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.

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 View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos.

© 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.

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 View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021.

The Five-Day Accu-Weather Solar System Forecast

The Five-Day Accu-Weather Solar System Forecast

The five-day accu-weather forecast calls for sunny and seasonably hot weather – on the surface of the sun. Temps are forecast to be somewhat cooler as you head further away from the sun. Going to Neptune? Bring a winter coat.

The five-day accu-weather forecast calls for sunny and seasonably hot weather – on the surface of the sun. Temps are forecast to be somewhat cooler as you head further away from the sun. Going to Neptune? Bring a winter coat.

And now for the latest five-day Accu-Weather Solar System Forecast, we turn to our Cosmological Prognosticator, Venus-Ann Mars. Venus, I hope you have another sunny forecast in store for us.

Thanks, Brad. A lot happening in this portion of the Milky Way galaxy for a Thursday. So let’s get started.

Today’s weather on Mercury – I use the word “weather” loosely, since technically Mercury has no atmosphere – calls for intense radiation and scattered plasma tornadoes. Lows will be – 275 F with an expected high topping out around + 840 degrees. That may be a bit toasty for fans of planet Earth, but for Mercury, that’s actually quite seasonal for wintertime.

Mercury’s two sunset times today are expected to be somewhat later than yesterday, but at this time of year, expect the retrograde motion of the Sun between them to remain the same. And sunset on Mercury is incredible, with the sun appearing two and a half times larger in the sky than seen on Earth. But if you want to catch both sunsets, be patient, as the Mercurian day lasts 58.6 earth days.

As is typical for this portion of its orbital journey, Venus maintains its consistent and perpetual cloud cover with a somewhat uncomfortable high of 870 degrees F and a low of, well, 870 F. And for the next 24 hours, if you’re anywhere near Venus’ equator, I suggest staying indoors unless you absolutely have to go out. That’s because there’s a storm watch for this evening calling for scattered showers of sulfuric acid. Atmospheric pressure stands at 1,350 psi – so, be sure your Venetian vacation venue is adequately pressurized, to avoid being pulverized within seconds from the bone-splitting pressure.

Another reason you might not want to venture outdoors this week on the Venetian surface is due to another expected spike in greenhouse emissions caused by larger than normal levels of CO2 trapped in the planet’s thick atmosphere. And thanks to global temperatures consistently in excess of 800 degrees F, it looks like any remaining liquid on the oceans will be completely boiled off again – for the 4 billionth year in a row. So, if you were looking for oceanfront property on the “Morning Star” planet, my advice is to hold off for another millennium or two.

Turning our telescope to Mars, I’m calling for equatorial highs to reach an unseasonably comfortable 80 F tomorrow. But before you start packing your bathing suit, I should warn you, the lows on the red planet will drop to – 200 F degrees. So, also pack a few layers of yak skin fur coats, just to be safe. And, if you suffer from asthma, you might want to stay indoors because there is a planetary dust storm watch in effect as well.

Looking at the big guy in our solar system, Jupiter once again is experiencing back-to-back hurricanes. A level 9.9 lightning alert has been issued by NASA. Be sure to avoid lower elevations, by which I mean anything near the core of this gaseous giant, as temps are expected to reach 43,000 F degrees. Intense radio emissions will continue at northern latitudes. In fact, radiation in general this time of year is 1,800 times that of the Earth, so, before you head out on a day trip exploring the Jovian planet, you might want to pack some extra Jupiter Screen. I recommend a protection level of 500 or greater.

A special advisory has been issued for Jupiter’s moon Europa. It appears that water geysers have been detected in its southern hemisphere. Divers are advised to remain 500 miles away from these zones, as the tumultuous currents could result in being ejected into deep space. That would be a horrible way to end your European vacation, eh, Brad?

If your travel plans call for a trip to the Ringed Planet, a reminder to avoid attempting to go for a stroll while visiting Saturn. If you tried to walk on its gaseous surface, you’d literally begin a long, perilous descent into the planet, experiencing unpleasantly lethal high temperatures and body-compacting pressures until you were crushed to the size of a walnut as you approached the planet’s core.

If you have a hankering to explore the outer boundaries of our solar system, Uranus or Neptune, be sure to take along a few books because travel time to Uranus, given current space travel technology, is estimated at three years. And during your stop-over on Neptune, eliminate its Great Dark Spot from your tour itinerary. That’s because the Great Dark Spot, which is the size of Earth, is expecting wind gusts topping out at over 700 mph by Thursday. That would be a new wind speed record for planets in our solar system. Good luck holding onto your hat – or surviving.

