The wasabi you’re eating isn’t.

In case you didn’t know; the Washington Post has a good explanation of why you nor I have probably never eaten real wasabi.

But even the common substitute can have unexpected side-effects.

I recently read of a woman from Israel who mistook Wasabi (the ubiquitous phoney version) for avocado, and consumed about a teaspoon of it. It gave her an attack of takotsubo cardiomyopathy, commonly known as “broken heart syndrome.”

It’s easy to think “how stupid,” but I can empathize. My own journey with Japanese food began in the late 80s when I was doing a lot of traveling. I was passing through New York on business I decided I would try sashimi for the first time, and they brought me a lovely little platter of the famous delicacies. I gingerly tried this and that (pun on *gari* intended), until I came to this little green ball. Knowing nothing no never at all and thinking it was some kind of fish paste, I popped it in and down it went.

The floor did a samba, my ears rang like the bells of Old Bailey, my eyes spun backwards and I screamed “A Eywa! Lu tstal-txewk mì re’o oeyä!” (Oh God! There’s an axe in my head!) After things had settled down, I used my best broken Japanese to ask my server “What in the name of Sugawara no Michizane was *that*???”

At which point I learned that balls of Wasabi, real or ersatz, are not to be eaten whole. But I can see how someone who had a particular susceptibility could be adversely affected why such an experience.

For what it’s worth, I still love sashimi and still use wasabi, but only in the recommended small doses.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Better Than I Deserve

Except for NPR and a few XM Radio oldies stations, I haven’t been much of a radio listener in the last couple of decades. In the 80s and 90s I would listen to KOMO in Seattle and Olympia, and then KSL radio in Salt Lake as I would drive to work, so when we moved to Maine and people asked me how I was doing, and I responded “better than I deserve,” they would invariable respond with “Oh, you listened to Dave Ramsey.”

Well, no. With all due respect, I had never heard of him. But for the last 10 years or so, it’s been my go-to answer to that question. There were times I would say, “If I were any better I’d have to be twins,” and sometimes I truly felt that way. But the older I get, the more I realize that I have truly been blessed beyond my deserts.

Sometimes when I say this to people, they’ll come back with “Oh, you shouldn’t say that, I’m sure you deserve it!” And that’s a nice thought too. But as I cast my mind over the past almost-70 years, I realize that I have been preserved from destruction or serious injury more times than I can count, and I’m sure more times than I’m even aware of.

Some examples:

  1. When I was about two years old, I remember standing in my darkened kitchen (this would have been 1953), turning the burners on and off and watching the pretty blue gas flames dance around. That funny big knob in the middle didn’t seem to do anything, so I ignored it; what I didn’t know was that this was the kind of oven that had no pilot light and needed to be lit with a match. While I was playing with the burners, the oven was filling with gas and soon the inevitable happened. The oven door flew open with a thundering roar, but I was so tiny that it protected me from the flames other than having my hair singed and a huge contusion on my forehead.

    In New York City where we were living, it was common practice when building skyscrapers to blast into the bedrock using dynamite and massive metal blankets woven out of thick cables and dragged around by steam shovels. My mother later told me that whatever I heard one of these explosions my eyes would get big and I would stand stock-still and ask, “Boom?”

