CDC eviction moratorium extension vacated by US Supreme Court!

No more eviction moratorium

I’m going to start this write-up by saying, I have sympathy for those who have fallen on hard times due to COVID-19, it’s a crappy situation for tenants and landlords alike in these unprecedented COVID times.

As someone who works in property management, I have seen firsthand the hardship that landlords have experienced due to the eviction moratorium, some not receiving any rent for 16 months, while still having to pay for the upkeep of their properties, mortgages (please note, that the moratorium, only applies to federally backed mortgages), property taxes, utilities, etc, from their savings, or by acquiring debt. We have seen long-held rental properties being sold, instead of continuing to hemorrhage money.

I hear lots of anger towards landlords and management companies, with such phrases as “they make lots of money”, and “they can afford it”. But, the reality is, especially in the midwest, the vast majority of landlords have a handful of single-family home rentals or a single property with 100 units, NOT making a lot of profit. Yes, there are some massively profitable national corporations who own tens of thousands of units across the nation, but most are small landlords trying to make a living from renting homes.

There are a lot of people who genuinely are unable to pay, or are not able to pay the full rental rate amount, but there are also others taking advantage, based upon comments from some on social media. For example, tenants have received thousands of dollars in stimulus checks from the Trump and Biden administrations, which was spent on technology, or a new (to them) car, but nothing for their landlord. The issue is that many seem to think that it’s free rent, eventually getting evicted, and just moving on. The reality is very different, as soon as they apply for a new rental home, they’ll find that the prospective landlord will deny their application because of the eviction and a delinquent balance elsewhere.

I don’t often agree with the conservatives on the Supreme Court, but in this case, I do agree with them in regard to the vacating of the CDC eviction moratorium. Clearly, Congress is not interested in passing legislation to create a new eviction moratorium, and/or further assistance for renters, they’ve had plenty of time to write and enact a new law, but instead have sat with their thumbs up their collective asses.

It’s an untenable situation, extending the moratorium, just kicks the can down the road, it does not fix the issue, if anything, it makes it worse, their balance increases, making paying off that rent balance near impossible. Clearly, the government and CDC have no plan for the future. In many states, much of the $50 billion in rental assistance from the federal government still has not been disbursed five months later.

Given that the COVID-19 pandemic is now entering its third wave, with infection rates back to winter 2020/21 numbers, and some states, particularly Texas and Florida are experiencing their highest number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations since this pandemic started a year and a half ago. Dr. Anthony Fauci is now saying if people wear masks and get vaccinated, we could have Coronavirus under control by Spring 2022, but with a third of the US being anti-mask, anti-vax, or both, that is being optimistic.

Circling back to the CDC eviction moratorium, if it is to be extended consistently due to COVID-19 infections still rising across the United States, no landlord would get another cent, until people’s attitude to COVID-19, masks, and vaccinations change, COVID-19 is going to be with us for the foreseeable future.

I see plenty of tweets from US Congresspeople calling out the SCOTUS decision, saying they are on the wrong side of history, while Congress, as a whole, consistently passed the buck, watching the Moratorium expire at the end of July, before the CDC’s unconstitutional extension of the moratorium.

So, Congress, are you going to act to help renters and landlords? the ball is in your court, stop passing the buck, looking around for someone else to act! The Supreme Court has acknowledged that Congress has the power to create legislation to extend the eviction moratorium and force states to immediately distribute rental assistance,  rental assistance is useless sitting in states coffers, collecting interest.

Wichita BOE reverse course, mandate masks after 8 school days!

Wichita schools mandate masks indoors after just 8 days of school

13 days ago, I wrote an irritated blog explaining our reason for not sending our 11-year-old daughter back to in-person school, after the Wichita Board of Education, shortsightedly, in my opinion, chose to just “strongly encourage”, not mandate wearing a mask. A recommendation, which, from what I can see, the majority of students are ignoring, my high school senior son told me that maybe 1/4 of students wear a mask, and you have to wonder, how many of those maskless students have been vaccinated?

