Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Say Bye Bye!!

We all get them. We all hate them! What am I talking about? Telemarketers!

I get that people need to make a living and that businesses have to find a way to get their services out there, but let's be honest here - is there anybody out there who actually likes getting these annoying calls? I don't think so!

As of September 30. 2008 we here in Canada now have the ability to register for a National Do Not Call List. Our friends to the south, have had a similar list for over a year now and millions of people have registered.

There has been a limited version of "Do Not Contact" available through the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) for years that covers both print mail and phone calls, but this only covers the companies that are members of the CMA. That left a huge gap for non member companies to take advantage of.

I don't get a lot of telemarketer calls. My phone number is unlisted. Aside from close family, good friends, doctors and a few business that I have regular contact with, I don't give out my phone number. I won't even provide it when requested for refunds/rebates. If they have my address they can reach me. Print mail can also be a pain but most companies would rather talk you into using their services rather than running the risk of you throwing their info in the trash - especially with the growing focus on being green and the costs of printing and postage on the rise.

When I do get a telemarketer call it is generally a prerecorded automated type or the semi-automated ones that dial several numbers and connect a live person with the first sucker to answer the phone. Both kinds are really annoying, but at least when you get a live person you can ask how they got your number and more importantly, you have the ability and the right, to ask them to remove your number from their data base.

If I get a call where the caller knows my name and/or claims to be with a financial institution, I tell them that since they supposedly know my name, then they obviously have an address and therefore should mail me whatever info they feel is so important. I refuse to confirm who I am for them or if I have a preexisting relationship with them. You can never be too careful in protecting your identity and personal information!!

The prerecorded ones are the most annoying of the bunch. I don't know about you, but I've been getting calls from the same chirpy female voice for about 13 months now. I have been unable to find out how this company(ies) got my number. "She" is calling on behalf of "insert business name here" (Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, Zellers, Air Canada are just a few of the businesses this same voice claims to represent). I've never listened to her whole pitch. I hang up as soon as I hear her voice. Actually, thanks to my talking call display, I usually know it's her before I answer the phone! After the first couple of calls, I went back into my call display history and started keeping a log of the calls. There have been 21 so far.

The calls are always Monday to Friday between 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM. They are all slightly different phone numbers but have always been from one of 6 USA area codes in 4 states: 301/410 (Maryland); 517/231 (Michigan); 601 (Mississippi); 201 (New Jersey).

1-517-933-2023 17:07 Thu. 8/30/07
1-301-392-8247 15:56 Fri. 9/07/07
1-301-392-8258 16:49 Wed. 10/10/07
1-517-933-2075 16:57 Mon. 10/15/07
1-231-732-2046 15:42 Thu. 11/01/07
1-616-980-2524 16:16 Fri. 11/09/07
1-201-257-4910 17:26 Thu. 11/29/07
1-201-257-4898 18:25 Thu. 12/13/07
1-201-257-4900 18:30 Tue. 12/18/07
1-410-774-8036 16:18 Wed. 12/26/07
1-410-774-8037 17:39 Wed. 1/09/08
1-410-774-8062 15:08 Thu. 2/14/08
1-410-774-8092 14:42 Mon. 4/14/08
1-517-931-2317 18:35 Mon. 4/28/08
1-517-931-2311 10:50 Tue. 5/13/08
1-231-732-2111 17:13 Wed. 5/21/08
1-410-774-8019 09:08 Mon. 6/02/08
1-616-980-2334 11:21 Wed. 6/04/08
1-517-931-2024 14:58 Tue. 8/26/08
1-410-774-8782 09:27 Thu. 8/28/08
1-410-774-8800 14:59 Mon. 9/15/08

Persistent aren't they? I know 21 calls isn't a lot compared to what a lot of people put up with, but until these calls started 13 months ago I was getting maybe 2-3 calls/year.

I know this new Do Not Call List may not get rid of these but I am going to sign up. There are exemptions to the DNCL, such as; political parties, surveys, charities, newspaper subscriptions and businesses you have a preexisting relationship with - however this should get rid of a big chunk of calls for most people.

For more info and to register on line;
www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca
You can also register by phone at:
1-866-580-DNCL (1-866-580-3625)
or 1-888-DNCL-TTY (1-888-362-5889).
The Canadian Marketing Association;
https://www.the-cma.org/?WCE=C=32K=s224196

Most calls should disappear 31 days after registration. You need to re-register every 3 years or if you move or change your phone number.

Here's hoping that future phone calls will actually be ones that we want!

dn




Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bedding 101

Yesterday, I talked about room temperature and having a good bed, but today I want to share my thoughts on bedding.

Pillows are a really personal choice. What works for one may not work for someone else. I can't sleep on foam to save my life. I grew up on an over sized feather pillow that I kept for years - and had regularly dry cleaned and then new ticking put on. I had a back-up pillow, but it just wasn't as comfortable! Those days that it was away every year or so were murder! I switched to a more ergonomic pillow about 18 months ago. It took a few nights to adjust - as does any new pillow style, but I do seem to sleep a bit better with these as my body is properly aligned as I sleep. This is less stress on the entire body and makes for a more restful sleep as I am not tossing and turning as much.

