Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spamming for Dollars

I got a glossy insert in the mail that claimed I'd won a prize.  It was a scratch-off thing: a series of three boxes.  Two read "25,000 dollars."  The middle one was what the victim potential customer had to scratch off.  Predictably, it read "25,000 dollars" once the penny was applied.  

Underneath all of that was a guarantee that everyone would win one of four prizes: 25,000K, 750 dollar gift card to a local outlet of a big chain department store, some dollar gold coins ranging from 3 on up to 100, and one dollar gold coin.  The prize depended upon which set of numbers I had on the insert.  Having a bit of time before dinner, I went down to the mall where these used car salesmen [there were no saleswomen there] were.  I'd never seen that particular rip-off technique in action and I was curious.

A young man met me at the door.  He immediately brought me over to a table and handed me a form to fill you.  "You have to register," he said.  I asked why and he replied some hogwash about knowing who came.  "So where is the poster with the number that shows my prize?" I asked.  The young man frantically tried to get me to sit in the chair and fill out the form first.  I looked around.  "Oh, there the poster is!" and I walked over to it.  I had "won" three dollars in gold coins.

I stalked back to the table and I surveyed the "registration form."  The form wanted my name, address, phone numbers, employer, if I owned a house-- a bit too nosy for a "registration form," I thought.  I spied something after my required signature on the bottom.  By signing, I was giving the company permission to pull up my credit report [to see if I was "eligible" for a "special program" in addition to getting a loan to buy one of the very polished used cars outside].  "Uh, no," I said, confiscating the pen and the form.  Then I walked out.

On her way in was a woman clutching an identical glossy insert.  "Oh, you got one of them too?" I greeted her.  "You got the same number I did.  Your prize is three one-dollar gold coins.  And they are going to ask your permission to get your credit report.  It's a rip-off," I said.  The woman smiled feebly at me, "Well, yeah," and she backed away from me toward the door.  Hey, it's [currently] a free country.  Maybe she wanted to buy a car from these people.  These people were not even from the neighborhood.  The mailing was from another state.  There was a total of four used cars outside.  And the pen that I stole had the name of yet another mall on it about four hours away.

Spam-- full of "multitudinal" variations.

sapphoq and friends

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Teamwork has become the mantra in all kinds of business settings and organizational models.  No matter how lowly the job or how slovenly the jefes treat the workers, by golly we must have teamwork.  Everything is teamwork.  We must be good team members, we must.  It is a directive and a qualification.

We are taught in seminars and trainings to be part of a team.  We are told that a football player or a basketball player out for himself injures the team.  The team is priority.  The team is the way to fulfill destiny.  Go, team, go!  But lobby for a union?  Hell no.

We are robots.  We are automations.  Unfeeling.  Unthinking.  Dead.  Lifeless.  No passion.  No joy.  No individuality.  No sex.  Toe the line.  Here is the employee handbook.  Read it.  Devour it.  Absorb it.  It is nourishment.  It is the stuff of life.  

If we qualify for food stamps, we are told that is part of our benefit package.  If we have sick children, we are told that is our problem.  The team must come first.  We are required to work overtime.  We are not expected to have a life.  No identity.  No existence outside of the most sacred team.

We are a team.  We are a family.  The Conglomerate Company professes to care.  The Corporation is human.  That was on the news.  We are social.  We are polite.  We express satisfaction with the process.  We are uber loyals.  We want to be together at the staff parties.  We enjoy the staff meetings.  The mission of the business integrates itself into the very stuff of our being.  We have one mission.  We have one thought.  We serve.  The subservient team shall be first and the maverick shall be last.

There is no room for the mavericks.  No room for the hermits, geeks, nerds.  No room for the hackers.  No room to examine the process.  No room to take things apart, twist something here, eliminate something there.  No room for those who sense beyond.
None.  All for one and one for all.  Go team go!  Share and share alike.  Death to the freaks.  

The team will dominate.  This is the mandate.  The individuals will be culled and left to make their own way in the cruel, forbidding wilderness.  The team will prevail.  The jefes demand that this is so.  Screw thinking.  Screw the piteous papers folded up into thirds and put into the suggestion box.  The suggestion box is void of function.  The jefes will say that was tried and it didn't work so we aren't doing that again.  Those who dare to drop papers into the suggestion box will have their arms severed at the elbow.  We are a team.  No room for dissidents.  Disgruntled employees are dangerous.

We live with the fiction.  We forget the past.  We have no future.  We are a team.  We are never alone.  We are swallowed up into the oiled machinery.  And it is just.  It is right.  It is good.  Go team go! 

Then the revolution comes.  The team implodes.  Hope rises.

sapphoq and friends

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Word Tags for the Taking

They are just words.  Use as you wish.  I made them, but as I said, they are just words.  No intellectual property monopoly on these.  Enjoy.

Right-click to save to your pictures or somewhere on your computer.  No hot-linking please and thanks.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Love Frogs

A friend and I had hiked up to a Cod Pond one afternoon and pitched the tent on a whaleback in order to spend the night.  With the pine needles under the tent to make a soft mattress and the sounds of some tiny waterfalls, we were soon serenaded to sleep.  There wasn't hardly any moon that night.  It was spring.  The night air was thick with curls of misty fog. 