At last Monday night’s USD 259 BOE meeting, the board unanimously voted for a mask mandate starting next Monday, August 30, 2021. Earlier in the day, Gov. Laura Kelly urged Kansas school districts to mandate wearing masks, driven by new figures which show Kansas COVID-19 hospitalizations higher than we have seen since the start of this pandemic, putting a massive strain on the state’s hospitals.

The board listened to advice from Gov. Kelly, state and local public health experts, and opinions from parents, before voting 6 — 0 in favor of a mask mandate. Which, in my opinion, should have been the decision 13 days ago, given the stupidity of many in our community, who are anti-mask, and anti-vax, we cannot trust these people to do the right thing and get vaccinated and wear a mask around others.

The inevitable backlash has started on social media, with the anti-maskers vowing that they’ll unenroll their children if they are forced to wear a mask, claiming wearing a mask is child abuse. I say, “don’t let the door hit you on the way out”, We pulled our daughter out when we realized that masks were not to be mandated, our daughter is 11 and unable to be vaccinated, and my wife is immunocompromised, that’s an unacceptable risk for us. in Wichita alone, 194 students and 51 teachers have tested positive for COVID-19, and 1,600 students are in quarantine, and that’s after just eight days of school.

If you, as a parent, risk your child’s life because you feel your freedom is being infringed, that is child abuse! In my opinion, wearing a mask is better than wearing a ventilator or laying in a casket. I’ve heard people claim that wearing a mask is an infringement of their constitutional rights! Is wearing a seatbelt also an infringement of your constitutional rights? Is being forced to have your children vaccinated for regular childhood viruses, to attend school, a constitutional infringement? If you, the parent want to die on that hill, go ahead, but don’t force your children, and other’s children, to die on the hill with you!

The bottom line, we are still in this pandemic because of anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, which is ironic, as if they wore a mask, got vaccinated, maybe we would not have needed this mask mandate? But, instead, right-wing media have publicized dubious “scientific studies”, including the likes of Fox News, indoctrinating millions of people, who then parrot those fake talking points, radicalizing more people.

So, I now need to talk with my wife about possibly returning our daughter back to school next Monday. A mask mandate may be in place, but how effective will it be? if the child holds the same beliefs as their parents, I have no reason to believe they will keep their mask on, or even rip my daughter’s mask off. During this pandemic, this sort of behavior has been rare but has happened, it’s been caught on camera. Literally, people have been abused for wearing a mask, by Karen’s and Ken’s, so much for freedom, eh?

Addendum (Aug, 25 2021, 14:25)

Our friends, who have their children in the neighboring Derby school district, found out last night that their eldest daughter had potentially been exposed to COVID-19 after one of her classmates tested positive. The exposure date was last week, and the school district only notified them yesterday, five days after the potential exposure. Clearly, school districts are not equipped to handle in-person school during these COVID times, how many other children were indirectly exposed while their daughter was still attending school? It’s affected our household too, as my wife and daughter were at their house over the weekend, now my wife has to take time off work, while she waits for her COVID-19 test results.

Mass shooting in my hometown of Plymouth, UK!

Mass shooting in my hometown of Plymouth, UK

In the US, where I have lived for 13 years, mass shootings are commonplace, in the neighborhood where I currently live in Wichita, Kansas, I hear gunshots ring out 2 to 3 times each week. But to hear the breaking news on Thursday, that there had been a mass shooting in my hometown of Plymouth, in the southwest of the UK was shocking to me, because the UK does not have a gun culture like the US.

Thankfully, none of my Plymouth-based friends have been harmed in the incident where five people have died as a result of the shooter, whose motive seems to be because he was an incel, i.e. involuntarily celibate. An idealogy that women are to blame for their inability to form relations and have a sex life.

