Walls to the south of us, walls to the north

We’ve all heard Donald Trump talk about a wall between Mexico and the US. But how many of us remember long gone Republican candidate Scott Walker suggested a wall between the US and Canada.

Having spent perhaps three minutes considering his idea, it is very obvious this man is intellectually unable to fulfil his current elected position. Think about the physical problems such a wall would entail and tell me you don’t agree with my assessment. Let’s start with the simple fact such a wall would be at least 5,000 miles long – more if he wants to wall off Alaska from those pesky Canadians. And don’t expect Canada to pay for it.

Did Walker consider that the only road access to Alaska runs through – guess where – Canada! Another little problem there with the wall and land access is Port Robert Washington. It’s stuck on a peninsula on the south coast of British Columbia and once again, the only land access is through B C. If you’re driving, you need to clear Canada Customs at one of the ports of entry south of Vancouver, then go through US customs when you get to Port Robert. Unless there’s a wall in the way, in which case someone will have to institute a ferry service from mainland Washington and avoid customs all together.

Across the prairies there doesn’t seem to be any unusual pitfalls. At least not until you get to the Great Lakes. This vast inland freshwater sea is where his plan really starts to fall apart. Look at a map and you’ll see the border runs approximately down the middle of the lakes and connecting waterways. There are three possibilities – the Canadian shore, the American shore, or follow the border exactly. And there are problems with all three. I can’t see either Canada or the US being willing to cede even one foot of territory for this wall. The third choice – following the border – has the additional pitfall that Lake Superior is 900 feet deep in places. That’s a lot of bricks. The border also runs down the centre, more or less, of the St Lawrence River. Again, same problem.

Now that we’re in the eastern part of the continent, he’d start running into other problems. Straddling the Canadian/US border, as well as the Ontario/Quebec border is the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve. Can’t see the Mohawks agreeing to a wall down the middle of the St Lawrence because it would interfere with their “extra-legal imports”. When the border cuts inland on the south shore, things really reach migraine status for our unthinking politician. Many small towns and villages in Quebec and bordering states actually straddle the border, In some cases, where the house was built before the border was set, it isn’t unusual for the kitchen to be in one country and the living room to be in the other. Derby Line Vermont comes to mind as a place where this happens.

I can’t think of any major problems, other than rivers, between New Brunswick and Maine, to cause our politician grief, other than the mutual co-operation that exists between Calais Maine and the corresponding Canadian city (the name of which escapes me, but I think it might be St, Stephen NB).

So, if three minutes thought gives me this many flaws in his suggestion, do you really want to vote for him again?

Cat.

What you need, not what you want

Many of us, when we start our new lives, don’t have the advantage of surrounding ourselves with a circle of advisors unlike a certain former Olympian. Instead we either go it alone or listen to the advice of friends and acquaintances.

When I began my journey in the mid-nineties there was a great dearth of support groups in the part of Ontario where I lived, so depended upon the latter. Sometimes the advice I was given was good and many times I ignored it. There were very few people though who would give me advice.

I can’t say if they felt I didn’t need any help or if they were afraid of how I might react to being offered tips on makeup and clothing. Don’t know why they would be frightened. I don’t bite (as a rule) and if I did, being trans isn’t like a virus that my bite could transmit to them. These are people who would have no hesitation criticising any of their other female friends if they felt it was warranted, yet wouldn’t say a word to me. Instead they would tell me what I wanted to hear, not what I needed to hear.

Over the past several years I’ve been fortunate to have a friend who isn’t afraid to tell me what I need to hear. If I look good, she says so; if I don’t, she’ll say that too. She’s forthright, but does it in a manner that isn’t upsetting and I appreciate that. I must admit that the one thing she has been unable to eradicate from my wardrobe are my miniskirts. They’re staying. We’ve discussed attitude this many times and agree that part of the problem seems to be that people aren’t really certain how to approach a transwoman. They can’t seem to understand that we want to be accepted as, and treated as, any other woman, so the same way they’d talk to other friends would be well received by us as well.
If we look good, tell us, if we look like a hooker, ask us what corner we normally work. We’ll get the hint that perhaps our clothing is a little inappropriate.

As I wrote above, many of us have done this on our own, without benefit of support groups or friends not afraid to tell us the truth. As a result, we may not yet embody all the best visual qualities of being a woman. So please, tell us what we need to hear, not phony compliments. We’ll appreciate the assistance. Don’t be afraid of us – we don’t bite or, if we do, you can’t catch a trans virus.

Cat.

The answer is still “no”

I received the following email in my Gmail spam today:
GOOD NEWS FROM THE WHITE HOUSE

GOD BLESS AMERICA <WW.@oregano.ocn.ne.jp>

17:18 (21 hours ago)

to

GOOD NEWS FROM THE WHITE HOUSE

I am Mrs. Michelle Obama, and I am writing to inform you about your Bank Check Draft brought back by the United Embassy from the government of Benin Republic in the white house Washington DC been mandated to be deliver to your home address once you reconfirm it with the one we have here with us to avoid wrong delivery

Sixty million united states dollars 60,000,000,00usd that was assigned to be delivered to your humble home address by my husband Honorable president Barrack Obama the president of this great country this week by a delivery agent Mr JAMES BOOMBERG

I will like you to reconfirm to me the following details
Your phone number…………..?
Your current home address……?
Your full name…………………?
Occupation……………….?
Next of kin…………….?
Your email address…………..?
Password………………?

