If you would like to share anything – memories, thoughts, feelings, etc. – please feel free to comment here and we’ll try to share them the day of, either by reading them or by presenting them using a projector.
I’ve been a long time reader, sometimes topic, and even longer know-er of SEB. I had the first hand treatment of his jokes, his thoughts, his everything, because I grew up with him. And, perhaps for the first time, I’m the one behind the keyboard on this blog that has been as much apart of my life as it has everyone else’s here.
Honestly, I never thought we’d be here, not for another few decades. We argued about this day, some years back, about when he might pass and how he might go. I told him I’d drag him through his eighties kicking and screaming if I had to. In the end, he won that argument, in perhaps the worst way. Cheater.
I want to write a big, essay-long story, but I just don’t have the heart for it. He passed early this morning, before I was even really awake enough to realize what was happening. I’m kind of mad at him for that, kind of amused by him, too. That’s a large part of who he was for me, maddening, amusing and as wonderful as he could be a ‘Bastard’. I’m gonna miss him, so god damned much, and I think all of you are too.
As you have probably noticed, I haven’t posted since the end of October and I apologize for that. But I have a good reason: I’ve been diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer that has metastasized to my Liver.
I’d been having issues with fatigue and a minor pain around my lower abdomen for awhile and had been working with my primary care to try and figure out what was going on. Went through the process of a colonoscopy which showed no issues with my intestines. Eventually PC told me to head to the ER on December 20th where I was run through a gauntlet of tests where they eventually found the mass on my pancreas and spots on my liver. A biopsy confirmed it was cancer.
I was discharged on the 22nd so I could spend Christmas with the family. And by the 27th I was back in the hospital until January 12th. This was a the start of a roller coaster ride of tests, scans, and treatments. My hemoglobin levels were dangerously low which indicated there was some internal bleeding. Normally it should range between 10 and 12 and I was at 5. I needed to be at a 7 before I could get a port in my chest and start chemo treatments.
To make a long story short, after several blood transfusions to get my hemoglobin up, they find a vein in stomach that was bleeding me out. A clamp on that and then a splenic embolization to reduce blood flowing back into my stomach, I was finally at a point to start chemo treatments.I got through two chemo treatments and another visit to the hospital for low hemoglobin and discovering that I had blood clots in my legs that necessitated putting me on a blood thinner.
In the end, it was clear the chemo treatments weren’t having any effect and the blood thinner was causing issues as well so the decision was made to stop all treatment and enter into hospice. Cancer doc estimates I’ve got weeks left so we’re scrambling to take care of all the stuff that needs to be done to try ensure my wife is taken care of once I’m gone.
The outpouring of love and support from friends and family has been overwhelming. They’ve been helping out as much as they can and have set up a GoFundMe and a silent auction on Facebook to help raise money to pay the medical bills that I’ve run up, which is substantial. If you would like to help out, I’ll post a link to both below.
I don’t know if I’ll have the strength to post again before the end so consider this a farewell post unless it isn’t. Stupid Evil Bastard has been around for 20 years and has enjoyed a lot of voices contributing to it. I’m not sure what will happen to blog once I’m gone, but it might carry on as several people have asked if they could maintain it. I am humbled and flattered that so many people have dropped by over the years to see what nonsense I’ve posted. Thank you for being one of them.
If you can help it would be greatly appreciated, but if you can’t then feel free to spread the word. Any and all help is greatly appreciated. Also, if you want to follow me on Facebook (all my posts are public) as that’s where I’ve been posting updates on my progress through this whole thing you can do so here: https://www.facebook.com/lesley.t.jenkins
In August I will turn 54 years old, just a year younger than the age at which my biological father died. If I recall correctly, he died from pancreatic cancer. Not something I’m too worried about as my doctor started screening me a couple of years ago and I don’t have the smoking and drinking habit that he had. That said, I’m not exactly in great health myself. I’m morbidly obese, diabetic, and have peripheral neuropathy in my feet. These two facts, that I’m closing in on the age my father died and that I’m not exactly in great shape, have led to me considering my own mortality a lot lately. Specifically, whether it’s better to be happy and die young or miserable and live longer.
