Subscription Bomb


On Thursday I got an email from Venmo that someone had changed the primary email associated with my account. Before I could focus on what I had to do, my Gmail inbox was suddenly populated with almost four hundred emails. They were mostly emails confirming I had joined or subscribed to something. Of course, I hadn’t.

This was very overwhelming, and I didn’t know what to do first. Venmo wanted me to change my password so I tried that. It didn’t work; I think because it no longer recognized my email address. I sent emails to Venmo support, receiving a response that they would get back to me in twenty-four hours.

I tried to call Venmo, but you can’t reach customer support by phone. I also found out that Venmo will not cancel any payment. You must deal with your financial institution. On Thursday I called my bank to make sure that no payment had gone out to Venmo. On Friday, because I couldn’t reset my password, I went to my bank and put a stop on Venmo.

On Saturday I was finally able to access my Venmo account and I saw that on Thursday there was an unauthorized payment to for over one thousand dollars. I rechecked that the payment hadn’t gone through and then I cancelled my Venmo account. I emailed Venmo informing them of this and asked them to remove the payment. I got no response.

On Monday, the bank called and said that Venmo had tried to put the payment through, but it was blocked. I will never use Venmo again. They were completely useless and have terrible security.

While I was dealing with Venmo, I deleted the four hundred emails. I then found out from a friend that what had happened is called a subscription bombing. The point is to distract you while they try to access your financial information and sites. The article I read said that you could keep getting emails for months or years.

I am still getting about 6-8 emails a day from the subscription bomb. I first tried to put a filter on everything that was in my spam folder. That did nothing. Now for each email, if I can unsubscribe, I do. Then I make an individual filter, directly deleting it. Then I mark it as spam. It is very tedious. If any of you know of any other way for me to deal with this, please let me know.  Happy Thanksgiving.


New Host – SiteGround

I did it. I switched my hosting company from BlueHost to SiteGround. It took a few days for everything to get into place but now it is done. SiteGround was helpful during the process; BlueHost was less so. As in past experiences, the best way to contact BlueHost and get results was via chat.

My goal in making the switch was for it to be seamless and invisible so no one would even know I had changed hosts.  That worked so I was very happy. As far as logging in to work on posts, I do that through WordPress. The login is the same.

For the first year, I got a special Black Friday rate so it is cheaper than BlueHost would have been. If I stay with SiteGround, next year it will be more expensive. However, I am stopping SiteLock because SiteGround persuaded me that  my site would be secure without it. Because SiteLock  was so expensive, I will be saving a lot by discontinuing it.

My main concern in choosing a new host was security. BlueHost was useless when my website got hacked. Hopefully I won’t get hacked again. If I do, I am hoping SiteGround will be helpful in fixing whatever problems occur.


This week I was going to write about beer, for a change, but, I had another BlueHost issue. I got an email that said the server for my BlueHost email  was being “decommissioned in the next week. In order to ensure full email functionality after this server’s shut-off date, you will need to update the server name in your email client settings.”(their bold). This was pretty anxiety provoking and reading the rest of the email didn’t alleviate my panic.

I looked at my current email settings and I couldn’t really understand what they were talking about so I decided to contact BlueHost for help. When I went to their website, the most immediate form of help was a live chat so I did that. Twenty-nine minutes later, I was still completely perplexed about what I was supposed to do.

I did tried changing the settings to  what the emails suggested but then my email didn’t work so I changed them back. The person chatting with me was no help so I decided to call.  Ray, the tech support person I reached, was helpful. After ascertaining that the email was legitimate, he concluded that I didn’t have to change anything since my email was working.

This is the  fourth time since my website was hacked in February 2018 that I have had a problem with my website and BlueHost.  In October, my website was offline for two days or so because BlueHost had changed servers and SiteLock, my security provider, couldn’t access my site and therefore shut it down. Again chatting was useless but a real person did help me by contacting SiteLock and getting my website restored.

In looking over the various posts I have written about website problems, a common theme is that I would like to make a change but I still have not managed to do that. In June I renewed for six months. The six months have come and gone and I am still with BlueHost.

