Previous “In My Inbox” posts

The Email of Three Lies

“That’s not a twist-off…”

Harvard University sits in the middle of Cambridge, just across the river from Boston. One of the most well-known landmarks on campus is this sculpture of John Harvard:

The “John Harvard” statue[Photo credit: dog97209]

Except, well, it isn’t a sculpture of John Harvard at all. It’s often referred to as the “statue of three lies” because:

  • 1. It’s not a representation of John Harvard.

  • 2. It lists John Harvard as “Founder”, though he was not.

  • 3. It lists the school’s founding as 1638, rather than the correct 1636.

The reason for the first lie is that no one knows what John Harvard looked like. As for the other two fallacies, I’ve no idea why they’ve remained for nearly a century and a half. At least it makes for good tour guide fodder.

I was reminded of this goofy statue thanks to the following email from CVS:

An email from CVS stating “The updated COVID-19 vaccine is here! Oh, and it’s free.”

Somewhat coincidentally, the email arrived shortly before a vaccine appointment I had already scheduled at a nearby CVS location. Though I was a bit concerned about that asterisk on the word “free”, I figured I’d give it a go. Just a few minutes after receiving this email, I biked over to CVS and checked in at the pharmacy desk.

Now, I will note that on the plus side, I did not have to pay for the vaccine. However, that was because I didn’t get immunized at all. The clerk told me all COVID vaccine appointments had been cancelled, because they had not yet received any supply.1

Back at home and sadly unstabbed, I glanced at the email again. That’s when I was reminded of the aforementioned John Harvard statue. You see, this email is false in multiple ways. Like the statue, it features its own trio of tarradiddles. Firstaball, the updated COVID-19 vaccine is, in fact, not here! It’s not here at all, and that’s a problem. Secondaball, the vaccine may or may not be free, as many people have had issues with getting insurance coverage. To their credit, they did at least put a caveat on that. But thirdaball?

That patient’s right arm really does not look like it matches her body. I don’t know if it’s a bad Photoshop, bad lighting, or what, but despite the nail polish and rings, that looks like a (possibly severed) man’s arm draped across her chest.


  1. She also asked me “Did you get a text?”. I could only stare back as I bit my tongue against the snarky responses that sprang to mind. After all, it was CVS’s system that failed to alert me, and that probably wasn’t her fault. But no, no I did not get a text telling me my appointment was cancelled. If I had, I would not have shown up for said appointment. ↩︎

Something’s Fishy

Are they swimming in a water cooler?

I don’t know about you, but I find myself receiving a lot of emails about scams I should avoid. Gosh, life in 2023 sure is fun, huh? Recently, one such email from Capital One had me scratching my head. Here’s a look:

You can’t see it in that still picture, but the fish up top are (mildly) animated, which is a little fun:

However, those fish are also confusing, and not just because how the hell are their masks staying on? Let’s reason this out. The shark is a scammer, right? He’s pretending to be a goldfish, surely for nefarious/dinner reasons. OK. Very tricky, shark!

But then, for what possible reason is the goldfish wearing a mask? Is every fish in this corrupt sea a scammer? Or do they have a “Fish Face/Off” thing going on? Perhaps the goldfish is attempting to trick the shark as well. Am I going to have to actively scam my scammers? The future is exhausting.

I fear I have put much more thought into this than the designer did. This little image could’ve been cute and clever, if only they hadn’t given the goldfish a mask. Instead, they did extra work, and blew it.

Email Marketers Live Very Different Lives

Or so I imagine, anyway.

I work to maintain a manageable email inbox. This includes frequently declining to provide my email address when asked, as well as unsubscribing from lists without hesitation. And yet? And yet, the nonsense never fully stops.

Of late, I’ve received a steady stream of emails informing me of modifications to various privacy policies. I imagine this is due to some law somewhere having been amended. Now the absurd nature of our society is laid bare each week, with multiple emails telling me that a document I’ve never read, and never will read, has changed.

Aside from providing a bleak laugh about our terrible future, however, privacy policy update emails aren’t really any fun. Better are those messages which at least provide some sort of amusement. For instance, in mid-December, I received the following:

An email with the subject line “Tis the season for earning AAdvantage miles.”

