Archive for April, 2012


My wife and I accidentally own three houses.  It was an accident, honest.  So, we are trying (yet again) to get a summer rental out of our one home in a neighboring village.  Hopefully, Allah will provide.

Last Sunday, we got a call from a former coworker.  He was looking for a new place to live, saw our house advertised on Craig’s List, and sent an email vis-a-vis “small world!”  He got back an email from me, telling him that I was living in Africa with my family and, if he sent me the first month’s rent and deposit, I would send him the key.  All of this was very well and all, except that 1) I am not in Africa and never have been, 2) wife and family are still here too, and 3) it was not actually my email address.  Naturally, he called me here at home.

Yes, it was a scam.  In fact, it is a very standard scam.  The scamsters, who really do appear to live in Africa, have been doing this to people all over the country.  They find a likely rental in a hot market, borrow pictures from the realtors website, along with the house information, and create a Craig’s List entry with a low-ball price.  Naturally, they also go to Zillow or somewhere to get the owner’s personal information and, at least in my case, they created an email account using my name.

If you want to read more about this particular scam, you can look here:

Craig’s List has removed the ad, don’t know if or what yahoo did about the email address, and Brenda talked to the police about it.  The realtor fielded one call from a woman confused about the different prices in different ads and I fielded another one.  Our current tenant had two very young women knock on the door the other night telling her she had to get out because they were moving in the next day.

Guess I should get to bed early tonight – probably have a line of unexpected tenants calling me in the morning.

But really, sending $1000+ to someone you don’t know – on another continent! – and expecting him to mail you a key?  Really?  If those girls did that, then they really needed the education they just got and maybe it will save them making a bigger mistake down the road.  I hope so, anyhow.

On the other hand, they can count themselves as part of a large club.  These guys have been scamming people from one end of the country to  the other.  Probably takes them less than an hour to set up each ad – you know, create a new Craigslist account, find a likely house, copy information and pictures, create a new email account – then they just sit back and wait for gullible people to call or write.  By the time the fraud squads shut down one ad, they probably have three more up and running.  One gullible mark a week would probably make a nice living in most parts of Africa.

Its a rough world out there, people.  Let’s try to be a little smarter than the competition, okay?


Categories: Oddities

Adjusting the Horizontal

Feeling a bit better today.  Tore a back muscle Tuesday morning and was flat on my back for three days.  Ventured out a little each of the next three days.  Was much better today.  Back is still sore, but it rarely feels like it is going to spasm at all.  Today I can walk like a human, mostly, and can even turn sideways.  The only thing I am not good at is sitting or standing for long periods of time, though with both it depends on the angle.  If I don’t do something stupid, I should be back to mostly normal by the end of the week.

So far, so good.  Will try to get back to writing a little at a time.


Categories: Administrative

Flat Out

Not been posting this week.  Or writing.  Or working.  Lots of reading, books, not internet.

Put my back out Tuesday morning, been flat on my back ever since.  Now sitting at my desk at work in recurring pain – will probably go home soon.  But I have to spend the day here tomorrow.



Categories: Administrative


April 23, 2012 3 comments

It is taps for the computer keyboard.  The latest from the Mind of Google.


Categories: Uncategorized

Blog Clogged

April 23, 2012 2 comments

So, I am sitting here looking at my 2011 Dilbert calendar – right on top of things, as always – and Dilbert is raising his hand in a meeting and saying “I want my unwarranted optimism back.”  Guess I understand that.

Have barely written anything this week.  Been busy.  Shoulder hurts when I sit up.  Plenty of excuses.

Still reeling from last week.  I wrote something that had been festering for years about how things might have turned out different for the Titanic, if only someone had thought it through in that first half hour of total panic.  Then, when I was looking around the net to see if anyone else had come up with the idea, I came upon a discussion on an economics blog, teased my opinion on the matter and linked to my blog.  Then things took off – my site started getting hits.  I usually only get a couple a day, but now I had twenty.  Then the host of the other blog – a nice economics professor who writes for CATO and his blog is now added to my blogroll, stage right – added a comment over there with nice words for my piece and linked to it again.  That’s when it really took off and, over the next two days, I got over a hundred hits.  I also think I got a little help from old friend Betterose Ryan, as we had just traded a couple of notes about Gary Johnson’s campaign.

Okay, 124 hits, thus far, is not exactly going viral, but it is more action than I have seen since I wrote my good-bye piece when I stepped down as chair of the LP of CO – and people had only read that to make sure I was leaving.  Cannot say that I mind the visits.  On the other hand, there was only one comment on it, other than the professor’s, in either blog, so I cannot say if people liked what they read or thought it too far-fetched and immediately dismissed it from their minds.  I am just going to choose to believe that, having read it, they liked it and, therefore, did not comment on it.  Maybe.

