Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Day In The Life Of A Mountie

It is time for the point of view of a certain legendary Mountie, the fiercely cranky Inspector Lars Ulrich, who should never be mistaken for the drummer from Metallica.

7:32 AM. Walking into my detachment. Didn’t sleep well last night. Dreamed of being surrounded by entertainment journalists demanding to know why I wasn’t on tour with Metallica. And for some odd reason, I couldn’t hit any of them. Needless to say, this leaves me feeling cranky.

7:46 AM. Morning briefing with the constables and sergeants about our duties. I’m due in court today in Calgary. Another one of those pre-trial hearings involving that deranged serial killer I arrested. For some reason she doesn’t like me. Well, that’s fine. I’m not that fond of psychotic grandmas who serve tea to their next victim.

8:03 AM. On the phone with the lawyer of that bank robber we arrested yesterday. He’s complaining about his client being kept in solitary pending a bail hearing. Oh, come on. Your client asked for solitary. Can’t say I blame him. Other detainees finding out what the guy’s name is? They’d want to throttle a guy who actually goes through life with the name Justin Bieber.

8:10 AM. Out the door and on my way. I instruct Constable Mackenzie to keep an eye out for lingering entertainment journalists. For whatever reason, they seem to be drawn to me and this place like moths to a flame.

9:21 AM. Have arrived in Calgary and the provincial courthouse. Routine hearing today, even if the accused is anything but routine. Imagine spending decades of your life writing murder mysteries and interfering in police investigations, all the while acting out on your darkest impulses and murdering left and right. Such is the life of Jessica Fletcher. Or was, until I arrested her.

9:27 AM. Conferring with the Crown Attorney on today’s proceedings. Fletcher is en route from the detainment facility where she’s been held without bail. The usual security measures are in place. Which means she’s in tight restraints with a mouth guard to prevent her from biting. Kind of like Hannibal Lecter. Only she’s more dangerous.

9:51 AM. Heading into court. Passing by a group of reporters. One of them blurts out that he’s with Entertainment Tonight, asking why I’m not on tour with the band. I snarl at him, tell him I’m not that Lars Ulrich, and deck him.

10:04 AM. Waiting in court. Fletcher’s attorney is objecting to the fact that her client is so tightly restrained. Fletcher’s muttering something or another, no doubt wishing she could turn around and yell at me face to face.

10:05 AM. The judge orders Fletcher’s restraints removed, despite the objections of the Crown Attorney. I’m on my guard. She seems fixated on me. Not that I’m worried about myself, I mean, she’s past ninety, and I’m in the prime of my life. Even so, she could take a hostage, and we cannot allow ourselves to underestimate her rage.

10:49 AM. Watching the hearing. Mostly routine legal matters. The defense demands that all charges be dropped against her client. The Crown strenuously objects and points out the severity of the charges and suspicions about thousands of murders being committed by her client. The defense rolls her eyes and asks why the Crown likes to exaggerate. It’s not exaggeration when you’ve read the diaries of the suspect, Miss Mitchell. I should ask the defense sometimes if people ask her what it’s like going through life with the name Joni Mitchell.

11:36 AM. Arguments complete. Judge denying the demands of the defense, as expected. Fletcher continues to be remanded to custody. The judge ends the hearing, and as if on cue, Fletcher lunges out of her chair and charges at me. “Your head on a pike, Ulrich!” she screams as three court officers restrain her. “Your head on a pike!” the old woman hollers, glaring at me. I smirk, wave, and watch her being dragged out of the room.

11:37 AM. I ask the defense attorney when she’s going to give up on her deranged serial killer client. Joni Mitchell just glares at me with that dagger eye expression. Oh, please. I patented that look when dealing with dimwitted reporters, you know…

12:20 PM. Lunch at a restaurant with a couple of my RCMP colleagues working here in the city. Steak with maple syrup for me. All washed down with a proper cup of Canadian coffee. None of that Yankee swill they serve at a Starbucks.

12:43 PM. Lunch just wrapping up when one of my colleagues gets a call. Distant screams and a roar that sounds like a primate. Turns out that King Kong just turned up in Calgary and is rampaging his way through the Stampede grounds.

1:01 PM. Along with my colleagues, I have arrived at the Stampede grounds. Fortunately, the Stampede isn’t running this time of year. Instead we’ve got a human stampede of people running away from a really oversized ape. And there’s Kong himself, throwing cars around and yelling. Let’s see… me versus a giant cranky monster. This isn’t even fair. For the monster.

