Miscellaneous musings

1 – I’ve come to the conclusions that people in my neighbourhood either can’t read, can’t count, or both. There is a small convenience store down the street from me. This is a long, narrow shop with limited space. On the front door, taking up most of the width of the glass, at eye level, is a sign that reads “2 people at one time only” in large red characters on a white background. As you may be aware, many levels of government, municipal, provincial and federal, have imposed restrictions designed to slow or prevent the spread of COVID 19 and one of these is a restriction on the number of people allowed into an establishment at any one time. As I wrote above, this is a small store, so the maximum number of customers is set at two. I don’t know how many times, I’ve been in that store with one other customer and watched two or three more people walk in, completely ignoring the capacity sign they’ve been staring at. C’mon people, those restrictions are for your and my safety. Learn to read and count. It should be easy: one, two.

2 – Maybe I should change my surname to “Scrooge”, but doesn’t it seem to you that broadcasters started their Christmas programming earlier than usual this year? One radio station in Toronto began playing 24 hour Christmas music on November 2! And some of the cable stations I have access to (note “have access to” not watch”) have been showing Christmas themed movies since late November. By the time the actual holiday arrives, we won’t care because we’ll have been so inundated in the previous two months.

3 – I’ve been reading many comments over Jill Biden using “Doctor”. These comments are usually along the lines of “she isn’t a medical doctor, so she shouldn’t use the title.” Excuse me, but by that logic, a dentist shouldn’t be called “Doctor” either, but I’ll be you do use that title even though by the logic you’ve used against Dr Biden, the dentist wouldn’t be entitled to is. I have to disagree with this viewpoint. Any doctorate requires many years of study and great effort. Doctorates aren’t handed out the way presidential pardons seem to be recently. Anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort of earn a doctorate, in any field, deserves the right to use the honorific. I suspect the party affiliation of the people condemning her use of the title plays a part in their comments.

Stay safe,
Cat.

How gullible do you think I am?

Don’t answer that. The question is intended for whoever sent me the following text message yesterday morning:
(613) xxx-6064 (I left the exchange out on purpose)

We are Private Lenders. looking for courier or delivery drivers part /full time in the GTA Get paid upfront daily with a certified cheque to make loans delivery in small envelopes to our customer and for each delivery, you make between 150$ to 500$ depending on experience.
Requirements are that you’re 18+ and interested to start right away Text us your name and best time to reach you

Okay, first, area code 613 is eastern Ontario – roughly Ottawa west to Belleville.

An observation: whoever wrote this needs to study up on punctuation.

I have several questions regarding the remuneration, such as it seems to be an unusually high amount for each delivery. Right away that calls the legality of this into question at least to me. I’ve worked as a courier in the past and the thoughts of making the same money for one delivery as I was making in three days seems suspicious. Also, getting paid daily “upfront” by certified cheque would indicate to me that this “Lender” knows in advance what my deliveries would be each day. Looking at the logistics of this, the “Lender” is located in eastern Ontario somewhere so even if they’re in Belleville, it’s still at least a two hour drive to get the cheque and deliveries to me. If they’ve driven that far already, it would only be about another 45 minutes to downtown Toronto, so why wouldn’t they do the deliveries with their own driver? Unless there’s a reason they don’t want their driver identified.

No, I didn’t text them my name and availability. For one thing, I don’t own a vehicle and as I’ve written above, this seems very sketchy.

Stay safe and since you can’t hug an artist right now, think pleasant thoughts about us and our endeavours – we need love too.
Cat.

Someone’s trying again

DATE: Nov 23

TITLE: Someone’s trying again

On December 6, 2019 I published blog called “Sorry Sarge, not happening” about an email I received purporting to be from New South Wales Australia. The sender claimed to be a Sgt Monica L Brown and she had a proposal for me. Oh, what the heck. Here’s the blog. It’s a short one.

DATE: Dec 6

TITLE: Sorry Sarge, not happening

I received the following email this morning. I’ve removed the email address to keep me in WordPress’s good graces.

Griffin, Christine Cgriffin

I am Sgt Monica L Brown I have a proposal for you! Please send me a reply on my personal Email:

slinbrown975

Rather cryptic and designed to instill curiosity in the reader isn’t it? Let’s look at it.

