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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Post # 94 - Thanks for the Memorex - 1/31/2010

A while back, our backup DVD player crapped out.  It cost $30, so I figured I was being penalized for buying a cheap appliance.  I almost threw it out on several occasions.

Dear Memorex,

On Sunday afternoons, back in the early 80's, I would turn on Channel 20, only to see a scrambled picture. It seemed the elitists would pay a nominal fee to enjoy premium movies and entertainment on "ON TV". I had no problem with people paying a little extra to watch top tier movies and sports. My issue was, this scrambled signal was on my TV, on my channel, during a time previously occupied by my shows.

Last Sunday, I had the gang over for my annual Mickey Rourke film marathon. When I plugged in your DVD player, I relived that scrambled-picture experience. This DVD player (Model MVD2016BLK), purchased back in July, had been used, literally twice. Now, on the third occasion, we have a problem--the picture is not only black and white, it is also scrambled. If I wanted, I could rent Caddyshack and Risky Business and relive the ON TV experiences of my youth.

I must confess, as I shop for electronics in the future, this experience is going to stick in my mind. I'm extremely unhappy with this DVD player. Yes, it was the $30 model, but by my math, it should work after two uses. Can you explain this?



Subject: Memorex Technical Support - Reference 600538
Date: Mon, 1 Feb 2010 19:15:54 -0600

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for contacting our product support team.

Try to find a PS(Progressive scan) switch on the back of the unit and turn it off. If it doesn't have a switch on the back, please try to find a PS button or Video button on the remote control and press it to change the settings of the DVD player.

Also, you can try to reset the unit with the following steps:

1. Turn the unit On

2. Press and hold the On/Off button for 5 seconds and disconnect the unit from the Power Outlet without releasing the On/Off button.

3. Keep pressing the On/Off button for 1 more minute.

4. When the minute is over, release the On/Off button and connect the unit to the Power Outlet again.

5. Turn on the unit



Product Support Specialist

My response, 2/1/2010

Dear Stuart,

I searched the remote and down at the bottom, along the right side, there was a little tiny Video button. I pressed that button, and Voila! Picture.

I honestly don’t remember ever pushing that tiny button, but in fairness, it’s a tiny remote and I have biggish fingers.

Thanks for all of your help. I really appreciate it.

I’ll remember this positive experience next time I’m shopping for appliances.

I'm not sure why Memorex puts a button on their remote to make the picture go all scrambley.  It's a little like putting a button on your steering wheel to make the windshield fog up.  Regardless, I was impressed with Stuart's prompt, accurate response.

Go Memorex!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Post # 93 - Einstein Bros Bagels - Filthy McPottyhands and the Bagel Ripper - 1/23/2010

I thought I made a compelling argument here.  The Einstein people had more pressing issues to handle.

I like Panera's Asiago bagels better anyway.
Dear Einstein,

One out of four. That’s about how often I encounter a public restroom situation where a “neighbor’s” path from urinal to exit is a straight one. No time for pesky soap and water. I’ve labeled them “Filthy McPottyhands”. Big people, small people, rich people, poor people, nice people, mean people—it doesn’t seem to matter. I’ve seen it happen in a rest stop restrooms and posh mahogany and marble washrooms. Teachers, mail carriers, Fortune 500 Execs, politicians. It could be anyone.

One out of four. That’s about how often I encounter a public bagel situation where some calorie counter has decided to make a compromise—half of the calories of a full size bagel. We’ve all seen it—they reach in there (“pardon the hands!”) and rip one in half, leaving the second half for you or me. I’ve labeled them Bagel Rippers. Generally, that half bagel sits there untouched, like a baby bunny, handled by a human and swiftly rejected by his bunny parents. Like the captain of the ship, that half bagel goes down with the empty cream cheese containers.

The thing is, in the backs of our minds, we worry that Filthy McPottyhands and the Bagel Ripper are the same guy. Tim from IT, or Jake from Sales. Bob, the gruff fellow from Accounting. We don’t want Tim or Jake or Bob’s hands anywhere near us, or anything of ours. Most of all, we’d rather skip breakfast, than ingest something this filthy, this disgusting.

This is where you come in. Why doesn’t Einstein revolutionize the bagel industry once more? Convert your entire bagel operation over to Bagel Halves. Two halves constitute a whole. This would reduce the heavily handled half bagel situation.

The smart ones can figure out how to order a dozen (“You have to order 24 halves to constitute a dozen, Einstein!”).

The smart ones can figure out how to toast it (“Put it in there vertically, you big dummy!”).