Here’s a quick look at our forecast for Venus. Same old, same old. Hot and very humid with a chance of late afternoon lava showers.

Here’s a quick look at our forecast for Venus. Same old, same old. Hot and very humid with a chance of late afternoon lava showers.

And if you’re one of those people who still believes Pluto is a planet, I’m pleased to report that spring should arrive on the dwarf planet in just under 60 years, which should give you plenty of time to work out your travel arrangements and update your will.

For you adventure seekers, just a friendly reminder that the methane lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan offer a unique choice for boaters, if you don’t mind the devastatingly toxic fumes. Don’t forget to pack your chemical safety goggles, face shield and CM-7M Military Grade gas mask, before you leave shore.

Just a few other weather reminders. The view of the Sun on Neptune’s moon Triton is expected to be obscured in southern latitudes by the dust and gas geyser. And if you’re planning a pleasure trip to the Mars’ polar ice caps, remember that radiation suits are now mandatory when you’re not confined to a NASA-approved hermetically sealed facility.

Finally, don’t forget about tomorrow’s lunar eclipse on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. Should be quite the sight to see – if you happen to be anywhere near the surface of Jupiter. Unfortunately for me, I’ll still be stuck in Seattle traffic, so I’m afraid I’ll miss it.

That’s it for the weather. Now back to planet earth and Lenny Johnson for sports. Hey, Lenny, are my Seattle Mariners going to have a decent bullpen this year?

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

This week’s post was conceived by and co-written with my good friend William Maxwell, a serious astronomy buff who does astronomical photography and writes about celestial phenomena for various publications. You can check out William’s astro images at www.astrobin.com/users/WilliamM.

 

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021.

Undiscovered History: The Secret Jefferson Letters

Undiscovered History: The Secret Jefferson Letters

Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of Independence, third president of the United States, Founder of the University of Virginia, and, unfortunately, the father of a heretofore unknown son named Bradley who’d forever embarrass his dad.

Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of Independence, third president of the United States, Founder of the University of Virginia, and, unfortunately, the father of a heretofore unknown son named Bradley who’d forever embarrass his dad.

[Note: As a nationally respected historian, I am proud to share never-before-seen correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and his rarely mentioned youngest son, Bradley.

These riveting letters were written between 1786 and 1787, when Jefferson was living in Paris, serving as America’s Ambassador to France. They reveal a side of our third president which few people ever knew. – Tim Jones]

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September 4, 1786

My Dearest Bradley, I miss you, my youngest offspring, more than words can convey. Paris is resplendent. Notwithstanding, I sorely pine for the September leaves of our fair Charlottesville home, Monticello. Know that would that it were up to me, I would be staring upon your youthful countenance at morrow’s dawning. I trust you are faring well as a robust lad of 19 and making the soundest of decisions. Pray tell, how goes thee on this autumnal day?

Your Proud Father, Thomas Jefferson

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October 27, 1786

Dearest Father,

Hello.

Bradley

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November 18, 1786

My Fine Issue, I confess to being modestly disconcerted by the brevity of your rejoinder. Hoping was I that there might be some news of your goings on and the state of affairs at our plantation. I miss you painfully, as I miss our dear bloodhound, Bailey. Do reply anon with an account of your affairs.

Your Humble Father, Thomas Jefferson

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December 4, 1786

Dear Father, I miss Bailey, too.

Bradley

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December 28, 1786

Dearest Bradley, Your most recent missive – if you can call a four-word tiding a “missive” – left me startled and bereft of joy. Is our faithful Bailey indeed no more? Pray assure me, he is merely on the prowl. Details, my lad. I implore you.

Your Concerned Father, Thomas Jefferson

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January 19, 1787

Dear Father, I am as mystified as you. When I returned from prison, Bailey was gone.

Bradley

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One of many drawings and paintings of Jefferson’s beloved home, Monticello. That’s Jefferson on the left, tending to his crops, and Bradley at right, asking his dad if he could lend him $5 until Tuesday.

One of many drawings and paintings of Jefferson’s beloved home, Monticello. That’s Jefferson on the left, tending to his crops, and Bradley at right, asking his dad if he could lend him $5 until Tuesday.

February 10, 1787

Dear Boy, Prison? As in penitentiary? Have my enemies besieged you? What outrageous conspiracy have they spun to detain you thusly? Please delineate, as my fretful state elevates with each passing day.