Since I was hacked, the main issue has been security. I pay SiteLock $70 a month to prevent my site being hacked again. If I switched to, I supposedly wouldn’t need SiteLock anymore which would save a lot of money. The problem is I don’t believe that. Not being sure about the advantages of WordPress has kept me with BlueHost.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Website Troubles, Again

Earlier today, I sat down to write a blog post. As I tried to access  my website, I got an account suspended error message. I was puzzled since I knew that I was all paid up. I got worried that  I had been hacked again.

I called BlueHost and also tried to chat with them. I eventually got through and a nice tech support person named Casey told me Blue Host had changed the server ip address. I don’t completely understand it but the upgrade or change meant that Sitelock couldn’t search or contact my website anymore. This led to my website being suspended.

Casey contacted SiteLock, which provides security for my website, and the problem got fixed.  It appears, from my Jetpack Statistics, that the website was probably down since Friday. I asked Casey why I wasn’t notified of this change. He said they has wanted to send out an email to all the customers who were affected but somehow it never got sent.

That was very disappointing and had made me think once again about changing my hosting situation. If any of you have any advice, I would love to hear it.

I am posting this today because tomorrow night is Kol Nidre and then Wednesday is Yom Kippor. L’Shanah Tovah.


2/3 of the Year Gone

I wrote the following last week but then I completely forgot to actually publish. This debacle accurately proves that it has become very hard for me to maintain a once a week schedule for posting. The result is that you get two posts this week. Here is this one today and there will be another one tomorrow, as scheduled.

It is September so I thought this would be a good time to look back and see, if, so far, I have been meeting my goals for the year. As I have said many times, this year it has been hard for me to post every day. When I came back from my twenty-three day break, (I know you all missed me) I came up with ideas for the first six weeks back. That has been a big help. The strategy of pre-planning so you don’t have to spend time thinking of what topic to write about, is a good one that I will try to use more in the future.

Tweeting, as always, has been easier. Politics gives me most of my material as well as tweeting picture of my travels. Of course, I still can’t tweet my URL. I have given up trying to get it fixed. Recently Jack Dorsey’s Twitter account was hacked. At least he felt some pain also.

My actual writing is going the least well. I haven’t really worked on my book since June. I got stuck in what is probably a diversion from the main project and then life intervened. I am hoping that I will get back to my writing next week. I will keep you up-to-date on my progress.

Off Schedule

As you may have noticed, I did not have a post last week. I have had a lot of stuff going on in my personal life and I was away from home visiting a sick relative from Monday to Wednesday.

On Sunday June 9 my website was suspended because the renewal date for Bluehost came and went without my realizing it. I have been planning to change my hosting situation, but I never got around to actualizing those plans.

My idea was to switch to a paid WordPress site where I supposedly wouldn’t have to worry about paying separately for security. I currently pay Site Lock $70 a month for that service. I think I have been reluctant to make the move because I don’t believe that WordPress will be user friendly and free from security issues.

My ambivalence led me to procrastinate; when the site was temporarily suspended, I just renewed for six months. Now I can spend that time reevaluating what I want to do.



Women and Computing

In early December the New York Times had an obituary of Evelyn Berezin who apparently “built the first true word processor. The Times has been trying to include more diversity in its obituaries; this one is probably part of that process.

It interests me because both my mother and my aunt were involved with the computing industry from its earliest stages. Coding and computer science are still overwhelmingly male so it was nice to hear about a woman pioneer.

An untended consequence of Berezin’s work was the elimination of most secretarial tasks since ultimately everyone could be their own secretary  with their own computer. I became a feminist at an early age and I vowed not to learn typing because I was not going to be a secretary. To this day, I rue that decision since the inventions of Berezin and others has meant that I have to type to do this blog, write my book and complete a myriad of other modern tasks.

Unforeseen Circumstances

I had every intention of writing a blog post this week. Yesterday around 11:30 a.m., I realized the power cord to my laptop was broken and I only had about 25 percent of the battery left.

The tip had broken and part of it was still in the port. It took a while to get it out. I googled replacement cords and found one on Amazon.  Amazon promised next day delivery so I bought it.

I then tried to see if  Asus would send me a new cord since the computer was under warranty. No luck. Cords are not covered under the warranty.

