Saturday, December 18, 2010

Going Postal and the Unfortunately Unforgettable

One of the worst places to be forced to spend any time in at this time of year is the post office. You know that no matter when you go or how prepared you are, you're going to wind up in a line that extends out the door. People, unfamiliar with the extended mailing process, will stand up at the painfully few open counter spaces, unable to decide between express or priority shipping. Although your transaction takes the 31 seconds you planned that it would, the guy in front of you with a dolly loaded up with poorly labeled cardboard boxes is going to ensure that any post office visit you make will require that you pack sustenance in advance should you face a choice between starvation and cannibalism.

All I needed was six international stamps--and the price of this excursion was $5.88 and 30 minutes of my time. As I finally approached the counter, I noticed many familiar faces among the overwhelmed post office staff--and one in particular. A young lady was one of these staff members. I recognized her right away--I knew she couldn't tell me from a crowd of a thousand people she had ever served in the post office. . .

But I would never forget her.

It was the Friday before Labor Day weekend over a year ago. I had put together a mailing for another organization that, through my place of employment, I am affiliated with. The day before, at around 5 p.m., I had used the postal meter machine to mark all of the letters. I organized them all in a box, and I figured it would be easier for postal employees to take them directly from me, so I drove over to the post office with them. After a short wait in line, I walked up to the counter where this same young lady was standing.

It was clear to me that this was a new employee. She seemed entirely baffled why I brought her these already prepared letters, and entirely unable to understand that all she need do with them is bring them to the sorting facility behind the public space. In her bewilderment, she happened to examine the meter stamp on one of them.

"We can't take these," she said curtly.

"Why exactly?"

"They're postmarked yesterday," she replied, equally curtly.

I narrowed my eyes at her.

"And why is that a problem?"

"We can only take mail that is postmarked the day we take it through the office."

I had a feeling I was dealing with a new employee here who was desperate to get it right in front of two or three longer-serving colleagues. I felt bad for her upon this revelation, but certainly not bad enough to ask:

"These were not postmarked until after 5 p.m. How could I have gotten them to you?"

Her answer: "Well, we're open until 6; you could have brought them then."

I was starting to get irritated: "My work day ends at 5 p.m, ma'am."

She was starting to get irritated: "That's not my problem. I can't take these letters."

Ok, now I'm getting angry: "So, explain to me why I can postmark a letter anytime AFTER the mailman comes through to pick up mail at 11 a.m., and he takes it the next day without a struggle."

She clearly didn't like being cornered on that one.

I sighed: "OK, since you're really intent on this, tell me what I can do. The postal meter debits our account when we mark letters. I can't just run them through twice because we will be charged twice."

"You have to set the meter to zero. Then, put the letters through so they have a mark with today's date on them."

My thought: Have YOU ever received a letter that was marked TWICE in this manner? I don't think so.

My parting comment involved the words "ridiculous" and "irrational."

I called one of my colleagues at work to ask about what I should do after both I and the box of letters were in the car. Was it even possible to set the meter to zero?

Her suggestion: "Well, here's what I think: just put them in a mailbox somewhere. Make sure it isn't one of the ones right outside the post office. Just pick one somewhere in the city. I'm sure there won't be a problem."


I had no idea that a quest for a discretely located blue mailbox was going to be such a trek. I needed to find one with a listed final pick-up time scheduled around 5 p.m.--it was already around 3, and I was sufficiently put on-guard by the postal worker to believe that the letters had to be carried that day if they displayed yesterday's date on them. As I drove around, checking times listed on each box, I found that it was gradually becoming more and more difficult to steer the car. As I pushed harder and harder on the steering wheel, I felt the pull of the elastic belt more and more taughtly. After about half an hour of driving around, I gave up and parked the car in one of the downtown spaces in front of a fully visible mailbox--one of the only ones with a pick-up time of 5 p.m. on it. I dumped all of the letters in the mailbox and got back into the car with the empty box.

Now, it was nearly impossible to drive--something was definitely wrong. I was about a block away from my regular mechanic's shop, so I forced the car in that direction, slowly driving it into the lot and parking it in an available space. After checking in at the front desk, the mechanic came out of the garage and popped the hood of my car.

"Oh, wow. Look at that."