When you respond, please focus on how we get there, not how “we can’t solicit outside ideas, even when they’re awesome”. I’ll sign the waiver, so you can retain your "Einstein" title.


No reply.  Did I mention how much better I like Panera's bagels?
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Post # 92 - My Plea for Employment To Mr. Karmanos - 3/23/2010

A friend of mine suggested I write to Peter Karmanos, asking for a job.  Thanks James!

Kwame Kilpatrick is the former Mayor of Detroit.  He was essentially paid $240,000 five wealthy Detroit businessmen, (including Peter Karmanos) to leave the state.  Peter Karmanos, owner of Compuware, the Carolina Hurricanes NHL franchise, and two minor league hockey franchises, then hired  Kwame in Dallas.  Kwame was hired for a sales position in Dallas.  Between all of his court dates in Michigan, it's hard to imagine Kwame getting much done.  The hope was, with a steady gig, he'd repay the city a fraction of the debt that he caused.  Not so fast.

For me, these gestures by Karmanos prompted two questions: 
1) What photos does Kwame have of Peter and the other five families? 
2) How low is the bar at Compuware.  By just being average, I'd probably wow him.

Normally I wait for a response before posting these.  I decided to pull this one ahead because:
1) It's topical.  The judge is making Peter testify about his relationship with Kwame.  Kwame's having probation hearings.

2) I'm pretty sure I won't be hearing back (if I do, I'll post an update).

3) I really like the picture.
Dear Mr. Karmanos,

I would like to apply for a sales job. Like other past applicants who have applied, I have no sales experience. That is, unless you count my ten year paperboy career.

However, unlike past candidates that you have hired, I have never spent over $200k of public funds to lease a Navigator, enjoy spa massages, extravagant dining, and expensive wines. Never hosted a party where my strippers got in a fight with my wife, and one was later shot in the head.  Never fired police officers for sniffing around a little. Never been cause for an $8.4 million settlement by my city, for my sexy text messages. Never been indicted.  Never been charged with assaulting a police officer. Never repeatedly committed slander. Never funneled state grant money to the Missus. Never hired family members and given them huge raises.

I know one guy you hired and relocated to Dallas. You paid him at least $100K, and as much as $360K. In fact, I think you and others actually paid him to leave the local area. From what I’m hearing, if I turn one sale, we’re ahead.

Look. I’m not as interesting. I’ve never offered to buy beer for a million Red Wing fans. I don’t have a posse of high school buddies that travel with me everywhere. My mom doesn’t wire me five figure cash ftransfers, or fly me on a private jet. I pay off my pesky debts. I don’t have any awesome prison stories.

Yet at the same time, I don’t get subpoenaed to fly across the country. In an average year, I probably miss two days due to illness. Maybe one personal day every two years for a funeral, or to take a kid to an emergency room.

I just want to throw it out there. The existing standards seem attainable by someone like me. Someone who works hard. Someone more like you.




Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Post # 91 - Uncle Milton's Ant Farm and Gummi Bear Fun! - 1/3/2010

I had an ant farm when I was ten. The ants got loose and one bit me. I've been pretty bitter ever since.

Dear Uncle Milton,
I purchased one of your Ant Farms for my son, Tatum, on his fourth birthday. I thought this would be a great way to teach him responsibility. Last summer, he had taken an interest in the ant hills that decorate our driveway and sidewalk. It seemed harmless.

I gave Tater the responsibilities of feeding and watering the ant population. This was progressing nicely for about a month. Then, Tate became a little creative. Tate decided to reward the colony after a job well done. He had placed some debris (a tooth pick) in one area, and a team of ants moved the toothpick to the other section. Non-participants were isolated, as a form of punishment. Each contributing member was individually recognized, and he awarded them all with a Gummi Bear.

Here’s the rub. The Gummi Bear was actually one of those Gummi Multivitamins. This must have triggered some sort of growth hormone—they started growing. They outgrew their farm, so I (carefully) placed them in a Tupperware container with airholes. Soon, this was too small. I placed them in a 50 gallon tank. The tank worked for a week. They kept growing and growing. Luckily, I moved them outside when they were an inch long.
Now, they are two feet long. They are digging in my yard, They taunt my dog, Yahtzee. They rap on the window at all hours of the night. Neighbors are starting to complain.

Here is my question—is there a humane way to maul these things?  Can I return the Ant Farm if 1) the box is open and 2) I pitched the receipt?  Any information that you can provide is greatly appreciated.



