Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Vanished Flight MH370: New Answers or Just More Speculation?

During March, 2014 a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane mysteriously disappeared. It seems so inconceivable that 12 crew members and  227 passengers could just simply vanish. I watched the news closely, expecting to hear any day that the plane had been found. Unlikely as it was, I hoped that somehow the passengers would be found, safe and sound. I even wrote about it one of my first posts on this blog, Flight MA 370: Hidden in Plain Sight?


By December 2014, there were still no answers to the mystery of what had happened to the plane. I was saddened by how emotionally difficult holidays and special occasions would be for all the grieving families of the lost. It would be so hard to move forward without any type of closure.

It's now more than four years after the plane vanished and investigations of the event continue. Some pieces of debris were found, confirming that the plane did crash into the ocean. Strangely though, much of the wreckage is still missing. No bodies have been recovered. The disappearance of MA 370 has being called "one of the greatest aviation mysteries in modern history."

On May 13, 2018 an Australian news program, 60 Minutes Australia, aired a program interviewing experts who believe they now know why and how the plane crashed. Some of them concluded it was an intentional act by one of the pilots; a premeditated, methodically-planned and deliberate murder-suicide.

The hope was voiced that the conclusions presented will bring comfort to the public. I'm not sure they will at all, or if we are really any closer to knowing what happened. I watched the program and read the news reports; for me they just raised more questions.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Spammer Comments: What's a Blogger to Do?

Spam comments are the bane of a blogger's existence. Okay, well maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Trolls of the Internet with their mean-spirited comments are even worse. Trying to keep up with social media, deciphering Google Analytics reports, understanding GDPR regulations well enough to implement them, and figuring out why a blog is loading slowly are challenges that rank high in blog-related frustrations for me too. But I do find spam comments annoying. Does anyone else?

Spam Comment Captcha screenshot

I'm curious about how other bloggers deal with these unwelcome comments, so I decided to write this post. Also, I'm offering it as part-explanation and part-apology to my readers who may have recently experienced frustration while trying to leave comments on my posts.

First of all, who are these spammers?! I mean, really. Who has time to leave mundane or nonsensical comments on a blog? I wish I could be as prolific as these spammers in my efforts to support the blogs that I enjoy.

If you look closely, most spam comments are robotically generated and link back to a product being sold. Flattering compliments like "I've never found a blog so intriguing" or "You are so knowledgeable and this is just what I've been searching for" are really just an attempt to entice the blogger to publish the comment.

As a new blogger, I remember how elated I was when the first of those comments appeared on one of my posts. I was so excited that someone thought I was an expert! I quickly realized it as not really valid feedback. I soon caught on to their techniques and am now rarely fooled by one of their lines.

Unfortunately though, a problem persisted. How to keep those comments off my blog? I tried using word verification or captcha (those annoying letters you have to decipher to prove you are not a robot before you leave a comment), but I didn't like making my readers jump through those hoops.

For several years, I just allowed all comments to be published, and made it a part of my daily routine to delete spam. I wonder, thought, if that practice allowed those spammers to gain a stronger foothold? In the past year it seems spam comments on my blog, The Most - - of Every Moment, have increased a hundred-fold.

I have a few questions for other bloggers:

  • Does anyone know if publishing some spam comments opens the flood gates for more? 
  • Are there just a lot more spammers now than there used to be?
  • In what way could my blog have become more easily accessible to spam?
  • Are spam comments even worth worrying about? Is there any harm with letting them all just be published as they appear?

Whatever the reason for the exponential increase of spam comments on my posts, I finally decided a while ago to change the settings on my blog, so that all comments must be moderated by me ... meaning that I must approve each comment before it is published. This trick solved my problem of spam comments being published on my blog, but it created extra work for me and reader comments don't appear on my blog until after I approve them.

For a variety of the usual reasons, I have not been blogging full-time lately. As a result, there has sometimes been quite a delay before readers comments have been published. This makes me uncomfortable, as it is a major blogging faux pas.

