I heard it, but it didn’t make any sense. Noise. Music. Shrill, loud music. Mozart. What does Mozart have against me? I never did anything to him …

fruitfly magazine telephone solicitationOh. It’s the telephone. Someone — maybe something — is calling. As the fumes clear my brain, I pick up the receiver, realize it’s an 800 number. No one in my world has an 800 number so I press “on” then “off” and the phone goes quiet.

I only answer calls from people with names or real numbers. Or which come from a number that looks like a real person’s number. No 800 numbers because they are not people. Most of the time, these calls are recordings. At best, they are hired guns trying to get my money.

I know everyone’s got to make a living, but you aren’t going to make it calling me. If I could reach through the receiver and get to a person on the other end, I would choke the life out of him or her. Or make my best effort.

These calls come in by the dozens. I don’t know how exactly the find me, but they do. My favorite recent one was a recorded message that started with “We are calling in response to your inquiry about a television advertisement for a back brace.”


Speechless, I stared at the receiver. Then I pressed the off button. I have never called in response to any television advertisement for anything. Not even once in my entire life.

So I was awake. Fortunately, it was already 10 in the morning and I would be getting up around now anyhow. Though just once, I would like to sleep in and not be jarred out of a dream by the telephone. It turns out you can only program the ringer to not ring between the hours of 11 pm and 9:30 am. After that, you’re on your own.

In case you didn’t know it, putting yourself on a “Do Not Call” list is the perfect way to distribute your phone number to organizations who sell data to telephone solicitation spammers.

I cannot stop the calls. All I can do is turn them off when they come. Too many mornings are the same, beginning with a ringing phone … followed by a day peppered with similar calls. Maybe that’s just life in the no-privacy, let-it-all-hang-out connected world.

I have only one question: Do these recorded calls actually earn money for anyone? Does someone actually buy a product because a recording called them?


What is it about “I don’t accept award nominations” that is hard to grasp? I know it’s difficult — virtually impossible — to find people to whom to pass these chain letters awards. Maybe it’s time to rethink them? Or just don’t pass them on. Especially not to those of us who have clearly said we do not want them.

'Wow! I've got one from someone I know!'

Don’t start your unwanted gift with “I know you don’t accept awards, but I thought …” I get the guilt thing. I will graciously acknowledge the honor, but I will not play the game. The Internet is full of spam, junk mail, chain letters, political advertising, and product promotions. At least once a week, I unsubscribe from organizations, individuals, and groups — many of them representing causes in which I believe or selling stuff in which I might be interested — that have become spam. Don’t be one of them.


Those of you who post 20 times a day, one picture or a few lines of text per post … really? Seriously? After the fourth post, unless the subject is topical and timely, you are spam. Even if I love you, I will delete your stuff unopened.

A final point: if you compulsively post something each time you sit down at the computer, those of us who feel assaulted by the deluge of email notifications will likely miss the one thing you wrote that was important, into which you poured your heart.

Here are a couple of helpful guidelines:

1. If you are a multiple time per day poster, do not exceed the number of fingers on the hand of the average humanoid, which is to say, five. If I need to use another hand to keep count, it will be used to hit the delete key.

2. If you write one post a day, you can write long form pieces. If you’re a good writer with something to say, I’ll enjoy it. If you add a few good photographs, I’ll like it better. I may even pass it around. Occasionally re-blog it. But, not every word you — or I — write is golden. Edit with enthusiasm. We will all thank you.


Most of us have other things going on in our lives. If we follow you, we like you, but you are not the only blogger filling our inbox. I spread my time thinly as is. If you load my email with dozens of posts, I will not be thinking kind thoughts.

Get a grip. Please.


Marilyn Armstrong:

Remember junk mail? Now it’s spam in email and worst of all? It’s those phone calls from fake charities, surveys that are really sales calls, scammers, rip-off artists … and so much of it not even human. You get woken up at 7 in the morning by a machine telling you to hold for a real person. Does anyone really hold because a machine tells them to? I hope we aren’t that mindless yet. From the incomparable Beasley Greene … “Hell in a Handset”!