Subject: RE: Question
Date: Wed, 6 Jan 2010 09:28:17 -0800


I would suggest training them to work in your yard, perhaps pulling a rototiller and planting seed. You might even be able to train them well enough to hire them out, allowing you to generate passive income.

As farm as the return, you would need to contact the retailer you purchased the farm from regarding their return policy. If there is a defect with the farm, and you are not able to return it to the retailer, Uncle Milton Industries is only able to exchange it for you if you have a receipt dated within the past 90 days and the toy in the box in saleable condition. If you would like to do this please contact us at 888-742-2484 to receive a return authorization. You will need this authorization before you ship the toy back to us.


Consumer Services

Uncle Milton Industries
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Post # 90 - Budweiser Proves Me Wrong and Then Tells Me to Apply - 8-28-2009

Dear Budweiser,

I remember in the second grade, I smuggled saltwater taffy into school. It was the best taste ever, until my teacher, Ms. Bumbleton, approached my desk with a waste paper basket. Spitting out something that I loved was the WORST!

About a year ago, you were running these ads, glamorizing the role of the Budweiser "Taster". You made it sound like Budweiser Tasters had the best jobs on earth, and that everyday at 3:00, they entered paradise (my words, not yours)--your boardroom.

If being a "taster" is such a good job, why do your tasters spit it out?

As one who has responsibly enjoyed your beverages for years and years, I could be a taster and actually swallow it. I think you need to hire some beer drinkers over there.

Fire those sissies who are clearly "do as I say but not as I do" types; hoping, day after day, of being promoted, out of the "Taster" role. They can't tell you if it's good or bad because they hate all of it! They pray, day after day, that you'll bring in some wine coolers for tasting.

Wise up! You're losing market share, and it's their fault!


Subject: Customer Comment Reference: 5523104
Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2009 14:16:51 -0500

Hey Jerry,

Thanks for stopping by the site and shooting me an e-mail. I’m flattered by your interest in Budweiser!

As you mentioned, in order to insure every Budweiser tastes the same, BrewMasters meet daily at 3:00. In order to taste the natural bitterness that occurs in Budweiser, it is important for our “Tasters” to swallow the beer. In addition, our Taste Panels not only monitor the quality of the taste, they are also making sure the aroma and color of the beer is the same as the Budweiser that was introduced in 1876. So before the beer is tasted, our BrewMasters examine the way the beer looks and also smell the beer.

I can assure you that one thing we all have in common is that we love beer! We love brewing, tasting and talking about beer, so if there is ever anything I can do to help you out in the future, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.

You also mentioned that you are interested in working with us. When you get a minute, feel free to check out The site is updated regularly, so you might want to check back on a regular basis.

Thanks for getting in touch, Jerry. I hope you’ll enjoy the perfect balance of flavor and refreshment with an ice-cold Budweiser soon!

Your Friend at Budweiser
1-800-DIAL-BUD (1-800-342-5283)
Hey Joe,

So you’re saying there’s no spitting out of beer? That’s a job I can handle. I’ll check your employment section.

Hypothetically, I would be very willing to bring the tunes (“Save my life I’m going down for the last time. Ooooh-AHHHHHHH!!!!). Is the taste panel ever permitted (perhaps on casual Fridays) to say, do a friendly keg stand, or the “Bong-a-bility” test? These are both common practices at frat parties, tail gating events, block parties, and retirement group events. If I were in charge of the panel, these tests would be required.

I appreciate all of your insights.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Post # 89 - Letter to a Detroit High School Freshman - 3/17/2010

My friend Joy is involved with a great organization called The Detroit College Promise.  They provide scholarships to Detroit Public Schools.  They were asking for 500 people to write a letter to inspire a high school freshman to focus on college.  I figured, if I can harass an email scammer, I should be able to do this.

This was a great exercise for me.  It made me think about some of my early academic struggles in high school, and the resiliance that it took to dig out.  Let's just say National Honor's Society never came-a-knockin'.

The letter request was HERE

The Detroit College Promise Facebook Fan Page is HERE

Dear Prospective High School Student,

My name is Jerry. Once I was in your shoes. Four years of high school seemed like it would last forever.

My high school career started off on the wrong foot. Algebra was really tough, and I made the mistake of landing myself in Advanced English. This class, to me, was a struggle from Day 1. I was clearly over my head, and asked to be transferred to the normal English class. My teacher refused. Later, after I graduated, I realized that he was teaching me this lesson: you can’t transfer from most of life’s challenges. You need to face them.

