Thoughts from isolation

1 – I don’t know about you, but to me it seems the pandemic and resulting restrictions and social distancing measures have changed the way I shop. For years economists and others have been talking about moving to a cashless society. It seems COVID may be hastening that eventuality. Other than for cab fare, I can’t recall the last time I used anything other than credit or debit cars to pay for anything.

2 – I’m upset with one of the cable channels I get – AMC. Last year they ran a series called “A Discovery of Witches”, which really captured my interest. About a month ago, they showed the complete first season. This was good as I’d somehow missed a couple of episodes. Among the various commercials were some advertising season two and those are the reason for my upset. Season two will be shown on their streaming service, not the regular cable channel. For some reason I am unable to access American streaming services (I’ve tried several times.) This show is set in modern times and involves witches, vampires and others of the fae realm. (Random thought: I find it somewhat ironic that this centuries old vampire drives a Tesla.) Brief synopsis: young woman discovers she’s a powerful witch and gets involved with the above mentioned vampire. Other discover her power and try to capture her for various nefarious purposes. In the final episode of season one, she and the vampire escape through time – she has the ability to do what the show calls “time walking” – to 1590. But since it’s on the streaming service, I’ll never know how and when they return to today. Oh well, perhaps it’ll turn up as a box set on Amazon one of these days.

3 – When I drove taxi, I kept a crossword book with me to pass the time between calls. It was a way to stave off boredom. After a year of COVID isolation I’ve started solving them again because yelling at the television isn’t working any longer. It has been several years since I bought a crossword book and well, I still see the same clues recurring.

The creators of these things still use “Hilo honker”, or “goose that frequents crosswords” when after “NENE”. And they all seem to think the only native tribe in Canada is “CREE”. These are but two examples of clues and responses I recall from my cab days fifteen years ago. They are also fond of using proper names – Esai Morales in various forms is a common choice, as is Ava Gardner. Just once I’d like to see a puzzle that doesn’t involve proper names at all.

Every so often someone will come up with something that is so wrong it infuriates me, such as this one. The clue was “Renee Zellweger faked this for ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’”. The logical answer would be “ENGLISH ACCENT”, but that would be incorrect. For reasons known only to themselves, the creator decided the correct response was “ENGLISH ACCIDENT”! I’ve seen the movie and I have no idea where that came from.

Okay, I’ve ranted and must admit this feels better than screaming at the television. Stay safe and remember to give an artist a virtual hug – we need love (and social distancing) too.

Cat.

They keep trying

A little while ago, I received a text message from “Management Team” at Toronto phone number 437-240-6722 telling me a restriction had been placed on my TD Visa card. The sender quoted a Visa card number that, while it had the correct prefix for TD cards, had no other relation to my actual card number. The message stated my card was “immediately blocked, because of “Security Limitation. Then followed some nonsensical, but intended to sound official, numbers. Finally, the text read “Please text ‘Y’ to initialize removal of holds.”

Right, sure, anything you say. First of all, this is not the first text I’ve received of this kind. Some of them come from banks I don’t even deal with, so I am aware these are just looking for information. I’ve never texted “Y” back, but I presume that if I did, I’d be asked all kinds of questions to “confirm my account” when really all they want is my information. So, what did I do? I did what any reasonable person would, or should, do – I called Visa and reported the attempted phishing to them. I know the state of my account, so wasn’t fooled by the message.

If you receive a text message like this, or anything similar, don’t just blindly answer “Y”, check it out. You could save yourself and your credit rating a whole lot of financial hurt. I also suggest you keep tabs on your Visa card (or any other credit card) balance. That way you won’t get fooled.

Cat.

How to be you in five easy steps

NOTE: I live in Ontario, so am speaking of my own experiences. Depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, you may have to do more travelling.

Okay, now you have your new documents showing your new name. You sit there staring at them because the government has finally acknowledged you are who you say you are. Don’t get too comfortable, for there is still a lot of work to do before you’re done.

For me here in Ontario, some of it is relatively painless. Ontario operates locations under the name “Service Ontario”, which are essentially one-stop shopping locations for dealing with provincially issued documents. There are two types – government run locations and franchises. Most transactions can be handled at franchise locations, but for modifications to health cards, you need to visit a government location as the franchises are restricted in the health information they can access. Once there, you can modify not only your health card, but driver’s licence, vehicle ownership or the Ontario identification card (if you don’t have a driver’s licence). There, one stop and all your provincial documentation has been changed to your new name.

The federal government also operates a similar service, called logically enough, “Service Canada”. Again, one stop and you can change the information on all your federally issued documents except your passport. The Social Insurance Number controls all government access, so changing that will change your tax records and, in my case, my federal pension records.

But you’re still not done. You have bank accounts and credit cards to change. In my case, that involved a simple visit to the bank where everything was done within five minutes. And something you may not have considered: if you rent, you’ll need to sign a new lease in your new name. You hope the landlord still wants you as a tenant as you prepare for this step.

What else? Well, what about your cable and cell phone? Those can be settled with a quick visit to the nearest location of your service providers, armed with your documentation. Ontario covers the cost of most drugs for seniors such as myself, so you’ll have to give your pharmacy the new information as well, as well as advise your doctor of the changes so he’ll get paid for treating you.

In the Greater Toronto/Hamilton Area, transit companies operate under an umbrella company called Metrolinx. Through Metrolinx, I have a pass (electronic ticket actually) that allows me to travel on any transit system under their control provided I have sufficient funds on the card. Naturally this has my name on it, so that must be changed as well.

These are the things I have to change, or have already changed. You may have others, such as gym memberships or gas company credit cards that will need to be attended to before you’re done.

Welcome to you new name.

Cat.