    Left an impression on me for sure.
  2. In 1962, I was flying from New York to Salt Lake (I would have been around 11) to visit my uncle and his family. I was on United 725, which lost hydraulics and had to circle around for hours dumping fuel while the crew worked on lowering the gear manually. I wrote about that adventure earlier. I do recall someone asking me about the event after we landed, and 11-year-old me responded, “it was kinda boring.” They chose not to include that quote in the writeups about the event, not sensational enough I guess. But it could certainly have been a disaster.
  3. Seven years later I was working at the United Seamen’s Service in Naples, Italy. Mama was “la direttrice,” and I had a year in Italy as a student, general factotum around the club, and enthusiastic traveler. One day I was vacuuming around with one of those old canister vacuums and went a bit too far; but instead of the plug coming out of the wall, it came out of the vacuum. Like an idiot, I went and picked up those bare wires, and got the shock of my life. And don’t forget, in Italy the voltage is 220. It pretty much knocked me on my honus, and I have learned since then that many people have been killed by a 220-volt shock. I was, to put it mildly, very fortunate.
  4. In 1972, I was still a military dependent. Having learned to fly in Key West that summer in a Cessna 150, I was able to continue lessons at the Hill Air Force Base Aero Club at drastically reduced rates, switching to a Piper PA-28 140. During one of my solo flights, I was puttering around above the Great Salt Lake and went up to about 9,000 feet (the airport is at 4798 to start with, so I was almost a mile up) to see what really happens when you do a cross-control stall. And I found out. The plane flipped over on its back, entirely as described in the literature I had read, and immediately went into a spin. Since I’m writing this, it’s clear that I was able to stop the spin and pull out, but it was both terrifying and incredibly difficult. Had I been any lower, I probably would have augered in.
  5. In 1972, my father and I were driving his little Toyota from Los Angeles to Provo, Utah, to look for an apartment – I was attending school there and he wanted to move from LA to be closer to me. He insisted on driving all night (that is, he insisted that I drive all night while he slept.) I began getting drowsy. I opened the window, and he shouted at me that he was cold. I tried playing the radio, and he shouted at me that he couldn’t sleep. I was slapping myself to try to stay awake, and the inevitable happened… I woke up in the ditch doing 70, overcorrected, danced on the brake, and flipped the car over, whereupon it spun down the freeway on its top emitting sparks along the way. It was amazing we didn’t do one of these. We both escaped with only a few bumps and bruises. Angels were with us that day.
  • 6. In July 1989, we had a young man from Japan stay with us for a week or so. We were living in Salt Lake, and so we took him down to Yuba Lake for a day on the water. My daughter, then 8 years old, was floating around in an inflatable raft, and the wind started carrying her out onto the lake. I thought, “Oh, I’ll just swim out and get her back.” Moron. The wind blew her a lot faster than I could swim, and I soon found myself tiring. And of course, I had no life jacket on. I was in trouble, and called to nearby boats to come help me… but none did. They were too busy drinking beer to notice a drowning man. By the grace of God I was able to get myself into a deadman float and work my way to shore, but it was a very close call. I came close to ending my days with Davy Jones.
  • 7. Not a near-death experience, but still significant; in 1993 I had a chance to visit my Italian family in S. Pietro Apostolo, way down in Calabria (in the toe of Italy’s boot.) I had taken my computer along, and had done a lot of genealogy research, met relatives, collected lots of dates, taken lots of photos, and was delighted to have learned so much about my overseas relations. On the way back to Rome, the overnight train stopped for a while in Naples. I was asleep, and awoke to find someone in my compartment removing my bag. It was dark. I had my contacts in, and waking up I couldn’t see very well. I was able to take my bag out of his hands, whereupon he fled – but had I not awakened, all that precious research (along with all my belongings for that trip) would have ended up in the hands of some young thug. And I might have been knifed for my trouble.

Almost all of these events were precipitated by my own stupidity. Things could have turned out much, much worse for me and my family. But by the grace of God, they didn’t. I was spared, and protected, even if I wasn’t living my life as well as I might have been. I still have challenges. I still face trials. But thus far I have awakened each day not dead, with new opportunities and new blessings. The Lord is kind, and I am grateful. ¹

I am truly “better than I deserve.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ There will be those who say I was fortunate for other reasons – coincidence, or no reason at all, since the universe doesn’t care one way or the other. Whatever makes them happy.

The Hubris of Donald Trump

This collection of statements, lovingly documented, was put together by redditor u/iamlarrypotter. I share it here for the benefit of those who do not particpate over at reddit.

If you want a classic, textbook example of narcissistic personality disorder, look no farther than 45. And then remember that this man has access to our nuclear launch codes. Our nation has never been in a more precarious state of affairs, and the damage this uneducated buffoon has done both domestically and internationally will take generations to repair.


I’m much more humble than you would understand.”

I have the best temperament or certainly one of the best temperaments of anybody that’s ever run for the office of president. Ever.”

I’m the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far. Nobody’s ever been more successful than me.”

I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed”

I’m the least racist person you’ll find anywhere in the world.”

“Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism. The least racist person”

I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to the Secret Service.”

I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country.”

No one has done more for people with disabilities than me.”

Nobody in the history of this country has ever known so much about infrastructure as Donald Trump.”

There’s nobody who understands the horror of nuclear more than me.”

There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.”

There’s nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump,”

There’s nobody that’s done so much for equality as I have”

There’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do,”

“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me”

“I am going to save Social Security without any cuts. I know where to get the money from. Nobody else does .”

Nobody respects women more than I do”

“And I was so furious at that story, because there’s nobody that respects women more than I do,”

Nobody respects women more than Donald Trump”

“She can’t talk about me because nobody respects women more than Donald Trump,”

Nobody has more respect for women than Donald Trump!”

Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”

Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.”

Nobody reads the Bible more than me.”

Nobody loves the Bible more than I do”

Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do. It’s not even close”

Nobody knows more about taxes than I do, maybe in the history of the world.”

Nobody knows more about trade than me”

Nobody knows the (visa) system better than me. I know the H1B. I know the H2B. Nobody knows it better than me.”

Nobody knows debt better than me.”

“I think nobody knows the system better than I do”

“I hope all workers demand that their @Teamsters reps endorse Donald J. Trump. Nobody knows jobs like I do! Don’t let them sell you out!”

I know more about renewables than any human being on earth.”

“I know more about ISIS than the generals do.”

I know more about contributions than anybody”

I know more about offense and defense than they will ever understand, believe me. Believe me. Than they will ever understand. Than they will ever understand.”

I know more about wedges than any human being that’s ever lived”

I know more about drones than anybody,”

I know more about Cory than he knows about himself.”

I know our complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for president”

I know tech better than anyone

I’m very highly educated. I know words; I have the best words.”

“I know some of you may think l’m tough and harsh but actually I’m a very compassionate person (with a very high IQ) with strong common sense”

“I watch these pundits on television and, you know, they call them intellectuals. They’re not intellectuals,” Trump told thousands of supporters in the swing state. “I’m much smarter than them. I think I have a much higher IQ. I think I went to a better college — better everything,”

“@ajodom60: @FoxNews and as far as that low-info voter base goes, I have an IQ of 132. So much for that theory. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain”

Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure,it’s not your fault

“He’s been quite critical of you as you know. He’s attacked you for being ignorant,” Piers Morgan said to Trump. “Let’s do an IQ test,” Trump interrupted

“We can’t let these people, these so called egg-heads–and by the way, I guarantee you my IQ is much higher than theirs, alright. Somebody said the other day, ‘Yes, well the intellectuals–‘ I said, ‘What intellectuals? I’m smarter than they are, many of people in this audience are smarter than they are.”

“You know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years,” Trump told Fox News last December.

Trump says he has “one of the great memories of all time

Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” who he talks with consistently about foreign policy, Trump responded, “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”

” … I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!”


In this Salon article, Yale psychiatrist Dr. Bandy Lee states that “Trump’s mental health is now a “national and global emergency.” My personal opinion is that The Thermonuclear Bowel Evacuation Currently Disgracing the Oval Office has brought us closer to global destruction than any other administration, Bush/Cheney included.

♫ You can’t get there, the road is under construction ♬

Mad Magazine™ was wonderful back in the ’50s and ’60s. I seem to recall that as I grew older, either my sense of humor changed – I started appreciating Harvard Lampoon’s work in the late ’60s – or the quality of the writing diminished.

At any rate, some of the early stuff was priceless, and still relevant to today’s challenges. One example that keeps surfacing in my mind every time I hit a detour is this gem, written by Tom Koch and illustrated by Bob Clarke.

Peeved at Obstructions
(Sung to the tune of “Eve of Destruction” Barry McGuire)

You save up all year long to take a nice vacation.
You make a lot of plans to drive across the nation.
You dream of all you’ll see with great anticipation.
You’ve only got a week to reach your destination,
But that seems like enough, you feel no consternation.
Then they tell you over and over and over again, my friend,
That you can’t get through; the road is under construction.

You’ve never been to Maine or Utah’s scenic section.
You call the auto club to help make your selection.
You pay to get your car a thorough trip inspection.
So you can drive afar and feel you’ve got protection.
Then, when you’re almost there, you seek a cop’s direction.
And he tells you over and over and over again, my friend,
That you must turn back; the road is under construction.

Vacation here at home, our president keeps sayin’.
Don’t spend your dough abroad, he fervently is praying.
So you head for New York do do your summer playing;
Or maybe to the west a travel plan you’re laying,
To see those snowy peaks and geysers wildly sprayin’.
But the signs warn over and over and over again, my friend,
That you can’t get there; the road is under construction.

The challenge is real. In preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, UDOT undertook the I-15 corridor reconstruction project.

“The project involved the reconstruction of 16.2 miles of interstate mainline and the addition of new general purpose and high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes through the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. The project also included the construction or reconstruction of more than 130 bridges, the reconstruction of seven urban interchanges, and the reconstruction of three major junctions with other interstate routes, including I-80 and I-215.”

