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Identical Pictures on the Same Wall

One of the regular Point A heated discussions is around divergent approaches to resource sharing cultures.  There is the typical communard way of free access to shared goods and then the libertarian solutions of decentralized micro markets.  In home based hospitality services this is exemplified by couchsurfing.org (which is basically free) and AirBNB.com/FlipKey.com (which are renting previously idle living space).

Unsurprisingly, my personal feelings are the more we can keep money out of theses systems the happier we will be with the cultueffects and social impacts.  And I am aware that these decentralized markets (where dynamic rents are exchanged) have tremendous appeal from both tenant and space owner.  In lovely compromise of these diverse systems, one Brooklyn friend  rents out his back bedroom via AirBNB and this pays the rent for the entire flat, and he camps out handful or more couch surfers in the living room, who are paying nothing,

or pay us

or pay us

One of the conventional after market sites on the internet is HoteWire.com which I have found about average air ticket prices and good rental car and hotel prices.  In the case of hotel rooms, they don’t tell you the name of the hotel so as to not be in competition with the hotels own site.  Bryonna and I wanted to run away for her birthday to the beach,  I found an inexpensive two and a half star hotel near the ocean facing Virginia Beach.  It had these two picture on the wall.

These two pictures are precisely the same

These two pictures are precisely the same

It was a cheap hotel.  But I have to wonder, did they think they were putting up two identical pictures in this room and people would not notice, or not care. or would find it funny perhaps?

fewer than 1 in 10 of these shade structures or chairs was ussed

fewer than 1 in 10 of thesethe shade structures or chairs was used

On the other hand, this monopoly of beach furniture rentals produces high prices and tremendous wasted surplus.  The business makes money presumably, but that alone does not justify the resources used to create these items which is then mostly idle and inequitably distributed.  Another small example that capitalism is pushing us the wrong way.

 

 

 

Hold these rocks and look out for the Piranha

Contrasting communities can be useful, because observing the differences helps us to see into the social and cultural implications of the alternative choices.  Until quite recently, one of the stark contrasts between Twin Oaks and Acorn was the number of orientations given to visitors who are considering membership.  Twin Oaks has around 19 over the three week visitor period, Acorn had just one.

Recently, Acorn realized that we needed a second one and Belladonna facilitated the first one this week.  It was on consent.  “Why do you need a whole orientation around consent?”  You might ask.  “Isn’t it enough to just tell people they need to ask before they can touch anyone?”  It turns out it is not.

No i dont want to kiss you

No, i don’t want to kiss you

For a recent visitor group at Acorn i gave our only orientation, which is mostly a tour of the community to one visitor, let’s call him Rod.  At the end of the tour i gave my rant on consent (see the official rant below).  I stressed that this appears to be one of the most tricky areas for visitors to get right.  That we have lost otherwise lovely visitors, because they messed this up and made an inappropriate pass at someone or were simply too physical without checking in.  I explained that part of what can be confusing is parties where it seems like members who have never been intimate before are kissing and cuddling with no sight that they have had these perhaps awkward and buzz killing consent discussions.  “Things just seem to be flowing, without words, can’t i flow too?”

No is the answer.  Just because you can’t see or hear the consent conversation, does not mean it is safe to assume it is not happening.  Rod indicated that he understood.  I felt good about our communication.  I felt like i had been clear about the nuances and the problem.  I patted myself on the back for advancing our healthy culture.  And as is frequently the case when i am self congratulatory, i was wrong.  Rod would later go to an Acorn party, get a little drunk and try to kiss someone who did not want him to kiss them.  His membership plans then unraveled.

So as good anarchist do, we change our internal culture around communicating consent.  And while Acorn still largely maintains a “you need to figure this place out yourself” attitude towards most aspects of community life (an approach one frustrated visitor describe to me as “The way Acorn orients people is you throw them into the deep end of the pool and say “Hold these rocks and look out for those piranha”) with consent stuff we are definitely stepping it up.

I did not make it to the workshop, but i heard great things about it and a bunch of Acorners as well as visitors went.  Belladonna Took and Strandbeest did an amusing role play of poor consent practices, intoxication, party etiquette and direct communication were all stressed.  Afterward i told the visitors who attended. “This is what we want you to export to the world.”

