Scammed

I hadn’t heard from “Bob” for more than two years, and I was thrilled to get his e-mail a few days ago:

Bob Brown <……………….@………..com>
 
Hello,
 
How are you doing ? I hope this Email finds you well?
 
I need a little favour from you.
 
Thanks
 
My first thought?  Bob!  Of course I’ll help you.  I answered immediately.
 
Hi Bob,
 
I’m glad to hear from you. It’s been so long.
 
Sure … ask away.
 
And then an immediate reply:
 
Thanks for your response.  I am sorry for bothering you with this mail.  I need to get a Google Play Gift Card for my friend’s Daughter, It’s her birthday but I can’t do this now because I’m currently away and I tried purchasing online but unfortunately had no luck with that.  Can you help purchase it online or from any store around you?  I’ll pay back as soon as I am back.   Kindly let me know if you can handle this. I promise to refund as soon as I’m back. 

Thanks
 
I so much wanted to be helpful …
 
Yes, I’ll buy the card.  How much money am I putting on it?
 
Quick like a bunny came a response:
 
Thank you very much.  The Total amount needed is $300 ($100 or $50 denomination ) you can have it purchased from any store around you (Gas station, Walmart, Drug Store) or Online.  I need you to scratch the back of each card to reveal the pin, then take a snapshot of the back showing the pin and have them sent to me via my email.  So I can forward them to her with some Birthday Wishes.

Once again thanks.
 
Oh, I’m such a nice guy!
 
I’ll get some gas today and pick up the cards.  Stay tuned …
 
“Bob” was totally tuned in:
 
I will be expecting.  Once again thanks
 
I got to work on the task at hand …
 
Here you go, Bob!  You friend’s daughter will be very happy.  (complete with a photo of six $50 Google Play Gift Cards, with the codes revealed via thorough scratching)
 
I imagined the girl’s squeal of delight.
 
Thanks so much.  I really appreciate it.  I have forwarded the card to my friend’s Daughter, she was very happy you need to see her email but kids will always be kids she is really holding me to my promise because i told her i had do anything for her on her Birthday.  she just emailed me that the cards weren’t enough to complete what she had to do with it .  Please can you render me one more favour and I promise to pay back as soon as I am back.  I need you to help me purchase another gift card worth $300 ($100 or $50 denomination) so she could complete what she has to with it.
 
Thanks once again let me know when you purchase them and I promise as soon as I am back I will refund your cash. 
 
Thanks 
 
***
 
That’s enough of the sordid details.  I remained completely oblivious to what was really happening.  Somehow I’m smiling as I write this.  I was so eager to talk to Bob again and help him out that my rational mind went to sleep.  I do believe that the word for me is naïve … thoroughly so.
 
Here are the clues that blew right by this clueless human being:
 
1. “Bob” never called me “Bruce”.
 
2.  Throughout the correspondence, “Bob” showed an unusual use of capitalization (or lack thereof) … e.g.  Daughter, Total, Gas station, Birthday Wishes, i told her i had …
 
3.  “Bob” was “away” but why would he have “no luck” with buying these cards online?
 
4.  “Bob” was giving his friend’s daughter a gift of $300 ($600).  That sure sounds excessive.
 
5.  Unusual phrases within the e-mails, not the way Bob would speak: e.g. I’ll pay back, I will be expecting, i told her i had do anything for her, so she could complete what she has to with it
 
***
 
I am humbled
 
I still trust my fellow man and woman
 
I need to have my eyes open
 
(Sigh)

Speaking Truth To Power

Brad
Stewart
Germany
Leonardo
Audre
Aung
Czeslaw
Mahatma
Nelson
Caliph
Tom
John
John
Leymah
You
Me

***

Trump: We have won this election in Georgia based on all of this.  And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, Brad.  You know, I mean, having the correct – the people of Georgia are angry.  And these numbers are going to be repeated on Monday night.  Along with others that we’re going to have by that time, which are much more substantial even.  And the people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry.  And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you’ve recalculated.  Because the 2,236 in absentee ballots.  I mean, they’re all exact numbers that were done by accounting firms, law firms, etc.  And even if you cut ’em in half, cut ’em in half and cut ’em in half again, it’s more votes than we need.

