Of igloos and healthcare fraud…

Yesterday’s post featured a scam email that I received earlier in the day, and my reply to the scammer. I got a reply from her this morning. Apparently, she either didn’t actually read my email or she doesn’t mind packing her kid in a crate and sending her airmail. It doesn’t seem to bother her that her kid might have to spend the winter in the back yard fending off wild dogs. She hasn’t mentioned teaching her how to build an igloo using ice cubes before she sends her here. Her reply is followed by my subsequent reply to her.

“Thanks for your respond to my mail and I’m very happy to hear from you back, please you can call the bank immediately you received this mail, so that you can able to discuss with the bank director, because I have handle everything to the bank director and make sure this money remit to your account successfully without any further delay because my operation will start soonest according to what the Doctor said.

Right now all I need is nothing but your caring and trust and to help me in all your heart to transfer this money out from here so that immediately after the transfer you and I will arrange on how my daughter will meet you in your place.
Below is the account information’s and bank information’s:

Account Information:

Name of Depositor: Dr. Nicolas Apollos
Next of Kin: Mrs Joy Nicolas
Amount Deposited: 14.850, Million Euros.
Type of Account: Fixed Suspense Account Beneficiary

Information of the Bank:

Siège social : Immeuble Botreau 
Roussel 5ème étage 04 BP 411 Abidjan 04
Name of Director: DG: Guy Koizan
Fax: (+225) 21 58 15 49
Tel: (+225) 08 19 94 40
E-mail: dr.guykoizan@rocketmail.com

Contact the bank as soon as you receive this mail and tell him that I gave you his contact as my partner and then ask him what you need to do for the transfer to take place. And don’t forget to send him all your full banking details where you want to proceed for the transfer. So when this money arrival into your account the bank director will send you the confirmation slip of the payment to show you that these funds have been arrival into your account. I wait to hear from you when you have contact the bank.

Be blessed in a mighty way:
Best Regard
Mrs: Joy Nicolas.”

My reply


I hope you don’t mind me being on first name basis with you. We are practically family. In fact, I don’t know your daughter’s name. You didn’t mention it.

I have a few questions before agreeing to this.

Firstly, regarding the igloo. I am trying to find some plans for igloos so that you have something to work from when you are teaching your daughter how to build one. Since Eskimos (or Inuit, as they prefer to call themselves here… they are sort of like pygmies but wear a lot of fur and eat seals. Do you have seals in Africa?) are very secretive about such things, the plans are very hard to come by. If you have trouble getting ice cubes (I forgot that you were in Africa and ice cubes don’t grow on trees there) perhaps you could work something out using bricks. They aren’t the same as snow blocks but if you use bricks it would be easier for your daughter to adapt to using snow.

Secondly, I realize that you are planning to send money to me for the education of your daughter which is very generous of you but since it is very expensive to live here I would be concerned that by using all your money, you would have nothing to live on, yourself. I would be more than happy to look after your daughter without payment if you pay the expenses of sending her here. That way there is no need for your to bother sending me your banking information. You don’t know me and I would worry that you wouldn’t trust me.

It sounds to me that your health is pretty bad. If you came here with your daughter, you could get our free health care. What is your illness? I have a very good doctor and I could get you in to see her very quickly if you came here. I cold pretend that you are my relative. They would never know. You could easily get a visa to come here. Just don’t tell them that you age coming because of your health or that you are planning to leave your daughter here. The autumn is coming and it is very pretty here.


Angry… SO ANGRY!

This evening, I went over to the unit I moved out of (50 feet away from where I am now) to make sure the garbage was all out on the curb.

I opened the gate and just about screamed.

My entire garden… Ten years of planting… Ten years of love…. was gone.

When I moved into the new unit. I had made sure that maintenance and the Move in/Move out committees knew that I wanted my garden and that it would take a little time to move them. I was assured that I had until the fall to move them as many plants need to be moved after they are done for the year… not when they are blooming. All my neighbours knew I was going to  be moving my plants and knew that I wanted them.

Apparently, the person who did it was someone from Landscaping.

When one of my neighbours (who was one of the people I had made the arrangement with to delay moving my garden went up to her and told her to stop because I wanted my plants, she daid “too bad!” and continued.

To make things even more outrageous is that this is the SECOND time someone on Landscape has taken it upon themselves to rip out or order someone to rip out my garden.

