The theme of this international move has been “the big purge”. Room by room, we eliminated things that we do not use. We also set the goal of “no storage” which means leave nothing behind. We are either going to use it in Tokyo, or it goes. The logic being that the boys are heading off to University in 3 and 4 years (scary) so that provides a simplification/downsize opportunity in the very near future.

This is no small feat when we are moving from a traditional big North American home to a place in downtown Tokyo and required a lot bid decisions – primarily around furniture. Over the last 8 weeks we set about selling off a few very big items, like our 10 piece, 100 year old mahogany dining room set.

Which brings me to PayPal and Kijiji. I like classified sites, they are very handy. But when you sell an item worth more than $1K it brings out the pond scum. In this case, the PayPal scammers. Here is how it goes … first they respond to your post with almost the same line every time (I had more than 10 of these):


Anything to add or ads say it all?

The first time this happened, I threw in a few more pictures and some additional color. Here is the classic response or in one case, this was the opening email to me:


Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 5:12 AM

Subject: Re: Reply to your “Elte Kitchen/Dining Table only 1 year old – as new – paid $5800.” Ad on Kijiji

I appreciate your reply, I’m very interested and I’m willing to pay $2900, The means of payment will be via PayPal and I’ll pay for any charges that may incur. I just relocated to United Kingdom and I’ll be needing the merchandise here. A shipper will come over for the pick up after you receive the payment.

I await pictures(if available) since I won’t be able to see this in person. What’s your paypal email address so that I can send the funds to you asap.


Which leads to the scam. They will then go into this elaborate scheme which can be broken down into the following steps:

1. They will send you a fake PayPal confirmation email that they have made a payment to you which you will get when they have received delivery with PayPal holding the money in escrow.

2. You must pay for the shipping to get the funds released, but do not worry because PayPal is holding your money plus the shipping fee.

3. You send the money and the whole PayPal email confirmations turn out to be fraud. You lose your money.

The best way to avoid it is in your online ad put at the end “No PayPal payments accepted”. It stopped all fraudulent emails.

In closing, my responses to the fraudsters:


Anything to add or ads say it all?


That I will not take PayPal or ship to another country you pond scum. You should be ashamed of yourself. Just remember: what comes around goes around.

Share with friends. These people deserve nothing. On the plus side, we sold everything with only one item on Kijiji. Everything else simply through word of mouth, emailing a bunch of friends and letting everyone know. A friend tells a friend ….

UPDATE: Don’t tell the scammer to look at this blog post. Play with them. Mess them up. But don’t warn them.

UPDATE 2: If you want to avoid this hassle, simply do what I did when I sold a set of chairs the other day. The last line was this:

No Paypal payments scammers. Cash only.




I was reading the Bill Murray article in this month’s Esquire and as always, Bill entertains with his eclectic views and approach to life.

I found his point on work and friendship not unlike my own:

BM: When I work, my first relationship with people is professional. There are people who want to be your friend right away. I say “We’re not gonna be friends until we get this done. If we don’t get this done, we’re never going to be friends, because if we don’t get the job done, then the one thing we did together we failed.” People confuse friendship and relaxation. It’s incredibly important to be relaxed – you don’t have a chance if you’re not relaxed.

A lot of my current friends are work colleagues – after the job is done. Those shared experiences create bonds.



I spent last week traveling (A lot of miles) and every time that we took off I had the same thoughts:

  • I can wear ear buds at take off but not headphones.
  • I can read a book but not a book on my tablet. Wouldn’t a full size book be a much heavier projectile in a crash than my tablet? (Or at least the same) 
  • I cannot operate my phone on take-off but at 5,000 feet I can get a signal which must mean that the aircraft’s equipment is constantly being bombarded by signals – with or without my phone off. When my phone is on does it really jeopardize the effectiveness of the airplanes navigation systems? (If so, be very afraid ….)

I just don’t understand why. According to this article:

Decades ago the US Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission determined that electronic devices could send signals that would interfere with the equipment on a plane, officials said. Therefore, all electronic games, MP3 players and laptops have to be turned off until the plane gets above 10,000 feet.

Mobile phones are not to be used for calls or Internet use on a cellular network anytime the plane is in the air, though they can be used in “plane mode” for such activities as playing games or updating one’s calendar.

Not considering an Alec Baldwin, just perplexed.



One last Maritime story. As we drove past the village of New Maryland (Named by a settler from Maryland) I noticed a sign declaring it the home of the last fatal duel in New Brunswick. Of course I had to open up a browser and start reading the village’s history:

The village was named by a Mr. Arnold, a settler from Maryland, USA circa 1817. The area was first called Maryland, and Maryland Hill, but as early as 1825 it began to be referred to as New Maryland.

Among the historical anecdotes relating to New Maryland’s history, one particular event stands out: New Maryland was the venue for the last fatal duel in the Province. The famous Street-Wetmore duel, in which George Ludlow Wetmore was killed, took place on the Segee farm on October 2, 1821.