While the project was sorely needed and the end result was beneficial, for four years, the commute from outlying areas to Salt Lake City was a major pain in the patoot, with commuters searching out and jealously guarding favorable and secret bypass routes.

But wait, there’s more!

In 2009, UDOT undertook the I-15 Core reconstruction project, rebuilding 24 miles of I-15 from Point of the Mountain to Payson in just 35 months. The design-build strategy meant that the entire stretch was torn up at once, instead of doing a few miles at a time. The inconvenience was so significant that I was moved to memorialize the experience in video:

In retrospect, I really shoudn’t complain at all; nowadays our nation’s crumbling infrastructure could use a bit of help, and I think subsequent generations would appreciate our putting up with some inconvenience if it means that their bridges won’t collapse underneath them. But when you’re behind the wheel and trying to get to work (or to a vacation destination), the aggravation can certainly raise one’s blood pressure.

Bonus Section

Since I happened to be on the subject of MAD Magazine, another extract from the same article is precisely the reason our family threw out all our TVs over 20 years ago (the kids were absolutely devastated, but somehow they survived):

The TV Victim’s Lament
(Sung to the Tune of “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan)

How many times must a guy spray with Ban
Before he doesn’t offend?
And how many times must he gargle each day
Before he can talk to a friend?
How many tubes of shampoo must he buy
Before his dandruff will end?
The sponsors, my friend, will sell you all they can.
The sponsors will sell you all they can.

How many times must a man use Gillette
Before shaving won’t make him bleed?
And how many cartons of Kents must he smoke
Before the girls all pay him heed?
How many products must one person buy
Before he has all that he’ll need?
The sponsors, my friend, will sell you all they can.
The sponsors will sell you all they can.

How many times must a gal clean her sink
Before Ajax scours that stain,
And how many times must she rub in Ben-Gay
Before she can rub out the pain?
How many ads on TV must we watch
Before we are driven insane?
The sponsors, my friend, will sell you all they can.
The sponsors will sell you all they can.

Full disclosure: My mother single-handedly raised me on the income from commercial advertising, so I feel a bit sheepish about this, but the onslaught of advertising, much of which has now moved from the airwaves to the internet, still rubs me the wrong way.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

67 looks different now

One of my all-time favorite books has always been The Human Comedy by William Saroyan. It’s a lovely novel about good-hearted, hard-working people living in a terrible time of death, destruction, and fear – the days of World War II. It is also written in a simple, delicious style, reflective of a certain simple goodness that much of our society no longer seems to prize.

In the course of the story, Homer Macaulay, a 14-year-old boy whose father has died and whose brother Marcus is away at the war, takes a job at the local telegraph office. There he meets Mr. Spangler, the manager, and Willie Grogan, the old-time telegrapher.

The following excerpt from the novel has always moved me because of Saroyan’s writing, but now more than ever since as of today I am no longer sixty-seven years old, the same age as Willie.

Homer sings “Happy Birthday” to Mr. Grogan

Spangler asked suddenly, “You know where Chatterton’s Bakery is on Broadway? Here’s a quarter. Go get me two day-old pies — apple and cocoanut cream. Two for a quarter.”  

“Yes, sir,” Homer said. He caught the quarter Spangler tossed to him and ran out of the office. Spangler looked after him, moving along into idle, pleasant, nostalgic dreaming. When he came out of the dream, he turned to the telegraph operator and said, “What do you think of him?”  

“He’s a good boy,” Mr. Grogan said.  

“I think he is,” Spangler said. “Comes from a good, poor family on Santa Clara Avenue. No father. Brother in the Army. Mother works in the packing-houses in the summer. Sister goes to State College. He’s a couple of years underage, that’s all.”  

“I’m a couple overage,” Mr. Grogan said. “Well get along.”  

Spangler got up from his desk. “If you want me,” he said, “I’ll be at Corbett’s. Share the pies between you—” He stopped and stared, dumbfounded, as Homer came running into the office with two wrapped-up pies.  

“What’s your name again?” Spangler almost shouted at the boy.  

“Homer Macauley,” Homer said.  

The manager of the telegraph office put his arm around the new messenger. “All right, Homer Macauley,” he said. “You’re the boy this office needs on the night-shift. You’re probably the fastest-moving thing in the San Joaquin valley. You’re going to be a great man some day, too— if you live. So see that you live.” He turned and left the office while Homer tried to understand the meaning of what the man had said.  

“All right, boy,” Mr. Grogan said, “the pies.”  

