Letters

My “Unresponsive Scammer” Collection

Hi all,

I am currently stranded without any money in the country of Lisompo, which you may have heard of, but definitely haven’t. Also, I’m afraid I’m dying of old age, which really sucks when you’re only 30.

If you don’t act immediately to transfer a million dollars out of my account into yours, all is lost! Because that’s how banks work!

Please send me your bank information details and I’ll tell you how you can send me money that you’ll never see again.

Yours,
Daniel

So…yeah…today’s post is about scammers again. Ever since the wildly successful “My correspondence with a scammer” post, I have been writing back to scammers in the hope that they’d bite. Unfortunately, none of them have displayed the same combination of cluelessness and dedication as Linda Hicks, so I haven’t gotten any real conversations going yet. I promise to keep trying!

Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you a few of my responses to scammers, because I find them quite amusing (if I do say so myself, which I just did). Maybe some of you will find inspiration in these and start your own conversations with scammers? Maybe nothing at all will happen? The possibilities are virtually endless!

This may seem like a bit of a lazy post strategy. That’s because it totally is! I don’t want to use the work excuse again, but we do have another project “sprint” at work that started 10 days ago and will continue for another week. So I decided that instead of falling off the radar completely this time, I’ll share my inbox with you.

As with the Linda Hicks post I censor all website links, but leave the rest of the email content untouched. Enjoy:

Scammer 1 – “Let’s Succeed Together”:

Hi,

My name is Angie Scott and I would really love to tell you how nest-expressed.com can rank even better in Google.

I’m a SEO expert working at SEO Sheriff and while doing a research for some of my partners I found your email address and decided to contact you at once.

If you are interested I will be happy to send the additional information and all the details needed to make it happen.

Thanks,
Angie

My response 1:

Hi Angie,

How are you? Hope you are as well as a whale under a spell (it’s a saying we have in Iceland)!

Thank you very much for contacting me! I would certainly be interested in receiving details, information, and other paraphernalia from you pertaining to the offer.

By the way, I love the subject of your email – “let’s succeed together”. That’s so well put! I am a fan of succeeding and I absolutely love togetherness too. Combining those two is just like dipping a cookie in chocolate milk! Have you tried that? Delicious!

Anyways, hope to hear from you,

Daniel

PS: Pardon my ignorance, but what does SEO mean? My guess is Site Enhancement Organisation?

Scammer 2 – “Advertising”:

Good day,

My name is Ben and I run a website [name] I really like the quality of articles you publish and I think that the target audience on your site would even benefit if you were to link to mine in your posts.

So, I have a proposal. I want to sponsor your regular posts. You simply continue writing articles – as you normally do, they are very good! And in the end of your article – state: “This article was written in association with [name], educational resource about the most famous scientists. Save on Textbooks online.”

You can change the text of the “bio” if you would like to edit something.

If it is possible to upload a small website logo by the bio – that would also be great. It’s like sponsored posts, but you do not have to write anything extraordinary – just your regular updates, which I like very much!

Kindly, write me back if you are interested – how many sponsored posts you would accept from me and what would be the price. If you have expected publication dates – let me know too.

Thank you very much for running such a great website!

Ben Anderson

My response 2:

Good day, or, as they say where I come from, “Good day”!

First of all, congratulations on running a site that is dedicated to scientists and their famousity – you’re saving lives, I’m sure!

Secondly, I fully agree that my target audience would benefit from learning about scientists that are famous! We all know that juvenile humour and science go together like spare ribs and watermelon!

I’d like to suggest a bio, more along the lines of:

“Love sciency stuff? Love websites that begin with “f”? Then you’ll love [name]! Head on over and get your science on!”

What do you think?

May I ask, if I may, which one of my articles was your favourite? The one with the cat going on hunger strike? The one with a list of things you shouldn’t eat together with marshmallows? Or a third one? I’m just curious, so that I know what quality content to keep delivering!

