Unraveling the Confusion About Cryptocurrency

Unraveling the Confusion About Cryptocurrency

What exactly is cryptocurrency? And what’s a blockchain? A “digital wallet?” And what is Bitcoin mining? Is crypto risky? You sure do ask a lot of questions. Just pay me $1 million in Bitcoin, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know.

What exactly is cryptocurrency? And what’s a blockchain? A “digital wallet?” And what is Bitcoin mining? Is crypto risky? You sure do ask a lot of questions. Just pay me $1 million in Bitcoin, and I’ll tell you everything you need to know.

If you’re like me, you’re a 67-year-old man who doesn’t floss consistently, has an annoying bald spot, might be addicted to peanut butter, and has a mole on your back that is starting to cause you some concern. And, like me, you’re also probably wondering, “What exactly is this thing called cryptocurrency?” But first things first. You probably should get that mole checked out.

So, what is this confusing thing called cryptocurrency? Let me help you out with this simple explanation that any seven-year-old could understand (assuming that youngster is currently studying blockchain computer programming at Harvard).

Cryptocurrency is nothing more than a form of decentralized digital currency traded over the internet, utilizing a series of peer-to-peer networks of computers running open-source software, based on a complex series of logarithmic algorithms in which all transactions are vetted using a sophisticated technology called blockchain.

I know, I know. I hear your internal gears working: “Okay, but what is blockchain?” Glad to see you’re paying such close attention. It’s actually quite basic. A blockchain – or as my poker buddies call it, “Distributed Ledger Technology” (DLT) – is just a fancy term for a distributed database shared among digital nodes of a computer network in which the information is stored electronically, thereby enabling cryptocurrency systems to maintain a secure, decentralized record of transactions, without any governmental regulatory interference.

And this might surprise you, but a blockchain database collects information together in groups, known as blocks, that hold sets of information, and is closed and linked to previously filled blocks, forming a chain of data known as a blockchain. This is done using a process called a “Segregated Witness (or SEGWIT for short) that separates digital signature data from transaction data, thereby allowing a higher volume of transactions to fit onto one block.

One type of cryptocurrency is a “token.” Think of it as being kind of like a bus token – but only in the way it is spelled.

Now, wasn’t that simple? But what you might not know is that blockchain is used in a decentralized way so that no single person or group has control – other than Mark Zuckerberg, obviously. Decentralized blockchains are immutable, which means that the data entered is irreversible and therefore all transactions are permanently recorded – with backups stored in tough guy actor Danny Trejo’s basement for maximum security.

For the five readers who didn’t bail after I got to the part about “blockchain,” I just have to say, you clearly have a high pain tolerance for obscure technobabble. Why are you still reading this? Do you even have a life? I’ll bet you’re really into playing Magic: The Gathering with your friend Bert. How does your spouse put up with you? Get outside for once and try learning a sport. And no, Dungeons and Dragons is not a sport.

If you are still having difficulty understanding how BLOCKCHAIN works, perhaps this simple diagram will help.

If you are still having difficulty understanding how BLOCKCHAIN works, perhaps this simple diagram will help.

What, you still want to learn more about crypto? Okay, don’t say you weren’t warned. You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin. It was the very first cryptocurrency, introduced way back in 2008. Since then, more than 16,000 other cryptocurrencies have been launched (and thousands of them have crashed and subsequently vanished).

I recently learned there was even a hot cryptocurrency called TimCoin. So, naturally, with a great name like that I decided I had to go all in. I was all set to cash in our entire IRA portfolio – until my wife read that it was just a scam. Apparently, all the initial investors lost everything when it was discovered that the CEO had used the funds to purchase “extremely rare seeds” and repair a hole in her kitchen due to a small fire. (True.) I guess I dodged a bullet there.

Okay, I have to confess. I’ve read articles and watched news stories intending to explain Crypto, digital tokens, blockchain, Binance Smart Chain networks, and something called “bitcoin mining.” And I still can’t grasp what any of it means. For this article I just Googled “what is cryptocurrency.” I have no idea what the words I have been writing even mean. I was just trying to impress you. Did it work? I didn’t think so.

If you’re still confused as to what all the hoopla is about crypto, you may be asking, “Is it risky?” It all comes down to your level of risk tolerance. If you’re the kind of person who gets a rush out of putting down $10,000 on 22 at the roulette table in Vegas, if you get an adrenaline high from trying to outrun the bulls in Pamplona, desperately hoping to avoid being gored to death, or if you’re a big fan of Ponzi schemes, then something tells me crypto just might be totally your kind of thing.

If on the other hand, you might like to retire someday with most of your 401K intact and still be able to take that Mediterranean cruise you’ve been dreaming about for years, then perhaps you might want to sit out the crypto craze. My wife explained to me that it’s the Wild West of investing, as it’s a virtually unregulated industry with huge, sudden market swings up and down – much like my daughter and her feelings about her latest boyfriend.