1:02 PM. Yelling to get Kong’s attention. The beast looks my way… and recognizes me.

1:06 PM. Have single-handedly prevented Kong from fleeing- it seems he remembers the last time I kicked his ass- and have knocked him into a state of unconsciousness. My colleagues come up to where I’m standing beside the fallen monster. Okay, first things first. Who keeps letting him off Skull Island? And second, who’s going to bring him back there?

1:43 PM. Watching a courier company at work trying to figure out how to move an unconscious giant ape halfway around the world. Hey, don’t look at me. You guys said you could move anything, any place.

2:11 PM. On my way out of the scene. The press approach. I sigh in dismay. They start asking questions. One of them is louder than the other. “Lars! Lars! Skip Riley, Access Hollywood! I just have two questions! First, why aren’t you on tour with the rest of Metallica? And second, will fighting giant monsters be a drawback for your career as a heavy metal drummer?”

The rest of the reporters back up, knowing what’s coming. I inform Skip Riley that I am not that Lars Ulrich. All the while clenching my fists.

He looks at me in the usual confused way of those of his profession, and asks, “are you sure?”

2:12 PM. Have broken Skip Riley’s nose and sent him falling into a nearby chuck wagon. He struggles up to his feet just in time to see me coming, and, despite being a dimwitted entertainment reporter, decides to be smart enough to run for his life. Not that it’ll help.

7:48 PM. Back home. Skip Riley is presently residing in a hospital in a body cast, whimpering. King Kong is en route somewhere over the mountains, on the first leg of a journey back to his South Pacific home, heavily sedated. Jessica Fletcher is grinding her teeth in maximum security custody, still apparently vowing revenge, my brutally drawn out death by drawing and quartering and flaying alive, and the shedding of every bit of blood my body contains. Is there some reason that should frighten me?

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Old Wood Forest Scammer Ploy

No matter what we do, they never give up. Spammers regularly attempt to leave spam in our posts, spam that is inevitably locked up by spam filters and tossed into the eternal purgatory that is the spam folder. Yet they carry on, targeting posts that are often more than a year old. And then there are the scammers, sending off email that winds up in our junk mail folders anyway. Such was the case with the following, which turned up in my junk email recently.

MR. Timothy Hicks
Wood Forest National Bank Ohio
Central Business District,
Cadastral Zone,OHIO USA

Good Day,
How are you? What is keeping you from responding to our mails? The
world bank have approved our bank as the rightful bank that will
handle all the out standing fund own by foreigners. We have contacted
you couple of times yet there was no response from you.  Meanwhile I
have received mail from Mrs. Stacey Lekas saying that you ask her to
contact us and claim your $2.5 Million fund is that true? Also she fax
us a power of attorney saying that you ask her to claim your fund on
your behalf.

Bellow are the bank account details she provided to us for the
transferring of the fund.

Bank Name: Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
Bank Address:  200 Bay Street P.O. Box 1, Royal Bank Plaza Toronto, ON M5J 2J5 Canada.
Account Holder: MRS. STACEY LEKAS
Account No: 74527097777
Routing Number: 759rbc
Swift Code:xxb854
Please confirm to us if truly you are the one or not that ask her to contact us for the claiming of the fund. You are only advice to
contact us on this email address ( )

To enable us attend to your payment files, you are required to reconfirm and authenticate your personal data/particulars as listed below for onward processing and release of you fund as we will not be held liable for any wrong payment.

FULL NAMES: __________________________________
CITY: _________________________
STATE: __________________________________
ZIP: ______________
SEX: _______________
AGE: __________________
TELEPHONE NUMBER: _____________________

Ensure you follow all due process as required by Account office in order to hasten up the whole procedures of your fund transfer to your designated account. Bear in mind,that the WOOD FOREST NATIONAL BANK equally has an operational operandi (payment protocol) in line with international banking policy. So, you should adhere to avoid any delay which maybe detriment your fund transfer.

Timothy Hicks

Well, where to begin? For starters, how about the fact that despite that email address listed in the totally scamming scam of an email, Mr. Timothy Hicks sent it through another email address , one marked ceo.headoffice at Is AOL even still in business? Second, yes, there is such a bank in the United States, but it's Woodforest, not Wood Forest. You'd think an actual official from the real bank would know that. Third, while central business district is in fact a term designated for infrastructure, it is not formally used in an address. And fourth? Cadastral Zone? Well, Cadastral refers to a survey of property boundaries, but there is no place called Cadastral Zone in Ohio. What you do find when you google the terms Cadastral Zone Ohio are a series of posts on internet scammers.

