Saturday, April 19, 2014

What I've learned recently from my Web site spam

I'm easy to find online.  If you want to reach me, all you have to do is go to my Contact page, fill in the form, hit the send button, and an email will reach me.  I answer all my own email.  This simple form has worked well for years.

Until recently.  For a while--my hosting service now seems to have fixed the problem--spambots were using this form to contact me with a great many warnings and offers.  From these many, many messages, I learned the following:

  • I am on the edge of having a heart attack.
  • I am going bald.
  • I am in desperate need of a wide range of drugs to increase my sexual prowess.
  • My testosterone is low.  
  • My junk is entirely too small.
  • I need instruction in love-making.
  • With almost no work and only a little cash up front, I could make a fortune.
  • I could work from home and make over $85K a year in only a few hours a week.
And on an on.  

In short, all the spam that once reached me only through personal email addresses was able to find me via this form.

For now, I'm leaving up the form, because as I noted, my hosting service seems to have stopped the spam flood.  I'll hope it continues to do so.

If you would like to write me an actual message, feel free to use the form.  Please don't open your message, however, by trying to sell me something, because I'm likely to stop reading and delete it as if it were spam.

Meanwhile, I'll keep trying to figure out which drugs I need to buy from Canada and Mexico to fix all these problems I didn't know I had.

Friday, April 18, 2014

On interviewing for a job: Learning about the company and its people

No, I'm not interviewing for a job.  I'm writing this entry, which I expect will be the first of an on-again, off-again series, because over the last several years I've come to believe that despite all the available information, an amazing number of people fail at the basics in a job interview. 

One of those basics is that if you haven't done a lot of easy research before an interview, you've already blown it--or at least hurt your chances.  This preparation is easy, though it does take a bit of time. 

You should begin by going to the Web site of the company and reading a lot of its pages.  Learn about its products, its culture, its marketing, and its team.  Check out all the social-media venues in which it's active.  If it has YouTube channel, spend a little time there, too. 

If you're greatly interested in the company, consider doing basic searches on the names of the people with whom you'll be meeting.  Between Google and LinkedIn, you can often learn a lot about your potential colleagues and employers.  I'm not suggesting stalking or obsessive digging, mind you; just basic preparation.

To my surprise, an amazing number of people either skip this work or go to a company's home page and stop.  You can learn some information that way, but so much more is available that it's foolish not to take advantage of that information.

I'm not suggesting you do this, by the way, so you can suck up to the interviewers.  I think it's important because it helps you have as much context as possible for what you see and hear in the interview, and also so that you can make an informed decision about whether the company interests you. 

This is really just today's version of an old bit of advice that still applies to job-hunting (and to many other areas of life):  Do your homework.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


I'm probably the last person to discover this wonderful singer and composer.  I wouldn't even have heard of her were it not for Sarah's Twitter feed.  I now can't wait to hear her upcoming album, Forever For Now.

I'm not sure if it's everyone's cup of tea, but from the first five seconds of this song, "Night Like This," I've been unable to forget it or get it out of my head.

Enjoy it here.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A question of etiquette

WARNING:  Adult content.  Do not read further if you do not want to encounter adult content.

In conversation yesterday, Kyle raised a question of etiquette that none of the etiquette books I've read (yes, I have read a few) ever addressed:  

"When you're getting a massage, and the masseuse is rubbing the inside of your thighs, what is the right amount of chub to show?"
To clarify, Kyle was referring to a normal massage, not one in a trailer with "Happy endings $100" and "All girl staff" signs on it.

Kyle was leaning toward a middling amount, on the theory that showing none would be insulting to the masseuse but that going full tent-pole would be intimidating.

When I asked a few women, all of whom declined to let me name them here, for their opinions, I found no consistent answer.  Responses included
"None; if you want that kind of massage, go somewhere else."

"None; ask them to turn up the air conditioning."

"Enough to show interest but no more." 
What's your answer to this unexplored matter of etiquette?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Kickstarter program I recommend

Prodigal Farm, a local farm and artisanal cheese maker that produces some wonderfully tasty goat cheeses, has started a Kickstarter program to fund the building of a facility for aging some cheeses.  I am all for this program, because I'd love to have aged goat bleus, goat-milk combos, and other hard cheeses in addition to their current softer, younger offerings.  I supported the program by pledging a bunch of seats for a dinner that Sean Fowler, the chef of Mandolin, will host at the farm if the campaign succeeds. 

Right now, these good folks are way short of their goal, with pledges totaling just over $10.5K of their $45K target. 

Check out the program.  If it interests you, and if you pledge for the Sean Fowler dinner, and assuming the program succeeds, all you have to do is let me know you want one, and at the dinner I'll give you a personally signed copy of a first edition of one of my novels.

By the way, I don't know these folks and have no financial interest of any form in this farm.  I just want to support what strikes me as a good thing for our local foodies and our community.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What flavors won the ice-cream tasting?

Since I posted a picture of the birthday party ice-cream tasting offerings in this earlier blog entry, a few folks have asked which flavors won. 

I'm sorry to have to report that the results were entirely inconclusive.  We had so many people at the party with so many different preferences that no unanimous winners emerged.

Having said that, two flavors stood out as winners among almost all of the tasters:

Best salted caramel:  The Parlour's salted butter caramel

Everyone I know who likes this type of flavor loves The Parlour's version of it.  Smooth and creamy and just the right blend of these ingredients, you can never go wrong ordering this one.

Best intense chocolate:  Jeni's dark chocolate

I've raved about this flavor since I first tasted it some years ago, and it is still an amazing treat.  Though a minority preferred Ben & Jerry's chocolate therapy and a couple of other flavors, for my taste and money the Jeni's is the best.

All of the ice creams on hand were delicious, but none garnered as many comments as these two.  I highly recommend both.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Raid 2

An Indonesian film with subtitles that runs two hours and twenty-eight minutes and features no actors you'll recognize.  A sequel.  A director you've probably never heard of whose main claim to fame is the previous film in this series. 

Despite the impression those facts may leave, The Raid 2 is one of the most fast-paced movies you are likely to see this year, and one of the best action films since The Raid: Redemption, its predecessor.  Writer/director Gareth Evans has created one of the most over-the-top, violence-packed sagas ever.  Astonishing fight sequences alternate with character-building scenes and sharp looks inside Indonesian gang culture in a film that is not for one second dull. 

If you're wondering if this is yet another of those movies that only I like, consider that as I write this entry the film's Rotten Tomatoes critics rating is 80% and its audience satisfaction rating is 94%.

If you like action sequences and can handle violence that goes way over the top, do not miss this movie.

By the way, I have to believe that Hollywood will soon snap up Evans, though he is supposedly signed to The Raid 3--and has Tony Jaa (of Ong Bak fame and next year to appear in The Fast and the Furious 7) on board for that one.  I can't wait to see if he can translate his pacing and penchant for crazy fight scenes to American crews and American big budgets.


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