Take a moment to read about the duel. It was a rather unfathomable event, especially considering that this was the frontier and the men involved were leaving behind their families to fend by themselves if killed (as one was). The duel took place under the guise of “honour”, but the reality is that this was a selfish act fuelled by ego:

As he sat before his hearth that evening, the young lawyer’s anger blazed as brightly as the fire in front of him. He was oblivious to the sounds of his wife, pregnant with her fourth child, setting the children for the night. Street’s insults and the raised hand consumed him, until his thoughts took a dangerous turn.

Ego is a dangerous thing ….



I have always believed that one of the strengths of Apple is their ability to create a cult like loyalty among their clients. If you believe the old sales saying of “Make one person happy, they will tell 5 people. Make one person unhappy, they will tell 250 people”, then that loyalty is very valuable as they are willing to overlook issues, to the point where they  openly defend these issues. I was in more than one debate on Apple versus Microsoft with Apple fans during my tenure at Microsoft.

It is an impressive measure of their brand strength, product quality and customer service (which is unbelievable).

I say all of this because my move to Apple was filled with high expectations. A transformational experience … as described by almost every Apple fanboy/girl who I spoke to. But it has not been perfect, in fact it has been filled with a number of issues and as a newcomer, with a clear bias (i.e. Working for Microsoft for almost a decade), I find it interesting.

An example:

One of the ‘must haves’ for our iMAC was the ability to use the screen as an XBOX screen so that the boys would not have to head into the basement to play. Sitting upstairs in the kitchen as a group is a family ‘must have’. I spent a ton of time researching this and thought I had it nailed with the Kanex XD. It allows you to take an HDMI feed and have it utilize target display mode on the iMac. Simply put – you can play your XBOX on the screen.

What I did not realize is that the ‘new iMac’ with the Thunderbolt upgrade does not support target display mode as identified in this KB article – Apple engineers didn’t build that capability leaving many Apple users in the cold. The greater issue is that at the time of purchase and through a ton of trouble shooting, no one understood this. Even yesterday, I tried a different product that they sell in the Apple store (Belkin AV360) and everyone in the store thought it would work. It did not.

On a general perception level, I find some of the basic functionality substandard (i.e. iPhoto is just unusable, Time Machine backing up every hour is silly, the mail experience isn’t great and I noticed a security update!), but balance that off with admiration for the industrial engineering and increasing admiration for many of the positive features of the OS (i.e. Watching my boys crank out a very cool iMovie on the first day we got the device). But it is not the perfection I was expecting.

So I conclude with two thoughts and one offer:

  • Every business should aspire to Apple like brand loyalty. As their earning results continue to show, it is a very enviable position to be in.
  • The power of the Apple community is very important. It is dangerous if newcomers set too high of expectations and are not embraced within the group and ‘assimilated’, quelling dissatisfaction.
  • If anyone would like to buy a fully functional brand new Kanex HD that works with a iMac older than March – send me an email because I missed the 30 day return date trying to figure it all out 🙂



I was listening to the Stuff You Should Know podcast ‘Was Thomas Malthus right about carrying capacity?’ which I knew nothing about. The synopsis of the podcast (which I enjoyed):

Thomas Malthus concluded that humanity is bound to outgrow Earth’s carrying capacity. The prediction was based on humanity’s exponential growth and the linear growth of the food supply — but was he correct?

During the podcast one of the hosts mentioned ‘the best essay he ever read’ in University, titled The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race by Jared Diamond. Coming from a Dutch and heavily agrarian heritage, the essay was uncomfortably thought provoking as it made the case that the adoption of agriculture is the worst thing that mankind has ever done:

To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image. Astronomy taught us that our earth isn’t the center of the universe but merely one of billions of heavenly bodies. From biology we learned that we weren’t specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress. In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.

In the end his point becomes irrelevant as the only way to avoid starvation that is driven by population growth is through agriculture or infanticide:

Farming could support many more people than hunting, albeit with a poorer quality of life. (Population densities of hunter-gatherers are rarely over on person per ten square miles, while farmers average 100 times that.) Partly, this is because a field planted entirely in edible crops lets one feed far more mouths than a forest with scattered edible plants. Partly, too, it’s because nomadic hunter-gatherers have to keep their children spaced at four-year intervals by infanticide and other means, since a mother must carry her toddler until it’s old enough to keep up with the adults. Because farm women don’t have that burden, they can and often do bear a child every two years.

And one must argue that while the old days with an average life spans of 26 years for the hunter gatherer and 19 years for the farmer did show a benefit to the hunter gather lifestyle, without agriculture we would not have been able to go through the stages of societal development (agrarian > industrial > knowledge based) or benefit from our current life span that is 4X the poor, olden day farmer.

Long live the farmer …..