Today, I started wondering if I should turn the captcha safeguard back on and comment moderation off. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my website platform (Blogger) no longer uses those indecipherable letter codes, but readers simply have to check a box indicating that they are human. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Happy May Day! Did You Say Rabbit, Rabbit?

It's May 1st!

Did you remember to say Rabbit, Rabbit before you got out of bed? A friend of mine told me about this superstition back when we were in high school. Supposedly, if you say rabbit before you get out of bed on the first day of any month, you will have good luck for the next 30 days. Saying it twice makes the luck really stick.

Beanie Baby bunny rabbit

Don't worry if you didn't say rabbit, rabbit this morning though, this NPR article offers some alternative suggestions for a lucky month.

May Day or May 1st is sometimes celebrated with May Pole dances and flower baskets left on neighbor's doorknobs. Ancient pagans considered it "the day halfway between spring and summer." Ha ha, they certainly didn't live in Montana!

However, I think spring weather maybe has finally arrived here. We did some hiking with our dog on Sunday. It was a different trail than the one I wrote about last week, when we had to turn back because of snow and ice. On this route, we didn't run into any snow. Instead, our descent was made in

Monday, April 23, 2018

Montana Spring Tease

I didn't intend to write this blog post, as I have been working on some other projects. But the weather and a visit to one of my favorite blogs enticed me to share a few lines and pictures here today.

Lana, a friend of mine and the author of the blog My New Happy, is also a contributor to the Lifestyle Collective The Blended Blog. On both of these sites today, Lana's post topic was "Spring Where You're From" and she issued a challenge to other bloggers to link up and share what the spring season is like where we live.

Looking out my front door this morning, how could I resist!

Snowy late April morning in Montana

The first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere is officially in March. In Montana, it comes much later than that, in a matter of fits and starts. Whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow is of no concern to us. We know we have at least six more weeks of winter left! 

In mid-March, the roads near our house were still too icy and snow-covered to safely walk our puppy. We made sure she got enough exercise by strapping on our snowshoes and taking her for hikes around our property. I tried hiking our acreage once without snowshoes and sunk down in places to mid-thigh. Fortunately, the dog's four paws kept her mostly above the crust.

Snowshoeing with our puppy in March

Snowshoeing our Montana property with our puppy

Here's a view from our kitchen, taken through the window screen on March 18th. The ground had been covered in snow since October.

A Snowy Montana morning in March

By April 4th we'd had some warm weather so most of the snow, except at higher elevations and in the shadows, had melted.

Spring in Montana

On April 5th though, this happened:

Fresh snow on our deck in April

This isn't the first time I've written about spring snow in Montana. On February 3rd, 2015, I wrote a post called A Ground Hog's Shadow and Cars in the Ditch. Click on the link to read the story of when we got 23 inches of wet snow on April 29th, 2009 and I had to call a tow truck!

Yesterday was warm and sunny. My husband and I and our six-month-old puppy hiked part-way up a mountain trail above the city of Helena. The upper trails were still so treacherous with snow and ice that we turned back before we reached the summit, yet it was warm enough to shed our light jackets.

If you look closely at the top-right corner of this photo, you can see part of the city of Helena:

Montana hike with the dog

I then spent the rest of the afternoon outside, doing a little yard work and enjoying the wonderful outdoors on Earth Day.

Spring yard work where we live in Montana is not limited to cleaning up garden beds. It includes:
  • Raking massive amounts of deer and elk scat off the grass around our house.
  • Sweeping huge amounts of gravel from the cement pad in front of our house. With nearby roads and our driveway all just gravel and chip-sealed, a lot of gravel is deposited there by our tires, the wind, shoveling, and plowing.
  • Taking our holiday lights down from our trees, which had previously been too snow-covered. Yesterday, I broke my trusty light hanging pole, which we've used since December 2014 to put up and take down our outside holiday lights. I was able to temporarily duct-tape it together well enough to snag and remove all the light strings from this past season. I will definitely be ordering another pole soon. 

