Coffee heat rising Hack

Recently, the venerable blog host was massively hacked. If you subscribed to an RSS feed for a site, the hack started sending you rafts of spam emails for scams of all descriptions.

How does this affect you’n’me? With any luck it doesn’t…UNLESS you subscribed to the Plain and Simple Press website’s blog several years ago.

When I first started the P&S blog — the one that has been posting chapters from my various bookoids — it was on, and it was titled “Writers Plain & Simple.”

After a while, our Web guru, Grayson Bell, suggested we move the blog from to the server that now hosts Funny about Money and make it a subdomain of Plain & Simple Press, which also resides at Bigscoots. This freed us from some of’s peculiarities and put all our shiny little pebbles in one bucket.

If you are a long-time subscriber to Plain & Simple Press’s blog and you suddenly find yourself besieged by junk emails, check the URL in your RSS feed. It should NOT end in The site’s correct address is

I have now deleted the old P&S Press site from The current P&S blog and is hosted at, and so the URL contains no reference to WordPress.

Why Blog…Still?

Just imagine! Funny has been online for  over 12 years! Its first post in WordPress appeared on Christmas Eve, 2007, but that was far from the first word. Funny about Money was born on an ancient Apple platform that was (as I recall) dubbed “iWeb.” It was a pretty limited tool, but it did allow you to publish a daily squib that could reach an audience on the Web, if you publicized it enough.

Over time, personal finance blogging took off. I’d started my site after becoming enamored of Trent Hamm’s The Simple Dollar and thinking “I could do that!” Never occurred to me to try to make a living at it — as he apparently was doing. For me, it was something to occupy my mind while sitting in front of the television set, trying to cool the brain after reading too many student papers.

Television sets…remember those? Free TV shows that came in off the air, that you didn’t have to pay to watch? Wow! Those were the days.

Whatever. By 2007, FaM was getting large enough that it needed a stronger platform…plus it was apparent that Apple’s thing wasn’t going to last forever (it was discontinued in 2011). But well before its demise, I’d made blogging friends who urged me to switch to WordPress or Blogger. Of the two, WP looked like the least hassle and probably the least restrictive, so it was away to the Big Leagues.

It took awhile after making the jump to WordPress before I realized some people (other than Trent) were actually making money off these things. And that Funny was doing pretty well as PF blogs go…at one point it ranked among the top 50 personal finance blogs in the English language.

So I tried a few monetizing strategies. Adsense was a bust, IMHO. It seemed as though if I could get my junior college students to go to the site and encourage them to click on a few ads, I could make…ohhh…maybe ten bucks a month (what is that? $.000001 a word?). But was it really worth junking up the damn site? And having Adsense serve advertising for Scandinavian…uhm…escorts?

Advertising goods for Amazon? Well…okay. Maybe. If I knew a friend or reader wanted to order XXX or YYY from Amazon, I could post a link on Funny and talk them into clicking through to the desired product. One friend liked to order very expensive dog food, in quantity, from Amazon. This worked, a couple of times. How well did it work? Well…maybe it produced enough to buy a package of chewing gum.

Advertising my own books on the site? Uhmmmm…. Ooohkayyy. Sorta. Certainly not enough to plan a night on the town, though.

But I wasn’t writing Funny about Money to make money. I was writing it because it entertained me and passed many an otherwise boring evening in front of the television. It made contact with humans in the outside world. And who knows? Maybe someone out there somewhere was even helped by some tidbit of advice the site emitted.

Over time, I drifted away from mumbling on endlessly about budgeting, investing, retirement planning, and all things money. There are only so many ways you can say the same things over and over: get an educational or decent vocational training. Get a job. Live within your means. Build an emergency fund. Stay out of debt. Pay off necessary debt (such as mortgages or car loans) as fast as you can. Never spend more in any given period than you have coming in. Be prepared for a layoff by having a side gig or too and contributing your emergency fund with every paycheck.

Quite a few personal finance blogs survive, although the most interesting and well written ones were sold off by their founders. Get Rich Slowly, Budgets Are Sexy, The Simple Dollar, and many others are no longer written by the excellent creative minds that brought them to us. In fact, it really is true that you run out of ways to deliver the obvious advice, and there are only so many fresh spins you can take on that advice.

Blogs went out of style some time back. Younger folk, it appears, prefer to communicate online in staccato blurbs or images, rather than wasting time reading thought-out essays. Presumably reading has gone out of style, too — even though books continue to sell. What do you suppose people do with them? Use them as fireplace kindling? 😀

Style not being my thing, I continue to post at Funny. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve thought of it as a “personal finance” blog…now it’s just a “personal” blog. Actually, it functions as a writer’s journal, a kind of five-finger exercise to warm up before turning to something more serious. Or to paying work.