Incredibly, if you lose your crypto “wallet” password, you’re completely screwed. No bank or government agency will bail you out – not even Oprah, and she is extremely generous.

A couple of computer software engineering nerds went so far as to launch a satirical cryptocurrency they named Dogecoin, in order to make fun of Bitcoin. Elon Musk endorsed the new currency. Now Dogecoin has a market cap of $19 billion. That’s one hell of a prank.

A couple of computer software engineering nerds went so far as to launch a satirical cryptocurrency they named Dogecoin, in order to make fun of Bitcoin. Elon Musk endorsed the new currency. Now Dogecoin has a market cap of $19 billion. That’s one hell of a prank.

A few years ago, there was a guy named Stefan Thomas who misplaced his Bitcoin password – never could remember it. As a result, he couldn’t access his Bitcoin account. His $250 million investment was literally locked in a cyberspace vault forever. Poor guy. He should have used an easier-to-remember password. Had he used my universal password (“PASSWORD123”),  he’d be rich today.

My advice, if you’re contemplating getting into crypto: Do extensive research. Otherwise, you probably should avoid it altogether – unless you’re really good at remembering your password.

Invest in something less volatile. In fact, the other day, a buddy of mine told me about another hot new investment vehicle that sounds like a sure thing. It’s called Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs for short.

I asked him what an NFT was and he said. “It’s a unique unit of data employing technology that allows digital content – from videos to songs to images – to become logged and authenticated on cryptocurrency blockchains like Ethereum so that you can easily own and sell digital content.”

Umm, I have absolutely no idea what the hell any of that means. But I do know one thing: I’d better get in on this NOW, before the buzz around NFTs start to cool off. Don’t tell my wife. I want to surprise her.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2022.

Judge Tim’s Court is Now in Session

Judge Tim’s Court is Now in Session

I’m excited to announce my latest career move: Replacing Judge Judy, who recently stepped down from The People’s Court. Pray to God you don’t have to appear before me. I’m a ruthless judge. I have a lot of scores to settle and a very long memory.

I’m excited to announce my latest career move: Replacing Judge Judy, who recently stepped down from The People’s Court. Pray to God you don’t have to appear before me. I’m a ruthless judge. I have a lot of scores to settle and a very long memory.

Recently, I decided to retire from my four-decades-long career in sales management. As you know, I’m not one to boast about my many lofty career achievements. but I humbly admit that I was extremely gifted at building and leading successful, high-performing sales organizations (if you ignore the input of my former bosses or any of my sales reps or HR Directors who had to deal with the litany of complaints they received from my sales reps and bosses).

I was preparing to retire to a simpler life of afternoon naps and watching reruns of Modern Family, when I read some shocking news. I learned that after 25 years and 12,500 episodes, Judge Judith Sheindlin, better known as Judge Judy, recently decided to call it quits. She would soon bang her last gavel on the long-running hit daytime show, The People’s Court.

I began to wonder anxiously: Who would fill the tremendous void left by Judge Judy’s departure? Would America start to descend into lawlessness, violence, and debauchery? More importantly,  What would I do to fill my time between 4 and 5pm on weekdays?

Then it hit me. Of course! Call off the search for the next Judge Judy. Because there was one person uniquely qualified to take her place. And that person was staring back at me in the mirror. I would be the natural jurist to fill Judge Judy’s shoes (unless she wore high heels, in which case, having to wear pumps would be a deal breaker).

What are my credentials, you ask? Too many to count. I went to Ohio State University’s law school, where I finished in the top 99% of my class. I also took three years of Latin in high school, and I remembered that judges use tons of obscure Latin phrases in their decisions, like Quid Pro Quo and Res Judicata. I have no idea what either of these mean, but that’s never stopped me from using them in the past.

During law school, I had a part-time job as a conciliation mediator working for the Small Claims Court of the Franklin County, Ohio Municipal Court System and my job was to attempt to persuade complainants to settle their claims out of court. I did a phenomenal job. In fact, I had the highest case settlement record in the court’s history. And there is no way my supervisor would dispute my claim because that was 40 years ago, and I’m pretty sure he died a while back.

Another reason I’m the logical successor to JJ is because I was in my high school’s theatrical production of Inherit the Wind, a play about the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. I was cast in the role of Matthew Harrison Brady, the prosecutor in the trial.

Again, pardon me if I sound immodest, but my performance was Oscar-worthy. My drama teacher Art Green said about my performance, and I quote, “Tim’s performance was at times erratic, and I don’t think he quite grasped the motivation of his character. He felt the need to hog the spotlight every chance he got. Tim would be a natural, um…lighting crew assistant.” 