The five victims were, first, the shooter’s mother, Maxine Davison, age 51, who on social media he had labeled “vile, dysfunctional and chaotic”, followed by father and daughter, Lee Martyn, age 43, and Sophie Martyn, age 3. The final two victims were Stephen Washington, age 59, and Kate Shepherd, age 66. The sad thing is that the final four victims were in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a parent myself, the murder of a 3-year-old is heartbreaking, even more so, when the shooters’ actions were due to not being able to get someone to have sex with him, a senseless reason for the death of five people.

Clearly, there were mental health issues, most people who are 22-year-old virgins don’t go on a murderous rampage. A Daily Beast article, reports the shooter was denied help, with the NHS using their lack of staff as a reason to not treat the shooter, and local Devon & Cornwall Police failed to do a welfare check, at the family’s request. Clearly, there were failures, we cannot use mental health as a scapegoat, it was a failure of the system, a failure that could have saved six lives, including the shooters.

Compared to the US, the UK has tight gun laws, where handguns are outright banned, and shotguns and rifles are strictly regulated, where a person needs to have a specific reason for owning a firearm, such as for sports or work-related reasons, followed by many other background checks including talking to the applicants’ doctors, family and friends, looking for red flags, clearly this failed on this occasion.

In the days after the shooting, it has been revealed that the shooter had his gun license revoked in December 2020, after he was accused of assaulting a 16-year-old boy at a local skate park, only to have his gun license reinstated in July 2021 by D&C Police. I hope a full investigation is forthcoming and changes made to the system to stop this from happening again in the future. Shootings are rare in the UK, but clearly, the system failed at some point, we need to identify and fix the procedure that failed.

Devon & Cornwall Police have said that it was not terror-related, but others have suggested that a reevaluation of what is considered terrorism is needed, due to the increasing number of violent attacks around the world by self-identified Incels, a group of people, whose politics often lean right, and are misogynists, believing that women owed them sex, a clear mental health disorder in my view.

As I eluded to in my opening paragraph, mass shootings in the US are so common that unless 10 or more people are killed, it doesn’t get reported by the national media. We are so desensitized to gun deaths that unless a dozen people are killed, it’s just part of life in the USA, and we accept it as an everyday occurrence. The shooting in Plymouth is so shocking as I don’t remember a single shooting in my 45 years in my hometown. My thoughts are with the friends and families of the victims of this senseless crime.

Wichita Schools will NOT mandate masks for staff and students!

Wichita Public Schools strongly encourages staff and students to wear masks, but visitors MUST wear masks, WTAF?

My wife Erin and I have decided to not send our daughter Alya back to in-person school for the remainder of 2021. We have taken this decision as the delta variant is more transmissible and affecting more young people, unlike the original Coronavirus strain, and Alya is only 11, with her 12th birthday not being until the end of November, therefore is not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine until that time.

Reading the Facebook comments on this Kake article regarding the USD259 BOE decision to ‘strongly encourage’ masks, just reinforces our decision to not send our daughter to a physical school. The fact that so many parents, assuming the people commenting are parents, are willing to send their kids to school not wearing a mask, because of freedom, is very disturbing. As parents, we are responsible for protecting our children to the best of our ability, and in my opinion, risking our children for our own beliefs, whatever those beliefs may be is irresponsible, all to not wear a piece of cloth on our faces.

We feel safer sending our son, Conner to school, he is starting his senior year of high school, has been fully vaccinated, and will wear a mask throughout the school day, by his own choice. He even wears a mask in the car with us, so I am confident that he will keep his mask on, he is a smart kid who realizes the dangers of COVID-19, and doesn’t listen to other’s propaganda about the efficacy of wearing a mask.

The Wichita board of education’s decision confuses me, they strongly encourage wearing a mask for staff and students, but require visitors to wear a mask in the building. There is zero logic in this decision, unless they plan to force all staff and students to remain, effectively quarantined, in the building for the whole of the school year, they can still bring COVID-19 into the building, just like a visitor could.