Two years ago, when they were replacing the fences, the Chair of Maintenance which is the committee responsible for the fence replacements came over and we went through the garden and we worked out what needed moving and what needed protecting. I had my nephew over and told him what to do. He was doing it when someone from Landscape came over and ordered him to tear everything out… I came home and found my garden destroyed.

I managed to salvage some of the plants and replaced what had been destroyed. The garden was almost back to it’s former glory… and now this…

Although they replaced the back and side parts of the fence two years ago, they appear to be replacing the entire fence, again, including the new parts. This may have been the impetus but there was absolutely no reason for them to just barrel in and start tearing it out.

I could see if they had contacted me and given me a deadline and I didn’t do it…. But they didn’t.

They didn’t contact Maintenance (the Chair who knows me and knows I wanted my garden). They didn’t check with my neighbours who all know I was going to be moving my garden over the next while AND where I am. AND it isn’t as though I moved out of the co-op altogether! I am 50 feet away and was home the day she took it upon herself to rip out my garden.

I fired off an email to the Board and the Landscape Committee demanding an apology and suggesting that I should be reimbursed for the plants that I can replace (the clematis cannot be replaced…). I also said that there need to be rules followed so that this never happens again.

I am so angry I don’t know if I will be able to sleep…

Critical thinking… or lack thereof…

Today’s “big news” is “Balloon Boy was a hoax”…

And, the usual upshot of this is that the media and the public is howling for blood.

“We were duped!”

“The police didn’t do their job!”

“It’s the media’s fault!”

The fact is that everyone is to blame for this (except for Balloon Boy, himself. He’s a minor and it is hardly his fault IF his parent’s concocted this whole “show”) — If, indeed, it turns out this is a hoax.

God or Nature gave humans a brain. We have it not just to keep our ears apart. It is there to enable us to think and to make sense of the world and to survive.  That entails “Critical Thinking”. Unfortunately, most of us seem to use our brain, if we use it at all, more to keep our heads from imploding.

We don’t think, let alone think critically.

We use our brains the way water finds it’s way down hill. Whatever the most convenient path to a conclusion, that’s the one we take, even if it results in us accepting the most nonsensical and ludicrous possible outcome, that’s the one we chose and “By Gum!” that’s the one we are going to stick to.

Even better when someone else comes up with the “results” so we don’t actually have to do any thinking for ourselves.

Why should we be surprised that 1) someone tried to pull one over on us and 2) succeeded on pulling one over on us?

And, quite obviously, this was not exactly a methodically thought out “hoax”. Else, it wouldn’t have depended on the involvement of a small child who would easily spill the beans.

The police obviously didn’t think it through, either. Consulting with experts might have clued them into the fact that the balloon probably wouldn’t have been able to ascend to the heights it did with the child in tow. Using their brains might have given them the edge on the less than stellar planning of the parents. Just looking at the balloon might have given them pause to question. Did it actually LOOK as though it was carrying a weight?

The media didn’t bother checking facts or hesitate for one second to authoritatively tell the public that a child was aboard this unlikely vehicle.

The public, always willing to jump on any bandwagon, no matter how shoddily built or how absurd, went along for the (usual) ride.

Even after the fact, talk shows lined up to interview the child. His parents were more than happy to parade their child in front of the media. And, surprise, surprise, the child said something that didn’t fit the scenario. “We did it for a show”.

Of course, this, coming from a small child, could mean anything. It could have meant that he associated the cameras with TV shows and his reenactment was “for a show”. No, obviously, it MUST mean that the whole scenario was “a show”. Of course, it seems it likely was.

Adults brought up short by a child’s words and the media circus starts falling all over itself to blame everyone else for being “taken in”.

There’s a children’s story most of us remember. It, too, is about a hoax. A ludicrous, fanciful, nonsensical farce so unthinkingly silly that it couldn’t possibly work but does… until undone by the words of a child. “But he’s not wearing any clothes!”.


Humans are so ready to believe the most nonsensical and absurd scenarios rather than use their brains, ready to accept “facts” presented rather than learn the REAL facts for themselves, and then blame everyone but themselves for falling for nonsense.

People are ready to believe that hundreds of people could “manufacture” a moon landing, and then every single one of them could maintain complete silence for 40 years. Somehow THAT scenario is easier to believe than the one that had man ACTUALLY walking on the moon.

