Sometimes I Want to Respond to Spammers

One of my other blogs is an art blog.  Every day, I post a new piece of artwork.  About the only words attached to any of these blog posts are enough to convey the size of the piece, the medium and support I used and the copyright information.  So… not too many words.  But I get dozens of spam comments like this every week:

Good info to know. Thank you for sharing. Great site keep up the good work!

Well.  Ok.  I’m not sure what information you found in that post that was so interesting that you had to (spammy) comment, but thanks.

Then there are the word salad comments:

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Notice a pattern?  It’s like this person (all these, plus 20 other similar comments over the course of three days, were written by the same person) was playing a Mad Libs game in the comment section.  Apparently, Akismet filters out that sort of thing.  Thanks goodness.  Here’s another with a similar theme:

Hello.  I like “Name of Post – Aerten Art”.  It was good.  Visit my blog sometime.

No.  I don’t think so.  Listen, you’ve got fucked up punctuation.  Ok, maybe not… if you’re in the UK.  I understand they put the punctuation outside the quotation marks over there.  Still, since I find it painful, and you’re only the sixth person this week to use this formulaic post, I’m not going to be visiting your blog before Hell freezes over.  And I probably won’t visit it then, as I’ll be too busy moving to the sun.  Here’s one that actually made me laugh:

Hey there it’s so pleasant to study your site to be a circus performer I love research the web and skim reports concerning carrying out arts.

Word salad plus completely irrelevant observations!  I’d give this one the prize today, except this one beat him out:

bolt patterns

I am both baffled and amazed at the randomness.  I’m going to try to keep track of some of the more interesting and bizarre comments I get on my three blogs, and share them (and my reactions) semi-regularly.  Because if you can’t mock spammers, what’s the point of being a Language Maven with a blog, eh?

Why I Love Capital Pride Singers

This is really just an expansion of what I had to say at our membership meeting this week.  The first question we had to answer was, “How did you come to join CPS?”

Back in 1998, when I was contemplating moving to Albany from Denver, I needed to know that there was going to be a place for me to sing.  While in Denver, I sang with the Denver Women’s Chorus and Harmony: a Colorado Chorale, and loved every minute of every rehearsal and performance and retreat.  Singing is one of those things that I just have to do… you know, like breathing.  So even though it would have been completely stupid for my then-fiancé to leave his job in Albany and move to Denver where I didn’t have a job, I was prepared to be completely stupid.  I checked out the Gay and Lesbian Association (GALA) of Choruses website to see if there was an LGBT chorus in Albany… or near Albany… or at the very least, a women’s chorus in or around Albany.  Fortunately, according to GALA, the Capital Pride Singers was an LGBT chorus right in Albany.  Balance was restored to the universe and in April, 1999, I moved to Albany (well, technically it was a suburb of Schenectady).

But I couldn’t find this Capital Pride Singers group!  I was kind of freaking out.  I had a PO Box number, but no phone number and no website and no email address.  I was a geek… how was I supposed to find them?  I started going to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Schenectady, because I figured if nothing else, I could join their chorus.  I’m not a very church-going kind of person (even when churchy people are as nice as the Unitarians), but I was desperate.  After going to a few Sunday morning services (I rather liked the minister, but it was still pretty churchy for my tastes), during the Sharing of Gratitude section of the service, a woman stood and told how grateful she was for being part of the Capital Pride Singers.

I had found them!!  Needless to say, I tracked the member down after the service and got all the information about rehearsals and when the next concert was.  I dropped in on a rehearsal (even though it was too late in the season to sing in their then-current concert).  The director made me feel very welcome, as did the members of the alto section.  I attended their concert that fall (all I remember was that they sang the John Denver Medley (I adore John Denver) and one of the members did a fabulous a capella rendition of a Melissa Etheridge song).  After the concert, I tracked down the director and told her I’d be back in January to sing with them!

I began singing with Capital Pride Singers in January, 2000.  Very quickly, I joined the Artistic Planning Committee, because — dang it — I wanted to be involved!  I don’t remember the first concert (I’m pretty sure it was at Page Hall at SUNY Albany), but I know the Christmas concert that year was at the Cohoes Musical Hall.  I also remember that I was eight months pregnant at the time.

