Who Visits My Blog

Someone asked me yesterday if anyone reads my blog. She seemed shocked when I told her people all around the world have visited this blog. Most come from the USA and other English speaking countries. Others come from countries I’ve never even heard of, and yet, someone in those countries has heard of me. What an amazing thing the internet is!

Here is a map showing where my visitors originate:

Pink shows visitors, and the darker the pink, the more visitors. Apparently, if I am reading the map correctly, the only places from which no visitors have come are Svalbard, Turkmenistan, Western Sahara, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, and Central African Republic. I find this utterly astonishing. Not to be disingenuous, but I simply can’t imagine being interesting enough to attract so many different people.

Here is the incredible list of countries where visitors have come from. (The number represents visitations only, not views, since often people click on more than one blog entry, and each click is a view):

United States400,695
United Kingdom71,399
Canada47,758
India43,550
Australia27,431
Philippines8,063
Pakistan7,222
Ireland7,190
South Africa5,205
Malaysia4,555
New Zealand4,548
Singapore4,230
France3,868
Germany3,578
European Union2,706
Indonesia2,385
Netherlands2,166
Brazil1,754
United Arab Emirates1,670
Italy1,574
Hong Kong SAR China1,434
Spain1,381
Russia1,358
Norway1,297
Saudi Arabia1,153
Thailand1,140
Nigeria1,,136
Denmark1,130
Sweden1,102
Japan1,095
Vietnam1,089
Bangladesh1,075
Turkey1,015
Lebanon987
Belgium966
Romania935
Mexico901
Kenya882
South Korea839
Switzerland803
Greece772
Poland761
Argentina706
Nepal682
Israel630
Egypt613
Sri Lanka601
Portugal577
Jamaica574
Finland500
Trinidad & Tobago473
Austria462
Taiwan433
Qatar405
Hungary383
Ukraine362
Malta351
Jordan349
Ghana343
Cambodia332
Serbia329
Czech Republic314
Mauritius312
Bulgaria310
China291
Morocco278
Kuwait275
Croatia264
Slovakia242
Puerto Rico236
American Samoa233
Colombia232
Bahrain219
Slovenia216
Oman196
Iraq186
Tunisia186
Albania181
Algeria176
Tanzania172
Chile170
Cyprus160
Bahamas158
Uganda149
Zimbabwe149
Palestinian Territories148
Myanmar (Burma)148
Lithuania147
Estonia135
Georgia126
Iceland124
Latvia124
British Virgin Islands123
Peru117
Macedonia107
Ecuador106
Costa Rica106
Venezuela104
Guyana103
Botswana102
Brunei98
Bosnia & Herzegovina98
Belize96
Panama93
Armenia92
Isle of Man90
Jersey86
Maldives83
Barbados83
Fiji82
Bhutan75
Luxembourg75
Azerbaijan74
Namibia71
Afghanistan70
Dominican Republic67
Zambia63
Syria62
Kazakhstan61
Yemen59
Antigua & Barbuda59
Ethiopia58
Moldova57
Grenada56
Guatemala55
Papua New Guinea53
Malawi52
Guernsey51
Belarus51
Macau SAR China50
Bermuda50
St. Lucia49
Uruguay48
Cayman Islands47
Guam46
Cameroon46
St. Vincent & Grenadines45
El Salvador43
Libya38
Senegal38
Laos34
Lesotho34
Curaçao33
Rwanda32
Montenegro31
Gibraltar31
Bolivia31
Honduras31
Paraguay29
Mongolia27
Aruba27
Nicaragua27
Swaziland26
U.S. Virgin Islands25
Mozambique24
Monaco24
Suriname21
Sudan20
St. Kitts & Nevis20
Dominica19
Côte d’Ivoire17
Seychelles17
Northern Mariana Islands16
Somalia15
Kyrgyzstan14
Åland Islands14
Uzbekistan12
Congo – Kinshasa12
Angola10
Vanuatu9
Madagascar9
Réunion8
Anguilla7
Liberia7
Guadeloupe7
Djibouti7
Solomon Islands6
Caribbean Netherlands6
Faroe Islands6
Sierra Leone6
Turks & Caicos Islands4
Cook Islands4
Haiti4
Benin4
Liechtenstein3
Burundi3
French Polynesia3
Iran3
Gambia3
Gabon3
Cuba3
Martinique2
Sint Maarten2
Tajikistan2
Timor-Leste2
Mali2
Micronesia2
Falkland Islands1
French Guiana1
St. Helena1
Vatican City1
Samoa1
Burkina Faso1
South Sudan1
Mauritania1
Netherlands Antilles1
Niger1
Congo – Brazzaville1
Cape Verde1
Kiribati1
Marshall Islands1
Montserrat1
Greenland1

***

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.

Happy Thirteenth Bloggiversary to Me!