So I expect it to be around for quite awhile longer. Hope you will be, too!

The Mutability of Digitality…

Here’s the problem with All Things Digital: they’re even more transient than most human creations. Sic, we might say, transit gloria digiti. Just about anything we commit to little glowing letters — or to code in the guts of some computer system — is going to disappear. And it’s going to disappear sooner than later.

This, as a side note, is why I prefer my books between paper covers, thank you. Especially ever since we learned that Amazon can reach into your device and delete any Kindle document it pleases. Yes, paper burns. Paper mildews. Moths eat it, crickets eat it, the dog eats it, the baby eats it. But whatever you commit to hard-copy writing at least has a chance to survive for posterity to view it. A medical treatise written on papyrus, for example, survives from 2000 B.C. Carve your golden words into stone, and they’ll last as long as the pyramids stand.

Well, so… We’re told that come the end of this month, WordPress will force us all to use a new program called, bloviatingly enough, Gutenberg. It will, we’re assured, “impact” (God help us! If you can’t use English, why would you think we expect your software to be any better?) “the entire publishing experience” and yada yada.

Any good at reading between the lines? I’ve become fairly practiced at it. Here’s what I glean from this joyous announcement:

  1. New aggravating hassles
  2. More brain clutter for us to have to cope with
  3. Websites or at least important parts of sites will break.
  4. Data will be lost.

Especially “data will be lost.”  Funny about Money has been around since 2007 — that’s 11 years, the equivalent of 11 centuries in Digital Land — and I’ve seen a lot of innovations. Scarcely a one of them has happened without some fiasco. That would be why the first several years’ worth of posts at this site have no images: all my carefully uploaded and formatted pictures were taken down without my knowledge and without my permission.

Funny’s Web guru says he likes Gutenberg — that it’s easy to use and it won’t create problems. I hope he’s right.

But… Yeah. Eleven years of data. Just sitting there waiting to be disappeared. Mm hmmm…

Yesterday evening I spend three hours on the phone with a high-powered Apple tech trying to fix the mess created when another tech decided nothing would do but what I had to re-install the Sierra OS on the MacBook, even though I tried to tell him it would create a mess. And indeed…what a mess it did create!

Most of the problems are finally resolved…except for the fact that the big iMac no longer will sync DropBox. I do not know how to fix that. When I inquired of DropBox’s help folks, I got an e-mailed set of instructions that are just flat-out incomprehensible. Literally: there is no way I can figure that mess out. Sooo… I guess I no longer have DropBox on both computers and will never get that service back.

My plan in that department is to buy a large external hard drive and manually back up DropBox to it about once a week. In the meantime, it also gets backed up occasionally to Time Machine along with everything else on each machine. And DropBox itself keeps a kind of back-up — difficult to navigate, but at least something is there.

The point here is…silicon-based data goes away. It goes away at the slightest change in the breeze’s direction. So yes, I do expect this shift to Gutenberg is going to erase a lot of Funny’s content. It may even knock the site off the air, temporarily or permanently.

And anyhow, one way or another, when I’m gone, everything of mine on the Web will go away. And you know…as a writer, I kinda don’t like that.

Backing up the content to disk doesn’t resolve the problem. The outcome is still digitized, unintelligible to the average human, and still vulnerable to disappearance. Nor is the task very easy to accomplish. When I used BackupBuddy to create a copy of FaM, it loaded the whole 11 years’ worth of duplicated data to the host’s server! This quickly maxed their server and shut down the site.

Yeah. See what I mean?

Face With Rolling Eyes on Apple iOS 11.3

So I decided to take a little project in hand:

Copy the site’s entire contents, dating back to December 2007, into Word. Store to DropBox. Copy to the MacBook’s Documents folder. Format it in “Styles.” And then print it all out on three-hole punched paper and store it in binders.

Though this is not at all hard to do, it disgorges one hell of a lot of copy. In fact, it looks like more copy than it is, because when you just slam content into Wyrd it picks up all sorts of space-gobbling formatting from WordPress. When formatted properly, many thousands of points will be reduced to normal font size, photos will be sized to fit pages, air will be pulled up, and a lot less space will be consumed. Still: a year’s worth will probably fill 800 pages or so.

But…once it’s on paper, it will be on paper. I can leave it to my son. He can throw it in the backyard firepit if he so pleases. But at least he’ll have the option to do so, which he will not have if all this content resides on the Web and only on the Web or inside a computer when I croak over.

This all sounds rather silly, not to say hubristic. But y’know… I wish I had kept my mother’s letters. In my freshman year at the University of Arizona, she sent me a series of handwritten letters, They were pretty Polonian, full of advice she had already delivered during the previous 16 years of my life and stuff I did not want to rehearse in my dorm room. Annoyed, I tossed them out.