Until the next point in the space-time continuum,
Daniel

Scammer 3 – “Hello Dear”:

Hello Dear,

My name is Miss Aminata Bangali, resident in Ghana, Africa: The main reason I have decided to contact you today is to seek your assistance to help me transfer my INHERITED MONEY DEPOSITED IN A SECURITY AND FINANCE COMPANY in MADRID SPAIN to your country for investment.

I am the next of kin to the DEPOSIT, but because I lack experience and the situation with me here as a refugee, I decided to contact you to stand as my Trustee and Representative to release the money from the company and transfer it to your country..If you are interested, please let me know and I will give you the full details..

Thank You,
Miss Aminata Bangali.

My response 3:

Dear Aminata,

Thank you for contacting me, resident of Europe, Earth!

The wise teachings of the Seven High Lords of Gratitude tell me that all good deeds must be performed when requested. Therefore, I hesitate not at all when assistance of mine you ask.

Please relate the details of this to me in full and I shall carry your burden on my broad shoulders like Hercules, or at least like “The Rock”.

May you be blessed by the All-Seeing Star of the Cossacks in the sky,
Daniel

Pencil

Guest Expressed: “Ridiculously Expensive Pencils”

Today Angela Stone takes us on a journey through the majestic land of pencils. You never knew how much you needed an expensive pencil until this article! Enter Angela:

There is expensive, there is ridiculously expensive, and then there is just ridiculous. Take, for example, Ashrita Furman’s 76 foot long, 21,500 lb, $20,000 pencil housed at the City Museum of St. Louis. With all due respect to the Gateway City, the pencil itself is a mockery of all things graphite. It is too big, too unwieldy, and for the connoisseur of pencil artistry, a deliberately ridiculous example of excess.

Pencils are an instrument of the soul, and should be treated with the respect they deserve. From Thomas Edison to John Steinbeck, they have been used to shape and capture the human existence. Nearly every American has grown up feeling first the sturdy grasp of thick learning pencils and later the steady lines of the standard yellow #2. They are a right of childhood, a marker as we make our way to adulthood.

Yet little do most of us know that these simple bastions of youth have been secretly conditioning us to accept failure. Indeed, the days of the .08-cent pencil may have delighted our greedy parents, but that time is past. Today, the world has grown to offer us choice – choice that forces us to recognize both the inadequacy of the cheap pencil, and to learn appreciation for the joys of a proper, high-class writing instrument.

With all their many shapes and sizes, it is easy to see how many could confuse lazy simplicity with true artistry. Luckily, luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermes have taken up the challenge of providing good, quality pencils like the Hermes Arlequin H Pencil. Bound in leather, and with a price tag of only $85, the Arlequin H is not only an affordable first step for many pencil buyers, but a favorite for children.

Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton offers even more for those pencil buyers looking for a decent pencil at a still modest price. For $255, the Golden Agenda Pencil features a thin frame and a refined golden brass finish. You will have to hurry to a store though, as of right now, the deal is just too good to be true, and the store is sold out online.

Reaching into quality pencils, we begin to find true majesty in Yard O Led’s Sceptre Amethyst Pencil-Paneled Barley Finish and Perfecta Pencil with a Victorian finish. With elegant lines and a delicacy made for the angels, at $475 and $425 respectively, these feather-light pencils may just make your hands shake under the weight of their beauty.

It is true, the world is full of magnificent pencils, and yet none can hold a flame to the greatest ever created. A limited edition produced by the Graf von Faber-Castell Collection in 2008, the Perfect Pencil was made of 240-year-old olive wood and 18c-white gold. Coming complete with an end piece to protect the tip, an extender with built in eraser and sharpener, three quality diamonds, and a price tag of $12,800; money truly is everything. Sadly, with only 99 of these majestic pencils ever created, most will have to settle for the non-limited editions that cost a meager $250.

Some will call these pencils ridiculously expensive; I choose to call them a necessity. After all, when a man cannot afford to buy a $450 dollar pencil, there can be only one reason; frivolity. He has spent his money on things that do not matter, and therefore should not be pitied. Food, groceries? What good are they without a pencil to write the picture of the soul?