The reason I ask you to reconfirm to me this following details is to avoid wrong delivery.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF YOUR FUND YOU CAN CALL OR TEXT MY HUSBAND THE PRESIDENT OF THIS GREAT NATION +1 (202) 792-0696

Yours Sincerely,
MRS MICHELLE HUSSEIN OBAMA
FIRST_LADY USA

Wow! The First Lady is sending me an email telling me she has my sixty mill US from Benin.

There are problems with this message. First, although it purports to be from the White House, the extension on the sender’s email is “.jp”, which last time I checked was Japan. Second, the addressee is blank. And finally, I’m Canadian, so why the hell would Michelle Obama be sending me anything?

Couple more things are wrong. President Obama’s first name is spelled “barrack”, which as I recall from my army days is similar in nature to a dormitory. And when she “signed” the letter, she would have used her middle name, not her husband’s.

Being the cynic I am, I guess by writing this blog and telling others I’m doing myself out of sixty million dollars US, which at current exchange rates would be about seventy mill Canadian. Ah well, easy come, easy go.

Enjoy your day, don’t take any wooden nickels and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Midweek fiction – It’s only a game

I wrote this is 2007 following a disastrous night playing solitaire

It’s Only A Game
copyright 2007 gch
“What to do you mean you haven’t received my remittance yet? Who is this? Why are you bothering me? If you think I owe you money, send me an invoice.” Clyde slammed the handset onto the cradle before the caller could respond and returned to the Solitaire game on his computer screen.

He’d only had Solitaire on his computer for about ten days and found it a good way to relax. His favourite was the Vegas version, where he could see whether he was ahead of the computer or not. When playing, he preferred a two-handed method – left hand tapping the enter key to turn cards and right hand working the mouse to move the cards. It may not have been more efficient, but he felt it required a bit more concentration. “Let’s see … Red six on black seven, yes, now turn over the top card, good, the black five can go on that red six.”

Two days later, the mail brought an expensive looking envelope bearing the name of a well-known casino. Never having been to a casino, Clyde was curious about why they would be contacting him. His fingers told him the envelope was stuffed with paper. Returning to his study, he reached for the letter opener as he sat down.

Carefully slitting the flap, he slid several sheets of paper from the interior of the envelope. Several appeared to be computer printouts and one, on vellum paper, looked like an invoice. Scanning this, he gasped as he saw the bottom line, which read “Balance outstanding as of May 31, $51,118.00.”

Turning to the other sheets, all the while muttering to himself “There must be some mistake. I’ve never been to any casino, let alone that one. Somebody must have stolen my identity and run up this huge debt” he examined them. They were daily tallies of amounts, usually losses, and each bore his name and an account number at the top.

Returning to the letter, he carefully read it.

Dear Mr. Partridge:

As stated in our telephone conversation of June 4, we have not yet received your payment to cover your losses at our games for the month of May. In response to your request, attached please find copies of our records. Kindly remit by return mail no later than June 15.
It was signed by someone in accounts receivable.

In a panic, Clyde again scanned the letterhead, searching desperately for a telephone number. Finding one, he telephoned the casino and angrily demanded to speak with the Accounts Receivable manager. A few bars of soft music later, he was connected.

“Clyde Partridge here. I just received an invoice from you for some $51,000 dollars. I wish to tell you sir that I have never been in your casino before, so I don’t see how I could have incurred this great debt. You must have me confused with another Clyde Partridge.”

“Are you Mr. Clyde V. Partridge of Flaherty? You are? Well then Mr. Partridge, these amounts are indeed your responsibility.”

“But, I’ve never been in any sort of gambling establishment. I don’t know how to play poker. I’ve never even bought a lottery ticket before.”

“Oh no, Mr. Partridge, there’s no mistake. And by the way sir, these are not poker debts, these are Solitaire losses.”

“Solitaire? The only Solitaire I play is at home on my computer. I certainly wouldn’t go to a crowded room to play a game of Solitaire.”

“I understand that sir, but that Solitaire game on your computer is linked to our computers which keep track of your winnings and losses. If you had won, we’d have sent you a letter telling you that you had a large credit balance.”

“But, how is that possible? I have a computer, but I don’t have any form of internet access. And I’ve only had the Solitaire game about a week.”

“Yes sir. Isn’t wireless technology is marvellous.”

I was playing Vegas Solitaire one night (yes, and losing) when a fiction writer’s favourite words – “what if …” popped into my head. This is the result of that question.