I am Sgt Monica L Brown Good for you. Are you in the army? Air Force, or the local police or some other paramilitary organisation that uses military ranking? Just telling me your rank doesn’t tell me anything useful.

I have a proposal for you! Really!! And what might that be? Do you have several millions in unclaimed funds you want me to help you smuggle out of the country for a cut of said money?

The extension on the sender’s email was “begavalley.nsw.gov.au”, which I translate to mean this was sent by, or on behalf, of the government of the shire of Bega Valley in New South Wales, Australia. A quick Google search shows this area is also known as “the Sapphire Coast” and it appears to be a tourist destination.

I have to ask myself why the government of a tourist area on the west coast of Australia would be contacting a 75 year-old woman in Canada with a proposal? The only thing that comes to mind is that the website has been hacked and this is in fact a scam. Having these suspicions, I have forwarded this to the Bega Valley Council for investigation.

As mysterious and inviting as this may sound, I strongly recommend you do NOT respond to Sargent Monica L Brown.

On the plus side, for a change it is well-written.

Cat.

So why am I talking about an eleven month old blog that had a total of six views over that period of time? (And yes, admitting that count hurts.) Because yesterday, November 22, the view count ballooned to 32. Readers were mainly from Mexico on down through South America. This sudden interest in the blog, plus the locations of the readers leads me to the conclusion that whoever sent that email using the name Sgt Monica L Brown is trying it again, targeting South America this time. As I wrote almost a year ago, if you get this do NOT respond to the Sarge.

In this time of pandemic I urge you all to stay safe and while you can’t hug an artist right now, think positive thoughts about us, we still need love.

Cat.

Bring him to justice – writer’s comments

I began writing the “Bring him to justice” series of blogs in 2012. Over the intervening years I have received many comments. Some have been encouragement to keep writing of that matter. Some have been thanks for bringing and keeping it before the public. Others have been questions regarding the state of the situation and still others provided me with links to Jamaican news coverage of his attempts to avoid extradition.

Then there are the others. I’ve read, and often approved, comments defending George Flowers or offering excuses for his actions. And in cases where the person offering the comment could neither defend nor excuse him, they chose instead to attack the writer.

On September 23, 2020 I published “Bring him to justice – justice served” outlining Flowers’s guilty plea and the resulting sentence. In that blog I said “And to supporters of him I’d like to point out that his guilty plea is an admission that he did in fact do what he was accused of doing. Spare me your bullshit excuses for his actions. You’ve wasted enough of my time already.” I guess those last two sentences worked for I’ve heard nothing from those who previously defended or excused him or launched personal attacks on me. And honestly I’m not surprised his so-called supporters were so quick to abandon him once he entered his plea. Something about rats and sinking ships comes to mind.

I can understand not hearing from those people who encouraged and supported me, for September 23, 2020 marked an end to one part of their ordeal. I sincerely hope the guilty plea and the imposed sentence gives you some relief.

Cat.

Bring him to justice – justice served

On September 9, 2020, George Flowers,aka Mr Flowas, entered a plea of guilty to three charges of aggravated sexual assault filed against him. The Court accepted that plea. This plea saves his victims the ordeal of having their carefully rebuilt lives torn apart again by his lawyers. Victim impact statements and sentencing followed on September 23, 2020. The Court imposed a sentence of time served plus two years less a day in a federal penitentiary. He also received three years probation and must register as a sex offender. There is to be no contact with any of his victims. Upon completion of his sentence ,a deportation hearing will be held. It is my fervent hope that upon completion of that hearing, representatives from Citizenship and Immigration Canada escort him to the nearest international airport and put him on the next plane to Jamaica.

In late June of 2020, the Toronto Police Service relayed a request from the Crown that I remove two postings that Flowers and his lawyer felt jeopardized their case. I followed that request. Now that this matter is settled, I can put those postings back up, so here they are along with comments that had been posted to those two blogs. Of everything I’ve written over the past eight years, these are the only two I’ve been asked to remove. I can understand the second one since it outlines, in less than five hundred words, everything that’s happened since the Toronto Police Service issued their Public Safety Alert in the summer of 2012, but the other one is a mystery.

