Comedic Spam Comments

I always skim my spam comments before I delete them. I got a chuckle out of them this week and I learned so much!

Here’s what I gleaned this week:

  1. Someone thinks I can read Russian. 🇷🇺
  2. I am destined to be a famous blogger. 👩🏼‍💻
  3. Someone’s boss took them out to lunch as a reward for referring them to my blog. 🍝
  4. I have a very kissable mouth.  😳  Ewwww
  5. If I am in the market for male enhancement drugs, I know where to go. 💰
  6. There were at least 20 blogs someone ‘thinks’ I should follow. 🖥
  7. Almost everyone has my blog bookmarked by now. Ha! 🔖
  8. There must be a huge market for selling branded medications.
  9. I added a few words to my blocklist. 🤬
  10. I am fast becoming an expert in my field. 👩🏼‍🌾

Spammers never give up. I imagine many people sitting at their computers copying and pasting these same link-laden comments to any blog they can access. What a horrible way to pass the time. I know many of them get paid minimal fees to push the wares and whims of others. If these got through, I cannot imagine what Akismet caught.


Venturing into the Block Editor

I have been slowly dipping my toe into the block editor waters. I first used the Classic Block, but am now finding I do not like using it as much. I am taking it at a snail’s pace, while truly trying to embrace the changes.

Let’s get the frustrations out of the way first.

  • Where are the menus?

The menus float and change depending on where you are. That is confusing at best and can cover the text you have just written, but you can resolve that easily. If you wish to see your toolbars at the top then click on the three dots on the top right and click ‘Top Toolbar’ (highlighted below).

  • Why is everything a different block?

I would guess the reason for this lies in the fact that the menus and parameters for each type of block can be different. For a paragraph I may need to align or change the text color or change the font size, whereas with an image block or a video you may need to change the size of the image, or round the corners.

  • How do I add a block?

If you start writing, the editor assumes you are writing in a paragraph block. Just write over the text that says ‘start writing or type /to choose a block’. If, however, you want to insert a video, or a gallery for example, you will click on one of the two plus signs ( + ) that appear on your screen. One floats at the end of a new line, and the other is at the top left of your screen as highlighted in the images below.

  • It seems a waste of time to always search for the block you need.

Agreed. That is why there are shortcuts available once you know the name of the block. If I wish to add a column block for instance, I could search for it (using one of the two + menus) or just use the shortcut /column on the new text line.

Column Example

This is data I decided to write in column one just to demonstrate. It is more difficult to create columns in the classic editor and requires knowledge of coding to do so.

For this column I am using a paragraph block but I could have chose other things. For the second column to the right, I added an image and rounded the corners.

The text is in one column, the image in another.

rounded photo

I am still learning, but there are nice features in the block editor. I made the decision to give it an honest try and so far it is okay. I write mainly on an iPad and I do not think WP handles the pop-up keyboard on a mobile device well. It does seem to conflict with the WP menus at times.

  • I don’t know where to begin!

The best place to start is at the beginning. Dan Antion did a great post on his No Facilities blog about using the Classic Block within the block editor. It is a great place to begin.

There are great beginner’s videos on YouTube. If you search for them, be sure to add 2021 to your search criteria as the format has changed since the editor was first announced. Also, if you are using the free WordPress account, you will NOT have access to Plugins which several videos discuss. I found this video to be particularly helpful.


Tumultuous Times

How could my world be crumbling around me? I was 24, dressed for court, holding a sick baby in my arms, her hair wet from the tears rolling down my cheek. I finally reached the clerk of the court and she transferred me to the judge. I started to explain about my sick child and my inability to be in court that day. He interrupted me abruptly.

“It doesn’t matter. Your husband tried to hang himself this morning. He’s been transferred to the mental hospital.”

I hung up the phone and eased into the chair by the phone. This cannot be happening. All I could think to do was to call my dad at work. He was always there for me, even when he felt I was making the biggest mistakes in my life.

Factories. If you have never worked in one it is hard to understand. Every minute means money. You do everything by the bell, just like cattle. No way anyone was allowed to come to the phone for a personal call. I dialed the number. The woman that answered the call was rude. I asked to speak to my father. She said no. I told her it was an emergency. She asked what kind of emergency. I told her there was an attempted suicide, all while still holding my sick baby in my arms. Finally, she gave in and said she would find him and have him call me.

I was sick to my stomach realizing my father would have no context when he got that message. I was crying when I answered the phone. He was frantic. After hearing the story, he told me he was coming home. I was a wreck. I knew his heart broke for me, even though he disagreed about my earlier decision to marry.

