blue and red galaxy artwork
News, racism

Why I have discontinued the “Contact” form…

This morning, I received an email message from someone named “Mrs. Stull”. She had filled out the now defunct “contact” form, reprimanding me for something I apparently wrote that seems to have upset her. This was the content of her message to me.

Sadly I know about this group too well, we lost many family members to this group.

What caught me was the comment about wealthy white people, when you say white, do you mean, Irish, French, German, Northern Italian, English, Scottish, Swedish, Russian, Slavic, the list goes on? Are you saying that people of colour are not wealthy? I looked at the article, but I was under the impression that you were educated, and a housewife. You have managed to insult everyone by that statement alone, please remove that blanket insult if you want to make a point.

I went looking to find the article to which Mrs. Stull was referring. Often, I can look on StatCounter and see where people have entered the blog and and filled out the contact form. I did not find a StatCounter clue for the article Mrs. Stull was referencing, so I still have absolutely no idea which post has so upset her that she felt the need to vaguely accuse me of racism.

I was about to respond to Mrs. Stull via email, but then realized that the contact form linked to my personal email address, which I would rather not provide to perfect strangers, especially ones who seem to have the impression that I’m a racist and are bold enough to state it. I may have some ingrained racist proclivities, as almost everyone does to some extent, but I don’t generally go out of my way to insult people based on things like skin color or other things they can’t help. And for the record, I certainly do realize that people of all shades and racial groups can be wealthy.

This post is number 1,151. It is not possible for me to go searching through my entire catalog to try to figure out which specific comment of mine offended Mrs. Stull. Therefore, I can’t remove or clarify the “blanket insult” she alluded to in her email, because I honestly don’t know where it is, or to what she is referring.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, I even recently wrote about the phenomenon of people writing to me about certain articles without providing a link to or the title of the post they are referencing. The comment form is also a convenient conduit for spammers, whose comments are always useless and annoying.

I’m writing this post at 6:11am and have only now had my first sip of coffee, so I apologize if this post comes off as a little pissy, but I really did not appreciate receiving that email. Nobody likes to wake up to a random insult from a complete stranger, particularly when what they’re complaining about isn’t clearly specified or referenced.

I was going to respond privately, but then realized that I’d rather address everyone as a whole about this policy change, since it affects all readers. It kind of weirds me out seeing people lurking on that page, anyway, as if they’re hunting for information. Folks, if you have a question or are curious about something, simply ask. There’s a good chance I’ll answer you honestly.

So, from now on, any readers who want to comment about something on this blog will need to do it on the post in question, rather than fill out the contact form. I am going “no contact” with the contact form. It doesn’t work as intended and often leads to confusion and irritation for me. Life is tough enough and too short as it is.

There’s also the Overeducated Housewife Facebook page, for those who wish to comment or contact me privately, but actually, I’m giving some thought to discontinuing that, too.

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communication, musings

Reposts, random messages, and reasons why…

Actually… some messages are useful and some are entertaining.

Regular readers may have noticed that lately, I’ve been reposting a lot of old book reviews and articles from my original Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife, which I discontinued in 2019. Those who also follow my travel adventures might remember that last year, I spent several months updating old posts from Blogger. The travel blog wasn’t so huge that I couldn’t migrate it to WordPress. Unfortunately, doing so led to massive formatting problems. I spent a lot of time updating and reformatting posts that were years old. That process is mostly finished now, save for the odd hiccup. I did have to edit a couple of old posts yesterday, which I only noticed because someone hit them on Statcounter.

I was not able to migrate the Blogspot version of this blog to WordPress. I think it’s because the file was simply too large. I started my blog in March 2010, so that was a lot of material to move. The system just flat refused to do it for me. I’m actually kind of glad, too. Some of it was stuff that doesn’t need to be reposted… non-sensical drivel I posted while bored or uninspired, or posts about time sensitive issues that aren’t relevant now. There were a few other posts that I didn’t repost because I wrote them when I was angry and they are potentially hurtful to others.

After spending months reformatting the travel blog, I decided I didn’t want to have to do that with the original OH blog. That thing had over 3000 posts over a span of almost nine years! By contrast, the travel blog had maybe a third as many. Reformatting is very tedious and thankless work. I think it’s better to just repost the stuff that I think might be interesting.

