Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Framed and booted!

What the...?

Yesterday, out of the blue, I got this message in my mailbox:

"It has come to our attention that invalid clicks have been generated on the ads on your web pages. We have therefore disabled your Google AdSense account. Please understand that this step was taken in an effort to protect the interest of the AdWords advertisers.

A publisher's site may not have invalid clicks on any ad(s), including but not limited to clicks generated by a publisher on his own web pages, clicks generated through the use of robots, automated clicking tools, or any other deceptive software.


Publishers disabled for invalid click activity are not allowed further participation in AdSense and do not receive any further payment. The earnings on your account will be properly returned to the affected advertisers.


The Google AdSense Team

What in the name of Bob Marley's ghost???

I've never received a penny from the Google ads and frankly, had given up hope of ever seeing one. However, what on earth triggered this accusation, I haven't the foggiest. I have a handful of times clicked myself on one of the ads; they're mostly for hearing assistive devices, and since I registered my own computer to be excluded when I joined AdSense, I just assumed those clicks would be ignored. And I can't even remember doing that in months.

So, feeling wrongly branded a liar and a cheat, I emailed them asking them to outline exactly what had triggered this trial by instantaneous booting. (The only, completely wild theory I can come up with is that someone, in a misguided attempt to "help" me, set up some kind of bot or program to click on the links. Whoever you are, thanks a lot - now I'm not only broke, I'm branded a cheat, as well.) Well, this was their response:

Thank you for your email regarding the action taken on your account.

We understand that you wish to receive specific information regarding the invalid clicks we observed on your account. However, due to the proprietary nature of our algorithm, we cannot disclose any details about how our monitoring technology works or what specifics we found on your account.

As you know, Google treats instances of invalid click activity very seriously. By disabling your account according to our policy on this matter, we feel that we have taken the necessary measures to protect our advertisers and to ensure that invalid clicks will not continue to occur on your site.

Publishers disabled for invalid click activity are not allowed further participation in Google AdSense. We appreciate your understanding.


The Google AdSense Team

Except they don't have my understanding. I'm blacklisted, can't be told why, and won't be reinstated. It's obviously much easier to assume every publisher with an abberation guilty than to work with a client to find out where an error might have occurred.

Considering, as I said, I've never gotten a red cent from participating in the program, I'm looking at it this way: I've stopped giving them and their advertisers promotion for free.

So long, Google, you miserable pricks, and thanks for all the fish.


Friday, June 17, 2005

The mystery is solved.

In response to our intrepid reporter's email to Johnny Hart, we've learned that the mysterious words in the grass (with the exception of the May 21 strip, which our commenters below have noted was US Memorial Day) are the names of Hart's two grandchildren. They live far away from him and he has been putting their names in the strip as script in the grass "just to let them know he is thinking of them".

Very nice :) We don't know what the youngsters' names are, but that's the Hart family's bizness.

Thanks to JDB and the Two Peters, who did the detective work on this file.

Case closed. And it ain't often you get to say that in this topsy-turvy world


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Hidden Words and Magic Phrases: An Update

A second very astute poster at rec.arts.comics. strips has noted that there are a number of similar planted words in B.C. strips going back some time. Most are illegible but identifiable as scribbled words, probably names; while he notes this quite clear example of a semi-hidden message in the May 21 strip:

"To you who lay down your lives, thank you from the HART"

He's emailed Hart, through the syndicate, to see if he can get a definitive explanation. We'll keep ya posted.


Hidden words and magic phrases?

This is a bit off the beaten path for this blog, but an astute poster at rec.arts.comics.strips wondered if the shadow drawn behind the rock in today's B.C. cartoon strip might in fact be a scribbled word.

I thought blowing it up 400% in Firefox would allow me to definitively determine that it was just a scribble. Having done so, there appears to be a dotted "i" in the middle of the 'scribble' in the first panel, and the 'scribble' in the second panel almost certainly ends with 'ite'.

Am I crazy? Or what?

Here are the scribbles at 200% magnification:

Here are the scribbles at 400% magnification - althought iti gets quite pixellated at this magnification.

Enquiring minds want to know!


Monday, June 13, 2005


Sorry, sorry, sorry I haven't been posting more often. The reason is that work responsibilities have kind of gone through the roof lately... seems like, now that I can hear again, they're starting to realize how much they do, in fact, need me around here :) They've ratcheted my hours up to 35 per week. So I'm full-time again.

