Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter 2013

Mum, Dad and my brother bought a lot of chocolates for this Easter; we've benefited from a lot of cheap candy this year. This picture shows what I alone have received:

This looks like a lot, but it didn't cost that much, nor did the chocolates for everyone else. I have also bought some chocolates for the family...I'm not selfish!

As a bonus, today has been the warmest day we've had in ages. Other than clouds in the morning and and evening, it's been wonderful.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Chocolate handbag

After Mum opened the chocolate she received from Dad for Mother's Day, I took a couple more pictures:

I didn't realise until she opened it that the chocolate was handbag-shaped; it even had a zipper:

It was a tasty handbag, too; Mum shared a bit with me and Dad (my brother didn't want any). Both of these pictures were taken with my phone.

Friday, 29 March 2013

On marriage equality

I promised to write a post about my opinions on marriage equality for gays and lesbians. With last month's vote in Parliament to legalise it and all the current activity in the United States over the issue, now seems a fitting time.

I am a strong supporter of marriage; I doubt this will come as a surprise to my family, friends and followers, but in short: yes, I support marriage equality. I hold no animosity towards gays and lesbians, and have no reason to deny them something I have the right to myself. I am entitled to marry a woman I love and vice versa (with each other's consent, of course), so why should the LGBT people I know, and others who love someone of their own gender, not be allowed to marry?

I do not consider gay marriage to be a threat to my future marriage or to anyone else's, nor do I think heterosexual marriage would be devalued by it. After all, in the United Kingdom and United States, on average a heterosexual marriage has a 50% chance of succeeding, greater amounts of straight people are becoming disinterested in marriage and certain celebrities treat marriage frivolously. None of these problems are caused by gays and lesbians, and marriage equality will not exacerbate them.

I reject arguments against gay marriage such as "it will lead to bestiality and paedophilia!", "gays will force straights into marrying them!" and "people will want to marry their kitchen sink!". Marriage is between two consenting adults who (usually) understand what they're doing. The sole result from legalising gay marriage will be couples of the same gender being allowed to marry; nothing more, nothing less. Everything else is paranoia and utter nonsense.

I don't believe in opposing gay marriage based on politics, either: LGBT people can be liberals, moderates, conservatives or even apolitical — my family and I once had a gay friend and neighbor who identified as a Republican, and his partner was a Democrat! I think it's wonderful that both the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom — a Democrat and a Conservative, respectively — support equal marrying rights; never before has this happened, and ten years ago this would have been unthinkable.

It's also been stated that gays and lesbians should not be allowed to marry because marriage is only for producing children. If that were the case, then people who are old or infertile should be barred from marrying, and couples whose children have left home and can support themselves should divorce since their marriages have served their purpose. What about all those children born out of wedlock today, too? While on the subject of LGBT parenting, by extension of my support for marriage equality, I support same-sex couples being able to have and raise children; I might not know of many kids raised by gay couples, but I have yet to discover anyone who went off the rails because their parents were both of the same gender.

Nothing will be lost by granting marriage equality. I find it relieving that in this era of falling marriage rates, at least one group of people thinks marriage is worth fighting for. Who knows? Perhaps after gays and lesbians achieve the right to marry, other people might start valuing marriage again! I like to see the positives, and I think marriage equality will be a great step forward in civil rights, respect...and for marriage itself.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Tessa the dog

I was fortunate to be linked to this article and video; it's about Tessa, a dog who was once both blind and unable to walk, who was dumped at a shelter. She was about to be euthanised when a kind soul, Annie Hart, walked into her life:

I am delighted that Tessa recovered and now has a shot at life; however, I am angered that her original owners gave up on her rather than healed her. If you have a pet, it is your responsibility to see to its health — you don't quit: you care for your pet even if it is terminally ill. In fairness, it is possible they were no longer able to take care of Tessa rather than felt the need abandon her; the article's content about them is scant.

I hope that Tessa is adopted by a loving and caring family. Kudos to Annie Hart for her hard work in treating Tessa and ensuring she lived. Enjoy the article and the video.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Brian Zimmerman

In 1983, Brian Zimmerman was elected as the mayor of Crabb, Texas, at the age of 11, setting a record for the United States' youngest mayor. He won by a hefty margin — 23 out of 30 votes — in an "unofficial" election. His campaign promise? To incorporate Crabb to avoid annexation.