He and I were looking at the same thing. The main difference was that I could have been looking at a car about to explode, and I wouldn't have any idea.

I asked.

"Do you see that there," he pointed to one of the belts, "that is the steering belt. See how the end is all torn up? And look, this distributes fluid to the belt, and it looks like all of the fluid has leaked out of it. This is definitely not a drivable car. You're going to have to leave it here."

If anything, this whole debacle gave me a greater appreciation for this mechanic--because it was Labor Day weekend, and he was concerned that I wouldn't be able to rent a car, he offered me the use of the shop's truck for the weekend. I very much appreciated it--I told him that I would let him know if nothing was available. Fortunately, I was able to get a small car for the weekend without inconveniencing him.

To be fair to the postal worker, had I not embarked on an exodus to find a mailbox, I may not have discovered this potentially dangerous car problem until I was well on my way home that evening. Or, on the other hand, it could have been that very trip that damaged the car somehow. Or, given our exchange at the counter, she could have called upon a legion of equally-disgruntled postal workers to compromise my car while we were speaking at the counter.

Whatever the case, one thing is true--

I will NEVER forget her.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Simon's Cat

If you've ever owned a cat, you know this scenario.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Emily's Unknown Adventure

Of the three cats that count themselves permanent residents of my house (a fourth is temporarily residing as a consequence of my boyfriend being away at sea at the moment), Emily is NOT my adventurer. It's surprising to me that it turned out that way because the circumstances were exactly the opposite when I "met" her and her two sisters in the curator's apartment of a historic home in RI seven years ago. The moment the young lady who found and captured them opened the door to the kitchen where they were sequestered, Emily dashed out first, only followed tentatively behind by Charlotte. Anne refused to leave her little corner and had to be physically carried into the living room to join her more eager sisters. What I hadn't told her before I came over that day was that I intended to take all three of them home with me. And, home with me, with only a short interruption during the year of my education abroad, is where they have been ever since.

Until last Saturday.

It doesn't surprise me when I hear gunshots in the distance living in this area--too many locals are marksmen and buy sizable pieces of property in order to exercise their right to bear arms. The bigger problem is a guy who lives on the other side of the neighborhood who insists upon setting off fireworks, without much skill if the sound is any indication. The area is covered from one side of the town to the other in tall pine trees, and signs on the lawns of every local fire department constantly warn against the danger of forest fires whether it is sunny and dry or cold and wet outside. Last Saturday once it had grown completely dark, off the fireworks went for about an hour. About that same time, I started calling the cats into the house. In came Anne and Oscar without a struggle, but I couldn't see Charlotte or Emily. I wasn't alarmed--they usually made their way back as soon as they heard the first call, and even if they chose to be stubborn, they would stay outside, just out of reach, close to the house for as long as possible.

As the evening went on, Emily still didn't come back. The sound of worry entered my calls to the point that Charlotte, my most outdoor-oriented cat, came back to the house, and let me pick her up and bring her indoors. This wasn't a good sign, and its ill omen was only reinforced by the glimpse of a grey fox crossing the road from the woods and wandering through my yard.

The next morning, Emily was not waiting on the doorstep to come in. Calls throughout the day did not bring her home. A walk around the neighborhood raised no hopes.

On Monday, I returned to work, emotions in limbo. A local shop printed color fliers with her picture on it, and that evening, I put one in every mailbox in the 3 mile circle that encompasses the neighborhood. The next day, I visited vets' offices and animal shelters to the west of where I live, stopping in nearly ten places over a distance of about 25 miles. When I returned home, I had a message from a local gentleman who thought he saw her walking the direction of the other side of the neighborhood earlier. Although a ways away from my house, I drove over there and called her. There was no sign of her anywhere, but I did meet the son of the man who called me, and the next day, on another sojourn, this time to the east, he called me believing he saw her in his neighbor's yard. By the time I arrived there, he had discovered, after enlisting the help of this neighbor, that the cat belonged to someone nearby.

