Background Check Pending
Every particle of me
(At least those parts the world can see)
Works smoothly to create the masks
Compliant with my daily tasks
So no one guesses that down deep
I wonder if you flinch at all
At cows upon the bedroom wall
That have great horns and twitching tails—
The massive cow that seldom fails
To win a ribbon at the fair—
And like them watching over me
To fend off any sleepless nights
When I was just a little tad
And full of zest and vim
I never thought the day would come
When eyesight could grow dim
And hair fall out, and memories
Impossible to keep,
Or that my middle would go soft
Or I would fall asleep
Just trying to sit through the news,
But couldn’t sleep at night,
Get creaky and arthritic
And develop underbite,
But, over and above these things,
No way would I have guessed
The day would pounce so suddenly,
So early. I’m depressed!
Behold the moth: he waxeth wroth, and sure has cause if any hath:
A life so short and labor-filled that many lesser moths hath killed;
Yet all’s not tragic, dire, dark things, for, briefly as he hath his wings,
He waxeth too his Silver Wraith; it shineth like a ghost, i’faith.
As caterpillars of his ilk produce the finest bolts of silk,
Yea, marvel at such industry, and bitter butterflies ne’er see,
For, selling such rich bolts of cloth, they’ve little cause for waxing wroth.Yes, I do know that my photos here is of a butterfly and not a moth. Just as I’m sure you know that this poem is not a scientific treatise on the relationship between entomology and high-end automotive art. Anybody coming to this blog in search of hard data on virtually anything is clearly lacking in logic anyway, so welcome, all! And may none of you fall into the clutches of any lepidoptera with anger management issues or delusions of being silkworms, either one. Also, if you happen to be the computer programmer who designed my auto-correct function, to my knowledge a TelePrompter is in no way related to or a straight-across substitution for a lepidopteran in either linguistic or physical form, though it might amuse you greatly to experiment with such things. I do give thanks for the laugh.
Everything is not always as it appears. For good or ill, our first impressions are often quite mistaken, and responding to them with too much speed often means, if not outright failure, at least diminished returns of success.Take Bonnie and Clyde‘s visit to the Ponder State Bank. Those bank robbing hicks, made famous and a good bit more glamorous than the average two-bit crook by media and public appetites right from the contemporaneous news accounts on down through the Hollywood version of them incarnated as Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, were perhaps more prone than most to such snap judgements, given their line of work. Undoubtedly, once they started their career of armed robbery, they weren’t likely to be given any sort of chance to explain themselves or do anything particularly legitimate without being suspect, and clearly they weren’t allowing a leisurely approach in which to assess and evaluate any situation as they approached the end of their road.So when they showed up in little old Ponder, Texas, hoping to make a full withdrawal of the bank’s funds without having their own account number, it’s little surprise that they weren’t welcomed with open arms. In point of fact, it is a little surprising that they weren’t greeted with firearms, what with the swath they were cutting in those days, and it being Texas and all. Not to mention that, had they checked their information ahead of time to plan the heist, they would have learned in advance that the Ponder bank had gone belly up just previous to their visit, thanks to the Depression. Turned out to be a bust both for the bank and for the troublesome twosome. Irked, whether at their lack of foresight or the bank’s inability to supply them with cash, Ms. Parker and Mr. Barrow just shot the place up a little in that casually friendly sociopathic way of theirs and took to their heels again.And as anyone who knows the tale of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow knows, that dash didn’t end well for them at all. Perhaps a touch of circumspection and introspection now and again in their lives might have led to a considerably less messy end.Avoiding hasty conclusions can make quite the difference in the tiniest of things as well.
While I’ve been out in the yard traipsing about and yanking up the occasional weed, I have seen that some are much too lovely to bump off with abandon. After all, a weed is only a wildflower or a self-sown plant that has popped up in an unintended spot. So I tend to leave many such characters alone when I can, hoping that my neighbors won’t be too chagrined at my assembly of oddments growing in weird and unexpected locations in the flowerbeds, lawn and periphery.
I tend to be a little bit more ruthless, admittedly, when it comes to the paths and walkways, not to mention the driveway, because what grows through the cracks there tends to widen the cracks. What widens the cracks, in turn, pushes the stone and concrete farther to each side, and what pushes to the side can in its turn put undue pressure on the house’s adjacent foundation, and what can shift my house is a little more risky than the occasional irritable neighbor shifting my attitude.So when I saw that where our driveway dovetails with the next door neighbor’s at a shared bit of curb, there was stuff sprouting brazenly in the sun, I headed right on over to give that little interloper a tug and a toss. I would probably have looked especially ridiculous, since I was making quite the determined beeline for it, if I’d been geared up in full cowgirl regalia, but fortunately the only High Noon spur-clanking on the occasion was strictly mental on my part as I headed for a showdown with a measly little weed.Good thing the driveway is quite as long as it is, because I got mighty close before I could see clearly that this particular one was the very first of our blooming bluebonnets. I’m not certain that weeding out a specimen of the State Flower is a capital offense in Texas, but as a big fan of them I can definitely say that I would have been sorry as a sway-backed mule if I’d killed that pretty little plant. So I thank my lucky stars that I was slow to get there and had time to rethink my approach before that winking blue beauty got cut down in its prime. We should all be so lucky.