Aster suggested oven mits

Aster suggested oven mitts

 

Acorn’s Official Advice on Relationships and Consent Culture

We would like to cultivate a responsible sex positive culture, where sexual expression and engagement is not repressed or discriminated. That being said, idiosyncrasies and complexities of relationships here are not always readily apparent to newcomers, with premature involvement often yielding messy or unexpected outcomes. Being self-governed, we try to avoid strict policy statements that often oversimplify or fail to fully represent various member viewpoints; as such, we encourage relational choices of those involved to be made with thoughtful discretion, through an emphasis on interactive communication, personal responsibility, and clear boundaries.

If at any time you’re uncomfortable with surrounding situations or interactions, please feel empowered to communicate your needs and concerns. If you’re uncomfortable conveying your concerns face-to-face, please talk to any of your orientation cos (or anyone else you feel comfortable approaching) and we will make sure you have an advocate to support you and help you resolve discuss your concerns with.

Your involvement with current members may produce power imbalances. It is each person’s responsibility to go about relationships in a respectful, consensual manner. Your membership decision will not be influenced by romantic/sexual encounters during your membership visit.

 

 

 

Dumpster Dialog

“What are you doing?” She asked in her hot pink jogging outfit, removing her headphones.

She did not look much like this, but you get the idea.

She did not look much like this, but you get the idea.

What we were doing was obvious. We were climbing into the dumpster outside her graduate student housing at UVa and removing things of value. Several unopened containers of Naked Juice are at my feet and a blood red vacuum cleaner.

“We are retrieving things from the dumpster.” I said in a friendly tone.

UVa uses huge dumpsters

UVa uses huge dumpsters

“Why?” She asked. I thought this was clear as well, but given that she was willing to engage us, I thought she deserved a more complete answer.

“It is a resource redistribution system. People who have less [I motion towards Ocelot, a new Acorn intern, who is brushing off a salvaged consumer electronics device] rescue things from the dumpster which have been thrown out by people who are better off.”

“We have seen a lot of people doing it today.” She has stopped about 20 feet away from us.

Dress appropriately for dumpster diving

Dress appropriately for dumpster diving

I consider saying something about how this income disparity thing is a real problem. But I can’t figure out how to say it without making it sound like I am insulting or blaming her. I can see the other crew has finished with their dumpster and is heading towards the van.

“Lots of people moving out. So many nice things are being left behind. We have to go now, have a great day.” i offer as i jog with Ocelot down the hill to our comrades.

UVa forces students out of university housing nearly immediately after their final exams. Most students do not budget their time well towards the end of the semester and careful packing is often the casualty. We grab the vacuum cleaner and other treasure and head down the hill.

Despite our friendly chat, I assume she called campus security after we left. I did not want to chat with them as well, so we beat a hasty retreat.

Chuck it for charity

Chuck it for Charity – Poster

UVa should be credited with reducing the amount of perfectly good things which are thrown out. They started the “Chuck It for Charity” program which makes it much easier for students to put things of value into the hands of Goodwill and the Salvation Army, instead of into the land fill.

And as this and many other dumpsters attest. There is still a place for people who are willing to get dirty to extend the life of these many material goods which were destined for too early a grave.

Only Stupid People Dont Change Their Minds

On Friday’s i do the Louisa town trip for both Acorn and Twin Oaks.    This is basically a centralized shopping task, where any member of guest who wants something purchased in town fills out a pre-formatted form and slips it into the appropriate drawer in the main office at Twin Oaks (or writes it on the right clipboard at Acorn) and the town tripper goes and satisfies all the requests.  If you get your request in before 9 AM, there is a 95% chance you have it where you want it by 1 PM the same day.  This is a powerful and convenient system.  You don’t have to handle money, you don’t have to do the accounting, you are not even expected to thank the tripper.

Last Friday i got this TOR (Twin Oaks Request)

Willow's first TOR

Willow’s first TOR

i believe it is the first one Willow has ever written, it is certainly the first one i have ever gotten.  And my immediate thought was “He might stay.”

i have always assumed that Willow would in his later teens go off and do something that might result in him never returning to the commune.  In the last few years he has talked about becoming a lawyer.  This is after some years of him saying he was never going to go to school.  Parents who worry about their children’s college/employment plans before they are 15 are people who apparently don’t have enough to worry about.  Kids change their minds.

