The Current State of This Blog

Apparently, Facebook isn’t the only entity that thinks my blog is spam. A couple of days ago, a friend called make sure I’m okay because she hasn’t been getting my blog via email, and she worried that something had happened to me. I told her I was fine and that I was still blogging every day (even though I don’t always have something to say) and suggested she check her spam folder.

Sure enough, the last four blogs had been classified by her email provider as spam.

I think I know what the problem is — the brief bio at the bottom of every post. Even though it is just a small fraction of the post itself, apparently the spam-eating bots have been picking up on the duplication. (One message from FB mentioned that repetition was considered spam, which corroborates this surmise.)

I never used to put anything at the bottom of my posts because it seemed redundant — after all, all the information about me and my books are on sidebars and pages — but some sites illegally repost blogs without attribution, and I used to find various of my articles on those sites. (I’m sure such sites are still around, though I’ve stopped looking.) Since there’s often nothing that can be done about the theft, one suggestion I came across to counteract the attack was to make sure every blog had a bio and links so that if anyone came across the blog on other sites, it would refer back to me.

I’m glad I got in the habit — phone apps for the various blog platforms generally don’t allow for sidebars, so no one who reads my blog via their phone would see who I am and what other things I write without the bio. It’s not a problem for regular readers since they know who I am, but many new people find me via search engines (most often for questions about grief) and I want them to know about my grief book.

I could, of course, do a new bio every day if the bio really is the problem, but then I probably wouldn’t post something every day, either, because it would be too much extra work. I could also do several different bios and rotate so that the repetition comes once a week rather than every day, but my stubborn nature won’t let me be accommodating (though I did remove the link to my website, in case the links were the culprit).

And anyway, the bio itself might not be the problem. If it is, I’m grateful — it was the impetus to get me off Facebook, at least for now, and I must admit, I’m much happier living in my own little world without the contention and opinionation and strife that comes with the FB territory.

So, since I’m maintaining the current state of this blog, if you generally get my posts via email and you happen to notice that I have disappeared, please check your spam folder. I’m probably there.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Letter to Facebook

I’m not sure it’s worth continuing to fight Facebook over their blocking this blog from their site, but people I respect have urged me to write them a letter and send it by USPS. So, here is the letter I came up with. What do you think?

Facebook Customer Service
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025

To Whom it May Concern:

On April 29, Facebook erroneously blocked my blog from the networking site. They said the blog goes against community standards for spam, but it didn’t go against any such standards when I was paying to boost various posts.

Because of the block, all links to my blog posts, included the boosted posts, have disappeared as well as the comments and discussions the posts generated. I have left messages via the onsite support center concerning this matter, but all such messages have been ignored.

Please, a thirty-second perusal of bertramsblog.com will tell you that the blog is not spam. It’s a personal blog, a diary of sorts, telling about my grief after the death of my husband and how I learned to survive the loss. These posts have helped tens of thousands of people deal with their own grief and were often shared on FB. Although I don’t talk about grief much anymore, writing instead about being a new homeowner, people still find my posts inspirational since the posts tell them that there is life and maybe even happiness after grief.

If you won’t unblock my blog, please refund the $355 I spend boosting articles that you have since removed from your site. You have also removed all mention of these ads, but I can send you documentation of these payments on Paypal.

Thank you for your consideration.

Pat Bertram
https://www.facebook.com/PatBertramAuthor/
https://www.facebook.com/patbertram
https://bertramsblog.com/

An Insular Life

When I started with the internet, blogging first then signing up for various networking platforms, I had no patience for people who posted about the minutiae of their lives. I especially didn’t care what they ate — it didn’t seem to have any relevance in the grand scheme of a thoughtful literary life, and it certainly had nothing to do with my objective of making a name for myself as an author.

Well, here I am, a dozen or so years later, writing about my latest meal. In my defense, with the isolation, meals are basically the only thing I do of any value. And generally, if I stick to a healthy diet, my meals are boring. Salads get tiresome, as does any sort of vegetable eaten regularly for any length of time, and trying to find healthy proteins is a lost cause.