Some people might wonder why I would repost anything, especially book reviews that are very old. It’s mainly because I’ve discovered that people get nostalgic and look for information about things that may no longer be covered online. I’ve found myself listed in bibliographies, often by Internet handles. I get a kick out of that. But really, the book reviews of titles that are now out of print can be valuable to some users. In some cases, what I (or others) have written in book reviews may be all the information that can be found of books that have gone out of print. Book reviews are pretty evergreen and, as you’ll see below, some of the better articles, especially about true crime, are legitimately useful to readers. My angry rants about very personal or insignificant issues, or people no longer in my life, are much less so. 😉

I also like to preserve my own thoughts and memories, especially when there’s a news story involved. For example, on my travel blog, I reposted an article I wrote several years ago about a trip to the Eastern Shore that I took with my parents in the early 80s. On the way home, we stopped in Chincoteague, and I ended up visiting a water slide that was owned by a guy who, years later, made the news for being a sex offender who castrated himself while he was in jail. That true crime case is now many years old, but I guarantee there are people out there who remember it and want to read about it. I could have put it on this blog, but when it comes down to it, that story is ultimately a travel tale, and the travel blog needs some love. I do mostly try to keep the mood light on that blog, but not every travel story is delightful. I like to keep things real, if I can.

In the wake of all of the reposts I’ve been doing, I’ve been getting some strange comments and messages from people. Sometimes, I get communications through the contact form. I mostly appreciate the ones that aren’t spam, since most people who contact me are respectful. Sometimes the spam messages are hilarious, like the one I got today. Check this out…

Um… I wasn’t aware that I had any “drug addict criminals” to send anywhere…

Sometimes, I’m left scratching my head as to why someone would contact me about something. The other day, I got a message from a very decorated academic. I looked him up on LinkedIn, per his suggestion. He invited me to contact him if I ever wanted to know about Title IX and suicide on college campuses. I was puzzled, since I don’t think I’ve ever written about that subject. I consulted Statcounter to see which article the guy had accessed me through, looking for a clue as to why he’d written to me. The article he hit had nothing to do with the topic he was proposing. It was something I’d written about an advice column about divorce. But maybe the guy thought I could cover that subject or would be interested in it? I’m not sure, because he didn’t explain.

I probably would enjoy talking to this man. Maybe I should try interviewing willing subjects. I mostly write about stuff in my head, but two heads are better than one, right?

I got another recent communication from someone who wants to know more about a true crime story I wrote about years ago and had reposted. I didn’t actually know that much about the crime itself; I just happen to know someone who knows the perpetrator because they grew up in the same town. In fact, my friend had once brought him to our college and I actually met the guy. But at the time that I met him, I didn’t know he had killed someone, and I am not from the small town where the murder happened. I just know someone who knows him. Somehow, the commenter thought I knew more than I do, so she was hoping to glean insight from me. I ended up directing her to my friend, who is more in the know. I thought our exchange was over until this morning, when I got this message…

I have never done a podcast. Maybe someday I will do one, but at this writing, that is not in my bag of tricks.

I might be good at podcasts. Once upon a time, I did radio, and I was relatively good at it. I’ve been told I have a good voice for the airwaves, although I don’t like listening to it myself. Maybe someday I’ll try it, just for fun. We’ll see if my ego can take it if no one wants to listen to me.

One thing I would like to mention to those who do send me a message– bear in mind that unless you explicitly tell me, I won’t necessarily know what you’re referring to when you make a comment on the contact form. Those messages aren’t linked to any specific posts, so unless you are clear about which one you’re referencing, I am left to guess. Sometimes, it’s obvious, but other times it’s not. The message from the academic was a head scratcher. The one below was easier to figure out, but still not 100 percent obvious.

This guy was referencing a repost about strange crimes that happened in the small town where I went to college. But I had to clarify it, because it wasn’t necessarily plain.