I am using a Homedics Micropedic Pillow that is promoted by Tony Little (the same guy who put out the Gazelle!). You can find info on the pillows at;
http://www.theshoppingchannel.com/product/fitness/homedics+micropedic+pillow+2+pack+375955.do?&N=100074%20106908&Ns=P_DATE_CREATED

I use 100% cotton jersey knit sheets all year round. I was introduced to the jersey knit sheets 10 years ago and have never looked back! They are SO amazingly comfortable! It really is like sleeping in your favourite T-shirt! They are cool in summer and warm in winter. A word of advice: don't waste your money on the really cheap jersey knit sheets that are on the market at some discount places as most are really poor quality. I have occasionally bought a lesser quality but usually regretted it, as they are generally thin and not cut straight. They also aren't always pre-shrunk. Buying a queen size set for a double bed can sometimes work with a lesser quality but not always. Better to spend on the good ones to start! A good quality set of double should run around $35-45.00 Cdn. For queen, add $10-15.00.

Now that fall is officially here, I have also switched to my cool weather bedding. No more stacks of blankets for me either. Ten years ago I bought a down duvet. I couldn't believe how light it was but yet so warm and cozy! To keep things light and comfy, I also use a cotton duvet cover. What a difference it made in my sleep. I had heard both good and bad stories about buying duvets, so I did my research to learn what worked best. I learned three important factors;

1) Where did the down/feathers come from and what time of year were they harvested? If the fowl came from warmer climates, or were harvested in the warmer months of the year, they do not grow as thick of a layer of feathers and down to keep them warm. Therefore the loft of the duvets fill will not be as good. The less loft the less warm the duvet will be. Due to our cold weather, the down/feathers from northern Canada is truly the best quality in the world.

2) Has the fill been treated to prevent dust mites or other anti-microbial/bacterial content? The best treatment that I found was "ALLERNON-21®" which is a “HYPO-ALLERGENIC” DOWN CLEANING PROCESS which was developed by Westex International. Basically, this process leaves the down/feathers permanently free of the majority of allergens. You can read about this process and other interesting info, on the companies web site at; http://www.westex-intl.com/production.htm









3) How is the duvet constructed? Is the fill stuffed loosely between two pieces of fabric with a few lines sewn in to try and keep the contents from bunching or leaving hollow spots that leave you cold? Or is the fill neatly confined to box like areas for even distribution? By far the best type of construction is known as "Baffle Box Design" (Same as True Baffle Box Design) - True Baffle Box design refers to internal three-dimensional fabric wall boxes that allow maximum thickness and comfort while maintaining even distribution within the boxes. This construction will minimize migration of fill so the down doesn’t shift or clump in one section of the item. Used in comforter and feather bed designs. -http://www.pacificcoast.com/static/definitions/baffle-box-design.html
You can tell what the construction is by carefully feeling along the seems to see if there are "boxes" of fabric within the duvet.

In late April or early May, I switch out the duvet for a down filled blanket. This is also done in "baffle box construction" only smaller squares and a fraction of the fill. It is the perfect weight and warmth for the spring and summer months.

So that's it - bedding 101! I hope you find what works best for you and
that you get a good nights sleep every night! You owe it to yourself!
Pleasant dreams!!
dn

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cool And Comfy Nights

When I was a kid we had cotton sheets in the summer and flannelet sheets in the winter. We'd top the summer sheet with a lightweight blanket and that was enough to keep us warm. When the weather started getting cooler in late September, we'd switch to flannelet sheets and gradually add more blankets as the winter set in and the nights got colder. On the coldest nights of the year, it wasn't unusual to have the weight of five blankets on top of me. I've always been very sensitive to wool and had to be very careful that if I used a wool blanket, that I could never let it touch my skin. It wasn't exactly comfortable having that much weight on top of me, but I didn't really have any other choice.

The farm house was originally built in 1909. It was remodeled a couple of times and re-insulated but it was still a bit drafty on really windy and cold nights. Mom and dad always turned down the heat at night as well, so I got used to sleeping in cool rooms with a ton of blankets on top.

I got so used to sleeping in a cool room, that now I can't sleep if the room is warm or if the air is not circulating a bit! I had a roommate once, who couldn't sleep in a cold room and it made sharing our two bedroom apartment a bit of a battle ground at times. I finally ended up leaving my window open a crack even in the winter just so I wouldn't wake up with a massive headache from the warm stuffiness of the air!

Living by myself isn't always great, but at least I don't have to argue with anyone about the room being too warm! For the last twenty years or so, I have actually been turning the heat completely off at night. My apartment faces north and unless there is a cold north wind, I leave the window open all the way or at least a crack every night. If the wind is from the north and too cold to leave it open even a bit, I turn on the ceiling fan so that I at least keep the air moving. It's either that or a rotten nights sleep and a nasty headache in the morning!

Unless the apartment is bitterly cold, I generally wait until after I've done my workout to turn on the heat in the morning. The cool air is very invigorating for exercise!

I'm one of those people who needs at least 8-9 hours of sleep every night or I'm not much good to anyone! Over the years I've figured out a lot about beds and bedding - what keeps me warm/cool and comfortable. I need a really firm mattress. Pillow top mattresses are a waste of money as they will eventually flatten out and loose any support they did give you. You are better off buying a high quality mattress and box spring. If you want something softer, invest in a good quality feather bed to place on top of the mattress. That will also add years of life to your mattress and box spring.

I love my bed. I've had it for just over ten years, but I've taken good care of it. I use a high quality mattress pad that helps to keep the mattress clean and prevents those nasty dust mites from getting into the bedding. Every spring and fall I flip the mattress. Every summer and winter I turn it. Using mattress pads and regular rotation of the mattress can add years to the life of your bed.

As important as room temperature and the bed are, they are only a part of what makes for a good nights sleep.
Tomorrow: Bedding 101!
dn

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jim Henson

Jim Henson would have turned 72 today. He died at age 53 on May 16, 1990.

