Virtually real- Virtuellement vraie

Micheline Harvey: Virtual Assistant, real person/Adjointe Virtuelle, mais tout à fait vraie

My Getty misadventure August 21, 2014




I will never deal with Getty Images or any of their other sites, ever. Not that I dealt with them before, really. I take very good pictures and usually use my own images for anything I post on my professional virtual assistant website.

Almost two years ago, I used a tiny thumbnail photo to accompany a blog post on a secondary page of my website. This page gets very little traffic. The photo was found via a web search for copyright free photos, was very low quality and I ultimately left it up for less than two weeks because I didn’t like how it looked on screen.

Last November, I received a letter that I thought was junk mail, was delivered via general mail, not even addressed to my name (only to my company name) and looked like a bad photocopy. Long story short, I was shocked to see that Getty Images was demanding that I pay them $850 USD for the unauthorized use of a copyright protected image that they apparently owned. Attached to this junk mail type letter was a very poor quality copy of a screen shot of my blog with the photo in question. No writing could be clearly made out, there was no date for this screen shot, and the photo itself was blurry and nondescript.

At first I could not even remember the photo, and then I was disgusted and surprised that Getty was demanding such an outrageous amount of money without even sending a cease and desist notice.

Their junk mail type letter mentioned that they had attempted to contact me several times without success, but I received no messages from them, no other mail and they did not try to contact me by telephone. I have caller ID and voice mail; therefore I know this for a fact. They lied in their letter.

It was all so ridiculous that I forgot about the letter for several months and did not hear from them during this time; until they started to have different people from NSCIP Solutions in Florida e-mail me constantly. These people only used their first names which I found quite bizarre and unprofessional. Their e-mails demanded that I pay $850 USD to “settle the matter”.

I sought out legal advice through a lawyer friend in Florida who found an IP law specialist near me who was kind enough to look into the situation and give me advice. At first, the recommendation was to ignore them unless they kept writing to me, demanding money. So when they continued their harassment, I went on the Getty Images website and determined that the cost of the image, in high resolution and for at least 2 months of use was $350 USD, which is nowhere near the amount they were demanding. I wrote to them with this information and received many e-mails from different people at NSCIP who did not appear to be talking to each other about my case, as none of them had a clue what the other had written or said. It was simply burlesque to see them trip over themselves, and very unprofessional!

I have recently started to receive offers – oh I’m sorry, I mean DEMANDS – to settle for lower amounts, starting at $659 USD, then $450 USD, and now they’re throwing around demands for $300 USD.

I keep asking them to stop harassing me and get their stories straight as one day I would receive an offer to settle for one amount, and a few days later a different person would re-send me the $850 USD demand.

This company’s bullying techniques are despicable and make me sick. I had no intention of infringing on any copyright laws and am sympathetic to photographers who need to be paid to earn a living. I am a freelance worker myself. However, I doubt that Getty owns most of the images in question (they flat out refuse to offer up any proof of ownership when asked) or that they give any of this extortion money to the photographers.

I have offered to settle for $150 USD which is more than generous in my opinion and is really only to get these assholes off my back and out of my e-mail inbox.

I know that Getty has been called out on this and is highly discussed online, but I doubt that they care. I think that the employees of NSCIP should be ashamed to work for Getty.

Avoid Getty Images at all cost! I know my colleagues and I will be avoiding them from now on.


Or maybe I just wasn’t listening? August 16, 2014


I sometimes feel like my husband no longer hears or registers what I say anymore. I make conversation, tell stories, talk about things, and the very next day or even just a few hours later, he will mention the same facts as if it was the first time, or act completely surprised if he walks in as I’m telling them to someone else.

To quote the late Robin Williams: “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”

When we first met, he seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. I remember conversations, laughter, interesting banter, insight, sharing private jokes. He seemed to drink in my every word and as I recall, he participated, talked, shared, laughed and was completely present.

Or maybe I just wasn’t listening?