I created this blog exactly thirteen years ago today, back when I hadn’t yet become a published author, back when I had just acquired my first computer and didn’t even know what a blog was. I had read how important blogging was for authors, both as a way of getting known and as a way of connecting with readers, so I decided to “act as if” I were going to be published in the hopes of making it happen. I had nothing to say, no one to say it to, no reason to say anything, but I didn’t let that stop me. I started blogging on September 24, 2007, and haven’t stopped since.

Did acting as if I were going to get published work? Perhaps, though there is no direct connection that I know of. Still, one and a half years after starting this blog, my first two books were published. I now have eight books available: five suspense novels, one mystery, and two non-fiction books about grief. A ninth book will soon be published, a novel that my publisher said, “is playful, fun and well-written. It spans genres, so I’m not sure if there is an exploitable target audience. I don’t care. I like it.”

Two-and-half years after I started this blog, my life mate/soul mate died, and his death catapulted me into a world of such pain that it bled over into my posts. This blog became a place where I could try to make sense of what I was going through, to offer comfort and be comforted, to find my way to renewed life. And I struck a chord with people who were also dealing with grief. It’s no wonder my top posts are grief related: What Do You Say to Someone Who is Grieving at Christmas? with 82,261 views and The Five Major Challenges We Face During the Second Year of Grief with 38,122 views.

This blog sustained me during the years I cared for my father after Jeff’s death, and it gave me a place to rest when my father died four years later, and I was thrown out into the world, alone and orphaned.

And this blog offered me a place to call home when I set out alone on a five-month, 12,000 mile cross-country road trip, gave me a place where I could talk about all the wonders I was seeing. Often on that trip, when I was between visits with online friends, I thought of William Cowper’s words: How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude! But grant me still a friend in my retreat, whom I may whisper, solitude is sweet. And this blog became a place where I could whisper, “Solitude is sweet.”

Currently, as I am continuing to settle into a house of my own, it’s nice to know that whatever life throws at me, whatever problems I encounter, whatever challenges and adventures — and joys — come my way, this blog will be here for me.

During the past thirteen years, I have written 2,842 blogs, received 19,481 comments, and garnered 873,352 views. It amazes me that anyone wants to read anything that I write here. This is so much a place for just letting my thoughts roam, for thinking through problems, and (I admit it) for pontificating a bit. It’s been a kick, writing this blog, and I want to thank all of you for indulging my whims and whimsys.

Thank you for reading. Thank you all for your comments, your likes, your support. They have meant more to me (especially this past ten and a half years) than you can ever imagine.

***

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.

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

Triumph Over Obstacles

The garage door is finally installed! The electronic opener isn’t installed, just the door itself, but that alone is a major accomplishment. Up until now, the door was mostly just propped into the opening to prevent trespassers, but now it’s on its track.

I found it interesting that today’s tarot card pick was the chariot. As usual, my question was what I needed to know today, and as usual, it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know, but it did seem apropos, not just because of the car/chariot synchronicity, but also because of the card’s meaning of triumph over obstacles.

The triumph didn’t belong to me since I had nothing to do with the installation except for a few sympathetic or encouraging remarks, but it was definitely a triumph over obstacles for the worker who had to try to make sense of nonsensical directions. (The instructions read as if they had been translated from one archaic language to another and then finally into English.) Even once the directions were puzzled out, the diagrams and photos illustrating the directions caused problems. They turned out to be backward images of what they were supposed to be. Luckily, the worker finally figured it out. I can’t imagine the horrors the workers will encounter when installing the opener, but that’s a situation for another day.

I kept wandering into the garage to see what was going on. I worried that the poor guy would think I was checking up on him, which I wasn’t — I trust him. It was more that I enjoyed seeing the door take shape.

And because — I admit it — I was bored. Since I’ve been staying away from Facebook, I have way more time and mental freedom than I’m used to. There are no conflicting political statements to befuddle me, no mined conversations with explosives ready to be tripped, no veiled (and unveiled) insults to be fielded. I don’t appreciate Facebook’s ignoring me and my request to have the block on my blog removed, but I especially don’t appreciate their doing it at this particular time because it makes it seem as if my boycott is a political statement rather than a personal one. Apparently, some major companies are boycotting Facebook because FB is not reining in those who disagree with the current political philosophy, while other people are boycotting FB because FB is deleting the content of those who disagree with that same philosophy, a good example of damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Or maybe the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Either way, it’s confusing. Either way, they are herding people to a particular way of thinking. And either way, I’m out of it for now, which is one way to triumph over the obstacles FB has placed in my path.

The point is that when I got tired of The Wheel of Time world, instead of wandering onto Facebook to see what’s going on, I wandered out to the garage to see what’s going on. Luckily, the worker didn’t seem concerned, and in fact seemed pleased to have someone to commiserate with and, at the end, to share his success.

Anyway, it’s my garage, or rather, it will be. Eventually. For now, it is still the garage builder’s workspace.

***

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.

Learning by Osmosis

I haven’t had a lot of problems with Windows 10 in the year and a half that I’ve been using it. It’s intuitive enough that I quickly picked up any differences between that and the previous systems I had. (First Vista, then Windows 7, which was basically Vista with a different name to offset Vista’s bad press.)

