Artificial What?

I’ve been pressed for time this week, so I was late getting started on the draft for this post. As I paced the floor wondering what to write, Hubby piped up helpfully: “You know, you need an AI program to create your blogs for you.”

That made me laugh, for a couple of reasons. First, I grew up on a farm. Long before anybody ever thought of calling computer programs ‘Artificial Intelligence’, AI stood for ‘Artificial Insemination’. That might be apropos, considering that some of my posts are pretty screwy; but the accompanying mental image is, um… let’s just say unwholesome.

The second reason for my laughter is that my blog’s spam folder is full of AI ‘creativity’. (Just to clarify, I’m referring to Artificial Intelligence in this case; although considering some of the eye-popping porn in there, both definitions of AI may be equally accurate.)

Here’s one of the (non-X-rated) gems from my recent spam:
“An unconfused perk of living in a multicultural gentry is the wide-ranging variety of foods that enhance ready. X Field notes may document empirical details, methodological issues, dear thoughts, prolegomenon analyses and working hypotheses. Some are within the Checklist to ensure angelic physical environment mistress’s authority over, others not.”

Wow, I wish I’d written that! (Or not.) On the up side, I learned a new word: “prolegomenon”, which is “a critical or discursive introduction to a book”. Who knew?

But that aroused my curiosity. How do spammers develop their content? So your intrepid reporter dove deep into the questionable waters of the internet, and guess what I discovered? There are online generators for everything! Random words, nouns, adjectives, names, numbers, phrases; even complete sentences. So of course I had to try them out.

Fun was had and time was wasted, but despite my dedicated research I didn’t uncover any intelligence, artificial or otherwise.

It didn’t do much for my own intelligence, either. I could practically feel the IQ points slipping away; which may explain why I’ve developed a disturbing tendency to lose focus and stare blankly off into space waiting for my brain to reboot. (It’s not advancing age. Or so I keep telling myself.)

And on that note…

Lately I’ve been spread too thin, so I’m going to scale back my internet presence and concentrate on writing Book 15 for the next little while. I’ll post regular progress notes to prove I’m still alive and working, and I’ll write sporadic ‘real’ posts when I have time.  And of course, I’ll look forward to your comments as always — your comments are the best part of this blog!

“Talk” to you soon!

Book 15 update:  I’m on Chapter 14 and going strong!  Arnie’s having a tough time, but Aydan and John are there for him as always.

Stupidly Smart

When I checked my email a couple of days ago, I discovered a message that began, “Don’t mind on my English, I am from India.”  I would have trashed it on the spot, but before I could get to the delete button I had already skimmed the next couple of sentences.  Then I started to giggle, and slowed down to read the whole thing.

Apparently this enterprising soul had “thiefted all my personal data” by installing malware on my computer while I was visiting a porn site.  S/he had all my work and social contacts, and what’s more… (wait for the horror of it all)… s/he had also hacked into my forward-facing webcam while I was on the porn site and captured a video of me masturbating!  Unless I paid the ransom, my shameful secrets would be revealed to everyone I know.

Well, I’ve never visited a porn site; I don’t have a webcam; and the research I do on my computer is more likely to inspire snores than sweaty ardour.  I’m not exactly trembling in my boots.

But I wonder… does this person actually make money?  Are there really that many people visiting porn sites and whacking off in front of their computers…

Don’t answer that.  On second thought, I don’t want to know.

But the whole thing got me thinking about all the “smart” devices that are monitoring us without our knowledge.  Webcams can be remotely activated.  Our cell phones can be hacked to secretly relay audio and/or video.  And those are just the beginning.

The other day I noticed a red light blinking on our thermostat.  On its screen was a polite reminder to change the furnace filter.  Our fridge tells us when it’s time to change its water filter.  My car monitors its tire pressure.  But we drew the line at a septic pump that would monitor our waste output.  There are some things I just don’t need to know; although apparently somebody does, or they wouldn’t have bothered making the thing.

And the smarter my devices become, the dumber I get.  (I prefer to blame the devices for this, not advancing age.)

Before I had a smartphone, I used to know my friends’ phone numbers by heart.  Now they’re all at my fingertips; and I’m lucky if I remember my own.