Angela Stone wrote this article on behalf of Promotional Pencils, where you can create your own custom pencils (for a lot less than what these pencils are going for).

Green Sick Man

Faint memories

If you’re familiar with my “memory lane” series then you know they’re usually about hilariously embarrassing stuff happening to me. Well, this one is different, for once.

OK, just kidding. It’s about hilariously embarrassing stuff happening to me. Rejoice, you heartless crowd that laughs at my pain!

I draw my inspiration from fellow blogger Ria, who had written about her near-fainting experience.

Because I have no shame whatsoever, I not only steal her topic, I also “one-up” her with my story. Unlike Ria’s half-hearted almost-faint, I actually managed to faint in a spectacularly humiliating way. Here goes…

In case any of you need an illustration for “goes”

Once again, this was during my Copenhagen Business School years. Along with my studies I was working as a freelance journalist for the university newspaper’s English section – CBS Cornet. I wrote about diverse topics like the university’s internationalisation efforts, international students and the different international programs CBS offered.

One winter day I was biking to the editor-in-chief’s office to discuss an article I was working on. The day was rather cold and I was wearing a hat, scarf, coat and gloves – pretty standard issue equipment for cold winter days. Upon walking inside I felt a bit overheated, due to the temperature contrast between the outside world (winter) and the inside (a lot less winter).

I made my way to the editor’s office. We launched into a discussion about sources and angles for my article (the angle was probably “internationalisation”). After a minute of conversation I started feeling…not-quite-right. My heart was racing and my head was spinning, and I wasn’t even a lead singer of a rock band singing about falling in love.

“Oh baby, you make me feel like I’m about to faint real bad!”

I tried to brave through the conversation, because paying attention to clear signals your body is sending to you is overrated. At some stage Bjørn (our editor) stopped abruptly, looked at me and said: “OK, Daniel, I just want to let you know that you’re as pale as a bed sheet and you’re sweating like crazy”.

Now, you know you’re in denial of your symptoms when other people start pointing out things you should be very capable of noticing on your own. If I were smart I’d have replied with: “Correct, Bjørn. All signs indicate that my physical condition is deteriorating at an alarming rate. Urgent measures are required to rectify the situation”. Interestingly, that’s also what I would have said if I were a robot.

As it happens, my actual reply was more along the lines of: “Guess I better lay off drugs. Hehe.”

Bjørn chimed in with some similarly offhand comment a la: “Yeah, cocaine will do that to ya”.

Drug abuse is such a light-hearted topic

Having poked fun at my pre-faint symptoms we continued our conversation…for about thirty seconds more. It was at this stage that I realised that Bjørn had been replaced by a blurry blob shape and that his indistinguishable words were coming at me from a tunnel hundreds of metres away.

I wiped a copious amount of sweat from my forehead and told the Bjørn-shaped blob that I’d like to go to the restroom to splash some cold water on my face. The blob let out some noises that sounded like approval. Encouraged by the blob’s supportive tone I proceeded towards the door in a determined, zig-zagging fashion.

I made it as far as the door. The last thing my conscious mind registered was a close-up image of my hand reaching out for the door handle. Then the door slowly slipped out of my field of vision as I fainted and fell backwards onto the floor.

Because I have never fainted before I was quite confused as to what had happened. I remember being semi-conscious, yet unable to open my eyes and feeling like I was lying under a truck filled with lead. I recall actually thinking I was dead and being upset at the unfairness of having died at such a young age.

Why me, oh misleadingly adorable harbinger of death, WHY ME?!

When I came to I was still on the floor. Bjørn was sitting behind me and lifting the top part of my body upwards. I vaguely remember him telling me about his healing experience as the medicine man in Australia, but in all honesty this could’ve very well been a figment of my after-faint mind. He gave me some water and sat me down on a chair to prevent me from attacking the floor of his office with my body for a second time.

In a few minutes I have made a full recovery. I visited the restroom and cleaned myself up. Thereafter, Bjørn and I completed our discussion about the newspaper article. Both of us have displayed incredible denial skills and to this day neither of us have spoken about the incident again. Well, until I did it in this post. Don’t you all feel special?

