Monday, September 27, 2010

"Funing" With Scams Amok

The first thoughts of the holiday season, 2010, are in the offing. And the scammers seem to ramping up to capitalize on 'em.

Besides the usual fare I receive online, I've received some via known persons:

-- three different folks I know personally have had their email programs corrupted by email spam viruses, that get into their email address books, and send out, from their email, spam links for online pharmacies of dubious antecedence. Worse, if one clicks on the link when receiving the email, you likely wind up perpetuating the virus in your own system, and onto your own email address book.

-- another friend has learned a lesson about how rife scammers are on Craigslist.

-- and another had her email hacked into, and thus all of her email address book received a plea from 'her' for money, after being stranded in London on vacation, because of being mugged. Except she wasn't in London with her family; and anyone paying attention would have noticed -- if they thought to click on the email to reply to it, though not doing so -- that the reply address was different than the sending address.

I received the aforementioned email from her hacker; my reply was in keeping with my knowing my friend, knowing she wasn't in London, and thus, in having some fun with her scammer. Fun that they, the scammer, chose not to reply to.


On other scam fronts:

-- I've managed to get told to do something procreative with a family member, by another scammer who didn't like my sending them a faked Western Union receipt; still another scammer sent me another of those luverly implied 'death threats', for my having 'dissed' them. I'm still waiting for them to knock on my character's door. Granted, it's an abandoned house in another county, but I digress.

-- I've even had a scammer try me on the phone recently: a limited time offer to reduce my credit card interest rate to as low as 6.something %. So I played along, pushing #9 as instructed, and being transferred to 'a live operator'.

Calling from India, I think.

The background noise was that of a very busy, and unsophisticated, call center; lots of ringing phones and chattering persons in the background, with a heavy metallic echo. My operator had a very heavy accent, almost akin to Fischer Steven's character in the movie Short Circuit. I let him babble through his programmed presentation, such as it was, up to the point where he asked me for my credit card number.


The conversation went (downhill) something akin:

Him: please give me now your credit card number you wish to negotiate a lower interest rate on, please.

Me: Well, you should already have that; remember, you called me.

Him: sir, I do not have that information in front of me, I must have you confirm your information.

Me: Why must you have me confirm my information? You called me, so obviously you have it. Asking to confirm my information suggests you DO have it.

Him: sir, we do not operate like that. I need you to confirm your information for security purpose.

Me: Ohhhh, the old security purpose ploy. Well, let's just say that since you called me, I must assume -- with assumption being the mother of all screw ups -- that you knew who you were calling, and were authorized by the credit card company to contact me for this purpose.

Him: Sir, we do not work for the credit card company. We are independent of them.

Me: Ohhhh, the old independent of them ploy. Well, then how do I know the credit card company authorized you to contact me?

Him: Sir, do you wish to discuss lowering your credit card interest rate or not?

Me: I'm happy to discuss it, AFTER you define your bona fides.

Him: My what?

Me: Your bona fides. Y'know...your credentials that authorize you to contact me on behalf of my credit card holding company.

Him: Sir, I am not having time to discuss this...

Me: Ohhhh, but you DOOOO have the time. I'm giving you the time. So you just go right ahead and tell me about my credit card company. Tell me who issued my credit card, and under what name it was issued, and how long I've had it, and all that good stuff....

Him: Sir, you are not understanding how we work...

Me: Ohhhh, I think I understand just fine how you work. Here, let me go get some popcorn and a soda, then you tell me all them little things I asked you, that if you were legitimate, you would have the answers to...


I don't think this person liked me vewy well.

-- and finally, I'm also still dealing with a scammer who required me to -- in order to receive $5.5 million USD from an account in Hong Kong, belonging to someone who allegedly died in a meadowlark crash or something, back in '06 -- set up an off-shore bank account with a bank purportedly in London, UK. Granted, my character didn't set the account up, but he did correspond with the bank. And then sent the scammer the 'account information' (that my character made up). And when the scammer challenged that the 'account information' wasn't 'accurate', I provided him all of my email exchanges with the bank.

In other words, I took their one reply, and redated and rewrote it a number of ways, and sent it to my scammer.

Three months later, the scammer is still querying me on if I'm still in contact with the bank, and I am assuring him that I am, the bank having offered me all kinds of banking services, and me picking and choosing those that I like.

He is terribly confused by all this, as is evidenced by some of his emails; my replies aren't apparently helping clear his confusion:

jack, what is this other services you say bank is offer?

Shung, the bank offers a wide variety of services: investment accounts, retirement accounts, certificates of deposit, keoghs, 401k and IRA plans, revolving credit. You recommended this bank to me? Why is it you don't know this?

jack, what is go on with bank and you?