Same with special dates.  I had them all in my head, and every time I went to the store I’d check my mental list of upcoming birthdays and anniversaries and buy the appropriate cards.  Now my smartphone’s calendar reminds me two weeks in advance, and I still forget to buy the damn cards.

Smart devices are teaching us to be helpless.  It’s only a matter of time before we’re slumped drooling in antigravity chairs while robots ferry our bloated carcasses from bed to dinner table to toilet and back again.  Our fridges will order groceries; our toilet seats will monitor our health; and if we’re plugged into virtual reality we can experience any adventure we desire without even leaving the house.

And when all human contact has been eliminated and our only intimate relationships are with computers, that enterprising soul in India will really make a killing.

Or maybe s/he’ll be too busy watching porn and getting frisky with Rosy Palm and her five daughters…

They’re Watching Me

My last illusion of privacy has been shattered. I knew government agencies watch us online and our phone companies track our whereabouts and aliens (or possibly my friends) are monitoring my bathroom habits… but I could always depend on the utter cluelessness of spammers.

Back in the good old days, I could count on getting all sorts of random and irrelevant spam promising to enlarge body parts I don’t even possess or to deposit vast sums of money in my bank account. (Who knew there were that many dead millionaires in Nigeria?)

But no more. Lately the spammers have been getting so uncannily accurate, I can’t help thinking they’re watching me.

Case in point: A few years ago I posted A Dave By Any Other Name, in which I noted that I spent several years of my office life christened Dave. Imagine my surprise when I received this email a while ago:

They got my name right in the subject line… and then they addressed me as “Mr. Dave”.

At the time, I dismissed it as a bizarre coincidence. What are the chances, right? But lately I’ve been receiving spam that makes me think the spammers are actually paying attention… and they have a twisted sense of humour.

For example, they send me ads for food and recipes and then follow up with ads for the ‘20-Minute Flat Belly Workout’.

And a few days after I researched insanely expensive women’s shoes for my fashion-conscious character Nichele, I received an email kindly offering me ‘red arses’. That may seem completely unrelated, but wait:  The designer brand I researched was Louboutin. Their signature design feature is red soles… or red ‘bottoms’. Obviously my creative spammer was using a slightly less refined translation program to produce ‘red arses’.

(Or maybe I’m completely off-base with the Louboutin theory and the spammer in question actually has a baboon fetish, in which case I don’t really want to know.)

Anyway, they’ve apparently figured out that I’m a writer, because I get popup ads like this one:

Ummm… Isn’t that a spelling correction?

Ummm… Isn’t that a spelling correction?

Last time I checked, misspelling ‘grammar’ wasn’t a grammatical error, but I’m willing to overlook that technicality. After all, there are larger issues at stake: the fact that the spammers are now collaborating.

The ones who know I’m a writer must be sharing information with the ones who know I love to eat. The result was this email gem:

“Imagine losing pound after pound by doing literary nothing!”

I’m not quite sure how to do literary nothing. I guess as a literary-type person, theoretically any ‘nothing’ I do would be literary nothing; but I can’t help thinking there must be more to it than that.

Maybe I have to sit staring at a blank page and steadfastly resist the urge to write. Or perhaps ‘literary nothing’ is the act of spewing pages of pointless drivel, in which case I should be losing pound after pound just from writing this blog.

But at least they’re onboard with my sense of humour, and they’re generous with their jokes. They gave me this one with no strings attached, not even a spammy link:

“Have you heard about the Scottish drag queen? He wore pants.”

I guess I’ll get used to the idea that they’re watching me.  And (unlike the government and the phone company) at least the spammers give me some laughs. 😀

Nostril-damus Speaks

I had a great idea for today’s blog post, but by the time I got up from the breakfast table I’d forgotten it. Seriously. One minute I was thinking, “Oh, that’ll make a good blog post”, and the next minute…


I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I know my memory is shitty, but this was ‘way over the top.

I spent the next twenty minutes racking my brain for the wisp of genius (after I forget an idea, it always seems like the most brilliant thought ever conceived). Finally I recalled it, but I couldn’t figure out what was so great about it.

So, in the absence of genius (which, to be realistic, was unlikely in the first place) I’ll fall back on my usual weirdness.  Today’s topic is nostril hair.