DATE: May 8

TITLE: Bring him to justice – further update

I have been informed that George Flowers requested bail using the current coronavirus pandemic as his reason. His claim centred around the fact his current HIV status placed him at additional risk of contracting COVID 19 as long as he was in close contact with other prisoners.

Earlier in the social distancing/social isolation period we are currently enduring, the issue of community infection in jails and prisons was raised, so that he tried to use this isn’t too surprising.

The judge wasn’t sympathetic to his plea and denied his request. So Flowers will remain in custody pending the resumption of trials, currently estimated to be September 2020.

If you, or someone you know has been or is the victim of assault of any kind, please contact your local police. They can help you.

Cat.
Comment on Bring him to justice – further update
reggaeairways on May 9, 2020 at 2:31 am said:
Thanks for keeping us updated, Cat.
Poor lamb must be feeling all vulnerable and threatened by infection he knows he might be exposed to. Unlike his victims.
Not a jot of sympathy from me, I’m afraid…

jonnymacneal on May 11, 2020 at 5:50 am said:
Thank you for keeping us updated it is truly appreciated to people following the story in victims and their families and their friends stay safe and keep up the great work

And the second one:

DATE: June 8

TITLE: Why? Part of Bring him to justice

I have never responded well to demands, especially demands from strangers, and the older I get, the more obstinate in my refusal to act I become. Demands that come with no apparent reason attached really bring out my stubborn side.

Over the weekend I received such a demand referring to my April 18 post “Bring him to justice – on hold”. This post was simply to advise my followers and readers the Ontario court system wasn’t holding trials until the COVID 19 pandemic was over or at least better controlled. Nothing controversial, just updating the situation.

Here is the demand I received, from someone named Latoya: Leave him alone. No “please”, no “why don’t you just…”, just the three words. Why should I leave him alone? Maybe if you’d given me reasons I wouldn’t be writing this right now. And had you not been so terse in your message, I may have approved the comment.

“Him” is George Flowers, aka “Mister Flowas” and when he learned the Toronto Police Service wanted him for several counts of aggravated sexual assault, he fled the country for Jamaica. That was in 2012. Once apprehended at the request of Canadian officials, he spent five years, FIVE YEARS, fighting Canada’s extradition request through the Jamaican court system. Finally in June 2017, he was returned to Canadian custody.

Those charges stemmed from the fact that despite being HIV positive and knowing he was, he neglected to tell any of his partners he was positive. At the time of the offences failure to do so was illegal and the charges could have been attempted murder (and I still think that would have been the appropriate charge), but in the years between his actions and the charges, medical knowledge and the law both changed, so the best TPS could do was aggravated sexual assault.

I have been following and writing about this for all these years because I know several people he dated, some of whom have tested HIV positive themselves. Other than a brief flurry when Toronto Police Service first issued their Public Safety Alert, the media hasn’t covered this. There was some coverage in the Jamaican press during his fight to avoid being returned to Canada, but the main source for both his victims (and supporters) seems to be my postings.

“Leave him alone.” Had he followed the legal requirements to tell his partners of his status, they would have had the option to leave him alone or not. But he didn’t. The result of his inaction is that people had their lives destroyed and have had to carefully rebuild them, or start new lives. For some this has not been easy. Jobs have been lost; old friends have drifted away and all because he couldn’t say “I’m HIV positive”.

So no Latoya, I won’t leave him alone until he faces justice in a Canadian court.

Cat.

I have been writing this Bring him to justice series since 2012. I started for two main reasons – I know people he dated, some of whom have tested HIV positive, and the mainstream media wasn’t covering this. During my various writings, I broke down and cried several times while working on this series while trying to maintain a degree of detachment. That hasn’t always been easy as I know people he dated as I wrote above. When I have strayed from that detachment it has usually been in response to ad hominem attacks from his supporters.

To those who took the time to write thanking me for my efforts and encouraging me to continue, I appreciate your words. I may not have posted your comment, especially if I felt it may compromise you, but I did read it. To those who provided me with links to Jamaican news coverage of his attempts to fight extradition, and other information from Jamaica, thank you. You made my job easier.