Despite not being in the greatest shape, I’m pretty happy with life at the moment. I’ve managed to accomplish most of the stuff I’ve long dreamed of — getting married, owning a home, etc. — and while there are things I’d love to do, like travel more, or, at all, I’m happy with where I’m at. Meanwhile, the attempts I’ve made at getting healthier such as eating better and exercising only make me miserable. In part because I stress over the fact that I’m not doing these things like I should be.
As a result, I find I’m spending a lot of time pondering the question of being happy or healthy. My doctor, being an excellent doctor, would argue that once I get into the habits of exercising and eating healthier and lost the weight and got some of my energy back that I’d be even happier, but the fact is I’m happy now and getting to that supposedly happier status would require a lot of misery.
It doesn’t help that when I bought an elliptical and made a good effort to use it regularly for three months, I ended up gaining weight instead of losing it. Everyone said it would get easier after a couple of months, but it never got any easier. As is the fate of most home exercise equipment, it became a coat rack until we sold it when we moved out of Ann Arbor 6 years ago. In a proper and just universe, exercise would show benefits within a couple of days and not months or years later. It would be much easier to be motivated if I actually experienced some of the supposed benefits sooner rather than later. Gaining weight, even if it is new muscle, is not the result I should be getting for my efforts. Not to mention that food that’s good for you would taste better than the bad food.
When we bought the house 4 years ago one of the first things I did was purchase a bicycle to ride around the neighborhood. I even bought one of those stupid helmets. My thinking at the time was that I had to find something that was fun to do so it felt less like exercise and more like playing and I used to love riding my bike as a kid. However, much like the elliptical, I rode it a couple times a week for that first summer and then parked it in the garage for the winter and it has not seen the light of day since. I look at it every time I pull the lawn mower out to cut the grass and I think I should check to see if the tires are still in good shape and maybe pull it out, but I never do. Hell, mowing the lawn is really the only exercise I get at this point and that’s enough to wipe me out for the rest of the day.
The one change I did manage to stick to was giving up drinking pop and switching to water for the majority of the day outside of a couple cups of coffee. That’s mainly because it’s been long enough that drinking pop — both regular and diet — tastes like malted battery acid these days. Doesn’t stop me from missing it or hating every drop of the water I drink, but at least I’ve managed to stick to it.
I’m at the point where I have resigned myself to my fate. I know I should be doing more to improve my health, but I just get depressed whenever I think of what it would take. I’d rather not die young, but I also like sitting and sitting is considered a lethal activity these days. The one thing I am doing is thinking about it a lot. While sitting, of course. Now if only that burned more calories.
I’m not normally one to participate in posts that list off a bunch of questions for you to answer and then peer pressure all your friends into doing the same. In part because they’re often a sneaky way to get you to reveal personal info that could be used to try and answer security questions and in part because most of them are stupid. This one is also stupid, but I don’t think any of the answers can be effectively used for nefarious things. So what hell, let’s give in to the pressure and do a…
What was your first D&D character?
Fuck if I can remember. We’re talking almost 40 years ago. It was probably a human fighter because that’s about as basic as you can get and a good starting point when you’re just learning the ropes.
Wait, I still have a folder around here with some of the character sheets from back then. Both for myself and for other players when I ran games. I wonder if…
Holy shit! I do have it! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you from all the way back on March 1st, 1983, what may very well be the very first AD&D character I ever played. A human Chaotic Evil Magic User named Bendor! Apparently, I jumped in on the deep end.
According to the sheet, he was level 9 so I didn’t play him for long. Considering Magic Users get a d4 for hit points and Bendor here has 35, I either rolled really well or the DM took pity on me. There are a couple possibilities for who DMed my first game, but I’m not positive on which one it would’ve been.