The thought came to me a while ago, when I was talking to a woman whose nostrils were, erm… a significant facial feature. Huge and completely round in a slightly upturned nose, they looked like twin mineshafts in white limestone.

But it wasn’t their size and placement that caught my attention. No; it was the fact that they were smooth dark abysses, completely hairless inside as far as the eye could see (and I was at an unfortunate angle that allowed me a full view).

It took all my willpower to focus on her eyes. My gaze kept getting dragged down to the Nostrils of Doom. And while my mouth made idle chitchat, my brain was boggling. How did she get rid of every single hair? Most people have at least a few hairs ‘way up there to act as a pre-filter for bugs and dust.

Nostril hair is the final privacy frontier. Nobody ever talks about it. Even TV commercials and spam emails don’t go there. They’ll offer me ‘discreet bladder protection’ and a half-dozen ways to remove ‘unwanted body hair’; each more barbaric than the last. They’ll go on about ‘feminine hygiene products’ that are inexplicably linked to white frilly dresses and white horses in fields of white daisies, or at the very least, white pants and a lot of jumping around. Or worse, they offer me ‘feminine freshness’ (with more daisies). Ew.

For the guys, it’s razors that look like race cars, with some dude caressing his smooth manly jaw and smirking at the camera. Or it’s Viagra and Cialis ads (which would be considerably more entertaining if they featured a dude smirking and caressing a manly body part, but I haven’t seen an ad like that yet).

One way or another, it seems the entire advertising world wants to get all up in our bizniss and attack our body hair. But despite the fact that no topic seems off-limits… have you ever seen an ad for a nose hair trimmer?

I haven’t.

That’s when the questions began in my brain: Is nostril hair so shameful that even TV ads won’t tackle it? Do people secretly buy nose-hair trimmers in plain brown wrappers? Is laser nostril-hair removal a ‘thing’?

And most importantly: Without the constant badgering of advertisers, how do we even know we should be depilating our nostrils?

I dunno. It seems to me that this is a major untapped market in personal grooming. I foresee a whole batch of cringe-inducing ads as soon as the industry realizes its omission.

Alert the media, but remember: Nostril-damus predicted it first, right here.

* * *

My readers have spoken!  The survey from two weeks ago showed that 48% had no preference for which day of the week Spy Away Home should be released, and 33% preferred Friday.  So we’ll probably have a Friday release day… I just don’t know which Friday yet.  🙂 When I get the last of my beta reader feedback and I know how much work is left for me to do, I’ll choose a release date and set up the pre-orders.  Fingers crossed that the feedback is good…

Werewolf Porn Star

Well, it’s been an interesting week on the blog. After doing back-to-back posts featuring scrotums and syphilis, I fully expected to find some, erm… unique search terms in my blog stats.

I navigated eagerly to my stats for the week, expecting a plethora of twisted terms. But instead I found this:

What, no scrotums or syphilis?

What, no scrotums or syphilis?

I could probably have had some fun (of the literary sort) with the first one, but ‘Sex at Calgary Stampede’? So mundane. *sigh*

Still, it’s nice to see that the classic ‘we’re all free! And naked!’ made it into the top four yet again. Even though I wrote that post over two years ago, it’s still the most popular search term that brings people to my blog:

Wait, am I detecting a theme here…?

Wait, am I detecting a theme here…?

I sure wish I knew what all these people are looking for. I’m not promising I’d supply it if I found out, but damn, I’m curious! Meanwhile, for all you bloggers out there: If you want to increase your site traffic dramatically, just write a post using the magic phrase.

Giving up on my search engine stats, I turned to my spam folder for entertainment. Alas, the spammers were merely plying me with generic praise unrelated to my posts and offers for payday loans and handbags (though I’m pleased to see the handbag ads are diminishing).

Fortunately for my sense of humour, a couple of gems slipped through the filters to land on my posts.

