Changes and makeovers


Don’t be alarmed. For some of you reading this from your emails or Reader, you’re probably wondering who the hell this person is and when did you start following them but like I said, don’t be alarmed, my blog was in serious need of a makeover, so here it is.

The timing is not accidental. Last month was my two year blog anniversary which WordPress was kind enough to inform me about. And also this, boys and girls, happens to be my 100th post! WooHoo!

So, it is a double milestone but the need for change also got me thinking about the choices that we make. And I’m not talking about big, life-changing decisions here. I’m talking about the little things, things that might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things but actually reveal a lot about who we are, our tastes and attitudes and how we present ourselves in cyberspace. Our Facebook pictures, the wallpaper on our Twitter profiles, even the passwords we create and of course, the themes we choose for our blogs. 😉

blog screenshot (2)

Now I’m not the type that settles for the first thing that I see. I love to customize and change things to suit me so it’s strange that everything (apart from the green background which I chose later on) was exactly what was ‘given’ to me when I first joined WordPress. It was the default theme and default head picture. I guess it was expected of me to change it but I didn’t. I kept it as is. But I did have a reason.

When I first saw the picture, a certain book sprang to mind and I saw it as a sign.

My aim in starting this blog was to journal my thoughts on my writing, my short stories, to monitor my progress and to learn from others. I thought it fitting therefore that the figure of the lone man walking down the country path surrounded by trees looked a lot like the cover of M.R James’ Collected Ghost Stories, one of my favourite books ever. I don’t think I talk about Montague Rhodes James too often but I consider him one of my favourite authors on the strength of this book alone. Obviously the book cover is not as warm and pastoral as my former blog theme picture but the similarities were still there. Hence the reason for keeping it.

M.R James

That was two years ago and this is now. Change is good and I thought the name should go as well. In Verbum Scriptum means the ‘the written word’. There’s power in the written word, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, and there can only be progress once you write things down.

It was also strange that I chose green before, as it’s not one of my favourite colours. Perhaps it went with the picture. Purples and blues are my favourite colours however, so there you have it.
Hope you like it. I’m still experiencing some teething problems with this new theme so I will still be making some changes like a new picture header and so forth, but tell me what you think in the mean time…

So tell me, bloggers, what was the motivation for the blog theme you currently have? Is it as sentimental as mine was?

NM :)

All these Blog Awards – great idea or great nuisance?


It just seems like every week more and more blog awards are being created. If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you’ve probably received one yourself. And as pleased as some people are when they are presented with one, there are some who are not so grateful and find it a complete nuisance.

I recently read a blog post (I won’t mention the site for obvious reasons-it was not from a blogger I follow or who follows me if you must know) which gave me a good giggle. The blogger ranted about how much she hated these awards with its spam-like quality and made a direct appeal to her followers never to present her with any.

I can’t imagine how hurtful that might have been to some of her followers who had presented her with some of these awards in the past. On closer inspection however I tasted a hint of sour grapes. I’m paraphrasing her here but she moaned about how annoying it was to read an entire (long) post, only to find in the end, her name not mentioned on the list of awardees! Oh gasp.
Hence the good giggle. 😀

I did not agree with her reaction to the whole thing but I can understand why some might be annoyed. Having to pass an ‘award’ on to 10-15 bloggers and for them to pass it on to a further 10+ people and so forth, is reminiscent of the days when chainmail was trending over the internet and if you did not forward that email to X-amount of people within seven days, you were either going to die, be abducted by aliens or get peed on by a poodle.

But there is a difference here and that is: intention.

Bloggers, who create these ‘Awards,’ are only thinking of others and trying to spread the love. They are well-meaning and I guess good intentions can sometimes be misplaced. What’s also different is that there is no obligation with these blog awards, there is no ultimatum. You don’t HAVE to pass it on if you don’t want to. So to all those who whinge about these awards, instead of moaning, if you receive one, accept the award graciously, thank the blogger for thinking of you in the first place (which I think is a nice gesture in itself) and then move on.

Personally I quite like Blog Awards even though I don’t always pass it on. I like receiving them because it’s proof that this blog of mine is not a complete waste of cyber space and I also like to be introduced to other bloggers. You see, since my TAG Surfer has dropped off the face of the earth (that’s a hint WordPress!) I’m finding it hard to discover new blogs. So these Blog Award Posts actually help me in a sense.

In hindsight, I also realised that I discovered some of you guys via these Awards. So it can’t be all bad now, can it?

NM 🙂

Welcome to Spam-alot!


Last week my WordPress Dashboard kindly informed me that Akismet has protected my site from 100 spam comments. Woo Hoo! No matter what the occasion, one hundred always seems like a great milestone that calls for a celebratory punch in the air with shouts of ‘Woo Hoo!’

After my so-called “celebration” I became quite concerned as I thought that 100 spam messages was quite a lot considering that I only had 52 posts to my name at the time. That’s an average of almost 2 spammies per post. And I didn’t even consider those that got away and really did find their way to my Pending Inbox, hoping (stupidly) that I wouldn’t notice.

Monty Python-inspired spam

Speaking of those messages that managed to escape Akismet, I have to confess that even though 99 per cent of the time these comments don’t make any sense, I sometimes approve a few of them because they seem quite encouraging and sincere. And when your self-esteem is a bit lacking like mine, every bit of praise helps, like a booster shot of confidence to help you get through the day. Or in my case a couple of hours.But like I said, these ‘spam-like’ comments really don’t make any sense and I wonder if they are meant for me at all.

On one of my posts I got called a genius for no apparent reason – the commenter gave no explanation as to why he/she thought this and did not allude to the post at all! I kept the comment anyway because I quite like the idea that I might actually be a genius.

There is also another type of comment that leaves me confused. I say ‘type’ because I get quite a few messages with very similar phrases. The responder will state how much they loved the post and that it ‘saved them much time.’
Really? Wow, imagine that. If the reader had not stumbled upon my humble blog, think of all the hours they might have wasted, doing God-knows-what.

Not all responses are this harmless though. A few months back I wrote a poem-it’s probably somewhere there in my archives. I was pissed off at the time, so the poem was actually a rant but I got the following response:

so tell me how you really feel

What is it about a non-punctuated sentence with no Capital letters that’s so creepy?
Thankfully I never got a comment from this spammer again. That’s the good thing about spammers. They get you once and then they leave. They are like bees. Except they don’t die after they sting you but just disappear. Unfortunately, also like bees, when you trash one spam comment, there are millions more in the Internet hive waiting to take its place.
Comments like these I have no trouble sending to the Trash. It’s the non-creepy ones I have a problem with.
On this blog of mine, I try to approve and reply to every single response I get (That off course is standard blog etiquette) and I sometimes feel awful to delete these ‘spam-like’ comments, in the off chance that one of them might actually be a genuine response from an internet-user but non-blogger.

So my blogger homies, how do you react to your spam comments? Do you trash them quickly or do you consider each one? And what is the funniest/strangest/creepiest response you ever got?
And just for kicks, if I receive any spam for this particular post, I will not only approve it but I will leave an equally strange response in return. That should show those spammers…

NM 

Addendum:
I got the idea and drafted this post last week and it seems that the Spam Gods, on foreseeing my actions, have hatched an evil plan to thwart me. Since planning this post, an alarming amount of spam has escaped Akismet. On Thursday I received a whopping 8 messages….all spam. Plus I’ve been getting quite a few very day since then. As of today, Akismet has protected my site from 172 comments. That’s 72 in one week! From 100 spam comments in seven months of blogging to over 70 in one week, may I kindly ask, what the f*ck is going on?