They’re back

On September 9, 2012, I wrote a blog about China Shenhua Energy and their “contest” in which I won a 2012 3-series BMW (value$42,505 – same as this year) and one-and-a-half million US. I keep copies of these emails and the resultant blogs just so I can refer back to them, as in this case.

Today’s spam contained another email from them. This time the extension on the sender’s name showed “ru”, which is Russia. Seems a little odd for a Chinese company wouldn’t you say? There are a few things which stand out in today’s email. They’ve upgraded to a 2013 BMW for one thing.

Amazingly, the number they ask me to quote in my reply is the exact same number they used eighteen months ago. Does that mean I’m going to get a 2012 3-series? Still in the body of the bill, they ask me to contact Doctor Francis Chen. In the previous message, they gave me a London address. This time, while it asks me to contact Dr Chen, the contact information is for Dr Fred Chang, in New Delhi, India. Sloppy editing on their part obviously.

What takes this message from being just plain annoying to hilarious is the note they’ve added to the end of the email. Here it is in its entirety: * NOTE* : If you find this mail in your spam or junk folder, it is due to the service of your internet provider. Wrong. It’s in my spam folder because that is where the gmail filter put it. It has nothing to do with my internet provider.

If you receive this email, don’t give them any information. You aren’t going to get a BMW and 1.5 million. All you’re going to get is a lot of grief because you’ve provided them with enough information for them to set up a phony identity.

The same spam also contained a message from someone purporting to be Fedex telling me they were holding a package containing a bank draft for $750,000 US and if I send then $120 they’ll send it to me. I’ll get right on that.

Not a bad haul for a quiet Wednesday. Both emails, including the value of the car, mean that I’ve picked up about 2.3 million, more if I convert it to Canadian funds, before lunch. Maybe I can conquer the world. But first, I need coffee.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Truth in scamming

 

Despite the date, no, this is not an April Fools’ joke.

I found the following in my gmail spam today:

Pedro A. Bartzen pedrob@cascavel.pr.gov.br

This is a Scammed Victims Compensation by the UN for the sum of $400,000. If you have received this mail, get back to the Payout Bank representative Mr Mark Shawn for your funds with your personal details , by sending your Names, Telephone No and Address directly with the email below,

Contact Payout Bank Email : hboaf (email address removed by me. C.)
Regards,
Pedro A. Bartzen.
(UN Announcer)

I think the first four words sum up the intent of this message quite well “This is a scam…”. If this is indeed from the UN, why is it coming from a Brazilian email address and not the UN in New York? The return email address was from one of the many you can find without much digging, in this case “qq.com” which could be anywhere in the world, or nowhere.

The message mentions the amount of $400,000 but fails to say if that would all be for me, or if it is to be shared. I’m not greedy, but it would be nice to know. I think it is also very self-effacing of Pedro to simply describe himself as “UN Announcer” rather than some grandiose title as is more common with these scams.

Dear readers, if you receive this, delete it. Do not send your names, telephone number and address to these people. If you do so, the only people getting any money from this are the people involved and the money would be yours.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Weekend fiction from Cat

I wrote this in 2009 and may have posted it before, but can’t find it in my records.  Enjoy and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat

WHEN SPACE CAME TO THE RIVER
© 2009 gch

It was the murder of the young hag that started it all.  I still don’t know where Aubrey got that pair of scissors.  I’d have sworn he didn’t have them with him that morning.

We’d left home about three hours beforehand to travel downstream.  I had business to attend to in the county seat and Aubrey, well, Aubrey was bored, so he volunteered to come with me as lookout.  Normally a lookout wouldn’t be needed, but what with the drought and all, the river was running awfully shallow in places, so I said okay, you can come, but behave yourself.  I’m kinda glad he did come along or I’d have probably torn the bottom out of the boat within the first mile.  I knew where the hazards usually were and steered around those areas.  But, even though the boat only drew two inches with both of us on board, it still got a little noisy as we scraped over some spots that usually had deep water.