All of this is assuming that the Number 1 on the sheet is accurate. Based on the math, I was 16-years-old when I started playing. Could’ve sworn it was earlier than that, but thinking on it this makes sense as I joined the D&D Club at Pontiac Central High School that year in an attempt to do more extra-curricular stuff. For reasons I still don’t understand, I was made President of the club that year too. The next year I’d be at Lake Orion for my final year of high school.
Which D&D class is your least favorite to play, or do you not want to play?
I never got the hang of Bards. It didn’t help that they were considered a supplemental class under AD&D rules and many DMs just didn’t allow them. You have to go all the way to the back of the Players Handbook to find them under Appendix II.
It very well might be that I just wasn’t literally charismatic enough to play one, but I remember it being a confusing process. I thought there had been revised rules for them in the Unearthed Arcana book that came out in 1985, but I just checked and didn’t see anything. I didn’t think I had any Bard characters in my collection but it turns out I do still have a sheet with my one attempt at a Bard on it. He was level 7. Looking at it I’m not sure we were doing it correctly.
What D&D spell would you most want to have in real life?
That’s a good question. There’s a lot to choose from even in just the original Player’s Handbook. There’s the classic Magic User — I forgot the class was called that — level 9 spells of Wish and Time Stop that have obvious possibilities. The Cleric’s 6th level Heal or 7th level Resurrection would be handy.
However, I’d probably go with 9th level Magic User spell Shape Change. If nothing else, for the pure amusement factor alone. Though I can think of a number of ways it could be useful.
What’s your favorite D&D monster?
As a player? The dragons, of course. Once you reached a certain level, they were laughably easy to deal with and always profitable. Whether you’re talking about the dragon’s hoard or about selling off the dragon itself. Not to mention that subdued dragons can be ridden! Who the hell doesn’t want their own dragon to fly around on?
As a DM? Probably the Lich. They were always good for putting the fear of… well, of a Lich in the players. Literally if they were lower than level 5.
This is if we’re only considering the original Monster Manual. The choice becomes a lot harder if we include the Fiend Folio in the equation.
What’s your favorite NPC/villain that you’ve encountered/created?
Drawing a blank on this one. It’s been a long time since the heyday of getting together with my friends and playing for a ridiculous amount of time on a Saturday. If we were including games other than Dungeons & Dragons that I’ve played then I can think of a couple of villains I made for the Champions superhero RPG that I loved playing. Also, I enjoyed the hell out of playing The Computer in Paranoia. D&D though? Can’t recall anything about the modules we ran other than hazy details. I have a few laying around here.
Has one of your characters ever died, and what killed them?
Of course! Several of my characters died. Usually from something stupid I’d done. Traps, monsters, angry NPCs. You name it. Trying to run through the Tomb of Horrors module was always a good way to lose a character. We did finally make it through on a third or fourth attempt. Most of us anyway. ToH was a favorite to pull out when PCs in a game I was running had gotten too big for their britches. That is probably my favorite module of all time both as a player and a DM.
What’s your best natural 20 story?
I don’t really have one. I wasn’t particularly lucky. My best friend, Bill Owen, was often ridiculously lucky with the dice. The best story I have about dice rolls isn’t from Dungeons & Dragons, but Paranoia and it was Bill, not me, that had all the luck. Again, this was almost 40 years ago. I can’t think of any particularly memorable die rolls I had.
What’s your best natural 1 story?
See above. Same answer. It’s been too long. Still got most of my original dice, though.
What’s the highest level you’ve ever played a character to?
Given that Tomb of Horrors is for characters level 10 to 14, at least level 10. Most of the XP tables for the classes don’t go beyond level 11 with Monks topping out at 17. Tables listing number of spells per level, however, went as high as level 29. There wasn’t any hard limit set, but after the mid-teens pretty much all the monsters were trivial unless the DM was bumping their stats.
That said, I found another stash of old character sheets and in it I have a level 34 Illusionist named Lis Ouslos, which was just my name with characters swapped. It was from a total Munchkin campaign. I mean, look at her stats! An illusionist with a 24 strength?