While Zimmerman won in a "landslide", he fought an uphill battle to incorporate Crabb. Many inhabitants were afraid that incorporation would lead to higher taxes, but Zimmerman believed that if Crabb were annexed by another city, namely Houston, taxes would be even higher — under incorporation, Crabb would have some control over its taxes.

A referendum to incorporate Crabb was held and failed; ironically, if the measure had succeeded, Texas law would have required Zimmerman to step down, because in that state a person has to be 18 years of age or older to hold the position of mayor. Zimmerman was aware of this but it didn't concern him, as he believed Crabb's independence and its taxes were more important than his job. Despite the failure of the measure and the concerns citizens had about incorporation, Zimmerman later won another term. A 1986 made-for-TV movie, Lone Star Kid, portrayed his mayorship.

While Zimmerman did not achieve incorporation for Crabb, his work helped keep its independence and to this day it remains an unincorporated community. Sadly, Zimmerman died of a heart attack in 1996 at the age of 24; he maintains the record as the United States' youngest mayor.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Another local stream (again)

Here is another picture of the stream I blogged about last month:

It was taken a couple of weeks ago on a bright day; it doesn't really show anything more than before but I thought a sunnier image was worth posting. I also shot this:

It's a partially flooded field, with the water flowing in stream-like patterns through it. I will take another walk where the field is located but if I take any more photographs I doubt they will look as pleasant as this one does, at least not during this cloudy weather.

Both pictures were taken with my phone.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Walking with my brother

I rarely take a walk with my brother, and so when I went with him on one this afternoon I remembered why: it's extremely difficult to maintain his walking pace! His "normal" is equivalent to most other peoples' "rapid, exhausting walk", and when I ask him to slow down he complains that the speed he has to adopt is "slow". I can match his pace but can only maintain it for a short amount of time, around fifteen to twenty minutes. After that, I have to rest or at a minimum reduce our speed.

It's not as though I am unfit — far from it, given that I walk almost every day, but my brother walks more frequently that I do and his walks are of greater distance. He also has a tall, light body build which gives him a natural walking/running skill; even on a hot day, provided he has some water, he can walk for miles without suffering from too much exhaustion.

Mum and Dad are slower than I am; in the rare times my brother walks with them, he says that he walks behind as to not inadvertently pull ahead by being in front. My parents also take a walk nearly every day and have improved their fitness over the past several months.

My brother has a build suited to walking and running. Am I envious? Only in that I'd like to be able to maintain his speeds for longer periods, but I'm happy with who I am. Still, when the warmer weather becomes more frequent, I doubt I'll be walking with him more often than I do currently!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

"Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" - Doris Day

While travelling up to Nottingham on Friday we had the radio active; the station played a mini-marathon of Doris Day songs, one of which was "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps":

Day's version of "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps" is not the original: I learnt only this afternoon that it was Osvaldo Farr├ęs who initially wrote and composed the song, which he did in 1947. The rendition I am most familiar with is Mari Wilson's, as hers was used as the theme for the British sitcom Coupling (which I've never seen, but have overheard on several occasions).

Regardless, I like the song no matter who the performer is. The other day was the first time I'd heard it in years.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Leicester train station

For my last C2C: Country to Country-related post: When I was at Leicester train station and had nothing to do but wait, I ensured I took one picture of the facility:

More images can be found here. It's not St Pancras or King's Cross, but it's a grand structure on its own merits. I'd like to see it during the daytime.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Leicester and snow again

In the nearly three years my family and I have been back in the United Kingdom, I had not been to Leicester until a few days ago. This morning, I ended up going there again, or at least, I went through it.

Dad, my brother and I were driving up to Nottingham when we reached near-impassable snowfall on our route. Rather than continue on a road rendered dangerous by the weather, we opted to turn around and take another way to Nottingham. This safer route took us through Leicester, where we were stuck in a traffic jam for a period, but we made it to Nottingham safely. Leicester twice in a week!

As for the weather, the snow has returned...yet again...and it's nationwide! There have been torrential downpours in parts of the country, which have led to floods, while the snow has disrupted traffic and caused numerous accidents; we observed two cars in the ditch before we turned around. We are in spring now, but to look outside, you wouldn't know it. I won't be surprised if we have to shovel the driveway tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The O2 interior images

When I attended C2C: Country to Country, I photographed some parts of The O2's interior:

As can be seen here, the building is effectively a giant tent. This is one of the twelve towers that support the dome.