Cat
Enjoy the rest of your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat

Be afraid – your future is at stake

I wasn’t sure I wanted to post this, but what the hell.  As a blogger and writer, if I’m not upsetting people and/or making them think, I’m not doing it right. And I’ve taken  flak before.  After one posting I had my intelligence compared unfairly to that of a turnip, but I know that on a good day I can outsmart that turnip two times out of three.  First off, I’m Canadian, so the results of the upcoming presidential election shouldn’t have any direct effect on me.  But, as a thinking human being, I am also aware that what happens south of the 49th parallel will affect my country as well.  As a result, I’ve paid some attention to what is happening in the primaries, especially the Republican campaign.  I’ve stayed away from commenting on the campaigns so, far, but I think it’s time I voiced my opinion.

I’ll admit Donald Trump scares me.  From what I’ve seen and heard, he is preaching a gospel of hate.  Talk of building a wall along the US/Mexican border; banning all Muslim immigrants from the country and now, in the wake of Brussels, increasing police presence in Muslim areas and around mosques doesn’t exactly sound presidential.  Throw in his attitudes towards torture and this is one scary man.  If you notice, he keeps talking about “making America great again” and “getting Isis”, yet I’ve never heard him offer one single detail of how he will accomplish this other than “nuke ‘em”.   Talking with friends, most agree that if elected, Trump would drag the world into another war.  Most put the time frame for that at somewhere between six and fifteen months.  And unlike previous wars, this time America would be in the crosshairs which means Canada would also be hit.

As much as Trump scares me, Ted Cruz absolutely terrifies me. He too favours using nuclear weapons in the middle east (“I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’ll find out”). This man is an evangelical Christian from all reports, which is a dangerous character flaw for a politician because they tend to follow their teachings rather than common sense when dealing with matters of state.  One report stated that if elected, he would establish a national church, which I understand is in direct conflict with the Constitution.  Yesterday, during an interview, one of his aides stated that Senator Joe McCarthy had the right idea with the House Un-American Activities Committee – the “Red Scare” of the 1950’s – and it should be re-instated.

Picture this: If Cruz were to win and establish this national religion; and the aide wasn’t speaking his personal opinion on HUAC, we could be looking at America becoming a theocracy.  And no doubt the reborn HUAC would be used to root out heretics (“are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Episcopalian Church?”).

Cruz also favours increased security in Muslim areas and other xenophobic measures.

Both men seem to favour isolationist policies (other than bombing the middle east) based on their comments about building walls and banning  immigrants.  My view is that  the world would take care of that for them because if either were to actually follow through on their exclusionary rhetoric, most of the world would boycott America.

Those who follow American politics and have a better understanding of how the system works have told me that in the unlikely event either man does become the next President, the system would prevent them from instituting their more radical ideas.  I certainly hope so.

But, in the event they are wrong, Ontario is a nice place to live and winters aren’t really that bad.

Cat.

Be aware of your surroundings -always (addendum)

A friend who read “Beware of your surroundings – always” suggested this addition: You also have to be careful with whom you speak. What you may consider a casual
conversation could be given a deeper meaning by them.

Say you’re waiting in line somewhere and the person behind you makes a comment about the speed with which the line isn’t moving. You turn around to answer, but before you do, you quickly size them up. If they seem “odd” to you, trust your instincts and say nothing. They may impart a deeper meaning to that flippant comment you had ready. I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk to anyone, or smile at people, just be aware that your innocent actions could have unwanted consequences.

When dealing with strangers, trust you instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t because, let’s be honest here – not everyone is as mentally stable as you or I.

Be careful out there.

Cat.

Be aware of your surroundings – always

I haven’t posted this in a couple of years and with spring (in theory) upon us, I think it bears repeating, this time with a new title. This is the time of year we begin to shed our bulky winter clothing and by doing so, we may attract unwanted attention.

Over about the past six months I’ve twice posted “Don’t think you’re safe”, about being safe. A friend, who has read that piece, suggested I post it every four to six months just to remind people, not just women, to be aware of their surroundings. Like me, she is a photographer, so is constantly looking around for scenes to capture with her lens, but she has told me that after reading that posting, she feels she is now also more aware of things that may affect her personal safety. I like her idea but feel that posting the same thing over and over will cause it to lose its effectiveness.

Summer is fast approaching, which means we’ll all be spending more time outside, with our bulky winter coats but a memory. Keep in mind that no matter what you look like, there is bound to be someone who finds you attractive. I’m 5 11″, usually in heels which boost me well above six feet, and transgender. That did not stop someone who found me attractive from stalking me for at least two years. Keep in mind that if you see the same person twice in the same location you’re in, it could be coincidence. Three times or more could be stalking. And no, I don’t mean your usual cab driver – I mean strangers. If you think you’re being followed or stalked, take that person’s picture. As I wrote above, I’m a photographer so usually have a camera with me, but most cell phones have very good cameras as well. Don’t be afraid to use it. Often the fact you’ve photographed them will be enough to discourage them. If that doesn’t work, go to the police.

Something else to consider. If you think or feel you’re being followed, use reflections in car windows or mirrors or store windows to check behind you or watch your shadows. If the sun, or a streetlight, is behind you it will cast a shadow before you. Use that shadow to determine if someone is closing in on you.

To borrow what became the catchphrase from “Hill Street Blues”, “be careful out there.

Cat.