30 November 2014

Hope and hackers

Hope! It's my favourite topic, and it is the theme of the first Sunday in Advent. It's my favourite service of the whole liturgical year. To say I have high hopes for the service is both lame, amusing, and ironic (as is my use of both for three items). I was not disappointed today at Cadboro Bay United Church. The minister, who I'm not sure about yet, had a pretty good sermon. The pictures with it included the instantly iconic picture of the black protester hugging the white police officer. It also included pictures of the protest on Burnaby mountain. They were given as examples of hope, even against something that seems hopeless, like racism or the reign of corporate power.

I lost hope briefly, but I'm back. Thank God. It was rough there for a while.

Hope is everywhere. It's in little things like small random acts of kindness, to big things like the election of the first black president or the return of sovereignty to native lands. I even have hope for the scam artists who call me at 10pm to tell me that hackers have taken over my computer. First, I keep them on hold for a long time and then when I can't delay any longer, I tell them that they're good people and should get a better job where they don't have to hurt people. Usually this ends in them slamming the phone down on me. The other night, it was... different.

I tweeted it on Nov 27. It was the best thing ever. At 10pm PST, the phone rang and it was some dude with an Indian accent of some sort who told me he was calling from Microsoft, that my computer was "infected by hackers" and that he could totally prove it to me. I told him that the computer would take some time to start up and would he hold. Then I went and got a glass of wine and took the phone to bed with me. I left him on hold for about 10 minutes.

Finally, I took a sip of wine and said, "Okay, it's on. What should I do?" He directed me to the Event Viewer and had me tell him what was going on the whole time. He told me to press the window button, and I told him my windows didn't have buttons. Hahaha. Oh man. I made him explain the windows key so many times. I was having a hell of a time not laughing. I told him there were 1600 events in the viewer, and he said, "Oh my goodness, Ma'am! Oh my goodness. 1600 hackers are in your computer! We must get them out. The hackers have control of your computer!" I lost it laughing. I mean, I just started killing myself laughing. He said, "What is so funny, ma'am? The hackers, they have control of your PC!" I said, "There's no hackers. You're good. I'll give you that. I'm not stupid, I know that the events in the event viewer have nothing to do with... " "Yes, they do! It's hackers!" "Dude. This is beneath you. There are no hackers. My printer throwing errors is not hacking. You've got to be better than this. Get a different job, an honest job where you're not scamming people for a living. You're a good man, right?"

He didn't hang up. I swear it. He didn't hang up. He said, "Do you think I am a fucker? Huh? Huh? Well, I am. I am a fucker. I love my job. This is a great job. Because it pays me good money." I said, "Money? That's it? Come on. You don't care about hurting people? There's other work out there. Good work." He said, "THIS is good work. I don't care. I have no ethics. I don't believe in karma or whatever. I only want money." I said, "Oh, that's so sad. No ethics at all? Why not? You can change that you know, you can be a good man!" And then it got really weird.

A new voice cut in, and it may have been the old voice trying to affect an American accent, but it may have been someone else entirely. He said, "Did you know this call has been monitored for quality control?" I dissolved into gales of laughter and said, "Oh this is just the best. Oh my god." He said, "This call has been monitored by CIBC." Hahahaha. Okay, so when I stopped laughing and caught my breath, I said, "CIBC, like, the bank? Or?" He said, "You haven't heard of us?! Are you an ignorant? [sic] Bitch, are you scared? Are you pissing your pants? You should be!" Oh, I was pissing my pants laughing, but no, not scared. So then the guy says in this super ominous sounding voice, "Isn't it Thanksgiving?" "No. That's in America. HAHAHAHA! You don't even know where I live. And I thought you knew all about my computer!" I mocked him. Then the first voice came back and said, "Are you having a good day, ma'am?" (what?!) I said, "Oh yes, fabulous. This has been a wonderful day and this just tops it off perfectly! This was awesome. Wow!" He said, "Um... really? Okay..." And then they put the phone down on me. They didn't hang up. Just set it down and let me listen to the background noise. Exactly like I did to him in the beginning. It was awesome.

Best scammer call ever.

I highly doubt I changed that guy's mind, but here's hoping I planted a seed of doubt! :D

And I swear on my children's heads, I am not exaggerating, I have not taken poetic license, and every word is true. I may have had to paraphrase some quotes (though every word in the Twitter version was exact. I left out stuff there, because it's Twitter, but every word was uttered), but it happened exactly like this, and it was fabulous.

18 November 2014

Inhospitable hospital

I've been away to Saskatchewan for a week and a bit. My Mom's health deteriorated and she had a heart attack. The doctors determined that she needed a triple bypass and a valve repair. So I went out there to be with her before and after the surgery. Turned out she needed a septuple bypass, a valve replacement (mitral valve), and a valve repair (aortic valve). She's doing okay now. Moved from SICU to Cardiac Surveillance to a regular ward. Now she's just got to get the fluid off her lungs and get a bit more strength, and then she can go home.

A few observations I have:

1) Regina General Hospital was far cleaner than either of the Victoria hospitals.
2) The parking situation at RGH is a nightmare. It's terribly expensive to park in the lots and so people try to park on the street. RGH is in a rough neighbourhood, so going out to the car after dark is a bit scary. However, security is happy to walk someone to the car. Also, the people who work in the parking booth are amazing. One of them recognised that I'd been there a few times, and told me how to save money. When I explained that because of the holiday, I couldn't get a pass, and the day before, I didn't know about it, he took two days off the price of the pass and set me up with one. Saved me a fortune.
3) Every single medical professional I talked to was kind, polite, and forthcoming*. That has never ever happened to me. Not even when I was there before. SICU had "family rounds" which meant that 2 family members (i.e. my brother and I) were allowed to be there when the team did rounds. For someone like me who has no trouble with medical terminology, this was fantastic. My brother didn't understand anything except the summary, which was a dumbed down version of what they'd said.
4) Hospital food is still remarkably sub-standard. Grape drink? Really? Water, sugar, food colouring and artificial flavour? That's supposed to help someone get well? Pork? For a heart patient? Really? One of her meals literally looked like something my dog has vomited. I mean, truly, literally, it looked like dog vomit. It was "beef stew". ICK.
5) The view from the SICU waiting room was a trailer that housed an MRI unit. The roof of the trailer was held down by cans of gravel. I'm pretty sure they could use a bit more funding! Wow.

There was one doctor who was/is an asshole, but I didn't talk to him. Here's the story, and it's kind of funny. Unless you're my Mom. Dr. Duffy told Mom that she should say "God Bless You" to her surgeon when he visited after the surgery. Mom isn't a God Bless You kind of person, but she did it. After he left, I looked at her and asked her why she'd said that. She told me that Dr. Duffy said she should. I started to laugh, and she looked baffled. So I told her. Her surgeon? Dr. Moustapha. A Muslim. Mom was horrified and embarrassed, and felt like a complete idiot for not knowing (She also thought Dr. Selim was "Mexican or something"). Mom might be dreadfully ignorant about some things, but she's not a jerk about it. She'd never have done that had she known. So while it's hilarious on one hand, Dr. Duffy is a complete dickbag on the other. My poor Mom was just trying to be nice.

Also, it's weird but it was far less stressful to be there with Pop and my Mom than it was to be at home. That's definitely something to work on! Home should not be a source of stress.

The etymology of the word hospital amuses me, because hospitals are about the least good at hospitality.