Like millions of others, I was stunned to hear of the death of such a creative genius. I've loved the Muppet's for most of my life. I've been madly in love with Rowlf since I was a kid and have always had a soft spot for Kermit! I have VHS copies of almost every Muppet movie and The Muppet's Tonight. Someday I hope to get the whole collection on DVD and also find stuffed/puppet versions of Rowlf and Kermit.

While I was researching this post I came across this quote;"When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope still is to leave the world a little bit better for my having been here." -Jim Henson

I think it is safe to say his dream and ambition was fulfilled beyond expectations! Jim Henson has left us an incredible legacy of characters and film that will keep millions enthralled and entertained for generations to come!

James Maury Henson was born September 24, 1936 in Mississippi. He was the second of six children. His family moved to Maryland in the late 1940's. Growing up, he was heavily influenced by radio ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and the early television puppets of Burr Tillstrom (on Kukla, Fran and Ollie) and Bil and Cora Baird. He even got a job working with puppets on a local Saturday morning children's TV show. He pursued a degree in Studio Arts at UofM, College Park. Along the way he took a puppetry class in the applied sciences department, which introduced him to the craft and to textiles. He switched majors and graduated in 1960 with a BS in Home Economics.

As a freshman, he worked on a creating a 5 minute puppet show for WRC-TV. He was instrumental in creating new forms of puppeteering that allowed for far more movement of the characters than the traditional wooden puppets of the day. He had doubts of making a career of this art form, but after travelling around Europe for a few months, he realized that it was really an art form and that he wanted to pursue it.

In the 1960's he did countless commercials and also made regular appearances with various Muppet's on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and with Rowlf the Dog "The Jimmy Dean Show". In the late 1960's he began working with the creators of Sesame Street and helped introduce many new characters. He worked on the first season of Saturday Night Live with puppet sketches geared to adults but the match never seemed to gel and he left the show.

Major networks in the USA, rejected his idea of a weekly TV variety series starring The Muppet's. After securing British funding, he moved his family to England in 1976 and began filming "The Muppet Show". It aired first in England and became such a hit that it was syndicated around the world in more than 100 countries! This led him to a number of feature movies starring the Muppet characters.
The first of those feature movies, "The Muppet Movie" began with Kermit (voiced by Henson), playing the banjo and singing what was to become one of his most famous (and one of my favourite) songs; "The Rainbow Connection"
video

"Henson's role in Muppet productions was often compared by his co-workers to Kermit's role on The Muppet Show: a shy, gentle boss with "a whim of steel" who "ran things as firmly as it is possible to run an explosion in a mattress factory" - Wikipedia

Jim Henson also created the 1980's children's series, "Fraggle Rock" and the more darkly adult fantasy movies "The Dark Crystal" and "Labyrinth". In late 1989 and 1990 he negotiated the sale of his company to the Walt Disney Company. He hoped that by selling it, Disney would be able to focus on the business side and he would be free to work on the creative side.

In early May, 1990, he began experiencing flu like symptoms, but assumed they would go away. He was visiting his father and stepmother in North Carolina and saw a doctor on May 12, who found no evidence of pneumonia, but prescribed aspirin. Henson returned to New York, but cancelled a recording session for May 14. By early on the 15th, he was having trouble breathing and was finally convinced to go to the hospital. By then it was too late to treat him as his system was going into septic shock and his organs were gradually shutting down. Less than twenty four hours later, on May 16, 1990, at 12:58AM EDT, Henson died from organ failure at the age of 53

Remembering Jim Henson;

"I don't know who Jim Henson is, but I've heard he has his hand in a lot of things around here."- Kermit the Frog

“I think what he was probably most known for was the silly and funny, clean and innocent and childlike and naive and pure and that’s not all Jim was.” -Jane Nebel Henson.

Jim Henson Statue and Memorial Garden - dedicated Sept 24, 2003 Campus Drive and Union Lane, College Park, MD

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn

Before I started writing this post, I took a look out my window. I look out at my stunning view of the city several times a day, but in the last few days it is more to see how much the leaves have started to change. The sea of green tree tops is starting to turn to brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red!

I love Autumn! It has always been my favourite season. My sight has always limited me from seeing the beauty of the spring buds and blossoms, but the brilliance in the colours of the changing autumn leaves is like a feast for my eyes!

There is also the bounty of the fall harvest of apples, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, zucchini, squash and other produce. Oooh, it is all so delicious!

Fall also has its own aroma. There is the cool crispness in the air and the fragrant smell of wood burning fireplaces and of freshly baked goods coming out of ovens that had been sitting idle through the heat of the summer!

Before I lost so much of my sight, I used to love going for long walks in the fall. I'd find a park or a trail and shuffle through the fallen leaves. I loved having leaf fights! I can vividly remember walking along a shallow ditch that used to fill with the fallen leaves every fall. The sound of the leaves rustling at my feet was like music to my ears! I've really missed those walks...

Autumn is a true feast for the senses!

I know a lot of people don't like fall, as they see it as the foreshadowing of winter. They are right, but they are focused on the next season to come and fail to notice the beauty of the moment at hand. We need to stop and take a deep breath of the fall air and drink in the tastes, sounds, aromas and beauty of Mother Nature's handiwork.

I found this video on YouTube. Nat King Cole sings the melancholy song, "Autumn Leaves" while a slide show of autumn beauty graces the screen. I hope you enjoy the video and also take time to enjoy the real life beauty of the season...

video

dn

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Cost Of Buying Local Produce...

For several years in the mid 1990's, there used to be a bi-weekly farmer's market in a nearby neighbourhood. Everything was grown or made within about 60 miles of the city. It was great and well worth the 10 minute walk each way - even on a hot, muggy Saturday morning.

