It turns out that the “Hitman” spam in my earlier post has been floating around and morphing for about four years. Here’s the full story from Snopes.com.
Man, just when you think you’ve seen it all, the human mind always comes up with new ways to push the envelope of greed and cruelty. Here’s the latest spam scam. I’m still reeling. has anyone seen this before?
This is the only way I could contact you for now,I want you to be very careful about this and keep this secret with you until I make out space for us to see. You have no need of knowing who I am or where I am from.I know this may sound very surprising to you but it’s the situation. I have been paid some ransom in advance to terminate you with some reasons listed to me by my employer. It’s someone I believe you call a friend, I have followed you closely for a while now and have seen that you are innocent of the accusations he leveled against you. Do not contact the police or try to send a copy of this to them,because if you do, I will know,and I might be pushed to do what I have been paid to do.Besides, this is the 1st time I turn out to be a betrayer in my job.I took pity on you,that is why I have made up my mind to help you if you are willing to help yourself.
Now listen,I will arrange for us to see face to face,but before that, I need $30,000. I will come to your home or you determine where you wish we meet; I repeat, do not arrange for the cops and if you play hard to get, it will be extended to your family. Do not set any camera to cover us or set up any tape to record our conversation, my employer is in my control now. Payment details will be provided for you to make a part payment of $15,000 first,which will serve as guarantee that you are ready to you co-operate,then i will post a copy of the video tape that contains his request for me to terminate you which will be enough evidence for you to take any legal action against him before he employs another person for the job. You will pay the balance of $15,000 once you receive the tape.
Warning; do not contact the police, make sure you stay indoors once it is 7.30pm until this whole thing is sorted out,if you neglect any of these warnings, you will have yourself to blame. You do not have much time, so get back to me immediately.
Note: I will advise you keep this to yourself alone, not even a friend or a family member should know about it because it could be one of them.
Many web sites are hooks to get you to buy stuff. They usually give you a little information and then make you pay for the full story. Not this one. This is a virtual compendium of everything barbecue. “Meathead” exceeds all expectations of generosity in providing the most detailed and in-depth analysis of anything and everything having to do with making the most amazing barbecued pork (especially) and any other meat you might be tempted to throw on a grill. And he’s no elitist charcoal snob either. Gas grills get their due respect as valid instruments in the pursuit of ultimate BBQ. A truly awesome site.
I woke up at 2 AM this morning (does that time really qualify as morning?) to the acrid smell of wood smoke. At first I though I might have left the oven on from the evening’s BBQ ribs production, and that what I was smelling was the wood smoke odor of my BBQ sauce, some drippings burning on an element. But everything was off.
I went back to bed but the smell was pretty intense. I thought maybe it was me….the BBQ sauce embedded in my hands perhaps. I got up again and went outside on the front porch. The smell was much more intense and the air was smoky….my eyes were tearing. That’s when I realized that the winds must have shifted and we were getting the smoke from the forest fires raging in Northern Quebec (which has required the evacuation of a number of communities).
It was interesting to see how the brain responds to the smell of smoke. I doubt I would have awoken to say, the smell of lilacs, with the same sense of urgency. That’s the Reticular Activating System for you!
I wouldn’t have done well in a Communist state, where you could choose any car color so long as it was black. I like variety and choices. But a disturbing trend in the evolution of media and advertising is the shift away from passive advertising to a far more annoying and insistent active advertising.
My daughter got me interested in on-line newspapers, in particular the Huffington Post. The beauty of this form is the immediacy of the content and the interactive opportunity, i.e. people get to comment on stories almost as they’re being written.
Recognizing that nothing’s free, I accept the slew of ads on these internet newspapers in the same way that I accept it in their paper versions. But there is a distinct difference. In the paper version the ads aren’t constantly popping into my face and resisting efforts to “x” them shut. Try clicking on any story in an on-line paper for more details and you’ll see what I mean. Before the story is shown you’ll have to watch some *#^& ad evolve in front of you, with the opportunity to shut it down delayed until the very last microseconds before its completion, i.e. you’ve basically had to watch it all. And sometimes, even if you do get the chance to x it shut before it’s over, it will ask you: “Are you sure you don’t want to know about reducing your mortgage interest?”.
That’s where choice comes in. I like the choice of not having to view an ad if I don’t want to. I definitely hate having ads forced upon me, and it’s seriously becoming a barrier to my continuing use of on-line sites.