He says he wants to be a lawyer

He says he wants to be a lawyer

But the emotional impact of getting this first TOR was significant.  It was more than just a request for chips.  It was Willow stepping into the complex set of systems which make the clockwork community of Twin Oaks work.

The last two teenagers who grew up at Twin Oaks did not go away to college, unlike the half dozen before them who all did.  Instead they stayed and became adult members of the commune.  [One of the most common questions we get at college speaking gigs about the communes is "What do you do about kids education?"  For the college part, the answer is "We send them to college." The community does not simply write a check for the totality of tuition, fees, room and board.  Instead we go thru the entire financial aid package, do some combination of loans and grants and money from other places.  But what we make sure is that any one of our kids who wants to can go to the school that they get accepted at.]

To go from a kid member to an adult member is a non-trivial jump.  Your quota goes from something like 14 hours a week to 42.  You need to do a three week visitor period, but you dont go thru the regular membership input process, instead, if you make full quota as a visitor after 3 weeks we simply accepted you as a member.

wise parents

Until this TOR i had never really thought seriously about Willow following the lead of our most recent teens. When they became adult members they moved out of the residences where they grew up and where that their folks live, into different buildings in the community, where their parents did not live.   It is worth pointing out that both of these kids continue to have fine relationships with their folks.  And it is some type of vote of confidence that the commune is attractive enough to hold it’s own kids.

i am guessing Willow won’t stay.  He has an adventurous streak and will perhaps go see the world, or become a lawyer, or a lion tamer.  But who knows.  Kids change their minds.

—-

The title of this post comes from an interview with former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.  When asked why he was seeking a second term, having initially emphatically claimed he was only interested in one term as Secretary General he replied in part “Only stupid people don’t change their minds

 

The member called Quigley, Hazel, Cabbage, Olive, Bamboo and sometimes Katie

Katie came to Twin Oaks with a common enough name.  She had a naming party and we came up with Charlie, which she liked and embraced.  But tragically and slightly predictably, her name was quite close to another members name and they were unhappy about the new choice.

Original name suggestions for Hazel's naming party

Original name suggestions for Hazel’s naming party

Charlie is an accommodating type of person.  She did not want an existing member to be inconvenienced by her choice.  She switched her name back.  Only it was too late.  Oh most people stopped calling her Charlie, but not all of them back to Katie.  And her name dropped into a free fall.  Some members started calling her Olive.  Others Cabbage.  I joined a few members in calling her Hazel, which had been a naming party second choice.  Her close friend 3 decided to restart calling her Quigley. Lori prefers Bamboo.

Last three names.

Last three names. She was almost Hazel

I talked with Hazel today.  She does not want to inconvenience the community by changing her name too quickly.  She thinks in a few weeks or perhaps months might take on Hazel, but she might be called all manner of things, for the indefinite future.

Winooski, Hazel and 3 in ZK kitchen

Winooski, Hazel and 3 in ZK kitchen

 

Perhaps more than one person should try to do

Paxus’s Plans

Spring 2014

I am an Oaker again.  I thought it would be a good time to check in and tell the community what I am doing and planning and hoping for.

Short version:

My work scene at Twin Oaks is largely unchanged.  I do some homeschooling and an occasional Unicorns shift.  I drive the tofu truck and do L Bus.  I continue in a reduced way to Hx marketing.  I do recruiting work mostly with visitors and paid college speaking gigs thru TOAST.  Outside Work is mostly self managing, but I put occasional time into it.  I work on the Communities Conference and do a bit of movement support, mostly around the local nuclear power plant.

At Acorn I do some room assigning work, shadow manage the picking room and paid outside workers (including Oakers) we have during the busy season (which is ending around now).  I also do recruiting work for Acorn and the FEC.  I blog pretty regularly and am working on the seed businesses on going fight against Monsanto.  I facilitate community meeting and do mediations.

With GPaul principally and some other communards (mostly at Acorn so far) I am working on the Point A project which is attempting to start new income sharing communities in DC and NYC at least.  For the last few months I have been spending about a week a month in east Coast cities promoting this project and organizing events.