It seems to me that this Wichita BOE decision was driven by parents’ wishes, to have the choice of whether their child has to wear a mask or not in the school building, irrespective of what is actually best for the safety of the children. It’s even more stupid when the same children that are strongly encouraged to wear a mask in school, are required to wear a mask on the school bus, on their way to school.

I’m speculating, but I am betting that the parents that are anti-mask, are also anti-vax too, because freedom. Erin and I are expressing our freedom, by not potentially exposing our daughter to COVID-19.

You can think that I am anti-freedom, or a sheep, I don’t give a !@#$, in the state of Kansas, COVID-19 infections are back up to early February 2021 numbers, and rising. If that doesn’t give you pause to think that maybe we should be taking the same precautions of social distancing and wearing a mask, like we did six months ago, you value freedom over human life. I prioritize someone’s life over your freedom!

Kansas COVID-19 stats, August 9, 2021

As you can see from the chart above, numbers are rising rapidly, and the delta variant is more likely to affect children, so my question is how many children have to be infected before school goes virtual again? People complain about their freedoms being infringed upon, yet refuse to mask up, social distance, or get the vaccine, destroying any chance of returning to normal any time soon. I would love to be proven wrong, but every time that COVID-19 rules are relaxed, we see Coronavirus infection numbers rise.

I’m very disappointed in the USD259 board of education, that in all their correspondence, they never once mentioned that an online learning option was available for students. It is called Education Imagine Academy, which I only found out about due to it being written in the aforementioned Kake news article.

Shaun Heald Fake News

Shaun Heald, responded to my comment on the Kake News article posted to Facebook, with propaganda masquerading as scientific studies. I click on his profile and the top post on his feed is the same link he shared in his response to my comment, which has been previously debunked, even Facebook and their ‘independent’ fact-checkers have flagged it as false information, with a link to the fact check.

F1 Hungarian GP 2021: Mercedes Take Out Red Bull !!!AGAIN!!!

Did Bottas earn his one year contract extension in Hungary?

For the second race in a row, a Mercedes has taken out a Red Bull on lap 1! Lewis Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas made a terrible start from second on the grid alongside polesitter Hamilton, dropping to fifth place, in drying conditions on intermediate tires, misjudged his braking and locked up into turn 1, crashing into the back of Lando Norris’ McLaren, who in turn hit Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, before Bottas went onto also clatter into the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d say that Bottas had earned a new 1-year contract extension, but I am not a conspiracy theorist.

The net result, Norris, Perez, and Bottas are all out, then Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll had similar issues slowing down into turn 1, taking out himself and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to bring the number of drivers out of the race to five on lap 1. All this chaos initially brought out the safety car, then a red flag, which allowed all drivers to return to the pits, giving Red Bull a chance to assess the damage to Verstappen’s car, and fix it enough to get him back into the race, albeit with a severely aerodynamically compromised car.

It gets more bizarre, on the lap 4 restart, everyone but Hamilton dove into the pits for dry tires, leaving Hamilton all alone on the grid with the medical car. It seems incredible that Hamilton, a seven time world champion did not figure out that intermediates were not the right tire to be on and pitted for dry tires, even without being instructed by his pit wall, Lewis Hamilton, the GOAT indeed! *chuckling*

The net result is that by the start of lap 5, Hamilton had to pit for slick tires, dropping him from 1st to 14th and last place. What’s more incredible is that Alpine’s Esteban Ocon found himself leading the race, followed by Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin, where both drivers finished the race, the Frenchman taking his maiden Formula 1 win. Hamilton did manage to claim a podium, but not without a multi-lap battle for 4th place with former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso. I’d say that Esteban owes Fernando a beer or ten, without Alonso’s robust defense in the closing laps, Hamilton, driving a car 2—3 seconds a lap faster would have caught and almost certainly passed Vettel and Ocon for the Hungarian Grand Prix victory.

I think that 40-year-old Fernando has definitely silenced his critics, showing he still has the racecraft to mix it up with the best drivers. Alonso is the deserved winner of the driver of the race vote.