The WordPress version of my blog is about 2.5 years old now. I’m glad I changed formats from Google Blogspot. I’d been wanting to do it for awhile, since the Blogspot format feels kind of limited and dated. I hesitated for a long time because I was enjoying a pretty good presence on Blogspot. When I discovered that someone was deliberately stirring up trouble for me offline, I decided that it was finally time to move the blog somewhere else and use a platform that would allow me more control over my content. WordPress allows me to password protect certain posts, so that invited readers can access them, but the general public can’t. On Blogspot, I could either make posts open to everyone or make them open to just me. Or, I could make the blog open only to invited readers, which I didn’t really want to do. Not every interested reader wants to be a member of an invite only blog.

I know Blogspot has been revamped a lot since 2019, and maybe what I’ve observed about its shortcomings is no longer true. I do keep my Dungeon of the Past blog on Blogspot, but I seldom update that blog and may discontinue it once my AdSense finally hits $100. I’m getting close.

It was painful to move this blog. Moving from Blogspot meant losing the somewhat robust readership I had, as well as earnings from Google AdSense and Amazon. The money wasn’t a necessity, but it was a nice perk. I would like to be able to earn some money on my own, you know. It’s a point of pride… even if all I earn in a year is enough to buy me a six pack of beer. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who supports me in all ways. He certainly doesn’t have to do that, but it’s nice for me that he does, given our lifestyle.

Since I moved the blog, it’s steadily been getting more readers. I have found that, by and large, I like the people reading now more than I did a lot of the readers of my original blog. People who are reading now tend to actually care more about the content. I don’t get nearly as many rude or abusive comments on this blog. Of course, I also moderate comments here, while for the longest time, I didn’t do that on Blogspot. I’ve found that moderating comments cuts down on hostile drivebys. I require people to identify themselves, so they must really want to say something to me if they comment. When I didn’t moderate, people would be more willing to comment, but many of the comments were mean spirited. I have feelings because I’m a person, too. Also, comment moderation cuts down on spam, although as you can see from the first screenshot, I still get spammers via the contact form! I still would like to know where Wilton gets the idea that I have drug addict criminals to send to his rehab. How strange!

Anyway… I do have a few current events in my mind that I might write some fresh content about today. Or I might repost more stuff from the past. I hope those of you who are annoyed with the reposts will continue to have some patience. People are interested in some of that old content, and sometimes I get inspired to make fresh content based on the comments I get on the throwback stuff. This post, for example, is one of those that wouldn’t have been written without reposts. Some might find it a boring read… but I know I have at least one regular reader who was amused by Wilton’s offer to host my drug addict criminals. You see? People are interested in all kinds of stuff. Luckily, so am I.

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communication, complaints, condescending twatbags

There’s a reason I do things the way I do…

A few days ago, I uploaded a new video to YouTube. It was my version of an old Judy Collins song called “Someday Soon”. I just woke up and decided I wanted to sing it. It was on the brain, I guess.

I didn’t really share it much. I have a few reasons why I don’t like to share my videos. For one thing, they’re mostly music videos, although sometimes I share dog or travel videos, too. People tend to be skeptical of music videos. They figure they’ll suck. Or, worse, they WON’T suck. I’ve found that a lot of “friends” aren’t all that supportive, particularly when it comes to musical people. I’d much rather share my music stuff with strangers, rather than friends or family, who are quicker to either be critical or jealous.

By the way… I know it sounds shitty to assume that any people are jealous of me. It’s not that I think everyone is. There are just a few people who, I think, are the type of person to issue backhanded comments that are based on their own insecurities. I also think a lot of people are annoyed when I share music videos, much like some are annoyed by my blog. So I prefer to let people find the stuff themselves, because they were looking for it or stumbled across it by chance.

Anyway, the other day, I got a comment from someone. It was a guy whose channel I recently subscribed to. I had genuinely enjoyed his video about what to do as a renter when your German landlord tells you you have to move out because he or a family member wants to move into your home. I’ve heard that it’s actually pretty hard to evict people here, so one way German landlords reclaim their property is to claim that they themselves want to use it. This is called Eigenbedarf, and it’s legal… but depending on how long you’ve lived in a place, the requirement for notice can be anywhere from 90 days to a year.

This guy happens to be a fellow American living in Bavaria. He has an engaging channel and his videos feature him on camera quite prominently. He goes to a lot of trouble for his videos. I suspect he makes money from them.

