Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Death & Life of Ice Cream

Very cool video! Probably not a good idea to watch this if you're on drugs or drunk. :P

L'Acadie Nouvelle names Sean Collins its "Person of the Year" for 2007

I was thrilled to hear today that L'Acadie Nouvelle - New Brunswick's only French-language daily newspaper - has named Sean Collins as its "Person of the Year" for 2007. A great honour for a boy who's done so much! The book on his life written by Martin Latulippe - Dix aiguilles / Ten Needles - has sold thousands of copies and has raised more than $100,000 for sick children in New Brunswick. His inspiring message to "live each day like it's your last" has touched thousands of New Brunswickers - young and old alike.

Countdown to 2008: 3 days to go!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Countdown to 2008: 4 days to go!

Happy New Year - Abba

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sometimes the worst impulses get the best of us

Brian Cormier
Hump Day
Published Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Appeared on page D8, Moncton Times & Transcript

Tomorrow, the Boxing Week sales begin, when all that pesky "goodwill toward men" stuff goes flying out the window in favour of pure unadulterated greed. "Buy the most for the least and get out of the way!"

I've only been out to the after-Christmas sales a few times and I fully admit that they don't bring out the best in my character. First of all, I spend way too much money on things I don't need -- and only because they're 99.9 per cent off the regular price. I really didn't need that 200 feet of flesh-coloured tinsel or that book on how to neuter my canary, did I? But the prices were right, so I bit.

A few years ago, I'll never forget when the greed in me came out big time, and it wasn't pretty. I was standing in line at a computer store to get some post-Christmas goodies. Since this was a small establishment, the inventory was limited.

Anyway, this guy was standing immediately in back of me in line before the store opened and was telling people what he was there to buy. I overheard him and made a mental note of what it was, even though I didn't need it. When I got inside, I spied what the guy was intending to purchase.

Whatever it was, the price was amazing. That's when the competitive shopper in me came out. "Hmm . . . even though I don't even want this, the price is so good that I'd better buy it because the guy in back of me is going to buy it if I don't."

Isn't that crazy logic?

Certainly not in the spirit of Christmas, I can tell you that.

Before he could find what he was looking for, I snatched the last one off the shelf like the greedy Grinch that I had turned into now that Santa was safely back at the North Pole and my gifts were unwrapped. There was no turning back, now, and I had a whole year to practise being good again after this shameful post-Noël transgression.

To make matters worse, I saw him go right to the shelf his treasure was to be found at. He looked at the now-empty space and gave a dejected look. Maybe he didn't have a lot of money and was looking forward to buying himself something nice after Christmas? I'll never know, but I've felt horrible for my senseless act of greed ever since.

If you think I'm going to heck over that one, wait until you get a load of this:

One summer day about six years ago, I happened upon a house with a "Yard Sale" sign on the front lawn. Since I normally don't have much cash on me, stopping at a sale like this is usually useless, but I had a few bucks on me that day so I could afford most any treasure that I would find.

It seems that the house belonged to an elderly lady who was selling off most of her earthly possessions and going to live with a relative. It was a sad day for her. Her daughters were there and seemed relieved to have finally talked Mum into selling and moving. I imagined that there had been a battle to get her to give up her independence. Understandable, of course.

So into the house I went to look around. There were the usual toasters, dishes, etc. A bit of furniture here and there. Some things had been picked over. Then I saw them: two quilts. The stitches were obviously sewn by hand. They each weighed a ton... you know, like those old-time quilts that you can barely find anywhere anymore. As well, they were like new.

For some reason, no one had bought them yet. I looked around, wondering if I had to clench my fist and punch someone in the nose to stop them from buying them before me, but that was not the case. They were mine if I wanted them.

I asked one of the daughters, "How much?" She told me they were $20 each. Yes, you can all turn green with envy, now: $20 for a handmade quilt in perfect condition! Most reasonable people would have thrown a couple of twenties at the daughter's head and ran, knowing what a great deal they were getting. But not me. You know that Ikea commercial? "Start the car! Start the car!" Well, that was me that day!