Raffensperger: Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.

ººº

Trump: Big Tech is on your side, you know.  I don’t even know why you have a side because you should want to have an accurate election.  And you’re a Republican.

Raffensperger: We believe that we do have an accurate election.

Trump: No, no you don’t.  No, no you don’t.  You don’t have.  Not even close.  You’re off by hundreds of thousands of votes.

***

Honesty is the rarest commodity in the 21st century.  No one looks to the political class or journalists for truth these days.  The average Joe seems to spend most of their time peddling a ludicrous, flawless Facebook version of their lives.  The peer pressure of political correctness forgoes truth for the sake of groupthink.  It seems that comedians and writers represent the last bastion of candour out there today.  (Stewart Stafford)

To say nothing is saying something.  You must denounce things you are against or one might believe that you support things you really do not.  (Germany Kent)

Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.  (Leonardo da Vinci)

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.  (Audre Lorde)

You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right.  (Aung San Suu Kyi)

In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.  (Czesław Miłosz)

Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.  (Mahatma Gandhi)

Fools multiply when wise men are silent.  (Nelson Mandela)

And speak the truth.  Do not hesitate to say what you consider to be the truth.  Say what you feel.  Let your conscience be your guide.  Let your intentions be good, for verily God is aware of your intentions.  In your deeds your intentions count.  (Caliph Umar)

These days, a sling of truth can still make Goliath fall.  (Tom Althouse)

When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up.  You have to say something.  You have to do something.  (John Lewis)

When the President decides that he knows better than you know what’s good for you or your family, we’ve got trouble in this country.  (John Barrasso)

The one thing I’ve never been afraid of is standing before important people and speaking my mind.  I represent women who may never have the opportunity to go to the UN or meet with a president.  (Leymah Gbowee)

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………  (You)
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………  (Me)

A Light Touch

I seem to be getting sillier.

I went for a walk today through my village of Belmont.  The air was bright and the snow was just enough to feel Christmasy.  I was hoping to see kids in the graduating Grade 6 class, kids I miss so much.  I realize that I might not be volunteering in their classroom for the entire school year.  (Sigh)  May I be wrong.

***

“Ahh … here comes a middle-aged couple!”  I was so eager for contact.  From six feet away, we smiled at each other.  And the words just tumbled out of my mouth: “I knew that if I saw somebody out here, I’d be so happy that I’d pack a good snowball and throw it at them!”  The two of them cringed ever so slightly as their smiles took on a stationary look.  Then I laughed a Santa laugh, and so did they.  The snow remained on the ground.  And  we were off in our separate directions.

***

I smiled and waved at a mom and her adult daughter who were passing by.  Our conversation amounted to “Hi.”  A bit later, as I was doing a loop pattern through residential streets, I came upon a path between subdivisions.  Coming towards me were the two women.  Seizing upon a potential moment of irrationality, I looked at them as we got close and said “I was just on Robin Ridge Drive and saw two women just like you.  Do you realize you have twins?”  Their eyes widened and then relaxed.  And we all chuckled together.

***

Further down the path of life came a young mom strolling her infant son or daughter.  Another “Hi” and another smile.  Funnily enough, she also looped back to my reality.  Not being bored with my previous rendezvous, I said (with awesome originality): “I was just on Kettle Creek Drive and saw folks just like you and your child.  Do you realize you have twins?”  I mean really … why waste a good line?

***

Approaching Belmont Community Park, I saw three adults approaching – two men and a woman.  One of the men had a cane, and was hunched over.  We smiled and said “Hi.”  

(Me)  I knew that if I saw somebody out here, I’d be so happy that I’d pack a good snowball and throw it at them!

(Old man)  Well, start with these two!

(Me)  No, no … you appear to be older.  You get the first shot at it.

(Old man)  [Huge laugh, bending over even more]

(The other two)  [Smiling as they watched the old fellow’s delight]

***

On the home stretch, down the street came a mom and her two daughters.  As I got closer, I saw that one was “Brittany”, a Grade 6 kid I know.  Her sister “Terra” said that she was in Grade 2.  I told Brittany how much I was missing volunteering with her and her classmates.  She got the message.  I asked what recesses were like.  “Do you have to wear masks outside?”  >  “No, we just have to socially distance.”