And we haven't even gotten into the bulk of the scam message yet.

He asks why I haven't responded to his mails. Well, because this is the first I've ever heard of you, and I already hate the name Tim Hicks. I can picture the words Tim Hicks on a dart board, that's why. Then he follows with "the world bank have approved our bank as the rightful bank that will handle all the out standing fund own by foreigners." Uh huh. Right. A real banker, which you are not, would understand grammar and proper phrasing and capital letters and phrase it as "the World Bank has approved us as the rightful bank to handle outstanding funds owned by foreigners." Which they wouldn't do anyway, because that's not their procedure.

Then our nitwit friend insists that someone named Stacey Lekas started all this bull by claiming I've asked her to contact them and get this two and a half million dollar claim started. That's nice. Particularly since I've never met anyone or known anyone by that name in my life, let alone communicated about seven figure money paydays with such a person.

There are the other tell tales. Bad phrasing comes back to haunt us when Tim, or whatever his real name is, tells us "she also fax us a power of attorney" as opposed to "she faxed us a power of attorney",  and of course "you are only advice to contact us..."

What takes the cake is the closing lines: the Wood Forest National Bank "has an operational operandi (payment protocol) in line with international banking policy. So, you should adhere to avoid any delay which maybe detriment your fund transfer." 

Wait a minute, what? Who says "operational operandi"? Modus operandi I can get, because let's face it, you're scammers trying to commit a crime, but "operational operandi." Seriously? And "maybe detriment your fund transfer."  Who writes this crap, and what bad Google Translate program are they using?

Nice try. Go have another go at someone else on your list. It won't work with me.

For my part, I'll just sit back and imagine you getting what you deserve.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Open House At The Arts Centre

I decided to post this here instead of at my photoblog, as I wanted to feature it sooner as opposed to later. Culture Days is a national celebration in Canada that takes place in the fall- this year over the three days that ended September and started October. One of the Ottawa events was an open house at our National Arts Centre, which houses our national orchestra, city orchestra, and also hosts theatre and concert performances. The building has had a large glass enclosure added to its original 60s era architecture, a project that was done for this year's Canada 150 celebrations. I stepped inside when the event was just getting underway on the Sunday afternoon. This was the first thing I came across on my visit. Sioned Watkins was the instructor for a session of gyrokinesis here at the staircase from one level to another. A very unusual name; I expect she's of Irish descent.

This view out a nearby window looks towards the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.

This is an art installation in one of the lobbies. Cloud has been here on loan from artists in Alberta. It consists of a multitude of light bulbs that can be turned on and off from the switches hanging beneath.

This is the Studio, one of the performance spaces inside the building. It is often used for chamber music or dramatic performances. I missed going into the Theatre, which is the next largest performance space.

Here we have another view of Cloud and the lobby.

This is Southam Hall, the largest of the performance spaces. Generally speaking, most of the times I've attended an event at the National Arts Centre, it's been here.

This view looks out to where we started, with the glass enclosure viewable from the original part of the building. I documented the process of the project once a month over in the photoblog, and featured the opening up of the addition in my Canada Day series. Throughout the project, the building still hosted performances by the National Arts Centre Orchestra and others.

Back in Southam Hall again, this is taken from just about the highest point in the building at the back of the top balcony looking down to the stage. There were, however, short ladders behind the chairs in this row to access the spotlights above, so it wasn't quite as high as you could go. The stage was lit up; when I first stepped inside, a musician was just finishing a sound check. 

Another view out through the glass enclosure, this happens to look towards the Chateau Laurier.

Turning to the left takes in another view of Parliament Hill, as well as the National War Memorial.

Here we have another view of that gyrokinesis class.

Returning into Southam Hall, I went up to the stage and photographed from that point of view. I found the set up a bit curious- until I saw the set list, visible in this shot, as well as who was scheduled to be performing in the building on this weekend. It was the Canadian children's singer Raffi, who was already in the business when I was a kid. So he was the musician I had spotted from high above.

The backstage area was also open. There's a lot of space here, both for storage and for a workshop. 

Beyond the backstage working areas are dressing rooms, and the corridors here are lined up with photographs of performers who have graced the stages of the National Arts Centre down through the decades. One of them particularly caught my eye: BB King, the greatest blues musician and guitarist there has ever been. 

Here we have an exterior view from the east side of the building.

And from the northwest side, taken from the grounds of the War Memorial, I finish with a view of the glass enclosure that now greets the visitor.