Round about ten, we decided to take a break.  Navigating with the river this shallow and still with its normal amount of traffic was very hard on the nerves and I for one could use a short break.  Everyone seemed to be short tempered that day.  Maybe it was the heat; maybe it was that everyone was a little more tense because of the low water.  The reason didn’t really matter.  All that was necessary was to know that people were touchy.  We passed a hydra, busy arguing with itself over the best route, each head threatening the others with physical violence if such-and-such a course wasn’t followed.  That wasn’t a problem for us.  With our shallow draft, we could go just about anywhere for one thing, and Aubrey was his usual carefree self, which helped relieve the tension.

It was just before the bend where the inn stood that we came upon the two hags.  The younger one was playing a musical instrument – playing it well, actually – but Aubrey, being Aubrey, had to make a disparaging comment about her ability.  He made the comment to me, but the hags have hearing that puts a dog’s to shame and she heard what he said.

Well, it took a few minutes to thread a way through the other boats tied or anchored off the inn, so by the time I’d made the boat fast, the hags also arrived.  Spotting Aubrey, the young hag made straight for him, screaming imprecations at him and threatening to rip his ears off and his tongue out.  He just stood there, motionless, until she made the mistake of reaching for his ear.  I mean, I’ve known Aubrey all his life and I’ve never seen him move so fast.  One second he was standing there, the next he had one arm around that hag’s neck and the other holding a very long and viscous-looking pair of scissors.  I don’t know what he said to her, because he was speaking very quietly into her ear, and the older hag, standing beside me, just gasped, but whatever it was, it only served to rile her even more.  The young one reached up with her hands in what looked like an attempt to claw his eyes out and the scissors flashed.

He didn’t stab her in the neck.  Not Aubrey. He opened the scissors and almost gently inserted one half of the now open blades into her neck, then, “snip, snip!” he cut her throat open that way, much like cutting a piece of cloth.  Then he just let the body fall, calmly bent down and wiped the scissors on her clothes and then they vanished back into wherever he’d had them hidden. I didn’t know that boy had such a sadistic streak in him.

With the excitement over, the crowd dispersed, many of them returning to the inn and their refreshments.

We entered the inn and Aubrey excused himself to wash the blood from his hands.  I sat down and ordered something light.  Since we still had a couple of hours on the river ahead of us, I didn’t want anything too heavy for it might make me sleepy and I couldn’t afford that to happen as we were starting to get a lot of cross-river traffic as well.  I knew when Aubrey entered the room, for all conversation stopped for a few seconds.

The old crone who ran the inn walked behind the counter to relieve her daughter for a while.  Seeing her, a voice called out “Avenus, when did it start?  When did all this violence and indifference to life begin?”  A few other voices called out “Tell us, Avenus, you know.”

When I call Avenus “old” I’m not talking seventy or eighty.  I’m talking six or seven hundred.

Pouring herself a drink of some sort, she stood quietly for a few minutes.  Then, “you want to know when it started?  All right, I’ll tell you what I remember.”

There was a sudden spurt of movement as people signalled for refills.  She waited until everyone was satisfied and silent again.  “I’ll tell you, but I guarantee you won’t believe me.”

She took a sip of her drink then began in a soft voice. “Would you believe that at one time there were no crones, no hags, no hydras, none of the others as well?  Would you believe that at one time, there were only humans?”

Glancing around the room, I noticed that very few in attendance looked human, although we all called ourselves by that appellation.

“It was about, oh, five hundred years ago when it happened. The superstitious called it an omen.  The religious claimed it was a sign from whatever deity they worshipped that he/she was displeased with the human race.  Those who claimed to be scientists stated it was just a meteor.  The lunatic fringe loudly proclaimed it was the beginning of an invasion.  Me, I don’t know what it was, but I suspect the loonies were a lot closer to the truth than anyone else.