And to supporters of him I’d like to point out that his guilty plea is an admission that he did in fact do what he was accused of doing. Spare me your bullshit excuses for his actions. You’ve wasted enough of my time already.

And lastly, I have spoken with one of his victims and her final message to him is:

FUCK YOU!

Cat.

 

Of course it’s true

This morning I found the following email in a spam folder for an email account I rarely use. I removed part of the email address to keep me out of WordPress’s bad books again.

Officefile2001

Greeting!
This is Mr. Chad F. Wolf, the current Secretary of Homeland Security.
During my routine checks on our warehouse yesterday we discovered a cargo box, while scanning the box our cash tracking machine has detected that the content of the Box the diplomat was delivering to you is cash worth $ 8.5 million.
The diplomat who arrived with the box made several attempts to reach you. All the efforts he made were abortive so he decided to leave the box and travel back to his country, so if you are interested in receiving this fund back then get back to me now with your full information for the delivery.
Copy this email and reply me now only officefileua
REPLY ON THIS EMAIL ONLY >> officefileua
My regards
Chad F. Wolf

Well, to give this person, whoever they really are, their due, the got the name of the acting Homeland Security Secretary correct. But that’s about all.

If I were in the United States and completely braindead I could probably convince myself that some unnamed diplomat from some unknown country really was sending me eight and a half million dollars. I could really believe this unknown person honestly wanted me to have all this cash, although I don’t recall any conversations of any kind regarding this transaction. But, if Homeland Security says they have all this money for me, who am I to argue? After all they are the government. So, of course it’s true.

Okay, enough sarcasm. Time to take this apart. First, it was sent to the email address I use on that account, which is much better than the usual “undisclosed recipients”. I suppose they (the mysterious “they”) feel it will have more impact if it’s a personal message rather than a shotgun approach. But, unlike email providers such as gmail, which could be anywhere, this is a specifically Canadian provider and most subscribers are in western Canada. So right there, if I’m getting a message from Homeland Security, I’m automatically suspicious since I’m not in the US. And think about this: If Homeland could find my email address to notify me, why couldn’t this unknown diplomat have done the same?

I’m not really sure how this works, but I think that the diplomatic corps of any country isn’t just going to abandon 8.5 million. That kind of money isn’t exactly chump change, no matter what country you’re in. I would also think that once the money is abandoned, it ceases to be covered by any treaties covering diplomatic immunity. That being the case, I know there are Customs requirements that all currency must be declared and failure to do so could result in either confiscation or a hefty fine.

I suspect that if anyone were to fall for this and contact this Chad Wolf they’d be told that if they want this money, they will have to pay this fine, plus processing fees and storage charges. In other words, the only parties to make any money from this transaction would be those running the scam.

If you receive something like this, don’t go buy a Bugatti. Do the sensible thing and just delete the message. While using the name of a known government agency and it’s current head may seem to give it a legitimate feel, it really is just intended to separate you from your hard-earned money.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and social distancing) too.

Cat.

Weekend whimsy

I wrote this piece several years ago after waking up with a phrase stuck in my head. Last night I ordered in Chinese food and seeing the fortune cookies reminded me of this piece. So, here’s a bit of whimsy for a social distancing weekend. Enjoy (and the egg rolls are delicious).

Cat

Found in A Fortune Cookie
Cat MacDonald
© 2008 cam

I’d found a flyer from a new Chinese restaurant in my mailbox and decided to give it a try, so ordered in some food. One of the first things I discovered was they made the best lemon chicken I’d ever tasted. When I was done, I picked up a fortune cookie and cracked it.

“The end is either a whale from hell or an estate sale.”

That’s what the piece of paper inside that fortune cookie read. Even upon a cursory examination I could see this was not your usual “Good fortune is on the way” type of saying usually found in these things. And they normally had the name of the company producing them on the bottom. Not this one. Other than the cryptic sentence, the slip of paper was blank. Even the cellophane wrapper, which usually had the bakery’s name on it, was blank. Nothing looks quite so bare as a clear piece of cellophane that normally has writing on it. So, there was no clue as to where this profound observation arose.