In the spring of my freshman year, I joined the track team. Being the youngest of four, I always felt a little overshadowed by siblings and friends who were better than me at school, swimming, baseball and basketball. I saw track as my chance to “do my own thing”. It helped take my mind off of my classes. My English teacher was also my coach.

I found that as my efforts in track started paying off, my grades started improving. I was working just as hard as when I had struggled, but my attitude was much more positive. Soon, I decided to confront another weakness—swimming. As a kid, I could never pass a certain level. I wound up taking classes and becoming a lifeguard at the local pool. This was the best job ever!

When I graduated, I had raised my GPA high enough to qualify for a half-scholarship at the University of Detroit Mercy. There, I confronted another of my weaknesses: Math. College was probably the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. College was also one of the most rewarding and fun things that I’ve ever done. High school really prepared me for these challenges.

I went on to graduate from UDM and became a Mechanical Engineer. Today, I work as a Mechanical Engineer and Project Manager at Chrysler. I work on steering and suspension on Dodge Trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokees. I have a house, and provide a decent living for my wife and two children.

Each day, as I drive to work, I think about all of the hard work, and the people who helped me along the way. I was very blessed to have great and supportive parents and siblings. I owe a great deal to that English Teacher and Track Coach who made me tough it out. I also owe a great deal to the handful of people along the way who told me “I can’t”. Sometimes, proving your doubters wrong can be the greatest motivator.

At this point in my life, I can’t tell you a lot of specifics about the things that I learned in those high school or college classes. The biggest lessons that I learned weren’t related to any one subject. Rather, I learned about preparation, rising to my challenges, and having confidence in my abilities. These traits transfer to everything I do.

You’re heading to a new place, with a lot of new faces, and new challenges. You have a new beginning, and a clean slate. Don’t lose sight of College at the end of those four years.

You will undoubtedly run into some challenges. How you face these challenges defines who you are. Try not to dig yourself a hole like I did, but also know that if you run into trouble, there are people who can help you. You are the master of your destiny. If you study hard and have confidence in your abilities, you can go to college like I did. You can do this!

Best of luck to you!


P.S. – I’ll be thinking about you and praying for you over these next four years.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Post # 88 - War On Spam: Monica, The Girl Who Stole Razia's Hat - 1/13/2010

This letter refers to Razia, the star of Post # 86.
Date: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 23:43:25 +0800
Subject: Hi

Hi, Am Monica Riche,26yrs,single girl.i will love to know you more
My response 1/16/2010

Hi Monica.

You sure say a lot in a short sentence. I will love to know you more too.

Me first. I am in the business of cheese. I own a Cheese Shoppe. I make the cheese. I pour milk and bacteria into a vat. I age it, and as it ages, it smells like death. I walk around all day reeking of death. People stay clear of me. I once cleared out the first five rows of an Aerosmith Concert. Joe Perry asked me to please leave. The problem is, I can shower and shower and shower, and the smell never goes away.

On top of that, I have a lot of skin problems and scabies. I have ringworm, a tapeworm, a medium sized goiter and the gout. My jaw cracks when I chew pudding, I burp involuntarily mid-sentence, and I have acne. Lots and lots of that. I also snore.

In addition, I hate little kids and puppies, and I disrespect my elders. I took the mother of my children for everything she owns. She now lives in a shack, which is probably a shame since she's pretty nice. My kids put a positive spin on it--they're closer to nature. I pretty much hate all people with any redeeming values.

I may be a crusty, raunchy, possibly criminal 78 year-old who hates people and life, but I like my ladies. They have to be young and single, and willing to pay attention to me. I like to go to the Gentleman's clubs and spend spend spend on the ladies--the young ones. I have a rule--27 and younger.

What's your story? Please be brief again so we can focus on me again.


Todd O'Hocketsmitch
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 2010 23:21:01 +0800

Subject: RE: Hi

Hi dear,

How are you today and thanks for your mail/care.please Iam Monica Riche from Liberia in w/africa.currently residing in dakar the capital city of senegal in w/africa.please i want us to take things cooperatings.

As i will tell you,my father before his untimely death,was one of the directors of national mining,Golds/Diamonds.

Since the death of my Father i decided to look for a life partner who can take proper good care of me and some little wealths he left behind.Because of this i decided to move out from my country Liberia to senegal to search for a better life partner.

But it was a little bad experience to me since i have not travelled to this country happened that i lost my hand bag containing,my international passport, some samples of Golds and Diamonds and some cash and some valuables inside the bag.this happend in the Airport car parks while i was taking a little rest of my flieght from my country.iam left with only my ID Card.