Some lady found one that had blown out of the back of a garbage truck and landed in a street. She mailed it back to me (!) with a note saying she expected it was something I might want to keep.

Didn’t then. But do now.

So if he doesn’t throw all this junk out, maybe someday he’ll have something he’ll enjoy looking at. If nothing else, he can give it to a local museum as a record of what life was like in the dystopic 21st century here in lovely uptown Phoenix.

One never knows.


Finally figured out what went wrong with the scheme to upload a chapter at a time of The Complete Writer to the P&S Press blog and then consolidate them into a whole book in its own page at the P&S site: information overload.


Thanks to Grayson Bell, proprietor of iMark Interactive and behind-the-scenes wizard for the FaM digital empire, I learned that there’s a limit to how much data WordPress will tolerate in any given file. And a book-length work far exceeds that limit. Just now the Complete Writer‘s web page is maxing out WordPress with a mere 33,000 words. Total word count for TCW is 77,862…which actually is rather short for a book.

So the plan is to take down the WP content on that page and replace it with PDFs.

This book comprises several sections. So the idea would be to publish each chapter, as usual, in a Friday blog entry, and then when all the chapters in a given section have gone online in the blog, post a PDF holding those chapters. If all a person wanted to know about was writing nonfiction, then, they could simply download that section. But if you want the whole book, you can email me through the contact page and I’ll send you a PDF of the entire magnum opus. (Who would want to miss a single Golden Word?????)

So that will be this morning’s Project of the Day.

Presumably I’ll have to do the same with Ella’s Story and If You’d Asked…  But not today.


*FREE READS* Galore! How about some participatory reading?

Got another chapter of The Complete Writer online:Two Kinds of Revising.”

Decided that the book chapters should be posted under their chapter titles, rather than just “Chapter 1…Chapter 2…” and so on. Initially, it seemed to me that for SEO purposes, a shorter title is better. Didn’t take long, though, to see the speciousness of that theory: what does “Chapter 8” mean, anyway?

So I’ve revised the post titles for Complete and also for If You’d Asked Me…. This is a bit of a PITA, because you can’t just change the titles. For each post, you also have to go in and change the URL — WordPress won’t do that automatically. Not that it’s hard. Just more tedium.

For Ella’s Story, I remain undecided. For one thing, works of fiction often have untitled chapters. Here, for example, is a chapter title in Gore Vidal’s Lincoln:


Enticing, isn’t it?

For another: I have no idea what to call these things. Never have I been good at dreaming up titles. Believe it or not, one of the first tasks assigned to me when I went to work at Arizona Highways was to write titles for various department squibs. Didn’t take long for the boss to figure out that my real talent was in writing cutlines. 😀

Or maybe carrying out the trash?

Still…it seems to me that a work of fiction benefits from chapter titles that say something. Especially if you’re going to publish chapters serially, as quasi-freestanding entities.

We have eight chapters online right now. And…well…the eight proposed titles scribbled on a yellow pad here don’t exactly leap off the page and sparkle in the atmosphere.

But…y’know…we do have some people who are following Ella’s Story. You’ve heard of participatory journalism? How would you like to join in a bit of participatory chapter title writing?

At Plain & Simple Press, the individual chapters are posted as entries in the site’s blog. All you have to do is scroll down: about every third post is a piece of Ella’s Story. If a good title comes to mind, either post it as a “comment” to that chapter, or, if you prefer, come here and post a list of as many titles as you cook up.

If you prefer not to sift through chapters from two other books to find Ella, all of her chapters are gathered in one place, at the Ella’s Story page. That being a static web page rather than a blog entry, it may be easier to post a set of proposed titles right here.

Hey! It’s better than workin’!

Speaking of working, it’s time to get down to that… Let me know if you have ideas for Ella’s chapters.


Blasts from the Past

HeeHEEEE! Earlier this morning I took it upon myself to look up an antique post here at Funny, by way of suggesting to Revanche at A Gai Shan Life that staying the course might yet be an option. Then I got mildly curious about other posts I’d published Back in the Day.

Most of the time I did write, boringly enough, about personal finance topics — the usual business about building frugal habits, staying out of Costco (r-i-i-i-g-h-t!), paying down debt, and Bag Lady Syndrome.

But every now and again… Heh heh heh. God, when I was a kid, I could really write. An anecdote, under my flying fingers, became a fantastic soap opera. Check out this one: The Great De-Wallpapering Adventure.

This little reminiscence wasn’t too bad, either: Are We Better Off Than Our Parents Were?

{chortle!} I can’t believe I used to write like that! 😀