Intriguing Spam

This speaks for itself – it’s one of the best form letter / Wikipedia consulted / broken English SPAM messages I’ve seen in awhile.

By: epSos .de

You know it’s legit because the dude’s name is in quotations. That’s so official I don’t even do it.

U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.
Date: 06/17/2013

Dear Sir,

My name is “Jacob Jack Lew”. I am the New Secretary of the Treasury under the U.S Department of the Treasury. The executive agency responsible for promoting economic prosperity and ensuring the financial security of the United States. I was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 27, 2013, to serve as the 76th Secretary of the Treasury. Prior to my appointment as the 76th Secretary of the Treasury, I have previously served as White House Chief of Staff.

However, the Good news here is that following the resolution of the meeting held with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United Nations, an agreement was reached that the sum of $500,000.00 USD must be paid out to you in the form of a compensation. This compensation funds according the World Bank Instruction will be paid to those that have been Scammed, such as beneficiaries Lottery winners/lotto, Contract/inheritance fund, Retired Civil Servants. Hence, by virtue of my position as the 76th Secretary of the Treasury, I have irrevocably instructed the Federal Reserve Board to approve your compensation fund release via issuance of a CERTIFIED CHECK drawn on the Federal Reserve bank, which is the authorized bank for your fund release.

Therefore, as a former White House Chief of Staff under the Obama Administration, I wish to state categorically that a CERTIFIED CHECK of $500,000.00 USD drawn on the Federal Reserve bank will be issued and sent to you via the US Postal Service at no cost to you. Every and all cost associated with the delivery of the CHECK has been pre-paid by the U.S Government. The only cost associated with your fund release is the cost of processing a “Fund Clearance Certificate”, which is estimated to the value of $150.00 USD. The “Fund Clearance Certificate” is required in accordance with the U.S Monetary Policy; and it is the ONLY expenses you will incur before the CHECK will be sent to your mailing address.

You can get more facts about the U.S. Department of the Treasury on this link

Yours truly,

Jacob Jack Lew
Secretary of the Treasury

Horrific Stats Homework

When I was an undergrad, due to an advising mistake, I took a harder stats class before taking the easier stats course (At UA the psych department offered stats, as did the statistics department – we had to take both Intro Stats and Psych Stats. I took Psych stats first). Because of this, by the time I got around to taking basic stats, I was pretty annoyed that I had to take material I already knew well. So I decided to have some fun with the class. I skipped class pretty often, and made up some truly horrific homework examples (as well as added a pretty good amount of snark to my homework). You know the type of problem you get to be creative with – they start “Give an example of a data set where one could calculate a Mean and Median”, invariably preceded by a bunch of benign examples having to do with the price of fruit, exam grades, etc…

My examples got bad enough that the graduate student teaching the course explicitly asked me to tone them down. What can I say – as a 19 year old, I could be pretty flippant, snarky, and other less-than-stellar adjectives. Today I probably wouldn’t have been as… detailed… in my examples.

Tonight, as I was thinking about our own undergrads at Centenary taking psych stats this summer, I dug up one of my old homework assignments, and found these choice quotes:

3.4 The Mean and the Median can only be calculated for quantitative measures (Because they relies on the values of its measures to have numerical significance).  The Mode can be Qualitative and quantitative.  For instance, if we asked bus drivers to run over little children, then rated the bus drivers on the job they did (I.e. how flat the corpse was, how loud the screams were, etc..) by grades (A,B,C,D,E) we would be using a qualitative scale. If 4 bus drivers got C’s, 1 A, and 1 E, our Mode would be C, our mode would be C.  On the surface, it appears that the median may be applied also, but this would require us to split C.  Since C wasn’t on a ratio scale (only an interval) it would be impossible.

Yea, I guess that was probably unnecessarily gory. At least I apologized with it right afterward:

(I apologize for the previous example, but as statistics is pretty dry stuff, I have to spice it up a bit)

I toned it down a little to just snark after that one.

b. Well Gee, the question asks if there are any outliers, and since it then says 2 sentences later “Which… changes by … when you DROP THE OUTLIER”.. I think (and this is just a hunch), they put an outlier in there….


