Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bulletin: Tammy Faye dead at 65

Evangelist and singer Tammy Faye Messner has died at the age of 65. She had suffered for a long time of inoperable lung cancer. Rest in peace, Tammy Faye.

Here is a portion of her shocking last interview with Larry King that aired on Thursday (taped on Wednesday). She died Friday morning. I can't believe it's her. So pitiful. :(

My cat Charlotte has found a new home!!!

UPDATE - July 22/07 - 3:27 p.m.: I brought Charlotte and she took to the place really quickly. She seemed right at home and was even lying on the son's pillow on his bed within a few minutes of arriving! So all is good! I'm very happy for her and for her new family.

I'm very pleased to announce that Charlotte's found a new home after her ordeal this week with "Bonnie and Clyde"... my other two cats-turned-attempted-assassins.

I'll be driving her to Bloomfield, near Hampton NB, tomorrow. A very nice family wants her. We've talked extensively on the telephone. If all goes well and the home passes Dad's "inspection," she will be staying there. (I can't imagine that it won't go well.)

I'm thrilled and the new family is so excited! She'll be living in a two-storey log home and will be the only cat in the house. She will have lots of company with a married couple and their 12-year-old son. They have a daughter in university who took their cat to live with her, so they got lonely for a cat and wanted another one. They sound like a really nice family. The lady already has Charlotte's photo up on her computer! :D They found Charlotte through the ad I posted on -- a really great site for placing ads!! I've sold a few things through there, and now I've found a home for Charlotte!

I'm so happy for Charlotte and so happy for the family who will be getting a great little cat. Many years of happiness to my "little girl"!!! I'll miss you, but it's all for the best. :) You can't live your life terrified of another attack.

So that's my great news today!

I hope the model was OK, but this is too funny! I don't blame the anchors for laughing.

Cute little stop-motion film on shaving :)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Charlotte update

Charlotte is safe and sound in my office now. I moved her upstairs from the basement. It was just too pitiful and was driving me crazy. Besides, there's quite a funny story behind the reason why I had to bring her up here in the first place. You'll have to read about that next week in my column.

Charlotte's digs in my office are ideal. She can look out the window all day, has a bed, has her litterbox and water. She's fed in here, too. She can use the hall carpet as a rudimentary scratching post. I've put some of it under the door into my office and she likes to play and pull it further in. Some exercise, at least.

So things are good for now. I hope she'll find a new home soon. Although the situation is OK, I don't want to isolate her here forever. She deserves the run of the house.

Thank you to everyone for your heartfelt support. I know I'll find a place for her soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I need a new home for my cat Charlotte


This is Charlotte, a beautiful two-year-old Siamese Lynx Point mix with blue eyes.

I adopted her in November 2006 but unfortunately my two other cats never fully accepted her – and she didn’t accept them either. On Wednesday, July 18, I came home from work to find fur and blood everywhere in the living room. They had attacked Charlotte and terrorized her all day. It was pitiful. I can’t imagine what she went through.

Believe it or not, Charlotte is fine. I checked her over and whatever cut there may have been was cleaned up. I couldn’t find injuries on any of them – perhaps a claw was broken or something. Claws can bleed quite a bit.

With that said, I have come to the conclusion that I need to re-home Charlotte immediately. I talked to Nanette at the Moncton SPCA (I’m on the board of directors) and Nanette agreed that Charlotte really needs to be re-homed immediately. (Apparently, Nanette said that I’d hit the “lottery” of worst-case scenarios. I have no choice but to re-home her. It was obvious – especially considering the blood – that the situation has escalated past the point of no return.)

Two against one… it’s no contest… and the obvious brutality of the attack was disturbing. For my sanity, the other cats’ sanity and Charlotte’s sanity (and safety), it’s the best decision. Together with Charlotte out of the mix, the other two are absolute angels. Introducing a third to an already established pair is very difficult at the best of times. I certainly learned the hard way.