I really enjoyed going there. Getting such fresh produce was a treat to the taste buds. The quality was excellent and the people were friendly. The prices were very reasonable.

When my health deteriorated in the late 1990's I had to quit going. By the time I could have gone again, the market had ceased to operate. There was an organic market nearby where the old one was, but I couldn't afford the prices and I really didn't think the quality was as good - at least not for the prices they were charging!

There was a fruit and veggie store that operated here in the Village for a brief time, but the owner was unable to compete with the prices of the main competitor in the area which was Canada Safeway. She was forced to close after a few months.

There are a few other farmer's markets around the city, but none are really accessible for me, so I got used to buying my produce at Price Chopper and Superstore. Whenever the opportunity arose, I jumped at offers of fresh produce from friends and family.

A weekly farmer's market was launched in my neighbourhood back in June of this year. It was every Thursday evening from 4:00-8:00PM. I thought this sounded like a great idea, as it would feature locally grown produce, home baking and hand made crafts. I went to one of the first weeks but there really wasn't any garden stuff at that point as it was too early in the season.

Well between my post foot surgeries immobility, the heat of summer afternoons and generally being broke - I ended up missing pretty much the whole season - until this past Thursday afternoon.

I was down to one potato and hadn't bothered to buy my usual weekly purchase of "tomatoes on the vine" at Superstore as I had promised myself that I would go to the second last market of the season and buy some local ones.

When I got there, about 10 minutes before 4, there were only a few booths setting up and only 2 had fresh produce.

The first one had some fresh herbs, but they looked wilted. The carrots were cleaned and tops cut off, but they wanted $1.00/pound. The cucumbers were 50 cents for the medium ones and $1.00 for the larger ones. They were all on the chubby side, which generally means older and a lot more seeds and not as flavourful. Not much else looked interesting at that booth and I didn't ask any more prices.

I moved on to the second booth. They had tomatoes and potatoes. Both looked fresh and healthy. I asked the price of the tomatoes.

"$2.00/pound". I nodded as I inwardly gasped at the price. I could have had "tomatoes on the vine" for under $1.20/pound at Superstore! I couldn't justify the price, even considering that they were local.

I braced myself and asked how much the potatoes were. "$4.00 for a 2 pound bag - freshly dug and cleaned today!"

I didn't say a word, but what I thought was; $4.00 FOR 2 POUNDS??? Are you out of your mind?? For that price, you better be coming to my home and preparing them as well!! Price Chopper has the 10 pound bag of Canadian grown red potatoes on for $4.95 till September 27.

This is insane! I'm all for buying local products and supporting local and independent businesses, but this was highway robbery!! Even Safeway is cheaper than what these people were charging! I didn't ask if the produce was organic, but even if it was, it is still over priced.

I'm going back to Price Chopper and Superstore for my produce next week. I know I'm sacrificing some flavour by not purchasing local - especially with the tomatoes - but I refuse to pay such inflated prices. I'm not made of money!

Who knows, maybe a friend or family member will take pity on me and offer me a couple of fresh tomatoes - just so I can have a taste! I still haven't had my tomato sandwich!!

dn

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fall TV Preview

Every fall we are bombarded with new and returning series to the TV landscape. Some networks have already begun airing the new and returning series. ABC, CBS and NBC are launching the majority of their new season of shows over the next two weeks.

I always looked forward to this time of the year, so I could find out what was happening on my favourite shows and add a few rookie shows to my list of shows that I couldn't miss. I would devour the Fall Preview issues of TV Guide and our Winnipeg Free Press TV Scene magazine to see what every show was about and use a high mark pen to mark the shows I wanted to check out! Some nights, I'd use both VCR's and watch a third channel - at least until I figured out what shows I wanted to follow for the season!

Well, the 2008-2009 season is a bit different. For the first time that I can remember, I'm not interested in or even tempted to watch ANY of the new shows that are launching! There are a few returning shows that I'll still watch - I'll get to them shortly. Usually there are at least a couple that sound good or have actors/premise that I like, but not this fall.

I'm not sure if I'm just getting old and cynical or the choices are just that bad. I tend to think it is a bit of both! The writers strike last winter really didn't help matters. Fewer scripts were written for the spring pilot season which meant that fewer shows were produced. Apparently some of this fall's offerings got picked up just by script or a few minutes of rough video that gave the networks a taste of what to expect. From what I've read, most of the TV critics still haven't seen more than clips of a lot of shows. That doesn't sound very encouraging, does it?

Just to add a little more frustration to the new season, is the fact that the actors are now in a position to strike. Negotiations aren't going well, which means that this new season is already under a dark cloud. If the actors decide to walk, all scripted and many talk/entertainment shows will cease production. New/returning shows began filming in July, so they have a few in the can already, but that will only take a few weeks to air those episodes. Then we would be in limbo - again! The writers strike lasted almost 4 months. Who knows how another possible prolonged strike could effect the future of TV.

Personally, I'm still mourning the loss of ABC's "Men In Trees" (which suffered through countless schedule changes through it's two year run) and my favourite rookie show of last season -"Women's Murder Club" (ABC). ABC never really gave either show a fair chance to succeed.

So what, you may ask, is returning that I actually like? Not much - only a handful of shows that I still bother keeping track of!

"Desperate Housewives" (ABC/CTV Sunday 8:00PM central): The fourth season ended with Lynette being accused of child abuse, Susan giving birth and Katherine's secret being revealed. The last scene was five years in the future and much had changed on Wisteria Lane. The shows creator, Mark Cherry, has said that much of season five will be told in flashbacks to explain what happened over those missing years. Sounds interesting! Premieres: Sunday, September 28.