I’ve been to more than my share of photo exhibits in the last 40 years. Inevitably, the most public Oohs and Ahhs come in response to works by professional photojournalists in war zones, catastrophes, or exotic locales. But while I appreciate the skill and dedication that goes into that kind of work, frankly I’m more drawn to subtle images of familiar things seen in an unfamiliar way.
I was at a photo workshop a couple of years ago. Lectures were interspersed with assignments to go out and shoot whatever interested us, returning a few hours later for a showing and critique of each person’s work. Some photographers went all out, weaving themselves into the urban fabric of tattoo parlors, gay bars, and drug users. And they produced phenomenal images deserving of much admiration. But that’s not my world; I would feel embarrassed, like a voyeur who gets caught seeking a cheap thrill.
I do however take heart (and so should you) that some of the world’s greatest photographers achieved their fame doing “nothing” more than looking for extraordinary moments among ordinary things.
With that in mind, here are a couple more shots from the back yard:
Definition of a truism from Wikipedia: “A truism is a claim that is so obvious or self-evident as to be hardly worth mentioning”.
Truisms are very attractive to the human mind because they provide simple answers to often complex human problems. While some people simply lack the intellectual capacity to think through these problems, for most of us it’s just laziness. After all, with all the shit we have to face and understand each day, it’s easy to see how simple answers can be very attractive. Hell, just trying to get a handle on my cellphone bill is a challenge, given all the complexity that vendors build-in in order to bamboozle us (see Steve’s Third Axiom: You can’t protect yourself part-time, from people committed to taking advantage of you full-time).
Truisms can have both a benevolent and a pernicious side. We often use truisms to comfort others in pain, e.g. “Don’t worry….things will get better” (they may in fact, not get better). “Everything happens for a reason” is another great comforter. But in general, truisms are pernicious because they provide answers without solutions, and usually shift the blame onto the other person. “If you want to lose weight, just eat less and exercise more” is a great one. Homeless and begging on the street? “Get a job!”. You’re a smoker? “Just quit”. You get my drift.
Truisms present a strange mathematical equation where the problem and the answer are both presented, without showing how one got to the answer. We are all familiar with Einstein’s famous E=mc². Yet few realize that the underlying mathematical reasoning to get there would fill several textbooks with the background equations. And I don’t remember sitting for any math exam where I could just show the answer without showing the actual detailed analysis (the “solution”) of how I got there. It would have been an instant “F” and a possible accusation of cheating.
And I guess that’s the gist of it: Truisms cheat us of the intellectual satisfaction that comes from doing the spade-work of solving complex problems, and smugly assign guilt to others for those problems.
We’ve been watching Mama Raccoon as she’s been mentoring her babies into their new lives. First it was bringing them out to the tree branches at dusk…after carefully surveying the landscape and making sure there were no threats. Then she started taking them on her nightly hunting expeditions. Two nights ago, we heard blood-curdling screams in the middle of the night. My wife looked out the window and saw Mama Raccoon scurrying back to the den, with only three of the four babies in tow.
A few minutes later, a much larger raccoon, possibly a male, followed them up the tree and there ensued a raccoon orgy as my son calls it…although there was nothing sexual about it…Mama fought him off with much hissing and scratching. Was the big male asserting territoriality? Had he eaten the baby?
Yesterday, in the middle of a brutally unseasonably-hot day, I saw Mama with the three remaining babies in the underbrush, in the middle of the day. She was clearly pulling up stakes and trying to find a new tree somewhere else. I was saddened to see her leave…for a couple of weeks we had witnessed life in the urban-wild…along with all the rabbits, squirrels, Cardinals, Robins, and other fauna that seem to suddenly want to make our modest 1/4 acre their home.
I remember asking my wife some weeks ago, what could possibly be a raccoon’s natural enemy? Other than the car, we couldn’t think of anything…after all, these are some pretty nasty creatures. But it seems that the raccoon’s natural enemy is other raccoons, all vying for territory and making sure that the ratio of animals to available food remains constant. Pretty neat.
Yesterday I shaved with the Bliss Thermal Shave Cream and my E.J. Chatsworth DE razor. While the result was excellent – the Bliss was surprisingly effective at cushioning the brand new Merkur blade – it was a real waste of money. One travel size tube of Bliss costs $5 on eBay and it takes a full tube for a DE shave. You can get three shaves off a Fusion because you don’t need to rinse off between passes and the blade itself scrapes less of the cream off the skin because of its pull-and-tug method.
But I do love the hot effect of the Bliss when you first apply it – very comforting. And the cream really does give a great shave.