Once she got used to me, she was extremely affectionate. She would climb on my stomach when I was on the couch and knead her claws and purr so loudly that I could barely hear the TV. She loves to play and have her belly rubbed. She loves being brushed, although not too roughly. She loves to eat, although she’s quite tiny.

Charlotte ABSOLUTELY needs to be the ONLY cat in the household. No ifs, ands or buts. No experiments. No maybes. No perhaps. Absolutely the only cat!!! Please don’t put her through this again. She’s a loner when it comes to socializing with other cats.

She is now in isolation in my laundry room and is comfortable and safe, however being alone in a laundry room all day is no life. She really misses watching the traffic go by on the street, too, I’m sure.

You must want her as a pet and NOT to resell her or give her away. She was adopted through the Moncton SPCA and they have asked me to try and re-home her since I’m on the board and the shelter has more than enough cats as it is. I will make a donation to the SPCA personally and register whoever adopts her as the new owners.

I will give you her dish and carrier. She is used to drinking out of a Cat-It automatic fountain, but I’m sure she’d be fine with just a bowl as long as it is refreshed regularly. I will also provide you with her vet records. She loves Iams regular cat food that can be purchased in any grocery store. I will also include her litterbox. She never had a problem with the litterbox until the past week, when things escalated with the other two. I believe that they were keeping her from going downstairs to use it. Poor thing!! She is an extremely clean cat and loves to groom herself.

She is registered at the Elmwood Vet Hospital and I will provide you with her records. Please keep up with her needles and vet care. She is in perfect health and there are no known issues. She is only two years old and has a long life ahead of her. She has been spayed. Previous to being spayed, she’d had a litter of kittens and was reported to be a very good mother to them.

As well, she is an INDOOR cat only. If you plan on letting her outside, please look elsewhere.

Charlotte would be a perfect cat for a quiet adult household. Please remember: She must the queen of the castle. No other cats!

If you live in an apartment, your landlord must allow cats. I will call him/her personally to verify.

I am really (!!!!!!!!!) sad to re-home her, but her safety and happiness come before my selfishness at wanting to keep her.


Hump Day: Need help? It is an employees' market today

Hump day
Published on Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Moncton Times & Transcript, pg. D6

I've heard a lot of talk lately about employers who have a hard time finding people to work for them. Drive by any fast-food restaurant or convenience store and there's usually a big "Help Wanted" sign in the window.

It was quite a different story years ago when a summer job wasn't rare, but it certainly wasn't a shoo-in like it is these days. In fact, I remember passing out dozens and dozens of resumes in my first job hunt during the summer before I left for university. For the life of me, I could not get a job -- even one with a "Mc" in front of it. I wasn't even allowed the privilege to utter that iconic phrase, "Would you like fries with that, ma'am?"

So my first year at university was pretty impoverished. Getting the odd $20 in the mail from family was a real godsend. Thankfully, the really important things -- like beer -- were still relatively cheap back then.

I don't remember being treated badly at all at any of my subsequent summer jobs. In fact, I was treated quite well, despite the fact that there were likely two or three applicants for every position and they knew they could replace me in a heartbeat.

These days, I think there's a fallacy that because jobs are so plentiful and the candidates so few, that conditions have improved immeasurably in order for employers to keep their staff. I beg to differ.

Perhaps that's true for some. It's certainly true in Alberta, where job benefits are amazing by all accounts. I know people working there and the salaries are high and the perks enormous. Yeah, it costs a lot to live, there's lots of traffic (especially in Calgary) and you're far from family, but people seem to be enormously happier in their jobs than they are here. Employers there go all out in retaining their staff.

But down this way, some employers definitely haven't caught up with the fact that it's an employees' market -- even if they claim to be desperate for workers.

One friend of mine decided to move out west "for love," as they say. She asked for a six-month leave of absence from her job here and got it. She works in a health-related profession which is experiencing a major worker shortage, so you'd think they would be thrilled that she planned on coming back if things didn't work out.

