Whatever strikes my fancy

I’m a writer and photographer. I’m working on my autobiography. Funny thing, but if people learn this they will often ask “is it finished yet?” Umm, unless you’re using a spirit board to ask that, the answer is obviously “No”. I’ve stopped it at the point I received my new birth certificate with new name and gender, but I’m still here so it could continue.

I write speculative fiction, also called science fiction and mystery and these pieces usually start with asking myself “what if …?”, then answering that question. That “what if …” could be on any topic – as the title indicates “whatever strikes my fancy”. I’ve destroyed cities and other planets (usually with classical music playing in the background as I write) and in the late nineties I chronicled a war that destroyed this planet. What prompted that was the debate over whether the 21st century would start January 1, 2000 or 2001. I think the answer depends if you ask an historian or a mathematician.

With my blogs, again I write about any topic that strikes my fancy or irritates me. I enjoy writing about various online scams as warnings to my readers. For the most part I stay away from American politics. I’m not American so unless what’s-his-name in the White House had done or said something exceedingly stupid, I ignore it. Having said that, living in Canada and being reasonably intelligent, I am aware that events in the U S may and can have a tremendous effect on us as well, so I do pay attention to American politics. I have however taken Canadian federal politicians to task on many occasions over their pronouncements or actions. And with the current regime in Queen’s Park, I can see that Ontario Premier Doug Ford will become a frequent target.

I prefer to write and edit in longhand, then once I’m satisfied I transcribe to the computer. By doing so, if inspiration strikes while I’m out I can capture the thought at the moment as I usually carry paper and pen.

I use this same approach with my photography. If something catches my eye, I’ll take a photo. A flower, a sign, interesting architecture, a scenic vista or sometihng whimsical such as this shot below taken outside a local shop on my phone, it doesn’t matter. There are occasion , such as grocery shopping, when carrying a camera is too awkward, by my phone has an excellent camera.

I use digital cameras (Canon ever since my first film SLR in the seventies) and have what I consider to be good software – Corel Paintshop Pro for processing. I can usually find something in the raw image to turn into a photo. And of course, by using digital cameras and processing, “undo” and “delete” have become my best friends.

I’ve had various people who like my work suggest to me I should give courses in both writing and photography. Such course would be very short indeed for here’s what I’d say:

Writing: write about what interests you. If that requires research, great – you’ll learn something new. If writing fiction or topical blogs, write the way you speak. If people who know you read it, they’ll hear your voice speaking the words and for others, it will sound more natural. Don’t use what I call “ten dollar words” in an attempt to sound more intelligent. If you don’t normally use them in everyday vocabulary, you’ll probably use them incorrectly.

Photography: if it catches your eye, snap it and sort it out later. Remember, “delete” can be a powerful tool.

There’s the essence of any courses I’d give.

Now, go create something and remember to hug an artist, no matter what their field of endeavour, for we need love too. And to my Canadian followers and visitors, have a safe and happy Canada Day weekend.

Cat.

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Consider all you like, you’re still wrong

I found this in the inbox of an email address I rarely use:

AMAZON

Dear Ghoward, Congratulations!
Because we consider you as one of our customer, we’d like to informe you that your rank on our clients list qualified you to get a spcecial FREE REWARD.
Click below to start

Start

This offer is limited*

If the English and spelling weren’t enough warning this is a phishing expedition, there are a couple of other things about this that scream “FAKE!” to me. First, I’ve never purchased anything from or through Amazon, so I couldn’t be a customer.

Second, it has been my experience that when (or if) you open an online account anywhere, you provide your full name, not just an initial. Therefore, any offers directly specifically to you would have your name and possibly other identifying details, not just the first part of your email address.

Next, I don’t use this email address much any longer as I changed my name about two years ago and set up an email account under my new name elsewhere. I couldn’t change the name on this one as it was originally set up for me by my son when he worked for the service provider.

Sorry Amazon or whoever is trying to run this scam, you can consider me “one of your customer” all you like, you’re still wrong and I’m not clicking on that “start” link.