Your Deeply Troubled Father, Thomas Jefferson

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March 2, 1787,

Dear Father, Do not grieve, pondering a wrongful charge or that some affront to justice prevailed to deprive me of my liberty. I could not have been more guilty. In retrospect, I discern I should not have taken leave of my senses, imbibing insatiable quantities of spirits. Such dereliction diminished my ability to reflect upon the wisdom of my ways before robbing that bank. Lesson learned, papa.

Bradley

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March 18, 1787

Bradley, In God’s name, what hath thou embarked upon? I comprehend it not.  A Jefferson plundering the reserves of a bank? More importantly, when did my young son start taking to the drink? I beseech thee, for the love of our Lord, explain to your father what possessed you to ransack a depository institution?

Your Distraught Progenitor, Thomas Jefferson

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April 8, 1787

Dear Father, I blame myself. I felt my pecuniary options were limited after I sold Monticello to those Egyptian fraudsters, who promised in return we would take ownership of one of the great pyramids. Imagine my chagrin upon learning they had no such title of ownership to grant us said pyramids. I shall never again endeavor to engage in commerce with grifting Egyptians.

Bradley

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April 22, 1787

Son, Surely ye jest! It cannot be that my cherished Monticello, of which I was the architect and builder, is no longer my place of refuge? How could you permit this? Are you daft?

Your Father – for the moment at least, TJ

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May 6, 1787

Father, I guess I just was not thinking straight, ever since Mother passed.

Bradley 

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May 19, 1787

Frivolous Boy, What in a French Harlot’s name (forgive my foul discourse) are you declaring now? That your mother, the love of my life, is with God? How came this to be? Answers! Now! Answers!

TJ

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Jefferson loved his dogs, especially his pride bloodhound, Bailey, shown here. Jefferson, while a genius in many ways, made several mistakes in life – most notably entrusting Bailey to his son, Bradley.

Jefferson loved his dogs, especially his pride bloodhound, Bailey, shown here. Jefferson, while a genius in many ways, made several mistakes in life – most notably entrusting Bailey to his son, Bradley.

June 3, 1787

Father, I did not want to bother you with trivialities. I know you’ve a full plate, feasting with French Kings and Viscounts. Be assured, Mother suffered no pain, as she was sound asleep when her rowboat careened over Niagara Falls. I am comforted knowing she no doubt met her Maker in an instant.

Bradley

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June 22, 1787

Muttonheaded Moron, I almost pause in dread, pondering the sagacity of imploring you for an elucidation of your mother’s passage on a rowboat destined for such treacherous waters. Withal, I can hold back no longer. What possible circumstance emboldened her to embark on such an ill-fated terminal voyage?

Jefferson

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July 4, 1787

Father, I can merely speculate as to her motive for taking that ill-omened journey. But were I to hazard a divination, I might posit that she was ill-suited to a life of homelessness and prostitution.

Bradley

PS: Happy 4th of July, father!

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July 20, 1787,

F*ck 4th of July!, Homelessness? Prostitution?! We have countless properties suitable for dwelling, though not of the magnitude of Monticello. I am befuddled with consternation.

Jefferson

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August 3, 1787

Dad, I was low on funds. Gambling is a surprisingly tricky business.

Bradley

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August 22, 1787

Son, Bradley, Gambling? You dimwitted toad! Just how much of my assets did you squander?

Father TJ

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September 3, 1787

Dearest Dad, If you count your landholdings, farmsteads, and stock, along with the gold coins and other financial instruments, plus the horses and cattle, not to mention the slaves, well … all of it. However, nothing could part me from the quill pen with which you signed the Declaration of Independence. That will be worth thousands someday.

Bradley

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September 30, 1787

You Treacherous, Capricious, Malevolent Cad, I will be on the first ship bound for Baltimore. When next I gaze upon you, my reckless, foolhardy former heir, I assure you, I will seize that quill pen from your wretched hand and deposit it where no light shineth. You are no son of mine.

Thomas Jefferson

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That was the final correspondence between father and son. Interestingly, little is known about Bradley Jefferson’s life after that last communique. Some historians point to a report of a dead body found at the base of Niagara Falls, with a quill pen and a copy of the Declaration of Independence stuck up his posterior. Could that have been Bradley? We may never know.

On a positive note, they eventually found Jefferson’s dog, Bailey. So the story has a happy ending.

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

[Postscript: Because once in a while there is a reader who can’t tell fact from fiction, let me set the record straight. Jefferson never had a bloodhound named Bailey, nor a son named Bradley. I also made up the character named Thomas Jefferson. No such person ever existed.]

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021. Edited by Betsy Jones.