The cats’ litter box contains more useful nuggets than my work email lately

AxComputer

I have been tempted …

I don’t dislike public-relations people. PR on the whole isn’t that different from journalism and blogging, and I understand that trying to get the word out about companies, products and services is their job. For those who don’t know, I work on a blog about Facebook. The percentage of emails I receive that have nothing whatsoever to do with Facebook has been on a steady upswing, despite my efforts to alert senders that they’re barking up the wrong tree, unsubscribe (when applicable) and pound away at the spam button in Gmail.

No matter how much I try to clean up my email box, I can’t even begin to tell you how much of my time this process wastes on a daily basis.

First off, as I have said in the past, 99.99% of emails with “STORY IDEA” in the subject line are completely mistargeted and useless.

Second, when your email begins with a greeting to my former boss (who has not been a part of my blog since April 2012), the blog’s founder (whose byline last appeared that same month, after very limited involvement over the year prior to that), or a person I’ve never heard of (common mistake when sending mass emails, but still a mistake), you are already starting off down one strike. One strike becomes two strikes when you claim to be a regular reader of the blog, yet you address your email to someone who has not been a part of it for almost three years.

Third and most important, if you are emailing the editor of a blog that writes about Facebook, how about, oh, I don’t know, actually pitching a story that is related to Facebook? When I skim through an entire pitch or press release and don’t see the word “Facebook” once, smoke comes out of my ears.

Finally, in the cases when I take the time to reply to flaks and remind them that I am interested in Facebook and only Facebook, writing back to try to push a completely unrelated story is beyond foolhardy. I actually had one person who pitched a story with no Facebook angle whatsoever write back to try to sell me on the story with this gem: “Well, the company does have a Facebook page.” Really? So does my softball league. You don’t see me writing about that, do you?

Oh, yes, and one more pet peeve of mine is the misuse and abuse of the word “expert.” I have been writing about Facebook since 2011, yet I don’t consider myself an expert. Working for a company that runs Facebook ad campaigns or helps businesses create pages on Facebook doesn’t really make you an expert, either. So the fact that you are available for comment tells me you are just trying to get your name out there, which is fine, but I’m not biting.

If I want to waste time during the work day (and who doesn’t?), I will waste time pondering fantasy sports moves, playing Words with Friends or checking Facebook, like just about everyone else does. I should not be wasting so much time on emails that are as useful as tits on a bull.

Absolutely brutal Facebook Lottery spam email

If you fell for this, YES, I AM TALKING TO YOU!

Wow, I mean, are spammers even trying anymore? I don’t expect spam emails to follow the Chicago Manual of Style to the letter, but how about at least trying to at least slightly resemble English? This gem below, clearly unedited, was of the “Facebook Lottery” variety (for the love of God, people, there is NO SUCH THING as a Facebook Lottery):

From: info@aim.com
Reply-to: facebookwoldwide.lnc@gmail.com
Sent: 3/30/2014 4:15:55 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: FACEBOOK ONLINE LOTTERY PROGRAMME 2014, CONTACT E-mail: (facebooklottoworldwide.lnc@gmail.com)

FACEBOOK ONLINE LOTTERY PROGRAMME 2014

FROM: THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT.

INTERNATIONAL PROMOTIONS/PRIZE AWARD.

BATCH NUMBER: 2551236002/244

SERIAL NUMBER. 55643451907

TICKET NUMBER: 5647600545189

CATEGORY: 2nd

Dear Winner ,

We are pleased to inform you of the result of the just concluded annual Final draws held on the (25th Of March 2014.) by Face book group in cash Promotion to encourage the usage of Face book world state dollars) each on the Face book group promotion Award Attached to ticket number (5647600545189) and Ref No (2551256002/244) Serial Number (55643451907).

The online draws was Conducted by a random selection of email you where picked by an Advanced automated random computer search from the Face book in other To claim your $600,000.00USD the lottery program which is a new innovation by Face book, is aimed at saying A BIG THANK YOU to all our users for making Face book their number one means to connect, communicate,relate and hook up with their families and friends over the years.

This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants and Scam artists All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from over 20,000 companies’ and 30,000,000 individuals’ email addresses and names from all over the world. This promotional program takes place every three years.You have to be Rest assured that this is Real and Legal..and there are Some Scam artists around…Thanks to the FBI…216 of them have been arrested… The software corporation to encourage some few individuals with web site and email addresses promoted this lottery.

Your name was selected in a raffle that was made on the 28th Of March 2014. so we need your fast response so that we can proceed with the delivery of your fund .You are required to contact our payment dept via e-mail:

E-mail: facebooklottoworldwide.lnc@gmail.com

Phone: +1 (301) 678-9083

With information below in order for us to complete your winning certificate and for further information regarding the disbursement of your lottery win.