Maybe I was doing all the talking, the joking, and filling in the silence with banter, and ideas, and monologues about the many things that interest, surprise, shock and amaze me? Maybe I was so into it, or so into me, that I never even noticed the glazed over look in his eyes or the fact that he had not said much of anything the entire time?

Maybe I didn’t notice him looking over my shoulder, behind me, around me, anywhere but at me when we were out on a romantic dinner together? Maybe it was just my imagination when I thought that he kept looking into my eyes, at my smile, that he only had eyes for me.

Maybe I was too wrapped up in myself to realize that he didn’t share anything deep or significant. Maybe I was too involved in my thoughts to notice that he only shared positive things about himself, never a vulnerable moment, never a bad moment, never a shadow of doubt.

Or maybe I just wasn’t listening? Maybe I have changed in the same way? I don’t think so; I think I’ve simply become quieter, as a result of feeling that I am not heard.

My world is lonely this week. I have cried three times about Robin Williams’ death, about the pain he was in, and about how he chose to leave us, or how depression, fear and anxiety told him to go. My tribe is mourning and its members have expressed in their own words that they feel like me, as if we’ve lost a family member. Of course, we did not know Robin personally. But we still felt as if we did, because he was part of our tribe.

And if the funniest man in the world can’t make it, we wonder how are we are supposed to keep on going?

I know my husband doesn’t understand why I am so upset about this loss. But I don’t understand that he doesn’t understand. It’s a tribe thing, I guess.

Or maybe I’m just too wrapped up in myself?


When is it their turn? April 23, 2014

alonegirl,sad cute girl alone wallpapers (4)

So many times, I’ve been told to change my attitude, change my outlook, consider things differently, accept that so-and-so is “that way” and deal with it the best I can.

Although I do agree with this advice most of the time, and I know you can’t change others, you can only change yourself, I must admit that it gets old at times, just like the people who insist that a positive attitude will bring you only positive things all the time in life, the same people who think that illness and bad luck are brought on by negative thoughts (“it’s all in your head”). To some extent, this type of preaching can be exhausting. Not everyone brings on sickness or bad events by negative thoughts. If this was true, how do you explain babies who have cancer? Little children who are in horrible accidents? Mistreated animals?

It can’t always be that simple.

I am willing to work on myself, change my attitude, try to be patient and accepting and not let negative people or things affect me too much. But the thing is that I also believe that others must work on themselves, change their attitudes at times, be patient with me when I’m not okay or with others when they are not okay, and make efforts when their behaviour is having a negative effect on the people around them.

I won’t always make excuses for everyone else and just constantly be working on myself and letting others act however they want, as if I was the most flawed person in the universe and they are all right.

It doesn’t make sense.

There comes a time when you should expect at least SOME effort from others, part of the time.

This is where I am right now, and why I need to retreat a bit, perhaps to accept that this is just the way things are in life.

Step up, people! We’re all in this together. It’s time.


The patient’s point of view or – Hey doctor, could you look at me? March 18, 2014

DoctorIt’s good to have accessible healthcare and to be able to get treatment and not worry about paying for expensive tests, therapies, surgeries. And yet, it’s sometimes difficult to be a patient in our current system.

I had a non-urgent ultrasound done in the public healthcare system recently. I must admit, I have very little memory of the ultrasounds I had when I was pregnant, many, many moons ago. I did remember that it could be quite uncomfortable, but that the outcome usually trumped the discomfort.

This time was very different as I am not pregnant and therefore not anticipating any exciting news. When I called to schedule the test, I asked if they were usually on time or if they had an average delay. I was told that they were “pretty much on time.”
Smart girl that I am, I did not believe this and factored in that they were probably anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes late with their appointment times, perhaps more.