A Little Antsy Now
If I could do just as I wished and not a nickel more,
I’d not sit still just listening to any tiresome bore,
But I’m in well-bred company (I’m told), so I must stay,
Attempting to pretend it’s deep engrossment I convey—
Meanwhile, my nostril starts to itch and twitch, and I suppose
I am not wholly ignorant
Of what a fool I am
But if you’d keep me happy
Just give me a slice of ham
A piece of cheese a bit of bread
Some butter, if you will
And I’ll continue happy fool
Slumped up here by the still
This post may require some appeasement on my part. I do, however, excuse this
peas piece by saying that I genuinely love eating good sweet peas. Raw or cooked, cold or hot, plain or in a well prepared recipe, green peas are a treat no matter how they tickle my funny bone. That they have nutritive value is merely a bonus.
While all you two-legs types are mired
And wallowing in wintry fear,
I see spring’s hints and am inspired
To smell the happiness from here
What gain or merit mankind finds
In only frigid, dormant joy,
When you could wag those sad behinds,
Dance forward, every girl and boy—
Hold on to sorrow if you must,
While I lap up those thrills made dear
By breaking through the frozen dust:
I smell the happiness from here!
The Kicking of Buckets, and How It is Done
In case a brown recluse spider should come to call on you and with her magical spells weave for you mystic sleep—
In the event that any sharks should smell your yummy blood and render you a permanent fixture of the deep—
Lest some great venerable tree should fall full upon your pointy head and leave you feeling just a little flat—
Or a once-dormant volcano barf its hot majestic load of smoking lava directly onto the brim of your jaunty hat—
Should any untoward or fearsome thing befall you or a tragedy untimely bump you off, I’d feel so sad and even a little guilty somehow
That in my concern for you and to prevent your facing any such future griefs, I feel it’s best that I help you to kick the bucket Now.
Scams are as old as human interaction. I can only assume that among the first hunter-gatherer people wandering this great globe there were some who quickly discovered that if they used certain diversionary or distracting tactics or played the Needy card even when they’d just been gnawing on a good fat hunk of food, some softhearted other would hand over his or her hard-earned goodies. The more purportedly sentient and sophisticated we get, the more elaborate the flimflam. Bamboozling and outright fraud and thievery are well honed skills among those so inclined. And we who live in Bloglandia know better than most what rich tillage is available for such nefarious labors if the tricksters and crooks are even the least bit techno-savvy.
As a blogger I am the not so proud owner of a spam filter that scoops up as many as several dozen phishing and monetary theft attempts in any single day. One of the aspects that makes me especially irritated is the irksome knowledge that unlike promotional and advertising spam–tiresome enough–scam emails offer no possible way for me to Unsubscribe from their persistent and pernicious pestering. If I should be so foolish as to respond with an angry Unsubscribe letter of my own, and yes, of course I’ve done it just to let off steam, odds are astronomically against there being a human at the other end of the equation rather than the helpfully designed automation that considers any reply a positive one and an invitation for further encouragement to Send Money to the phisherman or woman on the other end of the hook, line and sinker.
Bad enough that I should have to waste my time cleaning out multitudes of junk emails. I know, too, that sending along any evidence of this sort of thing to any kind of authorities is futile, and of course the perpetrators of the intended crime also know it full well. As soon as there’s the slightest hint of danger, such lurkers dart off to new pseudonyms and reroute their emails, disappearing without a trace until the next move is necessitated, leaving a wake of idle dalliances and false promises broader than any black widow‘s.
That comparison, though, is apt enough, since the intent is to play upon vulnerable people’s sympathy, greed and loneliness just far enough to get them to surrender the largest amount of cash and personal information the con artist can manage to accrue before leaving like a sneeze: at high velocity and with the victim left covered only in his own shame and sorrow. That these scams work best against the elderly, the young, the inexperienced and the poor is certainly one of the greatest of sins committed by Scam Scum. The amount of creativity involved in developing their villainous schemes, while it could of course be put to higher and kinder uses, seems to me to be lessening with the ease of perpetration offered by anonymous technology.
