Saturday, August 30, 2008

This kid wanted to catch that baseball really badly!

Ouch! August 27, 2008 - Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Three encounters show three faces of death

Hump Day
Moncton Times & Transcript
August 27, 2008
Editorial Page (pg. D8)

This was an interesting week punctuated by changes in three lives around me: one that ended; one that nearly ended; and one that seems like it's near the end.

Last Thursday evening, my work colleague David and his wife Lorrie made the painful decision to put their beloved dog to sleep. Scout was a popular pup who was brought to work every day when David and Lorrie ran another company they used to own. At nearly 15 years old, however, Scout's health started to go swiftly downhill recently, ending in that final act of love that many people face with their elderly pets.

Many former employees sent condolences to David and Lorrie following the announcement of Scout's passing. Since Scout's masters used to bring him to work with them every day, many felt like they'd lost their own pet.

When I saw Lorrie in the office the day after Scout passed, I told her, "I won't say anything!" since I'd already sent condolences via e-mail and knew that any discussion regarding him would likely end with Lorrie in tears, which she readily admitted would likely be the case. David, too, was quite honest in talking about Scout. "I'm OK as long as I don't think about it."
We changed the subject quickly.

How else could two people feel after a pet who'd been like a child to them went into the great beyond? Scout led an active life. He was a faithful companion. He travelled with them often and there was rarely a problem finding someone to care for him when they couldn't take him with them. A social dog, he loved being around people.

Scout had a lot of friends and I was glad to have met him when he was brought to our office, although he was noticeably aging. On a recent business trip, I held him on my lap for a time in the car and he was relaxed and happy, falling asleep in my arms as the car drove down the highway, the vibrations of the road lulling him into a snooze. And despite Lorrie's warnings of his bad breath, I never minded getting kisses from him.

Last Thursday evening, it was time for Scout to go. It was a sad, emotional time for David and Lorrie and they will miss him forever, but I know that when it's their time to go, there'll be a little curly haired beige dog wagging his stubby tail furiously on the other side to welcome them as they cross over. (And, might I add, likely with much better breath, too.)

Last Friday morning, I was turning right onto a busy street when out of nowhere I was shocked to hear a bang on my front passenger-side fender. All I saw was a helmet peeking above the fender as I felt my car drive over a bicycle. To say that my heart sank would be the understatement of the century.

I slammed on the brakes and jumped out of the car. By this time, the driver of the bicycle had righted himself slightly and was motioning for me to back up. I knew I was on top of the bicycle, but was I on top of him, too? I jumped back into the car and backed up, giving the 19-year-old young man (I'll call him "Tommy") who'd driven into my car an opportunity to pull his bike out from under my tire. My heart was pounding as I jumped out again to see if he was injured. A passerby ran over to see if the rider was OK and to call the police.

Thankfully, Tommy was not hurt -- not even scratched. His front tire, however, was now shaped like the letter "V", not exactly conducive to a smooth ride.

I wasn't sure what I was going to find when I jumped out -- either someone with their innards squirted across the street like a stepped-on ketchup packet, or someone with a mangled leg.

Tommy's brakes had failed and he ran into the side of my vehicle, leaving himself unhurt, his front tire bent, and a rather large dent in my fender, but otherwise everyone was OK.

The police came, everyone stayed calm and we apologized to each other several times before Tommy continued on his merry way with a manually straightened out wheel that was surprisingly useful.

I subsequently bought him a new rim even though the accident was his fault. He lives in a group home and has no money to speak of and he was so polite and remorseful that I wanted to give the kid a break.

Scout's life decision was (rightfully) made for him -- purposely. Tommy's life decision was nearly made for him, too -- accidentally. And now, there's another person in my life whose life is hanging precariously in the balance.

My great aunt Marie is in the hospital after breaking her hip. She's 96 and incredibly frail. Although I don't want to bury her before she's gone, it honestly doesn't look good. I'm not so sure that's a bad thing, either. Her quality of life is not that great, in my opinion, and I don't see a big chance of it improving much.

She's sleeping most of the time -- at least 22 hours per day if not more -- yet usually remains surprisingly cheerful when I visit her with my cousin. Marie has a pacemaker and only one kidney. She's just gone through major surgery and is drifting in and out of lucidity.

I realize that nature must take its course, but I hope that she gets dramatically better soon or that she goes to heaven. A devoted nun for more than 75 years who's never hurt a flea, she's earned her place in heaven and doesn't deserve to linger on like this.