FULL NAME:

FULL CONTACT ADDRESS:

MOBILE PHONE NUMBER:

OCCUPATION:

MARITAL STATUS AND AGE :

NATIONALITY / COUNTRY:

TICKET NUMBER:

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS:

REF NUMBER:

SERIAL NUMBER:

you can also contact the FBI Agent in person for more information and advise and give him your number so he can call or text you.

Email: investigation.onlineoffice@gmail.com

Remember all winnings must be claimed not later than 20 of April 2014. After this date, all unclaimed funds will be included in the next stake. To avoid unnecessary delays and complications please remember to quote your

reference and batch numbers in all correspondences. Furthermore, if there is any change in email address please contact us on time To enable him issue you certificate of winning Accept my hearty congratulations once again.

CONGRATULATIONS ONCE AGAIN FROM FACE BOOK!!!!

APPROVED AND SIGNED

I mean, where do I start with the mistakes, obvious red flags, and blatant stupidity in this one?

  • The reply to email is facebookwoldwide.lnc@gmail.com. What does “woldwide” mean?
  • From the desk of the president? Facebook doesn’t HAVE a president. The two top executives in the company are Mark Zuckerberg (CEO) and Sheryl Sandberg (COO).
  • It’s Facebook, not Face book.
  • “You have to be Rest assured that this is Real and Legal..and there are Some Scam artists around…Thanks to the FBI…216 of them have been arrested…” I hope this asshole is No. 217. Is that sentence even English?
  • Why are you asking for an email address? You obviously HAVE the fucking email address. I got an email, didn’t I?
  • “you can also contact the FBI Agent in person for more information and advise and give him your number so he can call or text you.” Even if a Facebook Lottery DID exist, what role, exactly, would the FBI play in it?

If anyone fell for this, they should never be allowed to use a computer, cell phone, tablet, or oxygen again.

Nine in the suburbs: How to drive in Basking Ridge

OldWomanDriving

Average Basking Ridge driver, give or take a denture

We moved from Hoboken, N.J., to Basking Ridge, N.J., at the end of August 2012, and the adjustments have been plentiful, particularly for yours truly, a lifelong city dweller experiencing the suburbs for the first time.

One of the biggest differences between the New York metropolitan area (obviously including Hoboken, but I grew up in Manhattan) and Basking Ridge is the way people drive. To put it simply, people in the immediate area around the city drive like assholes, while people out here drive like pussies.

After one year and a few months out here, I have put together a set of rules for how to drive if you want to fit in with the norm here in Basking Ridge:

  • The speed limit is merely a suggestion for the pace you should maintain in the case of unusual events, such as having to take an enormous shit, or transporting a woman in labor. In normal circumstances, it is perfectly acceptable to drive 15 miles per hour under the speed limit, or maybe 10 MPH, if you’re feeling exceptionally spry, but don’t get carried away. Remember, if the sign says “Speed Limit: 40,” 25 MPH will suffice.
  • The newer your car is, and the larger the price tag is, the slower you should drive. Despite the fact that safety is built into the exorbitant costs of your vehicle, you can’t be too careful. I recommend a top speed of 25 MPH, and whatever you do, don’t let that high rate of horsepower tempt you. Horsepower is the bait used by Satan.
  • When making a turn, it is best to come to a complete stop, and not simply glide into the turn. You wouldn’t want your $75,000 Audi to end up on its side like a rickshaw, would you? The people behind you will understand.
  • When stopped at a stop sign, the safest policy is to remain there until no car is visible in either direction, no matter how long that takes. The mail truck may be a half-mile down the road, but as long as you can see it, it represents a clear and present danger, and it must be avoided at all costs.
  • By no means should you ever flick your brights off, no matter how many cars are oncoming or directly in front of you. Being able to see is half the battle! Take solace in the fact that if a blinded driver smashes into you head-on, the insurance company will probably declare that driver at fault, and not you.

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” — George Carlin, R.I.P.

Apple announces new iPhone models; I get Apple-related spam

One of the many clever, resourceful spammers out there decided to take advantage of Apple’s announcement of its new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C by sending the awful attempt at an Apple email forgery below.

But it must be official, since the sending of this email applies when the expiration date of your account happens to term.

What in the fuck?

But it’s from “The Apple Customer Assistance,” so it’s clearly legit.

I hate people.

AppleSpam

Ladies and gentlemen … we have a winner!

I often post stupid messages left on the Facebook page of the blog that actually pays me to write for it, and many of them are royally stupid, but this one has no competition. It’s in a league of its own.