You may recall I mentioned I’d discovered my inner werewolf a few months ago. Imagine my surprise when I found this comment: “…Becoming a breed of the lycanthropus blend of the werewolf and acquiring hircine’s gifts enables one to live a powerful life. Join the seventh sixth pack of the Hademus, know the shapeshifting techniques, spells, feel among and enjoy supernatural gifts. If you really want to become a werewolf, contact…”

It included contact information, details on the strain of werewolfism (is that a word?) to infect me, and the specific werewolf spells and curses that would be applied, along with information on the werewolf father and werewolf god, and an application form. It was quite specific and well-organized, but the last line of the application form was the zinger: “Tell us why you want to become a werewolf”. I guess there must be a high demand for werewolf conversions so they need to screen out the posers.

Apparently it was Alternative Career Recruitment Week, because I also got this on my Guest Book: “…if you are interested in becoming a porn star, either male or female in xxx videos, this is an opportunity for you to apply with our company…” It also included contact information, salary details, travel allowances, and an application form.

It’s wonderful to know my career opportunities are so many and varied. Since they offered me the option of either male or female, I think I’d like to become a male porn star. Or better still, a male werewolf porn star.

I just hope my new employers won’t insist on the ‘no body hair’ look. ‘Cause for a werewolf, that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘waxing moon’.


I’m Such A Snotty Princess

Hubby brought home a cold last week. As I mentioned several years ago, we generally don’t share viruses because I’m probably a Neanderthal, but this one seems to have targeted the weaker homo sapiens part of my genetic makeup.

Right now I’m at the stage where my throat and lungs are on fire but I’m not coughing yet. I’m still clinging to the idiot hope that maybe the Rhinovirus Fairy will pass me by instead of scooping out my brain and replacing it with snot.

But I think she (or ‘he’, to be fair) has already begun the process, because in the last few days I’ve developed a disturbing tendency to shuffle to a halt and stand staring into space for several seconds before saying, “Come on, brain, you can do this!” aloud. It seems to work – I usually remember what I was trying to do, but it tends to draw wary looks if I do it outside the privacy of my home.

Meanwhile, I’m sucking on zinc/echinacea/Vitamin C lozenges and drinking hot lime juice with honey. (I prefer lime instead of the traditional lemon because then I can pretend I’m drinking a hot margarita instead of a medicinal beverage.)  I don’t expect this to cure or in any way improve my cold, but at least it gives me something to do while I wait.

When I sat down to write this post I racked my virus-laden brain for something funny to say about the common cold, but you know what? I got nothin’. Colds suck. Or rather, blow. Great soggy snot-balls.

So instead, here are a few things that made me laugh this week:

My blogging buddy Carl D’Agostino’s cartoon:

My nephew’s comment about men’s locker rooms: “Yep, no matter which way you turn, you’re gonna see something you really didn’t want to see.” That reminded us both of this comic from The Oatmeal and made us laugh uproariously. (Scroll down to the bottom of The Oatmeal’s page for the one about the locker room.)

Then there’s this picture sent to me by one of my readers, Sue W., because she saw it on Facebook and knew it would make me laugh. (The misspelling of ‘potato’ is neither hers nor mine.)

That’ll make you think twice about digging in the garden…

That’ll make you think twice about digging in the garden…

I’m hoping the person who wrote the caption meant ‘love this’ in the philosophical sense, not the physical. But probably only my mind would ever latch onto that critical distinction.

This Twitter message was laughable because it was such a lame attempt at marketing from somebody who clearly knows me… wait for it… NOT AT ALL:

Totally me. Not.

Totally me. Not.

Let me count the ways this made me laugh:

  • They clearly put so much time and effort into crafting their marketing message. Ten seconds with Google Translate might have helped.
  • It’s pink. Anybody who knows me (even slightly) knows that I’ve never in my life worn or even owned anything pink.
  • It has a princess crown on it. Is there anything about me that could in any way be construed as princess-like?
  • It has a cutesy heart on it. I’m totally gonna wear this with my biking leathers and flaming-skull helmet.
  • And hell yeah, I’m going to click on a random link sent by some spammer just because the T-shirt has my first name on it. Nice try, guys. But thanks for the laughs.

What made you chuckle this week? And/or what’s your favourite cold remedy?

Gassy And Shy

You’d think ‘Gassy and Shy’ might be a comedy duo like ‘Beavis and Butthead’ or ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’, but it’s not.  It’s… (drumroll please) …one of my delightful spammers!  Yes, today I’m offering another succulent serving of Spam Casserole.

