Thursday, May 30, 2013

A blog's life in Spam City

       We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogs for this piece on ... spam. Or phishing, or malware, or whatever it is when posts are made with no good intention.
       So, this is for the Google police, or for the cyberworld authorities who are supposed to stop the crap that appears on blogs or e-mails or, I suppose, even on Facebook.
       I have written the people at Google, which is where this blog is facilitated (or not facilitated) to report this spam, but I might as well have been writing the people on Mars.
       My blog has lived in Spam City, in Spam County, in the country of Spamland, since almost the first publication.
       Some fool out there, someone with nothing to do and with no redeeming value, has been posting "comments" on every blog piece I've done for almost a year and a half. Some days it might be one or two comments, but other days by the dozen -- or more. These came in the "anonymous" category, but  obviously were from the same source.
       All had some innocuous message, obviously pre-prepared, and always -- always -- with a link to "see my web site." They all, each of them, contained bull-spit.
       Just a week ago, there were 77 comments in six days ... yes, I counted. None showed up on the blog itself because I have changed the settings.
       Here are some examples of the "anonymous" comments ...
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        I really like the write-up I will be linking back. Feel free to surf to my web page: best vps host on 'Hey now ... Heity, the big guy'

        Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all folks you really recognize what you're talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly additionally visit my site =). We may have a link alternate contract among us. Here is my web page; cheap yacht online on "My take: Dealing with adversity on the trip."
      Like I said, stupid. And then there were the ones in hieroglyphics, or some foreign language.
      The next time I open one of these links will be the first time. It hasn't happened, and it won't. And hopefully, when one of these stupid comments got through on my blog, no one else tried a link.
      It was pretty obvious to anyone with any sense that this was spam, and it was easy for me to find the delete key to do away with them.
      This was happening because I left the "comments" portion open for anyone. I welcome feedback, positive or negative, because if you offer commentary, you should expect some in return, whether you like it or not.
      It made me wonder if other blogs were receiving the same treatment. My guess is yes.
      When I checked with another blogger or two, the recommendation -- which I took -- was to change the setting for comments to "awaiting moderation." This would notify me by e-mail when a commend needed verification.
      This only intensified this person's determination to mess up the blog. The first couple of days after I switched the setting, I received at least 15 "comments" a day.
      And on the first day after the switch, one post left no doubt that this was deliberately done. It read, "When you switch to the 'awaiting moderation' mode, you will find that you will receive three copies of every notice in your e-mail ..."
      These "comments" didn't seem to be harmful, as long as the links weren't opened. But they were certainly annoying.
      Maybe -- and I'm guessing here -- the person posting these is making money from it, or hoping to, by buying or selling these links. Don't know. If someone can educate me, or knows how to report this to have something done about it, please let me know.
      For now, I have changed the settings so that to comment on a blog, you must be a blog "member," again through Google. Many people don't want to do that, which is fine. If you want to comment on one of my blog posts, send me an e-mail or put the comment on my blog link on Facebook.
      The good news is that by switching the setting to make it as private as possible, the flow of "anonymous" comments (and e-mail notifications) has stopped entirely.
      I don't miss them; my delete key can use the rest. And the blog is happy to move out of Spam City.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The harbor and castle in Medemblik

