A Cool and Cuddly Passed Weekend

So it is Wednesday, or “hump day,” as I sometimes call a typical Wednesday, and with it, the happiness knowing it is the halfway point in the workweek where we are moving towards the next weekend, a sense of hope that Friday is getting nearer. So, having said all that, what I wrote below, was written last Sunday, and rewritten Monday night, with proof reading and corrections done. So forgive me on my past tents, and wondering sense of time, in my use of grammar. This is, after all, my personal Weblog, so I get to make up the rules as I see fit, yet trying to conform to the standards that I was taught.

Friday night is somewhat a night to myself. I did my laundry, cleaned up a bit around the apartment, and prepared for tomorrow.  I have a couple of emails to send out, and some matters on Evil-Bay that are pending. Mostly, my online to-do list is small this week. It is the month-end, so I paid all of my Bills on-line (November 30), and made sure that my Bank statement balanced out with my records; it all works out, right down to the penny (though Canada no longer has pennies). I also bought a large size bar of chocolate–do not tell–it was my treat for a week well done. Somehow, chocolate has gripped my needs and wants in the food department. For the record, chocolate is not just a “Female” food, we Males get the cravings too. 🙂

Saturday was spent working on the PC, getting it’s software all up to date and fixing some of the on going bugs that have popped up in the last couple of days. Then I spent the rest of the morning reading some Court Documents that I want to study. These are rather touchy for most folks who live in and around the North Coast of British Columbia, so I will not include any details here on the Weblog. But, I did spent over six hours pouring over them, and I learned a lot. But having said that, I see even the Courts are a long ways from finishing this matter, as there are so many questions still yet to be answered. About high noon, Suz., called, and said she is on her way to pick me up, as we wanted to check out the weekend’s community craft events. The craft fair at the Kitsumkalum Centre was the best one, in my humble opinion, as it was packed and had more goodies to offer. In all, we had a great time. To end the night off, it was movie night at Suz.’s place. A fun and relaxing evening, even the Cats enjoyed curling up on my lap, playing chaperone on the couch, as we watched the show.

Sunday was spent with more morning reading, though not as deep as the morning before, but the rest of the Court Documents that I had with me, I finished. Later on, the plan was having dinner with Suz., and her parents, as we were celebrating her birthday. The dinner was awesome, and I was very full. We had Chinese at the Golden Star Restaurant, in down town Terrace. I have to plug this place because they are great, and me and Suz., go there often. Then I left for home early, so I could have a great start for Monday at my work. 

This was an abbreviated version of my weekend. So much more happened, of course, but this is all I need to write. I would also like to add that my car went five weeks before I needed to fill it up with fuel, and my heating bill was under seventy-five dollars (electric heat). Now I know we are getting ripped-off down in the Lower Mainland as far as bad Land Lords and local Governments goes. Shame on you! Just so glad I moved away from all that nonsense. But, you all have a great week, and as always, “stay out of trouble.”

Questions, Questions, and Not One Peep Back.

Dealing with “telemarketers” is one thing, you can hang up on them, but dealing with customer service people, well, that is entirely a different matter altogether. My quest was to somehow lower my ballooning rate per month with my cable/internet/phone provider. For lack of a better word, I am pissed at how much this monthly bill has shot up in the last year. So, my goal today was to lower it, even it means cutting the cord. For now the cord is still intact, but my patients is very thin, and my time with this service provider is nearing its end. It was my exchange of Q & As with the person on other end of the phone call that made me rethink my strategy of dealing with this business going forward.

The circular argument was three-fold. I asked for add-ons to be cut, and more specific, my entire “bundle” to be lowered to the lowest “pack” they had listed on their website. The counter argument was that none of the bundles could be broken, or reactivated unless I was a new customer. My final argument was to cut the cord completely, then re-enlist with the preferred services that I wanted at a later date. The answer was…, yes, but…, no.

We went over this thought experiment for nearly thirty minutes before I had to give up.