I am also applying to be a planner at Twin Oaks again.  I will put out a separate paper about this shortly.  [The existing planners decided not to advance my candidacy for planner after 7 members said they had concerns about me as a planner again.]

For many people this will be plenty of information about me and you can be done with this mailbox letter.  And for others, there is greater curiosity and interest in the details.  For the curious, read on.

 

Detailed version:

Things I am doing at Twin Oaks:

Heroes and Superheroes: These are two homeschooling fantasy role playing games.  Heroes in on Wednesdays and is Kaya, Willow, Evan and Rowan (with Jonah and Gwen dropping in if they are on the farm).  Superheroes is on Mondays and is Sami, Izzie and Zadek.  The format of the game is the players are on adventures where they are regularly rolling dice to determine outcomes.  When they roll low, unfortunate outcomes occur, if they roll a 1 on a 20 sided die, very unfortunate and occasionally lethal things happen.  They can get another role if they can answer a question correctly.  So the game is a cross between Dungeons and Dragons and Trivial Pursuits – except the questions are mostly significa and at different levels for different players.  If you are interested in working on good multiple choice or short answer questions for these games, please talk with me.

Unicorns: I do the Monday Unicorns shift with Kristen every other week, but with the amount I am gone it ends up averaging every 3 weeks.

Unicorns group shot

Potomac Tofu Delivery: i drive our fine tofu to Potomac Whole Foods in western MD every other Monday.  Importantly, I am starting to back haul stuff for both Acorn and Twin Oaks so we can shift away from UNFI.

Friday L Bus:  I combine the Acorn and Twin Oaks Friday Louisa Bus/Tripper runs on most Fridays.  This occasionally means I do not make it back from the trip until past noon and thus things are not delivered at ZK early in lunch.  It also means about a third of the time I drive Acorn vehicles instead of Twin Oaks vehicles for the town trip.  I am building a relationship with the Louisa Resource Center, which is among other things the local food bank.  Last time I picked up 200 rolls of toilet paper, 8 large cases of acorn squash, 10 crates of nectarines (which were a bit marginal) and 10 of the foldable plastic crates.  All for free.   I will be coordinating with Carly to make sure I don’t bring in too much of the wrong stuff.

Hammocks Marketing:  Hawina and I are doing a somewhat low key hammocks marketing effort.  I am calling some of our regular wholesale customers and maintaining minimal contact with our sales reps.  I visit our largest east coast customers before the trade show that we dont go to anymore.  We are working on several “special projects” together, we have a new hanging chair stand that we displaying at fairs and online and drop shipping from the manufacturer.  We might be bundled with this new innovative hammock stand, with an initial order of 500 silkspun rope hammocks.  I continue to be the principal contact with Dave from Buyers Choice who has been a very big and headachy customer in the past.  We tried some retail strategies last year which were not super effective.  We will probably try something else new for retail this year.  If you are interested in helping with hammocks sales, please contact Hawina or myself.

paxus sleeping on cushion swing

Product testing is the key to our success

 

Recruitment:  Valerie and I co-manage recruiting and outreach.  Separately, Valerie handles all visitor correspondence.  Recruitment during times of high population shifts it’s focus from seeking new members for Twin Oaks specifically to recruiting for the movement in general.  Recent recruiting activities include our trip to the North American Student Cooperative Organization where we facilitated several workshops.  And TOAST gigs at McDonogh prep school, Goucher (where ex-member Raj teaches, he is Mala’s brother) and the conservative mostly Christian East Carolina University.  [TOAST is the Twin Oaks Academic Speaking Tour where we are paid, typically $200 per day, to present about the communities at schools.]

Outside Work:  This area largely runs itself, and while I am technically the manager, most of the Outside Work areas need no assistance or oversight from me.  Though i do hope to craft some new policy around OW in the coming year.

Communities Conference:    We have started work on the communities conference, specifically I worked with Sky on recruiting donors for the IndieGoGo crowd sourcing campaign for the kitchen upgrade.  I will again be calling communities and encouraging them to come and working on content with Sky and Valerie as we develop the program for the event.