People are ready to believe that Iraq had nuclear weapons despite ample evidence to the contrary presented to them, both before and after that fact. Yet, they are also willing to believe that their own President would actually be willing to kill several thousands of his own citizens in order to bring about a war that was already inevitable by virtue of the nonexistent nuclear weapons.

Further, they are willing to believe that many of their own citizens would go along with this “conspiracy” and murder fellow citizens and remain silent, despite seeing the evidence before their own eyes.

Some of these same people actually believe that the Holocaust was “faked”.

I honestly despair of a world which consistently accepts the most idiotic conspiracy theory without once asking any one of the 5 W’s — Who, Why, What, Where, and When.

Yes, people have come up with actual conspiracy plans and have perpetrated them on us. Bush did it with his “weapons of mass destruction” nonsense which, had people actually listened to the actual experts would have avoided this terrible war in Iraq. Anyone who doubted was “A’gin us” and obviously an America-hater.

Instead, the masses fell for this one hook line and sinker and then made up an even more insane and diabolical “conspiracy” to blame the same person who pulled the wool over their eyes with a simple plan.

They never once ask themselves “Why?” or, if they do, come up with an equally nonsensical “Reason”.

Why would Bush need to murder thousands of innocent people (or as some conspiracy theorists would have us believe thousands on non-existent people) when he already had the war in the bag with his faked satellite images and arm-twisting of various countries in the UN Security Council? How would he buy the silence of the thousands of people who would have been required to keep Schtum about a conspiracy on this scale? No, easier to believe the most nonsensical and complicated and fiendish scenario rather than believe the simplest truth. America was attacked in its heart, in front of our very eyes and that in the days preceding the attacks, the media had been reporting that an attack was forthcoming (A fact… and a fact forgotten even by the media who had broadcast it).

Humans have an amazing brain and yet spend most of their lives not using it.

We have a capacity to do all sorts of good for the planet and for our fellow human beings. Yet, we spend most of our brains’ resources foolishly. Wasting them on conspiracy theories and hoaxes,  either believing in fake ones or allowing ourselves to be fooled by real ones.

If the majority of us took the time to use our brains, we wouldn’t have a media that spent all its energies trying to entertain us or falling in line with the politicians. We wouldn’t have politicians so willing (and able) to pull over on us the most blatant of scams. We MIGHT even have politicians we could trust and for whom we could be justly proud.

We wouldn’t be spending time and energy on the “Balloon Boy Hoax” or one fraction of a second even considering either the nonsensical “Moon landing” or the truly offensive “9/11” conspiracies.


On a personal note….

It was several hours between the writing of this and posting it. Those several hours was spent at the hospital with my mother who thought that, rather than call me down “all the from upstairs” it was a good idea for an 85-year old who can’t stand on a firm surface without risking taking a tumble to climb on a chair some feet away from the patio door in order to close the curtain.

She fell and took a few yards of shin off, necessitating a trip to the hospital.

I guess, given my “Elk wrangling” of last Autumn, I don’t have a lot of room to talk. But it reminds me of a friend of my ex-husband’s who had to sit down with his parents and tell them not to be doing “stupid things” after his mother, aged 89, fell off the roof while shovelling snow. “I don’t mind going to the hospital if you have a heart attack or a stroke. I am tired of rushing there after you’ve done something stupid.”

The August doldrums are wafting in…


Don’t know if it was Mom’s “turn” yesterday and the inevitable visit to the hospital (she is fine ….) or the lack of sunlight because of the crappy weather or… well…. a certain anniversary looming… or all of the above. Feeling blue as I usually do in August.

And I am feeling gun shy about taking the last 5 days of any leave I have left for the year in case I am stuck taking unpaid leave for some stupid accident, after having used up all my sick leave, emergency leave, family leave, and holidays which is where I am with the exception of the 5 days annual leave left….

Mom wants to go out to Thunder Bay and then to Rainy River to see my sister. If I take holidays, I want to stick closer to home… day trips and perhaps a weekend camping trip.

If only Mom was able to fly or take a train by herself, now. We can’t afford it.

I would like some time to myself… a few days not having to worry about a trip to the hospital or having her calling because she can’t figure out the TV remote. We need some time away from each other.

PhotoHunter: Protect(ion)…

There are a number of ways to go on this one….