Then I brought up the point that what I saw on their website through my VPN was slightly different from when I was seeing it through my local I.P. Address. There was a pause. Silence; not a peep from her. I said “hello” a few times, and waited until she said something. After a minute, she asked me what was different on website, and then spewed off that use of a VPN maybe a violation of my user agreement. I laughed. I said that viewing the website through my VPN, I get to see all the bundles in their entirety, WITH PRICES, where as viewing it locally, I only see the upgrade bundles being offered. The mic drops. I added that “this is a very sad way of marketing and dealing with your customers.” She insisted that this was not the case. My B.S. meter’s needle just broke off from being buried in the red so far.

The cord will be cut very soon!

Oh Mike – The Senate, The Cons, The Court of public Opinion

I cannot hold my tongue no longer. After hearing the results of the Mike Duffy trial, that threw out all thirty-one charges put against him by the Crown, the RCMP and the Steven Harper PC Government of the day, I laughed out loud. “We are all fools” I told myself, after the day long event, covered in segments on CBC News as they peppered us with details of the deliberations (one by one) by the Judge somewhere in Ontario. With the full exoneration of Mike Duffy, the fools from all of this are the people of Canada. Sure, the Happer-Cons were the cause of all of this, as I see it clearly now from the Media. The questions I ask myself: do I still like the Senate afterwards from all of this? Ahhh, all of this has cemented even harder my lack of heart felt “value” of why do we still have this unelected level of government.

(Okay, I had a very long rant going on here. I stopped, and thought about it, then decided to delete it. I felt I was going way over the top with most of my comments. Some of my critiques were, well, abrasive and heart-felt, and borderline on self incriminating myself in public–I stopped typing.)

I guess I see all of this as a media event, like a three ring circus show. I am not a fan of the Senate. When I first learned of how our government worked, I was always asking question as to why this level of Federal Government was appointed, and always stacked in favour of the ruling Party, making it a puppet show of the House of Commons. No one ever told me that this was a one hundred percent good thing. Why not have elections for our Senators, I would ask? Why not make public their expense accounts, and hold them to budgets? Why not have rules and laws that would throw out the bad apples when those rules and laws are broken? And hey, lets have Green Party and NDP Senators too?

Sure, keep the Senate; I do agree with the concept of “A Second Sober Thought,” with our law makers. But lets prevent this three ring circus from going on any further–let us make true and lasting change.

LINKS

Mike Duffy ruling could put brakes on expense cases against other senators” CBCNews, April 22, 2016

Judge clears Mike Duffy of all charges and slams Prime Minister’s Office under Harper” CBCNews, April 22, 2016

Read Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s ruling” April 21-22, 2016 c/o CBCNews.

My Take on the Panama Papers

I almost fell off of my chair when I read the news article called the Panama Papers from CBCnews on their website. First, when they said that there are legitimate reasons for having an off shore account like and second, just how prolific these off accounts are among the rich and famous. But that is not all. When I read that part in the news article that our very own Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will not invest time and efforts to look into the Canadians on the list (who could be possible tax cheats) on the Panama Papers, this made me angry.

So, I am a big multi billion dollar corporation, and I ask my lawyers, “hey, how do we cut the amount of taxes we are paying in this county,” they would say, open an off shore account and there you can hid your money from the tax man. How could this be legal? I certainly see the benefit from the corporation’s point of view, and I just cannot wrap my head around how our government can legitimize this whole secrecy part about hiding money like this. Sure, there must be some legal reasons for doing this, (although I cannot see them at the moment) but in this day and age, when the number of people who have billions in their bank account is growing, and the number of countries and people who are corrupt grow, I can only see dodging and secrecy as the heaven against high tax jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies. So it would make sense to me that anyone who has lots of money (or property) would want to “hide” it, especially from government’s tax and legal departments.

