Saturday, November 10, 2007

Friday, November 09, 2007

A nice letter to the editor about my column!

I was happy to see a nice letter to the editor about my column published in the Moncton Times & Transcript this morning!

Published Friday, November 9, 2007
Appeared on page D8, Moncton Times & Transcript

"Cormier column a must read

To The Editor:

With the public outburst and people being so worked up about the SPCA-Sprague incident lately (including myself), I couldn't help but to think when I read Brian Cormier's Nov. 7 column that things can be looked at from a different perspective.

It is a MUST read. It's factual, humourous and a very interesting article. It speaks mostly about the good side and the downside of owning a pet.

What's a shame is that people who buy the Times & Transcript may only read the front page and the letters in the public Forum. I make this mistake myself at times.

I notice that some people are angry at how the SPCA got undeserved bad publicity, they would be better off reading Cormier's column than taking anger management programs. Please don't let this article go to waste and take the time to read it.

Thank you.

Carl Chapman-Helmy

Thank you very much, Carl! You made my day! Good way to start a weekend.

Dix aiguilles / Ten Needles: Sean Collins' legacy touches us all

Back on July 10 of this year, I blogged about the passing of a young boy I'd never met. His name is Sean Collins. He's the son of Moncton East MLA Chris Collins and Lisette Richard.

Months later, I received an e-mail from Chris thanking me for the blog post and the note that I'd left for him and Lisette on the funeral home's website. It was nice to receive an acknowledgement, but I certainly hadn't expected anything, especially considering that I'd only met Chris a few times at political events and - other than a friendly nod, handshake and small talk - had never really spent any time getting to know him. But, like I said, it was nice to get the acknowledgement. He'd also told me that he was a fan of my column, which was nice to hear, too.

Shortly after that exchange of e-mails, I received an e-mail from Chris asking if I'd be willing to get involved in editing the English version of a book that was being written on Sean's life. The book was being written by Martin Latulippe. As luck would have it, I'd met Martin years ago when he was dating a young lady I used to work with.

It didn't take me long to say "yes." The French version of the book would be called "Dix aiguilles," while the English version would be called "Ten Needles." Sean received 10 needles per day during his cancer treatment, hence the name of the book.

The timeframe was short - very short - and I worked hard at getting the translation ready for printing. After being sent off to the printer with minutes to spare shortly before the deadline, we all sat and waited for the original French version of the book and the English adaptation to roll off the presses.

Yesterday, I sat proudly among Sean's family, classmates, teachers and friends at École Le Mascaret in Moncton for the launch of this much anticipated book by Martin.

I just want to say how very honoured I am for having been asked to be part of this wonderful experience.

There are many good things being said about Sean these days - and rightly so. But I also want to acknowledge Chris and Lisette for being such outstanding parents. They raised a remarkable young man whose legacy will live on forever through his words of true wisdom and the money that this book will raise to help sick kids. Their dedication to his legacy is their ongoing symbol of their love for Sean.

Author Martin Latulippe has captured Sean's passion for life beautifully. Sean was a boy with a big dream - a dream to inspire people to live each day as if it were their last. His courage, wisdom and generosity will live on forever through this wonderful and inspiring legacy called Dix aiguilles / Ten Needles.

The French or English version of the book is available for $10 each at any branch of the National Bank in New Brunswick and Jean Coutu Pharmacies in the Greater Moncton area.

Click here for the official Facebook group dedicated to the book.

(Photo credit: Daniel St. Louis)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The time change disrupts everyone's routine

Hump Day
Published Wednesday November 7, 2007
Moncton Times & Transcript, pg. D6

Well, those days of getting dark earlier are here, folks. This past weekend, we returned to standard time, so we all put our clocks back one hour. It's a bit lighter when we get up in the morning, now. . . and a lot darker when we get out of work, at least for those who work 9 to 5.

Unfortunately, this has totally messed up the schedules of my two cats. Those of you who own cats know that they are creatures of habit and routine. If it's 4 p.m., I know exactly where they're sleeping. By 7 p.m., they've moved to another section of the house to nap. And by 10 p.m., I can usually find one on my bed and the other snoozing in the laundry basket, although they are more than likely unconscious after taking a whiff of my dirty socks rather than just sleeping.

