Monday, June 25, 2007

"Great" Spam!

I have begun collecting the "best" spam subject lines that land in my various mailboxes. What are the criteria? Mostly, a good mangling of standard English will do. Having not the vaguest idea what they're trying to communicate helps, too, but it isn't a requirement. General weirdness is the main thing.

For your entertainment I present them here as they came to me, "sender" first, followed by subject line. The "sender" notwithstanding, some of them appear to have been written by Yoda.

Leta Hill That those cadwell

Augusta Grant bigger d1ck in 2 weeks grew

Roslyn Mccall Don't let your x-life suffer sfilra

Wilma English Get A Bigger Today! dearie

Collectibles Today It's a Draw! John Wayne wall decor art first

Tony Must Have apothecary we acclaim: unusual markdown.

Mamie Davidson gzk Gain Up to 4+ gaixc

Lula Oconnor It till buena

Hot Sexy Christian Singles »-(¯`v´¯)-» View Single Christians Photos »-(¯`v´¯)-»
(do not the words “hot,” “sexy,” “Christian,” and “singles”—arranged in that order—not strike you as peculiar?

Lesa Taylor But sadism do bare

Elnora Ritter Become A New Man -Max-Xl grown jar

advanced my vdirt

Bridget hormone dtitled

Jesus disheveled and then and since the roles of the offering was firm but how would b...

inside Jarrett A he most

Geneva Bailey bijouterie crouch derelict

fort at delivery For caffeine Studies in humans have not shown that allocation

Ashley Novak basilar cowherd agricola

Ladonna Olson in from sanitary

Headache ranch enforceable

Guy N.Lillian cone wring

Jacob Against simple and you're playing with; his desk as the tight: smile. Pirenne's ...

Micah Brooks Be eveleth because guadalupita

Jeff automatically, and out here, too old gweat achievement, This?

Deidre Phelps Not mahoney at coulomb

Charles Alexander Yes. Which Mallow, found ourselves, a Smyrnian jacket for its

Roslyn Shields As who collar

Terra Hogan FW : my Pen1s is bigger than aghast ?

Janice Griggs weatherbeaten acrimony permitted ;

Chrystal Buckner wow, Monica was shocked beakrebi

Dolly Otero ceremonial astigmatism procession

Leigh Woods the rocket kent

Pearl Harper fckb Don't cut yourself short... szyps

(eventually I shall write a book with a character named Pearl Harper)

As They Say

Another batch of usual, from A Word a Day.

Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)

I am aware that no man is a villain in his own eyes. -James Baldwin, writer (1924-1987)

Tolerably early in life I discovered that one of the unpardonable sins, in the eyes of most people, is for a man to presume to go about unlabelled. The world regards such a person as the police do an unmuzzled dog, not under proper control. -Thomas Henry Huxley, biologist and writer (1825-1895)

Since we are destined to live out our lives in the prison of our minds, our one duty is to furnish it well. -Peter Ustinov, actor, writer and director (1921-2004)

It's like, at the end, there's this surprise quiz: Am I proud of me? I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth what I paid? -Richard Bach, writer (1936- )

Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace. -Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. general and 34th president (1890-1969)

It might be a good idea if the various countries of the world would occasionally swap history books, just to see what other people are doing with the same set of facts. -Bill Vaughan, journalist (1915-1977)

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him. -Martin Luther King, Jr., civil-rights leader (1929-1968)

What I stand for is what I stand on. -Wendell Berry, farmer, author (1934- )

The conscience of the world is so guilty that it always assumes that people who investigate heresies must be heretics; just as if a doctor who studies leprosy must be a leper. Indeed, it is only recently that science has been allowed to study anything without reproach. -Aleister Crowley, author (1875-1947)

There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to other animals as well as humans, it is all a sham. -Anna Sewell, writer (1820-1878)

The World Today

So very true.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sticking Points

In re the last line of the previous post (“Amazing what sticks with you, no?”):

Although I have long had difficulty remembering numbers—a cashier can tell me how much I owe, and I will have to look at the cash-register screen before writing the check—I have long been amazed at how well certain numbers stick in my head…and how poorly others do.

For instance, I recall instantly my family’s phone number from my boyhood in Omaha—though you might say that 393-1393 is a pretty easy number to remember, even forty years on. How, then, that I still remember my grandfather’s number—393-1632—some twenty years after his death? Or my best friend, Joe’s, number, 393-1395?

Time seems to have little to do with it. I remember those numbers from forty years ago, but can’t recall my college phone numbers from thirty years ago. I only remember that the numbers in Swanson Hall were whatever the campus prefix was plus 4 and the room number—4747 my freshman year and 4743 my sophomore year. But I have no recollection at all what our number was when a couple of friends and I moved off-campus our junior and senior years. I can’t even think what it may have started with.

I can remember the number I had in St. Paul—698-1276—but I can’t remember if I had that same number in my first apartment, on Cretin Avenue South, or just in the apartment Peg and I took on St. Paul Avenue when we were first married. My office number at the Webb Company started out as 698-7450, I think, and later switched to 690-7450 as the neighborhood outgrew the 698 prefix.