Stop, Mr. Green. Stop! You’re giving me a swelled head! But perhaps most importantly, The People’s Court wouldn’t even have to buy me a judge’s robe, because I already have one (as proven by the photo above), which I bought for a Halloween party in 1994. It still fits me – if I don’t have a big meal before trial.

So, now that we’ve agreed I’m the obvious choice, you can start calling me Judge Tim – once my official judicial confirmation is approved by the U.S. Senate. I’ve got some, let’s just say, “embarrassing dirt” on Senate Majority Leader Schumer, so my confirmation is pretty much assured.

Here is a small sampling of the cases I plan to hear, as soon as I can locate my gavel (which I stole from the set of Inherit the Wind in high school, but please don’t tell the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee):

The case against Mary Spivey, who, in my freshman year at UVa, agreed to go out on a date with me when we were matched by a computer date matching service, only to have our first (and last) date end after 30 minutes, when an irate guy interrupted our date to inform me that, unbeknownst to me, he and Mary were engaged (true). Judge Tim doesn’t get mad. He gets even. Mary, I’ve ordered UVa’s registrar to update your final college transcript and change your impressive 3.9 GPA to a shameful 1.9. And just like that, your grandkids will lose all respect for you.

Why am I so sure I’ll be selected as the next judge on The People’s Court? Because I played the prosecutor in my high school’s production of Inherit the Wind. That’s me on the right as Matthew Harrison Brady. At left, my classmate, Arman Williams, who bore a vague resemblance to Spencer Tracy. Amazing makeup jobs, if you ask me.

Why am I so sure I’ll be selected as the next judge on The People’s Court? Because I played the prosecutor in my high school’s production of Inherit the Wind. That’s me on the right as Matthew Harrison Brady. At left, my classmate, Arman Williams, who bore a vague resemblance to Spencer Tracy. Amazing makeup jobs, if you ask me.

The case against my three college dormmates who pranked me one time by putting up deeply embarrassing posters of me all over campus. Sure, I laughed and pretended it was hilarious. Maybe you will all be in stitches when you see the punishment I’ll be doling out to you. Hope you like Mexican prisons.

The case against that Nazi storm trooper cop who issued me a ticket for going three miles an hour UNDER the speed limit. Kneel before me when you enter my courtroom, you pathetic little man, and hand me your badge.

The case against my neighbor for borrowing my weed whacker and never returning it. No wait, now I remember. Actually, I borrowed it from HIM, and then I lost it. Okay, I’ll go easy on him, I guess.

And finally, the case against Donald Trump for having taken years off my life, causing me to scream at my TV on a daily basis for the past six years, and raising my blood pressure to dangerous levels. Donald, Judge Tim would be happy to build that wall you keep ranting about, you petulant man child. But that won’t be necessary. I’ve already made all the arrangements. Your beautiful, insurmountable wall is waiting for you – at Sing Sing Correctional Facility.

It appears I’m going to have a full docket, I must say. I assure you, I will be a fair judge, committed to justice. And I will only accept cash bribes if I have a particularly large credit card bill coming due that month.

Wait a minute. I just read that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer might step down in the upcoming year. Maybe I should turn down The People’s Court gig and put my name in for Breyer’s job. After all, these guys only work 26 weeks a year and they only hear cases on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Talk about a cushy gig. Yeah, given my marginal work ethic these days, that job sounds more up my alley.

Court adjourned!

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Subscribe to my new View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos.© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2022

How to Handle a Phone Scammer – Part 2 of 2

How to Handle a Phone Scammer – Part 2 of 2

[This is Part 2 of a 2-part post. In case you missed Part 1, by all means start with Part 1, which you can read here.] 

I’m often a victim of threatening phone calls telling me the IRS is investigating me for tax fraud, or my social security number has somehow been compromised, or I supposedly owe $10.75 in late fees to my local library because I still haven’t returned Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock. (What can I say, I’m a slow reader.) Next time, don’t hang up. Have some fun with the caller instead.

I’m often a victim of threatening phone calls telling me the IRS is investigating me for tax fraud, or my social security number has somehow been compromised, or I supposedly owe $10.75 in late fees to my local library because I still haven’t returned Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock. (What can I say, I’m a slow reader.) Next time, don’t hang up. Have some fun with the caller instead.

Like I was saying in Part 1, in recent months I’ve received an increasing number of phone calls from fraudsters offering to part me from my money and my identity. They do this via robocalls with alarming or threatening messages informing me my social security number has been hacked or I’m wanted by the FBI for securities fraud.

Most mature people would hang up the moment they realized they were being defrauded. But I never claimed to be mature. No, I prefer to have fun with these sleaze balls and egg them on for as long as I can keep them on the line.

These calls typically start with a robo-message, urging me to press 1 to talk to a live agent. And they always end the same way – with the conman hanging up on me.

Here are more examples of actual phone exchanges I’ve had with phone scammers – some of whom actually had a rudimentary command of the English language. These all really happened.