I am just dumbfounded that in my own country (Canada) having an offshore account is perfectly acceptable; however, I did read my my tax return, and it asks if you have property and money outside of Canada, so I guess if you are honest, you would tell them. But, the CRA seems to not have any troubles if you decide to open an offshore account, and you kept that to yourself, they appear to have no interest in looking for it. So, if you are lucky enough to not have your offshore company’s records leaked to the world, then your money, assets and property (including valuable art) are perfectly safe in (from) Canada.

I say, Canada at least, should treat this like the “War on Drugs.” Liken it to drugs, say Cocaine for example. Cocaine is a highly additive drug, and it so happens that it is illegal to have possession of it, and to us it, other than for medial reasons by a real doctor. So, lets treat offshore banking the same way. Since greed for money seems to be associated with illegal activities, and common links can be drawn between the drug user and offshore accounts, why not set up laws and policing agencies to combat this scourge. If it is discovered that a person, or legal fiction, has an offshore account, then an automatic investigation should start. Heck, why not make it so that all money transactions have to go through policing body for some sort–say the CRA. in other words, if a Bank, like the RBC tells one of its customers that they should open an offshore account, then the first thing that must take place is a request by the CRA to grant the RBC to open this offshore account, while in that process, a copy of money and items must be registered.

Yes, I think this would fly like a lead balloon. Even in Canada, this would go too far. Yes, I would admit, if I could hid my money, I probably would. The best I could do is bury my cash, (LOL) if I had any to spare.

As Frogs Call – Is It That Time of Year All Ready?

My first full weekend in nearly four weeks, my, what to do with it? Well, lets write a blog post! So, what to write about…, lets see, there is the weather, that is messed up right now. Then there is the U.S. Election, as each major party chose their candidates to run in the Federal Election next year. I have lots to say about that. Then there is the price of everything. My poor pay cheque seems like it is worth nothing as I prices for everything climb out of control beyond my reach. I have lots to say about that too. Okay, lets get typing!

Thomasso Logo March 2016 Weblog Image

This is where I show my typical Canadainism–a rant about the weather. Spring has sprung, or has it? I am not sure, but Saturday was almost a day that would call something close to a late spring day. Yes, it was that warm out. Some of the flowers are popping up too that normally do not sprout for another few weeks, like the Daffodils, and of course the crocuses. Some of the Cherry trees are showing their blossoms, and even the Magnolia trees are sprouting them too. Along with the warmth brings the mosquitoes and other flying pests. You take the good with the bad, and so it is, my first mosquito bite–on March 5th–what’s up with that? I think this year will be an extra early spring. Heck, the frogs are going nuts, the croaking at night is loud, and all of this around the first week of March. I first noticed the frogs a couple of weeks ago, but last night must have been party night for them. Could we see a frog population explosion this summer? LOL!

Normally I do not write about U.S. politics, but today I will make an exception. Let me say a few things about the Trump Machine that seems unstoppable down South. We here in Canada had our own version of the freakishly out-of-bounds and embarrassing public figure, the Mayor of Toronto, back in 2013, that pushed the limits of how low you could go, and it seems you too in United States have your own case now. All I can say is “hang in there,” as I am sure that your Federal Election will set things straight, and Trump will be just a post scrip in the annals of time. I know the fear that there is a possibility of Trump becoming the Commander and Chief of the Super Power of the world, and yeah, it scares the crap out of me too just thinking about it, but I have faith in the American People to vote for the best person for the job, and I hope they, quite honestly, Dump the Trump.

The rising prices of stuff. I see it is not just me who sees the price crunch ramping up on nearly every purchase I make. I feel a little bit better when I read in the local media that the gouging and price increases are biting nearly everyone around–it is not just my in head–or something I am imagining. One price I keep my eye on is the price of gasoline. Where I live, the taxes are super high for gas, as compared to just a few kilometres away in the next township, and across the U.S. border. I save twelve to fourteen cents per litre just making that extra fifteen minute drive to any one of those locations.  Today, I notice that gas was selling for $1.10 per litre, while just in Abbottsford it is only $0.98. It does add up over time in the savings, making that extra trip across the line to fill up. Also on the rise are most foods I eat. I think the most expensive item that I use to buy is beef. The price of beef has climbed so high that I just stopped buying it. Instead, I found deals on fish and pork, and of course, a lot more poultry goes into my grocery basket. Next in the food department are veggies. I think I will be starting a little veggie garden this year. Over all, I noticed the food bill climbing, and that worries me. It is time to switch to more economical food types, and buy more local items until the Canadian Dollar bounces back up. I always wanted to get serious about food gardening–now is the time.