Looking at Terra, I said “So you have to stay sixty feet apart?”  >  “No!  Just six feet,” she sputtered with a giggle.  Terra met my gaze and noted that she and I were closer than six feet.  (Actually we were maybe eight feet apart.)  “No way!”  > “Yes, way!”  >  “You’re wrong.”  >  “Okay, then I’m right!”  Etcetera.  Fun was had by all.  And then we went our happy ways.

***

I should get out more often

Blessing Us All

I think that if we sit down and be quiet for awhile, most of us sense a “bigness” that spans far beyond our individual lives. My spirituality is Buddhist. Yours may be Christian or Muslim or Hindu. When you think of a vast presence, it may be Jesus who comes to mind … or God the Father, the Buddha, the Dalai Lama, Muhammad or simply The Divine. It may be an enlightened human being or an overarching Spirit.

I feel a presence that wishes me well, that is intimately for me. Someone is cheering me on, glad that I showed up on the planet. And someone is doing the same for you.

Here’s “The Blessing” … a song that speaks through the words and between the words. It’s for all men and all women.

The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make His face shine upon you
Be gracious to you
The Lord turn His
Face toward you
And give you peace

Amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, amen

The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make His face shine upon you
Be gracious to you
The Lord turn His
Face toward you
And give you peace

Amen, amen, amen
Amen, amen, amen

May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children and their children

May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children and their children

May His presence go before you
And behind you and beside you
All around you and within you
He is with you, He is with you

In the morning, in the evening
In your coming, and your going
In your weeping, and rejoicing
He is for you, He is for you
He is for you, He is for you
He is for you, He is for you

He’s always on your side
You’re always on His mind
He is for you
He never will forsake
He never makes mistakes
He is for you, He is for you

Amen, amen, amen

https://youtu.be/XBTuiAoKZuE

Hacked

I’m not a suspicious person, or apparently a very careful one.

Yesterday I opened Facebook and saw a new communication in Messenger. It was from a friend whom I haven’t talked to for months. I was thrilled. There sat a video with the caption “Look what I found.” There was a tiny picture of some guy. Was that me? Had my friend dug up an old moment that we’d had way back in the past? I clicked. Nothing happened. (Sigh) I sent him a message saying that I couldn’t open the video. Our reunion would just have to wait.

That was the full extent of my thought process: communication delayed, curiosity unsatisfied. And so to sleep.

Then there was 7:54 this morning. I was having breakfast right then, blissfully unaware of the events in Cyberland. At that moment, for my entire address book, I believe, a video showed up in inboxes, declaring “Look what I found.” It was hours later that I realized lots of folks were trying to get hold of me.

Did you send me a video?

I can’t open your video

Looks suspicious to me

You’ve been hacked, my friend

Then a really big sigh. I wasn’t thinking clearly for the first few minutes but I finally decided to phone Facebook. I soon found out that such an action is virtually impossible. “Okay, then … change your password.” Of course! “And how exactly do I do that?” I fumbled around in Facebook menus for awhile before giving up. And then a magic word came to mind: Google. Lo and behold, a short YouTube video appeared in my life, voiced by a nice-sounding guy. I wasn’t in full control of my rational mind but I soon had a new password. I know I can trust you so here it is:

*************

I sort of sighed in relief, and figured out that I should phone my computer guy. Would he be working on Saturday? I called … and he answered. He said that all I could do was change my password (Done!) and warn everyone to not open the video. (The next part is my personal favourite) Brain matter swirling, I didn’t have a clue about how to let people know. My techy friend, ever patient, simply said “Post it on Facebook.”

I’m fascinated by my inability to figure that out on my own. Having said that, I posted. But the Messenger communications kept arriving. I answered them all.

I’m sad that my eagerness to connect with an old friend has led to so many people being at minimum inconvenienced, and perhaps severely hacked. Am I allowed to sigh a fourth time?

On we go

P.S. I just went to Facebook to post this and found out that the warning message I sent this afternoon went only to me! Arghh. I just changed it to “Public”. (Sigh number five)