I saw a few daffodils poking up through the ground yesterday, and my furry pussy willow catkins were practically flowering before my eyes while being enjoyed by some very fuzzy gray bees. These signs of spring were enough to tempt my husband and me to get out all the patio furniture.

We knew better.

This is what spring looks like here this morning:

Fresh snow on April 23, 20018

At least someone is enjoying the snow today! 

Dog in the snow with her toy


Although we had more snow in Montana this winter than in recent years, waiting this long for spring is not unusual at all. Today's snowfall will melt quickly and warmer temperatures are expected this week, but I'm not removing my snow tires just yet!

What's the weather like right now where you live?

In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of them, the price you pay will not be affected but I may receive some small compensation. All opinions expressed, however, are entirely honest and my own.
This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out! 

Monday, February 26, 2018

How to Survive a Badly Injured Fingernail

It might be a little dramatic to suggest how to survive a ripped fingernail, but anyone who has ever suffered the throbbing discomfort of a nail cut or torn past the quick may not think so. This fairly minor injury can cause a lot of pain!


Accidents happen.

In January, I was reminded that improper use of a sharp knife can be dangerous. I've learned all sorts of things from the online Master Class classes I have been taking, including the importance of heeding the teacher's warnings. Despite being cautioned against using a well-sharpened chef knife on a hard vegetable until completely proficient with the knife skill technique being taught, I did it anyway. 

Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and then make a purchase, I may receive a form of compensation. I only recommend products I believe in.


a sweet potato and chef knife on a wooden cutting board

Oops. I did not cut off a finger (as it had been suggested could happen) when the big knife slipped. I did, however, slice right through the middle of the nail on my pinkie finger. Ouch.

Fortunately, the damage to the flesh under the nail was not deep. But it hurt - a lot. I was terrified I would completely rip off the top half of my nail before it grew out. My solution for a

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Everyone Has Some Artistic Creativity in Them

Our artistic creativity is shaped not just by our innate abilities and training, but often by the input of others.

I was rebuked by a Sunday School teacher when I was about 4-years-old, because I had not followed her directions. I cut out the little pictures on my page before I colored them, which was apparently not the order in which she wanted us to do things.

Coloring page, crayons and scissors

Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and then make a purchase, I may receive a form of compensation. I only recommend products I believe in.

We were supposed to color first so, when our strokes strayed from within the picture outlines, our crayons would not make marks on the desks. I was shy and eager-to-please, and not

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Learn Something New Every Day project: January 2018

My Learn Something New Every Day of 2018 project went well during its first month. As I explained in my last post, my goal is to recognize and record one thing I've learned at the end of each day. I'm sharing my lessons here, with the hope that you'll find some of them interesting or helpful too. 

Some days the information gleaned was useful and on others quite trivial, but for each day of January, I recorded a tidbit of knowledge I didn't have during the previous 24 hours. 

Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and then make a purchase, I may receive a form of compensation. I only recommend products I believe in.

Perhaps the lesson that amazed me most and was reinforced to me repeatedly this month, is how very quickly puppies grow up! 


8 week and 17 week photos of a german shepherd X puppy

Ours has already tripled in weight and grown exponentially since we adopted her.

My List of January Lessons: 


For more in-depth information about some of these topics, more details can be found in my previous post about Week 1 of this project and in future posts (soon to be published on this blog). 

January


Week 1.

  •  1. Puppy toys can come unstuffed.
  •  2. How to unclog a vacuum. 
  •  3. It’s a small world. Well, sort of. 
  •  4. Use vinegar to poach an egg.
  •  5. The best place to do a puzzle. 
  •  6. The aloe vera plant is useful for more than just first aid for burns.
  •  7. An interesting political idea.


Week 2.

  •  8. It's easy to make excellent artisan bread with a lovely crunchy crust.
I will be posting full details on how to bake bread like this soon, in an upcoming post.
Homemade crusty artesian bread
This is the bread recipe I have always wanted!