This one was far more inscrutable than most. Any more obscure and it may as well be written in Cantonese for all the sense it was making. “The end is either a whale from hell, or an estate sale.” The end of what? Life? The universe?

“ A whale from hell”. I suppose defining that could depend upon your point of reference. I mean, if you look at literature, the end for Captain Ahab certainly was a “whale from hell” named Moby Dick. And, I suppose the Pequod could have been sold at an estate sale later. But, in that case, “the end” would have been both a “whale from hell” and “an estate sale” so, I don’t suppose that was what the writer of this mystery had in mind.

Or, if you turn to films, there was a movie called “Orca” with Richard Harris and what’s-her-name, Bo Derek, wasn’t it? From what I can recall, that was about a killer whale that terrorized and I think destroyed a fishing village in Newfoundland. A killer whale could certainly qualify as “a whale from hell”

But, somehow I don’t think the slip of paper meant anything quite so obvious. There was just something, oh, I don’t know, weird about that particular fortune. In any event, by the time I’d opened the cookie and read this, I’d had too much to drink, so I tucked the slip of paper into my purse for later consideration.

The next morning, when I pulled my car keys from my purse, out fell the fortune. I unfolded it and read it again. Still read the same: The end is either a whale from hell or an estate sale. Still made the same lack of sense it had last night. And today I didn’t have the excuse of alcohol to fall back on.

For some reason, words from that little slip of paper kept cropping up in the documents I handled at the office, or in conversations I had with others. I put it down to the fact I was thinking about that weird fortune. “The end is either a whale from hell or an estate sale” is so odd it stuck with me. I tried to put it out of my mind.

I succeeded in doing so until the drive home that evening. Sitting in traffic near an intersection (construction had reduced the road to one lane and of course there was a collision in that lane), I passed the time idly looking at the people walking past me and the various shops. The car ahead of me inched forward and I followed suit. My new vantage point brought the intersection into range and with that, a limited view of the cross street. My attention immediately focussed on one particular storefront – the restaurant I’d ordered from the night before.

Although I am not normally impatient in traffic – all that does is raise my blood pressure and if it takes a few minutes more to get home, so what, I’ll arrive safely and as relaxed as dealing with the road warriors will allow – I now couldn’t wait for traffic to crawl forward again. Finally, I reached the intersection. Just past the corner was a municipal parking lot (the ones the city runs that only charge an arm, not an arm and a leg), pulled in and parked. Making certain I still had the fortune with me, I walked to the restaurant.

The place wasn’t anything special, just a little hole in the wall, with two or three small tables. Obviously most of their business was take out or delivery. I walked up to the counter, where a clean-cut young man was talking on the telephone. He acknowledged my presence, then continued writing what was apparently an order.

I took the time to look around the shop while I waited. The decor was nothing special and no doubt was a better reflection of the owner’s taste than an attempt to cater to the clientele. No fancy fans on the walls, or posters of pagodas or the Great Wall. Instead I was treated to a varied collection of cityscapes, seascapes, and posters for rock concerts. The most Oriental thing on the walls was a photo of a customized Honda.

Ambience was provided courtesy of the local soft rock station.

He finished taking the order and walked it into the kitchen, where I could hear him talking with someone, presumably the cook. Then he returned and smiling, asked in good English how he could help. I couldn’t place the accent, but it definitely did not sound like English as spoken by most Chinese who, especially if they’re from Hong Kong, tend to have British accents.

I explained that I had ordered food from them the previous night and gave my address. Seeing the look on his face, I hurriedly told him the food was great and that I would be ordering from them again, but I did have a question for him. Pulling the slip of paper from my wallet, I placed in face down on the counter and continued.

“Could you tell me where you get your fortune cookies” I asked as I picked up the fortune from the previous evening, then continued “because I’d really like to have this one explained to me.” I showed him the slip and watched his face change to a look of complete puzzlement as he read the words I’d memorized “The end is either a whale from hell or an estate sale”.

“You got this in a fortune cookie with your order last night?” he asked.