Ah, yes, the most wonderful time of year! With much mistletoeing, and hearts all a-glowing, when American Airlines miles are earned by dining out at random restaurants and paying with a specific credit card.

The next email sent by the same sender was more uplifting. In fact, it was perhaps the best news I’ve received in a long, long time. I’m sad for the rest of you, however, because 2023 is not your year. No, no, per the American Airlines AAdvantage Dining Program:

An email with the subject line “It’s the year of Paul.”

Sorry, non-Paul chumps and chumpettes.

Last up, I received an email from the home of the Whopper, Burger King. Though I haven’t eaten meat in more than two decades, I do find myself in a Burger King once every year or three, as they’ve long had a few vegetarian offerings. Still, I don’t recall ever signing up for…well, anything. I imagine I received this as the result of placing an online order at some point in the past:

This email informed me that a “Linked (Credit) Card” would now work for loyalty identification, to “earn Crowns not only for in-app and orders, but also for in-store purchases”. Now, that’s really news I can use, because a close look reveals the fact that I currently have a woeful 0 “Crowns”:

Yes, I believe even that “1+” dot should be empty for me. But my favorite part of this particular missive was the subject line, which badly misunderstand the meaning of its own very first word:

An email with the subject line “Important update to Terms and Conditions for Royal Perks

“Important” to whom, Burger King? “Important” to whom?

Maybe These Are The Last Checks I Ever Buy

Will my check writing frequency continue to decrease? I hope so!

Three months ago, I wrote about the rather early reminder I received encouraging me to order new checks. At the time, I noted that in the 9+ months since I’d ordered my checks, I had used a total of 10 of them. Recently, I received another email from everyone’s favorite Vericast business:

Well, Harland, it turns out it’s also been a while since I wrote a check! In fact, since I mocked you in my previous post, I’ve written exactly zero checks. That means I’m averaging fewer than one check per month. I now need to revise the estimate from June. It now looks like I’ll be due to order checks in 2038. Surely we won’t still be writing checks then, right?

Let’s Not

What's the best case for trash can pics? “Not too gross”?

Over a decade ago, I spent a few extra bucks on some slightly more expensive trash cans from Simplehuman. Rather than using the absolutely cheapest refuse receptacle I could find, I thought I’d get something a little nicer. It’s been a fine decision.

In late May, I ordered some new trash bags from Simplehuman.1 They arrived quickly, and I put a couple in my trash cans, then moved on with my life.

Until three weeks later, when Simplehuman got in touch:

An email from Simplehuman that says “We'd love to hear from you” and requests a review

I would love to not hear from you, Simplehuman! I cannot fathom taking even 20 seconds of my life to leave a review for trash bags.2 I also can’t imagine needing a five star scale to rate trash bags. This is surely a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down situation, at most.

As for the invitation to get social, I’m going to have to decline that as well. Thanks anyhow, Simplehuman.


  1. Along the lines of the razors and blades model, Simplehuman offers custom-sized liners for their cans. They cost a few cents more than standard trash bags, but look a lot nicer. ↩︎

  2. Don’t think I’ve failed to recognize the inherent ridiculousness in taking much longer than 20 seconds to write about all of this. I spend that time for you, dear reader. ↩︎

This Reminder Is a Wee Bit Early

They should consider suggesting people update their check style like fashion, rather than just reordering when they run out.

As readers may know, I have fun with checks. However, though I have utterly ridiculous checks which amuse me greatly, I do not have much occasion to use said checks. As such, I was surprised to receive an email with the subject line “This is a friendly reminder to reorder checks.”.

I ordered a new batch of checks last August, and as the above email shows, I received 160 checks.1 Let me tell you, Harland Clarke is wildly overestimating how frequently I write checks. I’m still on my first of four books. In fact, over the past 9+ months, I have written exactly 10 checks. At this rate, I’ll need to reorder some time in 2034.


  1. I find it very disappointing that the image in this email fails to show the hug statement featured on my checks. ↩︎

Chance to Success

Prepare to increase it!

In the 13+ years One Foot Tsunami has been around, I’ve written about a plethora of different topics. I’ve also been fortune to be receive links from some larger websites, resulting in traffic from all over the world. As a result of these two facts, I get a lot of spammy emails from folks hoping I’ll publish their spammy content or link to their spammy sites (no, I won’t). They’ll usually provide the URL of a not-very-relevant post from years back, where I could “help my readers” by including a new link to their barely related nonsense.