Whaddaya mean, "what is go on with bank"? They're offering me services beyond simply setting up an off-shore account; they're a BANK. It's what banks DO, Shung. Were you born in a rice barn?

jack, you not say what adjustable rate CD program with bank is. what is on with account you open?

Oh for eggroll's sake, adjustable rate CD program is one of the many saving and investment options a diversified bank offers. Really, are you intellectually akin to a door knob?

jack, is you hear from bank lately?

Multiple times, Shung. We're reviewing my opening a revolving line of credit, in addition to my off-shore savings, checking, and CD accounts. Thanks for recommending this bank to me, by the way.

jack, why is bank ask you for more services they offer?

Well DUH, Shung: they're a BANK. They're in the business to MAKE MONEY. They MAKE MONEY by attracting DEPOSITORS and customers. Then they take the money and loan it out, collect interest, etc. Really...are you seriously telling me that you don't know this? Are you dumb as used chopsticks?

jack, are you have funing with me?

Shung, what do you think? YOU contacted ME. YOU recommended I open an offshore account with THIS BANK. THIS BANK is doing what any reputable bank does: offer services to their customers. WHY? TO MAKE MONEY. What your point of your contacting me was supposed to be all about. Am I having funing with you? Only in so far as you demonstrate the understanding of a panda turd about all this.

At any rate, that's my writing life at present.

At any rate, be on your guards this holiday season, against scammers by phone, computer, even door-to-door. 'Tis nearing that time wunst agin. Bank on it...pun somewhat intended.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Another Email Scam -- "You Bastards!"

*Okay, things are a bit hectic right now, so I forward one more scambait 'classic' from 2007; I will get something new up here soon, really*
Note: for those of you easily offended by the *b* word -- no, the other *b* word -- skip this post. If you're an email scammer, consider this mandatory reading.
I just don't understand some email scammers sometimes. Well okay, most times. They send you out their scam of the moment; you reply in a manure that assures them that you're not going to be the dumb-as-a-tree-stump they need for their scam to work.
And they just won't let it go.
I received yet another of those "Your Email Has Won!" from persons purporting themselves to represent Microsoft/Staatloterij International, whatever the cowflop that is (Dutch, perhaps?). The email header directed me to "Call Mikel Van Beeker", and went into a couple million reasons -- every mother's son and daughter of them bogus -- why I needed to get in touch with this Mr. Van Beeker ASAP (
Well, I did. I just suppose not in the manure that Mr. Van Beeker expected or appreciated:
And, pray tell, just WHAT should I call Mikel Van Beeker? A bastard? A silly bastard? A stupid bastard? A silly stupid bastard? A fumduckin' silly stupid bastard? I am open to suggestions here if you have something more innovative. If not, I'm comfortable with the aforementioned label being accurately and liberally applied to your fumducking silly stupid bastages.
I mean, this whole email lotto scam bullshevik is cooked up by a bunch of fumducking silly stupid bastards seeking only to find fumducking sillier stupider bastards to finagle out of money. I know it, you know it, your fumducking silly stupid bastard handlers know it.
So we have it established that I know what you're up to, and you know I know what you're up to. And you know that I know that you're a bunch of fumducking silly stupid bastards. And if you bother to forward this email accordingly, your handlers will know that I know that you and they are a bunch of fumducking silly stupid bastards.