I, on the other hand, don’t really put that much into my videos. I generally use pictures and videos to set to music, which is really what my focus is. I make the music to focus on the vocals and, to a much lesser extent, my fledgling guitar skills. I do NOT like to be on camera. I get very self-conscious. I feel like I have to put on makeup, get dressed, wear a bra, etc., and I just don’t wanna. Also, I use Garage Band or a similar program to make the videos. I’m sure there is a way to record myself on video, but I don’t really want to, so I haven’t explored how.

Yup… let me do me. Thank you.

So the guy from Bavaria watched my video, complimented my vocals, and then said something along the lines of, “Can I make a simple suggestion? We would like to see who’s singing!”

He had posted the comment, then deleted it, which had the effect of sending me a private email. So there was no way I could respond with an explanation. That was annoying. What was also annoying was that, yet again, some guy was telling me how to run my YouTube channel. I get that they do it in a spirit of being “helpful”– and they probably think I need and appreciate the help. But there’s a reason why I do things the way I do. I know it’s not conventional to substitute photos of unrelated things on videos rather than show off my own fine middle-aged and makeup free mug, but that’s the way I prefer to do it. I’m not that cute, and I don’t want to be on camera. My appearance isn’t the point of the videos, anyway. Also, I like the idea of people being able to multi-task… play the video for the music and do something else, rather than watch the video for my weird ass facial expressions.

Someone else– another guy– once tried to tell me how often to share my videos. He said I should only share one every week or so, because posting more is a “waste of time”. I thought to myself– dude… how do you know what my goals are? My channel, much like my blogs, are more for me than for anyone else. I don’t do this stuff for money. I share things in case people find them useful or relatable. The music videos are purely because I enjoy making music and I like to share it, especially with others who like what I like. But I don’t necessarily need help. If I needed it, I would ask for it. I don’t actually care that much if my YouTube channel isn’t popular. I use it to make videos for my blogs, and to make music for myself, not to become the next big thing. The ship has sailed. 😉

Unsolicited advice is a pet peeve of mine. I try not to offer it myself, although I don’t always succeed. When I do offer it, I often apologize for doing so, because I think offering unsolicited advice has the potential to be insulting. Does this guy really think it’s never occurred to me to sing on camera? Of course it has… Just like I always wanted to be a mother and once considered adoption, but determined it wasn’t for me. I don’t need to be told that there are kids in foster care who need homes… I know that. I have my reasons for not wanting to adopt a child, even if I had always wanted to be a mom. Now, of course, I think I’m glad I’m not a mom. Especially in these strange times we’re living in.

I also recently got a comment on this blog that kind of set me on edge. Someone wrote to me from the comment page. The reason? She had read an old post I wrote about Michelle Duggar’s “modernized” hairdo. In that post, I had written that it looked like Michelle had liked it. Of course, I don’t know if she liked it or not… although she did very quickly go back to the 80s era permed hair look she usually sports. My suspicion was that JimBob hadn’t liked the new do, especially since Bill Gothard had supposedly told his followers that women should have long, curly hair. It was a tongue in cheek comment anyway, but someone apparently was disturbed that I thought Michelle had liked the hairstyle. So she wrote to me to “correct” my opinion.

It wasn’t a big deal, in the grand scheme of things. Of course, neither was that post… It was written two years before the most current Duggar drama. It was a silly post, and not really all that important. But someone took it seriously enough to send me a rather lengthy comment– “correction”– of my opinion. I responded with a quick thanks for reading and validation. For all I know, she’s right, and Michelle Duggar hated the new hairdo more than Boob did. In any case, who cares? I don’t think we’ll ever know where the truth lies, but it’s not that important, anyway.

In any case, I don’t think I’ll be making videos that show me on camera. I think even if I were really skinny and a lot younger, I wouldn’t want to be on camera. It’s just not something I care to do. I guess I should appreciate that the guy cared enough to comment… It does kind of bother me, though, that he felt like I needed that kind of guidance. Like I said, there’s a reason I do things the way I do. I don’t need help from the overly helpful. But if I ever do need help, I know how to ask for it.