Phew. I am tired now. Okay, time to press “publish” and sign off for another day.

 

It Seems Like it was Thrown at Random

Ode to email Spam, those wonderful texts of lures that pop up on my in-box on an almost daily event. Some are funny, becuase their claim, requests, action, and demeanour are painfully out of whack. Others, well, they are so damn scary becuase I almost read into them. Sure, I know, everyone has a email story of their own. And I am not typing this out to play One-Ups-Man topping the worst email tail of all time, but rather to say, they are getting clever, sneaking through email-filters, and methods more meticulous. Here is an account of events that happen to me yesterday, as I almost fell into an email Spam trap.

A Pile of Numbers On the Ground Weblog Image

I had just finished opening an account with a VPN service that I wanted, and I was waiting for their Account Verification email, after I had done the payment, and typed in all of my biographical information, on their website. Like clock-work, an email popped up in my in-box, with the header, “Account Approved – Your Reference Number.” So I clicked on it, and the page opened so neatly, with a short blurb on “Terms and Conditions” and “Account Information – Terms and Uses.” But in the body of the email was, “Some fields in the form were not properly filled, or the wrong information typed in – Please enter the necessary fields (highlighted in red) to complete the form.” Like a monkey following a banana tied to a stick, I did what I was asked.

After clicking on the hypertext, my browser opened up to a page that looked totally foreign to me. I had never seen this webpage before, and in fact, my browser was having problems tying to construct the HTML into a meaningful looking page. But, just at the moment when I was going to dive deeper into the page, I noticed the URL header looked strange. It was an URL address that did not make sense (…bradshawfq-3442433-sum223-543.net/qr24332/m-text23.) My fingers applied the brakes towards the Enter Button, and I paused for a moment. “This is not from my VPN, nor would they want this garbage/information from me.”

Then it hit me (only after spending a sum total of less than a minute looking at this webpage) that I was being doped. Yes, I had almost fallen into a Spammer’s trap. So evil they are, those Spammers.

A few minutes later my anticipated Conformation Email came from my VPN provider.  With my VPN account opened, I laughed at the thought that for once I had almost fallen into the trap of a Con. (not meaning Canadian Federal Conservative Member of Parliament).

I did report the URL to my ISP, and found it listed on http://hoaxbusters.org/

The Born Again Armchair Criminologist

Nothing worse than getting involved in an un-academic argument over issues about crime with the armchair Criminologist. In fact, one of the first warnings I got in my first year in University was, “Criminology is one field that everyone believes they know more about than the expert.” And I can honestly say that my Professor was absolutely right. I hear it at my work, when I am out in public, and among my neighbours–they all have their their tails of victimization, abuse of authority and bulk at why laws are so loose on those who commit crimes.

I was waiting in the check-out at Walmart, when I over heard two women talking about how bad the crime rate is in Langley City. I listen with curiosity, and they were aware of my proximity to them, as I am sure they would have happily allowed me to join them on that topic. While they went through the line-up, and departed on their marry way, I heard another couple, this time behind me, talking about how they just installed their brand new auto security system; to deter would-be thieves from taking their SUV. They talked at length at what they say is a growing problem of vehicle break-ins; so they wanted to protect their investment. On my way to the parking lot, after paying for my groceries, two young teenage boys wearing their hoodies over their heads, riding on B.M.X. bikes, raced through the parking lot at full speed, sparking another conversation, with the people in the parking stall beside me, on youth crime.