"I'll give you $30 for both," I said, thinking that they were quasi-desperate just to get rid of stuff. Her mother, seeing all her life-long possessions leaving the house for a song, looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "But they're not expensive," wondering why I was trying to cheapen her beloved quilts. Well, I nearly died right there until the daughter said, "It's OK, Mum. We just need to get rid of this stuff."

Despite my attempts to pay more after the tear-filled plea from the quilts' creator, I ended up with my "precious" bargain. The guilt wasn't worth it, though. Not one bit.

A few times this past month, I've seen a teenage boy walking to school (I'm assuming) while on my way to work at about 8:30 a.m. I would guess him to be 16 or 17 years old. Both mornings, I saw him walking on the sidewalk to school (another 20 minutes away by sneaker) without a winter coat on -- only a shirt. The temperature on both mornings? A least 20 below zero. I don't know if he lost his coat or couldn't afford one at all, but no one in their right mind would have been out that day coatless.

I feel guilty for not stopping to see if I could help, but that would have been a bit odd, I think.

So whatever you do with your Boxing Week money, make sure it's something worthwhile, like something you actually need . . . or a coat for someone who has none.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!!


Well, folks... it's time to shut this blog down for the holidays. I'll be back on December 27th when I post my December 26th Hump Day column.

Christmas blessings to you all!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

"Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, "If you see it in THE SUN it's so."

Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


And the editorial response published on September 21, 1897

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Click here to read the history behind this famous story.

Click here to listen to a CBC Radio interview with the woman who inspired the story that aired on December 24, 1963.

Click on the photo for the original response as it appeared in the newspaper 110 years ago.

This week's Hump Day...

... is all about buying stuff on sale... and how I turn into an ogre when it comes to competing with shoppers (and sellers). Read all about it in Wednesday's (Boxing Day's) Times & Transcript. With those crazy post-Christmas sales starting this week, I thought writing about sales was appropriate! Pick up Wednesday's paper or read it here online on Thursday.

Christmas in Heaven

Many people are experiencing their first Christmas following the passing of a loved one this year. I found this beautiful poem by Wanda Becke and wanted to share it with you all. Hopefully, it will provide some comfort.

Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless CHRISTMAS TREES around the world below with tiny lights like HEAVEN’S STARS reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so SPECTACULAR please wipe away that tear for I am spending CHRISTMAS WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I hear the many CHRISTMAS SONGS that people hold so dear but the SOUND OF MUSIC can't compare with the CHRISTMAS CHOIR up here.

I have no words to tell you of the JOY their voices bring for it is beyond description to HEAR THE ANGELS SING.

I know HOW MUCH YOU MISS ME, I see the pain inside your heart for I am spending CHRISTMAS WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I can't tell you of the SPLENDOR or the PEACE here in this place Can you just imagine CHRISTMAS WITH OUR SAVIOR face to face.

I'll ask him to LIFT YOUR SPIRIT as I tell him of your love so then PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER as you lift your eyes above.

Please let your HEARTS BE JOYFUL and let your SPIRIT SING for I am spending CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN and I’m walking WITH THE KING.

by Wanda Bencke © Copyright 1999

Tracking Santa's trip around the world!

It's already started! As I write this entry, he's in Australia... and will soon be moving on to other countries. As the clock ticks toward midnight wherever you are, track Santa's journey by vising Lots of fun and quite exciting for young and old alike!

Christmas Countdown: 1 day!

A few favourites to wrap up the countdown!

White Christmas - Bing Crosby

Linus' monologue from A Charlie Brown Christmas

Mary's Boy Child - Harry Belafonte

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 2 days!

Mary's Boy Child - Grace Bumbry and the Vienna Boys Choir

An Old Christmas Card - Jim Reeves

A Topo Gigio Christmas