New comment system = No more lost comments (+Tuesday brain drain)

After discovering that a number of comments were being incorrectly marked as “spam” and getting your feedback, I’ve installed a new system which should eliminate lost comments (at least, that’s the plan!).

This new system simply requires you to check a small box, located right below the “Submit Comment” button. We have been testing it over the past week and it seems to work pretty well.

That said, I have noticed an occasional legitimate comment still ending up in spam.  I’ll keep trying to eliminate this.  Even if I don’t, I’ll continue to regularly check the spam box.

So in the rare instance a comment does end up there, I’ll be able to retrieve and post it promptly.  The good thing is, the new system makes those comments much easier to find.

Again, my apologies if you have previously tried to leave a comment, only to see it disappear. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time and energy. If that ever happened to you, I hope you’ll give commenting another try the next time the spirit moves you.

If you find there is still a problem, please do not hesitate to email me at  Thanks!

Turkey Tuesday brain drain

Someone asked me if I still did the “brain drain” posts, which was a semi-regular feature a couple of years back, basically a spattering of photos, links, and thoughts.  I hadn’t been planning one, but come to think of it, perhaps my brain does need a little draining.  So here we go:

  • Breaking Amish  I’m not really sure what to say about Breaking Amish.  Based on the clips I saw and the bits of news that filtered through, it felt like a train wreck in slow motion.  The thing is, a good and growing chunk of the public likes watching train wrecks in slow motion.  This was apparently TLC’s highest ranking “freshman series”.  Perhaps that means there’ll be a “sophomore” season.
  • Road safety by Viola  Amish Workshops has a nice road safety rules article.  In it, Amish contributor Viola explains how to drive safely in Amish areas.  Besides the well-known points such as not passing too close to buggies, there are less-obvious cautions such as “When approaching a buggy that is stopped at an intersection, be sure to leave plenty of room between your car and the buggy. Horses can get nervous at intersections and sometimes back up, which could result in damage to the front end of your car.”
  • Amish hair care  In a recent comment, formerly Amish Lydia Beechy discusses Amish hair issues, including how to handle thick hair, and Amish women braiding hair before bedtime.
  • Sweet tooth  The Amish dessert I most crave right now?  Doughnuts.  Wait, that’s not a dessert, you say?  Well, the last Amish-made creme-stuffed, chocolate-drenched bunch I ate sure tasted like dessert 🙂
  • Clinic for Special Children  We watched the Holmes Morton video a few weeks ago.  Reader Linda has sent along a link to a blog post by Dr. Morton’s daughter Mary, including photos of the auction.  Mary came of age around the clinic: “Most of my childhood was spent at the Clinic, playing in the lab, in the halls, in the surrounding fields and woods. Throughout college, I worked in the Clinic’s busy lab, running a gene sequencer, searching for the elusive single point gene mutations underlying the rare genetic diseases that affect the Plain people.”  Nice read about a beautiful endeavor.  Thanks Linda for finding that.
  • Where’s the juice?  Mike of Primitive Christianity took the following photo while in southern Lancaster County doing Anabaptist-related research.  What is going on here?  I guess it helps if you know that this is now an Amish home, but wasn’t always.
Amish Electric Meter
  • Giveaway contest  We have a neat giveaway scheduled for tomorrow.  The only clue I’ll give now is that it’s not a book.  Check back tomorrow for more.
  • If you’d like to submit items for consideration for future posts, they are always welcome.  Just send them to my email (see above).

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    1. New York State of Mind

      I really like your brain drain. You get a lot of short items all in one time.

    2. Carolyn B

      I’m glad a long time commenter asked for the brain drain. This is my first time to see one as I’ve only been with this community for a year. Well done, Erik.

