Information – don’t leave home without it

I found the following in my Facebook newsfeed yesterday: Police Called as American Tourist “Shocked” to Discover Canada has its “Own Currency” from a site called “Failmuch.com fmnews”.

According to the article, a tourist from Indiana was in Vancouver and purchased something in a store with US funds and received her change in Canadian money, which is usual. It didn’t state if they gave her exchange. She apparently freaked out at the Canadian money and demanded they give her “real” (US) money and the police had to be called. This article appears to be fake for various reasons.

She is quoted as saying she thought Canada, or at least British Columbia, was just another state, like Washington. Not buying it. Surely she would have realized something was amiss when she had to produce a passport to clear Canada Customs at Vancouver International Airport.

While the story is phony, unfortunately the attitude detailed is not unusual. I am fond of a show called “Border Security” which covers the activities at several British Columbia ports of entry. These ports, especially the land crossing at Douglas Highway, make for some “shake my head” moments because Douglas Highway is the main port for Americans driving to Alaska or Port Roberts Washington. One incident in particular stands out.

A couple from Texas wanted to drive to Alaska. Unfortunately he neglected to check on Canada’s gun laws before he left home. At customs he admitted he was carrying a sidearm. When told he couldn’t bring it into the country, his response was “I thought carry laws applied everywhere.” Dummy, they may apply anywhere in Texas, but you’re now in a foreign country that doesn’t necessarily recognize American, especially American state, law. The weapon was confiscated for later destruction and he was fined. I’m not sure if this incident was the result of ignorance of Canadian law, or simple American arrogance.

All too often on this show, people from California will be stopped and found to be in possession of marijuana, claiming they have a state issued permit to use it. Sorry dude, that piece of paper is worthless in Canada. The usual result of this is arrest for smuggling drugs into Canada.

People, and by people I mean Americans intending to visit to Canada, before you plan your trip, take some time and get some information on Canadian laws. You can’t bring your sidearm into the country. A long gun may be permitted provided you complete the proper paperwork and it isn’t a type banned. In other words, leave the AR 15 at home unless you want it seized. Medical marijuana permits are another thing. They are only valid in the state of issue and mean nothing to Canada Customs. Bringing weed into the country will restrict your site-seeing to the inside of a jail cell.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Neither is the arrogance I see displayed by so many people on “Border Security”, who seem to feel that being American gives them leave to do whatever they want. Doesn’t work that way and that arrogance could land you in the cell next to the drug smuggler.

Learn something about our laws before you come. Oh yes, don’t lie on the entry documents or to the Customs inspector because they could refuse you entry.

Other than that, welcome to Canada and enjoy your stay.

Cat

Notes on a phishing expedition

I found the following in my gmail spam this morning and it easily lends itself to explaining some of the telltales it is a scam and/or phishing expedition. I’ve put the areas I wish to discuss in boldface for you.

CONTACT HSBC BANK FOR YOUR BANK TRANSFER UPDATE

Mr. Stanley Clarke @gmail.com>

01:48 (9 hours ago)

to

HSBC Regional Bank FL (HSBC Regional Bank)
Avenue Cotonou , BP 988 Cotonou Benin Republic.
Telex :5211 F B COTONOU BENIN REPUBLIC .
Tel::+22968579277
From the desk of, Mr. Stanley Clarke ,
Director Payment Department. Hsbc Bank
of West African(HSBC Regional Bank)
Instant compensation Payment valued at US$7,500.000.00 usd

It is my modest obligation to write you this letter as regards the authorization of your owed payment through our most respected financial institution (HSBC Regional Bank). I am Mr. Stanley Clarke , the chief executive officer, foreign operations department HSBC Regional Bank, the British government in conjunction with U.S government, united nations organization on foreign payment matters has empowered my bank after much consultation and consideration to handle all foreign payments and release them to their appropriate beneficiaries.
Having received these vital payment numbers, you are instantly qualified to receive and confirm your payment with us within the next 48hrs.

Be well informed that we have verified your payment file as directed to us and your name is next on the list of our outstanding fund beneficiaries to receive their payment before the end of this first term of the year 2015. Be advised that because of too many funds beneficiaries due for payment at this first quarter of the year, you are entitled to receive the sum of Seven million Five hundred thousand United State dollars (7,500.000.00 us dollars only) as part payment of your fund.
So you are therefore advise to re-confirm the following Information for immediate payment processing.

1) Your full name:…..
2) Your full address:….
3) Your contact telephone and Fax:…..
4) Your profession:…….
5) Any valid form of your identification/driven license:…

As soon as we receive the above mentioned information, your payment will be processed and released to you without any further delay. Be also informed that You are not allowed to communicate with any other person(s) or office so as to avoid conflict of information, you are required to provide the above information for your transfer to take place through HSBC Regional Bank to your personal bank account.