Originally posted on Beasley Green:


Although it seems a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, it wasn’t too long ago when receiving a letter or correspondence through the post was greeted with excited anticipation. Now the sound of the letterbox and the sight of mail on the landing tends to be a portent to debt and threat –  ‘Your bill…’ ‘To be paid by…’, ‘You owe…’, ‘FINAL NOTICE’, ‘Summons to Court’, etc.

If it isn’t bills or requests for payment, it’s usually junk mail or menu’s from local takeaways. You no longer get letters from friends or lovers who you haven’t heard from in ages, those types of messages were replaced by email. That is until the spammers, hackers, marketers and account departments hijacked that outlet for private communication. Now most of your [non-work related] email is advertising, notification of pending bill payments or just total junk selling you pills, penis enlargements…

View original 604 more words


Customer Service waiting

Why does the translator always pop up and offer to translate my Spam? Isn’t there some way to make that go away and never come back?

When I get put on hold, they always tell me how important I am to them, often just before they disconnect me or start playing the most annoying music ever to assault the ears of humankind:

  1. If I’m that important, hire a person to answer the phone.
  2. Is there a special place everyone goes to buy really annoying music so you can not only be on hold for hours, but listen to the same orchestral rendition of Something From the 70s over and over and over?

You call customer service. They ask for your account number, phone number, social security number, date of birth, home address. When — if — someone comes on the line, they will ask for the same information again. All of it.


You will be required to listen to a menu from which you must select your “problem” because “our menu items have recently changed” even though you’ve been working with this company for years and the menu has never changed. You cannot skip ahead to the menu selection you know you need.

The menu goes on forever. All the choices are apparently irrelevant. By number 7, you have no idea what the first six choices were and anyhow, you need to talk to someone. If — in desperation — you are fool enough to select from the list, you will get a robot that will send you back to the same menu.

If you press none of the selections and just wait, you may get a live person. Or disconnected. It’s a crap shoot.

Whoever you get will tell you it’s not their department. The department to which they direct you will tell you to go to the place that just sent you to them. If you point that out, they will disconnect you by “accident.”

Every company records every conversation “for quality assurance purposes” (and if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you), but the call during which they promised to fix your problem/refund your money was (oddly enough) not recorded. Nor did the person with whom you spent an hour on the phone add that all important note to your file.

Death cust serv

If you remember to get the name and some kind of ID of the person you are talking to, he or she will not exist when you call back.

No one has a number you can call back. Ever.

Is it just me? Or is there an international conspiracy to make us simply give up and live with whatever crap they throw at us?

A Place of Peace

Despite all the blogs and bloggers who have posted articles on the etiquette of commenting, too many people still don’t get it. Maybe they just don’t want to understand, because it isn’t so complicated.

I got a really nasty note yesterday from an individual who took issue with something I wrote. I think she didn’t even understand how rude she was. Another — even nastier comment — expressed displeasure with my failure to address his comment — 3 months ago. The original comment was insulting (which is why I didn’t respond). Today’s follow-up was much worse.

In both cases, the result was identical. Bye bye. You’re out of here. Don’t come back.

This is not a forum, public or otherwise. This is my personal blog, my website. My little piece of peace in a nutty, wacko cyber world. In this place, we discuss, but we don’t fight. If I don’t like your comment — for whatever reason — I can choose to not publish it, delete it, edit it … or call it spam and make it so you trouble me no more.

It doesn’t mean you aren’t free to disagree. You are welcome to disagree. Politely. Reasonably. Friendly. But if you feel like sniping, insulting me, calling names, think this is an opportunity to show how smart you are at my (or anyone else’s) expense? Bye bye.

If you do not appreciate what I have to say or how I say it, no one is forcing you to read it. You don’t have to look at my pictures, read my opinions, like me or follow me. Cyber space is infinite and you are welcome to be virtually elsewhere.