“Yup.”

“Do you mind if I take this for a second. I want to show it to my Dad in the kitchen. Maybe he can shed some light on it, ‘cause I haven’t a clue what the hell it could mean.”

I agreed and he excused himself.

The sounds of food preparation ceased shortly after that and the radio was turned down. I could hear a dialogue in what I presume was one of the Chinese dialects, of which I could make out only the English wording from the fortune. The volume of voices dropped to the point where I couldn’t hear anything. Finally, the young man said “Fine then. You figure it out.”

He returned, shaking his head and carrying the slip of paper. “My Dad has no idea either. This came from a new supplier and he’s contacting them now.

“Could I have your name and number and I’ll make sure to let you know. This one has me buffaloed as well. I mean, usually you get the ‘fame or fortune” kind of sayings in those things.”

Just then an older gentleman came from the kitchen “You’re the lady with the odd fortune?” again in oddly accented English.

I nodded.

“I just telephoned our supplier. The number’s out of service.. Why you didn’t try to contact them directly last nigh?”

“Oh! I couldn’t. The cellophane wrapper was completely blank. No names or any identifying marks. And, as you can see, there’s just the fortune on the slip of paper.”

The two men looked at each other. The son turned toward me. “Would you mind if I kept this? I’d like to put a little more time in on it. It’s such an odd observation that I can’t believe there’s not a deeper meaning to it.”

I waved agreement and he put it in the till. The older man said something in their language and his son nodded.

“My Dad just said to ask you if there’s anything you’d like – on the house – for all your trouble.”

“Sure. I wouldn’t mind an order of your lemon chicken if it isn’t too much trouble. It was the best I’ve had.”

As I left with my chicken (and rice – they insisted it had to have rice with it) I glanced back through the window to see them arguing. I say “arguing” because the older man was waving his hands in an angry manner and his son was shaking his head vehemently.

The next day, I was once again caught in traffic at the same place and I glanced across the intersection. The store was gone. In fact, the place looked as if it had been vacant for some time. And with it, the slip of paper with the arcane fortune printed on it.

I never did find out what “The end is either a whale from hell or an estate sale” meant. I still eat Chinese food, but the lemon chicken isn’t as good, and I no longer open fortune cookies.

Found in A Fortune Cookie
Cat Howard
© 2008 gch

I’d found a flyer from a new Chinese restaurant in my mailbox and decided to give it a try, so ordered in some food. One of the first things I discovered was they made the best lemon chicken I’d ever tasted. When I was done, I picked up a fortune cookie and cracked it.

“The end is either a whale from hell or an estate sale.”

That’s what the piece of paper inside that fortune cookie read. Even upon a cursory examination I could see this was not your usual “Good fortune is on the way” type of saying usually found in these things. And they normally had the name of the company producing them on the bottom. Not this one. Other than the cryptic sentence, the slip of paper was blank. Even the cellophane wrapper, which usually had the bakery’s name on it, was blank. Nothing looks quite so bare as a clear piece of cellophane that normally has writing on it. So, there was no clue as to where this profound observation arose.

This one was far more inscrutable than most. Any more obscure and it may as well be written in Cantonese for all the sense it was making. “The end is either a whale from hell, or an estate sale.” The end of what? Life? The universe?

“ A whale from hell”. I suppose defining that could depend upon your point of reference. I mean, if you look at literature, the end for Captain Ahab certainly was a “whale from hell” named Moby Dick. And, I suppose the Pequod could have been sold at an estate sale later. But, in that case, “the end” would have been both a “whale from hell” and “an estate sale” so, I don’t suppose that was what the writer of this mystery had in mind.

Or, if you turn to films, there was a movie called “Orca” with Richard Harris and what’s-her-name, Bo Derek, wasn’t it? From what I can recall, that was about a killer whale that terrorized and I think destroyed a fishing village in Newfoundland. A killer whale could certainly qualify as “a whale from hell”

But, somehow I don’t think the slip of paper meant anything quite so obvious. There was just something, oh, I don’t know, weird about that particular fortune. In any event, by the time I’d opened the cookie and read this, I’d had too much to drink, so I tucked the slip of paper into my purse for later consideration.

