A Better Mood

I was very discouraged yesterday, not just because of the fiasco on facebook (not a typo, it doesn’t deserve the respect of being capitalized) and being banned for unfairly and untruthfully being labeled abusive, but because of several other issues too, the main one being my car.

I had a tune-up toward the end of last year, including replacing the spark plugs, and the venerable 49-year-old VW bug sailed along as if it were a youngster again. Within a month or two, I started having problems with the car bucking. At first I thought perhaps the choke wasn’t working due to the frigid winter weather, because everything seemed to work better once I’d been driving a few miles, but when the weather cleared, the bucking got worse the more I drove.

So I took it back to the mechanic, and he discovered that those new spark plugs had already burned out. At the same time, he found that a part in the carburetor wasn’t working properly, and it was letting too much air into the engine. I’m going to have him replace the carburetor, but those spark plugs burning out so fast sure worried me! After a bit of checking on the internet, I discovered it was due to the engine running hot, which was due to a lean fuel mixture (too much air in the fuel), which was due to the carburetor not working right. Who knew? Well, any mechanic or mechanically inclined person would know, just not me. Now that I know that the spark plugs won’t always be burning out every month or so and that the car can be fixed, it makes me feel a lot better.

At least about that.

I still feel discomfited about the whole FB thing: that people would on purpose sabotage me and that there is no recourse, but I’m gradually finding my way back to a better mood, especially since there’s nothing I can do about the ban. In the long run, I suppose, it doesn’t really matter. With as much as FB is changing, and with as many “friends” who are voluntarily leaving, I have a hunch the site wouldn’t do book sales much good anyway. (I tell myself that because if I really thought it was hurting me as an author, I’d be furious, and I don’t want to be angry.)

I’d considered signing up for Instagram now that I have a phone that is powerful enough and big enough to edit photos and to handle the site, but Instagram is owned by FB, and I don’t see any point in rewarding anyone who treats me badly.

The one good thing that happened yesterday, besides finding out that my car can be fixed, is that while I was outside town test driving my car after I picked it up last evening, I was able to see the sun setting and also the moon rising. By the time I could stop to take a photo, though, the moon had shrunk somewhat. Still beautiful, though!

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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

Abusive?

When Facebook first banned this blog from their site, the reason given was that this blog is spam. Yesterday when I tried sharing the post from the FB share button (which is now removed) at the bottom of the post I’d just written, I got a different explanation. They said: Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.

Abusive? Me? Really? I have posted a handful articles (out of a total of 2,997) that might be considered controversial, though I do try to steer a middle ground. Even so, those articles were in no way abusive, weren’t even very controversial since I wasn’t taking a stand so much as trying to sort out what I felt about the political turmoil. Sometimes when I think I’m being the most helpful or logical or innocuous or agreeable, it surprises me that not everyone agrees with what I say. To be honest, I don’t always agree with what I say. As with those few controversial posts, so often by writing for this blog, I am trying to work through a problem, an idea, a spot of confusion, and sometimes, after I’ve posted the article, I realize that because of the writing, I came to a different conclusion.

But abusive? I cannot think of a single time I said anything that anyone could say was abusive. I always try to be nice, even when people aren’t nice to me. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.

Although I did not appreciate this blog being blocked because of spam, I thought maybe their bots had picked up on the repetitious bio at the end of the article, or perhaps all the links I used in the bio. Even though it did no good, I removed the links and am alternating bios to make sure other sites don’t have the same issue, but as it turns out, that wasn’t the case at all.

Abusive?

That upsets me because it is so unjust and pejorative. What’s even worse is the current system, where anyone can say anything about any person for any reason, and no matter what harm is done, there is no recourse, at least not with Facebook. I have messaged them via FB. I have emailed them. I have sent letters to their headquarters. But apparently a few grouches (that’s the only thing I can think of — that people were grouchy and ticked off that somehow a post of mine got added to their feed) can determine someone’s fate.

FB was my primary means of promotion. I spent a lot of money with them over the years. It’s probably people who saw those posts who labeled them abusive, rather than any of my FB “friends,” but that’s not my fault. I’m not the one that posted the links on those feeds; FB did.

Ironically — and cruelly — whenever I do happen to stop by FB to see if someone left a comment on my page (which I will be doing less in the future, so if you want me to see a comment, please comment here on the blog rather than on FB), I find copious messages from FB telling me I’m not posting enough and I find even more messages telling me how important it is for me to pay them to promote my posts.

If it was me personally they had a problem with, I could simply set up a new account like so many others have had to do, but they have no problem with me personally. Just my oh, so non-abusive and very personal blog.

I have found a way around their ban for now — I reblog my posts to another blog, and then post the link to the second blog on FB. I wouldn’t even be doing that much, but several people said they missed too many of my posts. They could, of course, just sign up for my blog, but these are people who spend time on FB, and so that’s where they like getting their notifications.

I know FB is a huge site, but Google is even bigger, and when I had a problem with Google for banning my blog, they responded to my query, and WordPress helped me fix it. (It was a bit of stray code — innocuous code — that somehow got attached to one photo in one post.) But FB? Nope. Once you’ve been branded as abusive, that’s it for you . . . forever.

No one has to prove their accusation. No one checks the truth of it. To me, acting on unfounded allegations is abusive. My posts are not. If you disagree and can point out any abuse, please let me know so I can change it. Just be gentle. My feelings are hurt enough right now.

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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.

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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.