Saturday, July 28, 2007

Making lemon and vinegar batteries



The Lemonaire

This clever video is actually an ad for Umpqua Bank located in the northwestern U.S. It's way too long to air on TV. So why did they make it? So people like me would post it to my blog and people like you would e-mail it to everyone. That's what's called a "viral video." Click here for The Lemonaire's official site or watch the video below:

Friday, July 27, 2007

Which version do you like best?

"Brimful of Asha" by Cornershop... original version:

... and the Fatboy Slim remix:

Talking Heads: Stay Up Late

Here's "Stay Up Late" by the Talking Heads 1985). Great song!

XTC: Senses Working Overtime

Another all-time favourite song: XTC's "Senses Working Overtime" (1982):

Crowded House: Weather With You

Another of my favourites... "Weather With You" by Crowded House (1991):

Split Enz: Six Months in a Leaky Boat

One of my all-time favourite songs... "Six Months in a Leaky Boat" by Split Enz (1982):

Squeeze: Another Nail in my Heart

Another great song from the 1980s... "Another Nail in my Heart" by Squeeze (1980):

Poco: Call It Love

Great song. I've been singing this all day, for some reason. Here's Poco's "Call It Love" from 1989:

Here's Greg Neufeld's awesome performance of "Long Black Veil" from this week's Canadian Idol

Go ahead to 7:50 in the video and watch Greg's excellent performance.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cat introductions sometimes don't go well

Hump Day
Published Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

Last November, I decided to adopt another cat from the local shelter. The two I already had got along so well that I felt it entirely appropriate to bring another orphan into the mix. Two happy cats would be three happy cats, right?

Unfortunately, that was not the case. Although there are many stories of successfully integrating a third cat into a household, mine was not.

Charlotte, as I named the new one, was a beautiful Siamese Lynx Point mix, meaning she looked like both a Siamese cat and a lynx at the same time. She had unique markings and a face that would melt any heart. Charlotte also despised other cats. I knew this before I got her, but I truly believed she would mellow out because she'd had kittens in her previous home and was likely just being protective of them.

Now, when I say she despised other cats, I mean she hissed, growled and avoided them. Eventually, she learned to semi-tolerate my first two -- Cindy and Casey. Casey, however, loved to annoy Charlotte and would constantly try to goad her into playing -- at least I thought it was playing. Cindy pretty much just ignored her.

Although Charlotte's howls of protest when Casey tried to play with her were annoying, I grew to put up with it. I should have listened more closely, because Casey was, in fact, not trying to play with her, but wanting to fight with her. The tufts of hair from Charlotte all over the house should have been evidence of that. But with that said, I decided they'd work things out and learn to live together -- eventually!

At least that's what all the books told me.

After months of watching Casey taunt poor Charlotte, who just wanted to be left alone, Cindy then started getting aggressive toward her in the last week. I put it down to just an argument "between roomies" and figured, again, that they'd work things out on their own.

Again, the books told me that they'd likely just learn to live together in relative peace without trying to kill each other.

Unfortunately, Cindy and Casey can't read. They decided to turn my house into a scene from CSI Kitty. Arriving home from work one day, I was met with a living room full of an unbelievable amount of fur (Charlotte's), large blood stains on the floor, and other unmentionable stuff everywhere. I deduced quite rightly that Charlotte had undergone a multi-hour attack by "Bonnie and Clyde," as I quickly renamed the other two.

I was absolutely beside myself. I cleaned up the mess and checked each cat over for wounds. I couldn't imagine where all the blood had come from. Eventually, I noticed that Charlotte had broken a couple of claws in the melee (poor thing!) and had bled from the injuries. I was surprised she hadn't passed out from the blood loss.

I decided to segregate Charlotte immediately, especially after they attacked her again with me at home. She was placed in quarantine with water and her litter box in the basement laundry room. I felt heartsick at having to leave her there, traumatized and alone. But at least she was safe.

Meanwhile, the other two weren't my favourite cats in the world right at that moment. I gave them their space but certainly couldn't hold evolution and instinct against them forever. They didn't ask Charlotte to come into the home. I imposed her on them. They were perfectly fine the way they were and she should have definitely gone to a home where she'd be the only cat. Live and learn. I didn't need to be Mother Teresa.

The next day, I put Cindy and Casey in the furnace room for an hour in order to give Charlotte a break from her quarantine. She came upstairs happily and, upon making sure that Bonnie and Clyde weren't around, proceeded to do the usual cat activities of purring, rolling around and looking out the window. Not getting bullied was relaxing!

All of a sudden, who do I see wandering upstairs just like it was the most normal thing in the world? Casey! Come to find out that he'd escaped by following a floor joist through the ceiling into the laundry room. He literally jumped out of the ceiling and made his way upstairs. I couldn't believe it. So with the laundry room option now out of the question, Charlotte was moved to my office, a much better situation for her (and my guilt!) since she'd at least have a nice window to gaze out of during the day.

After consulting with the shelter manager, it was clear that the attack was meant to harm Charlotte, if not worse! I decided to re-home her immediately. Luckily, thanks to the magic of the Internet, I found a wonderful home for her within 48 hours. The long sad story and the four photos of her certainly helped.

The family I took her to this past Sunday live in a log home -- so it's one big scratching post for her. Lots of windows. Lots of nooks and crannies. She'll be happy there. I took along a new bag of her favourite food, her dish, her vet records and her carrier.