Work with Willow:  The entire Star family (Hawina, Willow, Sky and myself) do a Tuesday K2.  Willow and I are doing a weekly Tupelo Surf.

tpp-protest-sitting-with-noses

Movement Support:  I continue to work on blocking the third reactor at North Anna.  I might go to the Dominion Resources shareholders meeting again this year and chat again with the President Tom Ferral about how poor an investment this is.  [I did not go this year to the shareholders meeting.]  I do some organizing work (in Richmond and DC) around Dominions fleecing taxpayers and ratepayers for this ill conceived project.

Contrary to recent beliefs, I do not do EC Runs.

Transparency Groups:  I am in closed group at Twin Oaks and an open group at Acorn.  This practice is both engaging and important to me.  We just completed a fingerbook on it, contact me if you want one.  If you want to try this stuff i can connect you to the Acorn group.  There are no labor credits involved in any of these transparency groups.


zippers-on-back-body-art

Plannership:  I have signed the card for being a planner again.  I will be writing an O&I paper about this assuming i dont get tremendous negative input.  My hope is to balance the current strong group of planners.  I am especially interested in room issues, the 134 W Old Mountain Road property, tabulating and presenting long term survey results (which I failed to do in my last plannership), new residence planning and sustainability infrastructure.  I am aware that I am often away, and will only be able to do this job part time, but all three other planners are almost always on the farm, so if feels like we are well covered.  [i was not selected.]

Things I am doing at Acorn:

Room Assigning:  Rejoice and I share room assigning responsibilities at Acorn.  I do not have a bedroom at Acorn, even when I am a member.  [i now do have a room, which i got from Falcon.]

Extraordinary Worker Management:  The seed business hires locals (mostly folks from communities Little Flower and Twin Oaks and some ex-members) to help pick, pack and ship seeds during the busy season.  The busy season is now over and almost all of these people have been let go til at least December.

Shadow Picking Room Manager:  Acorn does not have managers (and actually this works surprisingly well) instead people take responsibility for different areas and are in dynamic negotiations with the rest of the seed business worker owners.  I train seed pickers, report and update out of stock items to Ken, work with Irena on configuring shelves and picking room layout.  And frankly I was much busier with this last winter during busy season than this one, in part because so many people stepped up to help with picking it was quite easy to keep under control and current.  This will likely be one of my larger jobs when I toggle back to membership at Acorn in December.

Recruiting and Outreach:  At Acorn I also do tours, answer questions for people interested in the community and write about the community for alternative and mainstream medias.  I also talk about Acorn at schools and at the Point A workshops we are organizing.  I am working on a visitor fingerbook for Acorn, similar to the “Not Utopia Yet” one I originally wrote for Twin Oaks.

Seed Robot Operator: This is an an aspiration and i have yet to be trained.

SESE Social Media/Blog:   There is a newly formed social media group at Acorn which is working to try to promote the seed business online thru this vehicle.  i am one of the members of this group.  Part of this is working with others on blogs for the SESE website which are relevant for gardeners who purchase our seeds.

Delivery Boy:  Seeds in both directions, Milk, workers, surplus dumpster and food bank food, tofu repacks, party shuttle – you name it i am moving people and stuff between these two communes (with stops at Sapling as needed).

Monsanto Opposition Campaigning:  SESE continues to pursue lawsuits and a public education campaign against Monsanto’s use of GMOs.  I have only done a small amount of this work so far, mostly through our alliance with OSGATA, which is an organic seed growers trade association that has brought multiple lawsuits against the chemical giant, which despite their army of lawyers has had some positive effects already.  If you are interested in working against GMOs, feel encouraged to contact me.

monstanto poinons food

Things I am doing for the Point A Project

With 4 income sharing communities now in Louisa County and only one secular one in all of NYC, it seems like it is time for us to export this model to urban areas.  Several folks from Acorn (including Amy, Belladonna, Otter, Dragon, Aster (formerly Jared), Port (formerly John ex TO viz) and GPaul) are working on this project.

There is significant interest at the Keep in Washington DC, where Feonix, Marshall, Steve, John and Aries (ex TO viz) all live.  There are about 20 people involved in this group which is looking for places which might be able to house more people than the 8 at the Keep.  There are also discussion about the entire range of community issues from pets to income sharing to children.  I would be surprised if this group moved into a larger community house in 2014.  And there is a lot of interest and I think the chances are pretty high that we will start another FEC community in the DC metro area in the next few years.