[To read more examples, go back and read Part 1.]

The Jury Duty Scam

Robo message: “This is the King County Superior Court calling to inform you that you failed to report for jury duty within the past month. As a result, the Sheriff’s department will be coming to your home with a warrant for your arrest – unless you explain your absence immediately. Press “1” to speak to a member of the court system.” 

So I press 1.

Mary Nash: This is Superior Court Assistant Clerk Mary Nash (spoken with a thick Filipino accent). Who am I speaking with?

ME: Hi, Mary. My name is Rodger Staubach. Can you help me? I swear I have no recollection of missing jury duty. I take that as a sacred commitment to my community, my country and my God. I feel terrible. How long will my sentence be?

Nash: What do you mean? 

ME: I mean, will the court take into consideration that I have not had a moving violation in over two years? Would they go more lenient if I mentioned I am a veteran? [Note to the reader: I am not a veteran.] 

Nash: Slow down. What is your social security number and your date of birth?

ME: 045-56-7642. And my date of birth is December 25, 1968. I was born on the same day as Baby Jesus. Do you believe in the Baby Jesus, Mary?

Nash: Pardon me?

ME: Do you take Baby Jesus as your lord and savior? He will cleanse you of all your sins, if you just accept him as your lord. Are you willing to commit yourself to Jesus today, with me as your spirit guide, Mary?

Nash: Are you okay, sir?

ME: Pray with me, won’t you, Mary? Hey, did you know that Mary was the name of Baby Jesus’s mother. Did you know that, Mary? Would you like to confess your sins before Baby Jes – … 

“CLICK” 

The Computer Repair Scam

Robo message: “This is Microsoft with an important announcement about your computer operating system. We have identified that your computer’s operating system may have become infected by the “Hercules” virus. If you would like us to remove this virus at no cost to you, we can do it remotely by phone. Please press “1” for a tech support agent to assist you.”

So I press 1.

Agent Collins: This is Agent Collins (spoken with what appears to be a thick Indian accent). Can you please tell me your name and which Windows Operating System you have and your credit card number?

ME: Sure. It’s Manning. Archibald Manning. Hey, you’re not going to charge my credit card are you, Agent Carlin?

Collins: No, sir. And it’s Collins. I just need your credit card number so we can confirm whether your Windows license is still current. Mr. Manning, please verify your card number for our records.

ME: Thank you, Agent Cowhand. It’s 1843-4365-6327-0928. And I know you didn’t ask for it, but my Bank of America checking account number is 8849329149. And if it might help identify me in your system, my Passport number is C34097749. Would it be helpful if I provided you my Hyundai’s VIN number as well? Whatever info you need, just tell me.

Collins: Um, that’s okay. Give me your email address so I can initiate the remote repair.

ME: Happy to help, Agent Cowlick. It’s A_Manning@SeattlePolice.gov– ……

“CLICK”

Meet Rahul. Oh, he’ll tell you his name is Zack or Brad, but he’s a scammer. He’s calling “from Microsoft” to tell you that your computer has been infected with a dangerous virus – which he can repair for a one-time credit card charge of just $100. Don’t hang up. Be polite. And be sure to give him your ex-spouse’s credit card number. Then hang up. Rahul is bad news, buddy.

Meet Rahul. Oh, he’ll tell you his name is Zack or Brad, but he’s a scammer. He’s calling “from Microsoft” to tell you that your computer has been infected with a dangerous virus – which he can repair for a one-time credit card charge of just $100. Don’t hang up. Be polite. And be sure to give him your ex-spouse’s credit card number. Then hang up. Rahul is bad news, buddy.

The COVID Vaccination Scam

Robo message: “This is an important message from the CDC. If you have had the COVID-19 vaccine within the past five months, there is a possibility that you may have received an infected vaccination that could have long-term harmful effects to your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. To find out whether your vaccination might be among the corrupted batches, press 1 to speak to a medical assistant.”

So I press 1. 

Nurse Claire: This is Nurse Claire. What is your name and which vaccine did you receive? Please provide the dates of those vaccinations.

ME: Hi, Nurse Claire. Oh my. This is very scary. Um, my name? Jonathan… Elway. Anyhoo, I got the Pfizer vaccine. Or was it the Moderna? No wait, I think it might have been the AstraZeneca. Or was it that Russian one whose name I can never remember? All I know is, after the second one, I got really sleepy, a little achy, and had a craving for pistachios. Does that help? No? Let me ask my wife. She’ll know. [Then I put “Nurse Claire” on hold for a minute while I play Solitaire on my computer.]

I’m back. It was definitely Moderna. And I got them on March 12th and March 15th.

Nurse Claire: Are you sure about the dates? Because you’re supposed to wait at least four weeks between the shots. Can you tell me your social security number so I can confirm those dates?

