Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering the victims of 9-11

Hard to believe that it was eight years ago today that terrorists attacked the United States in what would eventually be labelled simply as "9-11".

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ellen DeGeneres is the new judge on American Idol!

Flirty car lover surrenders to "wandering eye syndrome"

UPDATE: Within hours of this column being published, I became the proud owner of a new 2009 3.3 GL AWD Hyundai Santa Fe. Very happy!

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial Page

I don't know why, but it's painful for me to keep cars until the end of their lease. I always get the urge for a new car long before I need one.

My current vehicle, a 2005 Hyundai Tucson, is the car I've kept the longest. The lease is up next April and it's taking every ounce of discipline in me not to get rid of it early, even if it means taking a rather substantial financial hit.

To soothe my urge, I drive around car lots on weekends to drool over their shiny offerings.

The large black SUVs are my current desire, although that could change tomorrow if my mid-life crisis kicks in and I decide I'd rather have a sports car that requires me calling 911 every time I want to climb out: 'We've got you all greased up with shortening, Mr. Cormier. Now hold your breath and the firefighters will try to pull you out! Suck in that belly! Here we go! Pull!'

I'm not the type of guy who does well in sports cars. I need a ladder to climb down into one. Getting out requires emergency assistance.

No, I think I'll go the non-environmentally friendly SUV route.

My first car was a 1981 white Chevette I inherited from my mother.

It needed a lot of repairs when I acquired it, but it was a decent little car for booting around town in.

Besides, when you have no car, any car is a good car.

Next up was a 1986 Volkswagen Jetta turbo diesel. This was a great car, but the front seat broke, so I was constantly forced to lean forward so as not to fall into the back seat.

A new seat cost a fortune and I had zero money when I owned that particular car, so repairing it was out of the question.

Because it was a diesel, it got amazing gas mileage -- to the point where I often forgot to refuel until it was practically too late.

It was also the car in which I experienced my one and only big accident when I got hit by someone who ran a red light in Fredericton.

Ironically, it was another Jetta, which was totalled in the accident. In fact, he bounced off me and rammed another large (and very expensive) Toyota truck, which was also totalled.

From what the insurance company told me, I had the dubious distinction of being in the car accident with the highest dollar value of damage in the history of the city at the time. My car wasn't totalled, although the doors never shut correctly after it was fixed and it would snow inside the car during blizzards. It was the other driver's fault and he got ticketed. Eventually, I sold the car and went without a vehicle for a year or so until I bought a new 1993 Plymouth Sundance.

I bought it on a winter evening after seeing it under the bright lights at the Chrysler dealership.

Thinking I'd bought a blue car, I was horrified to find out that the lights had played tricks on my eyes.

When I showed up to actually pick up my new vehicle, I discovered that it was actually turquoise.

By then, it was too late, so I was pretty much stuck with it. It didn't matter, though, because I was just happy to have set of wheels again -- and brand new ones at that!

On the way back to Fredericton, where I lived at the time, I stopped at a store, got out of the car and the wind took the door and slammed it into the car next to me, chipping the paint on my car, but leaving no damage on the other one.

The first scratch or ding is always the worst. I didn't even own that car for an hour before it got its first injury. Within a few years, I leased a 1996 Dodge Neon, which was great, actually. I really liked it... until the shiny new 1999 Toyota Corolla caught my eye and the Neon got dumped.

The Corolla has always been a great vehicle and is ranked consistently high in satisfaction and quality surveys, but of course within a few years I was calling it my 'grandpa car' and felt the urge once again to trade, this time for another Toyota -- the new 2003 Matrix.

I got one of the first ones sold in Moncton, and the only white one. I was in love with it and paraded it around like I'd found the Holy Grail.

Within a few weeks, I saw another one on the street... and then I didn't want mine anymore. Before my lease was even close to being up a couple of years later, I once again needed a new vehicle (at least in my head) and ended up going to the Hyundai lot during an afternoon off from work in April 2005.

The visit was, you know, 'just to look.' Within two hours, I had a new vehicle -- the Tucson, a small SUV that has served me well. I picked it up on April 19, 2005, the same day Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI.

My lease is up in April 2010, but of course I'm dying to get out early.

I drool over every new car I see on the street, no matter what it is.

I must be addicted to the smell of new cars. It's so intoxicating.

The Chevette and Jetta are likely scrapped by now.

I saw the Sundance around town for a few years, as well as the Neon, but not lately, so they may be scrapped by now, too.

The Corolla was sold to a friend and it's still going strong. I haven't seen the Matrix around, and the Tucson will likely be sold at auction when the lease is up.

I always feel a tinge of melancholy when I get rid of a car, but the Tucson's time is nearly up and it's time for a new four-wheeled lover -- this time a black four-wheel-drive SUV that I'll love forever... or two years, whichever comes first.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about my urge to buy a new vehicle. Every few years, I get the urge to buy a new one... I never seem to be satisfied with what I have. I'm not one of those people who can drive around a beat-up old jalopy. I need something new -- you know, something that will take a big chunk out of my income every month. *sigh*

Read all about it in today's Hump Day column on the editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript, New Brunswick's highest-circulation newspaper.