This is of an unused area of The O2. It might be used during other events, but as of this picture, it was empty; the openness of this section made it extremely cold and windy. The tent-like quality of The O2 is more present here.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

After the concert

After Becca and I had left The O2 Arena and proceeded to our respective trains, I caught my ride back home with several minutes to spare. At 23:00, it was the last train for the night; my only concern during the day had been the possibility of missing that train, but I hadn't let it become a distraction while in London. Once I was on board and was sat in a mostly empty coach, I patiently waited for the hour-and-a-half long ride to end, with the only pressing issue being to let Dad and my brother know when I was about to arrive at my stop.

What ultimately happened was not a problem I had envisioned.

When the announcement for my stop came, I made my way to the door. To my surprise, the door didn't open for me, and to my subsequent horror less than ten seconds later, the train started moving again. I noticed too late a small "open" button situated next to the door; I hadn't any need to press such a button in the past, because on the other trains I'd travelled in fellow passengers had already opened the doors before me. On this occasion, I was the only one who needed to exit the train at my stop.

I rapidly filled with dread, partially because I was wondering if there would be any penalties for going beyond the parameters of my train ticket (none, other than having to sort out my predicament), but also because of how I thought my brother and father were going to react, as they were waiting at the station to pick me up. Dad also had to travel in the morning and wanted to go back to bed.

My texts are usually typographically and grammatically correct, but the texts I sent to both of them and to Becca when I informed them all of my situation were littered with errors. Becca offered to research train times while Dad and my brother wanted me to get off at the next stop, which was already my plan; the City of Leicester was the next stop, and if I went beyond that I would have had to have contacted family in Nottingham to collect me.

I wandered around Leicester railway station for a couple of minutes before I went to the front of the building to wait for my brother and Dad. My wait lasted for around a quarter of an hour; when I got into the car, I was surprised to find them both in a good mood, as I expected a lecture! I later found out that they were initially angry but calmed down en route to Leicester. It took us around half an hour to return home.

That was my first visit to Leicester, which I didn't expect to take place at nearly 1:00am because I missed my stop on a train! I certainly won't make that mistake again the next time I use train travel.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

C2C: Country to Country at The O2 Arena

I travelled to London on the 17th to attend the second day of C2C: Country to Country, the United Kingdom's first multi-day country music festival. I met up with my friend Becca around midday and we travelled to The O2 Arena, which is located in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

When we entered the O2 we were greeted with this huge banner hanging over the festival. Tim McGraw played the night before, and would have been good to see in his own right, but Becca and I were more familiar with the acts on the second day. McGraw and Carrie Underwood headlined their respective days.

Beyond the entrance was the Town Square, which was devoted to "capturing the spirit of Nashville". The area had an abundance of merchandise stands, booths serving Southern United States-style cuisine, stands with country-themed clothing and restaurants; there was also a whisky bar, a small stage for the Pop Up Stages and even a cinema. The amount of food available made it impossible to not eat, and all the clothing stands ensured that someone into cowboy fashion wouldn't have to look hard for it (although paying for it was a different matter, as one hat cost 55 euros, which is around £47 or $71!).

This is Jill Johnson, one of the acts in the Pop Up Stages. She is a country singer from, of all places, Sweden. Johnson was the only one of the Pop Up acts we spent a significant amount of time listening to; I enjoyed both Johnson's music and her humour, the latter of which appeared whenever the sound systems temporarily went out or she had something to say about one of her songs! I'll have a look at more of her work, because she gave a fine performance.

I photographed the line-up after Johnson had finished her set. The Pop Up Acts had their own timetable, located on another poster.

Now for the O2's auditorium: This is the primary screen. It displayed each of the first three performers' logos while they were on stage and between acts it showed C2C's logo; it had multiple displays for the final performer.

Brantley Gilbert was the first and shortest act, as well as the person we were both the least familiar with. His music, as he described on stage, was country rock, which uses heavier guitars than traditional country. I had never heard country music like Gilbert's before, but as he said, it's a diverse genre.

All four of the acts were from the South, but Gilbert had the strongest accent among them, which he acknowledged when he joked about the audience not understanding his "redneck accent".