If you receive this, even if you use Amazon religiously, check the little things like spelling, sentence construction and where the email is from. As I said, I didn’t click on the link, but I suspect it would have asked for details of my (nonexistent) Amazon account. Once they had that, they could run up my bill easily and probably very quickly.

DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT, ever click on suspicious links like this. Your bank account will thank you.

I wish all my followers and readers a very happy and safe 2019 and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Hello. old friend

I finally broke down and bought new toner for my laser printer.  I had the manuscript for my autobiography (no, it isn’t finished yet – I’m still alive, aren’t I?) as well as two collections of short fiction I wanted to print.  Just because I can’t find a publisher doesn’t mean I can’t have copies on my bookshelves.  And living on a small government pension pretty much eliminates the idea of self-publishing, so the trusty laser and corner copy shop for binding it is.

It has been a while since I looked at the fiction and I found that reading these was, in some cases, like finding a new author.  I’d forgotten some of them, so each page seemed like a brand new story.  And I must admit, some of this stuff is really good, even if I must say so myself.

Once I’ve finished and have added them to the bookshelves, I’ll have something else to read, and some of the shorter pieces may find their way onto this blog under the general heading “weekend fiction”.  That way, you can decide if they are as good as I think.

Enjoy your day, try to stay warm and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

It isn’t necessarily accurate

I haven’t picked on commercials in a while, so I think it’s time I did.  Three targets today – one television, one radio and one from Facebook. Let’s start with the TV ad.

Recently the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has been running ads touting the joys and ease of using on-line banking to pay bills.  One such spot shows someone getting out their chequebook, some stamps and envelopes in preparation to paying their monthly bills – you know, that thing we all do once a month.  The ad also shows their identical twin sitting at their laptop doing the same thing and finishing much faster.  CIBC is pushing this so hard you would think this is a new concept and the “best thing since sliced bread” (what really is the best thing since sliced bread anyway?  Just asking.)  News flash for CIBC: while I know you were the first to computerize your account records back in the ‘60s, I’ve been paying my bills on-line through my bank for a couple of years.  Time to join the 21st century.

Radio next.  I’ve been hearing an ad for Pearle Vision (did you know they’re part of the Lenscrafters group).  At one point the woman voicing the spot mentions something to the effect they consider eye care a “sacred mission”.  Don’t know about you, but anytime someone says something is a “sacred mission” I run the other way.  Everyone’s eyes are different – different problems, prescriptions, or whatever.  If these people are fanatical enough to consider eye care a “sacred mission” I worry whether I’m going to receive what I need, or what they think I need.

Finally, Facebook. If you have a profile, you have seen all those annoying ads running down the right side of the screen. Sometimes I think these are written by people who have only the barest knowledge of English. The other day I happened to glance at one that suggested I could buy a vehicle with bad credit today.  Now why on earth would I want to buy a vehicle that has bad credit?  My credit is pretty good so why would I want to buy something that’s going to ruin my record?  A few more minutes working on the text for the ad would have been well spent and cleared up any possible misunderstanding – such as what I wrote here.  Perhaps that I was educated back in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, when teaching English was taken seriously accounts for my “language police” attitude on occasion, so I blame the education system.  A sidebar on this one.  About three months ago, a man and his son applied for passports and that was when the man discovered his son couldn’t write his name.  Cursive script is apparently not taught in  Durham Region schools any longer. Printing yes, but actual handwriting?  Don’t be so silly.

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

Cat.

By the way, I usually write these postings in longhand, then enter them.

C.

I don’t need it

The following ad popped up on my gmail today:    Free Spell Check Toolbar – http://www.DictionaryBoss.com – Avoid Spelling Mistakes with Free Spell Checker – Download for Free!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t word processing programmes such as Word and WordPerfect come with spell check built in?  I know for a fact WordPerfect does because I sometimes use it, in fact I’ve got it set for Canadian English. I got Microsoft Word Starter as part of Windows when I got this system and yes, it too has a spell check feature (I just checked).  So why would anyone need to download a spell check programme from some outside source?