I suppose that even you aren't so fumducking dense as to realize the common thread that ties this whole email response together: that you're fumducking silly stupid bastards, and that I know you're fumducking silly stupid bastards, and that you know that I know that you're fumducking silly stupid bastards, and now we all know that I know that you know that you're all fumducking silly stupid bastards. I'll bet there's little doubt that your wives and the mistresses you cheat on them with know that you're fumducking silly stupid bastards; which logically suggests that your spawn know you to be fumducking silly stupid bastards, and perhaps they'll one day live down to your level of fumducking silly stupid bastardom with a little fumducking silly stupid bastard coaching from you. I'm sure even your pets know that you're fumducking silly stupid bastards, but probably don't care so's long as they get fed and their ass scratched by their fumducking silly stupid bastard owners regularly.
So now that we're all agreed that you're fumducking silly stupid bastards pushing a fumducking silly stupid bastard scam, that leaves little else for me to say, save for me to wish you fumducking silly stupid bastards a fumducking silly stupid bastard day.
aka an expert on fumducking silly stupid bastard scam detection
Yep, anyone else would have just written off my email address and let it go; but not this fumducking silly stupid bastard:
I guess not:
Well, Mikel, that's up to your fumducking silly stupid bastard self; personally, I could go on for pages and pages about your fumducking silly stupid bastard self and your fumducking silly stupid bastard associates and your fumducking silly stupid bastard handlers and your fumducking silly stupid bastard scam and your fumducking silly stupid bastard family and your fumducking silly stupid bastard dubious antecedence.
If, of course, your fumducking silly stupid bastard self would like me to.
Apparently not, though he was stupid enough to not let silence be his answer:
With proof that he'd lost the argument, I sent back a rejection of his kind suggestion:
Well, Mikel, it is obvious your fumducking silly stupid bastard education stopped well short of fumducking silly stupid bastard usefulness, and you missed a few pointers in basic Biology, but that's your fumducking silly stupid bastard problem, it appears. Though, perhaps in your fumducking silly stupid bastard case, it's well that you don't fumducking silly stupid bastard procreate, elsewise you might breed a future generation of fumducking silly stupid bastards too ignorant to function legitimately, leaving them to emulate your fumducking silly stupid bastard ways.
But let it not be said that I didn't wish for you to have a right fine fumducking silly stupid bastard of a life, Mikel. And when you're eventually in a fumducking silly stupid bastard of a Dutch prison, I probably don't have to warn you about picking up the bar of fumducking silly stupid bastard soap in front of fumducking silly stupid bastard Bubba, who thinks you're more fumducking silly stupid bastard cute than I've found you to be in this fumducking silly stupid bastard of an exchange.
And that should have ended that. It didn't yet:
what is wrong with you?
Lots of folks would like to have the answer to that:
Not a fumducking silly stupid bastard of a thing is wrong with me, Mikel. What the fumducking silly stupid bastard is wrong with you? Who is the one designated to determine that something IS fumducking silly stupid bastard wrong with anyone or anything, Mikel? If you think it's a fumducking silly stupid bastard like your fumducking silly stupid bastard self, by all means, send me your fumducking silly stupid bastard credentials. Prove to me you're the designated determiner of fumducking silly stupid bastard wrongity.
Go ahead...make my fumducking silly stupid bastard day, you fumducking silly stupid bastard.
That finally did it; no more fumducking silly stupid bastard replies from Mikel.
*Whew*...and was I glad. I was getting real tired of writing fumducking silly stupid bastard, over and over...