      1. Marilyn, Carolyn, glad to hear it, will try to do these a little more often now that I’ve remembered what they are 🙂

    3. Naomi Wilson

      Horse and buggy safety

      I think it can be difficult for us car drivers to remember how unpredictable horses can be. When hitched to a buggy, they are not just slow moving vehicles. I was moving our minivan from point A to point B in our feed store parking lot (a gravel drive) when a horse that had gotten restless at the hitching post made a more sudden than expected start, and darted in front of my van. I had to slam on my brakes, and my four year old, who wasn’t wearing his seat belt (because we were sharing the area only with a buggy : ) was pitched headlong under the dashboard. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt, and we all laughed about it, but it was a good reminder to always be careful and expect the unexpected.

    4. “How to handle thick hair:” I wish I had that problem! I need some Amish tips on dealing with my baby-fine, ten years uncut Plain hair.

    5. Kim in NY

      Comment on New comment system=No more lost comments

      I really appreciate the link to the article on traffic safety.
      As I was driving to work a the other day a truck was coming down the hill AROUND A BLIND CURVE in my lane while he tried to pass a buggy. I had no shoulder as a van was parked (illegally) in on the side of the road on my right. Good thing my brakes worked well.
      This is why I pray for Amish on the road whenever I see them, and I pray for my safety everyday as well. Thank you God for keeping us in your care one more day!!!

    6. Buggy Safety - Spooks!

      Thanks for posting the link to the Buggy Safety article. When we were putting the article together Viola discussed a variety of things that might spook a horse from the shoulder of the road: critters, blowing leaves, noises, etc. One thing she mentioned was white pieces of paper. I thought this was odd and asked several of our Amish suppliers, and all of them confirmed this. We try always to get them ample room, just in case!

      1. Kim in NY

        Good to know, Keith, I will add that to my cautionary list!

      2. Center-line rumble strips and buggy safety?

        There were at least one or two things I hadn’t thought of on the list Keith, plus what you mention here. The one thing I wasn’t sure about was the suggestion to not run over the center line rumble strips or orange reflectors, which Viola said can spook the horse by the noise, and to avoid running over them if possible.

        We should be extra-vigilant when driving in Amish areas but I also would fear someone trying to do too much, ie trying to avoid the rumble strips as well, possibly pinning themselves in too close and not giving the buggy enough clearance as a result. It seems like giving the (reasonably) widest distance possible between buggy and car would be the lesser of two evils, even if it meant hitting the rumble strips or orange reflectors and making some noise that might spook the animal.

        Just a thought and I wonder what Viola or anyone else who drives a buggy would say to that.

    7. Kyle

      APA Citation


      I am a graduate student in the process of forming a paper on the Amish for the sociology class I am taking this semester. My question is rather involved and lengthy to post in a comment section; however maybe this comment will be seen (I read that comments tend to take preference over individual emails).

      Perhaps you could email back and I could pose my questions in that format.


      1. Kyle I sent you an email, you can fire away and I’ll do my best.

    8. Alice Mary


      What could it be? A “giveaway” other than a book? (I’m hoping it’s a fully cooked & delivered turkey dinner!) 😉 I’m looking forward to it!

      I hope you’ll keep up with this “brain drain” feature (first I’ve seen of it). It’s good to “drain” one’s brain on occasion–it makes more room for the ever-increasing “information” we keep stuffing it with (like it or not). 🙂

      I’m always heartened to hear of Dr. Holmes’ work with the Amish. At this time of Thanksgiving, I think I can speak for many when saying I “thank God” for people like him.

      On that note, I’m truly thankful I’ve found this blog. I thoroughly enjoy it. It’s opened doors for me, and has broadened my horizons, what with all of the folks who comment here. I hope you all have a peaceful & meaningful Thanksgiving Day.

      Keep up the good work, Erik! (It’s appreciated!)

      Alice Mary

      1. Alice Mary glad to see the teaser got someone’s attention! Actually not a turkey but something that will last a lot longer…that’s about all the clues I can give for now…well that and there has been a hint in one of the posts of the last couple weeks 🙂 I’m happy you are here too Alice Mary, I get a lot out of it too.

