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This Day in My History


Maybe really stupid people who can't spell are their target market. It's all those stupid people who make spam profitable.

~David Gerrold

Yesterday's Entries

2000: Ouch! 
 Senior Moments
2002:  Being Realistic
2003:  Therapeutic Free Cell


A Walk in the Woods
Bill Bryson


My Avisia Winger
by a new theatre company in town,

Buy my stuff at Lulu!



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this doesn't look too scary.

Check a Sheila Video
("See Sheila run--Run, Sheila, Run!")



24  July 2004

Along with everyone else, I get far too much spam. Thank god my life has been much simplified since I installed MailWasher, a free download which allows you to delete junk mail before it ever comes to your own computer. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Peggy!!!)

(Unfortunately, Mail Washer doesn't work with a Mac, so you Apple folks are out of luck.)

One of the good features about Mail Washer, alas, does not work for me. It allows you to bounce the e-mail back to the sender, which, over time, makes the machine that is churning these things out think that you don’t exist, the theory being that you'll soon start getting less junk mail.

Well, I tried that, but it became a vicious circle. The address of most of the senders of most of the junk were bogus, so when the mail bounced, it was sent back to another bad address and that, in turn, bounced it back to me. Within a day I had a panic call from my server saying that I had to stop bouncing e-mail. So I still get tons of bad e-mail (190 in one afternoon, when we drove to Santa Barbara. I had 201 e-mails, 190 of which were spam!)

But that doesn’t make MailWasher useless for me. I can mark addresses as "blacklisted" and I can mark them as "friends." When I check what is on my server, ready to be downloaded, I mark all the blacklisted ones for deletion on the server and they never get to my computer. I only download "friends."   MailWasher also highlights stuff that it thinks might be spam.

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When an e-mail is questionable, I have the option of viewing it before deciding whether to keep it or delete it on the server, so I occasionally look at some of the preposterous things that come through (one of the values of Mail Washer is that in this preview, I see only text, not graphics, so I’ve been spared the unexpected gynecology and urology shots which usually accompany messages from "Jennifer" titled "Hi--I got your message!").

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(I want to know how someone is going to prove that they didn't "add at least 4 inches" in order to get their money back!)

What boggles my mind is that after all these years, we're still getting the same scams--only more often.

I cannot believe how many penis enlargers there are out there.  A couple of those ads have slipped thru and given me a glimpse of what a man will attempt in the interest of a bit of added length and I know that the art of the snake oil salesman is not dead.   It's just moved to the Internet.

I cannot believe that there are enough idiots out there who think obscure royalty or some former high potentate in some African nation is going to make them rich beyond their wildest dreams that the faux potentate-relatives are still sending out these letters.

I cannot believe that someone would be so foolish as to buy anything from someone who offers to sell you "perscription" drugs "cheep."  If someone can't spell "prescription" do we really want to buy a compounded pharmaceutical from that company, no matter how "cheep" it's being sold?

I cannot believe how easy people would have you believe it is to get potentially dangerous drugs such as Vicodin, Valium, or Meridia without a doctor's order.

It's hard to know which produces the most volume--penis enlargers or Viagra and/or Cialis, which I guess are really just the same thing, but with non-permanent results (except in the case of Cialis, where men are warned to go to a doctor if an erection lasts longer than 4 hours, which I'm sure has men ordering, hopeful of experiencing one of those 4 hour erections).

Mail Washer has saved me from seeing women engaged in sexual activities with all sorts of animals and barnyard equipment, with varying amounts of fluid displayed.

The ones that get me, though, are the e-mails from me containing viruses.   I had an irate note from an acquaintance the other day saying that a message I'd sent her had a virus in it, and the next day that another e-mail had come with another virus attached, so it surely must be my computer that was sending the viruses out.   Problem is, though, that until I received her first e-mail, I didn't know her e-mail address, so there was no way I could have even inadvertently sent her a virus.     I tried explaining that to her, but I wasn't sure she beieved me.   She just wanted me to do something to stop it.

Heck, I get virus e-mails from myself all the time.  Yesterday a virus came from the e-mail of my boss at the newspaper.  He didn't send it of course.  It just had one word and a link (I didn't download it). 

I sure don't know what the answer is and I don't know how people can really be profiting from all this mischief that plagues anybody who has a computer or any sort of access to the Internet.  I'm sick and tired of getting 300 e-mails a day, only a handful of which I actually want to read. 

At least, with Mail Washer, I don't download them all the time any more.  I still have to see that they've been sent, but I can delete them before they clog up my in-box, or inadvertently let a virus sneak onto my hard drive.

Today's Read

I received a letter from a friend today--he grew up with our kids.   He is in the National Guard and has a plea to make.  I thought I would give it wider circulation by posting it here.

Good Morning All,

I hope everybody is doing well.


I've got a project for you if you are interested we've got 90 Northern California National Guard soldiers from my battalion (Company A, 579th Engineers) currently serving in IraqI get periodic updates from them either by e-mail or occasionally by phone. They are serving proudly and are happy to be a part of history as Iraq becomes a democracy. The soldiers are out in the towns every day performing security patrols and making their presence known. Since the TOS (Transfer of Sovereignty) Things have gotten better for security but they are still enjoying 125+ degree days and 100 degree nights. 