This little piggie has a lot of protection. Chicken wire and a cocktail umbrella. For the full version of this project, see here: “June Bride“.

"June Bride" (detail)

"June Bride" (detail)

photohunter7iq1The “Diefenbunker“… Canada’s formerly top secret air-raid shelter designed to house the government, officials, and military…. while the rest of us, presumably, fried. With the end of the Cold War, the Diefenbunker is open to the curious public. It is located just outside Carp, Ontario, near Ottawa.

"The Diefenbunker"

"The Diefenbunker"

This is the “technology” that changed my life… I was a small child when the Cuban Missile Crisis began. Air-raid siren tests screamed out with regularity. We had a bomb shelter in our basement. Fear of the “Red Threat” was jammed down our throats. I lived with nightly and terrifying nightmares of war and death throughout my entire childhood. Even today, the sound of an air-raid siren makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. This disused siren sits at the entrance to the “Diefenbunker”.

"Air Raid Siren"

"Air Raid Siren"

The Diefenbunker Poem:

In Bermuda shorts,
pushing strollers and giggling, tourists rush to the next exhibit.
Hoping to beat the traffic
and get to Walmart before it closes.

I, on the other hand, recall the fallout shelter in our basement
and cold-sweat nights (and days),
waiting for the bomb to drop.

I can’t help thinking that the bomb-shelters, air raid sirens, and assurances that “drop and cover” would protect us amounted to little more than chicken wire and cocktail umbrellas….

People that burn my butt…

This morning, I drove down town for our bi-weekly chiropractor appointments.

As usual, I tried to find a parking space but found that the only free spaces were taken by taxicabs idling in front of the Public Library instead of in the taxi rank outside the Indigo Hotel where there is ample space.

No, firstly, they aren’t paying for the parking spot, which is illegal. Secondly, they are idling which isn’t just bad for the environment, here in Ottawa, it is against the law unless it is above a certain temperature or below a certain temperature. Thirdly, when it is suggested that they need to move their vehicles they either ignore you or are downright rude and refuse to move.


Often, as I am up in the Chiro office, I watch the cars parked along that section of Metcalfe Street and can see the same taxis parked for well over 20 minutes. Often, when I come down tot he car after my appointment, the same drivers are in the same spot or have merely moved up one spot when someone who had parked has moved their car. Often, they are out of their cars, chatting while their cars are idling.

There is no Earthly reason why I, who am willing to pay for parking, should be shouldered out by taxi drivers who DON’T pay for parking. Especially, when parking downtown is at a premium.

So… while I drove around the block for yet another time looking for a space (using yet more fuel and causing more pollution) I find myself behind a line of cars waiting for a woman to cross the street who is slowly ambling across yakking on her cellphone.

So I yelled at he “Get off you fucking phone and cross the street”. As I made my way down the street, she barreled up to the car and whacked my window. As “luck” would have it, after finally getting a taxi driver to move and park my car, who should wander up the street but the woman I yelled at. She called me “vicious” and said she felt “sorry” for my mother because I was so “rude”. She said she had some sort of “injury” which was why she was so slow crossing the street. I opined that if she has an “injury” she seemed to have recovered from it and didn’t seem to be having a problem when she ran up the street to whack on my window.

Fact. She was walking and talking on the cellphone and was too preoccupied with that to know just how slowly she was walking and was oblivious to the fact that she was holding up traffic while she carried on a conversation. Not only is it silly and vain to walk on the street carrying on a conversation on your phone, it is dangerous. End of story.


Regarding the taxis idling, I emailed the taxi company and Cc;d the city bylaw enforcement and the mayor, attaching the relevant City bylaws. So there… Pttthhhhttt….


I received this response from Christine Vonk at Blue Line, the main culprit in this…

“I have forwarded your e mail to managers and they will ensure that messages are sent out to all drivers regarding this issue—I am sure this will be dealt with asap—thank you for your concerns!”

When it comes to women, Tories choose words carefully

The Conservative government seems to think that the best way to solve the problem of gender inequality in Canada and in programs overseas which Canada funds is simply to eliminate terms such as “gender equality” and “pay equity”. The “solution” is to obfuscate replace specific terms with meaningless terms and pretend the issues just don’t exist.