Scout died with dignity and love. Tommy was saved by the grace of God. And Marie -- well, I hope that whatever happens will be dignified, loving and with grace, too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Recipe: Low-carb "miracle brownies" with flax

I made these for the first time on Sunday and brought them into work on Monday after letting them age a day. (It's recommended that you let these age day before eating to improve the texture.)

These are excellent and got rave reviews from the non low-carbers I work with! I really love them, too, and they are a perfect substitute (and even taste better!) than the traditional sugar and flour-laden versions.

- 1/4 lb butter (1 stick - I used salted butter)
- 2 cups erythritol (powdered, not granulated - see end of this post for a note on erythritol)
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 4 eggs (room temp is best)
- 1/2 cup cocoa (I used high-fat expensive cocoa from the bulk store)
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
- 2 cups flax seed meal
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup cream
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 cup artificial sweetener (I used granular Splenda)
- 1 cup walnuts (optional - I did not include walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 9" X 13" pan.

1) Cream the butter until fluffy.

2) Add the erythritol to the butter and cream them together until fully combined. Aim for a fluffy texture.

3) Add the vanilla and beat the eggs into the mixture, one at a time.

4) Add salt and cocoa, beat well.

5) Add chocolate, beat until fluffy.

6) Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well to combine.

7) Pour into a pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until top springs back. (You can also test if they're ready by sticking a toothpick in the brownies. If it comes out clean or almost-so, they're done.)

8) Cool, then cut into 32 squares. If you cheat and eat one warm, know that the texture will be different once completely cool. That's when they become like real brownies. (They are even better the next day.)

Nutritional analysis: Each of 32 brownies has 1 gram effective carbohydrate, plus 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat and 107 calories.

This great recipe is courtesy of About.com. Click here for the original copy of the recipe.

Click here for a note on erythritol. You can purchase erythritol online here. If you live in Moncton, it's sold at the Corn Crib natural food store on Mountain Road. It's quite pricey, but well worth it if you want to do some serious low-carb baking! Just remember to grind it up in the food processor or blender first! The granular type that is sold in stores needs to be "powderized" in order not to turn your baked good "gritty". I looks like sugar but does not dissolve like sugar.

The above photo is from the batch I made on Sunday. Click on the photo for a full-size version.

Muppet News Flash compilation

Good times... Good times...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TV judge verbally castrates defendant

Love it!



Rumours that the judge made him watch her puree his testicles in a blender afterwards have not been confirmed.

Canadian Idol prediction for the week of August 25, 2008

Well, folks... we're getting close to the Canadian Idol finale for yet another year. Only four contestants are left after last week's shocking and horrible elimination of Mookie Morris. What a shame! He really brought a unique aspect to the show and his absence was quite obvious this week!

With that said, ya gotta dance with the ones that brung ya, as they say...

I'm not sure if there'll be a bottom two this week or if they'll just announce the eliminated contestant, but I think there'll be a bottom two. If so, they will be - in my humble opinion - Mitch MacDonald and Earl Stevenson. Earl just didn't do it for me last night and is just a bit too strange for the show. And Mitch - well - I usually love his performances but last night was not the best. He really missed an opportunity to blow the house down with his personal song choice.

I think Mitch has sung his last and will be eliminated tonight, even though he has never been in the bottom three since the show began.

My own personal thinking at this time is that Theo Tams is the odds-on favourite to win now that Mookie is out. I can't see Earl, Drew or Mitch beating Theo in a sing-off. Theo would have them for lunch.

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about a life that ended...

... a life that nearly ended...

... and a life that's nearing its end...

Check out this week's Hump Day column on the editorial page of tomorrow's Moncton Times & Transcript or return here on Thursday when it will be posted online.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Meet the cats! Cindy and Casey...

Both were adopted from the Moncton SPCA.

Cindy was adopted in September 2003:



Casey was adopted in April 2004 - Part I:



Casey - Part II:

Old family movies - Part II

Here's Part II of the old family movies that I mentioned in this week's Hump Day column. I'll likely be posting more of these in the near future, too.

This video focuses mostly on a day at the beach in the early 1960s (likely in Caissie Cape, NB). Many of the adult individuals in the video have passed away. In the last scene, however, you will see my great aunt Adèle with her husband Antoine. Adèle is still living and turns 102 this fall!