is not only misleadingly titled “Article Archives” (which likely prevents it from being listed properly in the search engines as a legitimate blog), but also, in my opinion, fails to provide content on issues of MOST importance to its target market :

http://blog.rev.com/articles

For instance, while they have some well-written posts related to the subject of TRANSLATION, such as:

5 Tips for Freelance Translators

They don’t have EVEN ONE section or article directly related to the subject of transcription, out of the 100+ posts up on the main “archived articles” page. This means that all of the freelance transcriptionists who go through the application process and want to read more about the company’s activities related to transcription while they wait (likely several days or more) to receive their email of acceptance or rejection are not able to continue spending some time reading through informative blog posts which will give them a head start in becoming more familiar with the company, its operations, and transcription in general. As one of the fundamentally important elements of online marketing is to keep your market ENGAGED and CONNECTED this seems to be one specific thing that Rev has neglected. I hope they will address this in the future for the benefit of the transcriptionists AND the marketing success of their company.

It ultimately took me a full 24 hours to properly complete the application. It was a bit of hard work to write the essay and transcribe the two audio files, but I was convinced that my performance on both was up to par (especially for the writing component, as I am an experienced and published photojournalist and blogger). I submitted the application and continued trying to find articles on their blog which could keep me busy while I waited for their response.

At the end of the day I had made good progress. I had done a thorough analysis of two prospective online transcription companies (a process which I will continue to incorporate into my research process) and I completed one full application to one which fulfilled my criteria. After submitting the Rev application I spent a few hours researching and blogging and then went to sleep feeling quite confident that my application to Rev would impress them, and that I would likely be granted acceptance into their team of transcriptionists. However, in the worst case scenario that I am NOT accepted there are plenty of other online transcription companies operating now, so it will just be a matter of continuing to find, research, evaluate and apply to others in the future.