Weird and wonderful

Two items from various newscasts caught my attention yesterday.  These two items have nothing in common other than I class them both as weird.

The first item has been all over various Toronto and national news media.  The Liberal Party of Ontario recently chose a new leader for the party, a lady named Kathleen Wynne.  As the Liberals are the governing party, she is automatically the Premier of Ontario, and the first female Premier of the Province.  The House has only just resumed sitting this week following the resignation of the former Premier, Dalton McGuinty and the convention to choose a new leader.  Some Honourable Members of the opposition parties are demanding Ms Wynne take a lie detector test.  I’ll tell you why.

During the campaign leading up to the last provincial election, the Liberal Party did something that appears to have had as its motive nothing more than political gain. During the campaign, Dalton McGuinty announced the cancellation of the contract for at least one new gas-fired electric plant.  The one plant I am sure about was in a riding held, at the time, by the Liberals, but the people living in that riding were very opposed to the plant being there.  To prevent that riding from voting for one of the other parties to punish the Liberals, (and possibly costing him a majority [which he didn’t get anyway]) he cancelled the plant.  According to government figures, the cancellation and relocation of the plant will cost taxpayers (me) approximately $230,000,000 however figures from both the opposition parties and outside sources peg the actual cost at double that.

Ms Wynne was part of the re-election team when that decision was made.  She maintains that while she was part of the planning team, she was not involved in that cancellation discussion or decision.  These Members from the benches opposite are demanding she take a lie detector test to prove that she didn’t know about the decision.  I’m not a fan of the Liberal Party of Ontario, but perhaps rather than just have the Premier of Ontario take a lie detector test, all Honourable Members of the House should so do.  Just sayin’.

The other item is one I heard on 680 News, a news radio station in Toronto.  The cab driver had that station on while he drove me home.  According to this report, after five years of DNA research and other genetic testing based on samples of hair and what I shall politely call bodily excretions, scientists have proven the existence of Bigfoot/Sasquatch/whatever you want to call him.  Apparently this creature is part of the Homo Sapiens family.  As I facetiously remarked to the cab driver, who is a friend and someone I drove with, “Having driven nights, I’m almost positive I had him in my cab one or two Saturday nights once the bars closed.”  So who knows – maybe those stories of dinosaurs still living in inaccessible parts of the world aren’t so far-fetched after all.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.  And no, I wouldn’t want one living in my building.


Just an observation on my recent posting “Stick to the topic”, which dealt with the fact spam rarely has any bearing on the actual content of the posting it is intended as a comment for.  I must have really tagged it well, for I just deleted another 12 spam messages intended as comments on that.  And they all prove my point.


Stick to the topic

On January 17 I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece called “Am I really Canadian?” about the fact I don’t like either hockey or Tim Hortons’ coffee.  That elicited one comment from a person who missed the humour, even though the article was both tagged and labelled “humour”.

This morning the following, intended as a comment on that posting, was in my WordPress spam:

Submitted on 2013/01/29 at 12:44 am

I believe that is one of the so much important info for me.

And i am happy reading your article. However wanna observation on few general things, The site style is perfect,
the articles is really great : D. Excellent process,

I have removed the advertising site as well as part of the address and IP address to protect the ignorant.

First, the opening comment has no bearing whatsoever on the subject matter of the posting.  And, had this been written in anything remotely approaching proper English, I might have accepted the rest of the compliments.

“The site style is perfect” . I’m sure WordPress will be pleased to know someone other than me likes the format they call “2011″.

“Excellent process”.  I would hardly call a humourous piece taking a swipe at Canadian stereotypes an excellent process.

Despite the very WASPy sounding name, Tiffany Runyan, I suspect this was written in some other language and run through something like Google Translate. Either that or Tiffany never went to school.

That is the problem when people use spambots.  They frequently post comments that are totally inappropriate to the subject of the posting.  But, they do give writers like me something else to write about.

Enjoy your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and proper grammar) too.


Sometimes I despair

Two things have me shaking my head and wondering about people and/or organizations over the past couple of days.