Max Verstappen could only manage 10th place on the road, gifting the World Drivers’ Title championship lead to Lewis Hamilton. But there was more drama to come, with Max being promoted to ninth, and Lewis second after Vettel was disqualified for not being able to supply 1 liter of fuel for scrutineering after stopping out on track after taking the chequered flag, with what Aston Martin thought was more than a liter of fuel in the car, but the FIA could only pump out 0.3 liters of fuel from Vettel’s car.

Back to conspiracy theories, it has been suggested that Vettel was disqualified for wearing a rainbow shirt with “Same Love” printed on it during the Hungarian national anthem. I don’t think that, and hope is not the reason for his disqualification, that would reflect extremely poorly on Formula 1, especially with their current “we race as one” slogan. Vettel said, “I’m happy if they disqualify me, they can do whatever they want to me, I don’t care, I’d do it again“. I know it was a political statement by Vettel, protesting Hungary’s anti-LGBTQ legislation, a policy I disagree wholeheartedly with. Vettel has never been someone I liked, but his support for LGBTQ rights has elevated the man in my view, standing up for what is right!

Formula 1 goes on a 3-week summer hiatus after Hungary, so we can all cool down, and start afresh in Spa Francorchamps. I was talking four weeks back that I hope that Max does not run away with it, as that will be just as boring as Hamilton winning every race. So I hope that Spa will be a firecracker with Lewis and Max battling it out on the track, hopefully without anyone ending up in the wall. Formula 1 has desperately needed this battle between two drivers from different teams, I hope it can continue.

– My previous F1 blog for Silverstone 2021, which I consider a racing incident –

Our home buying dreams are on hold!

Our home buying dreams are on hold

At the beginning of this month, I wrote about how we are ready to stop renting and buy a home, but after talking to two different mortgage lenders, first, our bank, Meritrust, and second, Sierra Pacific Mortgage, we are just not in the financial position to buy at this time, but we learned a lot about the process and what we need to do to put ourself in a position to buy a home without financially crippling ourselves.

Erin and I were not denied, we were conditionally approved for $180,000, based upon my income alone. Erin has been out of work since December 2020 and is trying to launch an online business, so her potential income is not calculated, and I didn’t have the $1,100 child support payment included as that will end in August 2022 when our son turns 18, and his biological father will stop paying child support.

Starting with Meritrust, we were given two options, a $130,000 20 year fixed with zero down, and a $155,000 30 year fixed with a 3% downpayment. The $130,000 option would require us to have 2 months of mortgage payment in our savings account, around the $2,600 mark, $500 of earnest money, and $3,950 in upfront costs. the $155,000 option would also require a 3% deposit of $4,650 in addition to the costs of the $130,000 option, monthly payment for each would be a little over $1,000, which is roughly what we pay in rent every month. But, as things stand, we are unable to save the required cash.

Moving onto Sierra Pacific, for the $180,000 we were approved for, the cash we would need is $11,400, this includes upfront fees, closing costs, and a 3.5% downpayment, and the monthly payment would come out at a little over $1,200 per month. I am not comfortable with a $1,200 payment, we are already struggling to make ends meet with a rent payment of $1,025 per month, and like the Meritrust option, we are unable to save the $11,400 needed. And the fact that I cannot roll in my personal loan, paying $557 on top of a $1,200 mortgage payment is a deal-breaker for me, I’m not interested in crippling ourselves.

I expressed that $1,200 per month is more than I’d like to pay and I would like to keep to around the $1,025 figure, which brings us to a $150,000 mortgage, which I am fine with. The downpayment, upfront fees, and closing costs would come down to around $10,000. This still does not roll in my personal loan, which brings us back to being a deal-breaker. The personal loan that I recently took out to consolidate all our debt is killing us in terms of obtaining a mortgage. That said, the individual credit card payments, plus another personal loan, to consolidate previous credit card balances amount to more money each month.