We look forward to serving you better.

Yours sincerely.

First, I doubt strongly a firm with the global reach of HSBC would be using a gmail address. Email would probably come from their own site. Incidentally, I deleted the sender’s name which was shown as “johnsonmarkso99″ because I’ve had a problem with WordPress not liking too many email addresses in blogs – they take it as spam and shut you down.

Next, Benin Republic. Benin seems to have become the new Nigeria for this type of scam. I’ve also received similar messages from Burkina Faso among others.

Another clue this is a shotgun style scam is that it isn’t addressed to anyone in particular.

US$7,500,000 is a nice amount to offer. Not too large as to seem suspicious, yet not small enough to make people ignore it. However, the way they showed the amount “US$7,500,000.00 usd” is not the way a legitimate banking operation would show any dollar figure.

Dummy, you forgot to change the year to 2016. If you did indeed mean “the year 2015″, you’ve been very lax in performing you duties in advising me.

Now that they’ve dangled the bait in the form of seven-and-a-half mill, they set the hook. Notice the information they ask for, especially the inclusion of a copy of some form of identification. If you were foolish enough to actually send them the requested information, you can not only kiss the 7.5 good-bye, but you’ve given them sufficient information to steal your identity. But of course since you’re one of my followers or readers, you have the smarts not to fall for this.

The fact you are advised not to tell anyone about this is to stop you from going to the authorities once they’ve stolen your name. (Damn!! Since I’m telling you, I guess I’m not getting my money. Oh well.)

There is one more thing that is glaring in its absence. They ask for all kinds of information except for the number of the bank account in which you want the money deposited. Were this legitimate, wouldn’t you think they’d need that information?

These are a few of the things to watch for the next time someone tells you they’ve got millions for you and they are all red flags.

Enjoy your weekend (unless you’re in the northeastern US, in which case, stay safe); don’t take any wooden nickels and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat

“Twilight Zone” revisited

I have no proof, but I think the name of the Registrar-General for Ontario is Rod Serling because I seem to have been thrown into an episode of “Twilight Zone”. Here’s the situation:

As I have written previously, I want to change my name. I originally changed it when I began my transition to give my family some privacy. That was twenty years ago. My ex-wife has gone back to her maiden name and I’ve decided to take back my family surname and adopt the name my mother had in mind had I been born female and as middle name I chose “Ann”, which is the common middle name of my new family.

With this in mind, I sent an application for a name change, with the appropriate fee, to the Registrar-General’s office in Thunder Bay. Three months later I received my application back, with a request to provide a criminal background check. Now, according to the form, because I answered all the questions related to criminal background “no”, it was not necessary to provide this additional document. Because it had taken so long – the R-G’s office said six to eight weeks – I had contacted my MPP’s office to find out what was going on. (The Member of Provincial Parliament in Ontario is the equivalent of a State congressman in the US.) Upon receiving the form and request, I contacted the MPP’s office again and explained the situation.

You can cue the “Twilight Zone” theme now. While they didn’t indicate as much on the sheet attached to my application, what they want is a criminal background check on my chosen name, not my current name. This seems like a very odd request. How am I supposed to get a criminal background check on a name I don’t use yet except on Facebook and WordPress? Next step was a phone call to Durham Regional Police. The young lady I spoke with was quite blunt after I explained the situation to her. She simply said “You can’t.” Fortunately, she did have a solution. I have to apply for a background check under my current name and apparently there is a space on the form for “other names” and in that space I should put the name I want. That means both names will be run through the system.

This is where it gets a little more strange. The lady at the Ministry under which the Registrar-General operates told the lady at the MPP’s office this additional background check is required to make certain the name I’ve chosen is “clean”. In this context that means there is no other person with that name in the CPIC records who may have a record or otherwise may have attracted the attention of the authorities. If there is, I may have to change the spelling of my name. Not much of a problem other than I refuse to change the spelling of my surname. We’ve been here since at least 1850 and my surname honours that.

So, at the end of the month, once my pension check arrives, I’m off to the local police station to try to explain this to whoever is working the desk. That should be fun. Oh yes, I must also have $55 to pay for this.

I’ll keep you informed. I have the feeling this won’t be the end of this episode.

Cat.

Here we go again

As I wrote in “The 4,000 mile birth certificate” of October 21, 2013, I have had some difficulties with the Registrar-General for the Province of Ontario in getting documents changed. The four thousand miles referred to in the title of the above named posting refers to the approximate total distance travelled by my documentation between the initial submission and finally receiving my birth certificate with the proper gender.