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communication, Police, true crime

Waiting for “contact”…

There are a couple of hot news items I could write about today. Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict, while not at all surprising, is a story that begs to be written about. I’m sure a lot of people will write about him, but I won’t be among them today, except to state that I’m glad he got convicted. It doesn’t bring me pleasure to see anyone get handcuffed and led to prison, but I do think it was entirely justified in Chauvin’s case.

I could also write about the infuriating story I read yesterday about Karen Garner, an 80 pound 73 year old woman with dementia who, last June, tried to walk out of a Walmart in Loveland, Colorado with about $14 worth of unpaid for merchandise. She was stopped by store employees, forced back into the store where the items were recovered, and not allowed to pay for them. Then, as she was picking purple wildflowers in a nearby field, walking to her nearby home, she was stopped by police. They arrested her, breaking her arm and dislocating her shoulder as they violently cuffed the confused, elderly woman. She sat cuffed in a cell for hours before she was taken to jail, crying and terrified. Thankfully, the district attorney immediately dropped the charges against Karen Garner. Her family has sued.

Absolutely INFURIATING! And neither of these cops were fired or disciplined.

Yes… I could definitely write about that case, as I watched the infuriating body cam coverage. I’m so tired of reading about violent cops who hurt and kill people instead of helping them. I know it can be done, too, because I’ve seen it in action here in Europe. I get that cops never know what they’re going to encounter when they go on patrol, particularly in the United States, where so many people are armed. But this poor lady is going to suffer for the rest of her life because of the incompetent and, frankly, cruel treatment she received from the police officers who manhandled her last summer. I may write about Karen Garner later today or even tomorrow… or maybe not. This case really upset me.

Or, I could write about how, as Derek Chauvin’s verdict was being read yesterday, a teenaged Black girl in Columbus, Ohio was fatally shot by the police. I don’t know too much about that story yet, as I was going to bed as Chauvin’s fate was delivered yesterday. Evidently, the 15 (or 16– I’ve seen both ages listed) year old who was killed by the police was brandishing a knife and threatening another girl in the community. She was living in foster care and had evidently gotten into a fight with someone at her foster home. Supposedly, she had dropped the knife before a police officer killed her. Someone in the video footage said that she’d been shot four times, which does seem excessive to me. Seems like one shot should have been enough to incapacitate her, if the weapon was needed at all.

Or, I could write about Kimberly Potter, the cop who, inexplicably, confused her Glock service revolver for a Taser and fatally shot 20 year old Daunte Wright. How Potter confused a Taser for a gun, I will never know. I don’t make it a habit of using either device. At least, in her case, she was unpleasantly shocked at what she did and exclaimed, “Holy shit! I just shot him!” From those words, I can at least surmise that she hadn’t intended to shoot the man, but was obviously caught up in the tension of the moment. It doesn’t change the fact that a man is dead because of her negligent actions, but I don’t see her as cold-blooded as I do Derek Chauvin, who showed no mercy toward George Floyd as he knelt on the man’s neck and killed him in front of bystanders.

But… what I really want to write about today has nothing to do with police brutality. Regular readers of my blog probably know that I pay close attention to who is reading and what people find interesting. I do this because I’m genuinely curious about my readership, but also to see what subjects people enjoy. Sometimes, I write posts that are more for me or people who know me offline than the strangers who come across my blog. I enjoy writing the personal stories more than I do rants about current events. If I’m honest, writing about current events often makes me nervous. Why? Because I notice many people hitting my “contact” page.

Sometimes people hit the contact page multiple times after reading and re-reading some of my posts. I can see that they go to the page, probably looking for information about the person who shares these opinions… and wonder what kind of person I am. Or maybe they actually do feel like contacting me. The thought of that makes me kind of nervous, since you never know what people are going to write.

So far, the few people who have contacted me for reasons other than spam have been very nice. One guy, a German, wrote to ask me to make available a post I wrote about Erin McCay George I wrote for my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife. For some reason, her case has attracted many readers from around the world. I’m surprised I haven’t seen her case profiled on Snapped, although I don’t think she snapped as much as she became overcome by greed. So I reposted that article, as well as a lot of other articles I’ve written over the years.