Today I decided to put some effort into making something different. (It was either this or ordering a pizza I really do not need). It might not look like much, but this spinach mushroom quiche alternative (baked eggs without a crust) turned out to be quite good.

I’m continuing to wean myself away from the computer, which leaves me with little to do but read. Since I finished my emergency stash of books, and since my email to the library with a list of books for me to pick up curbside resulted in no action, I’m in emergency-emergency mode — immersed in The Wheel of Time, a 4,000,000 word literary work that I’ve read many times before. The best thing I can say about it (besides its length — no need to look for books to read for a long time!) is that it has to be the quintessential good vs evil story. Or more accurately — sort of good some of the time vs, mostly evil all of the time.

It’s exhausting, not just the constant conflicts between the good and evil, the good and good, and evil and evil, but the sheer amount of activity. All the characters are always on the move, traveling from one part of their world to another, on foot, by horse, or by ship.

And the food they eat is even less interesting than what I generally eat — so often, they are on short rations of porridge, cheese, dried meat, and crusty rolls or bread sometimes flecked with weevils. (I must admit, though, that bread or rolls hot from the oven does sound wonderful. Minus the weevils, of course.)

I’m getting to the point where I can’t imagine a different life, though I don’t know if that is a good thing or a not-so-good thing. But it is what I have, at least for now.

And anyway, even if I couldn’t find anything more relevant in the grand scheme of things than my insular life to write about, at least I’m still writing every day.

That’s something to the good. At least, I hope it is.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Reasons For Gratitude

I took a chance today and posted one of my blog links on my Facebook author page, hoping the ban was a mistake on their part, but nope. This blog is still banned for violating their spam standards. It upset me, though it shouldn’t have. I know what they had done, and to be upset about it yet again seems a bit foolish. Still, not being able to post the link to my daily articles so that people I know on FB can see what I write, coupled with having deleted a couple of posts that were bringing hordes of the wrong kind of people has played havoc with my readership and search engine referrals. (The more people one has viewing one’s blog, the higher one’s ranking in the search engines, and the higher one’s ranking, the more people will view the blog.) Still, the people who want to read my posts follow me, and the people who need to read my grief posts should be able to find me . . . eventually.

In an effort to change my attitude after stopping by FB, I decided to make pierogi. (For those who don’t know, they are a Polish potato dumpling served with sour cream.) The long-drawn-out process — preparing the potato and cheese filling, preparing the egg-noodle dough, filling the dough squares, boiling the dumplings and then frying them — is complicated enough when more than one person is involved in the preparations, but with one person doing it all, it takes hours. But those hours were spent not thinking about anything since mostly it’s muscle memory work, so that was all to the good.

Now I’m back to myself, taking things as they come, which is even better. And for the most part, what comes is pleasant enough. I can’t go out for walks yet, but a bit of research told me that an elliptical is a great exercise for knees, and it just so happens, I have an elliptical — a hand-me down from a brother who didn’t particularly like it. I hadn’t been using the machine because all the boxes that were stored in the old garage are now stored in my exercise room, but I moved things around so I could get to the elliptical. The exercise is not something I can do for more than a few minutes at a time since it’s a much harder workout than simply walking, but it isn’t hurting my knee any, and perhaps it’s doing some good.

One of the things aggravating my knee was the steep step up into the house through the back door. Now that I know that the step was putting too much of a strain on my knees, I use the front door, even though I end up tracking dirt into the living room. (Which is why, obviously, I was using the back door.) There are plans for a new back stoop area that eliminates the steep step, but since it will be a ramp from the back door of the house to the pedestrian door of the garage, it can’t be done until the garage is built.

The garage has been on hiatus the past ten days or so — although the local lumber yard has my garage door, they won’t be able to deliver it until next week (something to do with The Bob — maybe people out sick?) So, with a bit of luck, there will be some progress made on the garage next week.

Meantime, there are many volumes of The Wheel of Time left to be re-read.