"Without A Trace" (Tuesday CTV 7:00PM/CBS 9:00PM central): Last season ended with Sam having her baby all alone and Jack still trying to recover from his injuries. I haven't heard much about where the seventh season is going, but I do like the way the show has continued to flesh out the main characters. It will be interesting to see what the show comes up with. Premieres: Tuesday, September 23.

"Criminal Minds" (CBS/CTV Wednesday 8:00PM central): The third season ended with one of the BAU's team members black SUV exploding due to a terrorist attack. The fourth season opens in the aftermath of that explosion. Word has it, that one member does not make it out alive but I haven't read/heard who isn't coming back! Apparently the actress who plays JJ is pregnant in real life but is reportedly only taking "time off" for the birth so we will have to tune in to see how all this goes down! Premiers: Wednesday, September 24.

"How I Met Your Mother" (CBS Monday 7:30PM central): The third season ended with Barney in an accident and Ted proposing to Stella after a near death experience of his own. The fourth season will have Barney exploring his feelings for Robin and Stella's answer. Premieres: Monday, September 22.

"The Amazing Race 12" (CBS/CTV Sunday 7:00PM central): I've loved this show from the first season, and there always seems to be a real cast of characters in the teams. You always end up cheering at least one team and booing several! TAR, as it is affectionately known, is a race around the world that requires teams of two to work well together. The ability to follow directions, read maps and stay calm is essential to staying ahead of the pack, but even the best of teams can fall behind in a split second! Premieres: Sunday, September 28.

"Survivor: Gabon" (CBS/Global Thursday 7:00PM central): This is the 17th season and I'm still sort of watching. Some seasons are better than others. I've found that if there aren't people that I can start to root for within the first couple of episodes, then I tend to multi task while the show is on. There have been several Survivor's that I have cheered for over the years but the only names I can think of, are Rupert and Yau-Man! Premieres: Thursday, September 25.

So that is what I'll be watching this fall. If you'd like to check out the buzz on the new and returning shows go to:
http://tvguide.sympatico.msn.ca/Special_Features/Fall_Preview_2008/
Scroll down to any night of the week and click on the show that you want to find out more about.

Happy viewing!

dn

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Writing A Blog

So a couple of days ago, I posted some photos that a friend had sent me. I e-mailed her and told her that I was using some of the photos on the blog and that she should check out how her forwarded e-mail had inspired my twisted mind. She was surprised that she had inspired me and asked what all I write about and how I get my ideas. As I was writing a response, I realized that with a little editing and a few additions, that even the response would make a good post! Inspiration can come in the strangest and most unique ways!

I started the blog back in February as a way to express myself. I had been posting on the Y&R Wiki and occasionally on a games forum for several months, but also knew that I had much more to say and write about. A blog seemed like the best option to allow me creative freedom. After a bit of research, I found that blogspot.com had the best layouts for my vision. I set up the blog and emailed my friends to let them know what I was up to and to invite them to come and check it out. I also asked that if they passed the address on, that they use only my screen name - to protect my privacy.

Generally, I try to keep at least two or three posts ahead. I keep a list of blog ideas and notes for future posts. I write the majority of my own stuff, but sometimes I get a little bit of writers block or I get sidetracked by other day to day life things and am in a pinch for something to put up. I've saved some e-mail stuff that I can use if I'm stuck or if I just find it funny/interesting. I also post a few of my favourite recipes every month, just to keep things interesting.

I've written about a LOT of different stuff since I started the blog in February. Including this one, I've made 136 posts so far. Everything from humour, recipes, stories of growing up, my vision loss, my weight loss struggles (6 part series in March) and my beliefs. I've done a few articles on people/things I like and a few on music. I did a series on Canada around Canada Day. I try to keep it clean and never mention names of people I know without their permission. There was a 3 part series about working at summer camp in the 1970's (posted in July) and several posts that are music related! I've written about life, love and relationships. There have been a couple of mini rants and posts on living wills and I even posted "My Bucket List" in July.

As you can see, it's really a bit of a mixed bag. I can't write about the same things all the time or I would be bored out of my tree!!

You may have noticed, that there is a green sidebar on the right hand side of this blog page. Part way down, there is a list of blog posts. All of September is listed right now, Older posts are archived by month. If you want to see older ones, click the arrow beside that month. That will open a drop down list of topics that were posted for that month. You can click on any topic you think sounds interesting and read that individual post. You can also just scroll down the page and click on older posts to get the previous 7 posts and so on.

At the bottom of every post is an option to leave a message if you have a "Google" account. My e-mail address is also listed on the comments page if you'd like to get in touch with me. You can also read any comments or e-mail that post to anyone that might find it interesting. There is also a guestbook link near the top of the green sidebar (e-mail address required but NOT published).

I did 50 posts the first 50 days and now post about three days/week. Sometimes I think I am a bit crazy for doing all this 'cuz I don't get that many hits - but I do get positive feedback from some of the people who have been here - so I keep going! Besides, no one has told me to quit!

For the most part, writing keeps me out of trouble and makes me keep thinking, so it's a good creative outlet. I have to like it, live it, love it, believe it, feel it, or laugh at it to write about it. I can't just post for the sake of posting.

I make NO money from this site, nor do I pay anything. I do this strictly for the fun of it and the mental release that writing brings me. Writing is great therapy for whatever ails ya! As long as I have something to say, I'll keep writing. I sincerely hope that you'll come along for the ride and maybe even invite a few others to join in!