“Whatever it was apparently came to ground, or rather water, in the lake that feeds the river.  People looked for it, but although it had been seen to strike, then sink below, the surface of the lake, nobody could ever find a trace of it.  Other than a lot of dead fish, there was no outward sign anything unusual had happened there.

“Keep in mind the river wasn’t as busy as it is now.  Over the centuries, we’ve moved away from the roads and used the river more and more.  And you know”, she paused and took another sip.  “There was no logical reason for that.  You all use the river, so you know how dangerous and uncertain even a short voyage can be.  And the roads meant we could travel farther and faster carrying heavier loads and more crops.  No, I’m afraid whatever fell that day turned us into water people.”

A voice interrupted.  “Avenus, what do you mean ‘turned us into water people’?”

“About a year after the Fall, as it came to be known, people began to die.  The medical people were puzzled by the sudden spike in the death rate and did some autopsies and other less pleasant things and found strange organisms in the bodies.  The stories were always eerily similar: each person or family had been fine until about six months previous and each person got their water supply from the river.  So the white coats looked at the river water and sure enough, they found those same organisms, which were unlike anything ever seen before.  It took some kid, fresh from college to put two and two together and actually get four.  He was a hiker and on one of his trips, he ventured beyond Fall Lake, to use its current name – and now you know why it’s called that – and took water samples from the river feeding the lake.  Tests on those samples came back clean.  So he deduced that rather than agricultural or industrial pollution causing these alien things in the river, the real cause was whatever had fallen into the lake.”

“Avenus, if these organisms made people die, how are we here?  Why isn’t this an unpopulated woodland?” I heard myself say.

She looked straight at me and smiled, almost as if I’d been planted to ask just that question.  “Why?  How?  Because the human body adapted.  Granted a lot of people died, but eventually our bodies adapted to these strange organisms and incorporated them into our systems.

“Did you know that people who move away from the river – I mean far away inland,  not just away from the riverbanks – usually die within six months?  In most cases doctors can’t figure out why a seemingly healthy person just keels over and dies.  But, I think I know.  It’s because they now have a different water supply that doesn’t contain the organisms.

“We, all of us, have now reached a stage in our development where we need those organisms in order to survive.”

She paused and looked at me, then took another sip of her drink.  Looking around the room, she continued.

“Before the Fall, there were just humans, as I said.  These alien organisms are the reason we now have hydras, hags, crones and all the rest.  Every one of us has some ability not normally found in people.  The crones, such as myself, have extreme longevity.  I’m five hundred and twenty three years old and expect to live at least that long again.  I don’t know why and the doctors can’t explain it, but for some reason, rather than kill me, my body was able to absorb and assimilate the organisms when I was younger.

“The hags, for example, have hearing far beyond the range of most creatures, not just humans.  I’ve had a hag tell me she could hear the supersonic sounds a bat makes.

“The hydras have their own unique abilities.  One day, right here in this room, one head told me they were telepathic, which the other heads vehemently and promptly denied, of course.”

Looking at Aubrey, she continued, “Some of us have super-human speed.  Young man, I’ve been around a long time and I’ve never seen anyone move as fast as you did today, and I’ve seen a lot of fights and other things in my years running this place.”

Aubrey had the good sense to look embarrassed.

“As for the indifference and violence?  I’m afraid that is just an old human trait honed over the centuries, from long before I was born.  If someone or something looks different from you, they are fair game and their life doesn’t matter.  It’s been that way a long, long time and I doubt we’ll ever change it.

“So, was the Fall an invasion? Was the lunatic fringe right?   Look around the room and decide for yourselves.”

Scanning the room again, she spoke once more, in a much softer voice than previously  “You wanted to know when it all started? You wanted to know when the violence and indifference started?  Now you know.  It started when space came to the river.”

Arrogance or ignorance?

Recently I’ve been watching a television show called “Border Security”, which details the daily lives of the Canadian Border Services.  The show covers mainly some of the ports of entry in and around Vancouver – the airport; the harbour, and some of the road crossings between Washington and British Columbia as well as the international postal station.