By Thursday, Emily hadn't come home and no fresh leads had been brought to my attention. After work, I decided to make one more attempt at finding her. Focusing on the gentleman's lead from days before, I took the remaining fliers and brought them to another street on the the side of the neighborhood he had supposedly seen her. I walked up and around a high hill, I walked down every side street I had originally dismissed. I exhausted my supply of fliers in the process. I called every so often, listening for a rustle of leaves, a cry--anything. Two hours, five miles, and two huge blisters later, I returned to the house. At that point, I realized that I couldn't do anything more--if no one called, if she didn't materialize in a local shelter, if no one brought her to a vet's office, she was gone. Emily, the sweetest cat, who took care of everyone sick or sad, who followed her sisters dutifully around the house and the yard, who everyone had praise for her wonderful disposition, had fallen to some unknown, horrible fate that was stomach-turning to imagine.

That was when I heard it--a mew getting louder as its source moved closer and closer to the house.

I opened the door--there she was, covered head to toe in copper-brown dirt without a scratch on her. She wasn't even hungry. She settled in a spot on the kitchen floor and looked up at me with a "what?" expression while her sisters examined and sniffed her from a safe distance, baffled at the combination of her absence and her sudden reappearance. Where was she? Still a mystery, but the experience has transformed all of them into indoor cats for some time, if not permanently.

Objections, there are many. Peace of mind, in this case, is just too priceless to sacrifice to make even these cats happy at the moment.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Redemption: Northern New England

Awesome visit to The Flume in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. If northern New England, with its 7 months of unrelenting winter, has anything redeeming, this is certainly it.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Six Minutes to Renew Faith in Humanity

Years before the widespread availability of cable TV, there were dial TV sets, antennae termed "rabbit ears," and the Corporation for Public Brodcasting. TV shows like Sesame Street, Nova, and Masterpiece Theater were hallmarks on local public broadcasating channels. It would be difficult to find someone who wasn't watching at least one of those shows thirty years ago.

I'm not sure where this comes from, but, from one impatient person to (potentially) another, it is worth watching the whole clip. I promise you that if you take the time, you won't regret it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father Nasty: An Amusing Interlude, Dream Inspired and Recalled

I think dreams are amazing, but my philosophy about them is the opposite of most who try to interpret them. Generally, my perception of dreams is to figure out what aspect of my life--what event, person, conflict, etc.--inspired them, and consequently, how I really feel about that aspect of my life through what I dream about in relation to it.

I had a dream last night about telling a story about my experience working as an altar server at my local church. I'm not sure what inspired it, but it did remind me of a great story from years and years back.

I come from a Catholic family, and when my siblings and I were growing up, every Sunday, we went to mass in the morning. Although this was not quite our favorite activity, I recall that we were pretty well behaved overall, mostly because we knew what the consequences would be should we step out of line. When I was around 10 or 11years old, I decided to become what our church called a "cross bearer." Basically, it was a way to get kids, particularly girls, involved in the mass. There was a legion of alter boys who directly assisted the priest, but at the time, girls were banned from that position. Our church thought it would be a nice to let girls lead the procession in and out of the church instead. A cross bearer would dress in the same robes as alter boys and would carry a large, brass cross in front of the priest, the alter boys, and the readers on the way up and down the aisle before and after mass. Cross bearers would sit, segregated off to the side of the altar with the readers, while the priest and the alter boys settled directly in front of the altar for the duration.

In 1992, Pope John Paul II changed this policy--girls could now serve on the altar with the priests. In response to this, and in order to include more young people in the mass, the altar servers were divided into groups of five. In each group of five, there were two altar servers, one cross bearer, and two candle bearers to accompany the cross bearer. The participants would rotate between jobs every week they were assigned, so everyone got a chance to serve in each of the available positions. The two priests that served our church were at the forefront of initiating these changes and training the female former-cross bearers for new responsibilities.

Fairly soon after the turnover, one of the priests was notified of a family emergency back home in Ireland, and he returned there for a few months to attend to it. To make up for the loss, the diocese rotated in other priests from other local communities.

One of these gained the nickname "Father Nasty."

Father Nasty was a short man, in his mid-sixties, who, at first, seemed to be a nice guy. My group of altar servers was the first to work with him. We all dressed in the same place, so he got to see the small band of five people, made up of two young men, one very young lady, and two older girls--myself and my friend, Cathy. After dressing, we saw to the general responsibilities before the mass, and it became apparent to Father Nasty that he wouldn't be working directly with the two boys on the team. Instead, Cathy and I were assigned to be his direct altar servers, and it was clear as soon as he realized this that he wasn't a big fan of his Holy Father's decision.