Thanks for stopping by!

dn

Sunday, September 14, 2008

If Only Such A Man Existed!!

The other day, I got a really great email from a friend. It included a number of photos that depict scenes that most women can only fantasize about. I won't share all of them, but there were a few that I really liked!! Of course, I've taken the liberty of adding a comment below each photo....

Wow, a man who knows how to clean!

Love a man that knows when to put on a glove....

I'm not a fan of lamb, but I can't wait to see what's for dessert....

So, do you pick up after yourself too?

Do you know how to iron or do mending?

That's okay - I'd much rather go for a nice long romantic walk or stay home and play some "games" of our own!

I've never met a guy like you... I wonder, is it safe for you to drive with the medication you're on?

Okay - I know, I've written some negative stuff about men over the last few months and I certainly haven't had the best luck with my relationships - BUT - Oh, If only such a man really existed!! If he did, think of the possibilities! Even if the guy had even half of these qualities, I would consider another try at a romance!!

Hey I wonder if Meg Ryan was thinking about some of these scenarios in this scene?

video

I guess I'll just have to keep dreaming! Sigh!!

dn

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering...

Seven years. Has it really been that long already? Where were you when you heard about the first plane hitting The World Trade Centre at 8:46AM EDT?

I was at home, getting ready to go to Superstore to get some groceries. I didn't hear about the crash right away. My favourite nostalgia radio station was on. The station didn't have a news department, but a listener had called in and told the announcer about what they had just seen on television. It was a little past 8:00AM CDT when I heard the announcer inform the listeners that he didn't know any details, but that there were reports of a plane crashing into a skyscraper in New York City.

What? I immediately turned on the TV and was dumbfounded by what I saw. They were replaying the video of the first plane hitting the tower. It was surreal. This had to be an accident! No one would deliberately do something so crazy, would they?

Newscasters were talking about a second plane hitting another tower. This was no accident. What the hell was going on? Why was this happening and was there more insanity to come? Was this only happening in New York, or were there more to come in other parts of the world? Was something going to happen here in Winnipeg too?

I wanted to stay home and watch what was happening, but I needed to get some groceries so I decided to go out anyway. I'd only be gone for an hour and a half or so. I left about 8:30AM CDT and caught my usual 8:40AM #66 Grant bus to Superstore. Normally that bus can get a little noisy as a lot of students are on their way to school. That morning was different. No matter how full the bus got, there was an eery silence. Any conversation was done in whispers. Everyone seemed to be in a state of shock and fear of what was happening. Even the store was quieter than usual. I heard about the third plane hitting the Pentagon while I was at the checkout. By the time I got home, a little past 10:00AM CDT, the fourth plane had crashed in Pennsylvania and all planes had been ordered to land at the nearest airport.

Millions of people around the world stopped and watched in horror as the realization of the depth of these attacks began to sink in. Minutes and hours crawled by as we all sat by our radios, TVs and computers waiting and hoping that this was all a bad dream. Sadly, this was the beginning of a horrendous terrorist attack that took the lives of almost 3,000 innocent lives and injured thousands of others.

A male relative, and his then wife were living in New York at the time. I found out later that day, that she had actually been flying standby to Minneapolis that morning out of Newark Airport. It was several hours before he heard she was safe. Her plane landed safely in Chicago and she got a ride the rest of the way. Had she gotten to the airport half an hour or so earlier, she may well have been on Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania. He was able to leave by Amtrak a couple of days later to join her. That was the closest I came to knowing anyone directly affected by the attacks at the time.

Many of us were badly shaken, numb and at a loss to offer more than prayers and a few dollars to the Red Cross and other charities. We felt helpless as we watched in disbelief as the events unfolded. It was days before any sense of normalcy returned to most of the world. Tens of thousands of others were not so lucky. They lost friends and loved ones or knew people who were injured on the ground. Their lives would never be the same.

9/11 changed all of us to some extent. Some became religious and some walked away from their beliefs. Some became distrustful of those who did not look like them or who were not born in their country. Many wanted vengeance. Others wanted forgiveness and tolerance. Thousands just wanted their loved ones back.

I have always been a pacifist and I've been an agnostic for 20 years. I don't believe in an eye for an eye or blaming an entire religious/ethnic group for the actions of a few. I try to accept people at face value and not pass judgement by their attire or beliefs. I consciously try to greet people with a smile and a kind greeting.

9/11 taught me how fleeting life can be and how important it is to let our friends and family know how important they are to us and how much we love them and appreciate them.

We don't know how much time any of us have. If you do nothing else today, please tell at least one person in your life that they are loved, they are important to you and you are thankful that they are part of you life.

love, dn

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Loaf

If you don't already have zucchini coming out your ears, you probably will soon! My favourite way to use the extra is for a Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Loaf that is originally from "Crazy Plates" by Janet and Greta Podleski. I've modified the original slightly by using equal amounts of all purpose and whole wheat flour. I also added more chocolate chips and through in chopped almonds.  It is even better if you roast the almonds first! This recipe is a huge hit every time I serve it.

Isn’t She Loafly? (modified)

1 1/4 Cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 Cup whole wheat flour
1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Cups white sugar
3 eggs (or 3/4 Cup fat free egg substitute)
1/2 Cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 Cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Cups packed, peeled, freshly grated zucchini
3/4 Cup mini chocolate chips or semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 Cups chopped almonds (roast them first for added flavour!)

Combine the dry ingredients (first 7 items). Whisk together the sugar, eggs, apple sauce, oil and vanilla. Stir in the zucchini. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones then mix in the chips and nuts. Divide and spread the batter evenly into 2 - 8″ x 4″ loaf pans oiled or sprayed well with non-stick spray.