What quickly became known years ago as the Nigerian scam, for example, has veered only so far as to another part of an equally fictional version of Africa, as my current roster of letters almost always references Benin rather than Nigeria–but the rest of the content remains constant. Plug in new names and change two or three of the variables, and surely someone, even one who knows by now to be wary of references to Nigeria, will respond, and all’s well in the world of easy money. Those who use the cloak of putative widow- or widower-hood, political or religious persecution, or just plain blind trust to approach strangers and ask for help in securing and using massive funds do the very same. I can cite in particular one ‘Mary Mohomed’ who has continued to send me variations on her theme of pretend benevolence repeatedly, even under the same name, claiming an intimacy with me that even in my dotage of 50+ is hilariously impossible to believe of a total stranger. ‘She’ and her obvious relatives ‘Mrs. Rose Daniel’, ‘Mr. David May’, and ‘Mrs. Grace Ike’, along with numerous others–remarkably friendly Doctors, Ambassadors and (lest I be suspicious) officers of various trustworthy government agencies here and abroad, all love me and care for my welfare so deeply that they are willing to seek me out without introduction and invite my participation in ever so many worthy causes, all to be remunerated beyond-generously. And all for a teeny, tiny, infinitesimal, nominal, negligible fee on my part to get the party started.
Now, I will admit to a certain level of entertainment inherent in reading these letters, if and when I occasionally stoop to do so. Besides the intriguing effort to vary the plot line (a transparent practice that results in the virtual equivalent of visible panty lines or the Mad Libs sort of method certain serial novelists are said to use to rework one story into multiple books) email scam letters are loaded with typos, bad grammar and incorrect usage that, while it perhaps does reflect badly on the current state of language in the US and other English speaking locales, often provides hilarious unintentional asides. Today’s prizewinner in this phishing derby is the following letter, which clearly presumes that I would believe that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has an interest in seeing that I, an unknown but obviously well loved citizen of the Bureau’s own country, receive a sum of money won at random (yes, without my even trying) outside of its own jurisdiction from a lottery in a country not named and the coffers of a generically named pretend gaming Company, and discovered by, I am supposed to suppose, the purposeful working of the Bureau’s own fantastic newfangled machine whose purpose is apparently to monitor activities that are, again, outside of its purview. If that isn’t catchy and convoluted enough for a really cheesy Movie of the Week, I don’t know what is. But I’m glad I’ll have my $2.4million USD handy now to fund the making of said movie. Thanks, FBI! So glad it’ll only cost me $96 of my own money up front to get all of this in perfect order.
Anti-Terrorist And Monetary Crimes Division
FBI Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation
J.Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, Nw Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
This e-mail has been issued to you in order to Officially inform you that we have completed an investigation on an
International Payment in which was issued to you by an International Lottery Company. With the help of our newly
developed technology (International Monitoring Network System) we discovered that your e-mail address was automatically
selected by an Online Balloting System, this has legally won you the sum of $2.4million USD from a Lottery Company
outside the United States of America. During our investigation we discovered that your e-mail won the money from an
Online Balloting System and we have authorized this winning to be paid to you via INTERNATIONAL CERTIFIED BANK DRAFT.
Normally, it will take up to 5 business days for an INTERNATIONAL CERTIFIED BANK DRAFT by your local bank. We have
successfully notified this company on your behalf that funds are to be drawn from a registered bank within the world
winded, so as to enable you cash the check instantly without any delay, henceforth the stated amount of $2.4million USD
has been deposited with IMF.
We have completed this investigation and you are hereby approved to receive the winning prize as we have verified the
entire transaction to be Safe and 100% risk free, due to the fact that the funds have been deposited with IMF you will
be required to settle the following bills directly to the Lottery Agent in-charge of this transaction whom is located in
Cotonou, Benin Republic. According to our discoveries, you were required to pay for the following,
(1) Deposit Fee’s ( IMF INTERNATIONAL CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE )
(3) Shipping Fee’s ( This is the charge for shipping the Cashier’s Check to your home address)
The total amount for everything is $96.00 We have tried our possible best to indicate that this $96.00 should be
deducted from your winning prize but we found out that the funds have already been deposited IMF and cannot be accessed
by anyone apart from you the winner, therefore you will be required to pay the required fee’s to the Agent in-charge of
In order to proceed with this transaction, you will be required to contact the agent in-charge ( Mr. Nicholas Smith )
via e-mail. Kindly look below to find appropriate contact information:
CONTACT AGENT NAME: Mr. Nicholas Smith
E-MAIL : email@example.com
PHONE NUMBER: +22996334110
You will be required to e-mail him with the following information:
DIRECT CONTACT NUMBER:
You will also be required to request Western Union or Money Gram details on how to send the required $96.00 in order to
immediately ship your prize of $2.4million USD via INTERNATIONAL CERTIFIED BANK DRAFT from IMF, also include the
following transaction code in order for him to immediately identify this transaction : EA2948-910.
This letter will serve as proof that the Federal Bureau Of Investigation is authorizing you to pay the required $96.00
ONLY to Mr. Nicholas Smith via information in which he shall send to you,
Mr. Robert Mueller
Federal Bureau of Investigation F B I
Yours in Service,Photograph of Director
Robert S. Mueller, IIIRobert S. Mueller,
III Director Office of Public Affairs