We processed in, and once we got to the altar, his dissatisfaction was clear not only to us, but also to the congregation as a whole. On top of it all, Cathy and I were both about four inches taller than Father Nasty, and I am sure this only contributed to his negative attitude. Nothing we did was right--nothing. When we set up the altar for the second half of the mass--the part focusing on the bread and wine--he literally rearranged everything we did. He took the Bible and literally plunked it down on the other side of the sacred service with a scowl. The worst part, though, came soon after. At one point, the altar servers must wash the priest's hands with holy water stored in a cruet on the side of the altar space. Cathy went to retrieve this item, and I met her where the priest was standing at the left side of the altar with a plate, to catch the water, and a napkin. Just as she started to tip the cruet to pour the water, Father Nasty hissed,

"GO get more holy water. There isn't enough."

Now, how he could have possibly known this was beyond both of us. Cathy and I had set the altar up before the mass started, and he hadn't lifted, let alone tread near, the holy water cruet at any point before or during the mass.

Cathy's face registered a combination of shock, surprise, and fear.

The subsequent look on his face was all the answer she needed, and she rushed down the side aisle and back to the dressing room to obey his instructions.

The mass was "on hold" for about two and a half minutes, and it felt like a lifetime. Needless to say, the mass couldn't end soon enough for Cathy and me. Fortunately for us, though, Father Nasty made no friends in our congregation by his actions. Somehow, this may have gotten back to him--or perhaps, he had some kind of divine revelation--because the next time we worked with him, although we were holding our collective breath the whole time, he was much more pleasant and even thanked us in the end.

Why did I dream about telling this story? I have no idea, but I woke up thrilled to have recollected it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Betrayed By Lunch

When I lived in the city, I walked home, spending my lunch hour there. I'm sure it is a common case to have a full hour for lunch but to be unable to spend the whole of it actually lunching, and I made use of the time by preparing a meal that required more than the simple open-Ziploc-bag step. Then, I would usually sit for a little while, relax, play with the cats--it was a nice change from the work place environment. Then, with ten minutes to spare, I would make my way back to work.

My last laptop was an HP, and it experienced innumerable problems. I remained continually thankful for having purchased one of their warranty programs that allowed me to send it back to them, free of charge, to be repaired. One afternoon, an empty box arrived on my apartment doorstep just in time for my arrival home for lunch. I eagerly carried it inside. Two days prior, my laptop had suddenly shut down without explanation, and to add insult to injury, a blue notice on the screen indicated that the hard drive was somehow unreadable. Although it was after 11, I called the HP hotline and asked for a box. All I had to do, which I had done many times before in tried and true fashion, was put the laptop in the box as instructed and drop it off at a FedEx location.

I built a quesadilla by layers in a pan on the stove--tortilla, cheese, grilled chicken, veggies, tortilla. I turned the heat on medium and I went into the bedroom to pack the computer. I opened the box, fit the packing, and....

My concentration was destroyed by a burst of pulsing noise from the front hallway. I dashed into the kitchen--the bottom tortilla was entirely black, there was smoke pouring up from the pan, and the fire alarm had responded in kind. I switched off the burner, but the tortilla continued to cook from the residual heat. What to do? I picked up the pan and put it down on the nearby countertop--big mistake. The counter was lined with plastic, and after lifting it up in acknowledgement of the error, the surface had responded by producing a round, brown spot and a raised boil. Oven mit on hand, I held the pan, desperate to find somewhere to put it. I opened the kitchen window and set the pan on the sil. Then, I opened the door by the alarm, calming the sound.

Quiet descended for two minutes. Then, the doorbell rang.

At the door were two firemen, both dressed in full grey and yellow gear, helmets included. I caught a glimpse of the firetruck, lights ablaze, behind them.

"Hi, we got a call."

Until that moment, I thought my series of mishaps was a form of private suffering. Annoying as it all was, the parking lot behind the house was conveniently empty. I doubted that anyone in the nearest houses could hear the alarm. The truck in front of my house changed the game entirely. Neighbors came to their windows, pedestrians slowed down on their walks and runs to observe the action. Now, everyone knew I had done something stupid--and it didn't matter what.