When I read the prescription sheet that instructed I should drink 1 liter of water, 1 hour before my appointment time, I thought that this was a bit insane, as they prescribe the same amount and time to everyone, regardless of sex, age, size, etc. and yet we all know that men have larger bladders than women, and how do you know when your appointment time is, if they are not on time? So, I decided I’d drink ¾ liter about 45 minutes before my appointment time. I did the math, it made sense to me.

When I got there, I asked again if they were on time and was told that yes, they were right on time.
And yet I was called in 40 minutes AFTER my scheduled appointment time. Liars. I was uncomfortable, but it was tolerable.

The technician did the ultrasound and claimed that my bladder was not quite full enough to see everything clearly. He called in a doctor that looked like he was about 100 years old (…) and they decided that they’d have me wait for 10-15 minutes tops, which is usually long enough for the rest of the water to make its way to the bladder, and they’d call me in again.

I asked them if they could assure me that it would be no longer than 10-15 minutes and they said of course, we would not want to make you wait longer, it would be very uncomfortable.

And yet, 30 minutes later, I had still not been called and I was in agony. I knocked on the exam room door and asked them if they had forgotten me as it had been more than twice the maximum time. The technician said “two minutes”. Ten minutes later, I wanted to kill the entire hospital staff, including the cafeteria lady who was not even looking at me at the time (poor cafeteria lady, I’m sorry …).

I stood in front of the exam room door and when the tech came out I said “It’s now or never”.

He showed me into a second exam room and started the examination. It was excruciating. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I am pretty tough when it comes to pain, and quite patient usually, but this was just horrible. I told him to hurry up because this was no longer simply uncomfortable, it was painful. A bladder can burst, you know!

He finally finished with his images and said that the (100-year old) doctor would be in in 10 minutes or so to take more images.

I told him he was nuts if he thought I’d wait any longer.

He said I could go relieve my bladder a little. A little? Is he kidding me?

Long story short, this experience was extremely uncomfortable, painful and embarrassing to me. The doctor did not answer my questions, did not look at me and I didn’t even feel human. He simply stated that the report would be sent to my family doctor and I’d hear back if necessary.

I am angry that they were not upfront with me about delays and I am bothered by the impersonal quality of the experience.

I will never agree to an ultrasound again. They can check out my insides some other way.

And I fully understand why people who can afford it have their medical tests done in private clinics.


Giving back February 9, 2014

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 1:33 pm
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It took 86 blood donors to help save my Cousin Cindy’s life.

An active and involved hockey mom and taxi mom with a regular job, who had always been in good shape, she never imagined that feeling tired and strange after going out for a short run with a friend would be the beginning of the scariest ride of her life.

Cindy needed a new liver, and time was running out. She slipped into a coma for 17 days. Her life was suspended as a team of healthcare professionals worked to save her, and as her Mom, her kids, her siblings and close family put their lives on hold to be there 24/7.

Now, three months later, Cindy has barely been home for a month after her ordeal and is giving back in her own special way. She has spent the week thanking donors at the mobile blood donor clinic, personally, and letting them know that their gesture is important and saves lives. She has also set a goal to convince and recruit at least 86 new donors to refill the blood bank and perhaps even surpass this goal, so that others can benefit from live-saving transfusions as well.

To me, this speaks volumes about the kind of people I am lucky enough to have in my family. It makes me proud, and it reminds me to do my part.

Give blood, it’s a life-saving gesture.


My cousin on New Year’s – Ma cousine au Jour de l’An January 3, 2014

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 9:19 pm
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My cousin on New Year's - Ma cousine au Jour de l'An

Happy New Year wishes from my hero cousin who has come a long way. Des souhaits de Bonne Année de ma cousine, qui a parcouru tout un chemin.


Courage, or my cousin Cindy. December 8, 2013

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 2:26 pm
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I hardly ever get to see my family in Nova Scotia. I am very thankful for Facebook and social media that keep most of us up to speed about our lives and give us the opportunity to communicate a little more often.

