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This Day in My History

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  The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
Finding the Key

2004:  Marvel the Mustang



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This is NOT me, but a dog named Angel, who is an SPCA dog with 10 puppies.  But doesn't she look like my twin? (she even has one ear up and one ear down)




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26 October 2005

It was another of those "inspirational" messages that float around the Internet.  This one concerned coming face to face with soldiers returning from Iraq and learning the lesson not to take them for granted and to thank them.

I have no quarrel with that, or with some of the other inspirational messages I receive.  It was the conclusion of this one, and others like it, that inspired this entry...

Pass it on to everyone and pray.

Something good will happen to you tonight at 9:11 PM.

This is not a joke

Someone will either call you or will talk to you online and say that they love you.

Do not break this chain. Send this to as many people as you can in the next 15 minutes.

I cannot tell you how many times I receive messages telling me that good will come to me if I pass the message along or that ill will befall me if I don't.  It's the old chain letter mentality gone high tech.

But really, now gullible are we?  Someone is going to call me at 9:11 tonight and say they love me if I pass this message along?  Pulleeze.

In the earlier days of the internet, there was some sort of good luck totem which you were supposed to pass along or bad luck would befall you.  It was an ASCII graphic.  I cannot tell you how many times I got that damn thing.  I never passed it along and no tragedy has come to me (I didn't get on the internet until AFTER both kids died).  In fact, some very nice things have happened to me.

I guess the problem has always been that even otherwise intelligent people don't want to risk it.  What if there really is some magic god of the Internet that is going to strike me dead if I don't pass along this e-mail? 

(More likely there is the magic god of the Internet that will make you lose all your friends if you pass them along too frequently!)

Then there are the get-rich-quick schemes.  People fairly new to the internet really do believe that Bill Gates might actually send you $10 for every person you forward the e-mail to.   Nevermind that even if one could envision Gates sending out a bazillion $10 checks, nobody seems to note that there is absolutely no way for Bill Gates to know that you send this to your Aunt Betty and Cousin Joe in Pocatello.

The latest one I received several times in the same week concerns a project for a school which involves a long list of names.  You put a star next to your name, or, if your name isn't on the list, add it to the list.  Then you send it along to 10 of your friends and "be amazed at what happens."

I received this e-mail from several people in the same week (having previously received it from several people a few months back) and finally it came from a fairly computer/internet savvy friend, so I wrote to ask him how this could possibly benefit the school originating the message.  There was absolutely no tracking mechanism on it.  What was the "amazing" thing that was supposed to happen.

He responded:

I wondered about this and thought about it too.
One of the reasons I sent this out is to see what will happen.  I have to talk to my daughter about this and see if she knows.

First - this is going to keep coming back to you.  The 10 copies you sent will all come back.
Then I suppose you are supposed to send those 10 out again. You can tell to how many it's been to by counting names and stars, This could get really cumbersome since the number coming back to you will keep multiplying. One of the things the originators would be measuring is how many names get added before it comes back to them.

Oh swell!  The purpose of this e-mail is to create more junk mail for you!!!  Fortunately 99% of the people who receive it don't send it along (which, of course, kind of defeats the purpose of it all, I guess).

(Actually, further information about this "Name Game" can be found here, on the Urban Legends site)

I used to be the good guy who would gently point out to people that the particular email they have just sent to my mailbox is actually a hoax, explaining that once I, too, used to do such things and then realized that I could check information before passing it along.  I would direct them to one of the excellent hoax web sites to check things out before sending something along.

Fact check org
Hoax Busters
Snopes Urban Legend Reference

In most instances, rather than be grateful to find out that such sources exist, the person would be angry with me, get all huffy and then I wouldn't hear from them again.

So I'm sending this out to the world at large, without pointing fingers to anybody.  I don't want to pass along any of your blessings, curses, warnings, get-rich schemes, or chain letters.  I'll take my chances with the curses that will rain down on me by not receiving or passing along the current message.   Besides, chances are that whatever you are sending to me was something I first saw on the Internet 8 years ago.

The thing that bothered me most about this particular message was that it came from someone from my distant past with whom I have only reconnected within the past 5 years.  I hear from her regularly, sometimes several times a day, and there is never, ever a personal note.   It's just always these kinds of messages.


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Tom and Laurel in Tangiers


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