A little reassurance and the firemen left, and they couldn't have moved the truck away too soon.

I went back to the pan, which had cooled with the combination of time and air from the open window. When I lifted it up, about half of the top layer of paint on the window sil came off with the bottom of the pan.

Suddenly, the pre-packed sandwich looked like a much better option.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hazardous Ads on Wheels

A nameless carpet cleaning business has a new commercial featuring a distraught employee weeping over a discarded, soiled carpet he could have "saved." I will never use this nameless carpet cleaning business for any of my upholstery-cleaning needs, and it isn't because the commercial is ridiculous.

About three years ago, I was on my way to work. I was nearly there, driving in the right of two lanes. I put on my directional, indicating that I would be taking a right onto the next exit. As I turned the wheel in the direction of the ramp, a yellow blur whizzed by me, obviously eager to get to the exit before I did. I slammed on my brakes. Hard. I could feel the brake pad desperately grasp the axle, unable to stop my car immediately. The car swerved with the sudden shock. I was terrified--the guardrail was about a meter away.

The culprit? A van from this carpet cleaning business.

From that point forward, I decided that if that business was going to hire that kind of an idiot, I didn't want that same brand of idiot with the fate of my carpets in his hands.

I don't think that businesses realize just how badly their incompetent drivers may actually hurt their bottom lines, especially local businesses. If you were run down on a local road by a jerk in a truck with a logo on it, I'll bet you made a note of that logo and that company. You may not have remembered it right away, but when a job came up, like mowing your lawn, taking care of your hot water heater, or hauling away an old car, if that same logo came up as one of the possible businesses that could help you, I'd bet you didn't call them.

Perhaps businesses should realize that their cars and trucks, proudly painted with their names and contact information, are an advertisement--good or bad. And assholes shouldn't be in control of those ads.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lethal Dressings

One of the complete impossibilities of life is keeping track of the condiments in the fridge. I mean, do you really know when you purchased that salad dressing, or the ketchup? Apparently, I hadn't a clue, and I discovered that this evening.

When I moved in up here, I immediately suspected that trash collection was going to be an issue that would have to be resolved quickly. The city I came from had a weekly pick-up schedule that included recycling, and every Thursday night, I would dutifully clean the litter boxes, empty out anything in the fridge that needed to be tossed, and lug a receptacle that had the building number spray-painted on its side to the curb. The level of difficulty varied depending upon the weather--lots of snow meant lots of plowing, which would transform into a lot of creatively-placed plastic bags hanging all over the accumulated piles of snow and ice. If I was really intent upon recycling under these circumstances, I had to chop the bin free as it was encased in run-off ice and then, carve a rectangular shape into the snow by the curb to place it.

I asked the landlord about trash pick-up after resigning myself to the nearly absolute possibility that for the first time in my life, I would have to purchase a dump sticker for a nearby facility. Fortunately, he mentioned a local guy who charged a modest fee to do the pick up once a week, and I didn't hesitate to call him. He agreed to add me to his regular route, and he started right away.

When the weekly rotation came up this time, I thought I had a smooth ride--I had cleaned the litter boxes two days earlier, so heavy lifting of poop-filled bags of gravel was unnecessary. I knew I had a small Tupperware container of salad that had to be tossed, so I opened up the fridge to take it out. In the process, a bottle of mayonnaise fell on the floor. I stooped to pick it up, the expiration date clearly visible.

The mayo expired in January. Yikes.

This inspired me to go through all of my condiments--everything from mustard to teriyaki sauce to pickles was inspected. About 80% of it was thrown out, some with expiration dates as distant as last summer. The winner was the ketchup, having expired in May, 2009.

At least it didn't end up like this.

Phone number update: My phone rang this morning at 7 a.m. I lumbered into the living room to pick it up in a semi-awake state. After a half-hearted "hello?," a man explained to me that he had the package I was waiting for, and that he was there to deliver it. I asked who he was looking for. His answer? The infamous George. I made sure to ask him to express my frustration to George, should he ever get a hold of him, and request that he make sure he spreads the word about his NEW phone number, whatever that may be, to service providers, doctors, and friends.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I haven't put up any photos in a long time--mostly because my traveling has been rather limited. However, some kind generosity gave me the opportunity to visit the Caribbean in February, and this is the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park on St. Kitts.