Homer put the pies on the desk beside Mr. Grogan, who continued to talk. “Homer Macauley,” he said, “my name is William Grogan. I am called Willie, however, although I am sixty-seven years old. I am an old-time telegrapher, one of the last in the world. I am also night wire-chief of this office. I am also a man who has memories of many wondrous worlds gone by. I am also hungry. Let us feast together on these pies— the apple and the cocoanut cream. From now on, you and I are friends.”  

“Yes, sir,” Homer said.  

The old telegraph operator broke one of the pies into four parts, and they began to eat cocoanut cream.  

“I shall, on occasion,” Mr. Grogan said, “ask you to run an errand for me, to join me in song, or to sit and talk to me. In the event of drunkenness, I shall expect of you a depth of understanding one may not expect from men past twelve. How old are you?’

“Fourteen,” Homer said, “but I guess I’ve got a pretty good understanding.”  

“Very well,” Mr. Grogan said. “I’ll take your word for it. Every night in this office I shall count on you to see that I shall be able to perform my duties. A splash of cold water in the face if I do not respond when shaken— this is to be followed by a cup of hot black coffee from Corbett’s.”  

“Yes, sir,” Homer said.  

“On the street, however,” Mr. Grogan continued, “the procedure is quite another thing. If you behold me wrapped in the embrace of alcohol, greet me as you pass, but make no reference to my happiness. I am a sensitive man and prefer not to be the object of public solicitude.”  

“Cold water and coffee in the office,” Homer said. “Greeting in the street. Yes, sir.”  

Mr. Grogan went on, his mouth full of cocoanut cream. “Do you feel this world is going to be a better place after the War?”  

Homer thought a moment and then said, “Yes, sir.”  

“Do you like cocoanut cream?” Mr. Grogan said.  

“Yes, sir,” Homer said.  

The telegraph box rattled. Mr. Grogan answered the call and took his place at the typewriter, but went on talking. “I, too, am fond of cocoanut cream,” he said. “Also music, especially singing. I believe I overheard you say that once upon a time you sang at Sunday School. Please be good enough to sing one of the Sunday School songs while I type this message from Washington, D. C.”  

Homer sang Rock of Ages while Mr. Grogan typed the telegram. It was addressed to Mrs. Rosa Sandoval, 1129 G Street, Ithaca, California, and in the telegram the War Department informed Mrs. Sandoval that her son, Juan Domingo Sandoval, had been killed in action.  

Mr. Grogan handed the message to Homer. He then took a long drink from the bottle he kept in the drawer beside his chair. Homer folded the tele- gram, put it in an envelope, sealed the envelope, put the envelope in his cap and left the office. When the messenger was gone, the old telegraph operator lifted his voice, singing Rock of Ages. For once upon a time he too had been as young as any man.

Saroyan, William, The Human Comedy, Harcourt, Brace and Company (1943)

Willie is 67, and has lived a hard life. Alcoholism takes its toll. I don’t feel as old as Willie, but I haven’t lived through two world wars or known the privations of the Depression. But the number stuck in my mind, and brought back these recollections.

Age is a funny thing. It’s relative. When I first read The Human Comedy as a young man (one of the few books that has ever made me weep like a grade-schooler), sixty-seven seemed far, far away and ancient. Now that I’ve passed that mark, aside from the wear and tear that comes with an aging body I don’t feel as old as Willie – somehow I’m still around 24 inside. Or sometimes 15. Or sometimes five.

I remember that even as a child, I was amused by Gelett Burgess’ poem “Consideration” found in Goops and How To Be them:

When you’re old, and get to be
Thirty-four or forty-three,
Don’t you hope that you will see
Children all respect you?

Will they, without being told,
Wait on you, when you are old,
Or be heedless, selfish, cold?
hope they’ll not neglect you!

But it’s important to remember that life expectancy has changed radically over the last century and a half.

  • Today, in 2019, the average human can expect to live to age 79.
  • in 1943 when The Human Comedy was published, the average US life expectancy for a male was 62.4, so Willie was well past the mark.
  • In 1900, when The Goops was written, the number was considerably lower: 46.3
  • And in 1853 when Herman Melville wrote “Bartleby the Scrivener,” lower still – around 38, so the narrator can be forgiven for calling himself “a rather elderly man,” ” somewhere not far from sixty.”

Much of the rising life expectancy can be attributed to advances in medical science, the eradication of many infectious diseases, and the judicious application of vaccines against diseases such as polio, smallpox, and the many childhood diseases that carried so many people away.