ME: I was able to get in fast for the second shot because I gave the check-in person a $25 Target gift card. Oh, sh*t! Is that considered bribery? Am I in trouble with the Feds now?

Nurse Claire: I would not know. What I need is your social–  …

ME: Hey, can I ask you a question, Nurse Claire? When they implanted the microchip in me, would it cause me to start acting weird? Because ever since my second shot, I keep thinking I can fly like an eagle. And lately I have an inexplicable desire to go bowling – and I used to hate bowling. Do you think that’s because of the chip? Also, do you know what language they speak in Uzbekistan?

“CLICK”

It’s so much fun. Trust me. Next time don’t hang up on the scammer. Engage them and see how long you can keep them on the line before they hang up in despair. I promise, it’ll be hilarious, or my name isn’t Joe Namath.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

Read Part 1 of this 2-part series here.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021

How to Handle a Phone Scammer – Part 2 of 2

How to Handle a Phone Scammer – Part 1 of 2

I’m often a victim of threatening phone calls telling me the IRS is investigating me for tax fraud, or my social security number has somehow been compromised, or I supposedly owe $10.75 in late fees to my local library because I still haven’t returned Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock. (What can I say, I’m a slow reader.) Next time, don’t hang up. Have some fun with the caller instead.

I’m often a victim of threatening phone calls telling me the IRS is investigating me for tax fraud, or my social security number has somehow been compromised, or I supposedly owe $10.75 in late fees to my local library because I still haven’t returned Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock. (What can I say, I’m a slow reader.) Next time, don’t hang up. Have some fun with the caller instead.

Maybe it’s because I’m nearing the target demographic for scammers as I approach retirement, but lately I have been on the receiving end of a spate of calls from fraudsters wanting to alert me to everything from problems with my social security number to the fact that I’m suddenly wanted in multiple states for bank fraud.

My wife always tells me that when I get one of these annoying phone scam calls, the mature, adult thing is simply to hang up – which is why I never do that. I prefer to have a little fun with the caller instead.

The following are actual phone con artist solicitations I’ve received within the past few months. I’m not suggesting you should try messing with these phone flimflammers yourself the way I’ve done – unless you want to have fun. These calls typically start with a robo-message, urging me to press 1 to talk to a live agent. And they always end the same way – with the perpetrator getting totally fed up with my antics and hanging up on me. I find it endlessly entertaining. But then, I feel the same way about slinky toys.

Of course, I never give out my real name, account numbers, actual address, or date of birth. And when they ask for my name – as they always do – I usually provide the name of a random former NFL quarterback. The key is that whatever horrible or alarming news they reveal, I always act like I believe them unquestioningly and offer to do whatever they ask me to, in order to extricate myself from the supposed mess I’m in.

The Social Security Scam

Robo message: “This is the Social Security Administration with an important message about your social security account. Your account number has been compromised. Please press “1” to talk to an agent to discuss how you can get assigned a new social security number.”

So I press 1.

Officer Wilson: This is Officer Wilson. How can I help you? (She speaks with a noticeably thick Caribbean accent.) 

ME: Thank you, ma’am, I just learned that my social security number may have been compromised. Can you help me?

Officer Wilson: What is your name please, and your social security number?

ME: It’s Bart. Bart Starr. And my social is 014-56-3954. Would it help if I provided my date of birth and the name of my kids to prove to you I am who I say I am? They are great kids, except for my middle child, Conrad. He’s going through a phase. Do you have any suggestions for how to deal with a 9th grader who still wets the bed?

Officer Wilson: I don’t know anything about that. Here is what I need from you – …

ME: I’m sorry. Why would I think someone from the Social Security Administration could help me with my son’s bedwetting problem. Please forgive me. But now that I have you, do you know any good fajita recipes? We’re having guests over this evening, and I promised my wife I’d help out with an entrée. But between you and me, I don’t know the first thing about Mexican food. You’re not Mexican, by any chance, are you?

Officer Wilson: What are you asking me?

ME: Oh, never mind. Hey, you sound like a nice lady. Can I borrow $500 if I promise to pay you back with interest in six months?

“CLICK” (That’s when “Officer Wilson” hung up on me.)

The Bank Fraud Scam

Robo message: “This is the FBI. This is not a hoax. According to our files, you are currently wanted in four states for multiple instances of bank fraud and securities fraud. Please report to the nearest FBI office within 24 hours or else an agent will come to your residence and put a lien on your property. To learn details about the charges pending against you, please press “1” now.”

So I press 1.

If ever you get a robocall telling you that you failed to show up for jury duty and that the sheriff is coming to arrest you, it’s probably just a phone scam – unless you’re my flaky, absent-minded friend, Bert Zingwold, in which case, yeah, it’s probably for real. He’s always forgetting about important appointments.