The one thing I missed getting a photo of? "Karl with a K," the cruise director. You CANNOT beat this guy's flourescent pink shirt.

What didn't I attend? The Hairy Chest competition on the pool deck. I don't consider that to be a missed opportunity.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Location: A Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru

Speaker: Hello! How can I help you?

Me: Hi. I'd like a medium hazelnut iced coffee with regular cream and no sugar.

Speaker: Ok, that's a medium hazelnut iced coffee with regular cream and extra-extra sugar.

Me: You've got everything right except the sugar--no sugar.

Speaker: Melt the sugar?

Me: Regular cream ONLY.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Worst Phone Number in the World

I have the worst phone number in the world. Here's why.

Once upon a time, Ida and George led a happy life somewhere in New Hampshire. They rented movies, they had the tires on their car fixed, they gave money to worthy charities. They were card-carrying members of the NRA. When Ida ended up contracting cancer, she chose a diligent treatment facility that eagerly updated her on her progress.

Then, Ida and George decided that their home phone service was too expensive. After years with the same home number, they switched carriers and gave up their well known, much used and shared phone number.

And, now, I have that number.

The reason I know all of this information about "Ida" and "George" is because I receive more phone calls for either one or both of them than I do for myself. Contrary to much recent advice, they gave their number out to everyone--companies, neighbors, doctors and hospitals. The only problem is that they neglected to inform these organizations and individuals that their home number was no longer the same.

There are three levels of annoying phone calls I receive for Ida and George:

First, there are the straight, run-of-the-mill telemarketers. There is no chance that Ida and George even considered putting their number on a "no-call" list. However, the only good thing about these calls is my response--I'm not Ida, I'm not George; sorry you have the wrong number, click.

Second, there are what I will call "service" calls. Apparently, Ida and George's tires were ready for their car. And, they had some rented movies out a little too long. Do Ida and George know about this? No, I do.

The worst--and I mean this in all seriousness--were the calls relating to Ida's health. Ida has some form of cancer, and there is no way I should know that. In fact, since I do know that, the doctor's office should take heed to handing out too much information while leaving a voice message on a machine that doesn't reference an Ida in its instructions. I received so many phone messages about this, the tone of the caller increasing in urgency with every unreturned message, that I actually called the office myself and explained that they not only had the wrong number, but that I didn't even know who Ida is.

If this weren't enough, a local man's home phone number must be a digit or two off of my own, as I've spoken to many of his friends lately. Unfortunately for me, this gentleman is a rather early riser, and his buddies tend to give him a ring between 5 and 6 in the morning.

His friends, though, are extremely nice people and have only been apologetic about the disturbance. The video store guy--now that is another story.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich Diet

After catching a stomach bug two weeks ago, I ended up in one of those terrible connundra where one has to choose between alleviating hunger and winding up feeling miserable. And yes, did I choose wrong many times...many times...ugh.

Upon coming out of it, I thought I would bounce back really quickly. I also thought that vegetables had to be OK--I mean, what could be easier to digest? I was wrong on both fronts. Ugh (yet again).

So, I am introducing The Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwich Diet. For some unexplained reason, ever since I semi-regained my ability to eat, I have been able to eat canned soup (not vegetable, of course) and grilled cheese sandwiches. Coupled with the bug, I dropped about 8 pounds.

Oprah, eat your heart out.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Asshole of the Day

So, I'm driving along, and I end up stopped at a light near a local supermarket. As I'm waiting for the signal to proceed, I notice a woman in a faux-jeep-like car creep up next to me in the turning lane to the left. The light turned green, and since she was well behind me, I went ahead.

And she beeped at me.

Then, as a line of us are approaching a turn onto a nearby highway, she speeds up alongside me to the right, quickly puts on her turn signal, and swerves into my lane in the narrow space between the car in front of me and I. To add insult to injury, she waved at me in a casual "na-na-na-poo-poo" way in her rear view mirror.

What the hell was that?!

Note: I apologize for suddenly monitoring comments. Last month, someone visited my blog multiple times and left ads on about 10 of my posts. I don't intend to delete comments unless you're trying to sell me something.