        I'm sure that when I was young and living in Holland in the early 1950s, we made some trips from Amsterdam to the towns on the IJsselmeer.
        But frankly, until Bea and I were on the cruise in Holland last month, I'd never heard of Hoorn, Medemblik and Enkhuizen. Now I can say these are lovely, charming towns -- and such a change of pace from the big cities such as Amsterdam and The Hague.
        We loved -- as I noted in the past couple of blogs -- the harbors/marinas everywhere. These are adjacent to, or nearby, the IJsselmeer, a shallow freshwater lake that is the largest lake in Western Europe and was created from the Zuider Zee (South Sea), which branched off the often violent North Sea.
      When the Afsluitdijk (shutoff dike) was built in the early 1930s -- a 32-kilometer (20 miles) dike/roadway in North Holland -- the Zuider Zee was no more, and it became the IJsselmeer, slowly going from a salt-water sea to a freshwater lake. (And the roadway became a testing ground for automobile speeds in the 100 mph range.)
        The Amsterdam harbor and several rivers branch into the IJsselmeer. So it's a prime area for the tour/cruise boats leading to the little towns that we visited.
         Going into Medemblik, on the third day of our five-day cruise, we experienced the worst weather day of our two-week stay in Holland -- a rainy, cool, windy day that had the boat rocking. But it calmed down enough late in the day for Bea and I to leave the boat and walk into town.
         We were admiring the marina there, near dusk, and Bea pointed out that most of the yachts there were probably quite extensive and expensive. Then we came upon one man busily working on his yacht.
          I asked if he spoke English, and he said he did -- a little. I told him I spoke Dutch -- a little -- and asked him to tell us about his boat.
          He said his family sailed on it often, most weekends, and that they had taken trips on it to Australia and New Zealand and the Caribbean. Impressive.
          It was still cool and rainy the next morning when a group from our boat took a 1.2-kilometer walk to a guided tour of the Radboud Castle, a castle/fortress built on a hill above the dike that protects Medemblik from the IJsselmeer. 
        Or at least, what's left of the castle that was built in the late 1290s -- two residential wings, two  square rooms and one round tower. The museum there and the tour guide -- who conducted the tour in Dutch but kindly came over and interpreted in English for us several times -- tell the story of the tower's history and life in the Middle Ages in this northern portion of Holland.
          It was one of several castles built on the edge of town to protect the residents from possible invading forces.
          Enough writing. See the accompanying file with photos from our cruise ...

The cruise in photos

Our boat, the MS Allegro, at the dock in Zaandam

Passing through one of the locks that regulates the water level
in a river that branches off the Amsterdam harbor

A view of houses along the river just outside of Amsterdam

Docked in the harbor at Haarlem
The old windmill at the edge of downtown Haarlem
The cruise director, Wim Smits, hard at work -- at breakfast
The barrel organ at the front of Keukenhof Gardens
(three photos)

Two happy visitors at the Gardens
The flower displays at the Gardens ...

We loved this grove of trees
The Dutch orange was everywhere
The swans were a special treat ...
... and you could go out and visit with them
Shot this sign because the nearby display was sponsored
by a company from ... Meridian, Mississippi
The water fountain near the front entrance was spectacular 
Nighttime cruise on the canals in Amsterdam ... this is
an attempt to show the front of the Anne Frank House
A church in Volendam ...
... another look through an alleyway
The harbor in Volendam ...
We took turns visiting with this old guy ...

Sometimes the tour boats were three aside at the harbor ...
ours is the middle boat as we docked at Hoorn
The old church right near the harbor in Hoorn
Another old building in Hoorn
In the distance, one of the many new windmills
The harbor/marine in Medemblik ... some expensive yachts
and tall sailboats were anchored here
In Medemblik, a typical Dutch scene
Two views of a church in Medemblik, with a neat clock tower

Outside Radboud Castle in Medemblik ... built in the late 1290s

The pigeons ruled this roost ...
Wonder what was kept in this chest?
This was one of the living areas in the castle ...
Scale model of what the castle looked like in its glory days
I always love Knights' armor ... and here's
one in the castle at Medemblik
On a tough weather day, the sailboats were out on the water
as we went from Medemblik to Enkhuizen
Another spectacular church tower ...
this one in Enkhuizen
In the boat's lounge, Beatrice kept busy with her
 Bejeweled Blitz game on her I-Pad.
Unless she was reading, and then asked to pose for a photo
(isn't this a great shot of her?)
Saying goodbye to Wim Smits, the cruise director ...
thank goodness for his interpretations from Dutch to English