So, poor old ‘G&S’ popped by my blog some time ago to confide “personally I can’t eat during the day for reasons unknown, I get puffed up, gassy, And shy”.

I’m touched by his/her trust in me.  I mean, imagine the courage it must have taken for that shy person to reveal such an intimate detail, not knowing whether I might heartlessly ridicule them in a public forum.

Oh, wait, I just did.

Guess I wasn’t as touched as I thought.

But I was truly touched to discover that none other than David Bowie took the time to visit my blog and check out my nudie picture… and he liked it!  At least, that’s according to the spam comment that appeared on that post:  “COME ONE NOW DAVID BOWIE HIMSELF LIKED IT.”  Personally, I always suspected David Bowie was batting for the other team, but what do I know?  Apparently my nudity is just that appealing.

And speaking of nudity and related sports, the latest crop of spammers seems to have an unwholesome interest in my sex life.  One alluded to it in euphemistic terms: even I fulfillment you get right of entry to constantly rapidly”.  At least I think he/she was talking about sex.  It’s kinda hard to tell.

Another took the caring approach:  “My partner and i worry about your needs and that i truly mean that”.  Good to know, but my needs are well taken care of, thanks.

In fact, this blogger confirms it:  “you are marrying a great guy, you are very lucky, he is a great in bed, I should know, we have been sleeping together off and on for years”.

Alrighty, then.

I’m pretty sure I would have noticed an extra body in our bed, but I guess I’d better ask Hubby about it just to be sure.

My next visitor offered some valuable information:  “telefonsex religious service programs are the guys that experience extra reservations for aliveness”.

I didn’t realize telephone sex was part of any religious service programs, but I guess it’s a religious experience for some folks.  And it’s good to know ‘aliveness’ is one of the criteria for participants.  I’m not quite sure how telephone sex works for dead people.

Actually, that gives me a fabulous entrepreneurial idea:  telephone sex for necrophiliacs!  I’ll set up a 900 number with a recording of dead silence.  Shares are now on sale for my startup company ‘1-900-DEAD-ONE’ – buy in early before this one-of-a-kind opportunity ends!

…Oh, sorry, I got sidetracked for a minute there.

We were talking about spammers, and I should stay on-topic.  Because according to this visitor: “The good news in addition results in a great have an effect on your intellects of your companion.”

Oh, you poor suffering readers.  If I’d only known what I was doing to your intellects… but if you’ve read this far it’s already too late, because what have I offered you in terms of intellectual stimulation?

My final spammer sums it up neatly:  “The answer is zero. I beg your pardon.”

I do.  I truly do.

More Yummy Spam

My friends the spammers have been kind enough to donate the content for today’s post.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I actually harbour a sneaking fondness for spam, as long as it’s fried up nice and crispy with cracker crumbs and/or neatly contained inside my spam filters.

Here’s what my blog has attracted lately:

In the category of Messages in Secret Code:  “blank hairpick slug miner mode lole weakling justis Basia”.

As any fool can see, this is an urgent communiqué informing me that feeble, curly-haired mentally deficient slug miners are about to kidnap a Polish folk singer and hold her hostage until their demands for justice are met in the form of shorter working hours, improved slime-resistant work gloves, and lower daily slug quotas.

I was halfway to the red phone to warn the secret police when I realized the plot was far more sinister than I’d originally thought.  The key word in the message is “lole”.  This misspelling of “LOL” clearly indicates that the implication of the mentally deficient slug miners is merely a clever ploy by the conspirators’ masterminds.  In fact, the plot is being undertaken by the intellectually elite straight-haired slug miners, who plan to frame their less acute brethren for the evil plan.

You’ll be relieved to know I reported the entire thing to the authorities, and Basia will never know how close she came to a slimy and terrifying ordeal.


In the category of Obscure But Vaguely Disturbing:  “I’m worried that a plush facehugger is a gateway facehugger if I win, I’d better not start turning tricks for real facehuggers or craving an alien bursting out of my chest”.

My initial fear that a facehugger was some sort of previously-unidentified sexual variation turned out to be unfounded when I nervously searched “facehugger” on the internet.  Now it all makes perfect, though somewhat worrisome, sense.  The concern that a plush facehugger may conceal a real facehugger is certainly a valid one.  But turning tricks for a facehugger?  Seems to imply a certain moral deficiency, wouldn’t you think?