LeAnn Rimes was the artist I was most excited to see. Granted, I love Underwood's music and I was curious about the work of the other two performers, but I have known about Rimes longer than any of the others (since I was seven or eight) and never expected to attend a concert with her giving a performance. It was a delight to hear her sing live; I particularly enjoyed "Can't Fight the Moonlight", "How Do I Live" and "Spitfire". Rimes concluded her set with a rendition of "Amazing Grace".

Rimes may have been the artist I was looking forward to the most, but I had high expectations for Darius Rucker and wasn't disappointed. I wasn't overly familiar with Rucker, but the songs of his I had heard were pleasant and Becca has been a fan of him for quite some time. I was impressed with his live versions of his songs "Alright" and "Wagon Wheel", among others. I also liked it near the end of his set when he photographed the audience and tweeted it on the spot! He finished with a cover of "Purple Rain".

This is a picture of the crowd taken between Rucker's and Underwood's performances. As you can see, the arena had a high turnout. The atmosphere was pleases me that country music is popular here in the United Kingdom.

The demographics of the crowd were as diverse as they were at the Royal Albert Hall. People of various races, ages and nationalities were present at C2C; there was also a substantial amount of Americans in the audience.

Carrie Underwood came out onto the stage at around 8:50. Her performance began with the primary screen displaying a mini-movie resembling scenes from her "Blown Away" music video. The movie lasted for a couple of minutes, preventing it from occupying too much of her allotted time on stage.

I loved Underwood's performances of "Cowboy Casanova" and "Two Black Cadillacs"; both are among my favourite songs of hers. Here's Underwood on the right-hand side screen.

Here is Underwood on stage. The primary screen showed different images and movies for each of her songs, not just a pattern as shown in this picture. For two examples, during "Two Black Cadillacs" the screen showed a montage of a black Cadillac which had "2BLKCAD" on its plates, whereas for "Jesus, Take the Wheel" it had a painting of a church which brightened as the song progressed. I did not consider the screen to be a distraction from Underwood herself.

Unfortunately, Becca and I did not see all of Underwood's performance. We had to leave slightly early for me to catch my train in time; we only missed four songs, including "Before He Cheats" and "Blown Away". Other than that, we thoroughly enjoyed the concert and hope it becomes an annual event for the United Kingdom. There is an appetite for country music here, as we have discovered from the two country concerts we have attended so far.

After the concert, I caught my train home in time, but the events proceeding my departure from London are better suited in a separate post, which I'll cover tomorrow!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Sorting and writing it

While I have been working on the piece, I still have dozens of images left to sort out and much content to write for a substantial post about my attendance at C2C: Country to Country. I've been busy with that and other things, and as the post is not yet done, for now I'll just say that last night's concert was spectacular.

Here's a picture of The O2 Arena itself. More to come tomorrow!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

C2C: Country to Country

I have a train to catch shortly because I'll be travelling to London to attend day two of C2C: Country to Country at the The O2 Arena. The concert is a country music festival, where I will be seeing Brantley Gilbert, LeAnn Rimes, Darius Rucker and Carrie Underwood all perform. I saw Underwood last year at the Royal Albert Hall but it'll be fun to see her again!

I shall endeavour to take pictures and will share a few of them here soon!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Littleport, Iowa

When I began Air Nice-to-Livelands, I was living in the town of Littleport in North East Cambridgeshire. In that linked post, I briefly mentioned our then-house being located on a lower level to the levees holding back the Ouse. Naturally, while my family and I lived there we were worried about potential flooding, but fortunately, nothing ever happened during our time there and nothing has happened since. However, back in 1999, the tiny city of Littleport, Iowa, which is mostly unrelated to the Littleport, Cambridgeshire, was destroyed by a flood.

There is little (no pun intended) available about Iowa's Littleport beyond its destruction. The place hasn't ever had a large population, and in 2005, it lost its city status, resulting in it becoming an unincorporated community; it was already a dying town prior to the flood. It had a population of 26 in 2000, and the only 2010 census information I could find said that Littleport was no longer inhabited. While I have never been to Littleport, nor have I been to or near Iowa, but I can't help feel a touch of sadness for the place. Humans once lived there and now it's another one of the many ghost towns littered across the United States.