There have been some recent developments, Erin has recently gotten a full-time job pending a drug test, and background checks, which she should start in 2 weeks’ time. This will bring in roughly $29,000 per year after taxes, which, if we can be frugal could pay off the personal loan, and save $10,000 within the next 12 – 15 months. Erin’s income could not be included in future mortgage calculations as she would need 3 years of income history for it to be included, which is fine, I’m happy with a $150,000 home.

For now, I think we should wait 18 months and see where we are in January 2023 in terms of finances. This is assuming Erin can hold onto this job, as her health is not the best, and a full-time job might be too much for her. The second consideration is that I am no spring chicken, I turn 45 this October, and a 30-year commitment takes me to my mid-70s, and that’s assuming that I live to that ripe old age.

F1 British GP 2021: Memorable for the wrong reasons

F1 British GP 2021

I used to write race reports for all races, but stopped in 2020, as F1 was dull as dishwater with Hamilton and Mercedes dominating, but today is different, as there are some actual talking points other than Hamilton or Verstappen winning, but the Copse controversy is still regarding the same two protagonists.

I guess your opinion of what happened is based upon whether you fall into the Hamilton camp, or the Verstappen camp, personally, I don’t fall into either camp, I fall into the good, exciting racing camp.

After a punchy first half lap with Hamilton and Verstappen going wheel to wheel for the lead, the two drivers collided going into Copse corner at the end of the old start/finish straight at Silverstone, sending Verstappen spinning into the gravel and on into the tire barrier, ending the Dutchman’s race.

As a neutral, my take is it was a racing incident, both Hamilton and Verstappen could have done more to avoid a collision. Hamilton could have hugged the inside of the apex better, and Verstappen could have kept his foot in on the outside before cutting across the Mercedes, so I would say it was 50/50 blame.

The stewards, however, decided it was Hamilton’s fault and handed down a 10-second penalty, which he served during his pitstop. I have been very vocal about these penalties, for what I see as hard racing, even more so when it’s on the first lap where everyone is challenging for position up and down the field.

Of course, both respective team principles, Christian Horner and Toto Wolff were instantly on the radio to race director Michael Masi, Horner pushing for a penalty for Hamilton, Wolff defending his driver, which, we get to hear in 2021 after the radio messages between the race director and teams were opened up.

Max himself posted to his Facebook profile labeling Hamilton’s podium celebrations “disrespectful and unsportsmanlike” while he was in the hospital for precautionary reasons. It later turned out that Lewis did not know that Max was in the hospital, the Englishman showed concern for Verstappen after the incident, asking if Max was OK over team radio, this is pure sour grapes from Verstappen, and Red Bull.

Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko, being who he is, controversially stated that Hamilton should be given a race ban, which of course, is ridiculous, it should never have been a penalty, let alone severe enough for a race ban. If the argument is that Max could have gotten hurt, GTFO of the sport, F1 is inherently dangerous, even with all the safety measures, it’s time to put on their big boy pants and race.

In my opinion, there is too much (formerly) behind the scenes politicking going on, we, the fans want hard racing, deciding the result on the track, not in courtrooms and hearings. Since the FIA opened up team to FIA radio messages to the broadcasters, Masi said that the number of radio messages from teams has dropped significantly, now that the world can hear what whiny bitches team principles can be.

I’m happy that Hamilton won the race, I feel it would have been unfair if Hamilton had failed to win the race because of an unjust penalty. That said, I kinda wanted Leclerc to win the race, or at least put up a fight for the win, I guess that Leclerc thought better of defending into Copse, given what happened earlier, second place is better than a DNF, especially as Ferrari are rarely on the podium in recent years.

Euro 2020, so close, but it’s penalty heartbreak for England!

Euro 2020: Penalty Heartbreak For England

After reaching their first major tournament final in my lifetime, England’s hopes were dashed by another penalty shootout at Wembley, and the English will have to hark back to 1966 for the last major trophy.

Honestly, after England was embarrassed by part-timers Iceland at the Euro 2016 tournament, I have not followed the English national football team, so much so, that I didn’t even realize that England made it to the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup, and I’d probably had missed Euro 2020 if it was not for one of the administrators on an F1 forum I am a moderator on posting asking who was watching the tournament.

