Letters to the spammers

It’s Christmas time (well, okay, six days after Christmas for all you pedants), and you know what that means –
It’s time for letters!

When I was younger, I’d send letters to Santa, obviously. Threatening letters, usually along the lines of, “Give me the bicycle, old man, or you’ll watch Rudolph suffer.” A few years later, when I found out [spoiler alert!] that Santa didn’t really exist, I’d send the threatening letters to my parents and relatives instead. To tell you the truth, I’d always had an inkling that Santa didn’t really exist. We don’t have a chimney and the notion of Santa breaking into our house always seemed unconvincing and slightly disturbing.

I digress.

Okay, so now that I’m too old to send family members threatening letters and get away with it, I’ve decided to divert my excess Christmas energy into other pursuits. I’m still going to write letters, but not to Santa or family. I’m going to write letters to the people who are responsible for bringing my blog this far. To the people I love and value above anyone else. To the people who comment on every post (their comments are sometimes just gibberish, but it’s the thought that counts). In short, I’m going to write letters to my spammers.

I’ve decided to proceed by picking the first five comments I see in my spam queue right now and responding to each one individually. Let’s begin.

1. “The ten most odd bag secrets… and ways to employ them!”

Greetings, dear spammer!
Let me begin by saying that I appreciate all the good work you are doing. It is not every day that you find kind, generous people who are willing to divulge useful secrets for free, especially when it comes to ‘odd bag secrets’.

I am quite chuffed that you have chosen me as the ‘keeper of secrets’, so to say. I am intrigued by the idea of bags having secrets, especially odd ones. Tell me everything, spammer – let no holds restrain you. Tell me all the deep, dark, dirty secrets. What do bags do in their free time? Are there any drunken parties hosted by Gucci handbags? If so, are suitcases invited? Are schoolbags outcasts? Tell me – I’m sure I can handle it (pun very much intended).

2. “Most people previously used to laugh at Japan – but this time I actually laugh at all of them.

Hey there!
I will get to the point immediately – I do not approve of this. It’s terrible that people laugh at Japan (even though this is the first time I’m hearing of this) but I do not think that the right way forward is laughing at them. You’re trying to fight fire with fire but remember this – be the better spammer. Don’t laugh at them – instead, put glue on their seat or permanent marker on their favourite clothes. Laughing’s just lame. Teach them a real lesson.

P.S On a side note, why were they laughing at Japan? I’m curious.

3. “Selection of positive practices to discover more about women well before you’re abandoned.

Dear spammer,
I noticed that you chose to spam my ‘About’ page with this comment. I take it that you read my ‘About’ page and then decided that unless I receive immediate advice, I will soon be abandoned. I thank you for your timely and considerate warning. I will be all ears for any sign of impending abandonment courtesy my immediate family, extended family, friends or the like.

What I do not understand is why I need to ‘discover more about women’. Are you implying that I am more intolerable to women than I am to men, and therefore, am more likely to be abandoned by female associates? If that is, in fact, the case, then I am quite worried, sir, as I myself belong to the female half of the population and until now have always tended to believe that I have discovered (more than) enough about myself. In fact, I often wish that I was less familiar with myself than I currently am.

Regardless, I thank you for your concern.

4. “The terrible honest truth relating to your beautiful japan illusion.

Sir/ Ma’am,
I will ask you directly – Are you the spammer who has been laughing at Japan? Why do you feel the need to mock Japan? Let me tell you, Japan is not an illusion – I am almost completely sure that it does exist. However ‘japan’ as you call it does not exist – the nation is called ‘Japan’, with a capital J. I greatly appreciate your desire to tell me the ‘terrible honest truth’, but with all due respect, I do not think I will be able to believe a spammer who does not capitalize the first letter of proper nouns.

5. “Exactly why no company is speaking of watch and things one should implement as we speak.

My spammer friend, hello!
I take it that English is not your first language. That’s alright – you’ve made a good effort. I sense a feeling of desperation in your comment – you have something ground-breaking to say, but cannot communicate it to us. I sympathize with you – I have often been misunderstood as well, usually deliberately. Anyway, I hope you find the right words – the world is cruel to those who cannot communicate well.

Lots of love to all, and have a happy New Year!
Mushroomsup xx

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How to not cry when you lose to a six-year-old

Last week, I had cousins over. One of them was a particularly frisky six-year old whose idea of fun was turning on electrical appliances and then turning them off. Repeatedly.