Dear iam telling you this just because i want us to be help to each other.

Before the untimely death of my father, he burried a box containing some Golds and Diamonds near one flower tree in our compound.and according to my late father,he told me that the cost value of those items is between 50,000 US$ to 100 000 US$.

Dear please i want you to assist me with some little cash for my travel back home to get those items.then i will return back here with it,then i can sell some for my tickets and travelling documents and we arrange on how to meet.

if possible you can come down here yourself and take me along with you.

i promise to be loyal to you as long you can help me now that i need your assistance.

kindly get back to me on time. iam waiting please..As already now,you know my current situation here in this new country iam .

And please kindly send to me your picture/contacts address.Here is my pictures for you.

Please Dear,do not delay to get back to me please.we must be of great help to each other

Thanks for your understandings and cooperations.

yours future partner,

Monica Riche
My response dated 1/18/2010

Hey Mon Mon,

Count me in. But let's settle something right now.

I'm also dating Razia, and her hat is missing. I think you stole it. Give it back.

Also, I expect a sincere apology.

There's no point in proceeding until this happens.

Todd O'Hocketsmitch
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 2010 04:44:57 +0800
Subject: RE: Hi

Please dearest tell me if you are able to solve this matter out with me then i can count you in.we must be of great help to each other.thanks.Monica.
My response, sent 1/19/2010

Look Hat Thief,

Razia's pee-oh'ed at you. She told me to tell you that you'd better get that hat back to her ASAP. For me, the formal apology is a more important gesture than the returning of the hat. The hat is a crappy piece of felt with a feather. The apology is the very bedrock of the foundation of our business partnership. I often find, in these situations, a nice verse works well. Doesn't have to rhyme. Just show a little creativity.

Razia's exact words last night on the phone: "Don't you make me come over there and get that hat myself." Apparently you two live near one another and know one another. Please make this situation right. Then we can move forward.


Todd O'Hocketsmitch


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Post # 87 - Hewlett Packard and How They Short You a USB Cable - 2/20/2010

My friend Wendy commented on my note to Phillips (they shorted me a cable and memory card for my digital frame, and said nothing on the box about needing them).  Her complaint was related to the HP printer she purchased.  I sent this note to HP CEO Mark Hurd.

Wendy owns a boutique called Poppy.  There's all kinds of cool stuff on there--clothing, gifts, you name it.  Check it out HERE.
Dear Hewlett Packard,

I’m calling you by your real name because you’re in trouble. You really did it this time. Last week, I was finishing my essay for a $10,000 scholarship. I was racing against the clock—we had a February 15th deadline. Since the entry needed to be postmarked, I needed to make the post office by 5:00. Don’t get judgmental—I’m a college student with 19 credit hours and a 20 hour a week job.

As I printed out my essay, my old printer (worry not--not an HP) made a squealing noise, and started smoking. I extinguished it, hopped in the car, and headed to my local retailer. It was now 4:15 PM.

The fellow at the store recommended the HP Office Jet J4500. I thought it was a bit pricy on a college student’s budget, but felt comfortable with the HP name. I glanced at the box—it looked all-inclusive, so I paid the fellow and raced home.

I unboxed it, plugged it in, and installed the ink cartridges. I placed it close to my computer. My thoughts then went to: “how long of a cord did they give me”. I searched the box. Nothing. I searched the floor around the desk. Nothing. I peaked inside the printer. No USB cable, as thanks for my $150 purchase.

Then I quickly looked at the box—did I miss something? Was there a “USB Cable Not Included” warning on the box? No. Did you automatically assume I had a spare cord? Awfully presumptuous, if so.

I quickly hopped back in the car, went back to the store, dished out $12.99 for a USB cable, and raced home. Now it was 4:45. By the time I connected the J4500 and got it up and running, it was past 5:00. I missed my chance. HP had a big hand in this.

What would possess you to not provide the connection cord necessary to print from my computer? I’m really sorry that I haven’t jumped on the wireless internet bandwagon. Do bean counters dictate everything? Whatever happened to “Make the customer happy?”

I was going to call my essay “Going to College on Top of Cloud Nine” but I think I’ll change it to “Going to College on Top of Cloud Nine, as Long as I Don’t Have to Print Anything Out on My HP J4500, Because They Don’t Provide a USB Cable.

I’d like a written explanation. I’m thinking I might take this thing back, on principle.