If ever you get a robocall telling you that you failed to show up for jury duty and that the sheriff is coming to arrest you, it’s probably just a phone scam – unless you’re my flaky, absent-minded friend, Bert Zingwold, in which case, yeah, it’s probably for real. He’s always forgetting about important appointments.

Agent Johnson: This is Agent Johnson. Please provide your name and the last credit card you used.

ME: Oh my. Yes, Agent Johnson. My name is John Unitas. But my friends call me Johnny – with two “n’s.” And I don’t know what to say. I knew it was only a matter of time before my past would finally catch up with me. Here’s my VISA card number: 4576-4032-4119-4002.

Agent Johnson: We are willing to give you a one-time pardon for your past criminal activities if you agree to pay a fine of $2,500. Would you like to pay this fine with this credit card?

ME: That seems more than fair. But the more I think about it, I actually think I would rather turn myself in. After all, I did commit that bank fraud your generic automated message mentioned. It’s time I pay for my crimes by doing the time, right?

Agent Johnson: Excuse me?

ME: Quick question: Will I be sent to one of those rough prisons like in the movie The Shawshank Redemption? God, I loved that film. Or would it be more like one of those country club prisons like Martha Stewart was sent to? Can I put in a request for whatever prison Martha got?

Agent Johnson: What are you talking about? 

ME: All I ask is one small thing. Can I take my little girls out for ice cream one last time, and so I can tell them their daddy has to go away for a while, but he still loves them? Then you can haul me off to the to the Greybar Hotel, okay?

Agent Johnson: What’s wrong with you?

ME: Oh, one more thing. Regarding that credit card number I just gave you… Please don’t tell my wife about my latest charge – the one for $795 for a life-size sex doll from China that does sexy talk in your choice of five different foreign accents… I was just having a bad day. I don’t know what I was thinking. I was going to return it. Please don’t tell my wife, oka– …

“CLICK”

[You can read Part 2 of this article, with even more conversations I had with actual phone scammers, simply by clicking here..] 

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021

In Defense of Anti-Maskers

In Defense of Anti-Maskers

Millions of Americans are infuriated with each other. On one hand are people who believe COVID is a serious health threat and have chosen to get vaccinated and wear a mask to prevent others from getting infected. On the other hand (how can I put this as objectively and dispassionately as possible?) are IDIOTS.

Millions of Americans are infuriated with each other. On one hand are people who believe COVID is a serious health threat and have chosen to get vaccinated and wear a mask to prevent others from getting infected. On the other hand (how can I put this as objectively and dispassionately as possible?) are IDIOTS.

Hello, Anti-Vaxxer person. Doctor Tim here, nationally recognized immunology expert, second cousin of Dr. Anthony Fauci, and author of the best-selling book about the pandemic called FREEDOM: How to Ignore Modern Medical Science and Die Painfully Like a Feudal Serf.

It’s a fascinating read, but, as an Anti-Vaxxer, you’ll probably want to skip it, seeing as it is neither a comic book nor a coloring book. Besides, it contains many complicated words and phrases like “pandemic” and “immunocompromised” and “if you’re still refusing to get vaccinated, you’re a selfish idiot.”

I can’t tell you how much I admire your stubborn conviction in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. How you have managed to survive this long in your magical thinking bubble is remarkable. Words fail me when I see how, no matter what facts are presented, you steadfastly refuse to be bullied into getting vaccinated or wearing a mask for the safety of others. So what if others call you a moron? To me you’re a hero.

You have the unwavering internal compass to resist the counsel of thousands of medical experts, immunology researchers, the CDC, and your own daughter who is a nurse, who all keep telling you, YOU NEED TO GET VACCINATED!!  Don’t listen to the experts. Remember when experts predicted TV would just be a fad? (Okay, so you’re not quite that old. I apologize.)

Oh sure, these quack medical doctors in their fancy white jackets with stethoscopes will tell viewers on CNN that the vaccine is safe and that the only people dying or getting hospitalized lately are the unvaccinated. But who knows more about your own health and safety – a bunch of government-funded scientists with PhD’s in infectious diseases, or your favorite Facebook Group (run by Russian trolls), whose latest post claims “Biden’s Vaccine Will Make You a Pedophile”? And how do you know it won’t? Better to be safe and avoid it.

Listen to your heart – and the latest QAnon conspiracy theory. Don’t you let them insert that microchip, which your FB group says will let Bill Gates control your thoughts and turn you into a Democrat. No, you’re the kind of independent thinker who won’t let pesky facts and statistics cloud your superior judgment.

You would never let the Surgeon General’s dire warnings about the Delta variant interfere with your freedom to defy bureaucratic government terrorists constantly harassing you about masking up indoors. Bravo to you, my fine vaccine-hesitant patriot. If you don’t stand up to the tyranny of government mandated vaccinations, what’s next? Forcing our innocent children to get vaccinated for polio, tetanus, measles, chicken pox, and mumps? Oh wait, they already did that. Never mind.