How about all of you? Any chronic fainters out there? Have you fainted in a public and embarrassing way? Do tell…

________________________________

Entering this post into this week’s DudeWrite line up. Head on over to DudeWrite to check out some great posts from male bloggers.

Scott Bartlett

Guest Expressed: “Scott Bartlett & Royal Flush”

Today I’m happy to welcome a special guest and a fellow humourist – Scott Bartlett (yup, that’s his smiling mug on the left). A while back Scott reached out to see if I’d like to participate in his blog tour and help promote his newly released novel called Royal Flush. I agreed, because I’m always happy to help fellow humour writers and because I’m secretly hoping for 47,23% of the book’s future revenues.

So now, without further ado, I give the word to Scott:

Hey, Nest Expressed readers! I’m Scott, and I come to you today with a guest post as part of the blog tour for my humour novel, Royal Flush.

I want to write about the sort of thing that inspires fiction writers—about what, exactly provides the grist for stories. I’m going to do that in reference to my book, and to do that, I’ll first have to tell you about said book. Which, incidentally, is a very blog-tourish thing to do.

So that worked out well.

Royal Flush asks the question: can a man who throws his dates in a dungeon succeed romantically?

It’s about a man known only as the King, who rules a land known only as the Kingdom—a land unrestricted by geography or history. The book is divided into four parts, and in each one the King fails spectacularly with yet another woman. (Whether he fails in the final part is something I can’t divulge here, of course.)

It may not surprise you that the chief inspiration for this story was a high school career completely devoid of romance. Not for lack of trying, though—I asked out numerous attractive girls, and was rejected by them unanimously.

I wasn’t bitter—in fact, the sheer consistence of it began to amuse me. My self-esteem was intact, too, being a helpless egomaniac. But I started to think about the sorts of person likely to encounter utter romantic failure. I decided it might be funny to write a story about a man whose lack of luck with the ladies stems from being incredibly depraved and moronic.

At this point I feel I should note that I did not base the King on myself.

Do you believe me?

Anyway. The point I’m trying to make is that no matter how fantastic a story is (I’m talking about a story’s relationship with reality, not its quality), the inspiration usually comes from normal, everyday things. And with its tendency to flout the laws of physics and logic, its zombie advisor, and its passing mention of dragons, Royal Flush is fairly fantastic.

The Kingdom Crier provides another example. Run by Editor Duke Edward, the Kingdom Crier is the seemingly all-knowing news outlet that busies itself with publicizing every embarrassing detail of the King’s personal life. It’s more of a tabloid, really, and in the past the King has attempted to shut it down by ordering its entire staff beheaded. But such is the tabloid’s popularity that legions of peasants gathered to picket the castle’s drawbridge until the King rescinded the order.

Inspiration for the Kingdom Crier came from my distaste for tabloids, which I developed during my three-year stint working at a grocery store.

I took Introductory Linguistics in university, and in every example sentence the teacher used to illustrate English word order or whatever else, the same two people seemed to get recycled endlessly: John and Mary. “John and Mary took a picnic basket with them to Signal Hill.” Et cetera.

Thus was the Traveling Linguists’ Guild born—a group of nomads who travel from place to place, working on their unified theory of language. They drag two prisoners around with them named John and Mary, who they use in presentations.

The Traveling Linguists’ Guild comes to the Kingdom to ask the King a small favour. Their unified theory is nearly complete—it applies to every language they’ve encountered, except for that of a single troublesome tribe, who they ask the King to exterminate. The King agrees.

Did I mention that the King isn’t based on me?

Scott Bartlett has been writing fiction since he was fifteen. His recently released novel, Royal Flush, is a recipient of the H. R. (Bill) Percy Prize. Click here to buy the ebook ($3.99) or to order the print book ($12.99).

Arriving Guy

Guess Who’s Back?

No, it’s not Elvis Presley. He’s dead, remember? Ooooor, is he?

Anyways, it’s just me.

Hope it’s not a let-down after I’ve gotten your hopes up with the whole Elvis thing!