So, despite the whole insulting spam thing, there are reasons for gratitude. I’m mostly healthy, mostly well-fed, mostly content. And if I am isolated, at least I am isolated in my own house. And for that I am especially grateful.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Flummoxed

I’m truly flummoxed. Facebook has completely blocked my blog from their site, saying it goes against community standards because it’s spam. Huh? Spam? It’s absolutely acceptable for me to post Amazon links to my books on my Facebook page, but I can no longer post links to this blog, even though I almost never promote my books here. Well, there that short bio at then end of every blog, but that’s more for self-protection than anything else. Certain sites pirate blogs without attrition, so having that bio there at least lets people know who wrote it.

Another thing that’s confusing about this situation is that a few months ago I was boosting posts to see if I could garner interest in Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One, and they very greedily took my money. Now those posts, too have disappeared along with all the rest of my articles. If they weren’t spam then, why are they spam now? If they met community standards then, why not now?

There’s really no recourse. I’ve appealed, but they admit they don’t give any real explanation, seldom reverse their decisions, and won’t respond individually to any request for reinstatement. Which means, except for a brief message saying that my blog goes against community standards for being spam, there’s no way of knowing why. Did someone report me? If so, why? If someone I angered with one of my “Bob” posts complained, why do they say this blog is spam? And even more confusing, if one person who complains can get another one blocked without any explanation or recourse, why would I — or anyone — want to participate?

One friend who got blocked fought them for four months before finally giving up and starting a new blog, which I’m not going to do. Just because FB is now blocking all links to this blog doesn’t mean that anything has changed here. I weathered Google blocking me (that turned out to be a matter of a misplaced piece of code in one post) and I’ll weather this, too. After all, I’m not writing for FB, I write for me and those who want to read what I have to say.

Admittedly, not being able to posts links on FB will make it harder for my FB friends to find me. If you are one of those friends and are able to see this, I would suggest you follow my blog directly rather than waiting for a link on FB that might never appear. To follow, scroll down a bit and on the left-hand side you will find a section labeled, “Follow Bertram’s blog via email.” Click on the link that says “follow.”

I’ve been on Facebook for twelve years. I joined as a place to promote myself as an author and blogger, and stayed because of all the friends I have made. It seems foolish now, but I’ve always been a supporter. Even when people complained about FB, I stayed. Even when FB changed their policies and algorithms, making my posts invisible to most people, I stayed. Even when they changed the groups all out of recognition, turning them into promo sites rather than discussion boards, I stayed.

Well, no more. If they don’t reverse their ban on this blog, I’m done.

**

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Why Am I Doing This?

Lately, I’ve been getting some rather hostile comments. I used to let such comments remain published, thinking it was cheating to only keep comments from people who more or less agreed with me or who disagreed with me in an agreeable manner, but I see no reason to accept all comments anymore. After all, it is my blog.

Still, when I get too much negative feedback, I wonder why the heck I’m doing this. I certainly don’t need any more unpleasantness in my life — there is enough coming my way without opening the door for more. But writing this blog has always been about me, my thoughts, my struggles to get through grief, my struggles to create a new life for myself, my times of joy and sorrow. Even more than that, though, writing is a way of getting thoughts out of my head when I can’t get rid of them any other way.

And this current situation has certainly made the thoughts go round and round, so much so that I get dizzy from trying to make sense of it all.

Yesterday, someone left the following comment on my Lockdown Protests post:

Please stop promoting your uninformed and harmful opinions. Yes, speech is free but death is not. Stop pretending to be a medical professional and stick to whatever it is you imagine to be your area of expertise. I, for one, wouldn’t take your advice about anything. Keep quiet and stick to whatever you know, which seems to be nothing at this point. Maybe your fictional work is more up your fictional alley.

The comment would have upset me more except for the erroneous assumptions — I don’t pretend to be a medical professional, I don’t offer advice, and I admitted I didn’t know the truth of what is going on, though I did give a brief synopsis of some of the things people are protesting about.

In fact, I came across a couple of articles today that said the very same thing I did: Instead Of ‘Flattening The Curve,’ We Flattened Hospitals, Doctors, And The U.S. Health Care System. And: If Half the Country’s Deaths Were in Montana, Would New York Shut Down?

