Happy new year everyone. I guess we all hope it'll be better than 2020, and while you can't flip a switch and make everything hunky dory immediately, like everyone else I'm so so ready for this pandemic to be over! I had a quiet night in on my own on new year's eve, which is just the way I like it anyway. The kids went to friends - Jordan and Jen stayed over with another couple - so just four people there - and André went to Max's house and stayed over - so just three in that group. I could relax because I knew they weren't on the roads driving, even though they are sensible. More to the point, we've had a curfew in France for the last few weeks, so between the hours of 20h and 6h we are not allowed to be out, unless there is a valid reason for it. I'm guessing/hoping, therefore, that there were fewer deaths on the road last night because of it so that would be one positive to come out of this bloody pandemic. There have even been talks about lengthening the curfew in certain regions from 18h to 6h but I haven't heard any more about it as yet. Crikey, if this keeps up we'll be allowed to get up in the morning, have breakfast and a pee and then be told to go back to bed!
At midnight I stuck my head out the window to watch the fireworks and I may be imagining it but it seemed to me that there were more fireworks going off than usual. I guess people with big gardens then. I could hear the fireworks in the mountains behind my house, which was lovely as they really echo and sound just like thunder! Other than that I didn't do much. I spent a fair bit of time looking at recipes on Youtube but finally had the bright idea to write the ones that interest me in a notebook and where I spotted them. I have so many recipes I think I might like to try and then can never remember where I saw them! So it only took me how many years to figure that out?
Then I got sucked down the rabbit hole of watching videos about scammers. There was a lovely Youtuber in the Czech Republic showing people how tourists get scammed, particularly in Prague. Then I moved on to an American anti-scammer who used to set himself up to get calls from "Bill Jones" or "Jane Smith" from Amazon or Microsoft to get the "$500 reimbursement they needed to send him". Oddly enough Bill Jones and Jane Smith often had Indian accents or spoke fluent Bangladeshi! Anyhow, he would use a fake screen and "accidentally" allow them to delete all his icons and files and then try to blackmail him into buying Apple gift cards to the tune of $500 before they would "reinstall his computer". The thing is, while they were messing around on his screen he was getting into their computers and deleting their files and/or changing their passwords! In one particular instance he deleted over 2,000 of the scammer's files while pretending to be filling out the required reimbursement form. Incidentally that is how we found out that this particular lot were Bangladeshis because a few commentators translated the cussing that was going on in the background. He obviously loved what he was doing and listening to him laugh while he was playing them at their own game was a treat!
Another anti-scammer was named Jim Browning (I think) and who, I would guess, is from Northern Ireland, judging by his accent. I have no idea how he does what he does - of course I don't. I think I'm a genius for being able to log my walks in excel in km and convert them to miles! Anyhoo, he allows himself to be set up in the same way as the previous guy but while he's playing along with them he is also checking out who they are scamming at the same time. One time he saw that they were in the process of scamming a guy in Canada and watched as he eventually logged into his bank account with Wells Fargo, even though he was rightly very wary. At this point the scammers basically created an interactive picture of his bank account which "showed" them wiping out nearly $9,000 of his savings. It hadn't happened of course but it certainly looked like it had. So the Canadian guy, realizing that he has been scammed, immediately does what they tell him to do and goes to the nearest store to buy four $500 Apple gift vouchers. Now the clerk at the store queried this and tried to stop him but he was so distressed that he said he had no choice. At this point Jim Browning was able to get through to him on the telephone and explain what was happening, that the scammers had not been able to take his savings and walked him through what he needed to do to block them. The distress in this man's voice was palpable so I'm sure he now worships the ground Jim Browning walks on. He also contacted another lady who had sent $38,000 to "a company in Thailand" and when he tried to warn her and her bank she left him a phone message basically telling him to mind his own business. He even managed to send her pictures of the "Thai" guy she spoke to proving that he was actually an Indian but she wouldn't have it. That is, until about a month later, when she got back to him and apologized as she had indeed been scammed. So that, as you can see, is how I ended up staying up until 1.30 a.m. last night!
In other news, thank you for the sweet comments about my mom's lovely knitting. She was indeed a wonderful knitter but she couldn't sew to save her life. As was proven one day when the zip on my dad's black work pants went and she put a new one in as best she could but forgetting to locate it underneath the little flap that covered it and the zip was white - because that was the only one she had! Frankly I'm surprised my dad wasn't struck by lightening in the crown jewels! Then my dad used to like to take my brother-in-law's old police trousers to use as work pants because they were so comfortable. Problem was, my brother-in-law was quite a bit taller and slimmer than my dad, so my mom cut about eight inches off the bottom (again sewing them up with white thread!) and split the seam down the back, cut a triangle from a different fabric and sewed it in to make it fit. My poor dad! I would have thought he might have been the laughing stock but I reckon all the men were pretty much in the same boat, to be honest!
Finally, the other day I went shopping to the Fresh store that I love so much. Just as I was about to walk in I spotted a woman in a long, floor length fur coat, three trowels full of make-up and a bird's nest hair do - she looked like a mobile bearskin rug - and I just knew, knew it was Chantal! You know, the woman who sent my tax information to the tax authorities and who told me it was easy for me to retire as I earned more than her but then went on to tell me how she went to Italy every weekend clothes shopping. Yes, that Chantal! Anyway I tried looking inconspicuous in my jeans and ski jacket (the same as everyone else in the shop except for Chantal) and hiding behind the cauliflowers for a good while because all she ever does is whinge and I just wasn't in the mood. In the end, I knew I couldn't avoid her forever so had to walk up and say hi. And that was when I spotted Mrs. Tupperware, so called because she used to sell - you guessed it! Now I have more time for this lady as she has had some truly sad events in her life but she also never shuts up, is incredibly nosy and indiscreet and bangs on about people I've never met and have no idea who they are! So I introduced the two of them, and ended up becoming a human tennis net stuck between Chantal and Mrs. Tupperware playing the final volley of "I was there for 31 years and they treated me like shit" and "and then I spoke to Marie-Jo and she thought she might have given it to Guy but Guy said he hadn't seen her that night". Neither of them were interested in what the other was saying, and just talked over each other. And to think, all I wanted to do was buy a cauliflower!
|Probably a good impression of what Chantal looked like,|
minus the top hat!
|How everyone else was dressed!|