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Sunday, September 19, 2010


*A re-post from a classic "this really happened...dammit" in December of 2008. I'll get something new up here soon*

*The following is a true story, a few minor embellishments aside. The names of who and where haven't been changed, just left out. Innocence has nothing to do widdit, since all are old enough to be beyond basic innocence. No dolphins, whales, spotted owls or wildebeest were harmed during the following episode; human casualties and dignity are still being assessed*
As a movie character in a popular trilogy was known to opine, "I'm gettin' too old for this sh**".
It was a typical Sunday in my place of employment. Perhaps a little slower than average, what with Christmas but 4 days away. But still, not a bad day shaping up. For the place, there was business; for me, there was relative peace and harmony. Er, besides employees complaining about work, schedules, boredom, weather, in-laws, sub-zero wind chill in the age of alleged global warming, etc., that is.
In fact, I had just completed a quick little investigative matter, and was on my way to 'seal the deal' for someone who hadn't yet realized they'd lost something. And then I got "the call": call Dispatch. NOW.
The whyfer wasn't said; so I told 'em I'd get to 'em in a minute. And stepped out of where I'd been, and right into...the squirreal.
When you suddenly enter an area with people, and they start speaking all at once, and saying things to you that don't make sense, and pointing at your feet, it sometimes takes a second or two to grasp what you've suddenly stepped into, and follow their pointing fingers. When my eyes did so, I saw a fluffy tail go rocketing by where my foot was about to land. Great, I thought to myself, Whozits in the Gift Shop is pranking me with an RC stuffed animal.
That thought died three seconds later, as I watched it perform maneuvers that were much too agile for any RC stuffed anything to do.
We had a squirrel loose. In the building. A building full of people. Luverly.
How it got in wasn't terribly hard to figure out, as would be confirmed later: via the parking structure, and the staircase. Down the staircase, into the hall past the elevators, and right by the Gift Shop, after stopping and flashing the shop attendant Whozits, sending Whozits atop the counter, shrieking (Whozits is afraid of anything rodential). And from there, right in amongst Peopledom.
Granted, PETA folks might argue that we're built where squirrels had, for eons, roamed as masters of the branches. Fine. This is a building, not a tree. And if squirrels were equal to or superior, they'd know how to operate TV remotes, flush toilets and programmable blackberrys, and we'd be foraging for acorns in trees. They ain't and we ain't, 'nuff said.
But apparently, this squirrel sought to take issue with some of the 'nuff said.
I live in the West, and I am a former Iowa farmboy. So it reasonably follows that I'd know a thing or two about herding animals, right? *Buzzzzzzer* Herding a squirrel is like herding cats. Fuggetaboudit. While I tried to steer Rocky back out the way he came in, DOH, there were more of those pesky people in the way, so Rocky went hyah, instead of thyah, and took off down the main staircase like a kid sledding on an icy hill. It took me a couple seconds to realize it, but you see, Rocky had spotted an ally. Or so he thought.
Down the staircase he flew, and into the main lobby where.....*sound of squirrel brakes being applied*, he muttered some deprecation, wheeled right, and took off into another area alive with customers and obstructions (for me and a growing posse, not Rocky). Almost too late Rocky realized that the antlered party at the front door was NOT Bullwinkle, but another of our employees wearing a comical-looking reindeer hat (the look on both Rocky's and the employee's face were akin to "WTF?").
After a short pursuit that looked to be a cross between a barrel and steeple chase, Rocky decided where he'd been was better than where he was, and *zing*, back up those friggin' stairs he went, with the agility of a dwarf gazelle. I followed, with the grace of a three-legged cow, badly in need of oxygen and a Geritol kicker.
Once again at the top, I had a feeble hope of steering Rocky back out the way he came...DOH...onlookers, pointing at the squirrel and laughing at yours truly, were (in)conveniently where I wanted Rocky to he went the other direction, and right for the back of the house, and the restaurant. Which he entered at a dead run, not bothering to pay or even inquire about seating, leaving the hostess with a "uh..isn't that something from the menu?" look on her astonished face (she'd apparently missed the start of this farce).
But ol' Rocky had made a mistake: he ran right into a dead-end, at the back of the restaurant, and took refuge in a corner booth. While he filled out a comment card (complaining about slow waitress service and very unfriendly employees), my gathering posse -- me, two of my staff, three from Engineering, three from Food & Beverage, and a facility shift manager -- took up blocking positions, and we awaited the arrival of our local Animal Control officer. Which turned out to be our local gendarme (the AC officer was unavailable in a most timely fashion...for her).