You can tell I was a teenager as on the back under Distinguishing Marks I’ve written “Mole on her left breast” and under General Description there’s just one word: “Beautiful.” I think Mark Grismer is the one who ran that campaign.
What’s your favorite magical item?
Probably the Bag of Holding. Got a ton of shit to lug out of the dungeon you just cleared? A couple of Bags of Holding will get the job done without breaking a sweat. The Wand of Wonder was always fun for a laugh, but the Bag of Holding was near-essential gear.
If you had an IRL alignment, what would it be?
I’d like to think I’m Neutral Good, but if we go by one of those WHAT ALIGNMENT ARE YOU quiz things on the Internet, I’m supposedly True Neutral. Which is a surprise to me.
If you had to date one of your characters, which one would you pick?
What a strange question. No one specific character comes to mind.
Is there a character you want to play but haven’t had a chance to play yet?
I don’t think I’ve ever played a Cleric. If I were suddenly to take up AD&D again, I might give one a try. I don’t know anyone who still plays this version of Dungeons & Dragons, though. In the current version (5th edition?) it appears the number of classes has been expanded so there’d be several I’ve never tried, but would give a whirl. Oh look! Bards are considered core now.
Are you a dice goblin, or a dice minimalist?
Did you see that pic of my dice bag up there? What do you think? Keep in mind that I’ve lost a few over the years.
Or let’s put it this way, I still feel the itch when I see ads for shiny custom dice on the Internet even though I’ve not played a pen & paper RPG since the aborted attempt to join my friend Greg’s campaign some six or seven years ago. (I think I made it to two sessions.)
What rule or mechanic have you never quite wrapped your brain around?
Probably psionics. Another thing found in the Appendix before Bards. Looking over the rules now it doesn’t seem to be as much of a pain in the ass as I remember it being, but back in the day we generally didn’t make use of psionics in our games. Sometimes we did, but not often.
Which is a funny thing to say seeing as that first character sheet I shared up above shows some stats under the Psionics section with a comment that says “See notes”, but the notes section on the back has been erased.
End of the meme questions.
I could’ve saved a lot of time if I had just gone with the basic Dungeons & Dragons, which I have also played. It was so basic that Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings were listed as classes instead of races. But that’s not the first version of D&D I ever played. As I said earlier, I got a late start and AD&D had taken over the stage by the time I got in on it.
I believe I got the box set of the basic Dungeons & Dragons from my mother as a Christmas present. She didn’t realize it was an older version of the game. I sat down with a couple of friends and actually played it a couple of times, but there wasn’t a lot of source material for it.
I said that I had some character sheets from other players from games that I DMed. If you’re curious, I’ve included four examples below.
Lastly, here’s a cover to a couple more AD&D related things I owned. One being the official DUNGEON MASTERS ADVENTURE LOG which I barely used because I suck at record keeping. Still, it had some handy charts and illustrations in it. The other being the highly coveted official DUNGEON MASTERS SCREEN.
There, I’ve now spent way more time on this than it probably deserved. There’s probably a grand total of 5 people who would even have an interest in this, but I always say that if you’re going to get all nostalgic and shit then you may as well over do the fuck out of it. All images are clickable to go to their attachment pages where you can then expand them even bigger for a close look at my terrible hand writing.
I’ve been meaning to post something for awhile now, but between working from home and the fast pace of news I’ve just not been able to compose my thoughts. So instead I’m doing one of those stupid “How Many X Things Have You X’ed” lists that make the rounds on Facebook. Only I’m doing it here so I’ve at least posted something. Feel free to play along in the comments.
You never realize how much/little TV you watch until you fill this out. Put a ✔ by the shows you have watched more than 10 episodes of. How about you?