I spend much of my time watching this show shaking my head at some of the things – and excuses – I see people trying at Canada Customs.  From watching this show now for several weeks, it appears some people, especially from the Orient, insist upon trying to bring in suitcases filled with foodstuffs, foodstuffs they didn’t bother declaring.  Minimum penalty for this is confiscation of the goods and an $800 fine.  Another tactic that students from the Orient appear to use is flying into Canada to study without bothering to get the proper paperwork before leaving home (this is a real case of “don’t leave home without it”), expecting to apply for it once they arrive on Canadian soil.  Every single one of these “students” has been on the next flight home.  Point of interest: If you’ve been convicted of an offence in the US, and there is a comparable offence in Canadian law, you will not be admissible to Canada.

I’m not certain whether this next lady truly didn’t know the requirements for visitors to Canada, or just thought she could live off the system.  She flew from Paris to Vancouver to meet her boyfriend.  She had no funds available to her and planned on staying in a hostel.  It turned out her boyfriend was homeless and living in a shelter.  After some investigation – and being cursed out in French – the lady was put on the next flight back to Paris.

The land crossings are where I really ask myself whether some of the things are done from ignorance of Canadian law, or simple arrogance that because they are American, they can do what they want.  I don’t know how many people I’ve seen arrested for smuggling drugs into Canada because they have a medical use marijuana card from California.  That card has no legal effect in Canada and bringing your own supply into Canada is illegal.

The one that I really have to consider arrogance was on one of last night’s shows.  A man was at one of the border crossings and was pulled aside for secondary inspection.  When he entered the office, he appeared quite upset.  When questioned he said “I expected to just drive through.”  He seemed even more upset when the Customs Agent told him that he was a foreign national and subject to inspection. The officer later further added that entry to Canada was a privilege, not a right and subject to certain criteria.  He was eventually cleared for entry, but not until after a thorough search of his vehicle.

One thing Americans do seem to be very conscientious about is declaring their firearms.  Considering the great differences between American and Canadian gun laws, I’m impressed by that fact.

Mail arriving from certain countries is automatically subject to examination.  Drugs have been found in everything from picture frames to wedding invitations.  Such discoveries are turned over to the RCMP for further investigation.

Another time where people feel they won’t get caught is bringing money into the country.  People can bring in all they like, but if it’s over $10,000, it must be declared to Customs.  Failure to declare excess funds will result in Customs taking the money and issuing a fine as well.

Canadian travellers returning from other countries don’t get an easier ride than visitors.  They are subject to the same stringent examinations as every other arriving person.  One of the more interesting (and weird) cases here was the Canadian citizen returning after two years in Thailand.  Among the things he brought back was a toilet.  Can’t remember what reason he gave Customs, but after an examination of his unusual souvenir, he was welcomed home.

As I said, I’m not sure if some of the things portrayed on this show are the product of people’s ignorance or their arrogance.

Cat.

Don’t complain to me

Yesterday the Canadian Federation of Labour organized a protest in downtown Toronto.  The purpose was to demand that the government raise the minimum wage to $14 an hour.  It is presently $10.25 and is scheduled to rise to $11 an hour this April.

Sid Ryan, the head of the CFL, in an interview, pointed out that $11 an hour equates to a wage that is 3% below the poverty level.   Boo hoo.

Sid, try this on for size: My Canada Pension, when converted to an hourly rate based on an 8 hour work day, is $6.25 an hour. So, how far below the poverty level does that put me?  Yet I have the same expenses as those people out protesting.  I would love to have a pension equivalent to $10.25 an hour.  Have you given any thought to people who aren’t members of your Federation?  Perhaps you could speak up for them. Oh wait – they’re retired, so you don’t care about them, do you?

To those out protesting, my pension is 60% of what you’re currently earning.  So don’t complain to me.  If I had your income, I’d consider myself very well off.

Cat.