I feel that is a new thing because in the past I have gotten new cords. It is bad that they aren’t part of the warranty because power cords are always the first thing to break on a laptop. The tips are so flimsy and so is the port.

All of this drama with the cord prevented me from writing something. I didn’t get the new cord until around 2 today and I had an appointment for 2:30 . I didn’t get home until about 5:30.

There also won’t be a  post next week  since I will be away. I promise I will have a new post November 23. Happy Thanksgiving!



As many of you know, a few months ago this website was hacked. Since then I have been paying Sitelock $70 a month to keep the blog and website secure. On June 9 my contract with Bluehost for hosting the website will be up. I have to decide what I want to do.

A few  weeks ago, with the help of a friend, Sarah, I upgraded my theme and deleted a bunch of plug-ins. That will make the blog safer. I am not totally in love with the updated theme but it is another thing I want to think about. One option would be to stop using Bluehost and start with or squarespace. I also found another hosting site, with themes that I liked, StudioPress Sites.

If I picked any of these choices, I would have to start over with new themes and with some of the companies,I would still have to  do something about security. I did find a security  concern that would be cheaper than Sitelock, Sucuri, and I am thinking about switching to them no matter what I do about hosting.

Network Solutions, the company that used to host my website is another option. They seem to be offering Sitelock free for a year or at a significantly reduced price. I wasn’t crazy about them when they were my host.  At first, with them, I couldn’t even have an actual wordpress blog and then they got really expensive.  I also wanted to make the blog  dynamic and the focus of the website and wordpress was better for that.

I haven’t always liked wordpress either. It is not user friendly and I am not sure paying them would make it easier to use. I also am not sure how secure a site would be.

I could also stay with Bluehost and either continue to use Sitelock or switch to Sucuri. I am disappointed in Bluehost because they were no help when I was hacked and have done nothing about my Twitter problem. Of course, Sitelock hasn’t helped either.

I might renew Bluehost for another six months so I have a little more time to  figure out what I want to do. If I switch themes and create a new site that would take time that I don’t have right now.

If any of you have suggestions or have had experiences with any of these companies or any other, please let me know.

President’s Council On Fitness

In 2011 I earned a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA). I had to do thirty minutes of physical activity at least five days a week for a month. I did this challenge through IVillage, which no longer exists and the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.

After I earned this award, I started tracking my activities on the website of the President’s Challenge Physical Activity and Fitness Awards Program. I received points for whatever activity I did in a day, based on both the strenuousness and duration. In December 2012 I earned a Bronze Presidential Champions medal which was equal to 40,000 points. My points from the PALA which I earned in August 2011 were added to my subsequent points.

In 2014 I reached 90,000 points and got silver. A little over a year later I earned gold and had 160,000 points. The next goal was platinum which required amassing 1 million points. I was planning on taking seven or eight years to reach that milestone.

Since the program was part of the President’s Council on Fitness which has existed since 1956, I figured the site would exist indefinitely. I figured wrong. In the spring of 2016 the Council announced that it was merging their tracking system with one the Department of Agriculture had. As part of the transition I was able to download an Excel spread sheet with all of my activity and points dating back to 2011. On August 31, 2016 the President’s Challenge tracker ceased existing.

The new site, Super Tracker, was not user-friendly and it was six months before I was able to import my data. I had been writing down my activity so I then had to manually enter six months of information. Once it was finally up and running it was okay and I went back to accumulating points for my platinum medal.

A few months ago I received notice that Super Tracker will be discontinued on June 30 2018. The site says you can export your data but I can’t figure out how to get more than one week at a time, As  of June 30th PALA as an online activity will cease to exist and the President’s Challenge  will be gone forever. This news has been very demoralizing to me as the point system served as motivation. I also wonder about the level of commitment to encouraging physical fitness for children and adult the dismantling of these programs shows.

It turns out that there are currently no members in the President’s Council on Fitness and the President’s Challenge office in Bloomington, Indiana is closed. On April 10th 250 retired admirals and generals wrote to President Trump urging him to appoint people to the council. I guess that is what happens when you have a President who eats cheeseburgers, steak and milk shakes regularly and never exercises.