Last July, hubby and I took an impromptu road trip to P.E.I. to visit the island and have a little vacation. As we drove around and ended up standing at the ferry dock in Wood Island, I could see Nova Scotia on the other side. I knew that there was no way I couldn’t hop over for a visit, even just for a few hours!

So we took the ferry early the next morning and surprised my Nana, spent some time with my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Danny, visited Grampa’s grave and had a nice lunch in Pictou. As I was leaving Joyce and Danny’s, my cousin Cindy pulled up behind us. I was so happy to see her, give her a big hug and chat for a few minutes about our shared love of “creepy” things, movies, and stories, and so on.

Cindy and Mich

Little did I know, a mere few weeks later, I would receive the news that Cindy was fighting for her life and in need of an emergency liver transplant!

All the cousins and family lived through this crisis, hour by hour, day by day, asking for news, keeping informed, messaging each other, sending our energy, love and healing vibes. We were so afraid for her, but we all felt strongly that she would pull through. My cousin Cindy is a fighter. She recently decided to check a few things off her “bucket list” and jumped out of a plane (wearing a parachute, of course)! She rocks!

The waiting, the uncertainty, the need for an emergency liver transplant and all the time she was unconscious, semi-conscious, fighting complications, infections, going in and out of surgery was nerve-wracking for us all. I can only imagine how her mom, dad, siblings and kids felt through all this! I hope that they felt our love and support and that it helped keep them strong.

Now, several weeks later, we’ve had the joy of hearing news of important milestones: that Cindy was conscious, that she sat on the edge of her bed for a few minutes, that her brother made her a Halloween costume of the board game “Operation” out of a sheet, and she wore it on Halloween in her hospital bed, that she was feeding herself and complaining about all the fuss. That she took a few steps with a walker, went outside for a few minutes, laughed at our silly voice messages, talked via Facetime or just smiled for a picture or short video that was posted online just for us.

In a short few weeks, that may have seemed much longer for those who are very close to Cindy, we went from fearing that we’d lose her, to cheering her on as she overcame the odds and showed us all what she’s really made of. A roller coaster ride, for sure!

Through this, I realized once again how fragile life is, how everything can change very fast and how important good health is. Nothing should be taken for granted and no opportunity should be missed.

Everyone should start crossing things off the bucket list, like Cindy. She is an example. She is brave.


I hated my summer September 19, 2013


I’ve always loved summer. I’ve never complained, even in the worst heat waves. I sincerely believe that I was born to live in a tropical climate. And yes, I realize how ridiculous this sounds when you notice my green eyes, pale skin and freckles. But I tan, I swear that I do! I just don’t tan as dark as people with deeper complexions. And it takes me longer. And I have to do it gradually.

Or should I say, I used to.

Since I had a BCC (basal cell carcinoma) removed from the side of my nose last March, I feel as if I’ve turned into a vampire. They told me to avoid the sun, wear SPF 60 and a hat. Not wanting to go through the experience of surgery on my face and the hideous recovery period, followed by up to two years before I know what my scar will actually look like for the rest of my life, I listened. Oh, how I listened!

At first, it was a relief to avoid the sun. No more longing to be laying out in the warm, caressing rays, getting some color on beautiful sunny days when I should be working. Since I was to avoid the sun, I could simply concentrate on my work and not be concerned about wasting precious sunshine.

I kept telling myself that my skin would look so much younger than everyone else’s, because it is shielded from the evil sun and its aging effects.

I preached to everyone to be careful, avoid the sun, consider the damage and check their skin for anything suspicious. And I believed it. I still do.

But then, I became somewhat depressed. I felt pale and pasty. I missed the sun. So I figured that if I slathered on the SPF and wore a hat and caught just 15 minutes of sunshine from time to time, it would be plenty, and not dangerous.

Then I got fed up with having to put sunscreen on for 20 minutes just to sit out in the sun for 15 minutes. More often than not, I’d remain indoors.

