Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

When mimes go bad

Struggling to overcome one's procrastination

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Editorial Page (pg. D6)

I once bought a book on how to stop procrastinating. I never got around to reading it. True story.

So, it's Sunday evening at 10:45 p.m.'ish and I'm just starting to write this column. Why oh why do I do this to myself? Don't you just hate it when you put things off until the last minute?

To tell you the truth, I have until 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning to submit the column, but Monday is (was -- when you read this) going to be crazy for me since I have (had -- when you read this) to go out of town for a funeral and certainly won't (didn't -- when you read this) have a choice but to write this on Sunday evening.

My procrastination has evolved over the years. I guess we all put something off. My friend Robert's bane is laundry. With no laundry machines in his apartment building and no laundromat nearby (and no car), he admits to being miserable living under mounds of dirty clothes. It drives him crazy. In fact, he ends up buying clothes when he runs out.

I told him just to go buy a stupid washer and dryer and get it installed, but he balks at the idea. I'm not sure why.

Years ago, I had a similar problem with washing dishes. For the life of me, I'm not sure what kind of brain blockage I had, but washing the dishes was the most miserable aspect of my entire sorry existence. In fact, I once went from Labour Day to Thanksgiving without doing dishes. After my plates and cups were dirty, I resorted to disposables. I'm not proud of it, but the Brian of 20 years ago has certainly evolved into another person.

Today, I can't go to bed or leave the house with a dirty dish in the sink. It's not the thought of the dish there that drives me crazy, it's the dread of regretting my inaction upon my return. These days, I'd much rather get it over with because, when I return, I quite simply love the feeling of, "I'm so glad I did that before I left!" Honestly, it's the best feeling in the world. A good strategy for avoiding procrastination, too!

Before I leave for work in the morning, the bed is made, and everything is put away and tidied up (to a reasonable extent, anyway). It's not because I'm particularly fussy. Trust me, you wouldn't want to eat off my floors except on Mondays when my cleaning lady comes. As of Tuesday, anything that hits the floor ends up covered in cat hair. Walk around the house in your sock feet and you look like you've grown a pair of grizzly bear paws attached to your ankles.

I love getting home from work and feeling, "I'm so glad I did all that before I left!" That's the feeling I look forward to -- and it seems to work for me -- at least on certain things.

I certainly don't procrastinate in laundry. When you have a finite number of socks, you either do your laundry or go to work sockless -- and that isn't going to happen.

What I do procrastinate in doing is reading. I really need to keep up with my reading. I used to read voraciously. Now, most of my reading is done from snippets on the Internet. A website here. A website there. An e-mail here.
An e-mail there.

If you ever see fireworks coming flying out of my chimney, it will likely be me celebrating the fact that I actually finished a book. My house is where books come to die unread. I will open them up, read a few pages, and then toss it aside for the next "in" book that's going to change my life. For instance, "Become Rich in Five Minutes!" would get thrown aside for its sequel, "Become Rich in Four Minutes!"

I've even gotten out of the habit of reading the weekend newspaper. I used to love that. I'd brew up a gallon or two of coffee, sit back and open up the newspaper and greatly enjoy going through all the features and reading up on the goings-on in town. By the end, my fingers were black from the ink and I was caught up with the latest string of abuse laid upon Dagwood Bumstead by Mr. Dithers.

I guess we can't be organized in everything, huh? If we were, there'd be nothing for us to fret about, no big projects to undertake, and nothing to be nagged about by those around us waiting for things to get done.

It only took me five years of staring out my kitchen window to finally do something about my horribly overgrown backyard. There was a huge dead branch on one tree and lots of overgrown foliage and bushes, as well. It was so unsightly, it was depressing to look at. Eventually, I borrowed a saw and a pruner and did it myself after getting an estimate from a contractor that was so high that I'm pretty sure I could have built an extension onto the house. Ridiculous.

I'm not sure why we procrastinate.

Honestly, I guess it's the dread of the drudgery of doing it. Who wants to spend time doing chores?

But I know in my own case, when I do get off my rear end and finally get this stuff done, I feel a whole lot better.

I just need to remember to look forward to the feeling of accomplishment.

There, now I feel better already. It's going on midnight. My brain is tired. I need to get myself to bed.

I won't procrastinate next week. It's too hard on the head.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Today's Hump Day column: Struggling to overcome one's procrastination

Hi everyone! Don't forget to check out today's Hump Day column on the editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript (pg. D6). If you missed it, fret not! It will be posted here online tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Recipe: Brian's to-die-for low-carb maple hazelnut butter fudge

OK... can you say "DELICIOUS!!!", people? This a recipe I adapted from the very tasty peanut butter fudge recipe I posted several days ago,

- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick - use SALTED butter, please, unless you're using salted hazelnut butter - I'm not even sure if that exists, though)
- 1/2 cup natural hazelnut butter
- 2.5 oz. cream cheese (by weight), softened
- 1 cup granular Splenda or equivalent liquid Splenda (I used Sweetzfree)
- 2/3 cup low-carb vanilla whey protein powder
- 1/2 tsp maple extract (could be increased to 3/4 tsp for stronger flavour)

First a note on hazelnut butter. You can probably find this in the organic section of your grocery store. It's quite pricey but is one of the lowest-carb nut butters you can find! The oil will likely be separated from the butter, so you will need to mix it together again after opening the jar. It is pretty much impossible to stir in the jar. I dumped everything in the electric mixer and gave it a good stir that way! Worked like a charm. It is quite liquid-like, especially after having been mixed.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Add the hazelnut butter and stir well to combine. I used a whisk.

Whisk in the cream cheese until well blended. This may take a bit of stirring, but the heat of the melted butter will eventually help melt the cream cheese.

Whisk in the maple extract, then the Splenda.

Then stir in the protein powder. I use a silicone spatula for this part.

I lined a loaf pan with non-stick aluminum foil and poured the mixture into that.

I originally put it into the refrigerator, but felt that the oil was separating from the hazelnut butter again, so I put it in the freezer to stop that and make it harden faster. Worked like a charm! After an hour or so, I moved it back to the refrigerator.

I will probably increase the maple extract for my next batch.

These taste amazing, if you ask me! They are nice and smooth and quite simply to-die-for!

Click on the photo for a larger version.

Monday, September 15, 2008

This week's Hump Day column...

... is all about procrastination. Some things I don't procrastinate about... and others I do. There's a trick to avoiding it, though... and it's all about playing mind games with yourself.
Check out Hump Day on the editorial page of Wednesday's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's not every day that you see Matt Damon and Frank McKenna in the same headline... or photo!

People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive", actor and Oscar-winning writer Matt Damon and former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. (and former New Brunswick premier) Frank McKenna (red shirt behind Damon) are in Haiti assisting with disaster relief following hurricanes.

Click here for more.