It seems those problems still exist. In September I decided to reclaim my family name. I originally changed my surname to offer some privacy and protection to my family after I started my new life. That was twenty years ago. Since then my sons have moved away and my ex-wife has gone back to her maiden name, so I could see no reason not to so do. Fuelling this desire is the fact that some research showed my family has been in North America since at least 1850. At the time, Canada was known as British North America. Canada came into being in 1867.

In late September 2015 I found the application online, filled out and printed it. Then I took care of the details – money order and having the whole thing certified by a notary public – and sent in on its way to the R-G’s office in Thunder Bay, Ontario (far north western part of the province) in early October.

According to the website, the process should take between six and eight weeks. In early January this year, not having heard or received anything, I contacted my local Member of Provincial Parliament (equivalent to state congressman in the US) because I knew from experience he’d get answers a lot faster than I could possibly hope. He did, but it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

Apparently I had neglected to include a criminal background check. Now I read that form carefully and nowhere on any of those pages did it state I have to provide that check. In any event today’s mail, approximately 4 months after I sent the request off, I received the application back along with a “missing document” form on which someone had written, by hand, (another argument in favour of teaching cursive in school) a request for this additional document. If this is a standard requirement, why is not a part of the printed form?

So, now I must wait until month end when my next pension cheque arrives to visit the police station and get this form. I phoned the police station and learned that inflation has hit that as well. When I last applied for a background check, for my cab licence, the cost was $20. It is now $55. That’s a 275% increase.

I had hoped to have everything done by the end of 2015, but it looks as if it will be St Patrick’s day instead.

Oh yes, this makes about 1,400 miles these papers have travelled so far.

Cat.

 

Addendum:  I read the application over again.  The only time a background check is required is if I had answered “yes” to any of six questions regarding criminal activity or charges.  I honestly answered them all “no”.   (I lead a very whitebread life).  C.

Am I or aren’t I?

Here’s something for those of you who think they are knowledgeable on American citizenship law:

I’m Canadian – born in Ontario, raised in Ontario and went through the Ontario school system (which doesn’t seem to have left any permanent damage). I worked here, paid taxes here and served in the Canadian Army in the Royal Canadian Engineers. In short, a typical Canadian.

Here’s the question I pose to you: At the time of my birth, my mother was an American citizen, having been born in New York state. My maternal grandfather was also an American citizen.

My status in relation to the US seems to vary according to what I read. One article stated that America follows a doctrine of “citizenship by bloodline” (I can’t recall the proper Latin term) so under this doctrine I would be considered an American based on my mother’s birthplace.

Another source tells me I qualify for US citizenship for the same reason.

Yet another source informs me that my mother did not meet residency requirements, therefore I would have no claim on American citizenship. This source stated that she would have had to have lived in the US for at least a year for me to qualify. I know she didn’t.

I’m the oldest surviving member of my family, so I can’t find out from anyone else, but as near as I can surmise, my grandparents were on their way to visit family in the US when my grandmother went into labour shortly after crossing the line. Given this circumstance, I suspect the infant who would become my mother spent perhaps a week living in the US before being brought to the family home in southern Ontario.

So my question is, as stated in the title, am I entitled to claim US citizenship or not?

This question is academic now, but had Harper won the last federal election I’d be considering it seriously. Oh yes, blame the Ted Cruz birth controversy for starting this line of thought.

Cat.

Are you for real?

Following is an exchange on Facebook that took place between December 12 and today, when I lost patience and blocked the man.

01/12/2015 17:03
Hello,My name is R. I saw your Face book and profile and became interested in you, i will also like to know you the more.

Me: Everything I’m willing to divulge is available in the “about” tab

02/12/2015 02:48
R: How are you doing, thanks for your respond to my message and I know long distance is a challenge but if two people are determined the moments spent together can be magical.good morning.

02/12/2015 14:17
Me: It is even more of a challenge when one of those people isn’t interested.

06/12/2015 15:15
R:What do you mean my dearest please try to bare with me and keep in touch.

Wed 03:52
R:Happy new year to you my dearest, I can’t wait to hear from you as well. Please try to be honest with me because I do want to meet you in person.

Me: R:

1 – I do not appreciate being called “my dearest” even by people whom I know.
2 – I’m a lesbian and am involved with someone.

03:19
R:I am sorry for been called you that, and what do you mean by Lisbian..Well how old are you…It we be a great time to meet you here C, you are so pretty and I do love your appearance as well. How are you today? Its nice to hear from you, I am R. I am 49yrs from British. An Engineer. Is nice to meet you here. let me know your Age.