    9. Maggie Austen

      Horse and Buggy safety

      Eric great job on the SPAM notification hopefully this helps you to sort through, I am sure, hundreds of emails. Just a thought, can you move the boxes and choices above the submit comment. I have been too quick to finish and click that submit button as it is the next thing to go, and have not read further instructions until reminded to do so.

      One more additional buggy safety point is – if you are traveling and see a lane, driveway or road coming up on the left, don’t pass the buggy until the horse has passed the entrance. Seems so simple, but horses who are going home after an outing are anxious to get home and “out of their work clothes” and will turn quickly into their (or someone else’s) driveway with little notice, even to the buggy driver.

    10. Thanks Maggie, I appreciate it. Unfortunately I can’t move that box b/c it is automatically generated by the program I’m using. However since it always gives the reminder before posting you will at least have that until getting used to it.

      You are right, this new system has been good in eliminating many many spam emails by completely blocking them even from going in the spam box 🙂 That’s why it’s easy to quickly find any real comments that are still going in spam by mistake.

      Good buggy point by the way.

    11. Michelle V

      Brain Drain

      Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse than Breaking Amish… Discovery Ch. has created a show titled AMISH MAFIA ! It starts early Dec. UGH ! How much more can we and the Amish Take ? And being that I am an Italian American this is offensive. But,as my papa say “there’s is no such thing as …the Mafia”

      1. Ed

        I agree, this is nuts! An Amish vigilante group? “Enforcing” the law in Amish country? I think they’re making this up, kind of like saying Santa Claus is evil, just to get attention.

        I found a good article about this series in an Lancaster newspaper here:—Amish-Mafia-.html

        Sounds like if you take a few incidents involving ex-Amish and non-Amish over the past 20 years, combine with visuals of guys wielding baseball bats and shotguns, and put them together with solemn-sounding , yet ridiculous statements like “the Amish Church denies this group’s existence,” then you have the makings of this show.

        Hey, if there really is an “Amish Mafia,” perhaps they should mete out punishment to the Discovery Channel? Just kidding…

    12. Linda

      Sometimes I wonder if that was the whole plan of TLC to create a stir (and interest) by telling half-truths. What would have happened if everyone would have ignored Breaking Amish?

      And where would they get the idea of Amish Mafia? From Sam Mullet? Just because there are Amish gangs or buddy groups in PA, they are not like gangs that steal and kill.

    13. Ed

      If you read the Discover Channel’s write up of the program carefully, you can see it is barely Amish at all. Several men are described in this “mafia.” One is described as Mennonite (not Amish, and likely inactive in the Mennonite church). Another is described as non-Amish. A third is EX-Amish. Why even call this show “Amish Mafia?” A more accurate title might be “Small Town Losers” or “Country good-for-nothings” but I suppose those titles, while accurate, wouldn’t get the rating that an “Amish” title might.

      Then there is the ridiculous statement, “The Amish church denies the group’s existence.” Well, there is no monolithic “Amish Church”. There are congregations in fellowship with each other, but no pope, no leader, no organizational structure to issue denials or other proclaimations. Indeed, no members that watch TV!

      Sometimes all you can do is laugh at the ridiculousness of this.

    14. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      The “Three Quilts” caveat

      From Bill Coleman “Three Quilts” Print Contest post:

      “Just a note that this and further contests will be limited to U.S. entrants only. I’ve also closed comments on this post to re-emphasize that entries need to be made at and not here in the comments (unlike most of our previous giveaways)”

      May I ask why, Erik? Why was this decision made? I am just curious.

      1. Slightly-handled-Order-man


        Sorry, particularly the “residents of the USA” part. Should have been clearer.

      2. I think whenever you see that it has to do with shipping costs internationally. Out of curiosity I checked this blog’s stats, and in the past month, for example, we’ve had 132 visits from the Phillipines, 7 from Afghanistan, 4 from Ethiopia, and 1 from Papua New Guinea…I can’t imagine what shipping to those places must be like 🙂