My parents met Winifred and Bill (Wilhelmina) while camping in the Smokies. They had been lifelong friends and remained so even after my mother passed away and my father remarried. Winifred worked at the state mental hospital for years, so it was logical for my dad to call him. After a lengthy conversation, it was decided we would wait until morning, then call about visitation. It would give us some time for my daughter to recover and for us to calm our nerves. It had been such a difficult day.

The hospital comes into sight as you approach from the interstate. It sits high on a hill – known as asylum hill by those who live nearby. Walking onto the property was surreal. My anxiety was high considering all the stories I had heard from Winifred over the years and knowing that somewhere in that old brick building my husband was incarcerated. I was young, naive, and ignorant about mental illness. I was wary of everyone and was quite unnerved by every person I encountered. Luckily, my father was with me. The details have settled into a soft blur over the years.

After providing identification and getting a short briefing, we were taken into a small room to wait for my husband. He was escorted in by a male nurse, tall and burly, all dressed in white. I have no idea what my husband was wearing. His demeanor was less cavalier than normal as he explained what a difficult evening he had at the hospital.

From what I remember, he said tried to hang himself with a bedsheet. This is where I must tell you what a charming manipulator he was. I was suspicious the stunt was an attempt to avoid the judge. He had no intention of hurting himself. That being said, I realize the gravity of the desperation that pushes some people to take this step – it was just not the case with him. Even the officers in the county jail believed as I did. It was an act, a stunt, to gain sympathy. It backfired on him. The judge was intent on teaching him a lesson.

His first night at the hospital had been difficult. Given the fact that he was admitted as an attempted suicide, he was required to sleep on a bare mattress – no sheets or blankets or pillows – and he could not wear any clothes. Nothing he could use to harm himself. It must have been a miserable night but it would not be his only night there. He remained there for a period of time before being transferred back to the county jail.

Some people are born with that magnetic personality that just pulls you in. That was my husband. It did not take long for him to gain the favor of those who guarded and cared for him – after all he was still incarcerated.

Time passed, he was released back to the county and we eventually went to court. We were in court because we purchased furniture from a sweet man (Mr. J) that financed it for us and my husband was fired from his job (he had at least 10 different jobs that year), sold the furniture, then went to jail for for the debt he owed.

I sat in the gallery with my daughter on my lap as he made promises I knew he would not keep. I did not utter a word. Deep inside I knew this was a doomed relationship, but I was raised to believe you always stand in support of your husband. Like I said, I was naive.

He lied, telling the judge he was needed to help his parents on their family farm. They didn’t have a farm. They only planted a garden like everyone else in the area. He apologized to Mr. J and promised to repay him every penny. Unfortunately, Mr. J believed him and, feeling sorry for him, told the judge he wished to drop the charges. He was released with the empathy of everyone involved.

We have choices. Some are revealed to us only after we are able to see our situation more clearly. I wish I could tell you it all turned out for the best for everyone. But it did not happen that way. Our relationship did not survive. He continued to spin his version of reality that would, in time, become a spiral from which he could not escape. It would eventually be part of the reason he lost his life. I, too, feel empathy for him, for all he missed, and all he lost.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.


One Liner Wednesday – More Spring

I wish you could be here to smell spring and see her with butterflies in her hair.

(Have I mentioned how much I love spring?)

One liner Wednesday is brought to us each week by the lovely Linda Hill. Please visit Linda’s blog to read the rules, read other one liners, and possibly join in the fun!


If I Could Speak as Easily as I Write

A few months ago when I was struggling with vertigo, I tried to use my voice-to-text feature on my computer to write. It was an excellent idea that failed miserably. Picking up a pen or putting my hands on the keyboard has a tactile quality important to my writing.

I wonder if it is muscle memory, or perhaps that nanosecond pause shifting the signal from my brain to my fingertips that makes the difference. My mother always said “think before you speak”. I think she had a point.

I can speak in public — larger groups are better for me than intimate groups. Public speaking is a bit of an out-of-body experience. I remember the first major corporate project I ran. I was asked to speak to the board in the board room.

The board room was hallowed ground. To speak there was either an honored invitation or a dreaded summons. Being part of the IT department, I was there often establishing video conferences in days when that was a huge and expensive proposition. But to speak was an entirely different animal.

I received a number of kudos that day and I did not understand it really. I remember speaking, but it was more like me watching a movie of someone else talking. Our board president told me I was in the wrong business, that I should be in front of people speaking. His comment floored me. A career involving public speaking would never have interested me.

I have done some voice-to-text writing since then, but my enunciation seems to trip the programming up. Back in those corporate days we implemented voice recognition software for a voice response unit we were testing. Local dialogue differences (this was Maine with heavy New England accents) often tripped up the software. The technology has come a long way.

Writing has always been the easier path for me. The technology allowing people to write through voice is amazing and such a valuable tool.

I am not giving up yet. I will continue to try it – and maybe improve my lazy enunciation.