Our local protect-and-server brought to the table a most impressive array of tools to the task. Not one of which was worth a sh** to live-capture Rocky. Handcuffs? Too big. Pepper spray? Too pervasive. Taser? Probably effective, but we had some onlooking "oh, how cute" folks to contend with, and watching a squirrel electrically explode was probably not good PR. Gun? Too emphatic (not to mention what it'd do to the wall, booth, etc). So I queried our facilities staff to provide us with the equivalent of "Sunday Afternoon at the Improv", and that's what we got: three pair of heavy-duty gloves; one box; one linen bag; and a totally useless grabbing device (used by someone too short or too lazy to reach something, I guess). Thus equipped -- while the shift manager wielded the useless grabbing device like a field marshal's baton -- we formulated a plan.
All the while and availed of a nice breather, so it became apparent, had Rocky.
When we launched our pincers' movement to surround and trap Rocky, he waited like a tailback on his linemen, and when a small hole developed off-tackle, Rocky was through it like Reggie Bush to daylight, leaving us with our plan askew, and a box full of nuthin'. In the words of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coaltrane, it was now "hot pursuit....geyuch, geyuch!".
The length of this particular facility is better than a single football field, east to west. And Rocky -- this time eschewing the stairs, knowing it wasn't Bullwinkle down there -- went the length of it, with six-seven middle-aged, increasingly out-distanced pursuers in his wake. But Rocky wasn't hard to follow: I had only to look at the bystanders, pointing at the squirrel in surprise, and laughing at us in bemused delight. One particular character gained my concealed ire, when after Rocky had passed him and I was approaching, intoned mockingly.."he's at the 50...the 40...the 35...he..could.. go...ALL THE WAY.." ala Chris Berman of ESPN. Standards of customer service and priorities of the moment prevented me from stopping off to rate his impression or jackslap him into the next area code.
Arriving at the west end of the facility, Rocky was confronted with the following options: to his left a bar; ahead, a big screen TV and wall; and to his right, a stair case. I knew that Rocky had instantly opted for the staircase, following the wave of laughter and pointing fingers. "Great", I muttered, "we get to do this again in the other f***ing direction!".
Rocky hesitated not, and rumbled down the stairs to the landing -- confronting unopened doors we hadn't had time to prop open -- and then down the second half of the stairs to the main floor, with us just now reaching the top of the stairs on the upper floor.
I really am getting too old for this sh**.
Once at the bottom, I and those not too winded to sort of keep up, were momentarily nonplussed: Rocky was nowhere to be seen. No laughter, no pointing fingers. Unlike upstairs, everyone in this area were oblivious to this Keystone Kops farce. So where had Rocky vanished to?
A quick flashlight beam into a decorative mine shaft to the right of the stairs answered the question. Rocky had made another tactical error. Or, a calculated decision on a last stand.
Either way, we had him cornered. Again. But this time, there were no holes for him to make an off-tackle lunge or end-around. He'd have to succumb, or whup us.
The shaft was decorative, and wasn't meant for human entry, but we knew that to complete the deal, someone had to go in there. Three of us did: one of my staff, our local gendarme...and my fat a...posteriored self.
Once inside, we were equipped with box, bag, gloves and flashlight, along with other extraneous items that did us no good or favors in that confined space. Adding to the complications, there was a mirror in the back of the shaft, there to provide the "illusion" that it was deeper and straighter than it was. We could see Rocky, poised in an upper corner of the shaft eyeing both us, and his chances. We saw he had him blocked; he had to see the same thing.
Rocky pondered his options a mo' as we got situated for Plan B...and then charged.
The mirror was no help: suddenly where we had been pursuing one squirrel, it looked like we were dealing with two, and they were going in different directions. A bit of pandemonium set in, while our back-up posse, waiting outside the shaft, was glad they were there, and not inside the sudden maelstrom.
But the mirror didn't do Rocky any favors, either: his squirrelakaze charge ran him right into the gendarme's waiting box.
For a moment, it was flying fur, epithets, and a series of "I got the f*** IS he?"s. And then one of me which...muttered a relieved "Sh**....we got 'em!"
From outside the shaft, a derisive cheer went up. From inside the now sealed box, came an Alvin-like voice, making all kinds of threats, including "your NUTS ARE MINE!" A married man, the gendarme's response was classic: "You'll never get 'em out of the lock box my wife has 'em in".
No further response from the box on that 'un.
Getting out of the shaft with a box full of vengeful squirrel was no easy feat: especially for my 6' 2", 240 lb ass. But we managed it, keeping a thoroughly annoyed Rocky in check.
From there, Rocky was transported out of the facility and across the main street. There the box was put down, and I formally advised Rocky that if he returned to the interior of this property, he'd be subject to arrest for trespass, or made an entree in the restaurant. And with that, he was released atop a snow bank, and sprinted away, making all kinds of disparaging comments about our ancestry, mothers, et al.
It took no time at all for the lore to begin there, and now Sunday, December 21, 2008, has been dubbed The Day The World Stood Squirrel.
*2010 note: to this day, witness employees still laugh at those of us engaged in the pursuit; and other casinos have run photos of a squirrel posing as a winner at their establishments. May their sewers back up...*