1. Grey’s Anatomy: 2. Stranger Things: ✔ 3. The Vampire Diaries: 4. The Walking Dead: 5. Fear The Walking Dead: 6. Dexter: 7. American Horror Story: 8. Orange is the New Black: 9. A Million Little Things: 10. This is Us: 11. The Simpsons: ✔ 12. New Amsterdam: 13. Manifest: 14. How To Get Away With Murder: 15. Breaking Bad: 16. Sons of Anarchy: 17. Scandal: 18. Riverdale: 19. The Good Doctor: 20. House of Cards: 21. Once Upon a Time: 22. House: ✔ 23. True Detective: 24. Dr. Pimple Popper: 25. Power: 26. Empire: 27. One Tree Hill: 28. Supernatural: 29. Family Guy: ✔ 30. Santa Clarita Diet: 31. Shameless: 32. Pretty Little Liars: 33. Secret Life of an American Teenager: 34. Bones: ✔ * 35. Criminal Minds: 36. The 100: 37. Chicago Fire: 38. Chicago Med: 39. The Resident: 40. Game of Thrones: 41. The Big Bang Theory: ✔ 42. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: 43. Lost: 44. The Sopranos: 45. NCIS: ✔ † 46. NCIS Los Angeles: 47. NCIS New Orleans: 48. Law & Order SVU: 49. Gossip Girl: 50. How I Met Your Mother: 51. Blue Bloods: 52. Two Broke Girls: 53. The Office: 54. Blacklist: 55. Full House: 56. Fuller House: 57. Downton Abbey: 58. Hawaii Five-O: 59. Big Mouth: 60. Last Man Standing: 61. Six Feet Under: 62. Wentworth: 63. Friends: 64. That 70s Show: ✔ 65. Girlfriends Guide to Divorce: 66. Heartland: 67. All-American: 68. Greek: 69. Yellowstone: 70. Better Call Saul: 71. You: 72. Rescue Me: 73. Scrubs: 74. Community: 75. Letter kenney : 76. Kitchen nightmares : 77. The Masked singer: 78. Robot Chicken: ✔ 79. Vikings: 80. Mind Hunters: 81. New Girl: 82. The Good Place: ✔ 83. Black Mirror: ✔ 83. Lucifer: ✔ 84. Peaky Blinders: 85. iZombie: 86. Parks and Rec: 87. Brooklyn 99: 88. Handmaid’s Tale: 89. Modern Family: 90. Smallville: 91. Seinfeld: 92. Gilmore Girls: 93. Charmed: ✔ * 94. Private Practice: 95. Lost Girl: 96.True Blood: 97. Roswell: 98. Haven: ✔ 99. Mad Men: 100. Arrow: * Not by choice, but because someone else was watching it and I couldn’t be bothered to find something else to do. † This is the only one of the NCIS shows I could stand.
As you can see, there’s a lot of “popular” television that I largely ignore. Add in shows like Happy! and Doctor Who and then my count would go up. Most of my TV viewing these days consists of movies I missed in the theaters and YouTube channels I’ve subscribed to. After cutting the cord, YouTube has scratched my channel flipping itch by having dozens of different short videos I can go through on all sorts of topics. And, unlike the text that starts this trivial exercise, I’m actually quite aware of how little TV I watch.
How about you? How many shows do you keep track of regularly?
Yes, I know I said that last year, but I’m bad at maths. If you take December 2nd, 2019 and subtract December 2nd, 2001, you get 18 years. That’s how long I’ve been spitting out what some would call content. Had you told me back then that I’d still be at it today, I would’ve laughed. The only hobby I’ve had for more years than blogging is playing video games and I’m still very active at that as well.
Granted, I’m not as prolific as I once was. I’m lucky if I get two posts up a month now and it’s mostly me rambling about my life, but I’m still here. I thought Trump being president would be grist for the mill, but there’s just so much crazy shit happening all the time with his administration that I can’t possibly maintain the focus on one or two things long enough to write an entry. I’ve let my attempts at podcasting, streaming, and vlogging fall by the wayside as well, but I’m thinking of trying to get back into those on my vacation starting next week.