Chagrined, I decided that I would introduce him to some real fun. So out came the board games. I asked my brother to set up the games while I pinned my cousin to the ground just as he was preparing to switch off the power supply to our house.

Eventually, though, we managed to set up Countdown and we managed to hold his attention for long enough to convince him that he could have fun without having to press buttons. For those of you who haven’t played, Countdown is a lot like hangman. You think of a word, use alphabet tokens to set up the word so that the opponent can’t see it, and then the opponent tries to guess the word one alphabet at a time. For every alphabet the opponent gets wrong, you turn a dial which has little diagrams of a stick figure drowning, well…progressively. We explained these rules to him, and he seemed to have understood.

I must admit, it all seemed to be going brilliantly until I realized that my six-year old cousin could spell precisely two words: ‘orange’ and ‘New York’. I have absolutely no idea what was so special about these two words, but that was all he knew. I had to spend the next two hours trying not to say ‘o’ or ‘n’ or any of the alphabets in these two words just so that he would win. Worse still, he mistook his winning streak for an actual aptitude for the game, and developed a liking for it. There’s only one thing worse than a six-year old who can’t spell: a six-year old who can’t spell but wants to play Countdown with you.

Somehow I convinced him that he should go play the game with my mother instead. These opponents seemed like a good match: a mother who had never played Countdown before, and a cousin who couldn’t spell. I watched gleefully as my cousin kept spelling out ‘orange’ and my mother kept looking apologetic every time the stick figure drowned because of her inability to guess the word. Eventually, though, my mother caught on, and proclaimed triumphantly, “Orange!” This was too much for the six-year old. He set about destroying the game set, the dial – everything. When he began throwing the alphabet tokens at us, I decided that it was time for a different game.

My mother suggested ‘snakes and ladders’, but we couldn’t possibly play that for fear of being transported back to 853 BC. Monopoly was too risky – what if my cousin landed on Oxford Street and ate all the pieces as a mark of protest against the high rent? And plus, I have no idea how to finish a game of Monopoly. We could be sitting there for days on end, waiting for a slow, painful death. Mastermind was out of the question too – I couldn’t possibly teach the nuances of probability and sequences to a six-year old who can barely spell. So finally, we settled on Jenga.

Jenga was also a bad idea because every time the Jenga tower collapsed, my cousin would start weeping. If it collapsed because of his clumsiness, he would simply weep. If it collapsed because of my carelessness, he would not only cry but would also hit me. This hypocrisy irked me and eventually I secretly began nudging the tower from the back every time it was his turn to remove a block. This would ensure that it would fall whenever he got his turn. I must admit, I had started to get a bit competitive. The game ended when he began crying and accusing me of being a ‘cheater’. Then I laughed wickedly and he started to throw the Jenga blocks at me. Everything got a bit out of control after that. Alright, I admit, it was wrong of me to throw the blocks back at him. But I was just fighting fire with fire. Or rather, with Jenga blocks.

After an hour’s time-out, we had cooled down and I offered to compete against him in a game of his choice. He chose the i-Pad classic, Fruit Ninja. Six-year olds have a short memory span. He failed to remember my kindness to him in letting him win the numerous Countdown games, and beat me hollow at Fruit Ninja. He then proceeded to laugh at me for several minutes, after which I called him a hypocrite and he called me a cheater, and then, well…it ended badly. Our shouting match was temporarily interrupted by my mother coming between us, not to stop the quarrel, as I presumed, but to save the i-Pad. At the peak of the quarrel, the six-year old did something odd with his hands, twisting them together and scrunching his fingers. I later found out that it is called ‘the Dragonfly’, and it is a six-year old’s equivalent of the Finger.

And thus I learnt an important lesson:
Never play board games with a six-year old. It will end in tears, and those tears will be yours. I speak from experience.

An open letter to the non-spectacle-wearing members of the general public

Dear non-spectacle-wearing member of the general public,

I am writing this letter because I feel that it is my duty to make you less ignorant enhance further your substantial knowledge regarding the daily problems faced by us ordinary spectacle-wearing folk. I am the voice of the hapless people who cannot read this without a light microscope and an oil lens. I hope to bring justice to that person who, as you read this, is stumbling around searching desperately for the pair of spectacles that he/ she is holding. I will be the saviour of the downtrodden, the humiliated, and the virtually blind. To top it all, I shall not get carried away in my praise of my own heroism and unparalleled greatness. I like to think of myself as modest, you see.

Let’s move on, shall we?