I’m not going to blame the three penalty takers who missed, the blame has to go to Gareth Southgate, who, in my opinion, is too negative, being all too willing to sit on a single goal lead. I have maintained this stance since game one against Croatia, where I stated that a better team would punish England for sitting back and allowing their opponents to pass the ball and get into attacking positions.

And my fear came to fruition today, Luke Shaw opened the scoring for the English just before the 2-minute mark, then promptly fell back, inviting the Italians forward, allowing them space to pass the ball, which is shown in the match stats, the Italians had 19 shots on goal, compared to England’s six, 66% of the possession went to Italy, the stats don’t lie. On balance, Italy deserved the win, and frankly, Jordan Pickford kept England in the game making some excellent saves during the 90 minutes of regular time.

In addition to England’s negative mentality, Southgate was tactically poor, why wait so long to bring Jack Grealish on? as soon as he was brought on, England were playing much more positively, and on the attack, limiting Italy’s time on the ball. The bottom line here is that teams like Italy will find the back of the net, given half a chance. Maybe because England had a relatively easy run to the final, with Denmark being the stiffest competition, and England just scraped through that match with a dubious penalty call.

Playing for a 1—0 win is never a good idea, England need to push for a second while on the ascendency, and not give their opponents time to regroup, and come back at them. England’s strength is when on the attack, they create chances and goals when pushing forward, especially on the break, but Southgate’s mentality is not to push for a second or third goal, hoping his team can keep a clean sheet.

That said, all credit to Italy, to go a goal down inside 2 minutes, keeping their heads up, to keep pushing, to equalize in the second half, WELL DONE ITALY, EURO 2020 CHAMPIONS!

Contact Form 7: block all URL’s in contact forms

Contact Form 7: block all URL's in contact forms

As someone who maintains multiple websites for my employer, which use Contact Form 7 for form functionality, I have been struggling with spam submissions, despite using Google Recaptcha, Akismet, and Honeypot for Contact Form 7, I was still getting a crap ton of link spam through our website forms.

The existing spam prevention measures outlined above blocked most of the bot spam, but unfortunately not all spam, either more sophisticated bots or real people filling out the forms were still getting past the trio of spam prevention systems. I had been searching for a while, when I came upon this WordPress functions.php snippet on Github, linked from a Stack Overflow thread, I found from a Google search!

However, it was not perfect out of the box, it stopped anything with ‘www’, https’ and ‘https’ in the URL, but if would allow yourdomain.tld (i.e. .com) through, so I added ‘.com’, ‘.net’, ‘.org’, ‘.xyz’, ‘.ga’, ‘.ly’ to the array, which are the most common URL extensions I receive spam from, see my altered code below;

add_filter( 'wpcf7_validate_text', 'no_urls_allowed', 10, 3 );
add_filter( 'wpcf7_validate_text*', 'no_urls_allowed', 10, 3 );
add_filter( 'wpcf7_validate_textarea', 'no_urls_allowed', 10, 3 );
add_filter( 'wpcf7_validate_textarea*', 'no_urls_allowed', 10, 3 );
function no_urls_allowed( $result, $tag ) {

	$tag = new WPCF7_Shortcode( $tag );

	$type = $tag->type;
	$name = $tag->name;

	$value = isset( $_POST[$name] )
		? trim( wp_unslash( strtr( (string) $_POST[$name], "\n", " " ) ) )
		: '';

	// If this is meant to be a URL field, do nothing
	if ( 'url' == $tag->basetype || stristr($name, 'url') ) {
		return $result;

	// Check for URLs
	$value = $_POST[$name];
	$not_allowed = array( 'http://', 'https://', 'www.', '[url', '<a ', ' seo ', '.com', '.net', '.org', '.xyz', '.ga', '.ly' );
	foreach ( $not_allowed as $na ) {
		if ( stristr( $value, $na ) ) {
			$result->invalidate( $tag, 'URLs are not allowed' );
			return $result;
	return $result;

With the exception of my additional code for expanded functionality, I claim no credit for the above code, but I am very thankful to Gal Baras, who put this code up on Github. The battle with form spam has gotten out of hand, with dozens of spam messages received daily through our contact forms.