The look on my face when I first read this …

Obviously unedited (this may make your skull ache):

to whomever is working at Facebook I’m not asking you to like this just try to here me out is it really considered harassment adding people that we already know that are family relatives no is it ever considered harassment to be adding people that are famous could that be considered harassment I say again no what I am saying is this there is no need to keep suspending people for 30 days this here is the United States of America all of us Americans have the freedom to choose who they want to have to be adding and sending requests out to people that they want to be friends with I don’t consider that harassment right there at all that anyone notice the differences between of what is harassment and what is not harassment in this case I’m right I also know whom your boss really is and that happens to be the president of the United States of America and that would be your new boss in which he runs everything around in the United States of America and that would be Mr. Obama so I say to all of you I and speaking only on behalf of the millions and millions plus the millions of people live in this country in this world is going to have to learn the answer to they are the ones that want their answers answered there are the people including the millions and millions plus the millions of people that are so angered and infuriated at all of you for doing this to them suspending them for 30 days I know what a 30 day suspension is on a calendar and it’s not the kind of suspension that the millions and the millions plus the millions people so I say to all of you ease up on your terms of policies on Facebook we have our American rights to fight back it we had to do when you get this please read very carefully and remember this message that I’m sending to you is not considered spam thank you for your time

Oh my GOD, where do I start?

Dude, take a breath. And while you’re refilling your lungs with oxygen, there’s this thing called punctuation you might want to consider. You went 351 words (Microsoft Word counted, I couldn’t be bothered) without a single comma or period. This has to be some sort of world record.

Now that I am done being a grammar Nazi, what in the blue hell are you talking about? And why should people who write a blog that covers Facebook give the slightest crap?

I hope you get suspended from Facebook for 30 days and are not allowed to return until you produce a comma.

Wow.

Let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone

It has been brought to my attention that I am not allowed to complain about my current situation regarding the lack of power and response from Jersey Central Power & Light because there are people who are worse off than I am. Well, duh.

I know I am fortunate that our house and cars didn’t suffer any damage, and that our family is unhurt. But that doesn’t make what we’re going through right now any easier.

I have friends who lost everything. I have friends who will be able to salvage their homes, for the most part, but at great financial expense. I have one friend who is lucky to be alive after deciding to ride out the storm at her family’s now-totaled beach house. And after seeing pictures and video of the devastation, my heart hurts for people I have never met and will never meet. No one should ever have to experience what the victims of Hurricane Sandy are currently going through, particularly the hardest-hit victims.

But this does not mean I am not allowed to complain.

Have you ever complained about your boss or your work situation, whether on Facebook or while out with friends? Well, guess what: There are people who are much worse off than you are. There are people who work in sweatshops for pennies an hour and receive beatings from their bosses. So I guess you are not allowed to complain about work anymore. That annoying customer doesn’t compare to a boss with a whip.

Have you ever complained about your relationship, or your significant other? Well, guess what: Right now, there are people being physically and mentally abused by the people who supposedly love them. You were cheated on? Hell, there’s probably a chick somewhere who just found out that her boyfriend had a threesome with her best friend and her sister. So by that logic, you are not allowed to complain about your relationship anymore.

The weather? It’s worse somewhere. You hate Monday? Monday is just another day when you’re in prison.

Think of the things you complain about on Facebook, or in conversations with friends. I’m willing to bet that no matter what topic you come up with, there are people worse off than you.

So unless you can tell me that you have never complained about anything trivial in your life, don’t tell me not to complain about something that is far from trivial. I have many friends on Facebook who vent or post repeatedly about topics I have no interest in. Rather than expecting them to tailor their conversation to my tastes, I simply move on. There will be other conversations.

Setting the record straight about why I am so angry with JCP&L over our power situation

I think a lot of people (particularly on Facebook) are misinterpreting why I am livid with Jersey Central Power & Light due to its handling of our lack of power, which started around 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, during the roughest part of Hurricane Sandy, and has not been resolved as I type this.

As of 4:30 p.m. today (Nov. 7), more than 168,000 JCP&L customers in New Jersey are still without power, and I am one of them. Do I think I deserve preference over any of the others on the list? I absolutely do not. Do I have any malice toward those whose power has been restored? Again, I absolutely do not.

My problem is with the awful communications between JCP&L and my new hometown of Basking Ridge, or Bernards Township. We have received little or no information throughout this process, and the precious nuggets of news have been inaccurate, conflicting, and useless.

Two close friends (ironically both former roommates) live in areas serviced by JCP&L. One, in Brielle, was told that power would be out for 15 days, and it was restored in seven days. The other, in Whippany, was told that power would be out for 18 days, and it was also restored in seven days.

We received no such information, other than a very vague statement that most homes would be restored by today (Wednesday, Nov. 7), nine days after power was lost. The implication was that power would be restored gradually throughout that period. The truth was that very few homes in the area had power until Sunday, or six days after it was lost, and as of 3 p.m. today, 4,494 out of 12,567 homes were still down. Does the number of restored homes qualify as “most?” I suppose so, but JCP&L’s communications to our town were still extremely misleading.