Yes, in a very short period of time, about an hour, I heard these three groups of people all talking about crime. I am not surprised though, as this time of year people are more stressed, and more busy than normal, so attitudes change, and priorities too, when being with families and friends over the holidays take precedent. I like to call this, looking through rose coloured glasses, as we tend to see world in this weird tint.

But remember the media, pumping out story after story about crimes, one after another; it is no wonder that more people do not just stay at home with their doors locked and windows bolted shut–now I am being sarcastic. And this is where most get their few bits of data from, the morning newscast before they head out to work. One would think that crime is all around us, in every corner, behind every closed door–it is everywhere–oh no. We all believe we are victims, reciting that one event when a wrong doer wronged us, and we felt that the punishment given was a joke, or the authorities did nothing to catch them, and they got away with it. Everyone has an event to talk about from their past.

The last time I engaged a person on the topic of Criminology, specifically on youth crime, was my former land lord’s wife who was dealing with her grand child’s social and physiological deviance, and I chimed in. The first response to my thoughts were that she should recommend her daughter take her child to a specialist, was, being that I did not have a child of my own, I therefore have no valued knowledge in the field of child rearing–and she said, “Thank you.” In which I replied, “That is like you saying that, becuase I am not a criminal, I do not know anything about criminals? How absurd.” She did not offend me, but I learned a valuable lesson that day, citing that I can bring a horse to water, but I cannot make it drink.

Knowledge is valuable tool to have. It changes us from ignorance, to people of reason. Knowledge is very costly, both in time and access; you generally have to go to an institution that teaches it, where you learn from those who have mastered in it, in order to have gained it in its pure form. Anyone can obtain knowledge, but few do because of its costs, yet in the same vein, the free stuff–well, you get what you pay for.

A World First: The Climate Change Agreement

To tell you the truth, I have not been keeping a close eye on what has been going on in Paris, France, over the last few weeks in terms of the world climate change agreement. I only know from what has been pumped out through the news media, and that has been mostly uninformative as far a details go. So, I have only my opinion to put forth, and it is extremely narrow, very Canadian and very non-academic.

Climate Change Cartoon Dec 13 2015 Weblog Image

My cartoon drawing of increased ocean levels due to melting ice from the Polar Caps. Where I live, I am only a few metres above sea level on the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada.

First, yes, I am very happy that some sort of world agreement has been reached. I am not so happy that it has no teeth in terms of enforceability if a single country says they do not want to meet the emissions requirements set out in the world agreement. I guess the only option is to shame them to death, and everyone else picks up the slack on cutting back more on pollution. So it has no teeth, and a few bucks has been set aside to help poor polluting countries with their requirements. But, hey, it has been done! Power hug!

So where was Canada on this? Sure, with a freshly elected government (that seems to be a 180 degree from the old administration that was just kicked out) we seem to have a fresh face going into the Paris Climate Talks–but are we going to put our money where our mouth is?

Well, it appears, as a result of having a Federal Concentrative Government for nearly a decade, the onus is put on each Provence to choose how it will they will fight climate change. Now we will have mishmash of standards on output on Carbon and other types of pollutions, instead of a nationally regulated one, for keep everything in check. Fore example, if an energy rich region says that it wants to pump out more oil, then it is free to adjust its carbon output as it sees fit, forgetting about climate change emissions targets, and see it as a encumbrance.

My favourite argument regarding who has the right to create huge amounts of pollution starts like this: Because the rich countries have already made their wealth, and pumped out records amount of pollution in the process, then why not an emerging economy too?  It is only fare that a countries like China, India be allowed to start their industrial revolutions by building more factories and utilising their cheaper labour for exports to already rich counties like Canada. Do countries like the United States have the right to tell emerging countries to stop, slow down, or create costly systems that reduce pollution for the same output, but eats away at a company’s bottom-line? I really do not see anyone officially arguing that point home publicly on the news, other than saying, “you shouldn’t do it.”

Canada is a resource based economy. We make very little versus our resources that we mine, pump and extract out of the ground. We have a lot of land mass, and really, it is easer to sell raw iron, then it is to make nuts and bolts, at our labour costs. But extracting all that stuff, you need energy, and that makes pollution, and combined, has huge environmental side effects. Yes, we are a world player in pollution too.