I prefer learning by intuition and osmosis when possible — it’s a lot easier than hard mental labor, for sure. (Most of what I know has come simply from reading, which is the ultimate osmosis medium. Read enough books, and things start to sink in.) This preference for intuition, osmosis, instinct, is what keeps me playing around with the decks of tarot that I inherited. If I finger them enough, perhaps the knowledge of how to read the cards will seep into my mind and I won’t have to actually study them or memorize them. The truth is, I’d like to know what they are all about, but I’m not sure I want to know badly enough to do the work. And I’m not sure I want to know what is hidden in the far recesses of my psyche anyway.

Meantime, there is the computer. It’s a wonderful tool for so many things, my most recent use being to translate an instruction booklet from an obscure Italian tarot deck into English. It’s slow going, but an interesting exercise.

One thing I do not like about the computer, Windows 10 in particular, is the way this system does updates. In previous systems, I could choose which updates to install, and if I uninstalled an update, it stayed uninstalled. Not now. There is no way to choose what to update. Windows 10 updates automatically. Oh, I could stop it updating automatically for a day or week, but then I’d have to install all the updates at once, and I’d be back where I started from. Besides, I don’t want to stop necessary updates, just problematic ones.

I mentioned yesterday that my computer no longer talks to my printer. I found out that a particular update caused the problem with the spooler, so I uninstalled the update. My printer worked perfectly! Yay. Well today, Windows reinstalled the update. Boo. I have to restart the computer to make it take effect, and I was able to put it off for a week, so I have a respite. (But if I have to restart the computer for any other reason during the week, I’m out of luck.) The best I can hope for is that in the interim, since this is a known problem, Windows will come up with a fix. I suppose if it doesn’t, I’ll uninstall the update again. Or wait until I need to use the printer and then uninstall it. So not optimal. So not an intuitive way of dealing with the matter.

And speaking of learning by osmosis — I am especially grateful someone other than me is installing the garage door. Though it seems that installing a door should be intuitive, especially for people who have done it before, the instructions for this door look as complicated as instructions for creating cold fusion would be. Not only are the directions for three different doors included in the booklet and not only does the order of those directions put the first parts last, and the last parts somewhere in the middle, but the instructions read as if they were translated from one archaic language to another and then finally into English. Even though I think putting up the door should be a two-man job, it’s a good thing there’s only one guy working, otherwise the two workers would spend all of their time discussing what the instructions mean.

Come to think of it, as complicated as the tarot is, it sure seems easier than computers and garage doors. Maybe I won’t have any problem learning how to read the cards whether by osmosis or intuition or instinct or even plain hard memory work.

Assuming, that is, I decide I want to.

***

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.

Changes

Jeff and I kept our expenses to a minimum by stocking up on things when they went on sale, and really loading up on items that had been deeply discounted. I don’t see those kinds of sales any more, which is good because I no longer like keeping a lot of things on hand. Having to get rid of cases of food and paper goods when I packed up after he died was just one more stab in the heart, especially since I couldn’t find a place to donate them. The churches didn’t even want them. I don’t remember what I ended up doing — I think an older woman found me crying and said she’d find a way to distribute the items. (She also understood my tears since she’d been widowed three times and admitted that she still cried for all of her husbands.)

The wheel of time turns, and now here I am, once again stocking up on certain items like paper towels — not because paper towels are on sale for twenty-five cents a package (the sale price Jeff and I paid), but because large packages of paper goods are the only sizes available to me right now.

I’m still not stocking up on food. I prefer to eat fresh vegetables and those don’t stay fresh for very long. I don’t use many canned goods or frozen foods. And the last time I looked for meat, I walked away without buying any because the prices were more than I wanted to pay — double what they had been a couple weeks ago. Luckily, proteins like tuna and eggs and cheese continue to be within my budget. I’m grateful I can still make it to the local grocery store once a week, and things I can’t get around here, I’ve been able to get online. I might continue shopping this way even when I feel more comfortable going to a bigger town to visit bigger stores — when shipping is free, it makes more sense to order online than to pay for gas, even when I have to stock up to get the free shipping.

I’m sure there will be other changes to my life — or maybe what I mean is I’m sure I will keep the changes I have made to accommodate these times. I will have to become sociable again, of course, at least to a small extent, but I doubt I’ll ever go back to having a full calendar. I’ve become so used to being by myself that it will take more energy than I have to get myself out of the house. (Though it will be nice seeing friends again.)

For all I know, even when the library reopens, I might keep rereading The Wheel of Time series as I did once before when there wasn’t a library available to me. It’s not that the work is so great, it’s that it is so vast. By the time I reach the end of what is essentially a 4,000,000-word novel, I’ve forgotten many of the connections and relationships that led to the final confrontation, so I need to reread the books to see what I missed. And by the end of the second read through, I’ve forgotten other connections.

And so it goes, the wheel of time. Around and around and around.

***

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.