Bake in pre-heated 350F oven for 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to racks.

This loaf is wonderfully moist and really chocolaty! I love serving it warm (10 seconds on high in microwave) spread with peanut butter, homemade jams, lemon butter or Nutella. It's great with a bowl of freshly cut fruit and a scoop of ice cream too!

Once the loaves are completely cooled, I cut the loaves in half and wrap each in plastic wrap to freeze in a large freezer bag. I make at least three batches of this recipe every fall, so that I can always have this delicous loaf on hand!

Enjoy!!!

dn

Saturday, September 6, 2008

School Days - Part 2

Well the kids are back in school. The malls are quieter, but the buses are nosier in the mornings and the afternoon - so much for catching 40 winks on the way to/from work!

When I was a kid I rode a bus to school every day from Grade 1 through Grade 7. We didn't have kindergarten when I started school back in the early 1960's! My parents lived only 9 miles from town, but the various school bus routes zigzagged along a number of country roads in order to pick us all up. The first couple of years it was actually a van rather than a bus. There were benches on either side of the bus and a bench in the middle. This was the early 1960's - long before seat belts and other safety concerns. I think it was about a 30 minute ride each way.

By about grade 3 or 4 we had a new bus route and were actually riding a bus. The downside, was that I was pretty much at the end of the route, which meant that I had to be at the end of our lane at 7:55 and we got to school about 8:45 for elementary school and 8:50 for the high school. School was from 9:00 to 3:40. The bus would stop at the high school first, then come to the elementary. I didn't usually walk in the door at home until just past 4:30. That was a long day - and it felt even longer in the winter months when you walked in or out the lane by the glow of the yard light in the greys of dawn/dusk.

When I was going into grade 8 a number of things changed. Originally, the elementary was Grade 1-8 and the high school was 9-12. A couple of smaller towns within about 15 miles had also closed their schools and transferred most of their students to our schools. The elementary was now a K-6. The local high school had built a huge addition and was converted to a 7-12. That meant a huge influx of new students to the high school.

It was a little overwhelming to go from about 300 students to over 600! The other big change was that I didn't have to ride the bus anymore. The new school had built a home economics and industrial arts section to teach students life skills. My mom, who was an excellent cook and seamstress applied for and got a job as a teacher's assistant in the home ec. department. Her only stipulation was that she work in the opposite room to which I was in so that there would be no hint of favouritism. When I was in sewing, she was in foods and vice versa.

Having mom at the school could have been a little weird, but the place was big enough that we didn't see each other a lot and I only had home ec. for 1/2 day every 6 day cycle. Her hours were 8:30-4:30, so we only left home about 8:15. We often had errands to run after school, so it was usually 5:00 or even 5:30 before we got home. I was able to do most of my homework in the library before and after school and also spend more time with some of my friends who lived in town.

I never missed those long bus rides. Some of the roads were only dirt or had only a little gravel. They could get really muddy, slippery or icy and I was always afraid we'd go in the ditch. We did a few times over the years, but it was almost always on the way home from school and not on the way to - bummer! Mom and I only landed in the ditch once and that was on a patch of black ice on the highway about 2 miles from town. We ended up about 30 feet from the road facing the opposite direction. We weren't hurt - just badly shaken. We still went to school that day!

By the time I went into grade 10, mom was splitting her time between the home ec. department and doing some work in the main office. She did a lot of work with the old copy machines - most of which were hand cranked. She was also responsible for collecting the morning and afternoon attendance reports from all the home rooms (about 26), writing up and distributing the reports to all the teachers so they would know who was absent or skipping classes. Luckily, I wasn't the kind of kid who skipped out! She'd have known immediately!

Mom quit working at the school in June 1976. She has always told people we both left that June but that I was the only one who got the diploma!

dn

Friday, September 5, 2008

School Days - Part 1

My dad got his grade 1 through 9 in a one room school house less than a mile from our farm. My sister got her grade 8 and my brothers got grades 6 and 2 before the school was forced to close in 1959. There were only 7 students left in the 11 square mile district - one each in grades 2, 4 and 7 with two each in grades 6 and 8.

The school district was created in 1894 and was formally dissolved in 1961. Over the lifetime of the school many of my aunts, uncles and cousins attended this small country school that also served as a community gathering point and a place of Sunday worship. In the early years there were 15 to 20 students. Depending on the teacher's qualifications they were paid anywhere from $35-45.00/month. By the time the school closed in 1959, the teachers' salary was $228.00/month!

In the early 1980's my mom and I spent a few years doing research to update our family history. We wrote a book on her family first and then worked on one for my dad's side. While we were doing the research on dad's family, we came across so much info on the school, that we ended up compiling a third book on it's history. We contacted every former student, teacher and resident of the district that we could find and asked them to send us stories and pictures. So many people contributed that the project snowballed and the next thing we knew, we were holding a community meeting to organize a reunion and dedicating a marker on the site of the former schoolhouse. More than 30 people attended that first meeting in July 1984. The book was done by late spring, 1985 and a marker was dedicated at a reunion in June 1985. Over 100 people attended the reunion/dedication.

It was really interesting reading and hearing all the reminiscences of the students, teachers and residents of the district. In a lot of ways, I wish I could have gotten to have that country school experience. My parents could have sent me to another nearby country school when I started grade one in September 1964, but that school was also facing closure due to lack of enrollment within the next couple of years. They opted to send me to the town school 9 miles away, right from grade one so that I wouldn't have to readjust in a year or two.