Dear Valued Customer,

Your message is important to me. Although I cannot personally respond to your message due to the volume of messages I receive, I often pass along suggestions and observations to my colleagues throughout Hewlett-Packard. If action is required, I'll have someone follow up.

If you need help, other information, or wish to send an e-mail about particular HP products and services, please visit our Contact HP page.


Hewlett-Packard Company

Date: Mon, 22 Feb 2010 16:30:28 +0000
Subject: RE: Feedback to CEO and President Mark Hurd from Jerry

Thank you for writing to HP with your feedback. We value your opinion, and we're grateful that you took the time to share your thoughts with HP. We will be documenting your comments which will be reviewed by HP management.

If there is more you'd like to add, or if there is an unresolved issue, do not hesitate to call the HP Executive Customer Relations office at 800-756-0608, option 7, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Pacific Time.


CEO Customer Relations
Subject: FW: Feedback to CEO and President Mark Hurd from Jerry
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 2010 23:50:41 -0500
CEO Customer Relations (CCR),

Is this where it ends? A note on some dry erase board in some over-pastried Friday morning executive workshop? Couldn't you have USB cords made pretty inexpensively, and bought in bulk? Isn't that the real answer instead of turning people off?

Why not begin a new era--one where the customer is always first?


Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2010 15:06:57 +0000
Subject: RE: Feedback to CEO and President Mark Hurd from Jerry

USB cables have not been included for a number of years now, and you'll find this to be industry wide. The reason for this is that although some customers still connect their printers to computers with cables, all do not; wireless is fast becoming the norm. Those that do connect the printer to a computer require varying lengths. Having the customer purchase the USB cable to suit their individual need keeps the price down for everyone.


CEO Customer Relations
Subject: FW: Feedback to CEO and President Mark Hurd from Jerry
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2010 19:14:17 -0500

Dear CCR,

You'll probably find disappointed customers industrywide as well. That doesn't make it right. Most people go to garages when they need an oil change, but that doesn't make it right to hose the do-it-yourselfer by making the oil filter impossible to reach with a human hand.

Many toys come without batteries, but the box normally says "Batteries Not Included" so Santa doesn't look like a jerk for giving Timmy a toy he can't play with on Christmas morning.

I guess what I'm saying is, maybe you cut your costs by not including a 4 foot USB cable, and if that keeps you viable, great. But you should slap a warning on the box. For $150, I don't think that's too much to ask.




Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Essay # 7 - Revisiting "Why" 3/7/2010

Every now and then, I need to do a reality check . Why do I do this?

When I first started writing letters, I was trying to “get free stuff”. If a watch broke, or sunglasses, I wanted to get them replaced for free. If someone wasn’t happy with something, I wanted to get it fixed. I found that wrapping the meat of the letter with whimsical characters and story development, made the process easier for all.

-I had fun creating something.

-The people around me laughed.

-People at companies who are paid to read letters seemed to respond better.

-The more I write, the faster and easier it becomes.
Soon, I found out that I really enjoyed putting the stories together, and sharing them, as I did getting the response. A friend suggested that I develop this into a blog, which I started last August. That has affected my writing in several ways:

1) It puts me on a schedule. Without writing letters, I have nothing to share with you all.

2) It gives me a “live” audience. People give me immediate feedback, and great ideas.

3) When I get nonperishable food coupons on behalf of you, we generally agree to donate the food to charity, which makes me feel like a little less of a jerk when I tear into a company.

4) It makes me think twice about what I say. I don’t like offending people.

5) I get to create my own little hokey illustrations, which may be my favorite part of all.
Several have suggested getting my letters published. I explored this several years ago, and didn’t get too far. I figure if I write enough, I’ll have a bigger pool from which to select. The support from you all has been great—both readers and fellow writers.

This is such a departure from my actual career, it serves as a great hobby and stress release. I feel that writing has improved my communication skills, and recharges my batteries.

Last week, I received a note from Google. The note contained my PIN for the ad account on my site. It seems that enough people have clicked on the Google Ads on my blog page to earn some money. This transaction would not pay for a movie and popcorn—more like one or the other. But I’m proud of it nonetheless. It’s something tangible, a result of people reading my letters. 

It's something that I owe to all of you,

Thanks for all of your support!