The most obtuse example is the insistence in removing the term “equality” from the main funding program at the Status of Women Canada, arguing that since women are guaranteed equality in the Charter of Rights, there was no reason to include it in the funding program’s mandate… Sort of like insisting that the term “rape” be removed from the mandate of a rape crisis centre because there are laws against rape.

OTTAWA — When it comes to talking about women’s issues, the Conservative government has torn up pages of the old policy dictionary and come up with a carefully crafted new language.

“Pay equity” has become “equitable legislation.” “Gender equality” is now “equality between women and men.” The national child-care program under the Liberals morphed into Universal Child Care Benefits. Even the word equality itself has been the source of internal wrangling.

The government says the new phrases better describe what it is trying to achieve. Critics say the revised terms put a positive-sounding spin on what actually achieves little.

The director of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University in Montreal says the attention to vocabulary suggests the Conservatives are trying to put their own stamp on women’s issues.

“I think they want to introduce a new language around claims around equality and women’s issues,” said Chantal Maille. “They want to use a language that is more neutral and less engaging, and less activist.

“It’s a strategy to show some kind of distance from activist agendas on the part of the women’s movement.”

Intense wordsmithing around women was perhaps best demonstrated in late 2006 when the Privy Council Office – essentially the prime minister’s policymaking department – decided it no longer wanted bureaucrats to use the term “gender equality” when dealing with the media or the public.

Instead, it was to be “equality between women and men.”

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act show the edict sowed confusion at the Canadian International Development Agency, which was planning on making gender equality the theme of International Development Week in February 2007.

Gender equality was a pillar of the humanitarian work that CIDA [Canadian International Development Agency] managed, and the phrase used through countless internal and external documents.

Gender equality also covered girls and boys, which the new phrase did not.

“I suppose one has to become an adult, leaving childhood behind, before one qualifies for ‘gender equality’,” grumbled one manager.

CIDA staff argued with the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister’s Office right up until the printer’s deadline for public materials, and bristled at attempts to remove references to women’s human rights.

“Regarding the removal of ‘human rights’ … by doing this, we are altering a CIDA policy – the CIDA Policy on Gender Equality,” said one CIDA bureaucrat in an email.

“Until a new policy is in place, this is the Agency’s guiding policy on equality between women and men.”

In perhaps an indication of how sensitive the issue was, CIDA did not respond to the Access to Information request for 18 months, and only after a complaint to the information commissioner. Bureaucrats anticipated the scrutiny early on.

“It was further raised … that there may be some fallout from media and questions raised on the lack of consistency in the language used, and the fact that Gender Equality is still being used internally and is the title of the 1999 policy,” says one staff memo.

“It was advised that a response be prepared in the eventuality of such questions.”

That response was not forthcoming when the agency was contacted this week.

This year, the government unveiled new legislation that it said would speed up the process for pay-equity disputes. But the familiar words “pay equity” have been discarded in favour of “equitable compensation.”

“The term always refers to the same principle – the principle of equal pay for work of equal value,” explains Pierre-Alain Bujold of the Treasury Board Secretariat.

“We use the word compensation to reflect that it is not only about pay equity, but also equity in all aspects of compensation – working conditions, benefits, etc.”

Critics of the new legislation say it puts women at a greater disadvantage, making equal pay an issue to be hashed out at the volatile collective bargaining table.

The change also puts the adjudicative power in the hands of the Public Service Labour Relations Board instead of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and penalizes unions that provide legal support to women when they go up against their federal employers.

“Words are very powerful,” says NDP MP Irene Mathyssen. “The use of the term ‘equitable compensation’ is a cloak, because it masks the really rotten things that are in that Act.”

“They’re using words that sound like the words we use, but they don’t really mean anything because they’re not putting any facts behind them,” said MP Maria Minna, chair of the Liberal women’s caucus.

There is some suggestion that the government believed it went too far in changing the lexicon at Status of Women Canada.

There was an uproar in 2006 when the agency altered the mandate of its main funding program to remove the word equality. The minister at the time, Bev Oda, explained that the word was unnecessary since equality was already guaranteed to women under the Charter of Rights.

Bureaucrats at Status of Women Canada argued against the change, telling the minister in internal memos that considerable work remained to advance women’s equality.

A year later, after intense criticism by the opposition parties and women’s groups, the word equality found its way back into the mandate of the Women’s Program.

Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

There is an 87% chance that my cat is plotting to kill me.

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

Via Canadian Fermentation

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