Two days ago I posted a piece I called “Am I really Canadian?” clearly labelled and tagged as “Humour”.  This was intended to poke some fun at three of the stereotypes to which some Canadians cling.  From the first comment I received on this posting, obviously my attempt at humour failed, or the poster failed to notice the “humour” label and tag.  Maybe I should have thrown a few “eh”s into the piece. Perhaps it would have sunk in that way eh?  I won’t copy his comments here, but I’ll refill my coffee mug while you read the posting and comments.  There, I’ve now got a nice hot coffee beside me and you’ve finished.  Is there anything in that posting that honestly warrants his first comment?  As I wrote in my response to Rusty Blackwood, I credit my followers and readers with the intelligence to tell the difference between my serious postings and those I put up just for fun – to provide a laugh in someone’s day.  Obviously “snaughty” needs to lighten up a tad.

The other matter is more in the lines of being a frustration.  Last May I went to Future Shop to buy a laptop.  I felt I needed one for the photo business, at least the way I’ve got it set up.  I found a nice Lenovo B575 that seemed to suit my needs.  Unfortunately the only one they had left was the demo model, which they sold to me at a discounted price since it was the demo.  In my posting “Dear Mr Gates” of October 18, I lament that this new laptop runs Windows 7.

Since this was a demo, all I really got from Future Shop was the laptop – no documentation of any kind from Lenovo.  Granted there is a “Lenovo Users’s Guide” on the hard drive, but that basically tells me how to do things like change the battery or replace the hard drive.  That isn’t the kind of information I need.

Being a Canadian machine, this laptop has an English/French keyboard.  Every so often I will somehow turn on the French characters, but since I touch-type, I don’t often look at the keyboard when I’m working, so have no idea what key, or combination of keys I’ve pressed to perform that action. At the moment, I also have long nails for some photoshoots, which don’t help the typing either.  Nothing I’ve tried seems to turn the French off again. I usually have to exit the programme I’m working in and start it up again so the system will reset to English.  If I haven’t saved my work recently, that can be a royal pain.   Another problem is this: how can I clean the screen without damaging anything when a simple soft cloth to remove dust won’t work?   These are not covered in the installed manual, which, as I wrote above, seems to deal mainly with hardware issues.

Yesterday I finally remembered to contact Lenovo to ask about a manual on the care and feeding of the machine for things other than hardware problems.  The person I spoke with directed me to a website where I could download a manual.  It turned out to be the one I already have on the hard drive.  Not satisfactory.  Tried Google.  Every single listing was for that same manual.  That isn’t what I need to know, people.  I have a letter to be mailed to Lenovo on Monday morning explaining my predicament and it ends by saying (I’m paraphrasing now) “if such a manual doesn’t exist, can you at least answer these two questions”.  Ah well, this is just the latest installment in my ongoing battle with computers.

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and pertinent information) too.


My point exactly

On December 30 last, I wrote “Spam, spam beautiful spam” about the proliferation of spam in my WordPress filter.

This morning I found the following in that folder:

Gordon Tannehill
Submitted on 2013/01/10 at 12:59 am

I just want to say I am beginner to blogging and really savored you’re page. Likely I’m going to bookmark your website . You definitely come with really good articles and reviews. Thanks a bunch for sharing your webpage.

I deleted the email information because it was for some weird site I wouldn’t visit on  a bet. Doesn’t this just prove my point?  “Good articles and reviews” – come on now.  I’m talking about the ways to tell a message is spam or phishing.  Okay, I’ll accept that could be called a “good article”, but a good review?  The way I frequently rip into the sender’s abuse of the English language could hardly be called a good review.

“Likely I’m going to bookmark you’re website”.  Only “likely”, not “definitely”?  Do me a favour and don’t bother.  And learn to understand the difference between homophones: “you’re” is an abbreviation for “you are”.  The possessive form is “your”.

I suspect this message was from a spambot because I can’t believe any human would be so stupid as to send spam as a comment on a blog ripping into spam.  Oh well, it gave me something to write about.

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


Spam, spam, beautiful spam

As I’ve written previously, spam can be such a gold mine. Found the following two items in my WordPress spam:

how to make extra money for the holidays x
Submitted on 2012/12/30 at 1:48 am

Hello mates, pleasant article and fastidious arguments commented here,
I am actually enjoying by these.

Fast ways to make money x
Submitted on 2012/12/29 at 8:53 am

Just desire to say your article is as amazing. The clarity for
your post is just nice and that i could think you’re knowledgeable on this subject. Well with your permission let me to snatch your feed to stay up to date with drawing close post. Thanks one million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

Both messages were meant as comments on “An embarrassment of riches” which dealt with, coincidentally, spam.  If you can work your way around the fractured English, especially in the second message, they appear to be complimentary.  Both are spam because they offer easy money.   Another giveaway is that although they came in hours apart and purport to be from different people, they are from the same IP address.