It will be posted online here tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Historical series debuts September 8 on CBC Radio Moncton

Thanks to CBC Radio's Michael R. LeBlanc for sending this in:

"CBC Radio in Moncton has assembled a team of storytellers to share the hidden history of remarkable objects and landmarks that are part of the everyday landscape of the community.

In Plain Sight is a 15-part series that airs at about 6:50 a.m. on Tuesdays during the Information Morning (106.1 FM in Moncton, 97.9 FM in Bathurst and Miramichi, and 90.5 FM in Dalhousie and Campbellton).

The series is meant to be an audio bridge that links the "here and now" with the "back then". It airs from September 8 until December 15 and is produced by Michael R. LeBlanc. Here are the participants and tease of the stories they will be telling:

SEPTEMBER 8: "CERAMIC MURAL" -- Guest storyteller: Lawren Campbell is the provincial registrar for the New Brunswick Register of Historic Places. That large ceramic mural on Main Street in downtown Moncton. The one that's been there for more than 45 years? Well, if you hear today's installment of our historial series, In Plain'll finally learn that it has a name.

SEPTEMBER 15: "HISTORIC TIM'S" -- Guest storyteller: Geoff Bell was an appraiser on CBC's Canadian Antiques Roadshow. It doesn't have a drive-thru. But our historical series takes you to a coffee shop in Moncton that's also a reminder of the city's rich banking history. Who knew that four Monctonians went on to become national presidents of their banks?

SEPTEMBER 22: "MIDDLE ISLAND" -- Guest storyteller: Paul McGraw, executive director of Miramichi Landings In Plain Sight....our series about objects and landmarks in the here and now that have meaning and history...takes us to a Celtic Cross on an Island in the Miramichi River.

SEPTEMBER 29: "MARSH CIRCLES" -- Guest storyteller: Donald Alward, manager and curator of the Albert County Museum in Hopewell Cape. The mystery of the Germantown "marsh circles" of Albert County....solved by our historical series, In Plain Sight.

OCTOBER 6: "SAXBY GALE" -- Guest storyteller: Brenda Orr, senior heritage officer for the city of Moncton. The Moncton landmark that's more of a sea mark....that tells a small part of the story of one of the most devastating storms to come our way.

OCTOBER 13: "ALIANT TOWER" -- Guest storyteller: Lawren Campbell. Tower power! Our historical series In Plain Sight has the backstory about Moncton's tallest building.

OCTOBER 20: "QUEEN'S COURT" -- Guest storyteller: Geoff Bell. The condominium complex with the regal name. Our historical series delves into the history of Queen's Court in Moncton.

OCTOBER 27: "STRAWBERRY MARSH" -- Guest storyteller: Paul McGraw. Let me take you down 'cause we're going to Strawberry...Marsh. That's with the help of Miramichi history buff Paul McGraw.

NOVEMBER 3: "R.A.F. BASE 31" -- Guest storyteller: Brenda Orr. Today's subject has all but disappeared from sight in Moncton. But the remnants are there if you know where to look. You'll hear about the R.A.F. base that used to dominate the Collishaw area of the city.

NOVEMBER 10: "HOPEWELL CANNONS" -- Guest storyteller: Donald Alward. Some cannons in Albert County stand silent...but they tell a reverberating story about the region's service and sacrifice.

NOVEMBER 17: "RINK RUINS" -- Guest storyteller: Lawren Campbell. It's not the Acropolis...nor the Roman coliseum. But Moncton does have some ruins. You'll hear it's backstory on another installment of Information Morning's historical series, In Plain Sight.

NOVEMBER 24: "MONCTON STADIUM" -- Guest storyteller: Geoff Bell. With lots of talk in the air about replacing the Moncton Coliseum....our In Plain Sight series takes us to the sports venue that the Coliseum itself replaced.

DECEMBER 1: "BEAUBEAR'S ISLAND" -- Guest storyteller: Paul McGraw. A way station on the Acadian trail of tears. In Plain Sight takes us to Beaubear's Island on the Miramichi River.

DECEMBER 8: "GYPSUM SILOS" -- Guest storyteller: Donald Alward. Our historical series delves into the backstory of twin concrete towers in Albert County.

DECEMBER 15: "FREE MEETING HOUSE" -- Guest storyteller: Brenda Orr. The Free Meeting House. You'll find out why it's painted yellow. That and many more things about God's incubator mall for religion in Moncton.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Some hummingbird scenes to end a wonderful summer...

My highly unpaid and loyal correspondent Walt Forsey sent along this clip of the hummingbirds who visited his backyard feeder this past summer. Thanks again, Walt!

This is the "unofficial" last day of summer, so wave "bye" to the birdies everyone!

Happy Labour Day!