I shouldn’t be sitting here explaining myself — what and why I write is no one’s business but my own. Still, these thoughts are in my head, and I need to get them out so I can enjoy the rest of this warm, sunshiny day.

So now they are in your head! Lucky you.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

A Single Blossom

I am not one who thrives on controversy. I just want to go along to get along, which is why I steer clear of hot issues such as politics or religion. Unfortunately, every once in a while I say something in a blog that hits people wrong, and I end up getting censured for something that was nothing more than an offhand remark.

Because the current situation continues to bewilder me — the repercussions, the ramifications, the lies and erroneous projections that were used to cause irreparable harm to so many people — I’ve been voicing my concerns. I haven’t meant to offend anyone with my comments and questions and half-facetious remarks. I’ve just been trying to sort through all the conflicting information we’re presented with, to mention the concerns I have, and to write of the things I have been thinking about. I’ve come to no conclusions, have no strong opinions. I’m simply . . . wondering.

The comments left here on this blog have been thoughtful and show an understanding of my dilemma, but those left elsewhere have been hurtful, so I’m eschewing the whole matter today and going with a topic that no one can chastise me for.

Tulips.

So far, only a single tulip has bloomed in my yard, but what a beauty!

Although a whole field of tulips can be dramatic, It doesn’t take huge numbers to make an impact. A single blossom can be just as beautiful and important and meaningful.

Which is good, considering all I have at the moment is this one flower.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

 

Website Rebuilding

With as amazing as the computers and the internet are, sometimes things just don’t go as planned. I checked my website (patbertram.com) today to make sure it was still online. I am using a retired website builder as well as a defunct template, and occasionally the people who supply my domain will downgrade the site to a different server, which often causes problems.

The site was still up, but I found a black x at the top of my homepage. I have no idea what had been there originally, so I simply removed the x and hoped for the best. Then I checked out my book page and noticed that several of my book covers had also disappeared.

No problem. I just needed to add them back. Well, I added one photo, but when I tried to resize it to fit in the original slot, I kept getting strange messages. First, it said that flash player is outdated; click here to update. When I clicked, I got another message that said flash player was blocked, but to click to allow flash player one time. So I clicked. Then I got other messages saying, at various times: this page is opened in two windows, we couldn’t save your work, couldn’t update, error, try again, call technical support.

I figured there was some sort of glitch, so I closed out the browser and restarted my computer. Same thing.

After a couple of more tries, I finally gave in and called technical support. His suggestion was to clear my cache, which I did, then I tried again to resize the photo. Still all the same problems and messages.

His next suggestion was to try a different browser. So I downloaded Firefox but had to abort the download because I hadn’t unchecked the boxes that allowed a whole bunch of stuff I don’t want to be downloaded at the same time. When I tried to download again, I couldn’t find where the download had been stored. Sheesh.

Finally, got Firefox downloaded, and tried fixing my website again. This time, when I got the message saying that I needed to update flash player, it updated. But then all the same messages started reappearing, and the photo still didn’t resize.

By this time, the poor tech fellow was as frustrated as I was, but he came up with a different suggestion: to resize the photo and then upload the resized photo. I did that, but since I couldn’t remember what size I needed, I made the photo too big. To my delight, this time the resizing mechanism worked.

The only thing either of us could figure out was that the original photos had somehow become corrupted, because replacing the rest of the photos and resizing them went quickly.

Still, what should have been a five-minute fix ended up being a three-hour chore.

Luckily, I don’t often have to deal with my website. The last time I did a major overhaul was when Grief: The Inside Story — A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One was published. The next time I will have to do anything major is when my new book is published, hopefully sometime this year.

I paused here to double check to make sure I put the books covers with the correct blurb, and noticed that Grief: The Inside Story is not on the page with all the rest of my books. There is always something, isn’t there? Well, adding the book will just have to wait for another time.

The website is there mostly for convenience, anyway. This blog functions as a website, and is much more interesting, besides. At least, normally it is.

As if that weren’t enough, I hid the favorites tool bar on my browser so I could get a bigger image of the website to post here, and then couldn’t find the tool bar again to unhide it.

I think I’m done for the day.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.