Not their Crowning moment

Picture this: You’ve gone to the bank to take care of some business with a friend. The day is bright and sunny, but the temperature is hovering around 10 Fahrenheit. While your friend is finishing her banking, you decide to call a cab to get back home so you call the company you’ve been using for the past five years.

After waiting over four minutes for them to answer the phone, you ask for a cab at the bank branch at (and you name the intersection). Instead of the expected “that’ll be about ten minutes”, you get “what’s the street address?” You’re not from around here, so you don’t know and say so, then give them the location again. Again “I need an exact address”. Finally, in frustration you say “forget it, I’ll call someone else.” Your friend has finished her dealings and joins you then calls you an idiot because you can’t even call a cab.

She tries. Only three minutes waiting this time. She gets the same kind of runaround you did. Meanwhile you’re outside trying to flag down a cab. You finally succeed and she hangs up. The cab you’ve flagged is from another company and you immediately ask for a card, which the driver gladly supplies. In a weird ‘six degrees of separation” moment, the driver recognizes you because you both drove for the same cab company in the town where you live.

Not fiction or a bad dream. This actually happened to my friend and myself this past Friday afternoon.

Now, the explanation as I see it. First, keep in mind that I was a driver and dispatcher for a small cab fleet in Pickering Ontario for about 7 years, so have some knowledge of which I speak. About a year ago, Co-op Cabs, a large Toronto company, bought Crown Taxi, also of Toronto and about the same size as Co-op. They continued to run as two separate companies until about a week ago when they came up with the bright idea of a single, centralized dispatch. And like many cab companies these days, they decided to also switch over to satellite dispatch. Unfortunately for their clients, the new company, Co-op Crown (hereafter referred to as “CC”) hired new order takers who – from my telephone interaction – have no experience or knowledge of the city. An experienced or knowledgeable order taker would have known that an intersection is sufficient location for a dispatcher and a driver to find the place. It seems obvious by the insistence upon a street address when provided with the name of a business and a location that the order takers don’t trust the dispatchers’ knowledge either. Bad move. Rule number one for anybody working for a fleet is “Never piss off the dispatcher”. Many taxi dispatchers are former drivers, whose knowledge of the streets equals or exceeds that of the drivers. In speaking with drivers, I found they are not happy with the new system either.

When we returned home, both my friend and I called and filed complaints with the dispatch manager at CC.

By the way, being a dispatcher has to be the best job in the world because where else could you get paid for telling people where to go?

Cat.

Not going to happen

Since January 24, I have had three requests from the same person for my telephone number so they can ask me some questions. The last request included their number so I could call them (it was long distance, so I wouldn’t call anyway). These requests have all come from the same email address, with two different names and three different ip addresses. Two of the three requests have come in attached to posts related to the “Bring him to justice” series which automatically raises my suspicions. It is believed by myself and others that the mysterious “Barbara” who commented on one post was in fact a family member trying to find out where I’m getting my information and in the process learn more about me.

In each case I have replied saying I won’t give out my phone number because I’ve been bothered by stalkers and suggest they ask their questions by email at the address with which I provided them. There have been no takers on my offer.

As for giving me their telephone number so I can call them, that won’t happen because I know about call display and how it can be used to trace someone. I’ve already dealt with one stalker and that wasn’t pleasant. It never is when you realize that someone out there considers you prey. Knowing that the “Bring him to justice” series which deals with one George Flowers, who is wanted by the Toronto Police Service on several charges of aggravated sexual assault has pissed off some people, there is no way on earth I’d give my phone number to a complete stranger. It wouldn’t matter if you had sent me your complete biography, not just a telephone number, I’m still not calling you.

So, whoever the hell you really are, you can either ask your questions in an email or stop bothering me.

Cat.

The camera doesn’t lie, but your eyes might deceive you

Cameras, by their very nature, record objective views of whatever they’re being pointed at when you press the shutter. We all know the image you’ve just captured can be modified, played with and otherwise altered either in the darkroom, if film is used, or on the computer using one of the many photo processing programmes that are available.

One of these programmes is so popular its very name has become synonymous with altering photos – PhotoShop. (Personally I prefer Corel PaintShop Pro X6.) Given that most digital cameras darken an image by varying amounts up to 40%, all I usually do with my images is restore that brightness I saw through the viewfinder.

But manipulation of images isn’t the point of this posting. When you look at an image of yourself, or at yourself in a mirror, you don’t see the actual image or the reflection. We all carry a mental image of how we look in our minds and that picture affects what we see. Here’s an example:

five miles of leg 01 Sept 97 DRThis was taken in September 1997, on an evening I was going to a party with some friends. It took me six months before I could accept that image as the way I looked because it didn’t match my mental picture of myself. Now, for most people, once that realization hits home, it may elicit a reaction of “damn, I’m lookin’ good” or ‘oh God, tell me I don’t really look like that”.