My concern with this particular programme being advertised is that I probably couldn’t make use of it for I suspect it is an American programme and would constantly correct words like “colour”. As I said, I don’t need it since I don’t use the American lexicon.  Another concern is this: what did they use as a source for their spellings?

Cat.

My head hurts

Following are two comments caught by WordPress spam filter.  These were intended for “Stick to the topic” (which seems to have become spammers’ favourite target on my site) and the other thing they have in common is that although they were under different names, they came from the same IP address.

I am shocked via the company’s written content with the web log. I just read content material using bated respir, and then I feel starving, because there are too little! Create concerning!

Suitable strike the niche tackled. Earlier this week When i talked over using this peers about this idea and even put forward the proposition when camping for the reason that I really don’t currently have. When i posted them to this web page, changed their particular scene on the condition.

My head hurts because I made the mistake of trying to translate these two examples of bafflegab into reasonable English.  I have no idea whatsoever what point either of these two comments are trying to make other than hope I’ll post them and give their websites some free publicity.   Well, that ain’t gonna happen.  Instead I’ll use them as material for another posting.

It appears to me these were originally written in some other language, then translated through some online programme into something resembling English, but don’t quote me on that.  They could truly be examples of the spammer’s knowledge and command of English.  I use the singular of spammer because these were from the same source.  I must admit I really can’t believe some of these people expect there messages will be posted when the language is so bad.  Then again, there are people for whom the use of a spam filter is a foreign concept, so yeah, perhaps the spammers are justified in their efforts.  But since most email providers have built-in spam filters and they are available free online for other applications, it makes no sense not to have one.

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

Cat.

I’m going to take something for this headache.  C.

Still off-topic

On January 29, I wrote a piece called “Stick to the topic” about the fact spam rarely has any bearing on the topic of the posting for which it is intended.  On February 15 I made mention of the fact this posting seems to have become the preferred posting on my site for spammers as I had to delete 12 more.  This morning there were another 5 comments.

Since I’m completely bored, rather than just delete them I’ve decided to use some of them as fodder for another blog and respond, through this posting, to this latest crop. I promise I won’t get obscene – I’ve already done that with my verbal responses.  I’ve removed most of the email addresses just to keep WordPress from getting upset and shutting me down again.

First we have this:

electronicsnews5.
Informative and precise…
Its hard to find informative and precise info but here I found…

I would hardly call a piece ripping into the poor English and fuzzy thought processes of a spam message “Informative and precise.”  Pay attention.

This is perhaps my favourite simply because it so precisely proves my point by being exactly what it is talking about:

DiamondClementine10512
Submitted on 2013/02/18 at 2:56 am

there is a great deal of spammy comments on this webpage. Have you ever believed about trying to remove them or installing a tool?

This actually started with words some may consider offensive, so I removed them both for that reason and that they did nothing to further the comment.  Oh yes, I believe!  That is why I have anti-virusware; anti-spam filters, and a firewall on my system.  I also believe that the WordPress spam filter does a marvellous job.  After all, it blocked your “spammy”  comment didn’t it?  The only spam on “Stick to the topic”, if you haven’t noticed, is contained in the body of the posting and is the one I’m dissecting.  Pay attention.

And finally, this little masterpiece:

Fridge2277
Submitted on 2013/02/17 at 10:14 pm

Wow! This could be one particular of the most useful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Excellent. I’m also an expert in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

About the only way this could be a useful blog would be if you were to use it to improve your English (and, by the way, yours could use improvement – that second sentence – ugh!).  By your last statement it appears you are admitting to being an expert in spamming, which is a very gutsy thing to admit.

Okay, I’ve had a chance to rant about something and I’m feeling much better now.  If you’re one who has a long weekend*, enjoy the extra day off.  Remember to hug an artist – we need love (and real comments) too.

Cat.

*Family Day in Ontario; Presidents’ Day in the US

**In the time it took to write this piece, “Stick to the topic” attracted four more spam messages.