(Sorry, more spice)




Yes, the outlier is probably 17,487.  I’ll drop that and get this for Median & Mean:

Toward the end of the homework assignment I apparently got tired of doing the same sorts of “plug and chug” problems over and over. So I wrote this.

3.24 (Ugh… not another one of these problems)… b. (See sarcastic remarks for previous problem) Yes, there is an outlier of 37,154.

There are more examples of punk homework examples as well, but you get the idea.

Now that I’m on the other side of the podium all the time (I was teaching part-time in 2002 at UA when I took this class), I look back on this and hope that it was received in the same way I would receive it (I’d be pretty amused).

However if it wasn’t, I’d like to apologize to the graduate student who was just trying to get her masters’ degree, and didn’t really deserve the school bus example!

(Funny story: This class was also one where the instructor decided to put stickers on the exams of students who got an A. Being that my last name starts with a W, the choice of stickers wasn’t as good when she got to my paper. One day, as she passed back exams, she got to mine, looked at it, looked at me and an expression of “Oh no, it’s that guy’s paper” came across her face. As she handed me the exam she said “I’m sorry, but I ran out of the good stickers and still wanted you to have one”. There sat a sticker reading “Good Try”, right above a score of 95 out of 100. Being snarky me, I just looked at her and said “That’s OK, I’ll try to get a 98 next time”. Oh to be 19 and a ***** again!)

(Nostalgic Addendum: The “good try” sticker on that paper was promptly peeled off and placed on the inside cover of my graphing calculator, where it is to this day in my desk drawer at Centenary!)

How Long Should a Fitbit One Sleep Wristband Last?

I’ve been a fan of the Fitbit since the first tracker was introduced two years ago. I upgraded to the Ultra when it came out, and upgraded to the One when it was released last year (My fat wrist means I probably won’t be going to the Flex anytime soon though!). Recently the sleep wristband that I’ve used every night since I got the One started to look a little shabby, and after multiple repairs, I finally just broke down and ordered a new one. This got me thinking: How long should a Fitbit One Sleep Wristband last?

Here’s the comparison between the original One Wristband, that I got around November 15, 2012, and the brand new one that I received today (Replacement cost: 9.99 + s/h):

Wristband after 200 days compared to new, with repairs noted.
Wristband after 200 days compared to new, with repairs noted.

As I noted in the picture, the original wristband started to show wear and tear at about day 120. About 20 days later the end was so frayed that the material wasn’t staying together, instead I could see all layers of the wristband. While this was cool, it wasn’t very easy to work with when putting the wristband on at night, so I asked Karey to sew it. When she did it became impossible to re-align the material perfectly, since the thin material needed to also accommodate thread, so the wrinkle in the lower part of the picture (on the back of the wristband) formed.

About day 175 a new fray became pretty serious on the other side, which Karey sewed again. Today on Day 200 I also noted that the opening where the Fitbit is placed has become warped and the edging is starting to unravel. Finally over time you’ll notice that the wristband stretches, which is not a bad thing (I have large wrists), but it does mean that the opening becomes less secure. I’ve had my Fitbit fall out in bed 3-4 times in the 200 days.

According to Fitbit, the wristband is made of neoprene, and beyond that there isn’t much in the way of a ‘lifespan’ mentioned on their website. This makes sense, since everything but the wristband is made of more durable materials. Obviously they anticipated that the wristband might get worn, and allowed for the purchase of just a wristband for a small fee. So the question becomes: How long should the wristband last given the price paid for the Fitbit One? Is 200 days acceptable before requiring another $13.90 (band + s/h) after the initial investment of $100? I’m personally on the fence. I understand products like this won’t last forever, but would have been pleasantly surprised if Fitbit offered a “trade-in” service, or cut the price of the wristband to $5 or so (I should note that in the past, with the Ultra, I’ve lost a wristband and Fitbit support replaced it for free – so this isn’t a knock on their customer care or support in anyway – they’ve been top notch in my (and others, that I’ve read) experience). As of now I’m of the non-surprised “that’s what I was expecting” sentiment. What I’m curious about, though, is if others find this acceptable?

Why St. Jerome?