Never been there either

This relates to my post “Never been there” of February 3.  Not only have I apparently filed a legal complaint of some kind in Louisiana, it seems I’ve also done so in New Mexico, or so some “court secretary” based in Belgium tells me.   Litiginous sort aren’t I?  Here’s the actual message:

Regarding your complaint

New Mexico Court of Appeals court_secretary@westieclub.be
   
22:32 (14 hours ago)
       

Letter of acknowledgement

Hereby you are advised that we have received your complaint with enclosures dated 01/29/14.
Shortly after we receive your complaint confirmation we will initiate a trial. You are not actually
required to attend the court proceeding, the results will be sent to you in a letter without delay.

Please confirm your complaint here otherwise the claim is cancelled.

Faithfully,
Court secretary
 
   
Click here to Reply or Forward

Notice this message doesn’t specify a location at all other than “New Mexico”.  According to what I see in my atlas (atlas – precursor of Google Maps), New Mexico is quite large.  In this message, I don’t know if gmail disabled it, or the sender forgot, but the hyperlink that should be attached to “here” is missing.   Sloppy on their part. How can they get my information if they leave out the trap?

Once again dear readers, if you get this email, or one purporting to be from the legal system in any place, ask yourself “have I ever been there and, if I have, was I ever involved in anything that could end up before the courts?”  If the answer is”no”, especially to the last part of the question, delete it.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

His brother’s keeper

The Ford Follies continue and once again little brother City Councillor Doug is rushing to the defence of big brother Mayor Robbie.  And once again, Doug is looking like an idiot in doing so.

First, this past weekend, Rob, mayor of all subway-loving Torontonians,  was in Vancouver on personal business.  While there, our Robbie got himself a $109 ticket for jaywalking.  According to articles I have read, Robbie walked into traffic on Lougheed Highway.  This roadway, as the name would imply, isn’t some sleepy sidestreet.  I’ve been to Van and Lougheed Highway is probably the last location in the Greater Vancouver Area I’d choose for jaywalking.  In an interview with CBC News, one lady said some people just ran out in front of her and has she been going any faster, she would have hit them.  Another article stated that the authorities are concerned over the number of vehicle/pedestrian incidents and have asked the police to crack down on jaywalking in the area Robbie was nabbed.  This all makes sense.

According to Doug, who is letting his paranoia show again, his brother was targeted.   Um, Doug?  Everybody who crosses the street illegally in that area is being targeted, not just  your brother.  Unless of course you think that Bill Blair (Toronto Chief of Police and someone with whom the brothers Ford have a less than cordial relationship) called his counterpart in Vancouver and asked for a “favour”.  In fact, I’m rather surprised Doug didn’t suggest exactly that.

Second, in a debate of all the mayoral candidates last night, when asked, Robbie said he wouldn’t be attending World Pride in Toronto this coming summer.  Again, he’ll be at the family cottage, but you can bet money on Robbie being in the city the weekend following Pride for the Caribana festival (or whatever they call it now).

Once again, we have Doug rushing to defend his brother, stating that his brother is not homophobic.  Uh-huh.  Since being elected mayor, Robbie has consistently avoided any event that even remotely seems part of the LGBT community, the sole exception being the raising of the flag on IDAHO last year.  And I wouldn’t doubt that was only through a misunderstanding on his part – “Idaho , that’s one of the states isn’t it?  Yeah sure.”  During his first year as mayor, Robbie was even offered the use of a helicopter to fly him from the cottage to the Pride parade and turned it down.  The man may not admit to being homophobic, but as the adage puts it “actions speak louder than words”.

As for Doug, you would think he learned his lesson last fall when he was vigorously defending his brother (“my brother does not use drugs”) while across town Robbie is admitting to having smoked crack cocaine.  Doug looked as if he’d been hit by a truck when he heard that one.  Doug, your brother is an adult, well – he’s reached the age of majority – so let him handle his own messes before he drags you down as well.

Cat.