I don’t know if the issue was that the company was afraid to deliver bad news, but had it come out with a statement saying something along the lines of, “Most residents of Bernards Township will not be restored for several days,” I would have come up with a much more efficient plan for getting through this than the one we chose. No one wants to be told that they will be without power for several days, but after digesting the news, no one could possibly blame JCP&L or any other company for the damage caused by this storm. I can, however, blame them for not being honest with us and allowing us to plan accordingly the way our friends did.

We are currently staying with my mother-in-law in Cherry Hill, an hour-and-a-half from Basking Ridge. We chose to do so because we were led to believe that this situation would linger for a handful of days, not nine and counting.

We have cats, and they absolutely do not travel well, and are completely freaked out by change. So I have driven back-and-forth from Cherry Hill to Basking Ridge every single day since we set up camp down here last Wednesday to check on them, feed them, reassure them, and spend some time with them. I don’t even want to think about how much I have spent on gas. On the way back from Basking Ridge to Cherry Hill this morning, I topped the 1,000-mile mark of distance driven specifically because of Hurricane Sandy.

We have a six-month-old baby who is absolutely driving us nuts and not letting either of us get any work done. It’s not his fault. He is stir-crazy and bored out of his mind. But our daycare center, also a JCP&L customer, is out of power, as well, meaning that we can’t even make alternate daycare arrangements so that we can have a few hours of peace and quiet to get some work done.

This situation is far from ideal. If I had any inkling that it was going to last this long, I would have tried to figure out something better, where the cats weren’t left alone in a house with a temperature that has dropped as low as 50, and where we had better resources in terms of sleeping (we bought an air mattress because the sofa bed was slaughtering both of our backs), possible child care, and other things.

In other words, if JCP&L was honest and upfront from the start, we would be in a completely different situation.

No one wants to hear bad news, and no one wants to be told that something as vital as power will be kept from them for several days. But that was the reality dealt to us by Hurricane Sandy. JCP&L should have been honest and straightforward about how long this process was going to take, rather than spending two days saying it was “assessing the situation,” and then issuing three completely conflicting estimates of when work would start in our town and how much of it would get done.

I’m sure my next-door neighbor, an older woman who lives alone, would have come up with a much better plan, as well, since her plan consisted of sitting in her car with the engine running to stay warm, and eating crackers because her stove is electric and she can’t cook. Do you think she would have done something different if she knew we would be dark for nine days and counting?

JCP&L told my friend in Brielle it would be 15 days. JCP&L told my friend in Whippany it would be 18 days. Why didn’t the company give our town the same courtesy?

And on another note, it doesn’t help my mood that my former hometown of Hoboken, which was absolutely decimated by the storm, with most of the city under two to three feet of water, is fully restored. Naturally, I am happy that Hoboken is back up, as I still have many friends there, but when it comes to restoring service, my old provider, PSE&G, is kicking JCP&L’s ass, and sadly, there is no way to switch back.

After reading that, if you don’t think I have a right to be angry, then we will have to agree to disagree. But I would think friends would take the side of their friends, and not of an ineffective power company.

Speaking of friends, a lot of ours have made generous offers, and I wanted to explain why we haven’t taken any of them up on those offers.

Parents out there can back me up on this: When you travel with a six-month-old baby (or any baby, for that matter), the amount of stuff you need to bring with you is ungodly. Packing and unpacking it is a mission, as is setting it up. We don’t want to uproot the baby at this point, and force him to get used to another place, when we have no idea whether it will be for one night, one week, or one month.

Plus, for our friends who don’t have kids, they take over your entire house. I know everyone’s offers were sincere, but some of you don’t know what you were potentially getting yourself into. We are used to being awakened at 4 a.m. by piercing screams. We don’t want to put anyone through that.

And for those who have offered to help with the cats, I really don’t think it’s a good idea to move them at this point. They are already completely freaked out, not to mention cold and lonely, other than the one hour or so every day I have spent with them. Bringing them to a new place would be overload. And they might do a lot of damage to someone’s place, not out of malice, but due to stress. Plus, if anyone whom they don’t already know comes to check up on them, 8-Ball will be happy to get fed, but the other two will hide and not benefit from their company, and likely think they were abandoned.

So I do thank everyone who made offers, and there were many of you, and, as I said, I have no doubt every single one was sincere.

In any event, I hope anyone who reads this now understands that I wasn’t simply whining about not having power, as there are still hundreds of thousands in the same boat. I believe I have a right to be angry about JCP&L’s communications with my town, or lack thereof, and I stand by everything I have said about the company on Facebook. And if you still side with them over me, well, I just don’t know what to say anymore, but I take nothing back.