You, as a (presumably) non-spectacle-wearing citizen, may not understand what all the brouhaha is about. Why is wearing spectacles such a major issue? Wake up in the morning, wear spectacles, take them off before you go to bed. The end.
But oh no it isn’t.

Allow me to describe for you one day in the life of an ordinary spectacle-wearer. Being a spectacle-wearer since the age of nine, I feel that I have adequate experience in these things:

The alarm rings. You open your eyes. The logical thing to do would be to switch off the alarm before it wakes the dogs, or the neighbours, or the drunk guy on your lawn. So you do. Except you really don’t. If, like me, you’re halfway to being clinically blind, you will knock over a whole shelf of books, a bedside lamp and a soft toy you stole from your neighbours’ baby before you actually get to the alarm. And even then, the alarm only switches off because the clock’s fallen to the ground and shattered.

Now that you’ve successfully managed to switch off the alarm, you stumble around looking for your spectacles. 53% of a spectacle-wearer’s time is spent looking for his spectacles. And 78 % of that time, the spectacle-wearer is actually wearing the spectacles. Okay, I just made that up.  But still, it feels like a lot of time searching for something that is, in all probability, on your head. My searches usually culminate in my family gathering to watch and snigger as I explore corners of my house that I’ve never seen before and trip repeatedly over small objects placed in suspiciously strategic positions.

Okay, so you finally find the specs on the floor with the books and the alarm clock, so you wear them and head off to school/ college/ work/ however else you spend the time left from searching for the glasses (by which I mean spectacles, not receptacles). In school/ college/ work etc. you start talking to a friend, and somehow, one of four discussions comes up. I’ve titled them according to their subject matter: ‘Spectacles and Eyesight’, ‘Spectacles and Family’, ‘Spectacles and Fashion’ and ‘How far can you throw this scrap of paper?’ The fourth does not currently concern us, and I’ll get to it some other day. But the other three are bound to proceed in the following way:

1. Spectacles and Eyesight

You take off your glasses briefly to rub your eyes. At this very moment your non-spectacle-wearing friend asks you to read something printed in font size 8. “I can’t see a thing without my glasses,” you say, casually. “Really?” your friend asks incredulously. “So how many fingers am I holding up?”

Non-spectacle-wearers, when you say things like that, it is very difficult for us to restrain ourselves from punching you in the face and saying, “No fingers; here’s a clenched fist.” Or maybe we’d respond by showing you one finger. You must understand this: poor eyesight, squinting and blindness are not all the same thing. They are in no way equivalent to each other. Repeat this to yourself if you find it hard to understand. They is not same. They is different. Oh, and also, please don’t assume that people wearing spectacles can see more clearly than people who have perfect eyesight. If that were true, they wouldn’t be spectacles anymore, they’d be X-ray goggles.

2. Spectacles and Family

Your non-spectacled friend looks at a picture of your brother (who also wears spectacles) and says, “Oh, he looks just like you!” Doesn’t matter if your brother looks nothing like you, or even if the person in the picture is not your brother. If you both wear spectacles, it follows logically that you must both look alike.

Okay, I’m not even going to dignify this with a response.

3. Spectacles and Fashion

Your non-spectacled friend, in a fit of misplaced enthusiasm, decides that he/ she wants glasses too, ‘cause they, like, look so cool.’ So he/ she goes out and buys nerd glasses.

Nerd glasses should not be called that because they are neither nerdy nor are they glasses. Being a nerd myself, I can tell you from experience that wearing square glasses with thick black frames does not make you a ‘nerd’. Please. You underestimate the difficulty of being a nerd. If everyone wearing ‘nerd glasses’ was really a nerd, the world would be a much smarter place. Don’t get me wrong. I’m fine with people wearing them. I just believe that they should be classified as a fashion accessory rather than visual aid.

Right. So you’ve faced one of three situations and you return home. By then you’re so fed up of having the pesky things on the bridge of your nose that you take them off and then stumble around the house blindly for a few hours, dropping things and generally being very destructive. At night, you place the glasses carefully in a case before you go to bed. Sometime between the time you go to bed and the time you wake up your glasses will have acquired a life of their own which will have allowed them to find some mysterious corner to hide in.

And that, dear non-spectacle-wearers, is a day in the life of a spectacle-wearer.

I hope this heart-wrenching narration of our daily ordeals has generated some sympathy amongst those of you who had no knowledge of the perils we face. For those of you who already support my worthy cause – you’ve just read a thousand words for nothing at all. Ha ha.

And to my fellow sightless friends: see you! (no pun intended)

Regards,
A bespectacled blogger called Mushroomsup.