Well, she applied for a measly four-month extension to the leave of absence after the relationship faltered shortly after she arrived. This would have given her time to get her ducks in a row and make her way back east. Inexplicably, the employer here refused, despite this extension not costing them one red cent. She committed to returning in four months, but that wasn't good enough to the so-called "desperate" employer. (The employee in question always got stellar performance reviews, by the way.)

So she quit, and now her former employer and this province are down yet another specialized health-care worker who was trained here and wanted to work and live here. Too bad the local employer wouldn't play ball. And I bet you $100 that they're still crying for workers. In fact, I still see their ads running regularly in the newspaper.

With personnel policies like that, they're going to be running a lot of ads, so I hope they have a big marketing budget.

Then there's the gas station I went to a few weeks ago. When I went inside to pay, there was a police officer taking a statement from one of the staff members. Seems that someone filled up their car and sped away without paying -- not exactly a rare occurrence in this day of high gasoline prices.

Here's the kicker . . . The employees told me after the officer left that their boss was going to start taking robberies such as this out of their paycheques. Let's see: A guy fills up his tank and speeds away and it's the minimum-wage clerk's fault? I think not.

I asked them how they could be expected to take down the licence plate of every car at the pumps while at the same time serving customers at the counter? They wondered the same thing, they replied. I then asked if the owner planned on putting up security cameras that would get better views of the licence plates. Nope, they said. Too expensive. Yeah right!

The owner was probably looking forward to saving money on salaries by having employees pay for the stolen tanks of gas. "A lot of employees have quit," I was told. Quelle surprise!

And there's my son, who last summer worked for a national coffee shop chain and enjoyed it. The tips were good, he liked the work. This year in another city he got a job with the same chain, although a different franchisee. He was given a uniform and a name tag. But they never called him for a shift. A month later, shocked and disappointed, he started looking for something else. A month, zero income.

So he finds another full-time job with the same chain and different franchisee again. This one seemed to be on the ball, at least. He gets his uniform. He gets his name tag. And over the next two weeks of working "full-time," he gets four four-hour shifts. You're supposed to pay for university with that? He's beside himself with worry over finances this fall. I don't blame him. I do what I can, but I'm no Scrooge McDuck.

I'd like to take some of these employers and rattle their cages. They have to realize that they're dealing with people's livelihoods here. I hope they figure that out soon or I'm sending my kid to rob a bank. At least they'll pay for his education in prison.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I came home to a sad situation this evening...

Apparently, two of my cats (Cindy and Casey) ganged up on the third one and attacked her viciously. There was fur all over the livingroom and my hardwood floors had blood on them... and quite a bit of it! It was an AWFUL site to come home to. Now I'm completely freaking out and wondering what to do. :( I got Charlotte in November from the Moncton SPCA and things were never 100% with the other two, but I noticed things getting worse in the past few days.

I thought Casey was trying to play with her and she was just cranky, but obviously he wasn't trying to play. He'd been doing this more and more over the past few weeks. Then Cindy started in on her in the past couple of days.

Today, I came home to blood and fur. A horrible site for a pet owner. I did check them over and could find no wounds or missing patches of fur. I haven't been able to check Cindy over, but I doubt it was her who got hurt.

After I got home, they went after Charlotte again in the closet. I ran out and both Cindy and Casey ran out while Charlotte cowered. A pitiful site and no life for a cat.

So I called the vet in a panic. They were closing. I called a fellow Moncton SPCA board member and she gave some good advice on Bach Flower Remedies, which I plan on using to see if it will calm the aggression in Cindy and Casey.

In the meantime, Charlotte is isolated in the laundry room. I feel so bad for her and she's crying to get out, but I don't want her getting attacked again. Cats are very very territorial and it doesn't take much to set them off.

I'll give it a few days and let Charlotte out bit by bit, but only when I'm home. If things get bad again, I won't have any choice but to re-home her, but it will have to be to a home where she is (and will remain) the only cat.