The next morning, when I pulled my car keys from my purse, out fell the fortune. I unfolded it and read it again. Still read the same: The end is either a whale from hell or an estate sale. Still made the same lack of sense it had last night. And today I didn’t have the excuse of alcohol to fall back on.

For some reason, words from that little slip of paper kept cropping up in the documents I handled at the office, or in conversations I had with others. I put it down to the fact I was thinking about that weird fortune. “The end is either a whale from hell or an estate sale” is so odd it stuck with me. I tried to put it out of my mind.

I succeeded in doing so until the drive home that evening. Sitting in traffic near an intersection (construction had reduced the road to one lane and of course there was a collision in that lane), I passed the time idly looking at the people walking past me and the various shops. The car ahead of me inched forward and I followed suit. My new vantage point brought the intersection into range and with that, a limited view of the cross street. My attention immediately focussed on one particular storefront – the restaurant I’d ordered from the night before.

Although I am not normally impatient in traffic – all that does is raise my blood pressure and if it takes a few minutes more to get home, so what, I’ll arrive safely and as relaxed as dealing with the road warriors will allow – I now couldn’t wait for traffic to crawl forward again. Finally, I reached the intersection. Just past the corner was a municipal parking lot (the ones the city runs that only charge an arm, not an arm and a leg), pulled in and parked. Making certain I still had the fortune with me, I walked to the restaurant.

The place wasn’t anything special, just a little hole in the wall, with two or three small tables. Obviously most of their business was take out or delivery. I walked up to the counter, where a clean-cut young man was talking on the telephone. He acknowledged my presence, then continued writing what was apparently an order.

I took the time to look around the shop while I waited. The decor was nothing special and no doubt was a better reflection of the owner’s taste than an attempt to cater to the clientele. No fancy fans on the walls, or posters of pagodas or the Great Wall. Instead I was treated to a varied collection of cityscapes, seascapes, and posters for rock concerts. The most Oriental thing on the walls was a photo of a customized Honda.

Ambience was provided courtesy of the local soft rock station.

He finished taking the order and walked it into the kitchen, where I could hear him talking with someone, presumably the cook. Then he returned and smiling, asked how he could help in good English. I couldn’t place the accent, but it definitely did not sound like English as spoken by most Chinese who, especially if they’re from Hong Kong, tend to have British accents.

I explained that I had ordered food from them the previous night and gave my address. Seeing the look on his face, I hurriedly told him the food was great and that I would be ordering from them again, but I did have a question for him. Pulling the slip of paper from my wallet, I placed in face down on the counter and continued.

“Could you tell me where you get your fortune cookies” I asked as I picked up the fortune from the previous evening, then continued “because I’d really like to have this one explained to me.” I showed him the slip and watched his face change to a look of complete puzzlement as he read the words I’d memorized “The end is either a whale from hell or an estate sale”.

“You got this in a fortune cookie with your order last night?” he asked.

“Yup.”

“Do you mind if I take this for a second. I want to show it to my Dad in the kitchen. Maybe he can shed some light on it, ‘cause I haven’t a clue what the hell it could mean.”

I agreed and he excused himself.

The sounds of food preparation ceased shortly after that and the radio was turned down. I could hear a dialogue in what I presume was one of the Chinese dialects, of which I could make out only the English wording from the fortune. The volume of voices dropped to the point where I couldn’t hear anything. Finally, the young man said “Fine then. You figure it out.”

He returned, shaking his head and carrying the slip of paper. “My Dad has no idea either. This came from a new supplier and he’s contacting them now.

“Could I have your name and number and I’ll make sure to let you know. This one has me buffaloed as well. I mean, usually you get the ‘fame or fortune” kind of sayings in those things.”

Just then an older gentleman came from the kitchen “You’re the lady with the odd fortune?” again in oddly accented English.

I nodded.

“I just telephoned our supplier. The number’s out of service.. Why you didn’t try to contact them directly last nigh?”

“Oh! I couldn’t. The cellophane wrapper was completely blank. No names or any identifying marks. And, as you can see, there’s just the fortune on the slip of paper.”