I heard from Adam Barrows, author of the controversial New York Times love story involving his wife, who had anorexia nervosa. Barrows wrote about how he didn’t try to encourage his wife to seek treatment. I didn’t like all of the horrible negative appraisals of Barrows’ character, so I decided to write about his story. Barrows wrote to thank me. Even two months later, that post still gets a lot of hits. Barrows’ story really resonated with a lot of people, and obviously, people wanted to know how others felt about it. I’m not known for my conventional approaches to all matters. I often go against the grain of public opinion, which is why it makes me nervous when people haunt the contact page. I’m always afraid of getting a ton of hate mail. But, aside from one somewhat irate commenter who wanted to “correct” my opinions, the discussion on that post has been blessedly respectful, and I really appreciate that.

I also heard from a guy in Virginia who was interested in my post about weird murder stories in Farmville, which is the town where I went to college. Farmville is a town that, at least in the 1990s, felt kind of like it was about 30 years behind the rest of Virginia. And yet, there have been some really fascinating true crime cases in that place. Maybe, in another life, I would have been like Ann Rule or Kathryn Casey, and become a true crime writer. I really do find the stories fascinating… better than any novelist could dream up, in a lot of cases.

And finally, I got a note from a lawyer in New Zealand who read my review of Jocelyn Zichterman’s controversial book, I Fired God, and hoped I would also write about Gloriavale Christian Community in New Zealand. I did recently read and review a book about that community, and I am currently reading another book about it.

For the first year, since I moved my blog to WordPress, it took a long time to re-establish a following. Now that this version of my blog is two years old, I’m getting more readers. So far, because I moderate comments, I get fewer flames from drive by readers who don’t like my opinions. But I also have lots of lurkers who haunt my contact page. They go back to it repeatedly. I’m sure curiosity is what takes them there. Maybe some of them would like to rip me a new one because they think I’ve gotten something “wrong”. I always remind people, though, that this blog is just a collection of my opinions and observations. I realize that not everyone agrees with me. I don’t expect everyone to agree, although it’s not very often that my mind is changed by an irate comment. I won’t say it never happens, though.

I remember a few years ago, I read a story about a woman who was murdered by her ex boyfriend, who had also killed three of the woman’s four children. It was a horrific case out of Newport News, Virginia detailing how the police had completely failed to protect the woman, who had just gotten a restraining order that hadn’t been served to her killer. I wrote a post about the story based only on what I read in the news. A relative of the victim wrote to me and asked me to revisit the story with more context thrown in. She was initially upset by my observations, but when I pointed out to her that I was only reacting to the news story and not trying to judge her, she calmed down and told me more about what happened. I was outraged by her account and wrote another post about it. She ended up thanking me. I still look back on that and really feel good that I was able to get more of the story out. In fact, since that story is coming up today, I will repost it after I’m finished writing this entry.

For some reason, true crime posts are the ones that really capture people’s interest the most. I’m always willing to hear from people who want more of the story explained. I’m sure there are some people who read my posts and are actually involved in the cases. Maybe they want to say something to me… or maybe they’re just curious. I don’t know. But I will admit, the contact page lurkers who repeatedly hit that page are a curiosity of mine, too. What are they looking for? There’s nothing on that page but a form, powered by WordPress. I can only think that they’re deliberating sending me a comment. I can’t blame them for that. I’m famous for turning comments into content. 😉

Well… here’s hoping the news gets better today. I am glad Derek Chauvin, at least, has gotten some well-deserved justice delivered to him. It doesn’t bring me joy to see anyone locked up, but I do think he got exactly what he asked for when he made the decision to brutalize and kill George Floyd, who was helpless and crying for his mother as he was dying. I’m sorry for all of Chauvin’s friends and loved ones, as well as his other victims. I also feel much for Floyd’s family, but am specifically mentioning Chauvin’s family and friends because they probably won’t get much sympathy. People never think about the perpetrator’s loved ones when something like this happens. They are suffering, too, and deserve some regard… although Floyd’s family rightfully deserves more attention right now.

It’s time for Chauvin to pay the piper and do his time. And, I will go on record now to state that I fervently hope the two cops who hurt Karen Garner are also made to answer for their brutality toward that poor woman. Watching that video and listening to those cops, seeing how they manhandled a frail and obviously confused lady, was horrifying to me. But even so, I try to keep in mind that cops have a tough job these days. I wish more of them had common sense and more humanity, though.

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