The government doesn’t tell you about the dark side of all these vaccinations. Did you know that when the smallpox vaccine was first introduced, every single recipient died? (Admittedly, the smallpox vaccine was introduced in 1800, and most of the deaths took place decades later, primarily caused by old age.) My point is, every single person forced to get vaccinated when that vaccine was first administered in 1800 ultimately died. Such a senseless tragedy.

There is tons of misinformation about the COVID vaccine. Take this anti-vax poster of Bill Gates. Just not believable. Gates would never wear a pink V-neck sweater. He’s much more of a grey crewneck kind of guy. So much fake news.

There is tons of misinformation about the COVID vaccine. Take this anti-vax poster of Bill Gates. Just not believable. Gates would never wear a pink V-neck sweater. He’s much more of a grey crewneck kind of guy. So much fake news.

I want to thank all you freedom-loving Anti-Vaxxers for sending Doctor Tim your questions and complaints. I don’t have time to respond to all of your agitated curse-word-infused rants, but I’ll try to take a stab at a few of the less profane letters here.

“Doctor Tim, I was at the hardware store minding my own f**king business, when a nasty g**d*** clerk came up to me and asked me to put on a mask. I told him it’s a free country, and he can’t make me. He threatened to ask me to leave. Do I have the right under the Second Amendment to shoot him in self-defense?” – Armed in Amarillo 

Dear Armed, the Second Amendment absolutely gives you the right to shoot when you reasonably feel your personal safety is at imminent risk. And who wouldn’t feel threatened when a store clerk politely asks you to put on a mask? But you might be on the hook for some substantial prison time, nonetheless. Personally, I’d opt against shooting him and instead search for another hardware store that loves people like you. They should be easy to find. Just look for a store with a Confederate flag out front. 

“Doctor Tim, I was on a Delta flight from Biloxi to Tallahassee, and the flight attendant told me I had to put on a mask. Well, I gave her a piece of my $*%+@ing mind. Then she threatened to duct tape me to my seat. Hell, she even told me to put out my cigar – three times! What about MY Freedom! Where are we, Soviet Russia? Would her rudeness constitute Treason?” – Miffed in Mississippi

Dear Miffed, I looked up  the grounds for Treason in our Constitution. And it reads as follows: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort… or if a Delta Airlines flight attendant is rude to a passenger in coach.” So yes, I think you’re on solid legal footing to sue. Let me know how your lawsuit goes.

“I’m a housecleaner in Florida. I refuse to let that motherf**ker Biden force me to get vaccinated or wear a mask – as is my right. It’s in the Constitution, I believe in Article B, or maybe Article C. But last week, the homeowner asked me to wear a mask or else she would have to let me go. I’m pretty sure my Governor, Ron DeSantis, said it’s illegal for her to make me wear a mask. Can I sue her for $10 million for emotional pain and suffering?” – Suffering in Sarasota

Fun COVID Medical Fact: How can you tell who’s been vaccinated when you’re at a store? The vaccinated people are the ones wearing a mask.

Fun COVID Medical Fact: How can you tell who’s been vaccinated when you’re at a store? The vaccinated people are the ones wearing a mask.

Dear Suffering, you are, of course, 100% in the right. You should just immediately file with the United States Supreme Court, and in your legal brief, tell them Doctor Tim says “Howdy.” (I’m close friends with Justice Gorsuch.) You should easily win a $10 million judgment. For the preceding legal advice, my fee is $1 million. I accept VISA or PayPal.

That’s all the time I have. Be sure to send me your questions and complaints about the unfair vaccination and masking guidelines to DoctorTim@stopwhiningandgetthejab.com.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021

Announcing the Pandemic’s Most Annoying Person

Announcing the Pandemic’s Most Annoying Person

Meet the world’s MOST ANNOYING PERSON, Brad Buttons. While you were spending the past year in COVID lockdown sitting on the couch, eating ice cream, and binge-watching Emily in Paris, Brad was being productive – annoyingly so.

Meet the world’s MOST ANNOYING PERSON, Brad Buttons. While you were spending the past year in COVID lockdown sitting on the couch, eating ice cream, and binge-watching Emily in Paris, Brad was being productive – annoyingly so.

(Atlanta) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today that in a unanimous vote, they have awarded the title of “Pandemic’s Most Annoying Person” to a uniquely deserving individual: Brad Buttons of Kenosha, Wisconsin. This is the first – and the CDC hopes last – time this honor will ever be bestowed.

When asked why Brad was selected to be this year’s recipient, a CDC spokesperson explained, “Frankly, we really had no choice. The more we learned about this exasperating fellow, the more obvious our decision became.”  When pressed for details, the spokesperson went on, “Ever since the pandemic was announced in March 2020, and people were asked to socially distance and wear masks, Mr. Buttons has stayed home, in his one-bedroom apartment, and maintained a rigid self-imposed quarantine.”