I convinced myself that I could go out walking really early in the morning or late in the evening, when the sun was not strong at all. Then I got too tired to get out of bed at the crack of dawn and too depressed to go out walking in the evening.

And I put on weight. Not much, but enough for me to feel it.

And I stopped wanting to wear my swimsuit when anyone else was around.

Oh, I enjoyed road tripping to PEI and surprising my family in NS. I enjoyed going for drives, and rides and visiting different areas of Quebec.

But I hated my summer.

Spray tan, you say? It’s not that affordable or available around here and, let’s face it, it’s not the same. Also, I can’t stand the smell of self-tanners or chemicals on my skin.

And now, just about the time I always start to shop for a trip south for the winter, I am at a loss. Can I even consider going south for a week when the sun is so strong and my skin has not been exposed for so long and I always get at least some sunburn even if I’m super careful? I think not. Then again, I look at pictures of our favorite destinations, and they call to me.

I hated my summer. Do I have to hate my winter too?


Bad E-Bay Attitudes September 11, 2013

Filed under: My view/mon point de vue — matamich @ 4:46 pm
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I shop on E-bay from time to time. I’ve found many things that I could not find elsewhere. I’ve made good deals, located rare and original stuff, found 1960s Kiddles and Flatsy dolls for my mini collection. I enjoy E-bay.

Except for the E-bay terrorist tactics that have developed from certain sellers (many sellers, let’s face it) in order to get perfect feedback. They set up automatic messages to remind you to please leave perfect five-star scores and nothing less, to contact them before leaving anything less than a perfect score, they warn you that giving them anything less than top scoring may hurt their business, they say that they will leave negative feedback on you if you do it to them…and so on.

Hey, E-bay sellers. Nothing in life is perfect. An above average to high score is absolutely great. Buyers have the right to leave realistic scores and I am quite sure that the public is smart enough to know that even if a rating is not 100%, but is close, the seller is a reputable one.

I don’t even pay attention to E-bay scores anymore, I just hope for the best because to me they don’t mean much if the seller has bullied the buyer into leaving a perfect score in order to protect his or her online reputation.

Get real, people. What’s the use of these scoring systems if we can’t be honest and use them to reward good sellers and to help others get their act together and improve their business?


Irresponsible June 25, 2013


Just how irresponsible can you be in life and get away with it? I see irresponsible people every day. I hear about them on the news, in conversations, witness their idiocies and apparent complete lack of awareness that their actions have consequences and that they need to think before they act.

I was recently confronted by an act of such heartless irresponsibility that I was floored by it. I stopped minding my own business and gave that person a piece of my mind. I knew that doing this would not change anything, because even as I told him off, he was oblivious to what he had done and how many people he had screwed over in various ways. I felt that this was the last straw for me and that irresponsible people need to be confronted, and have their actions thrown in their face.

This person signed a lease starting July 1st with a roommate. He then suddenly decided to go out West (way across the country) to work “temporarily” to make money. Throughout this time, he was offered on several occasions to see if the lease could be cancelled or if the roommate could transfer to another place and share the rent with someone else, etc. Every time, this unspeakable jerk insisted that he wanted to keep their apartment and he was coming back, that he was out there making money for a better life for them, and bla bla bla … Not once did he decide to be honest and give his roommate a chance to turn things around.

Instead, he waited until 10 days before the moving date to call her and tell her that he was never coming back and did not want the apartment.

Let me remind you that he signed the lease.

And he thinks he did the right thing. She was ready to move in 10 days. We had boxes, furniture, a rental truck, small appliances, were all set to purchase a fridge for them, we even had groceries (basics) prepared.

Everyone moves on July 1st in Quebec, so there are not many apartments left and on her own, she can’t afford it.

I only hope that if there is a penalty to pay for cancelling at the last minute, he is the one who pays. I hope they go after him and garnish his wages.

At some point, oblivious people who do unspeakable things to others have to pay.

Karma is a bitch.

But thankfully, she always finds you.

It’s only a matter of time.