This man is scary on a couple of levels. First, from his messages, he doesn’t seem that intelligent. His name indicates he may be foreign born, so English may not be his first language and if so, I can forgive his syntax. If the content of the messages is indicative of his thought processes, and he says he’s an engineer (doesn’t say what kind) I’d worry if I was anywhere near anything he worked on or operated.

“What do you mean by Lisbian” (sic). First thought – nobody can be that dumb in today’s age and media saturation. I was tempted to explain to him the origin of the term, but decided doing so would just be a waste of energy.

Second thought – if he didn’t understand Lesbian, at least the “I’m involved with someone” should have sunk in. But no, not him. As you can see in his last message, he still wants to get together with me. And notice he wants me to travel to England. Most days I’m doing well if I have bus fare to go downtown, never mind a flight to England. As for my age, as I told him, that’s in my “about me” tab on Facebook (I’m 71 by the way).

Reading these messages from him, I conclude that either (a) he is as dumb as he appears from this correspondence; or (b) he’s jerking my chain. Either way, it still comes down to “are you for real?”

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

Cat.
If you’re reading this through Facebook, and interested, send me a private message and I’ll tell you his full name. C.

Why is this a good idea?

In the past few days I’ve read much about open carry laws in various states. As a Canadian, the whole concept of being able to wander around with a weapon either over my shoulder or on my hip is foreign to me. Obviously I have some questions and (if you’ve read my postings before, you know this) some observations on this practice.

Who came up with the idea that allowing citizens to carry firearms openly was a good thing, other than the NRA of course? Was this the scheme of some politician up for re-election, trying to curry favour with gun owners and the NRA?

The NRA keeps repeating, like a mantra “a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.” Sorry, that sounds good but the concept doesn’t hold water because of its simplicity. Purchasing a weapon, either a handgun or a long gun does not automatically confer the ability to handle this weapon properly or proficiently. (And why do you need an assault rifle anyway – have the deer started shooting back?) You can waste hours and boxes of ammunition on firing ranges honing your aiming skills, but that isn’t going to prepare you for “real life experiences”. In the case of the recent San Bernardino shootings, a “good guy with a gun”, despite all bravado (“if I’d been there it would have been different”), would have made no difference at all. Without training, a “good guy with a gun” would freeze. There’s a great sea of difference between firing at a paper target on a range and having your intended target shooting back at you. The body of your “good guy with a gun” would probably be found by the police with his weapon still holstered.

There have been cases from the past year where a “good guy with a gun” has shot and killed the victim of a crime – in one case a car-jacking – while the “bad guys with guns” got away unscathed. So much for untrained people with deadly weapons doing the right thing.

From Oregon comes a report of a man, openly carrying a pistol, being robbed at gunpoint for said weapon. Oregon has open carry laws. From Michigan comes a story of two men, taking advantage of that state’s concealed carry laws, shooting and killing each other in a case of road rage.

Despite the claims of the NRA and various lawmakers, the right to carry weapons, either concealed or openly does not make us safer. In fact just the opposite is true. Disputes that may have been settled with an apology or, in extreme cases, a lawsuit could now be settled with a weapon (see the road rage incident above). Carrying a weapon has been shown to make the person carrying it more aggressive, therefore they may feel the only way to resolve a dispute is lethal force.

So, can anyone tell me what is the logic behind all these open carry laws?

I understand regulations regarding purchasing and owning a weapon vary by state and may not be sufficiently strict. But then again, the US Constitution affects just about everything (from what I’ve seen) so sellers may not be able to screen the purchaser as well as they’d like. That leaves training.

From what I’ve seen on various documentaries, it can be a simple matter to pick up your weapon after a specified waiting period, receive some brief instruction on how to load it and you’re on your own. As I wrote, you can spend time on a range learning your weapon and perfecting your aim, but that’s all it does. You need either law enforcement or military training – and lots of it – before your body will know how to react in a real life or death situation. And it will have to be an automatic reaction because when someone starts shooting at you, there is no time to analyse the situation. But how many gun owners actually have, or get, such training? I received such training during my time in the Canadian Army, but it was so long ago I wouldn’t trust myself to react properly now.

Personally I think a psychological assessment should also be done because, let’s be honest here, not every gun owner is mentally stable.

From everything I’ve seen and read, open or concealed carry is really nothing more than a recipe for disaster.

Can someone please justify the need for such laws for me?

Since this is my first posting of 2016, I wish everyone a healthy and prosperous year. I also remind you to hug an artist, no matter what their field of endeavour, because we need love too.

Cat.