We moved to Sioux Falls in 1984, but I have no idea what the phone number was for the year we lived on Louise Avenue. I do recall that, like all the phones on that end of town in those days, it began with 361. This was the cause of some confusion, for it had not been too many years since every blessed telephone number in town began with 33. Indeed, when my family first moved here in the late 1960s, the town was small enough that it could exist on not only that single EDison exchange, but also that only the odd numbers needed to be attached to it: 332, 334, 336, 338. This led to the annoying habit of many locals to give only five-digit phone numbers:

What’s your number?

It’s two seven nine three five.

Um…two sev— that’s not enough numbers, is it?

Which of course made you look like the idiot. More idiotic, though, is that too many people in my community still insist on giving you only five digits if the first two are both threes, even though the town’s population explosion coupled with the breakup of the Bell System means it’s been over twenty years since every number in town was on the EDison exchange.

You might say that duration would cause a number to stick, and that would make some sense, I suppose. But I had the same number at Stafford Advertising for three years or so, and today haven’t the vaguest idea what it might have been. Wouldn’t three years be enough for a number to stick?

You might say that the number’s relative importance would cause it to stick—but wouldn’t a work number be pretty important? And if nothing else, wouldn’t the sheer number of times you give out your work number cause it to lodge pretty solidly? Anyhow, what would you make of the fact that I can remember not only my Omaha friend, Joe’s, phone number so clearly but also my Sioux Falls childhood friend, Dave’s number, and yet can’t remember that of the girl I dated pretty steadily through high school, nor my wife’s from before we were married?

Maybe it has to do with age—not that I’m getting old and forgetting things, since the odd stuff I obviously do remember seems to negate that idea. I mean, the age I was when I learned things. When you’re a kid, knowing your family’s phone number is a big deal. It’s important. Perhaps my parents worked with me to ensure that I knew it in case I got lost. Maybe that’s why I remember my grandfather’s number…but why, then, don’t I remember my other grandfather’s number, since he was alive until I was 10 or 11? Unless it’s precisely because he died when I was a kid, while my other grandfather lived until I was in my thirties.

But of course all the numbers of all the lockers I ever had in school are long gone, as are their combinations. Most room numbers vanished only a couple of weeks into the school year: once I learned where they were it was no longer necessary to remember what they were. Except our old Debate Room at Washington High School was 419.

Street addresses stick a little longer, apparently. 7433 Hascall Street. 4527 Decatur Street. 1533 St Paul Avenue. And so on. Do we utilize a house number more than a phone number?

I am reminded (for a few things stick, you know) of a Blondie comic from years ago, a Sunday strip, in which a fellow appears on the Bumsteds’ doorstep telling them that he grew up in that house and was wondering if he could look around. They invite him in, and he sentimentally recalls sliding down that old banister, sitting in the kitchen as his mother cooked, playing in his old room, etc. Tearfully, as he’s leaving, he thanks them for their trouble and avers that he will never forget those wonderful days at good old 123 Elm Street or whatever the address was.

And of course the Bumsteds have to inform him that this is Maple Street, and Elm is two blocks over.

Found in a Wallet

Whilst cleaning out an old wallet today, I came upon a scrap of paper (well, several, in fact, but one in particular) on which I had scribbled two quotations.

The first is from my old friend Monsignor James Michael Doyle. It does not originate with him, for I had and have heard a similar sentiment expressed elsewhere although I am unable to find attribution for it. What Doyle said, as jotted by me on March 6, 2005, was:

Love without truth is unlasting. Truth without love is intolerable.

I have seen “irresponsible” for “unlasting.” Either way, the sentiment holds.

The second quotation also was presented by Doyle (who was speaking at an “adult forum” hosted by my wife’s Lutheran church: Doyle and I share a keen interest in ecumenism), who correctly credited Ralph Waldo Emerson:

The years tell much that the days never knew.

Ain’t that the truth.

I am, incidentally, always amused by the way certain artists and writers are almost invariably credited in a particular, and particularly stilted way. Ralph Waldo Emerson. So we don’t confuse him with all the other Ralph Emersons writing out there. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow—not to be confused with Henry Throckmorton Longfellow, the taxidermist. Of course, we all get caught up in it, to such an extent that it seems very odd to be confronted—as you sometimes will see on books published in the first half of the twentieth century—with Ralph W. Emerson or H.W. Longfellow. It just doesn’t look right—sort of like Lee H. Oswald or R.M. Nixon. It takes you a moment to figure out who’s being talked about.

Speaking of Longfellow (the writer, not the taxidermist, though it hardly matters), I am further reminded of a line from something I read in my adolescence, though Google fails to yield a single hit. The reference was to the great department-store Henry Wadsworth Woolworth, who refused to open a store in Alaska because his motto was “keep the Nome buyers yearning.”

Amazing what sticks with you, no?