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Ya gotta love and respect firefighters. The training that goes into being able to do the job is close to excruciating, and the danger element is frequently high.
A Facebook friend recently commented that fighting a fire was not the same as sitting in a classroom, learning how to.
I'll second that, with one proviso: I never had the luxury of the classroom. My experience was OJT.
In September of 1978, a group of minimally-to-not-at-all trained firefighters turned to and took on the Deer Creek Canyon/Murphy Gulch fire that broke out on the morning/afternoon of September 10.
The near picture at the top was not staged; nor was it the first or last time that fire fighters found themselves in rapid retreat before a fire that week.

I remember most of it well; I was one amongst those who fit the category "not-at-all trained" for what I would experience over the next several days.
Memories of that experience simply give me that much more respect for the Four Mile Canyon firefighters.
An employee of Johns-Manville at the time -- part of the Security Department for the HQ building in Deer Creek Canyon -- we were summoned from the company picnic that day, to respond ASAP to work. A fire had broken out in the Murphy Gulch area, west-southwest of the HQ facility, and was threatening to go in our direction.
As we assembled at work, none of us were trained for, nor really knew what we were about to engage in; and initially, our engagement was limited to perimeter security (aka, keep lookenspeepers away from the danger areas). That was how I spent my first 8 hours: at a gated access road on the Ken Caryl Ranch, keeping unauthorized vehicles out of the area (an area void of much of anything in '78; now, that valley is chocked full of homes).
During my 8 hours, my only visitors were a Jeffco deputy and my supervisor. The fire wasn't visible from my vantage point, and would never get close to where I was at the time. I was finding the duty about as exciting as a popcorn fart.
That would change.
As the fire grew in size and spread out, more resources were called upon. Soon, we found ourselves shuttling firefighters closer to the fire; delivering supplies; and in some cases, assisting in fighting the fire.
In one of the photos above, two of us were photographed descending into an area where the fire still smoldered; our pithy efforts therein were referred to as "extinguish smoldering hot spots to prevent flare-ups". We were clueless as to how to extinguish hotspots, especially sans water. Lots of shovelling made us look like we knew what we were doing.
And it made the photographer happy. So did a slurry drop, less than a quarter mile from where we stood at the time.
Later, I was part of a team that had run a hose up the hillside, SW of the building, to keep the ever-shifting fire away from the parking lot and burning up close to the building itself. I learned several valuable lessons that morning:
- a 3" fire hose is heavier than it looks.
- it takes a number of folks to manhandle such a hose up a slope.
- when the folks at the head of the hose drop it and run, it's a good idea to follow their lead.
- a hundred feet or so of 3" hose is undoubtedly expensive; but not so much so that when the winds shifted, a firefighter at the front of the hose delivered a poignant, pungent piece of advice in passing: "drop the f***ing thing and RUN!"
- I could, at least in those days, run faster downhill, than a wind-driven fire could.
The fire won that round: it burned to the edge of the parking lot. Then the wind shifted, and it was off and running in another direction again.
Later that night, I received what today is the funniest of directives from my supervisor at that time: lead a group of firefighters off the north end of the building to the edges of the fire. I was ever so eager to do so; at the same time, I had never personally been on the terrain to the north of the building. When I asked him how it was that I was "leading" them, he chuckled and said "you're their escort; stay with 'em and keep your eyes open".
It was a case of the blindly-inexperienced leading the experienced into a flaming amphitheatre.
The firefighters had the typical array of rough terrain equipment: primarily shovels and 'Indian tanks'; I had my duty belt with .357, spare ammo, and handcuffs. I reckon I was ill-equipped for this mission, unless arresting the fire and taking it in for disorderly combustion was an option.
Thus, with me in the lead, we were off. Ahead, we could see a line of fire, and so we headed straightaway for it. But we couldn't see "the rest of the story" until we got within spitting distance of the edge of the fire: we didn't get a couple hundred yards north before we found ourselves with fire on three sides of us; no one seemed terribly concerned about it, so I didn't give into the sphincter spasm that accompanied my seeing we were in something of a coffin corner. The firefighters were pretty nonchalant about it; one quipped "what would your mother say if she could see you now?".
Not one for expletives generally, I still think a heartfelt "WTF?" would probably have been at the top of her list.
After some moments of assessing that the way forward was only meant for heavy equipment and/or hotdogs, I reckoned withdrawal was in order. I didn't get so much as a "aw, c'mawn, this is fun" in reply, since we all sensed a shift in the wind again, and it wasn't one in our favor. So, we backed away from what would burn later that night. Wisdom oft times trumps dubious leadership.
After the fire burned the equivalent of a horseshoe around the west side of the building, it moved again north and a bit east, leaving me one more opportunity to experience "extinguishing hotspots to prevent flare-ups". On this occasion, I donned an 'Indian tank' -- a metal backpack capable of holding 5 gallons of water, with a pump hose dispenser -- and started again up on the northside of the building, this time in daylight.
The terrain on the north side was mostly uphill, and I found that the 'Indian tank' was cumbersome, the water loved to slosh, and each uphill step was accompanied by a "what the f*** was I thinking?". And five gallons of water didn't last all that long: I made three refill trips, each time repeating the refrain "what the f*** was I thinking?".
It was good to be 21 at that time and place.
Gradually, the 3,300 acre fire was contained and extinguished over the course of several days. As I recall, a few outbuildings were lost (mostly in the Murphy Gulch area, where the fire started), but no homes, and my employer's HQ facility was not damaged.
The professionals did a good job. The rest of us were just lucky.
I would get one more experience in wild fire fighting, near the same location in 1980. There, I was among the first to arrive on scene of a much smaller fire, but one that threatened to get away in a hurry if help didn't arrive. On that occasion, I learned that an effort to save a single tree, in the face of a wind-driven fire, was not worth the singe I got when the tree went WHOOF in my face (aka, my quickly-hacked 'fire line' wasn't up to 20 mph wind gusts). Fortunately, that fire was contained to a few, mostly prairie-grass acres, thanks to a prompt response from the Bancroft Fire Department. All I got that time was some good-natured ribbing about the tree I tried to save.
Nowadays, the spotted owls are on their own.
Today, I leave the firefighting to those trained and in shape to do it. The only fires I fight are in my kitchen. I reckon I've become a master at those. Both starting and stopping. far on the latter.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ruh-Roh II -- Redneck Repartee

In Part I, Abdul Hamza was shown to have sent
an almost perfect scam letter to yours truly, in the
guise of Jack N. Ewehoff.