Public Service Announcement: Vaccines are generally safe and prevent far more suffering than they cause.

I’m to the point now where I can no longer count on the fingers of both hands the number of family members, friends and associates who have graduated from mortality at an age younger than I am today. We never know when our number will be called; like everyone else I will board the bus (“Heart and Souls” reference) when it comes for me, and while I hope for significantly more time here on earth I will be grateful for what I’ve been given. By the standards of days gone by, I’ve already beaten the odds by a mile.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Dangers of Reading

The following is a translation of an extract from the Library and National Archives of Quebec (BAnQ). Visit the site for the full article with images (in French).

On February 20, 1902, coroner Charles Alphonse Dubé met with several witnesses at Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire in the Pontiac district. He wanted  to determine the cause of the death of Mrs. Evelina d’Aragon, found dead in bed. After investigation, he concluded that the latter committed suicide by taking a dose of strychnine “in a moment of insanity.”

In his statement  to the jury, Dr. Dubé, who was well acquainted with Madame d’Aragon, declared that she left to her husband, Alfred-Saint-Louis, a note which read: “Dear Alfred, now free. Your taste for the bottle, your first companion, will satisfy you. Evelina.  Although these words suggest that Mrs. d’Aragon, who was pregnant at the time, committed suicide because of her husband’s alcoholic addictions, Dr. Dubé believed that the reason is quite different.

In order to demonstrate that Ms. d’Aragon was not in full possession of her mental faculties at the time of her death, he stated that she suffered from exalted and romantic ideas that she had certainly acquired by reading many novels.  Dr. Dubé affirmed that:  “There is nothing in the world to distort judgment, and to exalt the imagination like the reading of these novels, where everything tends to excite intelligence and lead to a false interpretation of ordinary things of life.

So watch yourselves out there, those penny dreadfuls will rot your brain. {heavy sarcasm}

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Facebook Scammers and the “EESA Grant” scam

Be careful out there, the scumbags are still working in force to separate you from your hard-earned cash.

Got a message today from a Facebook friend:

Now, this friend doesn’t usually contact me from out of the blue, so I was immediately suspicious. Add to that the fact that the account was flagged as:

  • Using Messenger without Facebook (I know my friend has a facebook account)
  • Logged in using a phone number from the United States
  • Account was recently created (This friend has been around for quite a while)

All of these are red flags, and so I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was dealing with a stolen or cloned account. I proceeded to go down the rabbit hole to see what their game was today.

“i have something to shear whit you ?” My friend is an educated American, not someone who sounds like a third-grader or a Nigerian prince. A quick Google shows that EESA stands for Eastern European Study Abroad, but that’s probably not what I’m going to hear. So let’s take this a little further.

He’s “so confused that I haven’t heard anything about it.” Well, isn’t that special. The EESA exists, but in 2008 it created the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to purchase toxic assets from banks. In short, it was the bank bailout, and had nothing to do with grants to individuals.

These Nigerians love to use strange names. “Christopher Wisdoms,” “Martins Tanjul,”and the like. The grammar continues to be blatantly non-English.

Anyone who calls you “dear” who isn’t in your intimate circle of friends is without question going to be a scammer, and most likely Nigerian. They don’t understand that “Dear Sir” is part of a formula, and not something to be used indiscriminately.

So now I have a phone number to text, probably an accomplice or the same drone. Let’s see what we get.

  • “some other lucky communities”
  • “all beneficiaries name was chosen randomly through a computer ballot for fans of face-book who surf it frequently”

Grant programs don’t work like that, you cretin.

And now they want personal information. At this point I was about to shut things down. But the Facebook scammer (most likely the same individual) got impatient (another red flag – why would this “friend” care if I reach out to “Mr. Wisdoms” or not?)

If I had given “Mr. Wisdoms” my name and email address, things would probably have progressed to the point of “You need to send me $2500 for taxes and fees to collect your grant” or some other similar nonsense. But I wasn’t about to share even that with these criminal drones. Instead, I hauled out my stock response, and sent it both via Facebook and text message:

An “onioburu” is a gong-farmer (otherwise known as a nightsoil handler, someone who empties excrement buckets for a living.) Not a nice thing to call someone, but these are not nice people. The fact that he responded with “Lol” and then went silent was proof enough that he got the message.

Be so very careful out there. Any time a friend or contact starts talking about money, unless it’s someone you know and trust, assume it’s your money they want and break off communication.

Stay safe, and watch out for your loved ones who may be elderly or vulnerable.

The Old Wolf has spoken.