I am currently (along with a bunch of other stuff) conducting a series of focus groups around the province. It's a bit astonishing, isn't it? A few months ago, I was as deaf as a stone; now, I am facilitating focus groups of four to twenty young people (target group: multicultural youth, aged 15 to 29), sometimes raucous, sometimes rowdy, sometimes I say, "Whoah, whoah, whoah! Remember the Ground Rules? Only one person speaking at a time! I gotta keep up with y'all!" And I'm keeping up - even though almost all the participants have strong accents - and keeping the conversation going, and asking challenging questions and gleaning tons of interesting information.

It means a lot of travel (on Friday night, Husband said, "Wow, Hon, I'm glad you're here for 36 hours in a row!!!"). But it's so interesting, talking to young students and workers and kids all over the place about their lives.

And it's just one of several really interesting balls I've got in the air at the moment.

At the same time, I'm still looking for something else. It's hard to explain, but it's clear to me that it's time for me to move on to something else - hopefully something else in the same general field (multiculturalism/diversity/immigration/settlement) but it's time to move on. Keep your fingers crossed for me - I'm now searching from a position of strength, as opposed to my fear when I was suddenly relegated to part-time status, and everything seemed tenuous. Let's just say I've got a couple of aces in my pocket, and I'm already playing with good hand.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Working the system

I had an appointment for blood tests today at 11:30 a.m.

It was inconvenient. It fell in the middle of a workday. My co-workers had to be out of the office for meetings around the same time. We'd have to close the office. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

So I got up this morning and I worked the system. 'Cause I know how it works.

I showed up at the 'specimen clinic' (lovely, eh?) at 8:45 a.m. and took a number. The 8:30 rush was just over and the lunchtime rush hadn't started. The big electronic counter was at 197. I had number 199.

"One ninety-eight!"

"One ninety-nine!"

I sat in the chair in front of the processor. "I, uh, I know I have an appointment this morning," I fluttered. "I lost the letter." (This was a lie.) "I know it's this morning. I think it's at 9:30." (This was a Lie.)

"Oh, that's okay, love," said the nice lady. "It was at 11:30 actually."

"Oh," I said. "I'm sorry. Two hours off."

"Oh, that's not bad at all," she said.

"Not bad at all for me," I said. (That wasn't a lie.)

"No problem, we can take you right in," she said. And I was done and in my office by 9:15.

Half of me feels dead guilty about it. Half of me feels like you have to use what you've learned to navigate the system.

All of me feels like I don't know what to think about having this knowledge. Or having used it to my personal benefit.


Sunday, June 05, 2005

Happy National Cancer Survivor's Day!

Hey, everyone!

Happy National Cancer Survivor's Day!

In honour of the day, visit ronniecat's favourite cancer survivor.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

My Brown Bicycle

Yesterday I manhandled my bicycle up the basement stairs and into the back yard. (I should've waited for Husband to get home from work but I was impatient.)

I wiped the dust from the frame and polished the leather seat. I carefully oiled the chain and pumped the tires full of the air that had leaked out over the months. I checked the brakes and the light and put on my helmet and went for a ride.

It felt like flying.

I love my bike. It's a perfect city bike - a sturdy copper-coloured Mary Poppins touring bicycle with a great big basket in front for going to the market. For the past several years I've biked everywhere in the summer. And then I went deaf.

Many deaf people ride bikes. Me, having grown up in an absolutely rural environment, I only learned to ride a bicycle in urban traffic a few years ago, and that was a challenge; the thought of navigating it while profoundly deaf was beyond daunting to downright frightening. So ultimately, for me, impossible. And all last summer I looked out the window at the gorgeous sunny days and thought about my little Mary Poppins bike sitting in the dark of the basement and missed it, and mourned that loss.

Yesterday was the first really fine day after a wet and cold spell, and I rode my bike. It was a glorious experience that brought me joy all out of proportion to the simplicity of the act. Riding a bicycle is something I'll never take for granted again.

Summer is here in earnest now. It was 30C (86F) yesterday, 31C (89F) today, with much more to come. The streets are packed with people in the evenings. Music drifts out of house and apartment windows and from gardens and patios and pubs. I look forward to this summer - to re-experiencing the sounds of this summer - more than I can possibly express.

In other news, my friend "Clemont", he of the birthday phone call from Tanzania, showed up unexpectedly at my office yesterday with a box of Belgian chocolates, picked up on his customary stop home to visit his father on his way back from Tanzania. He is so overjoyed for me and he wanted to speak to me - literally - as soon as he was able. He and his marvellous wife will be at the pub tomorrow night. I am so lucky to have such friends.