Facing that choice for a pet is heartbreaking, but I'm not going to remain so egotistical that I believe I'm the only person in the world who can care for her. She's a wonderful little cat with lots of personality. She's very pretty, too.

The poor little thing. I can't imagine how scared she must have been while the attack was happening.

Crap on a friggin' stick.

Today's Hump Day column: Need help? It is an employees' market today

Hi everyone! Don't forget to check out today's Hump Day column on page D6 of the Moncton Times & Transcript. Today's piece is all about how some employers treat their employees astonishingly bad despite the shortage of workers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gas prices dropping in Canada!

"Motorists were rubbing their eyes in disbelief on Tuesday as the prices at the pumps came falling down by as much as a dime at some gas stations. The average price paid across Canada for a litre of gas this week was about $1.06, a four-cent drop from last week, according to Calgary-based fuel monitoring firm M.J. Ervin."

Wow! Great news! Click here for more.

Canadian Idol review - July 17 - #1 Hits Show

Greg Neufeld
Age 23, Abbotsford BC

Jaydee Bixby
Age 16, Drumheller AB

I'm not going to go through every performance except for the two that really blew me away. I speak, of course of Jaydee Bixby and Greg Neufeld.

These two really stood out tonight as the top contenders for the Canadian Idol crown. Jaydee sang the old Conway Twitty hit "It's Only Make Believe" and his charm and charisma shone through, as usual. The crowd and the judges went completely apesh*t over his performance. In fact, judge Farley Flex had to start giving his comments when the crowd was still freaking out afterwards because they wouldn't stop.

This is really reminiscent of another young Albertan who wow'd fans and the judges every week: Kalan Porter.

By the crowd's reaction, Jaydee is clearly this year's most popular contestant.

And I absolutely loved Greg's performance, too. He broke out of his usual routine (which he does super well) and gave a rock performance that I thought was really amazing. It's too bad that he doesn't have Jaydee's charisma.

I think that on the technical side, Greg is a better singer and more versatile than Jaydee, but when Jaydee hits the stage, the crowd goes ballistic. And the video of Jaydee with the senior citizens? I mean, c'mon... that was public relations GOLD. It doesn't get much better than that.

I liked Greg's interactions with his family. Wow, do he and his brother ever look alike, eh?

Hopefully there will be videos to post tomorrow or soon thereafter.

So this week's verdict: Jaydee and Greg both get strong 10s, with Jaydee getting the edge because of his driving the crowd wild. I think this kid is going to be a huge star.

Tomorrow's Hump Day column...

... is all about how there seems to be a shortage of workers but still lots of employers doing very strange things in order to make sure that they continue to have a high turnover of staff... or no staff at all. Read all about it on the editorial page of tomorrow's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Political correctness and Tintin

Well, it seems like Tintin in the Congo (in French: Tintin au Congo) has been relegated to the graphic novels section of some bookstores or removed from some altogether. The book, by Tintin creator Hergé, was published in 1931, hardly a time of political correctness toward some groups. Some are now offended that the book is derogatory toward Africans. Click here for more. Official Tintin website in English and French. Tintin entry on Wikipedia.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Oh God... I can barely watch this. I get dizzy!

Not being a fan of heights, I can barely watch this without getting dizzy. Ugh! This guy must be nuts!

A new day begins...

Here's to a new day! And may yesterday go straight to you-know-where. :)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I'm taking a couple of these before bed tonight...

They should help lighten my mood -- literally. Maybe that's my problem. LOL

A perfect end to a crappy day...

I burned the chili I was making for my lunches this week. Yup... just lovely. Fantastic. I managed to salvage some of it, but it will likely taste burnt anyway. I'll see tomorrow.

Oh and I forgot to say that I nearly got in a car accident from someone cutting me off VERY DANGEROUSLY in the Champlain Place parking lot. Some nut was driving diagonally through lanes and not following the mall roadwork. They drove right in front of me not looking to see if anyone was around.


Midnight... you can't arrive too soon! LOL

Is there something with the moon at this time of the year?