I suppose they hoped people would just see the compliments and post the comments on the appropriate blog.  I would also suspect they weren’t aware that on WordPress, the sender’s IP address is included in the information available to the blogger.  I could have stripped the website address from the compliments then posted them as comments, but I get enough legitimate comments that I don’t need to do that and, it would be misleading.  And I’m not that vain.

This will be my last posting of 2012, so I’ll take this opportunity to thank all my followers and readers (whether you leave comments or not).   Have a safe and Happy New Year and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.   See you in 2013.


One quick question:  I noticed my calendar ends tomorrow night.  Does that mean December 31, 2012 is Doomsday?   🙂

I can’t do that

One of the main bits of information given to those who would write blogs is “pick a subject and write about that”.  If you choose, say, writing, then write about the various aspects of writing. If you pick photography, then use your site to explore that world.  Travel, food, whatever subject you decide upon should be the focus of most, if not all, your postings.”

Sounds like good, solid advice.  Too bad I don’t follow it.  If you follow or read my postings, you’ve noticed I write about anything and everything that catches my eye.  That is why you’ll find an essay on friends amid postings on scams (“More money I won’t get”) or the latest antics of Toronto’s sometime mayor (“Football first”) or ripping into some of the spam I find (“Look who’s talking”).

Do I have the knowledge and experience to write on a single topic?  Probably. I’ve written before on blogging (“Our words are powerful”) but my mind doesn’t work in a manner that allows me to focus solely on one topic. I’m interested in the world at large and when something in the news provokes a response, I act on it.  Granted there are some subjects that are closer to my heart than others, but I won’t write about them exclusively.

For example, since August, I’ve written a series of posts under the main title “Bring him to justice”.  This series deals with the Toronto Police search for one George Flowers, aka “Mr Flowas”, a wannabe rapper who is wanted for aggravated sexual assault.  This “thing” was diagnosed HIV positive in 1996 but never told any of his partners. I know people who dated him and some have since tested positive, so I have a personal interest in seeing this garbage off the streets.  But that series is as close as I’ve come to a single topic.  And the reason there haven’t been any recent postings under that title is that there is no concrete news to write about and I won’t put up rumours.  As it states in my public profile, I’m transgendered.  There are already enough people out there writing blogs on the LGBT community, so I doubt I could add anything of import.  I have written on those issues, but only from a personal perspective, where something will or does affect me personally.

So, having said all this, I repeat, that is good advice – pick a subject in which you have knowledge and write about it.  But, I can’t do that.

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


Look who’s talking

Normally I would consign something this vacuous directly to the delete folder, but when I was out I hit my head on a low-hanging metal rod, now have a raging headache and am not feeling charitable at the moment.  This was in my WordPress spam today:

naturally like your web site however you need to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to inform the truth however I’ll surely come back again.

Excuse me.  “Spelling problems”??!!  I use spellcheck, so know that the spelling is correct.  If you are referring to the words like “colour”, with the “u” added, I’m Canadian and use proper English and Canadian spellings.  That makes those words incorrect only if you use the American lexicon.

This message came from some company, which is why it was (and deserved to be) in spam.  The email address attached to it had the name “FretwellPolino24″ attached to it, which of course turned out to be a phoney address.  To “Fretwell” or whatever your real name is, first, there is nothing wrong with the spelling in my posts.  Second, when you can craft an intelligent sentence, and use the correct words – “to” should be “too” – perhaps people might listen to you.  Until you master the English language though, I would suggest you simply stick to flogging whatever it is you’re trying to sell and stop criticizing the writings of others.


Don’t do me any favours

Found the following in my WordPress spam today:

Submitted on 2012/11/03 at 4:46 pm

Hi there you have a fantastic site over here! Thanks for sharing this interesting information for us! If you keep up the good work I’ll visit your website again. Thanks!

This was intended for my posting “Politics for the uninterested”, so I doubt the information was really that interesting.  I do however agree that it is a fantastic site.  Then we come to that third sentence.