They're usually fed at 6:30 a.m. (when I get out of bed) and 6 p.m. or whenever I get home from work. Unfortunately, in their furry little kitty heads, 6:30 a.m. is now 5:30 a.m. in human time, meaning that the cries for food will be starting at the ungodly early hour of 5 a.m. for the next few weeks until they adjust and figure out that they're wasting their breath. Sadly, cats are stubborn and take a while before they usually figure this out.

Thankfully, I've long been an advocate of wearing earplugs to bed. These little rubber miracles have saved my sanity more than once, I'm sure, by allowing me to get a good night's sleep while the furry brats play, chase each other, try to wake me up at 3 a.m. to feed them (can't hurt to try, eh?) or just sit there and meow for no reason other than to meow. They sleep at night, too, but they're also quite active.

They're cats. They do cat stuff. And being nocturnal, they tend to do it at night.

I've only gotten up a couple of mornings to any real damage. Once, a floor lamp was toppled over during their play. It survived, but the shade never quite fit as well afterwards. Another time, a bag of cat food that was stored on top of a high shelf was tossed to its death on the floor and half eaten before I got up.

I was wondering why they weren't screeching at my door that morning like two air raid sirens from the Second World War. I thought for sure that they'd died during the night or something. Every morning for the past few years, I've opened my bedroom door in the morning to find these two telling me in no uncertain terms that it was feeding time. That one morning when they weren't there was like something out of the Twilight Zone. Something was definitely wrong.

I tiptoed into the kitchen half expecting to find them both gone to meet their maker. Maybe some mouse terrorists had attacked? I didn't know what to expect!

Upon closer inspection, I found them on the floor, all right . . . with distended bellies and belching like truckers after eating a day's worth of kibble after tearing a hole in the side of the previously unopened bag of food. Needless to say, those two didn't get fed that morning as they'd already raided the chicken coop, so to speak.

I don't get it with these two. They've both been fed at the same time for the past few years, yet they think that somehow one day I'm just going to forget.

I usually eat supper later than they do -- at around 7:30 p.m. or so. Yet despite having just been fed, they both sit next to me and stare intently as I eat. You'd think they were homeless orphans looking through a store window on Christmas Eve at all the toys they'll never have. I eat while sitting on the sofa, so Cindy sits to my right. Casey, meanwhile, is perched behind me on the back of the sofa, his front paws draped over my shoulder. As each forkful of food enters my mouth, he follows it intently, his little button nose sniffing madly as he purrs, trying to entice me to share.

Once in a while, one of them will get brave and make the mistake of putting their paw on my plate -- their way of demanding some of the action. Things don't go very well for them after that. Much flipping out (by me) happens and they take off running. I don't share my food well. Someone I know took a chicken wing off my plate the other day in a restaurant (they were hungry and their food hadn't arrived yet), and I acted all friendly and generous, but deep down inside I pretty much wanted to scream, considering that I was absolutely starving myself and was one minute away from eating my own eyes.

I'll share food with the cats only very rarely. If I'm eating fried eggs, I'll scoop up a bit of yolk on my finger and will give each a chance to savour some of it before shoo'ing them away. It's a nice little treat for them (healthy, too!), but I don't want to create little monsters. I think it's too late for Casey, though, with his hanging out on my shoulder and closely inspecting every morsel that goes into my mouth.

Oh, their lives aren't so tough. They get treats every night, two square meals a day and a taste of egg yolk several mornings per week. Life could be worse, I suppose.

As the fall moves on and winter approaches, these two little creatures will gradually ease away from staring out of the window for hours every day. The window pane just gets too cold on their tiny noses. They'll spend the winter just a few inches away on the arm of my sofa, curled up, snoozing, warm and satisfied. Retirees move to Florida in the winter. My cats move to the sofa.

These two never ask for much other than pats on the head, scratches under the chin and belly rubs. Throw in good food, water, a few treats and an index finger covered in egg yolk, and they're happy. I just wish it was this easy to please everyone.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My godson Justin was on TV tonight!

He was featured on RDI Junior's item tonight on lacrosse. Check out the clip by clicking here. His item begins at the 2:08 mark. (The report is in French.)

Celebrity birthdays for November 7

Christian evangelist and spiritual leader Billy Graham is 89.

Singer Johnny Rivers is 65.

Singer/composer Joni Mitchell is 64.