For instance, last month, I received this:

Faheem here from █████ E Scooters, a site designed to demystify the future of transportation and make it easy for everyone to understand.

I’m emailing you because I saw an article of yours here and wanted to see if you’d be interested in a small collaboration.

I recently put together a piece on how much are electric scooters packed full of info and thought it would make an excellent addition to your piece and wanted to see if you’d be interested in linking to it.

I’ll let you be the judge though, check it out! URL: ██████████

What do you think?

Mostly, Faheem, I think you should stop emailing me. And I especially think you, and everyone else, should stop emailing me three times, once with your initial spammy request, a second time to “check in”, and finally a third time to give me one last chance to, I dunno, curse your name? But at least I understand the nature of the scam here.

What’s rarer is something like the confusion that resulted from an email I recently received with the subject line “Quick question about elk hunting”. I have never hunted elk, nor anything else for that matter, so this was odd to say the least. It got weirder!

Hi Paul,

I’m putting together an expert roundup post on “elk hunting tips”. And I naturally wanted to invite you to contribute.

Ah, yes, naturally!

The question is: “For first time elk hunter, what should we prepare to increase chance to success?”

Hmm, you seem to have slipped into some really mangled English-as-a-second-language there. Are you OK?

I know you’re busy so a lengthy response isn’t necessary (50-100 words is totally fine).

Robert █████
Co-founder of █████

As you can surely guess, these emails have all been censored by me to avoid providing any help whatsoever to spammers. Even polite ones.

PS: We’ve already received responses from Eric Whiting (Iron Will Outfitters) and Carl Sauerwein (Boulder Basin Outfitters). I’d love for you to be involved.

Well gosh, to have my response printed alongside such illustrious company would truly be an honor. Eric Whiting and Carl Sauerwein? Wow!

I really didn’t know what to make of this email, so I set it aside. A few days later, however, Robert was back.

Hi Paul,

I know you’re busy, but did you get the chance to look into my first email? 🙂

Thanks and best regards,

It’s clear that despite the fact that I have no idea who he is, Robert knows me well. You see, unlike most people, I am indeed busy. So busy, in fact, that I never did respond to either of these emails.

Perhaps I should have. I’d certainly like to understand just what’s going on here. I imagine it’s some sort of link farming still, but how we got to elk hunting, I simply can’t fathom.

Spahks Afta Dahk

This place has everything!

Recently, I received an invitation to an event to be held at Boston’s Museum of Science. It was billed as an “electrifying experience”, due to the presence of the world’s largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator.

Email invitation to the “Sparks After Dark” event, with the following text: Calling all party animals! Sparks After Dark - the official after-party of the Museum of Science's  Stars of STEM  annual fundraising event is back! Hosted by the Innovators, the Museum’s young professional society, Sparks After Dark is Boston’s only late night party in a room producing over a million volts of lightning—the Museum's Theater of Electricity. Shocking, we know.

Sparks After Dark will feature cocktails, late night bites, science-themed entertainment, live animals, music, and dancing featuring the Museum's favorite drag queen and DJ, Coleslaw.

With a name like “Sparks After Dark”, it was only natural that I would repeatedly read the invitation out loud in an over-the-top and utterly ridiculous townie accent. As one does. While practicing that tomfoolery, I then realized that the second paragraph’s bizarrely long list reads like a Stefon sketch.

And so, I present you with this nonsense:

You can listen for this ad on Boston-area radio stations for the next week. You won’t actually hear it, but nothing can stop you from listening for it.

Heckuva Job, Dining Algorithm

I do a pretty good job of unsubscribing from nonsense, but it never stops completely.

Long ago, I signed up for JetBlue’s “TrueBlue Dining” program, which doles out a few frequent flier miles when I pay via credit card at certain restaurants. These rewards are sporadic and random, but it’s all free, so why not?

Recently, I got some food from a small pizza joint called Hot Box, which can be found on the web at Risky click!

Anyhow, a few days after enjoying those slices, I received the following in my inbox:

Greetings, Human. We are aware that you ate <PIZZA>. Here are some <PIZZA> restaurants in your state of <MASSACHUSETTS>.