The two men looked at each other. The son turned toward me. “Would you mind if I kept this? I’d like to put a little more time in on it. It’s such an odd observation that I can’t believe there’s not a deeper meaning to it.”

I waved agreement and he put it in the till. The older man said something in their language and his son nodded.

“My Dad just said to ask you if there’s anything you’d like – on the house – for all your trouble.”

“Sure. I wouldn’t mind an order of your lemon chicken if it isn’t too much trouble. It was the best I’ve had.”

As I left with my chicken (and rice – they insisted it had to have rice with it) I glanced back through the window to see them arguing. I say “arguing” because the older man was waving his hands in an angry manner and his son was shaking his head vehemently.

The next day, I was once again caught in traffic at the same place and I glanced across the intersection. The store was gone. In fact, the place looked as if it had been vacant for some time. And with it, the slip of paper with the arcane fortune printed on it.

I never did find out what “The end is either a whale from hell or an estate sale” meant. I still eat Chinese food, but the lemon chicken isn’t as good, and I no longer open fortune cookies.

Not falling for it

I found the following email, dated today, in a junk folder:

MICROSOFT
Thank You For Making A Payment Online We Have Received
Your Order For The AUTO-RENEWAL Plan
•SERVICES = MICROSOFT LICENSE
•PAYMENT = 299.99

SUMMARY = Your MICROSOFT License Key Is #9892305
•PAYMENT SOURCE = CARD
•PAYMENT DATE = 04 / 25 /2020
•CONFORMATION NUMBER = #9891305

NOTE = If You Believe That You Have Not Make
= This Purchase or It Has Been Auto-renewed
= Automatically . Then Call The Help Desk To CANCEL .

TOLL-FREE = (607) 325 3365

I have several problems with this email. First, the only Microsoft product I have is Windows. Second, the spelling is atrocious “conformation”? Seriously? The word should be “confirmation”, which has a different meaning. The English is horrid, for example “..that you have not make...” and “…it has been auto-renewed automatically.” I was always under the impression that is something is “auto-renewed” it did happen automatically and there would be no reason to spell it out. And finally, that “toll-free” number isn’t. Area code 607 covers south-central New York State, such as Binghamton and Ithaca.

The final thing wrong with this is that while it purports to come from Microsoft, the actual sender’s email is kenneth@ gailew. (I’ve modified the email address to keep me out of trouble with WordPress)  Not exactly Microsoft.

If you get this email, don’t bother to phone the help desk. Just do as I did and consign the message to trash.

Stay safe, stay indoors as much as possible and, given the current situation, just think about hugging an artist, we need love (and social distancing) too.

Cat.

Bring him to justice – on hold

Following is an excerpt from The St Catharines Standard of March 13, 2020:

Upcoming criminal and civil jury trials in Niagara and across Ontario have been suspended as a precaution to keep the public and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice announced.

In a statement issued late Thursday, Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz said anyone who has received a summons for jury duty for an upcoming trial does not need to attend court.

“The safety of all who use and rely upon the court is essential,” the statement reads. “Equally important is continued access to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice should COVID-19 disrupt court operations.”

Officials said small claims court cases have also been temporarily halted.

So it appears George Flowers will be staying in jail while the Province of Ontario finds a way to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

If or when there is a change in this status, I’ll write more.

Cat.

 

 

 

I won again!

I received the following in my inbox a couple of hours ago:

CNN’s Good Stuff

14:05 (2 hours ago)

Congratulations, You Have Been Selected To Get A $360 Cvs Pharmacy GiftCard,
In Order To Take Your Gift Card All You Have To Do Is Just Answering A
Short Survey About Your Shopping Experiences At Cvs

I’ve removed the email address and links to keep me out of trouble with WordPress (it’s happened before).

The problem with this email is first, I doubt CNN operates that way and perhaps the biggest problem of all is we don’t have CVS in Canada. Also, and not to sound greedy, by $360 sounds like an odd amount.

If you receive this email, be aware the actual sender’s address is a gmail address, not from CNN.

My advice is that if you get this email, just delete it, or do what I did and send a copy to CNN.

Take care and stay healthy,

Cat.