My girlfriend and have returned from the fun-yet-hectic family trip. We have slept in eight different places in four different cities during the past two weeks and are now patiently waiting for this incredible achievement to be entered into the Guinness World Records.

We’ve had our good share of drinking, minor injuries and other fun things. We’ve met a bunch of interesting characters. One of them was a girl of around six. Whenever she misspoke she would perform a “system reset” by closing her eyes, shaking her head side to side and saying “oi-oi-oi” in rapid succession. Another one was a guy who complained about amateur guitar players always choosing to play depressing songs. I’m not sure I’ve noticed this trend, but then again, my attention span is…wait, where was I?

What does this have to do with anything?!

In my home town of Kharkov we’ve come across this classically “Engrish” sign for the Children’s Railroad:

To put in two ends comes true free of charge!

In a tiny town of Mestecko in Czech Republic we’ve come across this simple and straightforward road sign:

It’s like two drunk guys arguing while giving you directions…

All in all it’s been great, but I wish it lasted longer. That’s what she said.

Also during the holiday I’ve gotten a pleasant surprise. Remember the “Pulling The Plug” piece I’ve submitted to DudeWrite’s flash fiction contest? Well, it’s been picked as the winner by 2 out of 3 judges, as well as getting the most popular votes, along with another great story from Chiz-Chat. You can read more details and the judges’ comments at DudeWrite, in case you want to, like, read more details…and the judges’ comments.

But enough about me, let’s talk about a few other humourists for a moment.

Another awesome surprise was Martin Bannon sending me a signed copy of his recently released Senseless Confidential. It was waiting for me in the mailbox yesterday when I arrived. I have won Martin’s “leave a comment, win a book” competition. At this rate I think I should start playing the lottery. That’ll teach me to make stupid decisions like playing the lottery! I haven’t started reading the book, but knowing Martin and judging from the great reviews it’s been getting I’m already excited to check it out.

Also I have finally started on Martin Little, Resurrected by Ella Medler. I must shamefully confess that I’ve only gotten through the first two chapters for now. However, it’s already clear that it will be a fun read! Though hey, don’t listen to me, check out the reviews for yourself.

Finally, I will have a special guest on the blog this Wednesday. His name is Scott Bartlett and he’s doing a blog tour for his book Royal Flush, which is also collecting great reviews. So you’ve got that to look forward to now!

How about all of you? Have you had any vacation? How has your life been without my posts in it for a whopping two weeks? Same? Slightly not the same at all? Kind of the same, yet also different?

Yellow Sign

Guest Expressed: “5 Ridiculous Road Sign Errors”

Today’s guest is Francesca, who takes us on a journey through odd mistakes on road signs. Enter Francesca:

Everyone loves a good mistake. From misinformation communicated by television presenters, utterly untrue stories printed by the tabloids, and spelling mistakes combined with punctuation errors to make even the smartest professors look stupid, we love to heckle, and heckle we do.

We’re subjected to this kind of brainless overlook now and again; some of it small and grin-worthy, the rest bigger and extremely entertaining. However mistakes involving road signs, an integral part of our everyday lives, seem to be appearing faster than the Jersey Shore autobiographies.

Road signs are notorious for spelling mistakes, and the people behind them are none the wiser unless there’s a complaint from an extremely bored motorist, or a media official raring to gloat. The importance of road signs is rarely underestimated, with new signage created every day to make sure drivers’ safety is paramount.

But sometimes these signs go wrong, and we’re not just talking a missing letter.

The Contenders

Swansea Council made a simple request to its translation team to create a dual language road sign, which read, “No entry for heavy goods vehicles – Residential site only.” However, with no one in the office at the time, an automatically generated “out of office” Welsh-reading reply was sent back to councils officials, who assumed it was the translation. Unaware of the actual translation, the council went ahead with the print, so that the Welsh part of the sign actually read “I am not in the office at the moment. Send any works to be translated”, leaving the lorry drivers more confused than Lady Gaga’s stylist!