Comedienne Judy Tenuta is 51.

Actor Christopher Knight ("Peter Brady" in The Brady Bunch) is 50!!!!

Actor Christopher Daniel Barnes ("Greg Brady" in The Brady Bunch Movie) is 35.

Former 2004 American Idol contestant Jon Peter Lewis is 28.

Trimming trees around power lines using a helicopter!

This is pretty ingenious, actually!

Today's Hump Day column: The time change disrupts everyone's routine

Good morning, everyone! Don't forget to check out my Hump Day column appearing on the editorial page (pg. D6) of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. Today's piece is all about how turning our clocks back an hour this past weekend has not made living with the two furry creatures I have at home any easier. :) They still haven't adjusted to the fact that they have to wait an hour "later" to get fed - much to their consternation. Pick up a copy of the paper today or check here tomorrow, when it will be posted online.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Canadian Toy Testing Council's best toys for 2008

The Canadian Toy Testing Council has released its list of best toys for 2008. If you're looking for a quality, tested Christmas gift for the tykes this year, be sure to click here and go through their list of top choices. Click here for a related news story.

Trailer for Dead Poets Society

This is the trailer for my favourite movie of all time - Dead Poets Society. If you haven't seen it, you NEED to. Excellent!

Celebrity birthdays for November 6

Sally Field is 61. Here she is giving her acceptance speech at this year's Emmy Awards show for her win as Best Actress in a Leadine Role - Drama. This, of course, is on top of her two Best Actress Oscars.

Ethan Hawke is 37. This is a scene from his breakout role in Dead Poets Society - my favourite movie of all time! He was 19 at the time.

Monday, November 05, 2007

This week's Hump Day column...

... is all about the recent change back to standard time. We may have enjoyed an extra hour of sleep, but some routine-oriented pets haven't caught on yet that the old 6 a.m. is the new 5 a.m. Oy! Read it Wednesday on the editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Kate Smith and Tennessee Ernie Ford singing "We're Just in Love"


This music clip almost seems surreal...

Cher, Tina Turner and the legendary Kate Smith singing a medley of Beatles hits...

I saw Tina Turner in concert in Moncton in July 1985. Amazing. Best concert ever!

Celebrity birthdays for November 4

Loretta Swit is 70!

Kathy Griffin is 46.

Ralph Macchio is 46. Here he is in an interview re: The Outsiders.

Jeff Probst is 45.

Recipe: Kim's low-carb flax meal cinnamon muffins

Despite the huge amounts of cinnamon and vanilla in this recipe, I couldn't taste either one. I guess they're needed to tone down the strong taste of the flax meal. These look and taste like bran muffins, if you ask me. I sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top of mine for some extra crunch before putting them in the oven. I also put about 1 tsp in the batter. I'll probably add more next time. I bought the sesame seeds at the sushi counter of the grocery store. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp oil (I used canola oil)
- 1/4 cup sugar-free syrup, such as DaVinci or Torani (I had ordered some DaVinci syrup online. See this post on my blog re: sugar-free syrups. Plain sugar-free syrup is also known as "liquid Splenda." It's important that the syrup be sweetened with sucralose (Splenda), not aspartame.)
- 2 tbsp water (I forgot to add this! Didn't seem to matter, though. They came out fine.)
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 cup flax meal
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp cinnamon (the amount is correct)

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. (I used a whisk.) With a fork or spoon, beat in oil, syrup, water and vanilla. In small bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients, then stir into egg mixture. Let stand 5 minutes. (Holy macaroni. I forgot to do this, too! Maybe they would have risen higher in the oven had I done this. I found them to be quite small, despite tasting fine.) Spoon into 12 well-greased muffin cups (without papers). Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes (I left mine in for 15), or until they are lightly browned and seem set to the touch. Remove from tin at once to cooling rack. Store in refrigerator.

Makes 12 muffins Can be frozen.

Per serving: 85 calories; 7g fat; 4g protein; 4g carbohydrate; 3g dietary fibre; 1g net carbs. (The carbs added by the sesame seeds would have been nil, since the net carb count on the seeds is zero anyway.)

I thought I'd read this recipe carefully when I was making it. Sheesh! I forgot the water and letting it stand for five minutes. I'll do that next time, for sure. They still tasted fine, though! Enjoy!

Courtesy of Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes.