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Friday, February 24, 2012

Snow ... Snow! ... Snow?



For those who haven’t quite decided what to do for a living, or those thinking about a career change, consider becoming a meteorologist.  Anyone qualifies and no experience necessary.

Take for instance yesterday’s weather forecast for Toronto.  The meteorologist predicted that the city was going to get snow.  Not just a few flurries, but the mother of snow storms.  It would snow between midnight and Friday 4:00 p.m. and as much as 6 inches (15 cm) was expected.

Before I continue, I should say that Toronto hasn’t had much of a winter so far.  It hasn’t been really cold and we’ve seen little or no snow.  So now, before it was all over with March around the corner, it was finally going to happen.

Kids rejoiced that they wouldn’t have to go to school.  Workers mentally rubbed their hands at the prospect of a day off.
Me, I was looking forward to a nice thick blanket of snow.  If I wanted a cold winter without snow, I could have stayed in South Africa.

When I woke up this morning I lay for a moment and wondered how much snow had actually fallen.  Would we be able to go to work?  Were the trains running?  If I went to work, would I find the office open or would there be a notice on the door “Closed on account of weather”?

Full of expectation I tiptoed to the window and opened the curtains, expecting to see the fields and trees weighed down with snow.  The cars in the parking lot waiting for the scraper to arrive so they could take their owners to work.   

What I saw was … a grey parking lot, slick with rain.  Where was the snow?  What had happened to the mother of all snow storms?  Where were the 6 inches?  We didn’t get 6 inches, we didn’t get 2 inches, we got nothing!  Nothing at all!!!

Later we heard that the snowstorm had passed us by.  Toronto was supposed to get a storm, but the strong wind had blown the snow elsewhere. 

Was this the first time the Toronto meteorologist got it wrong?  Let me put it this way … liar, liar, I’m surprised your pants isn’t constantly on fire.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Angry Birds



A word of advice … now that Angry Birds is on Facebook, don’t start playing it.  Once you start, you cannot stop.

Even though Angry Birds has been around for a long time, I wasn’t remotely interested.  Dieter played it, but I thought it was just a stupid game.

When Angry Birds came on Facebook, I had to check it out, see what all the fuss was about.  I firmly believe that one should at least try something before forming an opinion.  BIG MISTAKE!

All it took was one game and I was hooked.
Those cute birds, the different challenges they face, not to mention the hilarious sound effects of the game make for a winning combination.

This afternoon I was an angry bird.  Kennedy Bowl organized a doubles tournament and of course Dieter and I were there.  We’re both diehard bowlers and cannot resist an opportunity to measure ourselves with other bowlers.


One look at who was there and we both raised our eyebrows … not only had other bowlers come out in full force, quite a few of them were of a considerable calibre.  We would have our hands full keeping up with them, never mind beating them.

Personally I am one of those bowlers who does well when it doesn’t matter.  Meaning, during social bowling I maintain quite a decent average.

When it does matter, during league bowling, my games tend to go up and down.  Sometimes I start off low and manage to increase my game score as I go along; sometimes I start off bang, only to go to pieces later on.  

 
During a tournament … well, I never know what’s going to happen.  I’ve had good games and I’ve had bad games.  I make stupid mistakes, leave pins standing and make one split after another.  The way I see it, it’s not my fault.  It’s the fault of my ball who develops a mind of his own.  

When he has to go left, he veers to the right; when he’s supposed to go to the right, he swings to the left, and then there are times that he goes dead straight when he’s not supposed to.

As for the pins … I swear those things move on their own accord or have something on the bottom that enables them to remain standing … glue, or Velcro or something.  

Anyway, in today’s tournament we muddled along until Dieter shot a 255 in the last game, catapulting us in 4th position in the qualifying.  Our victory was short lived though.  To cut a long story short … we didn’t win.  Not even close.

Not surprising when I checked out the competition.  One of the men has no less than ten 300’s in his bowling career!!! 

We didn’t stick around to find out who ultimately won.  We left with our tails between our legs and went to drawn our sorrows in a large Hawaiian pizza. 

Does this loss teach us the lesson not to compete again … neigh, as I said, we’re diehard bowlers.  We may have lost a fight, but we will persevere until we win the war.



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Every action has a reaction


It’s hard being a cat sometimes, especially if you share a house with other cats.

Even though there are three perfectly good baskets around, whenever there’s a box available Chanel, Mickey, Charlotte and Gabriel will take turns curling up in it.  But sometimes one of them overstays his welcome.  In that case patience goes out the window and it’s time for a little action.



While Gabriel was sleeping in a cardboard box today, Mickey did just that.  He positioned himself close to where Gabriel and looked at him.  Make that, stared at him.  He stared and stared and just when I thought he was about to give up, he stared some more.

