Wordless Wednesdays: The perils of undercaffeination

I'm pretty sure that's not how it's supposed to work. (Photo: Shala Howell)

I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s supposed to work. (Photo: Shala Howell)

On the bright side, that counter is really clean now.

Related Links:


Posted in Wordless Wednesday | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mad Lib Spam

Normally, I just skim the comments that end up in my spam folder and delete them without thinking too much about them. I do this, because back in my formative days of blogging, more experienced bloggers assured me that every once in a while actual comments would show up there. Over the years, I’ve rescued maybe four real comments that way. But at a terrible cost.

Reading all that spam has changed me in some fundamental way that I’m not entirely sure I ought to admit to on the Internet. I classify spam now. I can’t help it. It just happens.

But since I’ve done all that work, I might as well tell you about it.

You’re the best. Seriously.

Most spam follows the vague compliment + link back to retail website format.

“I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s both educaive and entertaining,
and without a doubt, you’ve hit thhe nail on the head.
The issue is an issue that not enough people are speaking intelligently about.

I’m very happy I stumbled across this during my hunt
for something regarding this.”

octopus dancingThis note was really sweet the first 72 times I received it. Even now, it makes me smile. And not just because of the typos.

Thanks, guys. I’m so pleased you found my post on whether octopuses do gymnastics at the bottom of the ocean helpful.

Guide me, oh sage one

Many spammers prey upon my presumably generous nature, asking for advice on starting their own blogs, help deciding between blogging platforms, or protecting their content against copyright infringements. I think I may have even rescued a few of these in earlier days and written up answers to them, because until you’ve received the exact same query 15 times you can never be sure if it’s genuine. Am I right?

Old-timey T. Rex at the Boston Museum of Science. (Photo: Kasuga Sho)

Old-timey T. Rex at the Boston Museum of Science. (Photo: Kasuga Sho)

My “Why did they think T. Rex stood with his tail on the ground?” post seems to attract more of this kind of spam than any other post in my collection. I wonder if there’s some sort of message in that?

Let me guide you, oh potentially great but currently incompetent one

Lots and lots of messages are devoted to the idea that I could improve myself or my blog in some way. Not too surprising, since most spammers are selling something. Among the tips for me to increase my SEO, improve my marriage, and abrade off all those pesky freckles marring my otherwise perfect skin tone, this little bit of fiscal advice stands out:

“For that reason completely
the difficulty.Amazing, The pedsonal fіscal capacity of
the іnsurance policy company, That a that morning most.”

Those wacky spammers may forget to include the odd word here and there, but they never ever forget the link back.

OH NO! Your site is breaking!

fearfulThis one really had me worried for a while:

Hello, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues.
When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine
but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that,
fantastic blog

I worried about that for a long time, especially since I had received it from multiple sources with slightly different phrasing.

Then one day I started getting these…

Mad Lib Spam

“{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hello|Hey} just wanted to give you a quick heads up.

The {text|words} in your {content|post|article}
seem to be running off the screen in {Ie|Internet explorer|Chrome|Firefox|Safari|Opera}.
I’m not sure if this is a {format|formatting} issue or something to
do with {web browser|internet browser|browser} compatibility but I {thought|figured} I’d post to let you
know. The {style and design|design and style|layout|design} look great though!
Hope you get the {problem|issue} {solved|resolved|fixed} soon. {Kudos|Cheers|Many thanks|Thanks}|”

Notice anything familiar about it?

It’s the Mad Libs of spam. These comments run on for what seems like forever in my spam folder. This particular one had 2839 words. (Yes, I did count them. Wouldn’t you?)

Buried within it are the formulas for many of the most common types of spam:

  • The pleas for guidance with {starting a blog | choosing a blog platform | guarding against copyright infringement}
  • The vague compliments on my {writing | sense of humor | expert knowledge}
  • The warnings about {my site’s poor loading speed | imperfect visual presentation | content troubles}
  • The helpful suggestions for improving my {writing | SEO | marriage | complexion}

All in there somewhere.