Monday, March 8, 2010

Post # 86 - War on Spam: Razia the Refuge - 7/29/2009

This was a scam note from someone named Razia. I even found her on

My dear I am writing this mail with tears and sadness and pains. I know it will come to you as a suprise since we haven't known or come across each other before, but kindly bear with me at this moment. I have a special reason why I decided to contact you. My situation at hand is miserable but I trust in God and hope you will be of my help. My name is Razia Ibrahim Bare 25years old girl and I held from Republic of Niger the daughter of Late General Ibrahim Bare Ma?nassara the former President of the Republic of Niger who was ambushed and killed by dissident soldiers at the military airport in the capital, Niamey with his driver and a former Prefect. You can see more detail about my late father here

I am constrained to contact you because of the maltreatment which I am receiving from my step mother. She planned to take away all my late father's treasury and properties from me since the unexpected death of my beloved Father. Meanwhile I wanted to travel to Europe, but she hide away my international passport and other valuable documents. Luckily she did not discover where I kept my father's File which contained important documents. I am presently staying in the Mission camp in Burkina Faso.

I am seeking for longterm relationship and investment assistance. My father of blessed memory deposited the sum of USD$6.7 Million in one bank in Burkina Faso with my name as the next of kin. I had contacted the Bank to clear the deposit but the Branch Manager told me that being a refugee, my status according to the local law does not authorize me to carry out the operation. However, he advised me to provide a trustee who will stand on my behalf. I had wanted to inform my stepmother about this deposit but I am affraid that she will not offer me anything after the release of the money. Therefore, I decide to seek for your help in transferring the money into your bank account while I will relocate to your country and settle down with you. I have my fathers death certificate and the account number which I will give you as soon as you indicated your interest to help me.

It is my intention to compensate you with 20% of the total money for your assitance and the balance shall be my investment in any profitable venture which you will recommend to me as have no any idea about foreign investment. Please all communications should be through this email address only for confidential purposes.

Thanking you alot in anticipation of your quick response. I will send you my photos in my next email.

Yours Sincerely
Razia Ibrahim Bare
My response to Razia on 7/29/2009:

Dear Razia,

Sorry about your sadness, and pains. Your stepmother sounds like a real bitch.

My father invented gum. At first, he was lauded in our town as a hero for such an invention. Everyone chewed and chewed gum like there was no tomorrow. Later, he was banished because the elders in our small town blamed him for inflicting toothlessness on our entire town. There isn’t a tooth standing among the remaining townspeople, between the ages of 68 and 95.

Consequently, I grew up in solitude—wealthy solitude. Wrigley, Hubba Bubba, Bubble Yum, Bazooka Joe, and Bubbalicious all pay me $0.10 per piece in royalties. I need a soul mate. Last night I prayed for one, and POOF ! Your email came.

I’m really sorry about your dad. You sound smokin’ hot.

As I type this, I am filling out paperwork to open a joint bank account with you. I am reserving the local country club for the first Saturday in September, and preparing to fly 100 of your closest family and friends. But not your stepmom, that whore. Upon completion of our blessed day, we will be one forever. You will be a US Citizen. They can all live in guest wings in our mansion, as long as they know their boundaries!

I am also looking into mercenaries to off your whorish stepmom. Let me know if you want anyone else "taken care of".

Let’s do this! Let me know how we get the business part going too!


Thomas Von GumBase

PS--I’m hoping you’re into some weird stuff!
Razia's response on 7/31/2009:

My Dear,

Thanks a lot for your quick response. I need your help to stand as my trustee in transferring the money to your bank account for investment project. As I told you in my earlier mail, I am staying in the mission at Burkina Faso and I haven't a personal telephone number to be reached. But if you wish to contact me on phone, I can be reached through the office telephone number of the Mission coordinator. His name is Father Silas and the telephone number is +226 78 66 52 73. If you call, please tell him that you want to speak with Razia Ibrahim Bare. I'm staying in Block 22 female hostel.

The reason why I ask you to contact the bank as my trustee is because I have contacted them on my arrival in order to clear the money but the Branch manager who I met in person told me that my status as a refugee does not authorized me to transfer the money. He advised me to seek for someone who will represent me and transfer the money into his or her bank account. I wanted to inform my stepmother about this deposit but am afriad that she will not release the money to me after presenting her to clear the money because after the death of my parent she and my uncle arrange seceretly and sold my father's estate in Monaco. They shared the money among themselves and when I confronted them my uncle told me that the tradition and custom of our land does not entitled me to share assets of my father as a single young girl. Ever then they have been maltreating me and even made arrangement to assassinate me because of the demand for my share of the money from the sales of the hotel. Right now I want you to help me because you are God sent and you will never regret of helping me.