Now we’re getting into the second question that was asked at the membership meeting, “What personally have you gained in joining CPS?”  When my daughter was born prematurely just a week or so after the concert, and died after only four days, these people took it upon themselves to make sure I knew they cared about me.  They came to my house to just sit and hold my hands, and give me hugs.  They brought me food so I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking (I’ve never actually worried about cooking, but they didn’t know that).  They CARED.  They cared about me, and they cared about my family.  They certainly couldn’t understand what I was going through, but by the gods, they tried.  When rehearsals started back up a couple of weeks later, I had my husband drive me (I had a c-section and wasn’t allowed to drive) to rehearsals so I could be with them.  I couldn’t always sing… in fact, in those first few weeks, I don’t thing I sang more than a couple of measures in any given song.  But the song was there.  My friends were singing for me.  They were singing to me.  They probably thought I was nuts, but I needed to be with my people.  There are two groups of people who saved my sanity back in the early part of 2001… the Capital Pride Singers and the New Beginnings Neonatal Loss Support Group.  CPS dedicated to a song to Mackenzie, Let Me Be the Music, and I still cry every time we sing it.  I don’t care.  That song, to me, means love, it means family, it means community… and it means that the family and community that is Capital Pride Singers love me.

We’ve gone through some rough times, CPS and I.  The chorus went through a period of great discord, and I needed to step away for a cycle or two.  But I came back, because I couldn’t stay away.  I can’t stop singing any more than I can stop creating my art.  Singing is therapy, singing is prayer.  Art is about honoring Mackenzie… and I think it’s about honoring all the people who helped me through that most hellish time of my life.  Sure, I still get choked up sometimes when I talk about Mackenzie.  What mother wouldn’t?  But I have people around people who just take that all in stride.

Right now, we have a musical director who is so full of energy, you’d think she’d make me feel old and decrepit.  But her energy and enthusiasm and sheer love of what she’s doing is highly infectious.  Every Monday night, no matter how tired I am or how horrible the fibro pain has been making me feel, I go home feeling happy… optimistic… energized… and maybe even a little less painful.  She wants us to be great.  Her attitude is rubbing off on everyone… my chorus mates are believing — BELIEVING — that we can be great.  We already are, and we can — and will — get better.  I don’t think I would have been convinced to run for Secretary of the Board without her incredible energy and support of each and every one of us.

Capital Pride Singers is a community of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered folk, and yes, even straight folks.  Labels are meaningless, though.  We have music in common, and we are a family.  That’s all that matters… and that’s why I love Capital Pride Singers.

Cooking and Baking and Sewing, Oh My

I mentioned recently on my Facebook page that I sort of wished I liked to cook and bake and sew.  I imagine that if I liked to cook, I’d eat more than fruit smoothies, salads, spicy lentils and the occasional frozen vegan entree or pizza.  I imagine that if I liked to bake, I could make yummy vegan baked goodies for the chorus’ dessert table at our concerts, instead of buying pre-baked tartlets and snickerdoodles from the grocery store.  I imagine that if I liked to sew, I could darn socks, repair ripped seams and even sew new outfits.

But then I come to my senses.  I know my diet is kind of boring, but at least everything I eat tastes pretty good.  I sometimes go out for some Middle Eastern food or pasta, or will have Chinese food delivered.  Food doesn’t seem to be a big deal to me.  I need to eat so I don’t pass out, and I prefer my food to taste good.  Beyond that… meh.  Sometimes I like sweets, but not really all that often.  Apparently, I am not terribly normal.  For example, for the Spousal Unit, food is an integral part of any celebration.  ”Yay!  It’s Wednesday!  Let’s order Chinese for a treat!”  Really?  You’re celebrating the fact that you made it half way through the work week, and you deserve a “treat”?  Listen, if you want you give me a treat, just buy me one of the books from my Amazon wish list, ok?  ”Yay!  It’s Wednesday!  I didn’t kill a coworker!  Time for a new book!!”

I can sew… I can darn socks (though with these stupid new compact fluorescent bulbs, it’s not as easy), I can sew buttons back on, I can repairs seams and I have even been known to construct new outfits.  But do I enjoy doing these things?  Oh, hell no!

The dislike of cooking and baking all makes sense.  (Here comes the therapy session.)  From about age 9 or 10, I had to take on the task of making sure dinner didn’t get destroyed after my mother passed out from her drinking binges.  Everything had to be made the way dad liked things (i.e., bland).  If dad didn’t like a particular food, we didn’t eat it.  I was 19 years old before I ever ate broccoli.  So cooking was an onerous chore, and not the least bit interesting.

Baking was fun, because it’s something I did with my grandmother.  But she died when I was 14, and the joy just went out of the whole experience.  Sad… but true.