NYC is harder.  Gentrification issues and real estate developers make any type of housing solution vexing in this town.  We have a group which is interested in the Point A project, but we are much further from living together and to date we have been focusing on doing events (presentations and workshops) about the communities movement and sharing systems to find out who are allies are in the city.  Unlike DC where we are supporting a specific group which is looking to build a single community, in NYC we are doing something which is more like movement building and have already been significant support to other communities which are forming or looking for new members.

I am hoping to continue to do work in this area and hope that the FEC will continue to support it with hours (as they did for the mini-communities conference we had in in March).

96% match

It is a common internet business model.  You offer a free service which is largely useful, but has less functionality than the version which your “premium” customers pay for.  On the music service Pandora you can pay to vanish the ads.  Many free online games have the capacity to buy better tools or weapons or more stylish apparel for your avatar.

OK Cupid uses this model.  You can not, for example, sort for people who polyamorous without paying the service.  Last month I finally caved and gave them $20 for a month subscription so I could filter the way I wanted to.  Smart move.  [My clever friend Mike Ewall thinks that you don't to pay for this.  So you should certainly try without.]

OKC keyboard

When my distance range was set wide enough I found out that I had nearly 99% matches with all the residents of Tupelo North (ex-communards who defected to Northhampton) Angie, Ethan and Clementine.   No surprise here, they are people I already had strong affinity with and connections to.

There were also now high match polyamorous people I had never met or seen online before, including Gypsy.  [Before my friends working on cultural appropriation get upset about my use of this pseudonym, she has Romani blood, speaks Romanian (while not quite Romani language, but related), born in the region and has legitimate claim to this heritage, though she does not take it.]  She left central Europe when she was 8 and has a charming euromutt English accent.

Gypsy's are the second largest minority in Romania

Gypsy’s are the second largest minority in Romania

I read her profile, looked at many of the hundreds of questions we had both answered on OKC.  We flirted online, then moved to email, text messages and phone.  On the way up to this last weekends Point A meeting we got together for a couple hours in the DC suburbs waiting for the rush hour traffic to clear.

She self identifies as a steamroller.  Her unsticking her car

Some friends call her a bulldozer. Here she is unsticking her car

I can’t remember the last time I went on “a date” in most senses of this term.  But neither of us had trouble finding things to talk about.   She is a fierce atheist, polyglot (conversant in 5 languages),  home schooling mom and CEO of her own manufacturing company.  Her former occupations are as diverse as molecular biologist, classicist and stripper.  I arrived worried she would be intimidatingly smart.  But these fears quickly vanished, smart certainly but hardly intimidating – warm, quirky, open.   It was a lovely experience, with someone I never would have found without this service.   I’m rethinking my critique of OKC.

There will certainly be another date.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

If you are in NYC today

If you are interested in new communities starting near NYC or DC then please come to Prospect Park in Brooklyn today (May 11) at 1 PM.  Inside this huge park we will be at the Picnic House, look for the balloons.  Here is the program and here is the Facebook RSVP.  This event is a potluck, so please do bring food.

As a special treat after the event around 5 PM Maya Solovey will sing and play music for about an hour.  She is an amazing local performer.

Maya and mic

The Point A project is roaring along.  There are new economic engines in renewable energy.  A workers coop in NYC is seriously talking about becoming income sharing and joining the FEC.  And the Point A crew in DC found a very interesting piece of “off market” land in the city, which we just might get donated.

All this and more today in Brooklyn.  If you can’t make it you can get more information by writing to info@frompointa.org

Donut Poisoning

Willow had been talking about dumpster diving with Feonix for a couple of days leading up to the Tarrytown NY craft fair and he was excited.  There was this slightly odd moment of role reversal in which I had blacked out and sometime after midnight Willow woke me and said “Are you ready to go dumpster diving now?”  And while some part of my exhausted body wanted to decline, instead I was propelled by my desire to be a yes for my son. We jumped in the van and headed to White Plains where a Dunkin Donuts of known riches was to be found.