The only spam category that appears to be missing are the extremely vague, but deeply hurtful comments about my writing ability that show up every few months.

Hmmm… Maybe those really are genuine.


Related Links:

Posted in Miscellaneous Musings | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Seven-Year-Old stands up for monsters

The Seven-Year-Old, spiritedly: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I don’t get that. Why do they always slay things that don’t need slaying? Like dragons. Dragons are just misunderstood. And I don’t think that stake through the heart is nice. At all.”

Related Links:


Posted in Funny Stuff My Daughter Says | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Wordless Wednesday: That is not the awesome hiding place you think it is

(Photo: Shala Howell)

(Photo: Shala Howell)

The Vacuum Cleaner Monster could still find you there. Try under the bed.

Related Links:

Posted in Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!

On a recent trip to the Field Museum, The Seven-Year-Old and I wandered into a tiny room downstairs that looks deceptively like a pleasant little reading nook. There’s a desk, a wall of butterflies, a collection of bugs trapped in amber, and this:

Some of the beetles in the Field Museum's collection. Small child provided for scale. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Some of the beetles in the Field Museum’s collection. Small child provided for scale. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Rat-sized beetles. The Seven-Year-Old was absolutely fascinated by them. I had to retreat to a far corner of the room to wait while she studied every feature.

I’ll be glad when the bug phase is done. Judging by the amount of unconscious scratching The Seven-Year-Old did while examining the Field Museum’s unconscionably enormous collection of stag beetles, she’s conflicted too.

“Goliath beetles, Mommyo, and they’re perfectly harmless. They drink nectar. Like bees,” The Seven-Year-Old said.

Yeah, harmless. If you ignore the thousands of people who have died of heart attacks after finding one of those dudes in their garden.

When the small child ran screaming from the room, I told The Seven-Year-Old it was time for us to go too.

Oh, look, there’s Sue.

Are you going to need that costume later? My mom would like to borrow it for Halloween. (Photo: Shala Howell)

“Are you going to need that costume later? My Mommyo wants to borrow it for Halloween.” (Photo: Shala Howell)

Related Links:

Posted in Nature, Out and About | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mommyo messes up The Seven-Year-Old’s schedule … AGAIN

The Seven-Year-Old, angrily, to the sound of much paper sloshing around underfoot: “Why does she mess up my schedule like this? I have a schedule book and nowhere in it does it say ‘Clean your room’!”

Related Links:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wordless Wednesday: I can’t believe I forgot about that

Canelo crawled into my lap while I was working this afternoon. Within seconds my keyboard was covered in cat hair.

Canelo was here. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Canelo was here. (Photo: Shala Howell)

The Cat Hair Ejection Fraction is very high in this one.

Related Links:

Posted in Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Overheard on a recent Saturday morning

(Photo: Shala Howell)

Instructions: The Seven-Year-Old. Photo: Shala Howell.

Mommyo, grabbing her coffee mug by its body: “Oh! That’s hot!”

The Seven-Year-Old, sagely: “That’s why they invented handles, Mommyo.”

Related Links:

Posted in Funny Stuff My Daughter Says | Tagged | Leave a comment

Wordless Wednesday: The Seven-Year-Old finally gets her kitten

Introducing Canelo, our new super sweet and snuggly 4 month old kitten.

Canelo discovered our sunroom at 9:30 a.m. yesterday morning. He didn't leave it until well after 5 o'clock last night. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Canelo, keeping an eye out for that Hound. (Photo: Shala Howell)

The Seven-Year-Old is over the moon, and reads Canelo a bedtime story nearly every night. According to the Seven-Year-Old, Canelo simply adores Sherlock Holmes, although he wishes he would hurry up and catch that big dog already. Hounds that size have no business being on the loose.

Related Links:

Posted in Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: More Birdwatching in Chicago

(Photo: Shala Howell)

(Photo: Shala Howell)

Spotted this Great Blue Heron on my way to the Wooded Island a week or two ago.

Related Links:

Posted in Nature, Out and About, Wordless Wednesday | 4 Comments