It doesn’t help that my mother moved in with us and, in less than a month, has fallen off our back deck and broken her hip. This less than 24 hours after I had a handrail installed on the front porch. She’s had a partial hip replacement and has been moved from the hospital to a rehab center where she’ll likely be for a few more weeks. We’ve been visiting often trying to keep her spirits up as she goes through the physical therapy she needs to regain her ability to walk.
A lot has changed with me over the past 18 years. It’s weird to go back and read some of my early entries. There’s stuff I clearly remember writing and stuff I had no idea had ever crossed my mind. I suppose this must be what keeping a diary must be like. I made a few attempts at one when I was a kid, but I never got the hang of it. Guess I needed an audience.
I’ve mentioned this before, but the blog wasn’t always called Stupid Evil Bastard. The original name was Wandering Randomly Through The Blogs as I started in part as an exploration of this new thing people were doing. Alas, the Internet Wayback Machine doesn’t have any snapshots from those days and the oldest copy of SEB it has is from May 2002:
That was right about the time my web design skills would hit their peak and stay consistently mediocre from there on out. Still, it was legible and coherent. Mostly.
So do you have any favorite posts from times past? Anything I’ve written that has stuck in your memory like a bad penny? Are you glad we’re still around? Let me know.
So I saw something making the rounds on Twitter the other day where in honor of making it through yet another decade of life, folks are asking others to share pics of themselves from the start of this decade and now. I thought to myself, “Self, this would make an excellent blog post. We should do this.” And so that is what I am doing now.
Then, in my usual tendency to overthink things like this, I wondered if I should try to find more than two pics (the original meme only stipulated two) and if I should try to get them from around the same time of year or throughout the year or whatever. I’ve decided to go with the tried and true method of just winging it.
So, in the spirit of the original thingy, here’s two pics of me. One from July 2010 and one from November 12th. I went with July because I don’t have a lot of good pics of me from 2010.
Clearly the two biggest changes are the amount of grey in my beard and the number of wrinkles on my face. I was fat back then and I’m still fat now. One other big change is the first pic was taken in our townhouse apartment in Ann Arbor where we were living at the time and the other in the basement of my home in Westland. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever manage to purchase a house, but was finally able to stumble my way through the process just before I hit 50.
We lost Melvin in September 2012 and Cuddles graduated to Official SEB Cat with Jasper as the Emergency Backup Cat in the event that Cuddles was unable to fulfill the duties of the position. Today, at 9 and 8 years old, they are quite regal in stature and are doing well.
I don’t know that I’m any wiser than I was 10 years ago, but I’m definitely older and it shows. You can definitely tell that camera technology, particularly in cell phones, has increased significantly in the past decade. The portrait mode effect alone is an impressive development.
Not really sure how to wrap this up. I don’t have any great insights to offer other than “Hey, I’m still on the right side of the grass.” So I’ll wrap up with one last selfie that I took just this morning because I thought the early morning light in the car looked pretty nifty.
It’s been almost a month since my last post so I suppose I should post something. It’s not like I haven’t been meaning to, just like I’ve been meaning to do a vlog or a live stream or something along those lines, but I’m getting lazy in my old age.
Speaking of old age, I turned 52 on the 25th of August. I meant to post something then too, but that obviously didn’t happen. I’d like to think I’d have some wisdom to impart by now, but I got nothing that isn’t something someone else has already said. I did buy myself a handful of RPG video games from Humble Bundle for my birthday with the thought that maybe they’d make for amusing live streaming content, but I really need to sit down and figure out a time and day to do it regularly if I’m going to build up any kind of an audience.
So this is just a short post to say that I’m still alive and still thinking of posting something if I ever get off my ass and think of something to post. After doing this for almost two decades you’d think I’d be better at it than I am.
Have you seen all the people on Facebook posting selfies of themselves after they’ve run it through the FaceApp? It’s all the rage right now probably because the results tend to err on the very flattering side. If this app is to be believed, everyone is going to look amazing. Just a few more wrinkles and lots of grey hair. Personally, I don’t need to use that FaceApp to see what I would look like as an old person because I am already an old person.