Friends who connect with me via Skype have noticed that my profile picture there (and in some other places) is St. Jerome (Specifically St. Jerome by El Greco). I figured I’d write this up to clarify why Jerome gets special treatment when A) I’m not named Jerome and B) I’m not a saint.

St. Jerome by El Greco
St. Jerome By El Greco (From the Frick Collection)

First of all, who was St. Jerome? Well, he was an early christian from the region of Stridon, which today would be somewhere in Croatia or Slovenia. He’s a doctor of the church, and known mainly for two things:

  1. His translation of the Bible from Greek and Aramaic to Latin.
  2. A story involving him removing a thorn from a lion’s paw, which if true, is probably just as awesome an accomplishment as translating the Bible.

Because of this, you often see Jerome in one of three types of poses in historical art. The first, on the left by El Greco, is your standard artistic profile shot (Because you know Jerome would rock Facebook if he’d had the chance). He’s got a book, associating him with #1 above. A second depiction is of him with the lion from #2.

Jerome in his study, chilling with a murderous beast
Jerome in his study, chilling with a murderous beast


But while both depictions are pretty sweet, in my opinion the best is the third depiction of Jerome translating the Bible, usually doing a “facepalm” move so popular by the meme of the same name these days. Translating the Bible must have been long and annoying work, and rightfully so Jerome isn’t always looking too chipper and happy. I suppose that Mr. Lion might be around just out of frame might also make him a bit tired – can you imagine having to take care of a lion? And you thought housecats could be needy.

I’ve taken a quick swing through Google Image Search and found a few great Jerome Facepalms for your enjoyment, at the bottom of this post. However if you’ve stuck with me so far, you’re probably saying “OK, so why is he your Skype avatar?”. Well, for two reasons. First, his beard is great (the El Greco version is my favorite because his rectangular face sorta sports the beard as an extension, not merely as facial hair). And second, I really feel like the photos below, at times, and so I empathize a bit with Lion-loving Jerome. So next time you want a facepalm image, don’t reach for Picard, reach for Jerome!

Jerome by Domenico Ghirlandaio
Jerome by Domenico Ghirlandaio
Jerome by Albrecht Durer
Jerome by Albrecht Durer
St. Jerome Icon
St. Jerome Icon
St. Jerome by Eric Armusik
St. Jerome by Eric Armusik
St. Jerome & The Angel by Simon Vouet
St. Jerome & The Angel by Simon Vouet

P.S. I particularly like the last one since Jerome looks like he’s really pouring his story out to the angel. “And then I told the lion he could go. And he didn’t! Do you have any idea how much kitty litter I’m going through?!?”

Random Sexting

About 9 months ago, when we switched carriers, Karey got a second phone number that was local to Shreveport. She hardly ever uses it, since her regular number was ported to Google Voice. However for MMS messages (does anyone even call them that anymore? Picture messages?), she has to use the Shreveport number, since GV doesn’t support MMS.

From the beginning she’s received ‘wrong number’ SMS messages from many places – the former owner of the number signed up for a number of text services, non-paid, and apparently the number wasn’t out of service long enough for some of those to lapse. Mostly harmless, occasionally funny, and occasionally annoying. From these we’ve reconstructed a bit about the former owner’s past, including his name, approximate age, etc…

By: Sarah Marriage

And apparently he was a hit with the ladies – Karey received a random sext a few months back. What amazed me was that it was just the picture – no “establishing” text message to make sure that this person, who hasn’t had the number in 6 months, was still at the other end. I guess it is more shocking to throw the picture first and hope it starts the conversation, and she was probably disappointed that Karey didn’t reply.

Today a Facebook friend posted that she received a random sext as well. It got me wondering – have we become so deluded by the seemingly one-sided interaction with a cell phone that we forget that when a photo is sent, it is presumably seen by another human? Perhaps not the intended one. I’m pretty sure that if Karey were to meet her sextmirer in real life, the other woman wouldn’t immediately offer to undress, yet she’s got no problem doing so via phone. It makes me wonder – are those who randomly sext even embarrassed when they find they’ve made a mistake? Or are those so comfortable with their bodies to send them out also immune to such emotions?

Anyone else have a Random Sext? Or has a friend who randomly sexted? Anyone else annoyed with the word ‘sext’ in general?