And Jack was all ready and willing to 'fall' for it. Provided, of course, that Abdul could get past the verbiage of reply:

H'idy! Ah shore wuz sooprized that thar emale y'all had deelivrd h'yar. Yassir...ah wuz sooprized. An' youre asshorences righ' offen th' top...ah sez to mahsef, "thas' a righ' nice feller thar", I sez.

Shore did.

$22.3 millyun dollurs, y'all sez? An' fer heppin' y'all out, ah gits 30 purscent of that thar? Merrrcy sakes, ah cain' even cyphur how mooch that thar iz, ceptin' it's a fur piece a change! More than ah got fer dowry on mah daughter's weddin'. Mah daughter iz Beulah...wadn't mooch fer looks, but she's kin, an' the feller she up 'n got hitched wid..wahl, he tain't mooch fur looks, neither. Ah reckon ah'm gonna git ugly grankids, but ah'm degressin' h'yar.

Looky h'yar Mr. Abdull, ah iz righ flattered tha' y'all think so well of mahsef -- a feller y'all ain't never seed afore -- tha' ah wanted ta reeturn th' faver, an' thank ye proper. So ah dun sended a emale to yore bossman, an' it sez "looky h'yar, thas' one fart smeller y'all gots runnin' yore bank in that Burlap Fatso place. Y'know, th' town therebouts thas pronowst like a hawg clearin' its sinuses. Ah jest wanna sez to y'all that iffen this feller is reprehensive of the kind of fellers y'all iz, ah reckon y'all gots a top-notch bidness thar.

Frum mah humbal abode h'yar in rural Cowflop, ah sez thank ye kindly.

Jack N. Ewehoff

Mr. Hamza had a problem reading that reply. I knowd it 'cuz this h'yar is wha' he sent back:

what maner of speech is this? i cannot read this. please to write english.

Axcus' h'yar, Mr. Abdull...y'all makin' fun of mah grammer h'yar? Dawggonit, an' ah thought we wuz frends er such. Ah tell yew wha', feller...y'all go awn makin' fun o' my spelin' h'yar, an' ah'll open a can o' whupass on yer lawng-earred galoot sef, ah will. Ah reckon ah speech Englich h'yar bettur than yo' mama!

i cannot read what you say. call me +226 76 61 26 98 for discuss this more.

Wha' in tarnation iz wrawng wid yer fones over yawnder, feller? Ever'tahm ah trys ta dial that thar numbur, ah gits this h'yar female voice what sez "Yore call cannot be cumpletd az dialed, sugah. Please check the numbah an' try agin'". Iffen y'all wanna has a chatfest, y'all kin cawl mah numbah (which I decided to give him; yes, I know I ain't supposed to do that, but a little excitement in life is gud now an' agin).

Knowing a call was imminent (my character would have slaughtered that word), I immediately changed my phone's voice message to several of my favorite Three Stooges sound bytes in succession.

And shore 'nuff, about 10 minutes later, the phone rang...and rang...and rang...and rang...and then the voice message took over (in the order of sound bytes):

The Three Stooges: "Hellooo...Helloooo...Helloooooo...hello, hello?"
Curly: "Nyuk nyuk nyuk *BONK* Ow!
Curly: "See that *bonk* OW!"
Curly: "Oh look! You bent the chisel...(Moe)..I'll straighten that...(Curly) Nyuk nyuk nyuk *BWANG* OW!"
Moe: "What kinda nonsense is this?"

As comes as no surprise to me, no message was left.

About 30 minutes later, I checked email and shore 'nuff, what would turn out to be one last salvo from Mr. Hamza:

you not serious you make joke at me. f**k off and not to me write.

But wunst agin, ah gots ta:

Aw c'mawn, feller. Ain't life serous 'nuff h'yar widdout sum jest 'n funnin'? Ah reckoned y'all liked tawlkin' to mah frends next doar, Moe, Larry 'n Curly. Theyz a hoot, 'specally when theyz sober.

Now, quit yer fussin' an' git to th' rat killin' of yore deel h'yar. An' try knot ta use a satchel charge on da rats.

But ol' Abdul would have no more of Jack. Especially since every spam email Jack received in the three days since, has been forwarded to Abdul's email. Though perhaps he should thank Jack for sending him such useful emails as how to get cheap Viagra, sue for Avantia use, have chat with young lovelies stripping on their webcams, get his share of Gulf oil spill damages, find a lawyer, go to culinary school, get dates on My Life, become a cop, firefighter or turkey inseminator...