But, if you’re a transwoman, the effects of seeing that image may be more devastating. To the person viewing that photo, there may still be signs of “him” visible in the picture. That nobody else may see those signs doesn’t matter, to the transwoman, the signs are there, shining like a spotlight. The effects of this can be demoralizing. All this time trying to put the past behind us and we feel betrayed by what we see in the photo.

As the title said, your eyes may be lying to you. You’re the only person who sees that former life in the photo. All the rest of the world sees is a good-looking woman.

When it comes to your reflection in a mirror, or a photo of yourself, just keep in mind that you can’t always believe what you see.

Cat.

I don’t believe your name is Barbara

A couple of days ago I posted a piece titled “Hey Barb! (part of “Bring him to Justice”)” in which I rip into three messages sent by someone using the name “Barbara”.  These three messages were intended as comments on an earlier piece (June 2013) called “Bring him to justice – CAPTURED”.

Some background before I continue.  The “Bring him to justice” series deals with the Toronto Police Service search for one George Flowers, aka “Mr Flowas”, who is, in my opinion, a not very good rapper.  He is wanted on multiple charges of aggravated sexual assault for failing to disclose his HIV positive status to his partners – for at least fifteen years.  Some of those partners are now positive themselves.  Currently he is in a Jamaican jail while he exhausts all avenues of appeal against his extradition to Canada.

It was the first of the three messages that raises the most questions, not only my own, but from others who have read it. I’ll copy it here:

Barbara
10 minutes ago
You know nothing and this blog is discrediting his reputation as any logical person would know they have to prove that he gave it them and that can not be proven so… , your friends were so quick to bus it open and now that have something you want to call him a monster no one told you to have sex , he is no monster he made mistakes and will get the proper punishment most of these woman are just spiteful that they were fucked and dumped , watch what you say about a man that you know nothing about

Obviously, from my perspective, the writer hasn’t read any of the previous posts from the series or else they would have known that I state I’ve met George Flowers and actually know a fair bit about him and also state I know some of the people he’s dated.  And as a  writer, I also find the lack of punctuation disturbing.

Some people who have read these messages made the observation that if they – particularly this first one – were in fact written by a woman, then she’s gone off her anti-psychotic meds.  They further state they cannot believe any woman could come to the defence of this man knowing what he’s done. One person wrote the following:  I can’t even begin to go there with this lunatic bitch… obviously she is under some kind of fairy tale spell.

Other people believe this was actually written by a man.  They feel the word choice and that they open the message with a defence of Flowers indicate more of a male mindset since it seems the writer is blaming the women for what happened.  That may be for it seems to be more of a male attitude to blame the victim.

Whether it was written by a man or a woman is immaterial.  What matters is that some deluded soul is defending George Flowers. You must ask yourself would they feel the same if it were their sister; girlfriend, or just a friend who was now HIV positive after dating George Flowers?    I strongly suspect they’d be searching for the highest tree from which to lynch him.

Cat.

Hey Barb! (part of “Bring him to justice”)

You don’t mind if I call you Barb, do you?

This is about the three comments you posted on “Bring him to justice – CAPTURED!” last night.  Before I start, just so you know, I began writing about the charges against, and the search for, George Flowers on August 14, 2012 and the piece you commented on was written June 11, 2013, so my question is “Where have you been hiding for the past two-and-a-half years?”

Now, your comments.  First, this one:
Barbara
10 minutes ago
You know nothing and this blog is discrediting his reputation as any logical person would know they have to prove that he gave it them and that can not be proven so… , your friends were so quick to bus it open and now that have something you want to call him a monster no one told you to have sex , he is no monster he made mistakes and will get the proper punishment most of these woman are just spiteful that they were fucked and dumped , watch what you say about a man that you know nothing about watch what you say about a man that you know nothing about

This is so full of inaccuracies, probably including your name, I don’t know where to start.  To use your own words, “any logical person would know” the Toronto Police Service must feel they have sufficient evidence to lay those charges.  “He is no monster he made mistakes”.  That must be some great ganja you’ve got.  The Oxford Dictionary describes a mistake as “an error in judgement”, among other things.  That for fifteen years he failed to tell any of his partners he was HIV positive takes his actions far beyond the “mistake” range and puts him squarely into monster territory.  Another inaccuracy (don’t worry, I’m almost done) is your “fucked and dumped” comment.  At least two women I know did the dumping, not him, which is the complete opposite of your claim.  Finally, in what moment  of clairvoyant clarity did you determine I know nothing about the man.  I’ve met him and spent time in his company.  I know he’s married and has kids and I even know his wife’s name.  I also know that rather than cross the street to hear him perform, I’d cross the street to avoid hearing him.   By the way, out of curiosity, should I consider your “watch what you say about a man that you know nothing about” a threat?