Meanwhile, our hero, fresh from his early success, wants a repeat.

Okay.  How?

Simple, really.  Just write something topical, a fresh perspective on something lots of people are talking about.  Then take that opinion to other websites where people are talking about it, tease it, and link to it.  As I said, simple.

My stepson’s birthday is on Friday.  I should probably go shopping.


Categories: Writing


I’ve been looking at a lot of digital want ads lately.  Hey, you never know when the perfect job might come along.  But I am always a little put out every time I see in the job description something along the lines of “must be able to multitask.”

First, it is in pretty much every ad out there these days and has been for over ten years.  However, every company posts it as if it is something unique to them, as if it is something unusual.  Guess what!  It isn’t.  The multitasking environment is pretty much a given in most jobs in every industry.

So, as a public service, let me answer to all prospective employers on behalf of all prospective employees.

“Yes, I can multitask.  I have multitasked in every job I have ever had.  So has every other applicant who has sat in this chair in the past month or will in the coming month.  It is something we can all do.

“Do I enjoy multitasking?  No, not really.  Nobody does, except a few mutants who don’t really have the ability to focus anyhow.

“Can I work as well when I am multitasking as when I am not?  Of course not.  Neither can anybody else, again, excepting those few mutants.  We do it when we have to, but we will always do better when you ask us to finish one thing before starting another.

“So let me ask you, Mr. Prospective Employer, why always the focus on this one attribute?  Has it really been a problem for you with previous employees?  Why?  How often do you ask them to do this?  What have you done to make this ‘challenging environment’ a little less challenging?

“No, really, is your particular company so different than any other that all your people have to multitask most of the time?  Is it that complex an industry that you usually don’t know what your employees are going to be doing one week down the road?  Two weeks?

“Or is the problem you?  Are your planning abilities so atrophied that you cannot decide what you want your people to accomplish in the next week or month?  Are you so indecisive that you cannot set priorities that survive the week?  Are the office politics in your company so corrupting that your priorities are set by whoever phoned you last?

“Just asking, of course, because surely you realize that every time you make your people change direction, change focus, they have to put aside whatever context they may have built towards their last task, try to make meaningful notes and memories, and then start learning or relearning their new task.  Wasted effort, of course, and something gets lost every time they have to do it.

“You do realize, right, that there is a cost to multitasking?  You aren’t doing more with less – you are just doing less.  Please realize that if you let your employees focus their efforts on one thing at a time, you will get better products and take less time, overall, getting them done.  Come on, you knew this yourself, before you let them put that tie around your neck.

“Anyhow, to answer your question, yes, I can multitask.”


Categories: Pet Peeves

Titanic Waste of Wood

April 16, 2012 5 comments

The Titanic disaster has been hashed and rehashed since it happened, one hundred years now, but I have long had a different take on it that nobody else ever seems to mention.

Okay, so you know the ship is going down and you have, oh, maybe an hour, a little more.  You do not have half the lifeboats you need.  If you are a British merchant captain with no real experience with adversity, you try to keep things calm, avoid a panic at all costs, and load and launch the lifeboats as quickly as possible.  Captain Smith’s one good call was “Women and children first!”

If, on the other hand, the captain had been blessed with a small amount of imagination, he would have realized that he had two terrific resources at his disposal which, if used properly, might have kept the death toll down to the low hundreds, maybe down to just the few deaths below decks during the initial flooding.

First, although he had a huge ship made of metal, it was filled with wood.  Doors, tables, paneling; great big gobs of wood throughout the ship.

Second, he had a small army of lower-class immigrants at his disposal, nearly all of whom had spent their lives working with their hands.

Under loose guidance from his officers and the many captains of industry who were aboard and with support from the crew, this group of workers could have quickly ransacked the ship and, using ropes, bedsheets, and table linens, lashed these hunks of wood into makeshift rafts.  They could string them along the boat decks and then tow them out the front, conga-line style, as the bow went under.  It is a perfectly calm night, so the rafts do not have to be very seaworthy, they just have to be good enough to keep two or three people each mostly out of the water for maybe six hours.  Comfort is not an issue.

Okay, maybe this would not have worked.  Maybe there was not enough time or maybe they would not have been able to overcome the language issues well enough.  Maybe the rafts would not have held together or not been able to get far enough away from the ship in time.  But I will always believe that, had the Third Class passengers been turned loose early on and been told to do this, the death toll would have been far less.

We will never know, of course, and, as the Costa Concordia has shown, ship’s crews are still more interested in containing panic than in helping people depart doomed ships.


Categories: Pet Peeves