Finally, I did a test to make sure partial word matches are not blocked, for example, ‘complete’ or ‘network’, so you can use this script safely without fear of legitimate messages being blocked.

I’m done with renting; it’s time to buy a home!

It's time to buy a home

Recent events have made us reconsider renting a home, we pay $1,025 per month for a 4 bedroom house, in which we have lived since 2013, and it’s showing its age, everything is builders grade from appliances to carpets and blinds. But the reason we’re ready to buy our own home is that we got a $226.53 bill from the landlord to repair a broken window, which was broken by an unknown third party.

We are on a holdover lease from the previous landlord, which makes no mention of the resident being responsible for window breakages, it does make reference to an addendum A, but, I have not seen or agreed to this addendum. The new lease our current landlord wants us to sign basically says that other than the roof, the HVAC system, and included appliances is the responsibility of the resident to maintain. Which, given that we live in Kansas means that if a big storm comes along and the exterior of the home is damaged, sans roof, we would be responsible for the repairs. If we are responsible for the maintenance of the home, then we might as well buy, and build equity, instead of giving our money away.

In the eight years we have lived in this house, there have been 3 owners, and a rent increase of $225 per month, and it’s not a desirable area of the city to live in. We hear gunshots nightly and there is a bullet hole in our garage door, thankfully, the firewall stopped the bullet from entering our home.

When the current landlord took over ownership, they mentioned to my wife that they planned to replace the carpet with LVT flooring. My wife asked about this; and they said they would only do this if we signed a 12-month lease, as we are currently on the aforementioned holdover month-to-month lease, which would push the rental rate up to $1,095. The landlord said they would cut us a deal at the $1,095 rate as we were long-term residents, stating, the regular rate for the LVT flooring would be $1,225, and I don’t trust them to not bump us up to the higher rate at lease renewal time, next August (2022).

In my head, almost $1,100 is an unacceptable amount of money to pay for a rental, even more so, when we are responsible for 80% of the maintenance. I simply don’t understand why anyone would rent, other than not qualifying for a mortgage when most of the benefits of renting have been stripped away.

literally, I could buy this house for $175 a month less than the rental rate, which includes taxes, insurance, and mortgage rate.  I work for a property management company, I am not naive, I understand the owners want to maximize their profits, to recoup the cost of buying two dozen homes in the neighborhood as fast as possible. But, $1,095 per month is too much for a basic 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with 2 car garage with builders grade everything, we are not talking luxury living here.

Erin and I are going to go to our bank to see what sort of mortgage we can get for our income, I’m figuring we can afford a loan of between $140-150,000 and maintain a monthly payment of around $1,000. However, there are some caveats, whatever mortgage amount we get has to also cover the $18,000 consolidation loan that I recently took out, and it has to be for our income in 12 months, as we will be losing close to $1,100 per month in child support payments when our son turns 18 next August.

This is absolutely non-negotiable, a $557 loan payment on top of a $1,000 mortgage payment is impossible for a single income family like ours, my take-home income is roughly $2,500, which would leave us with about $900 to live on for a whole month after mortgage and loan payments.

The other challenge we’re going to have is finding somewhere ‘move-in ready’ in our price range, homes In the sub $150,000 price bracket go real quick. As much as I would love to buy a Victorian home with some work needed, it’s not practical, we cannot afford a mortgage payment and rent while the new purchase is being fixed up. This is a fucking nightmare, but as much as I hate moving, I don’t think staying at this house is the sensible thing to do, given we’ll have 75-80% of the responsibilities of homeownership, paying $13,000 a year, without the benefits of homeownership, like building equity.