Now, your second message:
Barbara
9 minutes ago
where are you getting your information

Sorry Barb, like any respectable journalist, I won’t reveal my sources.

And, your final message:
Barbara
8 minutes ago
lastly if he is found guilty he will get less than 10 years and then be free now tell me would you be scared of a man you just convicted

No, I wouldn’t be scared.  Actually, if it were up to me, I’d have charged him with attempted murder, not aggravated sexual assault, and if any of his victims have passed on, I’d charge him with first degree murder.  Yes, first degree, because he made a conscious decision not to reveal his status.  And Barb, consider this: People convicted of the crimes he is charged with, especially if they are HIV positive, are not among the elite in the prison hierarchy.  He can expect to have a very rough time in prison.  Things happen in prisons so he may not make it through that sentence.

I hope I answered your questions and concerns.

Cat

I’m at it again

In my WordPress profile I state that I enjoy upsetting apple carts on occasion. At the time I write this, I have no idea if this cart will topple or fall back onto its wheels, but I’ll keep you informed. The name on this particular apple cart is “Ministry of Health and Long Term Care” under the control of Dr Eric Hoskins, who is the Minister of Health etc for the Province of Ontario and the lever I am using to tip this particular cart is the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. As I wrote above, as I type this, I have no idea whether the Tribunal will say “yes” or “no”.

Under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), breast augmentation is classed as cosmetic surgery and as such is not covered. I felt this was discriminatory and therefore filed a human rights complaint on the basis of discrimination based on gender identity. My argument is this:

For myself, and no doubt many other trans*women, breast augmentation isn’t really a cosmetic procedure, but rather a psychological necessity. Whether we elect to have GRS or not, we are living as women and if we are fortunate enough to live in Ontario can change our birth certificates (hence other documents) to reflect that. Breasts are perhaps the most visible sign of a person’s perceived gender. Being on oestrogen is no guarantee we will develop breasts. Therefore my view is that for trans*women, breast augmentation isn’t really cosmetic, but psychologically necessary for us to feel and present as women, rather than as “some guy in a dress”, which is still a common view of the trans* community.

In my submission I suggested applications could be controlled in a manner similar to that instituted for changing the gender on documents – a letter from an Ontario licenced medical practitioner stating that person “X” has been trans* for whatever number of years apply and the procedure is psychologically necessary. I also suggested OHIP could impose restrictions on the size of the augmentation. The cost of anything above a certain size would have to be borne fully by the patient.

As I wrote at the beginning, I have no idea if the Tribunal will accept or deny my complaint, but I’m hopeful. Either way, I’ll provide an update.

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

Cat.

Who owns it?

Several years ago, in a photographic magazine I subscribed to at the time, I read an article on something the author referred to as “the territorial imperative”. To define this, we are presented with the following situation: You, a photographer, are out in a rundown part of town when you spot a homeless person doing something you find interesting, so you take a couple of frames. When you process the images you find they are even better than you’d hoped and decide to publish them. This is where the “territorial imperative” comes into play.

Under Canadian law, the photographer owns the copyright to the image and can therefore, at least theoretically, do whatever they wish with the image. But, does the subject, in the given case a homeless person whose name you didn’t bother to get, have any say over where, or even if, the photo is used? Granted that if you are on a street or in a public place you should have a reasonable expectation that at least some of your privacy will be lost, does that mean you also waive all control over any images taken of you?

There are many reasons people end up on the streets. I won’t list any, but I’m certain you can think of several on your own. The person you photographed has their own story of how they became down and out. Perhaps publishing the image, besides being an invasion of their privacy, will cause them and/or their family great embarrassment and pain. And yes, the converse is also true, that the publication of this photo may lead family members or friends to this person and get them off the streets.

As a photographer, I’ve done many photoshoots. In each case, if I want to use one or two of the photos for my website, even though I own the copyright, I always ask for permission from the subject to use their image. Under the law, it isn’t necessary, but it is simple courtesy. I don’t like candids, from either side of the camera, for they are rarely flattering and can think of only two occasions when I have taken candids and, while they are good, I won’t put them on my site because I can’t get permission from the subject.

The only exception to this is if I am photographing scenery. Most scenic places are well-known and therefore crawling with tourists and other people taking pictures. So unless I need a person in a scenic photo for scale, I try to avoid having people in them, or as I’ve explained it in the past “people make nature look messy”.

I hope this has given you something to think about – even though you can legally publish that photo, is it going to help, or hinder, the subject?

Enjoy the rest of your week, try to stay warm and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.