This useless email contained a list of 16 different pizza places, only 1 of which I’d ever even heard of before, and most of which were quite some distance from me. I live in downtown Boston, and I have dozens of pizza shops within a 15 minute radius. I don’t know who this braindead recommendation would help, but it isn’t me.

Bitcoin Give and Take

“savePro™” really cracks me up.

Recently, I encountered a fun little swindle involving cryptocurrency. It started with this piece of spam I spotted in my email quarantine:

Hi Rob Hoffman,
As requested, we have now deposited 19 BTC which amount to ($789,431.38 USD) into your bitcoin portfolio at
Customer Id: 43789495
Customer Password: TGG3423TG

Now, while I am not Rob Hoffman, I would be glad to be in possession of almost a million dollars’ worth of bitcoins. Sadly, rather than a misdirected email, this was undoubtedly a scam. I decided to poke around, in an effort to determine the nature of the scheme. To being, I visited (using a virtual environment):, as it appeared in early February, 2022

Overall, the site looked legitimate enough.1 Further, when I tried to sign in with completely fake credentials, I was denied access. Using the information received via email, however, I was able to log in. At that point, I was prompted to change my password. My initial thought was that they may be attempting to catch folks who are reusing passwords, but this seems like a lot of work for that. In this case, I entered a never-before-used dummy password

Once in the account, I could indeed see a supposed balance of 19 BTC. Since the time of the email, BTC was up enough to put the value at well over $800,000. Not bad! If only it actually existed.

My next move was to see what I could do with this supposed windfall. The system offered to let me withdraw, so I attempted to take out a single bitcoin. Hey, I’m not greedy. To do this, I set up a brand-new bitcoin wallet, and gave the system that dummy information. It immediately rejected my request, informing me my first withdrawal was limited to 0.0001 BTC, for “security reasons”. Sure, Jan.

I modified my request down to 0.0001 BTC, and that did show success, though the site informed me that it could take up up to 30 minutes to appear. I was more than a little skeptical, but eventually, there it was!

A whole 1/10,000 of a bitcoin

This minute fraction of a bitcoin was now fully in my possession, and as far as I could see, I had traded a dummy password and dummy bitcoin wallet address for about $5. I’d take that deal any day, but what I really wanted was to understand the nature of the ruse here. Thus, I returned to the site, and again attempted to withdraw an entire bitcoin. Hey, I’m still not greedy.

With this request, the curtain fell, and the scam was revealed. The system wouldn’t allow me to take out 1 BTC, as you can see:

A fairly nonsensical alert, indicating I needed to withdraw a minimum of 19.007 BTC, when the account only held 18.9999 BTC
This is right on the cusp of making sense, but, nope, utter nonsense.

Instead, I was told that I was being limited by the portfolio’s “savePro™” functionality.2 That “feature” meant the minimum withdrawal amount was 19.007 BTC.

At this point, you can hopefully see where this is going. The system was indicating that if I deposited 0.0071 BTC (worth about $315), it would then allow the full 19.007 BTC to be withdrawn back out. Of course, in actuality it would definitely disappear with that 0.0071 BTC entirely. Cryptocurrency is the Wild West, and there are no sheriffs.

Ultimately, in an effort to rope me in, this scam site gave me about five bucks. Some basic math indicates that if they get more than 1 out of 63 people to fall for this bizarre “minimum withdrawal limit”, they’ll come out ahead. Further, once someone does make a deposit, they’ll have identified themselves as a real mark to be soaked. It’s possible the site would then work to bilk the sucker out of even more, say with some of that deposit being lost to “fees”, necessitating another deposit.

At this point, however, I’m satisfied that I’ve figured out their trickery. It’s a good thing, too, because my continued poking around and experimenting eventually led the site to log me out and stop responding to my credentials. Alas, it seems I’ll never manage to retrieve that other 18.9999 BTC which doesn’t actually exist.


  1. This “Sign Up” page might make one at least a little suspicious.

    As well, if you actually read the text throughout the site, it lacks the ring of authenticity. ↩︎

  2. I’m ever so tickled that “savePro” is a trademark (™), but not a registered (®) one. You wouldn’t want this whole thing to crumble when someone checks the USPTO database for savePro, only to find it missing. ↩︎