Losing a pet is a horrible feeling. I'm just glad that I got the comfort of choosing her new home. Charlotte, for your sake, I hope it works out better than mine did. As for Cindy and Casey -- or "Bonnie and Clyde" -- your CSI Kitty days are thankfully over. I'd much rather you got into The Golden Girls. At least no one got murdered there.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It's Christmas in July!

In honour of Christmas in July (July 25th), here are a few Christmas videos. Maybe they'll help y'all cool down in this sweltering summer heat!

Oscar the hospice cat predicts patients' deaths

"Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours.

His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one," said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.

The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.

After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He'd sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.

Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. "This is not a cat that's friendly to people," he said.

Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill."

Click here for the rest of the story on Oscar's uncanny ability.

Dwight d'Eon fan page

Hi everyone! Just wanted to bring to your attention a nice Dwight d'Eon fan page that reader Pierrette d'Entremont sent me. Pierrette is a Dwight fan -- along with the rest of her village -- and lives in Middle West Pubnico, Nova Scotia. Click here to access the fan page and click here to access Dwight's homepage on the Canadian Idol website. Congrats on all your work, Pierrette! Dwight made it into the Top 8 after he was voted "safe" last night on the Canadian Idol results show. It's great to have two Atlantic Canadians in the Top 8! Here's his rendition of Unwell on the Top 10 show last week:

Drew Carey is the new host of The Price Is Right!

Comedian and TV sitcom star Drew Carey will be the new host of The Price Is Right. Here are some of the elaborate opening sequences from his old Drew Carey Show... Great stuff!

Only five months to go 'til Ho Ho Ho!

Today's Hump Day column: Cat introductions sometimes don't go well

Don't forget to check out today's Hump Day column on the editorial page (D6) of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. Today's piece is all about the hellish week I had after coming home to an attempted murder scene when two of my cats (Cindy and Casey) decided to assassinate the third. Luckily for the third (Charlotte), I was able to find her a new home quickly.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Khalila voted off Canadian Idol

As I predicted, Khalila was eliminated from Canadian Idol tonight. Martha Joy joined her in the bottom three along with Brian Melo. At least I got 2/3 of the bottom three right. I was sorry to see Brian there. This is the second time he's been poised for elimination, I believe. He won't last much longer.

Hopefully, voters will get it right next week and send Martha packing.

Canadian Idol prediction for tonight - July 24th

There were clearly three standout performances last night on the show.

Matt Rapley blew everyone away with his gospel-inspired performance of Whipping Post. I'd never seen the judges so excited about a performance in all my years of watching either Canadian or American Idol. Excellent! I actually liked him A LOT last night -- and he's far from my favourite.

Tara Oram was amazing with her rendition of one of my favourite songs - Suspicious Minds. She rocked the house and got kudos from all the judges. I really enjoyed it and she looked like a real pro!

But the performance that has completely turned me OCD was Greg Neufeld's Long Black Veil. According to Wikipedia, the song is "a 1959 country ballad about a man suspected of murder. The alleged refuses to provide an alibi, because he was having an affair with his best friend's wife at the time, and would rather die than reveal this. Subsequently, he is executed by hanging, taking their secret to the grave. The chorus describes the woman's mourning visits to his gravesite in her long black veil. The song is sung from the point of view of the executed man."

Despite its well-known status as a legendary song (apparently), I'd never heard it before. I went to YouTube and found some versions by Dave Matthews and Johnny Cash. This may sound like heresy in the music world, but PUH-LEEZE. They could not hold a candle to Greg's emotional and completely believable performance.

I taped the show last night and have watched Greg's performance at least 20 times. I'm going to have to erase it before I need medication. Ha! I sincerely hope this makes it on to a future album. Stellar! Absolutely stellar!

The BIG losers last night?

Jaydee Bixby. It PAINS me to say it. He had a horrible beginning to the song and he just lost me after that. He's starting to sound like a broken record. Although Runaway is one of my favourite songs, he really needs to start showing some diversity other than the Elvis impression (albeit an excellent Elvis impression). He's starting to bore me. PLEASE take a risk next week. PLEASE.

The worst performance last night -- and the judges all agreed -- was by stiff-as-a-board Martha Joy, who croaked through a pitifully insincere and forced performance of Love Child. Painful to watch. Dreadful.

Who's going home tonight?

Well, I think the bottom three will be Martha Joy, Khalila Glanville and Dwight D'Eon, with either Martha Joy or Khalila going home. I hope to God it's Martha Joy, but I have a sneaking suspicion it may be Khalila.

The show starts in five minutes! We'll see what happens!

This week's Hump Day column...

... all about a very bad week I had with the cats. One of them ended up having to be re-homed after the two turned on her. You can read all about it on the editorial page of tomorrow's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I have another blog...

Check it out!

Greg Neufeld's and Jaydee Bixby's excellent performances from last week's Canadian Idol

Here's Greg Neufeld's rendition of The Killers' "All These Things":

And here's Jaydee Bixby's performance of Conway Twitty's "It's Only Make Believe" (starts at 6:40 in the video):

Jaydee Bixby school talent competition videos

From 2004 -- painfully nerdy:

From 2005 (after hitting puberty, obviously):

In 2004, he's chubby and kinda nerdy. The kids seem to be laughing at him more than with him... In 2005, he's slimmed down and looks more like he does now. The girls are obviously all going "How YOU doin'??" ;-) Puberty treated him well.