I do not have to take crap from you. Not here. In the rest of my life, I deal with all the stuff I don’t like. In this place, this tiny corner of the huge universe, I hold fast to an illusion of control. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

In this place, this space, we dwell in peace and harmony, even when we differ.


See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

We westerners love to make fun of foreigners who have difficulty with the English language. This “mickey-taking” (English slang for making fun of) does not limit itself to making fun of the Japanese’s confusion about English and its non-logical methods. Also known as Engrish, which to me sounds a little insulting; I have decided that in the world of blogging there is another kind of “Glish.”

Spamglish, like its distant cousin, Japanglish has the same illogical application of nouns, verbs, pronouns, subjects, adjectives and tenses. The notion that there is a world of blog writers who don’t have enough of a command of the English language to spam properly tickles me. So, in my mind at least, I’ve created a new sort of language. One that is spoken and written in Spamglish.

I don’t know if I’m just easily amused or if I have a “cracked” sense of humour; but, I just adore spam comments. You know the ones I mean. The ones that akismet take and put in their spam folder in order to show how good they are at protecting your blog from unwanted sales oriented spammers.

Most of them can make me laugh until I cry. They are truly hysterical. I know that a contributing factor is that the spam comes from countries where English isn’t even a second language and they have to rely on Google Translate or other similar programs.

A lot of the time these “spam” comments start with the words “Hi, I do believe your website has browser compatibility problems.” This statement or the not too dissimilar, “I see you are lacking some factors on your site’” and the many variants of the same message make me groan and quickly empty my spam bin.

Some, though, are worth a read. They invariably make me laugh and wonder if the person writing the comment has editing problems or if they were inebriated or stoned while writing their “comments.”

Here are a few examples:

Excellent publish, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not understand this. You must continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!|What’s Taking place i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It absolutely helpful and it has aided me out loads. I hope to contribute & help different customers like its helped me. Good job.

*This was from a Polish site…I think.*

your posts gives me motivation to keep on my intention to create a blog one day. thank you for all


i didn’t even see something like this before because of the scarcity of this type of information *Portuguese*

*Now this one is Chinese (basic Han, whatever that is) and it translates to – Analysis is very thorough, appreciate your views, learning* amusingly the page view shows an advert for Babylon Translator something they did not bother to use.

I have had a lot of other amusing comments all by “sales sites” and they vary. Some start as a sort of mangled congratulatory message. For example: “I used to really like reading your blog but now not so much”. Another one is: “You used to be expert at this subject now I think don’t have enough knowledge.”

Of course the comments are amusing by themselves but the blog post that they appear on usually highlights the comedic element of the comments.

I would like to think that the problem is just translation, but after reading a few young people’s letters (where they use “text speak and spell”) and the horrendous sentence structure – I know, I’m no champ myself – I am beginning to believe that the art of communication via the written word is a dying art. It also appears to be contagious.

Some spammers though are trying to appear legitimate with the elegant and downright flattering tone of their comments. I actually got halfway through an entire paragraph of praises when I realised that the comment was from a “sex aid” company. The blog post in question was one of my Quorn articles.

But my all time favourite has to be the last Portuguese comment I got today: haha! i agree with you! This was in reference to a book review I did on The Unlucky Lottery. This one at least “looked” like it could be a legitimate comment.

I guess that the more illiterate or garbled comments make me think of the character Manuel from Fawlty Towers (played to hilarious perfection by the English actor Andrew Sachs) whose attempts at communication in English were classic comedy. In my mind I see a score of Manuel’s all sitting in front of a laptop adding what they know are pertinent comments on blogs that they are attempting to spam.

Of course were it not for askimet and their wide spam catching net, most of these would be read anyway, but, because askimet have rounded all the “offending” spam into one easy to access folder it makes reading them less annoying and more entertaining.