Please send me your full contact information which include:

Your full name:
Contact address:
Telephone numbers to be reached:
Your age:
Your Occupation:
Marital Status:
Your Nationality
Your photos to see you:
Information above is very important for me to know you well so as to proceed futher with trust. As soon as I receive them I will give you the contact of the bank were my father deposited the money. And you will contact them as my trustee and ask them to transfer the money into your bank account for investment project. After you receive the money in your bank account you will send me some amount to process my traveling documents which I will use to travel and settle in your country so that I can further my academic studies.

Thanks a lot in anticipation of your quick reply..

Yours truly,
Razia Ibrahim Bare
My note to Razia, on 7/30/2009:

Dear Lovely,

If your stepmom or uncle have any family recipes that you want, you’d better hurry up and get them, if you know what I mean. Also, don’t get in the car with them.

Here’s my info:
Full Name: Thomas Von GumBase
Contact Info: 2 Many Raisin Way, Reststop Run, New Jersey 80888
Age: 25
Occupation: Heir to the Gum Fortunes of my deceased father
Marital Status: Eligible
Nationality: Swiss Colby American

Please see my photo.


Thomas Von GumBase
No reply. Sent this note on 8/2/2009:

Dear Razia,

It’s been three days. What the hell. Are you seeing someone else now?

The plans are in place—stay AWAY from your whorish stepmom for a while.

What are the next steps?


No reply

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Post # 85 - Guest Post on Intense Auburn's Blog - 3/4/2010

I'm very honored today to be guest-posting on my friend Joy's blog.  Reading her posts is always a highlight in my day.

The letter is posted on her site, HERE

You can (and should definitely) join her Facebook Fan Page



Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Post # 84 - Morningstar Farms Vegetarian Bacon - 2/21/2010

My friend Deanne brought this to my attention.  She posted a note about it on her blog, RealChick Chat, which I recommend.  Thanks Deanne!
Dear Morningstar Farms,

They said it couldn’t be done.

For centuries and civilizations, no one could break the four minute mile. Then one day, after a breakfast of biscuits and gravy, Roger Bannister limbered up and stuck his wet thumb in the proverbial cupcakes of all of mankind. Roger Bannister did it.

They said that only the wealthy could drive the horseless buggy. Not only did Henry Ford make the automobile accessible to the common man, he also revolutionized the assembly line and brought jobs to a new and booming industry. Henry Ford did it.

They said that no one could fly across the Atlantic in an airplane. In 1927, a young pilot, armed with five PB&J’s, flew to Paris. Charles Lindbergh did it.

They said that it would be impossible to derive bacon or bacon-like product out of vegetation. Well, the fine folks at Morningstar Farms said “just hold on a second”. Let’s mix egg whites, soybean oil with TBHQ, textured soy protein concentrate, modified corn starch, wheat gluten, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, with less than two percent of glycerin, salt, soy protein isolate, sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, sugar, and natural and artificial flavors. The result (drum roll)…..Morningstar didn’t do it.

It looks more like something my kids might produce with their Crayola crayon machine. I offered some to my dog—I think it offended her. She left me a "canine message" on the living room floor.

Was this like the US/Soviet race to the moon? Did you feel like you had to beat Jennie-O to some patents by rushing this product to the market? Are you still dialing in the taste and textures?

Did we learn nothing from Bac-O’s?

Look, true vegetarians wouldn’t be interested in something that was supposed to resemble a fatty cross-section of pig belly. Right? You thought about that, right?

I just wanted to give you another point of view. I’m not perfect either. None of us are. You do so many other things well—why not just focus on those?

I’ll leave you with two questions:

1) Who invented vegetarian bacon?
2) Does he or she have a dog?



Subject: Morningstar Farms® Consumer Affairs 020763173A
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2010 21:32:34 -0600


Thank you for letting us know how you feel about Morningstar Farms® Veggie Bacon Strips. We appreciate our consumers sharing their opinions with us.

Trying a new product is often a fun experience. We understand that you were looking forward to enjoying our breakfast products and are sorry to hear that this didn't measure up to your family's expectations. We are sending a coupon you can use towards the purchase of other products that you enjoy. Please allow 7-10 business days for delivery.

Our goal is to have our consumers enjoy every product we offer. However, we know that not all of our consumers will approve of the new foods or reformulations that we introduce. Thanks to comments like yours, we are able to continually improve our products. We appreciate your input and will share your remarks with our food development and marketing teams.

Again, thank you for the taking the time to share your views. We hope to keep you as a loyal consumer for many years to come.



Consumer Affairs Department