Asking why this qualified him to be selected as the pandemic’s “Most Annoying Person”, the spokesperson added, “Well, it’s just that he’s always taking on an endless number of projects to learn new things and make the world a better place. He’s like a machine. To be honest, if you spend even just a few minutes around him, it’s impossible not to become irritated. We’re only human.”

In issuing its 15-page press release explaining its decision, the CDC listed dozens of feats Brad has achieved in the past year to alienate normal people. For starters, during the pandemic, Brad has read the entirety of Wikipedia, learned three foreign languages (plus Klingon), and written two science fiction novels. “Who does that?”, the spokesman asked, clearly perturbed.

When reached for comment, Brad was putting the finishing touches on his handmade full-scale replica of Michelangelo’s David, using nothing but seashells he found on the shores of Lake Michigan. “I’m thrilled about this prestigious recognition by the CDC, but I really don’t feel deserving,” Brad humbly responded. He then returned to his garage to resume work  building an authentic 1967 Austin Healey 3000 SL which he learned to assemble just by watching YouTube instructional videos. “I didn’t have most of the tools I needed, so I scrounged up some scrap metal and built a blast furnace. Check out this lathe I made.” 

When asked how he has had time to do all of these things, Brad replied, “It helps that I have no friends. When the pandemic hit, I decided to read the ancient Hindu holy text, the Rigveda – in the original ancient Sanskrit. I thought it would be more of a challenge that way.” A tour of Brad’s apartment revealed an extensive collection of Star Wars action figures, as well as what looked to be replicas of famous artwork.

When asked where he purchased his reproductions of paintings by the masters, including Da Vinci, Monet and Van Gogh, Brad explained, “Oh, no, I didn’t buy them. I painted them. I learned by watching old Bob Ross videos. I have to say, getting down Da Vinci’s Sfumato painting technique for softening the transition between colors took me a few tries to master.”

In the past year, while most people have hunkered down on the couch in their pajamas, eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream by the carton, Brad has been keeping busy. Disturbingly busy. Brad penned an Italian opera (because doing it in English was not enough of a challenge, he said). He also invented a machine that turns urine into potable drinking water.

In his spare time, Brad built replicas of WW 2 German fighter planes, like this Messerschmitt Bf 109. But Brad felt prouder about the incredibly detailed one-tenth scale replica of the Titanic he built using used lawnmower parts. It’s currently on loan to the Smithsonian – because he can’t fit it in his apartment.

In his spare time, Brad built replicas of WW 2 German fighter planes, like this Messerschmitt Bf 109. But Brad felt prouder about the incredibly detailed one-tenth scale replica of the Titanic he built using used lawnmower parts. It’s currently on loan to the Smithsonian – because he can’t fit it in his apartment.

Prior to the pandemic, Brad’s diet consisted mostly of drive-through fast foods. But in the past year, he’s dropped 230 pounds (he’s now a lean 155 pounds with six-pack abs). He’s even self-published his own cookbook, The Pandemic Chef, and has put out a series of 25 one-hour home fitness videos based on an exercise program he created in his spare time.

In the CDC press release citing Brad’s exhausting list of discoveries, publications, and inventions, it accidentally failed to mention that he also patented a fuel converter contraption that converts water into a non-polluting fuel able to power any car, plane, or deep space probe. “Actually, all you need is urine. Want me to show you how I do it?” Brad added.

The release went on: “Taken together, it is almost unfathomable that any single individual could accomplish all of this and still find time to find a cure for cancer, but this man did it. That’s why the CDC unanimously concluded that Mr. Buttons is far and away the most annoying person we’ve encountered since the pandemic began.”

The CDC’s decision was applauded by millions of Americans – and Brad’s own immediate family, who have unfriended him on Facebook because they are sick of reading about his achievements. 

The overall sentiment of most Americans who remain trapped in their homes binge-watching Netflix crime documentaries and past seasons of Schitt’s Creek was perhaps best summed up by David Wilkinson, a bartender from Brooklyn, who protested, “Dude, just stop!. You’re making the rest of us look bad. Here’s an idea: How about you invent a spaceship and become the first person ever to fly solo to Mars. Then plant a flag and NEVER COME BACK!” 

Upon hearing that he’d won the award, Brad was said to be so excited he began an awkward victory dance. (Dancing is one activity Brad failed to learn – badly.) In the process, he tripped over his just-finished replica of an 18th century tall-masted ship in a bottle, fell, and broke his ankle and the ship in a bottle. Not salvageable.

Due to his unfortunate injury, it appears Brad will be laid up, unable to work on any more projects, for at least three months. Millions of Americans greeted this news with celebratory dances of their own.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021.