  •  9. Puppies grow quickly. 
The photos above already prove this point, but I can't resist sharing two more. We think she's cute.
      Puppies grow so fast!
      I've lost track of how many times we've been told, "Wow, she's going to be a big dog!"

  • 10. There's an easy way to get a dog to take a pill without spitting it out.
  • 11. I found a few new ways to use the "Notes" feature on my iPhone and MacBook efficiently.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Learn Something New Every Day of 2018: Week 1


One of my goals for 2018 is to learn at least one new thing every day. 

Learning something new every day is not difficult. Being aware that we are doing so is sometimes the real challenge.

The things we learn on a daily basis range from significant to trivial, intellectual to emotional, mind-blowing to diminutive. Some days we learn things we already knew but forgot. Sometimes we learn things we never wanted to know or things we have always desired to grasp. 

Learning something intellectual, mastering a new skill, finding out something new about a friend, or understanding the world or myself a little better are just a few of the ways in which I expect I will meet this goal. I hope to recognize and record at least one thing I've learned every day in 2018. 


Learn one new thing each day calendar


Some things I learn may be worthy of being shared. 

Sometimes I may learn things that readers of this blog may also find interesting, entertaining, or informative. When I do, I will try to share them here. This could even become a regular series of blog posts - but the probability of that remains to be seen!


Here are some things I learned last week:

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve

The End of Another Year.

I always experience conflicting emotions of nostalgia and anticipation on the last day of the year. For most of us, I think it is a time for reflection and goal-setting. And hopefully, a celebration of what has been and what is yet to come.

Please Be Safe.

During the holiday season many of us are on the roads, either traveling to/from holiday destinations or attending holiday parties. If your weather has been anything like ours, please drive slowly and use extra caution.

a snowy scene
   

My December Was a Bit of a Blur.

I thought all of 2017 went by quickly, but December seems to have zipped by at light speed. I spent the first few weeks in a bit of a sleepless fog, but for a very happy reason.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Don't Hang Christmas Tree Lights Without a "Magic Wand"

If you have tall trees to decorate, don't put up the lights until you read this post!

I sometimes recommend products on this blog, but only ones that I would use myself. A few years ago, I wrote an article about a tool that makes it easy to hang Christmas tree lights. And it does. Even on tall trees!

the light pole extends to multiple lengths

We've had a lot of snow in Montana already this year, but it melted due to unseasonably warm temperatures over the past week or so. Sunday was the perfect day to put up our outside holiday lights. Before we began, I got out our trusty tool. 

We decided to string lights on a tall pine tree and our Canada Red Cherry tree, which is now much taller than when I wrote about it, here. We had no need for a ladder, no tense moments, and no feelings of frustration throughout the process. Lickety-split, my husband and I had both trees decorated.We don't put lights on the roof of our house, but this tool would work well for that too.

Photo showing length of Christmas Tree String Light hanging pole
Taller than our garage when fully extended, this pole has a very long reach!
It is easier to put lights on a tree when two people participate; it helps a lot to have a second person managing the unstrung portion of the lights. There is a little bit of a learning curve to using the light pole, but it is quite easy to get the hang of it. My husband and I would have struggled a lot more if we had decorated the trees without this tool. It is practically a magic wand! We will never decorate another tall tree without it.

A light stringing pole was used to put on these tree lights.

One more good thing. When it's time to take the lights down, this tool makes that an easy task as well.

So, where can you get this magic wand?  I got mine from Amazon.  Click the link to go directly to the Amazon website, where you can order one of your own. 


I do get a tiny bit of compensation if you buy from Amazon after clicking the link, but that doesn't increase your purchase price at all. And I promise that is not the reason I'm telling you about this tool.  

The mission of this website is to pass along helpful ways to make the most of life. This is definitely one of those.

Happy decorating!

Do you decorate your home with outside lights? When do you put them up?