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Saturday, September 11, 2010


On this date, nine years ago.
WTC. The Pentagon. A rural piece of western Pennsylvania.
To those lost, not forgotten.
To those who did and applauded it, not forgiven.
'Nuff said.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Sooner or later, it had to happen.
Sooner or later, you had to expect that online scammers would "get it".
Today, I received an email of devastating import and prognosticatable procreatibility*. The 'perfect storm', scam letter-wise, has arrived.
Lucy is justifiable in her expression.
It's not just that this letter is exquisitely crafted and almost 100% typo-free; it's how the bugger starts it out that is just...well...credibility-sucked-in lethal.
Read now, friends, and be VERY afraid:
TELE +226 76 61 26 98
Dear Friend
Before I introduce myself, I wish to inform you that this letter IS NOT A HOAX MAIL AND I URGE YOU TO TREAT IS error SERIOUS.
See? We're almost in trouble with this one, right off the bat. It's as if Robert Gibbs wrote this for him. And he goes on.
I am ABDUL HAMZA the MANAGER in charge of BILL AND EXCHANGE section of AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK Ouagadougou Burkina-Faso in West Africa. With due respect and regard I have decided to contact you on a business transaction that will be very beneficial to both of us at the end of the transaction.
If you believe in the liberal philosophy of "from those who have, to those who need through government intervention and rake-off", part of this last will be true. And he goes on.
During our investigation and auditing in this bank, my department came across a very huge sum of money belonging to a deceased person who became deceased on November 2004 in a plane crash and the fund has been dormant in his account with this Bank without any claim of the fund in our custody either from his family or relation before my discovery to this development.
Have you noticed that Africa almost has more foreigners with money in African banks that die in plane crashes, than Califorlornia has voting illegal aliens? Hard to believe, I know. And he goes on.
Although personally, I keep this information secret within myself to enable the whole plans and ideas be profitable and successful during the time of execution. The said amount was sum of $ TWENTY TWO MILLION THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS.
Okay, that's almost a *TOING* generating amount, to be sure. And he goes on.
Meanwhile all the whole arrangement to put claim over this fund as the Bonafide next of kin to the deceased get the required approval and transfer this money to a foreign account has been put in place and directives and needed information will be relayed to you as soon as you indicate your interest and willingness to assist me and also benefit yourself to this great business opportunity.
See? I told you that this letter was almost well-crafted, and a big problem for scam-resistant sorts like moi. And he goes on.
In fact, I could have done this deal alone but because of my position in this country as a civil servant, we are not allowed to operate a foreign account and would eventually raise an eye bow on my side (heck, if he were in Congress here, he'd think nothing of it and neither would they, but I digress and he goes on) during the time of transfer because I work in this bank. This is the actual reason why it will require a second party or fellow who will forward claims as the next of kin to the Bank and also present a foreign account where he will need the money to be re-transferred inot on his request as it may be after due verification and clarification by the correspondent branch of the bank where the whole money will be remitted from to your own designation bank account.
See how devilishly clever this dude is? Like a Pelosi bill, you'll have to sign onto it to find out what's in it. And he goes on.
I dont error want this money to go into Bank treasury as unclaimed Bill. Our Banking law and guideline here stipulates that if such money remained unclaimed after six years, the money will be occasioned by the fact that the customer was a foreigner and a Burkinabe cannot stand as next of kin to a foreigner.
Okay, so there's a bit of a 'whoopsie daisy' in the diction department. But you're apparently so beguiled by the rest of it -- especially the assurances at the very beginning -- that you are almost willing to forgive that wee cruciverbal gaffe. And he goes on.
I will not fail to inform you that this transaction is 100% risk free.
Dammit, he would have to do that, wouldn't he? And he goes on.
On smooth conclusion of this transaction, you will be entitled *TOING* to 30% of the total sum as gratification.
Devious! He's playing to entitlement mentality. Oohhh, this dude's good. And 30% for gratification, too. How can he lose? And he goes on.
Please, you have been adviced error to keep top secret as I am still in service and intend to retire from service after I conclude this deal with you.
Dang...I've been contacted by Charlie Rangel? And he goes on.
I will be monitoring the whole situation here in this bank until you confirm the money in your account and ask me to come down to your country for subsequent sharing of the fund according to the percentages previously indicated and further investment, either in your country or any country you advice error us to invest in. All other necessary vital information will be sent to you when I hear from you.
Yours faithly error (like Henry the VIIIth was faithful),
Have I finally been bested? Out-maneuvered? Out-baited? Out-thunk? Have I finally met a scammer who has my number?
Find out in Ruh-Roh Part II.
* you won't find these words used in this manure in a conventional dictionary; but a Norm Crosby dictionary will have 'em, or something like 'em...

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