The two Littleports have nothing in common except the name and the potential to flood. The Littleport in Iowa was on the decline for decades, with barely over two dozen people living there when it flooded. By contrast, the Littleport in Cambridgeshire is a thriving town with nearly 9,000 people as of 2011 — an increase in population from the decade before. It's unlikely to meet the same fate as its Iowa namesake, for the name is merely a coincidence, but it's always wise to be prepared...just in case.

Friday, 15 March 2013

The runt of the litter

I read this article about a 27-year-old male cat here in the United Kingdom, named Wadsworth. The article reminded me about our cat Smudge; like Wadsworth, Smudge was also the runt of his litter, although Smudge was a healthy cat at birth and died just shy of 13, whereas Wadsworth is still alive at more than twice that age.

As enjoyable as the article was, it did bring back strong feelings of wanting my cats to still be around. Not every article about cats does this to me, but some, like this one, do.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Pigeons on the roof

One of the houses in our neighbourhood has two points on its roof where pigeons enjoy resting; judging from how the pigeons only utilise these two points in cold weather, it's safe to say that the birds like them for the warmth they provide. I took these pictures of two pigeons:

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

"In My Pocket" - Mandy Moore

I recently listened to one of my Mandy Moore albums, Mandy Moore, her third studio release, as a part of a "re-discovering" of her music; before last night, it had been years since I last listened any of her albums. "In My Pocket" is both the first single and first track from Mandy Moore:

My first Mandy Moore album was her debut, So Real, which I received for Christmas 2005; I got Mandy Moore for my seventeenth birthday. Mandy Moore and "In My Pocket" came out in 2001. I enjoy both her studio music and what she has done in films.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The cold winds

Just when we thought we'd seen the last of this winter's comes back! For each of the past couple of days we've had around an inch of fast-melting snow; last week's warm weather has vanished. We've barely seen the Sun in the past 60 hours, and whenever it has made an appearance the clouds have quickly covered it back up again.

This recent batch of snow hasn't been too much of a bother by itself; the problem has been the bone-freezing winds. I went for a walk yesterday afternoon, but I cut it short after the cold and powerful winds caused my face to feel as though I had placed a mask of ice over it. I achieved a normal-length walk today, but the winds were as cold (albeit not as strong) as they were yesterday.

Bring on spring! It's just over a week away!

Monday, 11 March 2013

"Who's On Heart" 2013 wrong guess list

The incorrect guesses for "Who's On Heart" 2013 have now been posted on the Heart website. It was announced this morning:

My only criticism is that it should have been presented in a list format rather than as a gallery. The former would have been easy to read and navigate, whereas the latter is time-consuming to look through (I haven't gone through the names, but I looked at one page). Regardless, I'm happy to see a new development in the contest short of the next correct guess.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Today is Mother's Day in the United Kingdom. Two days ago, Dad surprised Mum by buying her flowers, chocolate and a card early:

This was the first time since we lived in California that my Dad bought Mum flowers. For years, our cats would eat parts of or play with any plants we had; while she misses the cats dearly, Mum appreciated the flowers.

I should note that Dad did this on International Women's Day; while he didn't buy them specifically for that day, I found myself appreciating his timing.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Random scenery

For today's post, I want to share three pictures of some local scenery; two of the pictures are of one of the paths I often walk along:

The third is another one of the "pond", this time from the path rather than up close:

It'll be excellent when more good weather arrives, as I'll be able to take more pictures to share here!

Friday, 8 March 2013

2013 International Women's Day

With today being International Women's Day, I thought about this question: "If you could fix any one problem women face by clicking your fingers, what would it be?". Would you make women's pay equal to men's? Ensure that a girl's education is the same as a boy's? Stop women in high positions from receiving far more scrutiny and criticism than their male equivalents? Perhaps put an end to violence against women?

There are many problems to choose from, and all need to be addressed, but if I could solve any one of them instantly, it would be violence against women. Worldwide, millions of women are abused and/or killed by their husbands, boyfriends, fathers, brothers, uncles and men who have no family or romantic connection to them. There are women who live in permanent fear, worried that the man (or men) they have to live with or near will physically harm them or kill them if they as much as look at him the wrong way. There are girls who have grown up only knowing men to be fist-wielding bullies from the behaviour of their abusive fathers and brothers. It horrifies me to even think about what these girls and women go through, but any discomfort I receive by thinking about it pales in comparison to what the victims feel.