Gabriel wasn’t bothered.  Mickey could stare all he wanted, Gabe wasn’t moving.  So what did Mickey do … he bit Gabriel’s leg.  He lowered his head, nuzzled his nose into Gabriel’s long hair, but instead of grooming him, he took a bite.

As planned, this action had a reaction.  Unfortunately Mickey hadn’t thought this one through though.  Yes, Gabriel vacated the box, but Mickey couldn’t immediately take possession of it.  First he had to deal with a mouthful of hair.  That comes of it when you bite a longhaired cat.

Do Mickey and Gabriel fight?  Neih, they’re the best of friends, always have been.


In general it wasn’t Mickey’s day today.  This morning I couldn’t find him.  I wasn’t really worried because I had seen him some five minutes before, so I figured he was probably sleeping somewhere.

While waiting for Mick to resurface I decided to make the beds.  I started with Dieter’s bed, grabbed hold of the duvet and flung it on the floor.  There Mickey was, with some dumb look on his face like “What the hell happened?” 

Did he get up?  If you think he did, you don’t know Mickey very well.  He put his head down and went right back to sleep.  Okay, I would come back later.  Much later.

I moved on to my bed.  Once again I grabbed the duvet and threw it off the bed.  I heard a “clonk”.  That was strange, duvets go down softly, they don’t go clonk.  This time I had interrupted Charlotte’s sleep.  She slunk from under the duvet (that was now in a heap on the floor) clearly not impressed.  She gave me a look that said “What’d do that for?”


This was clearly a no win situation for me.  So I left the beds alone and went to do the dishes instead.  Much safer for everyone.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Accidental or deliberate?



Last night Gabriel joined me in bed, as he does every night.  As usual he wanted to have his head rubbed, his belly tickled and his head rubbed some more. 

Usually he sleeps late (as I do) and we get up together.  Not this morning though.  I woke up from a scratching on the door, followed by “Meow, meow”.

“Ssst,” I shushed sleepy.

This didn’t work, Gabriel cried and kept on crying, he pleas getting louder and louder.

“Gabriel,” I said, “come back to bed and go to sleep.”  In reply he scratched the door some more and let out another couple of “meows”.

“Gaaaaaabriel,” I groaned, “pleeeeease!  It’s too early, come back to bed.”

Gabriel wouldn’t hear of it and meowed more insistent than before.

“GABRIEL!” I yelled, now fully awake.  “What is it with you?  It’s too early."
 
“Meow” he said in response.

I could have just gotten up and let him out of my bedroom, but it’s was so warm in bed and I wasn’t quite ready to leave, even if it was only for a few seconds.

To my relief Gabriel left his spot by the door and jumped on my bed.  He didn’t curl up though, he stepped on the bed’s headboard and sat there.

I turned over, snuggled under the covers and was just about to doze off when something hard landed right snack on my head.   A stone duck was the culprit, knocked down courtesy of Gabriel he couldn’t keep his paws to himself.  He knocked that duck down to get back at me for not letting him out.   

Accidental or deliberate?  One thing is for sure, when he start meowing tomorrow, I’ll open the door, who knows what else he has in mind.

From there on my day didn’t exactly get better. 

While I was working on the computer later on, I suddenly heard a “tonk”, followed by “splat, splat, splat”.  I was still trying to figure out what the strange noise was when I noticed something moving on Dieter’s nigh stand, where he keeps a fish tank.

On the night stand was a tiny fish, flipping and flapping like crazy.  I immediately rushed to the rescue, but picking up a tiny, slippery fish proved more difficult than I expected.  After a couple of futile attempts I resorted to wiping the fish with one hand into my other hand.  Much like one would brush crumbs off a table.


I worked and once I had the fish I deposited him back into the water.  Oh my heart, my poor heart.  Even though I managed to stay calm during a crisis, once it was over I nearly went horizontal.

I had to tell someone, I had to share this near horrible experience.  So I called the owner of the fish, Dieter.  And what did he do when I told him the horrible tale?  Not what I expected.  He wasn’t shocked, he wasn’t worried, he wasn’t even sympathetic, he … burst out laughing.  Thought the whole thing too funny.  He even posted it on Facebook!

First a cat, then a fish … maybe I should stick to a bird or something.



Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hello Phil


 

Yesterday was Groundhog Day.  The day Punxsutawney Phil tells us whether we get a late or early spring.  If we are to believe the little rodent, it will be a late one.  Phil proclaimed …

 

As I look at the crowd on Gobbler’s Knob

Many shadows I do see

So six more weeks of winter it must be

 

Six “more” weeks of winter?

We in Toronto haven’t really had a winter.

It’s been a little chilly, and we had a few flurries of snow, but nothing compared to other years.

I haven’t worn a sweater yet and my winter coat has been more in the closet than out.  In fact, this has been more like a long fall than a winter.

 

In the morning when I open the curtains I see either sunshine and blue skies, or soft rain from grey clouds.  I like them both equally.  While I like sunny days, every now and then a little rain must fall.  While I like rainy days, too much grey can be depressing.

 

Personally I rather like wet days.  The grayer the sky, the heaver the rain, the more creative I get.  In case you’re wondering if I’m a water sign … no, I’m a Gemini.  In the Chinese calendar I’m a rooster, a fire rooster at that.

 

Despite not being related to water I do some of my best work on rainy days and get some of my best ideas when I’m around water.  Showering and doing the dishes are inspiring, but what really gets me going is washing windows.  There’s a certain calm in washing glass, and while going from left to right and up and down, ideas for stories just come flooding in.

 

There are other people who think at their best when surrounded by water.  There was one writer who considered moving to Hawaii for precisely this reason.  His grandmother promptly replied “You want to be surrounded by water?  Take a bath.”

 

 

 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

One scam down



It would seem that Carol T. didn’t like yesterday’s blog post.  Nope, she didn’t like it at all and oh dear was she mad.

On her scheming blog site she was polite and informed her members that I was “the worst troll she ever had” (does that mean she had other trolls?), but in the email she sent me later on the gloves came off and she showed her claws.

Boy oh boy did she let fly.  How dare I blog about her … Did I know how much money I cost her … Did I realize that I had damaged her credibility, and blah, blah, blah.  She used some rather colourful language that would make a sailor blush.  With some her profanities I was familiar, others were rather new. 

She was of course mad that I had called her “operation” a scam and tried to convince me that it was quite legit.   Some of her minions joined in and defended her actions.  I guess they couldn’t quite admit that they’d been scammed.  Although some were quite honest, saying that even though they had made a little money, the revenue was not nearly what was promised and the so called seminars rather worthless.

So I did a little digging whether or not Carol T.’s tips were helpful or not.  I came across the following …

“As an entrepreneur you should always advertise your goods with photographs.  A visual is always better than mere words.”

“Create a page on Facebook and make friends to “Like” you.”

“Be active on Twitter and make friends to re-tweet your posts.”

“Involve family and friends to advertise your goods.”

That’s it?  Advertise with photographs, Facebook, Twitter and involving those you know?  People have to pay $25 for that!!!  A five year old could have told them that.

Another of her complaints to me was that I asked too many questions.  Euh da-a, before I fork out $25 I want to know what I’m paying for. 

Her answer was “My services”.  Okay, but what involved her services.  Carol T.’s reply “To give you access to my contacts”. 

Call me crazy but I’m a little hesitant when I see the word contacts.  A few months ago I responded to a similar ad and was put in touch with a gentleman from Russia.  He was looking for someone to handle his accounts.  All I needed was a bank account.  I would receive his clients’ money and then transfer it to him via Western Union.  For each transaction I would receive $50.

$50 for simply sending money via Western Union?  Okay, I saw nothing wrong with that.  Turns out, I was wrong.  After only one transaction my bank called me and asked for details.  Turned out I was involved in something illegal.

More digging revealed that advice for entrepreneurs, legitimate advice that is, happens a little differently than how Carol T. goes about it.

Richard M. runs such a business and informed me that his clients join his operation free of charge.  Whenever they land a client, he takes 2, 5, 10 or 12% of their commission.  “When asked for money, prospective investors should proceed with extreme caution,” he said.  “Hardly any legitimate business will charge money up front.  Why do you ask?”

When I told him about Carol T.’s entrepreneur blog he responded with “Oh her”.  Apparently, he is familiar with her scamming blog and calls it a joke.

To protect others, I reporting Carol T. to the BBB (Better Business Bureau).  As it turned out Carol T. is no stranger there either.  Within the hour someone of the BBB sent me an email asking for more details.  Did I perhaps have an email address?  Other complaints have been received about Carol T.’s blog scheme, but what the BBB really needed is an email address.  Did I have that?  No, unfortunately at the time I didn’t.  But I knew how to get it.

I posted yesterday blog post on her blog site for all to see.  Initially nothing happened.  If at first you don’t succeed, try again, which I did.  This time Carol T. sent me the above mentioned email, swearing blue murder and banning me from the site. 

Bingo, I had her, or rather, I had her email address.  Am I good or what :-) 

P.S.  She called my blog “an itty bitty blog that nobody reads”.  I beg to differ.  Since posting yesterday, "Under the Toronto Sun"  received 236 hits.  I consider my work done, those are 236 people who won't fall for her little scheme.  With any luck those 236 (and counting) will share what they learned, forcing Carol T. to rethink her scheme.  That will really make her angry. 

Either that or the BBB will step in and shut her down.  Unfortunately, as quick as one scheme goes down, another pops up.  Be warned.