And sewing?  Well, I remember the first outfit I ever made for myself.  Mind you, this was the late 60s or early 70s, so don’t judge too harshly.  It was a culottes and poncho set, made with a nice cotton fabric with lots of bright colors and geometric patterns.  There was even pom pon edging on the ponchos.  I loved it so very much.  When I finished it, and came down from my bedroom to show my mother, her comment was something like, “That has got to be the ugliest outfit I’ve ever seen.”  Really, ma?  Really?  Well, that was the last outfit I ever made.  I don’t think I wore the culottes more than once or twice, but I did wear the poncho a lot in high school.  Because you know?  I LOVED that crazy, bright fabric.

What got me starting on this particular wander down memory lane?  Well, my blog acquaintance Jia has been posting recipes over on her blog, Blade and Cauldron, some of which I may actually get around to testing for myself.  And I thought… well, even if I don’t like to cook and bake, sometimes I do it anyway.  And sometimes (ok, usually, because I am good at cooking even though I don’t enjoy it) those cooking and baking experiments turn out rather well.  So, maybe I, too, will share some of my recipes (and recipe modifications, because sometimes I just have to veganize a recipe I already have tried and like, but can eat anymore).  I don’t make up recipes all on my own (except for my spicy lentils), so I’ll be sure to give credit where credit is due.  I’m not promising anything… but just maybe I’ll be posting here more often.

The Weekend’s Publishing Wankfest

It would seem that Amazon delisted all the books from Macmillan over the weekend.  I’m not going to pretend I have any knowledge of publishing or bookselling, so I’m going to refer you to John Scalzi’s analysis of the situation.

I have a Kindle.  I’m rather fond of my Kindle.  But if I can’t get the book I want to read for my Kindle, I’m not above buying those things made from tree mulch.  At Barnes & Noble or Borders or the local independent bookstore.  Or even the newly-renovated public library up the street!  I go to Amazon for convenience.  If they take away my convenient, it’s their loss when I jump in my car and visit their competitors.

Also?  Why I’m not getting an iPad:

Happy Birthday, Mackenzie

You would have been nine years old today.  We still miss you.  We always will.



NaBloPoMo Day 26

I am grateful for a lot of things, but mostly I’m grateful for the people in my life.  I’m grateful for my family and friends, co-workers and chorus-mates, my mail carrier and the UPS guy, the guys who take away the garbage and recycling, the cashier at the grocery store who is always cheerful and smiling, the salesman at the phone store who kept us all entertained while we waited in line forever.

I’m not always a “people person,” but I do appreciate all of you even when I want to hide in my room as far away from you as I can get.


A Confession

NaBloPoMo Day 23

Sometimes when I’ve driving around, I see color combinations that make me want to stop the car and pull out my paints right then and there.  This compulsion is especially strong when I see that orange-pink-purple combination in the sky.  This usually occurs in evening rush hour, and is why I don’t carry painting supplies in my car.  Can you imagine the conversation I could have with the police while trying to explain why I’m blocking traffic?

I Didn’t Say This Yesterday

NaBloPoMo Day 12

…because that would just be too normal and expected, right?

So today I’m going to say thank you.  To all who have served in the military, and especially all those who are currently serving… thanks.  What you do isn’t easy, and I appreciate your ability to do a job that a lot of us flat-out couldn’t handle (myself included).

Now be safe, ok?

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Ah, where do I begin to tell you about this movie?  How about the fact that in the new millennium, the story line just doesn’t gel as well as it did 57 years ago.  How about the fact that relationships between various characters were unclear at best… at least until the very end when the characters actually had to tell you about their relationship.  Tsk.

Keanu Reeves can be (nearly) forgiven for a wooden performance because he’s playing an alien.  Jennifer Connelly and Kathy Bates both do good jobs with their characters, and John Cleese is always delightful… even though he only has a bit part.

The thought that stayed with me was this: what is it about Humans that we need to destroy whatever we don’t understand?  If that’s the way we’re wired — as opposed to being a mode of behavior that’s learned — we’re probably not going to need an alien invasion to get rid of us.  We’ll manage just fine by ourselves.

Fortunately, I’m of the belief that we can learn to get along.  It would be swell if more people believed that, too.

Having Lasik Surgery in a Funeral Home

I do love spam! This one tickled my funny bone. The subject is RE: Schedule your Lasik evaluation today. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets at least a dozen of these a week. The thing that struck me as funny is that it came from someone at Funeral Home Life dot com. The domain exists, but I get a 404 Page Not Found error when I go check it out.  Bummer.

It makes me wonder about the relationship between Lasik surgery and living in a funeral home.

OMG!! The 100+ year old Victorian I live in used to be a funeral home! Maybe this spam email is a message from the Mothership that I ought to be seriously considering Lasik surgery!

On a serious note, have any of you had Lasik surgery? If so, would you recommend for or against it?

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