We pull in realize that we have neglected flashlights and Feonix uses her phones app to light the way.  And we have donuts.  The world is a better place and Willow is pleased.  Later we would get a flashlight app for my phone, but even with the light the Trader Joes dumpster was being staffed way late in the night (actually crazy early in the morning) and the Whole Foods compacter revealed nothing that could be salvaged.  As my son snuck from the security cameras in the parking lot I wondered about this aspect of his home schooling.

It is one of my favorite annual rituals, Feonix and Willow and Corb and Hawina and I doing the Tarrytown fair.  In part because Feonix always has the new cool thing or three for us to experience.  This time it was Bee and PuppyCat.  Which has an inspired scene where Bee is in a temp agency and the cruel recruiter turns away from her to take a phone call.  When he turns back his bowl of sweets is emptied and Bee says “You took too long.  Now your Candy’s gone. That’s what happened. Kapow.” and she disappears thru the door.

Bee does not wait

Bee does not wait

This was one of our regular chants as we took the long drive down the New Jersey Turnpike after the fair.  I took a five hour energy drink, Feonix was running her normal night owl energy and Willow was doing the sugar rush connected with low level donut poisoning.  We all sang loudly and (at least myself) off key to Mackelmore’s Can’t Hold US on the radio at absurd o’clock somewhere outside Philly.

We arrive at the Keep late, but Willow and I are the last to go to bed.  It may well qualify me again for the cover of Negligent Parenting Magazine, but I would not have it another way.

Willow recovering from donut poisoning @ absurd o'clock at the Keep

Willow recovering from donut poisoning at the Keep

[Willow has approved this post]

 

 

State of the art wire fraud scam

[One blog reader was upset that I forwarded this piece of spam.  On one level this is completely understandable.  I should point out that this piece is followed up by my analysis as to why it is so surprising that these types of scams work at all.  And I promise I will wait another 1000 blog posts before is send another piece of spam - with or without analysis]
I received this email today
Dear Friend,

 

Thank you for giving me your time, Let me start by introducing myself, I am Mrs. Mia A. H***** a staff of (BOC) Bank of China here in the United Kingdom. I am contacting you concerning “Late Mr. James Brown” our customer who placed an investment under our bank management 5 years ago. I would respectfully request that you keep the contents of this mail private and kindly respect the integrity of the information. Am contacting you independently after much investigation and no one is informed of this communication; I would like to intimate you with certain facts that I believe would be of interest to you. please be patient and read the explanation below carefully.

 

 In May 2009, the subject matter; Ref: FI/TSB/958/042/0500 came to our bank to engage in business discussions with our Private Banking Services Department. He informed us that he had a financial portfolio of USD $13,991,647 million United States Dollars, which he wished to have us turn over (invest) on his behalf. I was the officer assigned to his case; I made numerous suggestions in line with my duties as the de-facto chief operations officer of the Private Banking Services Department, especially given the volume of funds he wished to put into our bank.

 

This fraud depends on your greed to blind you

This fraud depends on your greed to blind you

 

 Few months later, his attention was needed regarding a business which I wanted to discuss with him but I was unable to reach him, I made futile efforts to locate him and immediately I passed the task of locating him to the internal investigations department of our bank. Four days later, information started to trickle in that he was apparently dead, dead of a heart attack in Cannes, South of France; gather more information it was confirmed that he actually pass away. The bank immediately launched an investigation into possible surviving next of kin to alert about the situation and also to come forward to claim his funds. If you are familiar with private banking affairs, those who patronize our services usually prefer anonymity, but also some levels of detachment from conventional processes. In his bio-data form, he listed no next of kin. In the field of private banking, opening an account with us means no one will know of its existence, accounts are rarely held under a name; depositors use numbers and codes to make the accounts anonymous. This bank also gives the choice to depositors of having their mail sent to them or held at the bank itself, ensuring that there are no traces of the account and as I said, rarely do they nominate next of kin. Private banking clients apart from not nominating next of kin also usually in most cases leave wills in our care, in this case; he died Intestate.