Greed, like everywhere else, is common, and has the power to knock down Environmental Laws. Just look at Canada over the last decade. All this “agreeing” could get turned around again, and Climate Change will just be a side effect of getting richer. This is where I loose hope in the future as many Canadians voted for a government that was pro Big Oil and soft on the environment during the last nine years.

So, it is a good thing that Canada has had a change in government, and now this government has at least showed some initiative on fighting climate change. I guess the real sticking point will be if Canada latches on and holds true to this commitment, follows through and meets its objective of lowering and limits carbon out put within the time frame. I guess time will tell

The Dark Side of Street Photography

In this post I describe my latest pet peeve: street photographers that annoy me. I had an encounter just yesterday with one who was standing on the corner of 200th Street and 64th Avenue, in Langley, British Colombia, very close to where I work. This happened around 7:30am. And for the record, I have no problem with street photographers, and in fact, I am one, once in a while, when I travel to another city or town–it is natural to take shots of people and streets in another part of the world that I want to take back with me as memories and to show of the sights that I have seen through my lens. But there needs to be a line drawn on how far one should go with street photography.

It is one thing to have a camera shoved in front of your face, but it is another to have someone do it to another, in the sense of acting like a pervert. Yes, I am talking about the guy with the super long telephoto lens, shooting butt shots of women walking down a street in broad daylight, especially those who wear revealing clothes.

How do you teach a photographer a lesson, who is about to take that money of shot of an exposed pair of panties just as the breeze pushes up a wayward mini skirt? Simple, you tell the woman that a “creep” is taking photos of her. It usually works.

Sometimes people make me sad to the point that there ought to be law. In street photography, here in Canada, your public face is free for anyone to photograph with in reason, as long as you are in the public sphere. There are some limitations to what can be done with the photograph in certain circumstance, but in general terms, it is fair game. So, if someone chooses to stand on a street corner and shoot women’s butts, there is not much that can be done about it.

For the self respecting photographer, if someone says, “hey, please don’t take my picture,” on the street, then an honourable photographer would automatically do so with out question. In my experiences, I always ask if I am shooting just that person, say in front of a building that looks really cool. If it is a city scape, or multiple person scene, then it becomes a little more murky as I may have ten or twenty people in the shot, but these are more far-away shots anyway. Sometimes you see a shot that just happens, and usually just happens at the spur of the moment, then I tell the person afterwords if they seem inquisitive about what I have just done. But I am out in the open about, and I act professional too–very important aspect of photography.

As for the pervert photographer, yes, I yelled at the lady who was walking just before me that a man with a camera was shooting her behind; just loud enough that he heard it loud and clear. My civic duty done. The shocking part, the woman really did not seem to care. The man with the camera walked away very quickly.

VOTED! The Deed is Done.

A wonderful feeling getting this election over and done with. I am going to say that I am on the side that says that this election went on far too long, only becuase I had made up my mind who I was going to vote for long ago. But oh well, some do not mind wasting tax payers money, and then lie about, trying to justify it. Please do not get me started… Anyway, I got to the polling station just before it opened, about 10 minutes to 7:00am, and sure enough there was line up already. I was about 9th in line, and second at my polling booth where I cast my ballot. So now, I wait like everyone else to see the results tonight of who our next leader will be here in Canada. Yes, I am a little nervous about it.

Vote Oct 19 2015 Graphic

I hope that there is a strong turnout this time around, becuase I believe that the more who show up and vote, the better chances are of having a better government. OK, I will show my colour here, I do want change, and I want it badly. I believe that Canada is currently head down the wrong path, and we need to get this country back on track before we are too far gone. That is my opinion, take it of leave it.

Anyway, if you have not gone out and voted, then get out there do it before the end of today! It should only take a few minutes of your time, and this election is super important not to miss it.  So go and VOTE! 🙂