If the harm it causes women wasn't enough, violence against women also hurts men. The vast majority of men would never want to step on a woman's foot by accident, let alone beat or kill her, but thanks to the men who are violent against women, most if not all men are viewed negatively and suspiciously (not just by women, but also by other men) as a consequence. How does a woman know that a man won't go from being friendly and reasonable one moment to a thug the next? In nearly all cases, these fears weren't necessary, but the existence of woman-beating men causes these fears and does justify them on too many occasions. If violence against women ended, women would no longer have to worry when men interact with them and men wouldn't be regarded as a "potential threat until proven otherwise" (this blog post is related).

Obviously, violence and all the other issues women face cannot be solved by clicking one's fingers. Also, just because today is International Women's Day doesn't mean this should be the sole day of the year to think about women's issues while ignoring them for the other 364 days. If, regardless of what day of the year, we all do our part to help women, no matter how small, we can ensure that they will be truly equal and safe.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The train baby

A light post for tonight; I spotted this article about a baby girl who was born on a train:

I agree with the part of the article where a Twitter user said that the baby should be entitled to free rail travel!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

"Who's On Heart" 2013 update

It's been nearly a month since Debbie correctly guessed David Duchovny as one of the "Who's On Heart" 2013 voices, but other than Duchovny being confirmed as one of the three, no new developments have occurred in the contest. Jo Brand, Tom Daley and the Minogue sisters are still guessed occasionally, but not as much as they were at the time of my previous post on this subject. While I have been busier lately, I have still been able to listen to the contest and have not lost any interest in it.

On another note, I am surprised at how many views "The first answer to "Who's on Heart" 2013" has received. It has over a thousand views, making it my most seen post; other posts have gained more views because of it, too. I did not write the post with the sole purpose of getting those views, but nevertheless, I am grateful for them all!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The "pond" unfrozen (2)

The better day to take a picture of the "pond" turned out to be today. I brought my main camera with me on my walk this afternoon and shot these:

Monday, 4 March 2013

The "pond" unfrozen

At the end of this post, I wrote about the "pond". When out on a walk this afternoon, I stopped by the pond to take a few pictures of it, as we're currently having some warm weather:

I took this image with my phone. I will get another picture of the pond using my main camera on an even more pleasant day, assuming it hasn't dried out by then.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Santa and house decoration

It's more than two months after Christmas, and my brother has discovered that he left one of his decorations out, his plastic Santa/house ornament:

Along with the angel I'm currently keeping safe, it'll have to remain out all year and won't get put away until Christmas 2013 ends, at which time we'll have to triple check to ensure that no decorations are left out!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

"Some Hearts" - Belinda Carlisle

Anyone into country music or American Idol will know that "Some Hearts" is one of Carrie Underwood's best known songs, but did you know it was written by Diane Warren and originally intended for Belinda Carlisle?

Carlisle's version of "Some Hearts" was leaked out onto the Internet in its demo form; it is not an official single or song from her. I'm used to Underwood's famous rendition, but Carlisle's original is still a good track in itself.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Opposing spam

My friend and fellow blogger Stephanie recently wrote about the rise and purpose of spam comments on Blogger and Wordpress. In recent weeks, her blog has been hit with tens of thousands of such comments; most were caught by her filters but enough made it onto World Turn'd Upside Down to justify her turning on the word verification system.

While I appreciate how frustrating the situation was to Stephanie, I was relieved to see her post! My own blog has received well over a hundred spam comments in the past three months; that number is a far cry from the thousands that Stephanie has received, but before her post I wondered what I had done to attract all the spam. Fortunately, with comment moderation activated on Air Nice-to-Livelands, every piece of spam has been blocked here; the only hassle I have is occasionally having to clear the spam folder.

Stephanie's post also made me think about how much spam there seems to be in other comment threads. Spammers have always inhabited Internet discussions, but I have noticed a huge increase in the amount of spamming in threads all around the Internet these past few months, especially on news sites. Sometimes I'm not sure if the spam is littering the legitimate comments or the legitimate comments are littering the spam! I don't always read the comments now unless I know they've been moderated. Maybe it's just me.

Has anyone besides me and Stephanie had to block any spam or suffered an increase of it lately?