Mail a random person a cryptic letter

April 7, 2010


I had grand intentions of pointing to a name in the phone book and mailing a piece of paper through the USPS. (Phone book, huh? Does anybody even use a paper phone book any more?) But then as usual, I ran out of time and took the easy way out, doing it online. I did it twice, each time with the emphasis on one aspect over the other.

My first cryptic note was, I feel, the more cryptic of the two, as it was a response to the cryptic note that had been sent to me. The sender explained his selection process: “This message sent to a recipient I determined randomly from a list of people who were most likely to not reply “wtf” Fortunately, I did not wonder wtf and instead found a translator with which to craft my reply.

Later in the day, I received another cryptic note: “Zegabee-dash-coovran-dos-leek-va-ich-nop-hu-8797-hay-deek-dosh.” I initially thought it was a cryptogram like a few other notes had been, but it looked too much like actual language. I briefly though that maybe it was an elaborate anagram as the sender was British. I searched for the entire phrase and found nothing, so I searched in smaller and smaller chunks. Eventually (I don’t remember how, because I’m unable to recreate the search results now) I got to the website. What I saw there looked very much like the cryptic note I received. When I entered any of the words in my message in the Search box, it seemed to generate a page based on that word. Weird, and interesting. Thanks, Jack!

The second cryptic note I sent was not so cryptic, but it was to a random person. A truly random person. I found an online name generator, entered the minimum parameters, and got a name: Ella J. Harrison. I performed a Google search for Ella Harrison (okay, you sticklers, my computer performed the actual search) and clicked on the first result. That took me to a seemingly regular person on Facebook with about a thousand friends, so I was hoping she’d be receptive to my overture.

I posted my not very cryptic note to Ms. Harrison: “I used a random name generator to make a name. Then I did a Google search on that name. Yours was the first result listed, so you’re the lucky one! If you’d like to know what I’m up to, please visit this link. It’s good, clean, creative fun!”

She has not responded.


March 12

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