THUD.  Friend woke up and screamed.  "Aggggggg!  What's that?"
I couldn't help but wake up.  THUD.  THUD.  Friend kept scream-
ing.  THUD.    THUD. 
THUD.  THUD.  THUD.  The THUDs kept coming and friend kept right on screaming.  He was convinced that the bears were circling around our tent.  THUD.  Friend located a whistle and two rocks which he immediately put to shrill and effective if noisy use.   The assault kept coming.  THUD.  THUD.  THUD.  I was annoyed.  I shone the flashlight up along the ceiling.  "Frogs," I yelled at the shivering lump in the sleeping bag beside me.  "They're frogs!  What did you expect from a place called Cod Pond?"  THUD.  With grave difficulty, I managed to wrest the whistle from his mouth and the rocks from his hands.  It's funny now but it wasn't funny then.

I always thought frogs were pretty cool but I never knew that frogs and their keeping would become a passion.  They did.  At any given time, I have up to fifteen frogs in various tank set-ups.  Currently I am down to one-- he represents the smaller subspecies of the pyxie.  I rescued him from a pet shop and he is almost five years old now.  My first frog was also a pyxie, the larger variety.  Next week, I will be acquiring two African Claw'd from a friend-- one white and one black, only the black looks dark green to me.   

Frogs are not pets.  They are technically specimens.  They don't like to be held or carried around.  Hands must be washed before and after any necessary handling.  The tank must be kept clean.  Water in a frog's tank should be kept like water in a fish tank.  Metal is a toxin to frogs.  Any water dishes should not be metal.  The aquatic African Clawed frogs and African Dwarf frogs do not have any sort of teeth.  Their food filters in their mouths via water currents.  The other frogs all have-- pyxies have three-- pseudodentia embedded in their jaws.  These "fake teeth" are used to hold the food firmly in their mouth.  They can also administer a painful bite to the human who forgets the first rule of frog handling.
Food should be dropped in by long ball forceps or from a container at the front of the frog.  If a frog needs to be moved, approach the frog with your washed hands from his rear.  Wiggling fingers in front of the frog will trigger his "Food!" response and there will be suffering.

Anyone considering a frog should remember that frogs are not very cuddily and can distribute salmonella to the household if basic hand sanitization is not observed.  There is some amount of work to the
care and feeding of frogs.  I prefer pyxies to all other frogs.  I have also had fire bellies, little green tree frogs, White's tree frogs from Australia, a golden who spent much of his time happily installed in a filter which made a waterfall into his tank, and both clawed and dwarf Africans.  Although there is no way currently of telling which individual frogs are spreaders of salmonella to humans, on the whole frogs are sturdy and rarely get sick as long as proper husbandry is observed.  It is unfortunate that frogs that are born in the wild are displaying an increase in birth defects.  A frog's skin is semi-permeable.  Frogs are a sort of score card for how we humans are doing with the environment.  The increase in birth defects in amphibians tells us that we aren't doing so well.  I do not consider myself skilled enough to try my hand at breeding frogs although some day perhaps I will do so.

At the end of a summer, I went to a frog jumping contest.  We all-- adults and kids both-- stood around a chalked circle and rooted for our favorite froggie contestant.  American bullfrogs and Leopards were the best jumpers.  One could blow on a frog's back in order to encourage him to move but one was not permitted to stomp feet at the frogs.  One American bullfrog got away, heading straight for the nearby lake.  He was caught with a net before he could make good on his escape.  The American bullfrogs were rather a nervous bunch but the Leopards weren't so much.  It was an exciting time and I was glad to have gone.  I did not enter any of my frogs in the contest.  African pyxies really don't move around much and are not built for jumping.  In the wild, they burrow down in holes and wait for the food to fall in.  All of my pyxies have displayed this approach to food-getting.  Consequently, I did not enter my pyxie into the contest.  Pyxies just aren't meant for jumping.

If you do consider getting a frog, remember that some frogs are social and really should be kept with others.  Some aren't and will eat their neighbor if they decide that they don't like their neighbor.  Do your research and have your tank set up before you bring your new specimen or specimens home.  And if you have kids, make sure they understand that frogs are not for petting or carrying around.

Please do not head out to the nearest pond or brook in order to catch your new frog.  You will never be able to offer a frog what that frog has in the outdoors.  It is best to purchase frogs born in captivity from a reputable breeder.  And as with any other specimen or pet, commit to keeping frogs in your care for the entirety of their natural life.  My animals-- including frog or frogs-- are all provided for in my will with specific people named to take care of them should I die before they do. 

I wanted to insert a picture of the current frog but it appears that the uploader is not working at the moment.  I will do that on a new post when it is working properly, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Animal Welfare, NOT Animal Rights
sapphoq and friends

There is an article in Scientific American today which tells of the discovery and naming of a new flying frog near Ho Chi Minh City. It has been dubbed Helen's frog.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

It's Caturday

                               Happy Caturday!

Caturday should properly be spelled with a capital "C" since it is a day of the week.  The spell-checker disagrees.

sapphoq n friends