 

There is USD$13,991,647(Thirteen million, nine hundred and ninety one thousand, six hundred and fourty seven united states dollars) deposited, I alone have the deposit details and they will release the deposit to no one unless I instruct them to do so. Also I alone know of the existence of this deposit as far as the finance firm is concerned, the transaction with our deceased customer concluded when I sent the funds to the firm, all outstanding interactions in relation to the file are just customer services and due process. The finance firm has no single idea of what’s the history or nature of the deposit, they are simply awaiting instructions to release the deposit to any party that comes forward, and this is the situation. This bank has spent great amounts of money trying to track the family of the deceased; they have investigated for months and have found no family but however the investigation has officially come to an end.

 

wire fraud cash thru screen

 

 My proposal; I am prepared to place you in a position whereby an instruction is given to the finance firm to officially release the deposit to you as the closest surviving relation/associate, and all etiquette shall be done in accordance with the rule of law, I certainly can guarantee you that. By the common law, the power of bequeathing is coeval with the first rudiments of the law. There is no ruling which prevents an inheritance from being so exhausted by legacies as to render it unworthy of theirs acceptance; perfect operation whereby the paper work shall be co-ordinated in such a way that your status as a sole beneficiary is confirmed. Upon receipt of the deposit, I am prepared to share the money with you in half and no more; that is: I will simply nominate you as the next of kin and have them release the deposit to you; afterwards we share the proceeds 50/50.

 

I would have gone ahead to ask the funds be released to me, but that would have drawn a straight line to me and my involvement in claiming the deposit, but on the other hand, you as a indifferent foreigner would easily pass as the beneficiary with the rights to claim, I assure you that I could have the deposit released to you in a few days. I will simply inform our bank of the final closing of the file relating to the customer, I will then officially communicate with the finance company and instruct them to release the deposit to you; with these two things: all is done. The alternative would be for us to have the firm direct the funds to another bank with you as account holder, this way there will be no need for you to think of receiving the money from the firm. We can fine-tune this based on our interactions, I am aware of the consequences of this proposal and I ask that if you find no interest in this project that you should discard this mail. I ask also, that you do not be vindictive or destructive, if my offer is of no appeal to you, delete this message and forget I ever contacted you; please do not destroy my career. You may not know this but people like me who have made tidy sums out of comparable situations run the whole private banking sector, I am not a criminal and what I do, I do not find against good conscience, this may be hard for you to understand, but the dynamics of my industry dictates that I make this move. Such opportunities only come ones’ way once in a lifetime. I cannot let this chance pass me by and I hope you understand, because for once I found myself in total control and face to face with my destiny. These chances won’t pass me by, I ask that you do not destroy my chance, if you will not work with me please let me know, and hence move on with my life, but do not destroy me; I am a family woman and this is an occasion to provide them with new opportunities. There is a reward for this project and it is a task well worth undertaking, I have evaluated the risks and the only risk I have here is from you refusing to work with me and alerting my bank; I am the only one who knows of this situation, good fortune will bless you and plant you into the centre of relevance in my life, let’s share the blessing.

 

If you find yourself interested to work with me, please contact me specifically, if you give me positive signals, I will initiate this process towards a quick conclusion. It is necessary to inform you that under no condition should you contact me via official channels; I will simply deny knowing you and about this project. I repeat, I do not want you contacting me through our official lines neither do I want you contacting me through my official email account. I do not want any direct link between you and me. My official lines are not secure lines as they are periodically monitored to assess our level of customer care in line with our Total Quality Management policy, please observe this instruction religiously. Please, again, note I am a Family Woman; I am happily married with kids, I send you this mail not without a measure of fear as to what the consequences might be, but I know within me that nothing ventured is nothing gained and that success and riches never come easy or on a platter of gold, this is the one truth I have learned from my private banking clients; do not betray my confidence. If we can be of one accord I shall have the pleasure of meeting you, after this task has been completed plan a meeting.

 

I await your response.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

[Name and Phone number]

 

—-

 

This is quite clearly a fraud from the long list of internet “get rich quick” schemes playlist.  Obvious signs include a very supposedly confidential email that starts with “Dear Friend”, no discussion as to how it was that of all the people in the world I was chosen for these riches.  No mention of why she could not get a friend of hers to claim the their status as a relative and collect half the bounty.

 

If you would like the phone number I am happy to send it to you and you might make a lot of money, if you are not as cynical as I am.
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