I just remembered that every July, I seem to be in a foul mood for a few days. I have no idea why. Is there something in the air? Does the moon do something weird every July? Sun spots? I dunno, but whatever it is, it seems to be like clockwork. I'm normally in a relatively good mood (relatively), but I can't seem to shake the pissyness today. Strange. Oh well, something to look forward to next July. ;-) I've decided to just deal with it and it will pass. I guess everyone's allowed to be in a bad mood once in awhile, as long as it's not a long-term thing.

I should have stayed in bed...

So far today:

1) One of the cats peed on my bathmat to declare their unhappiness with something or other. Second time in a week. What the hell is up with that?

2) Got an e-mail from my son saying that it appears YET ANOTHER employer is bailing on him and not giving him the hours he needs to survive. Don't anyone tell me that there aren't employees out there looking. There ARE employees looking... but some employers are so unorganized that their middle management (i.e. the ones who hire and set schedules) are completely brain dead, leading to a massive turnover in staff.

3) I went to make a strawberry shortcake for my father's birthday only to find that the large box (so large it had a handle) I bought at the Dieppe Farmers' Market yesterday was completely rotten (full of mould) below the first layer. When were the berries picked? 10 years ago?

4) I went to Wal-Mart to try to find paper muffin cups to bake some low-carb muffins. Well try and find them!!! I used to know where they were, but they're changing the store around (of course... just when people knew where to find stuff) and now everything is a mess. So I got frustrated and ended up going to Bulk Barn and paying at least twice the amount I would have at Wal-Mart. And I got freakin' pink ones. Lovely.

5) I just found one of the cats relaxing in my herb garden (which is in a pot on my kitchen table). It's completely flattened. It was thrown out (the garden, not the cat).

6) I brought rotten crab back to Sobeys. I thawed out the crab to eat it and WOW!!! Talk about rotten!! I threw it out and brought the other bag back for a refund this morning. Those things happen... and compared to the Superstore, at least the refund was prompt.

7) I ALSO brought rotten crab back to Superstore. AGAIN, I opened it and it was "off." The clerk at the customer service desk said, "I'll be right back" the minute I got to the counter and then proceeded, I think, to read the entire Bible back-to-back and watch the entire box set of The Sopranos from start to finish. Eventually, she made it back to the counter after I had to inquire to her whereabouts and after I saw her chatting with other staff while I waited at the counter for A VERY LONG TIME. Terrible customer service. Just bloody terrible.

So yeah, maybe I should go back to bed. But I've decided that the rest of the day is going to go well, so it will.

As The Secret teaches, "Your wish is my command." (That's the universe talking back to you.)

So now that I've vented, I'm going to have a good day. I also think I'd better finish my coffee. I think I need it.

World's most popular blogger Perez Hilton on The View

I think some things are sacred. Perez Hilton does not. To each his own -- and, of coure, I read his blog -- but there are limits. Regardless, the guy gets five million hits PER DAY on his blog (visit at your own risk - some strong language) and is right up there when you're looking for up-to-the-minute celebrity gossip. Here he is in an appearance on The View earlier this week:

And here is a parody (reasonably accurate) of Perez Hilton by Super News! Some people may be offended. View at your own risk.

Very cool automatic car doors

These look really cool, but I'd hate to get my finger caught in the door of that car! It would probably slice it right off!

Songs of Love

I was reading an interesting article in Positive Thinking magazine (May/June 2007) about John Beltzer, a musician who's produced 11,000 songs. But you've never seen him at the Grammy Awards. And you've never heard him on the radio.

You see, John produces songs for children and teens who are ill. Working with 350 songwriters and 300 hospitals, the Songs of Love Foundation creates a unique song for each of their "clients." What an amazing idea!! The Foundation's mission is to keep giving the gift of encouragement through medicine.

Kudos to John Beltzer for such a generous and positive way of making a real difference in the lives of children and teens who are suffering from illness. Visit the website for song samples.