These soldiers interact with a lot of the locals including many children and try to give them little trinkets, personal care items and school supplies to help build an understanding one person at a time. The guys over there would love to receive packages and notes from home to let them know they aren't forgotten. This goes toward supporting the troops. I'm not really concerned about whether or not you support the war. If you could find the time to put together a small package of pencils (no crayons they melt), pens, other school type items, travel sized personal products you can send them to:


 1SG Skolnik, Ken

 A / 579 EN / 81 BCT

 APO-AE 09391


First Sergeant Skolnik will make sure that your gifts will be distributed to the local kids. If you would like to send a note or a package to a random soldiers just put the rank or "Any Soldier" and the A / 579 EN / 81 BCT,  APO-AE 09391.


Restrictions are no alcohol, no pork products and no pornography (defined as any thing stronger than a "Maxim" type magazine). All letters and packages are appreciated.

Thank you,



I've served with a lot of the guys over there to include First Sergeant Skolnik who was one of my platoon sergeants a few years ago and Captain Turner served with me at Fort Hunter Liggett this past year.


Below is an excerpt from one of the letters from our unit in Iraq...



18 June, 2004

Greetings from Iraq,


     We are starting to do a lot more visits with the local people and interacting with the sheiks who are the leaders of the villages in our area.  They invite us in for meals every time we go to visit and put out large meals, which are really quite delicious.  Our discussions include helping their communities through the construction of schools, health clinics, water filtration systems, electrical power to the houses, and sewers.  It is quite rewarding being able to help these people getting the bare necessities, things we take for granted in the US.  Every place we go there are always large groups of children who are intrigued by our presence.  The men really enjoy interacting with them.  The kids are always asking for food and water as well as our pens and pencils, our sunglasses, or anything else they think we have on us.  We have also been giving them small bottles of shampoo (because they really need it), soap (again need it), and other hygiene items.  We never seem to bring enough supplies with us when we go out.  We have no idea where all these kids come from when we stop.  It is not uncommon for a single male to have four wives with ten or more children with each wife.  Our soldiers are always telling the men here that we could not handle more than one wife, that one is work enough.


     The guys are really putting a lot of work in, pulling long hours and not getting hardly any time off.  We try to give everyone a day off a week but this does not always happen.  Everyone cannot wait to get back home where a 40-60 hour work week will be relaxing.  In spite of the intense mission pace, long hours, and extreme heat, the guys are selflessly putting mission first and hanging in there.  For many of them this is probably the most arduous work pace they have ever endured.


     We have been here in Iraq for nearly three months and we are still living in the tents that we originally moved into.  There are new trailer units set up for us but we cannot move into them yet... two weeks more?  Most of the guys will share three-man or two-man rooms, which is much better than the 30+ man tents we are in now.  The dust and heat, as well as bugs and other critters, will not soon be missed.  Another benefit to the men is a new food court (rumor has it that's what it is going to be anyway) is being constructed near the PX to offer everyone a change from the chow halls.  A new gym has just opened too.  It is really nice with brand new equipment, nice floors, a racquetball court, basketball courts, bathrooms, and air conditioning.  The building itself is a modular frame clamshell building with a center roofline that is about 30 foot tall.  The best part about it is that it is clean, cool, and open 24 hours a day.  There is also an indoor pool that we are able to use and there is a quite large Olympic sized outdoor pool opening some time this summer.  Another thing they can take in is going to a movie at the Sustainer Theatre, which holds 745 people and has three showings a day free of charge.  The guys, in what little off time they get, can go to these places to relax and get away from the stresses here.


     There is a change in the mailing policy for incoming letters and packages into Iraq now, due to security reasons.  Before we got to Iraq we put out that the mailing address included LSA Anaconda, Iraq.  Now the policy is that the letter or package will not be delivered if it includes Anaconda, Balad, or Iraq.  The addresses should look like the following:



     A / 579 EN / 81 BCT

     APO-AE 09391


The abbreviations for the ranks are (PVT, PV2, PFC, SPC, CPL, SGT, SSG, SFC, MSG, 1SG, 2LT, 1LT, CPT) which covers everyone in the company. 


     It is amazing to be part of this effort to rebuild this country and help the people here.  It is beyond explanation how these people live and the conditions they are brought up in.  They do not even have clean drinking water.  They drink from the same irrigation canals that they bathe in, irrigate their fields from, and have their livestock drink from.  The families are so large that you would think the country would be extremely overpopulated, but not many people make it to old age.  Their whole concept of life is so different than ours.  The children have no concept of sharing and are constantly taking items from those smaller than them.  It is truly a society of "the strongest will survive".  We are all glad to be part of the change in this society, slow as it is in turning, to where violence is no longer the norm and the people have a say in their community and society.


     Everyone here in A Company, from California, want to extend our gratitude to everyone back home for the support we are receiving here.  The letters and packages make the guys day when they come in.  We all share the food items with each other and talk about our families back home and how much we miss them.  We are getting to know all of you back home from talking with each other here.  The A Company family here in Iraq is really performing a noble mission and performing it well, which is constantly being recognized by the senior leadership here in theatre.


     Until next month, thank you all for your support.  Keep sending your appreciation from your end and we'll keep them safe at this end.


CPT William Turner

1SG Kenneth Skolnik

A Co / 579th Engr Bn



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