There are plenty more examples of slip ups on road signs. Workmen who painted a “Keep Clear” message onto a road in Essex, obviously had spatial awareness issues as they didn’t leave enough room to actually finish the sign. We’ll all make sure we “Keep Clea” of that road!

One of the most ridiculous gaffes came from B3159 country road just outside Dorchester. It’s concise, clear, and free from spelling mistakes. Unfortunately, the sign is actually meant to read “Old Bullock Road” – this spelling mistake gives it a completely different meaning altogether!

Stay Klam

So what more can we pull out of the signage gaffe bag? We’ve had the Welsh council not being able to read their own language, lazy builders with seemingly faulty measuring tapes, and signs that don’t make sense. Let’s klear the rest up!

A road sign outside a fire station in West Sussex was subjected to the upmost grammatical torture, as blundering contractors were made to paint over a sign informing drivers of gas works, reading “Keep Klear”. To make things worse, the fire station was informed through Facebook by a disgruntled passer-by!

And finally, do you, don’t you? Apostrophes can be confusing to say the least, especially if you skipped a couple of English classes like the creators of this sign.  But drivers with a keen eye for grammar have been left fuming with the incompetence Hartlepool council after this bewildering message informing drivers of the availability of a parking bay. Who’s sign is it anyway?

This article was written by Francesca on behalf of The IS Group, who always make sure that the signs they produce are free from spelling mistakes!

Christmas Card

Guest Expressed: “5 Of The Worst Christmas Cards Ever”

Today we hear from Sebastian who shows us why it’s not always a great idea to get too creative with your Christmas cards. Enter Sebastian:

What makes a bad Christmas card, and why? Terrible Christmas cards tend to involve misguided attempts at humour, wacky poses, and some awful Photoshopping. What might have seemed like a good idea at the time often ends up being head scratchingly bizarre.

Thankfully, the Internet makes it possible for any of these cards to serve as a lesson for us all. Some of the worst offenders are listed below, as are some suggestions for not making the same mistakes with your Christmas cards:

1. Jorge Santini’s Family Card

Jorge Santini, the Mayor of Puerto Rican city San Juan, decided that his official family Christmas card for 2011 should promote a local zoo and wildlife sanctuary. The result: pictures of his family sanding over some bizarre scenes, with the best being a jaguar mauling an antelope, with the family standing nonchalantly in the background.

2. Naked Father

It’s quite hard to tell what’s going on in this photograph. Is the father naked, and if so, why? Moreover, didn’t anyone look at this photograph before it was turned into a card, and perhaps think that it wasn’t the best idea in the world?

3. Disturbing Decisions

The sort of card image that’s going to come back and haunt someone in the future, or at the very least disturb them in the present, this circus themed card is wrong on many different levels.

4. Hard to Tell What’s Going On

There’s probably a good explanation behind the design behind this card. The idea was probably suggested by the child in the middle, which may explain the somewhat less enthusiastic look on the faces of the other two participants.

5. Dog Embarrassment

My personal favourite, this nativity scene is defined by the look of mortification on the dog’s face. Probably the pinnacle of pets being unwillingly dressed up for the Christmas season by their owners.

Alternatives

While these cards may be in questionable taste, there are many ways in which people can design great looking cards without having to resort to stupid pictures. Some of the best ways to achieve this is by taking a traditional design, rather a photograph, and work around that with personal messages and touches. An image may be used, but not as the focus of the overall card – group family photographs on Christmas cards rarely manage to look good.

Handmade cards represent one option, and have the potential for being more personal if you’re only planning to send out a limited number of cards to people. For when you do need to send out a lot of cards, many Internet services provide templates that can be printed out and sent, or modified online for you to send as e-cards, or to be posted free of charge. The upside of doing this is that you still have a unique card, but one that has a high quality finish. Moreover, doing so means that you aren’t taking the risk of making a card that’s as outright disturbing as the ones above.

Sebastian is working with Vistaprint promoting their wide variety of christmas cards. They also offer a personalised Christmas card service, although I’d suggest putting more thought in to your image than the unfortunate subjects of this blog post.