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

I’ve also written about this and I never get tired of these hilarious messages. My question remains unanswered: does anyone actually respond to these messages?

See on mikesfilmtalk.com

Spam! I bet I get more than you do!

These days I get approximately two spam messages for every real hit on my site. Since I average between two and three hundred hits on a normal day, I get at least five or six hundred spam messages. Is this a record? Should I be proud of this? Or worried?

Among the many questions I ask the universe, and one of many to which I will never have an answer is: How did a slimy, over-salted canned meat come to be synonymous with pornographic electronic junk mail?

Even more puzzling is that people really eat Spam. You may take that any way you like.

Most of my spam comes from a Spanish list server (lista de emails … anything you get from this address is spam) and 80% of these are also porn. The rest of them are scams. Legitimate companies do not send thousands of illiterate, nonsensical messages to random blogs.

Then, there are those who ask for advice. They use some version of this message as a comment to a randomly selected post.

“These are in fact fantastic ideas in concerning blogging. You have touched some good things here. Any way keep up wrinting.

Huh? What? It gets better. For completely incoherent, this is one of my favorites. I receive several dozen of these every day:

“Fine way of explaining, and fastidious paragraph to take information concerning my presentation focus, which i am going to convey in academy. Watch Elementary Season 1 Episode 5 Online”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

A few of my best friends and followers always get mixed in with the spam, so I can’t just go and delete it. I have to read through it. Sometimes there are 10 to 15 pages of it at a time, sometimes more, but since there are usually some few real comments mixed in, I have to at least look through all the pages. Every once in a while, something looks like it might be the real deal … a true comment, but I can’t always tell.

If you’ve been trying to comment and aren’t showing up, probably you’re getting dumped into the spam and because I don’t recognize you, you’re getting deleted. If you are a real person, please say something that identifies you as a human and not a machine generated message. I apologize in advance if I have over-zealously deleted you.

I know that I am by no means alone in getting tons of this garbage. WordPress does a good job finding it and putting into the spam folder. I wish there was some way to tell them to just delete anything with the word “Viagra” in it. Or “porn” or “hot sex” of for that matter, “lista de email.” That would cut down significantly on the volume because I’m reasonably sure that no one with something to say includes any of those terms in their comments or uses “lista de email” as their ISP.

My question is this: what do these spammers hope to accomplish by sending me this stuff? The messages never have anything to do with the posts with which they are supposed to be associated. Many of them are repeats and clearly generated on a computer programmed by someone whose native language is not English. Most of gibberish. But then again so are most posts of Facebook, so maybe that’s not a good example.

There are the ones that warns me my blog doesn’t display properly on the sender’s computer in Internet Explorer (why would I care?). There’s are three or four versions assuring me I am brilliant, they love my post about (insert post title) and promise they will tell everyone how useful the information is on my web blog (they always call it a web blog).

The thing is, while there are many ways you could describe my site, no one could honestly say (not even me) that it’s full of useful information. My stuff may be interesting, thought-provoking, occasionally funny, off-beat and apocryphal, but useful? I don’t consider it useful and I write it.

There are those that request I exchange links with them and those that would love an invitation to write for my blog, those who suggest I come to their site to see huge penises, hot lesbian sex, hot gay sex, hot sexy sex, huge breasts, gigantic butts, and attractive ladies doing disgusting things with inanimate objects. If not, they would like to sell me some Viagra.

Does anyone actually believe this will generate business? Make money? If they believe this, why do they believe it? Does anyone ever respond to these “messages”? So many questions, so few answers.

If anyone has an answer, let me know. I’m baffled.

Meanwhile, feel free to visit the Spam website. You’ll be glad to know that Spam now comes in a wide variety of flavors, including a low sodium version that dodges the question of  all that fat but lowers the salt level. The site includes recipes, a Spam Museum (no joke), and an online shop where you can buy Spam gear, such as caps, tee shirts, and other strange and wonderful things.

So maybe I do include useful information. I guess it depends on how you feel about Spam.