True story: On the way into work this morning I could not for the life of me remember my age. I knew I was 50-something, but I wasn’t sure if I would be turning 52 or 53 next month on my birthday. I had to literally do the math in my head while driving at 70 MPH on the freeway because it was bugging me so much that I couldn’t recall if I am currently 51 or 52 years old. (For the record, I am currently 51 about to turn 52.) I almost went as far as to ask Google because they almost certainly know my age, but I did the math instead because I didn’t want to interrupt the song streaming on Pandora at the time. So, yeah, I’m old. Not super old. Not even eligible for senior discounts at most places yet, but old enough to have the bloodhounds at AARP on my ass about signing up. I’ve got another three years before I outlive my biological father who died at 55, but I doubt I’ll match my great grandmother who died at 99.
Speaking of that FaceApp, you might want to think twice before playing with it depending on how much you care about your image potentially being sent to Russia for a foreign company to do whatever they want with it. The folks at Slate have a good write up on how worried you should be about the app with responses from the company that makes it:
Privacy Matters and several news outlets (some in rather alarming terms) pointed out that when you use the app, you grant Wireless Lab a lot of rights. That includes a “perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content … without compensation to you.” That basically means FaceApp can do whatever it wants with your photos, according to New York Law School professor Ari Waldman. “You retain copyrights and photos that you upload, but you grant them the opportunity to pretty much do anything they want with the photos that are stored on their servers,” Waldman told me. And in many cases, it’s not just photos of the individual using the app—people upload images of their friends and families, too, meaning such a database of faces would be massive, and that same policy would apply regardless of who is in the photo. “It’s pretty broad, to say the least,” Waldman said.
That’s a pretty permissive and vague terms and conditions, but to be fair to Wireless Lab, that’s true of a lot of apps because it covers their ass in case someone decides to sue for some stupid reason. Still, you should be aware that you are granting them these rights when you use the app. There was also a rumor going around that it wasn’t just uploading the picture you submitted to foreign servers, but grabbing your entire camera roll. Slate asked security expert Will Strafach to take a look at the app to see if that is true:
And, according to FaceApp’s creator Yaroslav Goncharov at Wireless Lab, that data doesn’t get sent to Russia at all unless you are in Russia:
Yaroslav Goncharov, FaceApp’s creator and Wireless Lab CEO, said in an emailed statement that no user data is transferred to Russia even though “the core R&D team is located” there, and he echoed that the entire camera roll is not tapped for upload. Forbes reported that FaceApp uses Amazon servers located in the U.S. and Australia. And, to be fair, FaceApp said it deletes most photos after 48 hours: “We might store an uploaded photo in the cloud. The main reason for that is performance and traffic: we want to make sure that the user doesn’t upload the photo repeatedly for every edit operation.” But, again, all we have here is its word. When I asked Goncharov what Wireless Lab uses the photos for, he didn’t say. “Privacy policies and terms are drafted by lawyers and they always prefer to be on the safe side,” Goncharov wrote in an email. “We are planning to do some improvements here.” I directly asked if the company actively uses personal data for commercial purposes, and he didn’t respond.
So, in the end, it’s entirely possible that FaceApp is an innocuous bit of mindless fun and the folks at Wireless Lab aren’t keeping your data for very long or doing anything with it you wouldn’t want them to. However, the potential for abuse is still there in that terms of service agreement and if they changed their minds because, say, Russian intelligence needed a shit ton of pics to train a facial recognition system with, well, you’d given them the rights to do just that. Even then it’s arguable whether that would have any real impact on you in the long run outside of having helped the Russians to train an A.I., but it’s something you should consider before using the app.
Then again you should probably stop to consider these things with any app you’re thinking of using. Considering I’m all over both Google, Facebook, and this blog I doubt my using FaceApp could do much more damage to my privacy than I’ve already done to myself. I still won’t use it, though, because I already know what I’d look like when I’m old. Now, if it could remember my age for me…