“If you keep up the good work I’ll visit your website again.”  Excuse me.  Are you hinting that the particular piece you tried spamming is the only “good” piece I’ve done? Personally, I think that while it was good (otherwise I wouldn’t have posted it) it was far from my best work.  For that you have to look at the “Bring him to justice” series.  And is that statement  a threat or a promise?  And one more question for you: unless you keep visiting, how will you know if I’m keeping up “the good work”?  Still more questions: By what standards are you judging my writing?  What are your qualifications to judge my work, after all, the email address this was sent from was “”, which hardly speaks of being the kind of site where words of more than four letters would be used. One piece of advice – don’t think you’d be doing me any favours by visiting the site again. In fact, the best favour would be to completely ignore me if your attitude is “if you keep up the good work”.

Okay, I’ve ranted now and I feel better.


Our words are powerful

I think that as writers, we sometimes forget just how much what we write may, or can, influence those who read our efforts.  Some of us, myself included, use our site on WordPress or wherever we choose to post, to rail against the inanities and insanities of various levels of government.  Or we will post a rant against whatever has incensed us that day.  Then again, we may write glowing reports on something we’ve thoroughly enjoyed  and want to share with our readers and followers. Nothing wrong with those reasons.

Yesterday, feeling somewhat more mellow than usual, I posted a piece I called “An essay on friends”.  I’ll wait if you want to read it before continuing.  There, finished?  I hope you read the comments as well.  Yes, those comments came from the two people I mention in the posting, but that doesn’t lessen the sentiments expressed.

“proudtobe” is a person I first met here on WordPress, then we began chatting on Facebook.  As with many conversations between close friends – and yes, I consider her a close friend, despite not having met yet – we cover many topics during our discussions.  She occasionally asks my opinion on various matters and I always try to answer her honestly and fully. None of those “that’s a dumb question” or “I don’t know” answers from me.  If someone asks a question, I’ll answer it to the best of my ability.  From her comments it is apparent she appreciates my candour when I respond to her questions.

Her response affected me.  Yes, it is filled with compliments, which are good for my ego I’ll admit, but what really struck me was the way it seems my words have influenced her.  In fact, I found her comments to be so heartfelt that I printed it and have in hanging on the wall near my desk to remind myself just how much influence our words can have.  And that she thinks I look great in fishnets doesn’t hurt either.  And no, I won’t post a photo so you can judge for yourself 🙂

I know there are times we’ll rattle off an opinion piece without really thinking about what we’re writing.  Keep in mind that although our posting may not attract any comments, that doesn’t mean we haven’t influenced someone, or given them something to think about.  As wrote in the title “Our words are powerful”.

Enjoy your weekend.  Do whatever you can to help the victims of Sandy.  Remember to  hug an artist – we need love too.


An essay on friends

In my posting “Some of this, some of that” of earlier today, I mentioned a friend in New Jersey.  That started me thinking about friends and friendship, so of course I have to write about it.

Friends come into our lives in various ways – through work, social settings, social media or mutual interests to name four ways this happens.  Obviously by “social media” I‘m referring to sites such as Facebook and other such sites.  And yes, I’ve actually met some of the people on my Facebook friends list and count them among my dearest friends.  And there is one lady, mentioned in “Some of this, some of that” who, because of some of our conversations, I do consider a friend in fact, not just on Facebook and am looking forward to meeting her some day.  Ms M, keep that in mind 🙂

One lady I first met through a mutual friend on MySpace (remember MySpace?).  We began chatting and arranged to meet one day at a Starbucks and have become good friends since.  By the way Carol, coffee’s on me next time 🙂

I drove a cab for several years and some of the people I first met as passengers have become friends and even though I haven’t driven in seven years, we remain close.

Sometimes people enter our lives, become friends, then suddenly are gone again.  My view is that we were brought together with these people for a specific purpose – either so they could influence us, or we, them – then, when the purpose is accomplished, they move on. Or their purpose is to introduce us to yet another person.  Yet because they were a part of our lives for even a brief moment, both we and them are better people for having met.  At least we hope they are better people for having known us.  I’ve had that happen a couple of times and yes, I am a better person for having come under the influence of these people.

I treasure my friends, am honoured that they consider me a friend as well and am always flattered when they comment on something I’ve posted either here on WordPress as words or as images on Facebook.  If you have close friends, friends you value, tell them so.

Now, enjoy your day, offer prayers and whatever support you can for the victims of Sandy and, remember to hug an artist – we need love (and friends) too.