I don't know how to tell you this, but this could be my final column.
In fact, I may be rarely heard from or seen again as I'll be picking up my closest family members and friends and moving out of the Mahoning Valley to a small island off the coast of Florida which I intend to purchase soon courtesy of a recent windfall.
You see, apparently, I've just won the Superfake Sweepstakes, which will award me $14 cagillion as soon as I verify some personal credit and banking information for the organizers.
Quintuple hmpf times about a zillion.
Remember the good old days when all we had to worry about in terms of irritating correspondence from complete strangers were junk mail letters and the occasional annoyance call - or, pre-Caller ID, the sporadic crank call from that rambunctious neighborhood adolescent asking if you had pop in a bottle and why you wouldn't let him out?
Well, welcome to the new millennium, my friends, in which annoyance calls are merely a water droplet in an ocean of aggravation.
The most prevalent and exasperating source of such contact in my daily life? Junk e-mail.
Dear Lord in heaven, where on earth does this stuff originate?
Are there actual human beings sitting in some countless row of cubicles coming up with the most ridiculous, inappropriate and frankly idiotic cyber messages they can muster? And if so, will someone please send them a dictionary and / or grammar and spell check device?
You are all familiar with my complaint, I assume. The dozens (literally, I counted!) of oft-poorly-worded e-mail messages that burn their way through my 28 layers of firewall safety and explode into my inbox. Mind you, that's not counting the other dozens that my spam filter did trap.
According to my pal Don Meyerson of Liberty, who works as a computer programmer in Pennsylvania, much of the junk e-mail that worms its way into our e-mail boxes are computer generated and get our addresses from purchases we make online.
"Be careful not to grant your permission to receive unsolicited e-mail ads, coupons, or requests," he said, noting that we should all scan everything we sanction carefully for automatically-checked boxes giving our blessing to such crud.
That being said, there literally are people who spend their days trying to bilk people out of money by creating spam and having subordinates follow up with other e-mail and phone inquiries.
"This is serious; it can lead to ID theft," Don told me. Basically, he said, don't open anything from anyone you don't know and never offer PINs, pass codes, or other identifying data / private information to strange e-mailers or callers - even if they claim association with a bank, store, or automobile company with which you do business.
Don also told me that, if you're so inclined, you can try to search for the IP address of every spammer who accosts your e-mail box in order to block the address from entry into your e-mail box.
As for me? I just hit delete. Oh, and here are a few tips for my buddies out there in cyberspace trying to snag my data and drive me nuts.
1. I'm kinda getting the hint that you're spam when you come up as ~#$*%&$*+^`."+)? in the subject line.
2. "Dear Patricia" is the virtual equivalent of "Resident" on junk snail mail - send this and I instantly know that a. you don't know me, and b. I don't want to know you. BTW, it's an even bigger red flag if you call me Jack.
3. Stop promising me the moon. I don't believe that you're giving me $10 million, free coffee for life or a brand new car. Although, in honesty, I might give that second one pause, but I digress.
4. Don't threaten me. Telling me that time is running out, this is my last chance or quantities are limited ain't helping your case, pal.
5. Learn how to spell. Use the English language appropriately and correctly. As a writer and just a fan of the English language, I'm deeply offended by your complete obliteration of it.
6. At least have enough chutzpah to tell me I won, received, or earned something. I mean, do you really think dangling the "you may have already" qualified, won, etc. will turn my head even the slightest bit in your direction? Please see No. 3.
7. Do not send me anything that is seedy, smutty or in any other way repugnant or offensive to anyone with even a smidgeon of morality. Seriously, you should be ashamed. I'm calling your mother.
Hmm, perhaps you'll be hearing from me next Sunday, after all.
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Unless you're a spammer!