Here’s a runner-up in the same category:  “In case the peg people don’t win the day, I need to know”.

Me, too.  I really, really need to know.  Who are these peg people?  Why has their epic struggle against the hole people gone undocumented all this time?  You need to know.  I need to know.  The world needs to know.


In the category of Too Much Information:  “I’ve a condition in this particular topic”.

This comment appeared on my post Why Orange Plastic Palm Trees.  I really didn’t need to know this commenter has glowing orange and yellow testicles.


And finally, in the category of Dubious Compliments:  “Those are yours alright! … They look good though!

Um… thanks.  I’ve always preferred to think the real ones look better than implants, too, but… wait a minute… what are you looking at?!?


Anybody else had tasty spam lately?

Update:  The promo’s over now, but I’m planning a few more coming up – will keep you posted.

Note:  This week (March 4 – 10) is “Read An Ebook Week”, and I’m giving away ebook versions of Never Say Spy to support it.  Get yours free until March 10, and please let your friends know, too.  Click on the Ebook Week picture in my sidebar to get it (use coupon code RE100).

Don’t worry if you don’t have an e-reader – you can download software to read e-books on your PC from Adobe Digital Editions (epub) or Kindle for PC (mobi).

If you’re a regular commenter here, and if you’ve been kind enough to buy Never Say Spy already, drop me a note from the About Me page, and I’ll send you a freebie for one of my other books instead (tell me which one you’d like).

Cooking With Spam

I have a sneaking sympathy for the manufacturers of SPAM, that “is-it-really-meat” product my mother usually fried with a crunchy coating of cracker crumbs.  It must be tough on their self-image to be associated with worthless, annoying email.  Maybe that’s why I keep an open mind to the humorous potential of the spam I get on this blog.

Most of it is the garden-variety “buy our product” crap, but every now and then, a true gem lodges in my spam filters to tickle my funny-bone.

For instance:  “Excellently constructed report, if all people offered a similar posts just like you, the net would be a more desirable destination.”  I’ve seen that particular comment umpteen times, but in this case the context made me laugh when it appeared on my post “Gettin’ Down At A Piss-Up”.  Soooo… piss-ups are a desirable destination… yeah, okay, I’ll give you that one.

Or how about this one: “…you still take care of to keep it wise.”  …Except for the fact that my post was titled “Brainless”…

And then there was the warmly complimentary, “Excellent facts many thanks for posting about it.”  I might have let that one slide under other circumstances, but my post was “Barbie, Celebrity Affairs, and Altering Reality” – a post entirely devoted to the rambling fantasies of my deranged mind.

Then there are the ones I suspect are secret communications in a clever code.  Maybe they think since I write spy fiction, I’ll be able to decipher their messages.  For example:  “I’m gonna watch out for brussels.”  Oooookay, then.  Good to know.  I’ll watch out for brussels, too.  Are we talkin’ sprouts, European cities, or what?

This cryptic comment really made me wonder:  “tiger blood?”  That was it.  No other information.  Just the question mark, which was obviously intended to be a clue.  As in, “Do we have a go for our covert op that’s so badass we code-named it ‘tiger blood’?”  Or maybe it’s an honest question:  “Is that tiger blood?  Or just ketchup?”  Or wait a minute, maybe it’s a comment on my savage beauty, my untamed… aah, never mind.  Probably not.

But, hell, maybe there is some irresistible attraction at work here.  I just got this comment:  “I got what you think, thanks for swing up. Woh I am glad to gestate this website”.  Well, if you’re swinging, I think you probably got the clap.  I haven’t heard the euphemism “swing up” before, but it seems to me a swing-up would be better than a swing-down.  I think a swing-down would make it much more difficult to gestate.  Besides, a swing-down just seems so… dejected.  Deflated.  Flaccid.  (Yeah, I used that word).

But, like gonorrhea, my visitor’s enthusiasm is infectious.  “Woh I am glad to gestate this website!”

Hey, I’m easy.  Flattery will get you everywhere.  Gestate away to your heart’s content.  Just wash your hands before you come to the table.

‘Scuse me while I go fry some of these up with cracker crumbs.