I did get a sense of that small school atmosphere when I attended Bible School in the late 1970's as there were only about three dozen students on campus, but it wasn't the same. It sure would have been nice to be part of a country school and experience that one room multi-class atmosphere with a small group of people.

Going to a town school was a little hard at first, as I wasn't used to being around a lot of people and was actually kind of shy. I liked music, math and art classes. I was never great at science, geography, or history. Spelling and grammar have always been a bit confusing with all of the rules and exceptions. My dictionaries were always dog eared from looking up how to spell words! My penmanship was horrid - in large part due to my sight and lack of eye/hand co-ordination.

School sports were a real pain. I was so uncoordinated that it was a bit pathetic! Our elementary school had a program that divided all the students into four teams (Comets, Jets, Meteors and Rockets). Each new student was assigned to a team when they came to the school and stayed with that team through every grade. Attendance, participation and placement all earned points for the team. At the end of the year, the team with the most points was given a trophy and there were ribbons for all the members. I was a "Rocket" which, if memory serves was always in last place!!

I remember the names of all my elementary school teachers and most of my high school ones. Someday I'll write a post about some of the teachers. I'll have to do some thinking on that topic! Tomorrow, I'll share some memories of getting to and from school and a bit about high school.

dn

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"dnsylTV" - Part 2




What programs will be on the "dnsylTV" network? Lots of old classics, a few from the last decade or so and a handful of shows that are still running today. I've divided them into several categories and have listed them in the order that they first aired on network TV. All air dates are courtesy of Wikipedia. All shows would begin with the earliest episode available and air in order through the shows run.

So, without further adieu, here is my dream list of shows that would air on my network:

Kids Of All Ages:
"The Bugs Bunny Show" (and it's varying incarnations from 1960 onward), "Rocky and Bullwinkle" (1959-1964/reruns ran till 1973), "The Flinstones" (1960-1966), "The Jetsons" (1962-1963, 1984-1987), "Underdog" (1964-1973), "Tennessee Tuxedo" (1963-1966), "The Hilarious House of Frightenstein" (1971), "The Muppet Show" (1976-1981), "Dinosaurs" (1991-1994), "Animaniacs" (1993-1999), "Pinky and The Brain" (1995-1998), "Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries" (1995-2001), "Muppets Tonight" (1996-1998), "Futurama" (1999-2003),
Game and Quiz Shows:
"What's My Line?" (1950-1967), "Password" (1961-1967, 1971-1975), "Jeopardy" (1964-1975, 1978/79, 1984-now), "Pyramid" (1973-1988, 1991, 2002-2004) and "Definition" (1974-1989).

Daytime Dramas:
"Dark Shadows" (1966-1971), "Another World" (1964-1999), "The Young and The Restless" (1973-now)

Cooking;
"Rachael Ray" (2006-now)

1950's and 1960's Comedies;
"The Burns and Allen Show" (1950-1958), "the Jack Benny Program" (1950-1965), "I Love Lucy" (1951-1957), "Our Miss Brooks" (1952-1956), "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" (1952-1966), "Make Room for Daddy" (1953-1965), "Father Knows Best" (1954-1960), "My Three Sons" (1960-1972), "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (1961-1966), 'Hazel' (1961-1966), "The Munsters" (1964-1966), "The Adams Family" (1964-1966), "It's About Time" (1966-1967), "Here Come the Brides" (1968-1970)

Comedies from the 1970's and up:
"The Odd Couple" (1970-1975), "Mary Tyler Moore" (1970-1977), "The New Dick Van Dyke Show" (1971-1974), "The Bob Newhart Show" (1972-1978), "Maude" (1972-1978), "M*A*S*H" (1972-1983), "Rhoda' (1974-1978), "Happy Days" (1974-1984), "Barney Miller" (1975-1982), 'One Day At A Time' (1975-1984), 'Alice' (1976-1985), "WKRP in Cincinnati" (1978-1982), "Benson" (1979-1986), "Cheers" (1982-1993), 'Kate and Allie' (1984-1989), "Night Court" (1984-1992), "Who's The Boss" (1984-1992), "The Golden Girls" (1985-1992), "Empty Nest" (1988-1995), "Murphy Brown" (1988-1998), "Mad About You" (1992-1999), "The John Larroquette Show", (1993-1996), "Fraiser" (1993-2004), "3rd Rock From The Sun" (1996-2001), "Dharma & Greg" (1997-2002), 'Will & Grace" (1998-2006)

Medical Dramas:
'Medical Centre' (1969-1976), 'Marcus Welby MD' (1969-1976), 'Emergency' (1972-1977), "St. Elsewhere" (1982-1988), "Chicago Hope" (1994-2000)

Mystery, Suspense, Detective and Legal;
"Dragnet" (1951-1959, 1967-1970), "Alfred Hitchcock" (1955-1965), 'Perry Mason' (series 1957-1966/movies 1985-1993), "The Twilight Zone" (1959-1964), "Adam 12" (1968-1975), "Hawaii Five-O" (1968-1980), 'Columbo' (1968-2003 with 69 movies), 'McMillan and Wife' (1971-1977), "Quincy, M.E." (1976-1983), 'Murder She Wrote' series 1984-1996/movies 1997-2003), "L.A. Law" (1986-1994), "Street Legal" (1987-1994), 'Diagnosis Murder' (1993-2001)

Dramas:
"Thirtysomething" (1987-1991), "Once And Again" (1999-2002), "The West Wing" (1999-2006), "Ed" (2000-2004), "American Dreams" (2002-2005), "Everwood" (2002-2006), "Men In Trees" (2006-2008)

After Prime Time Comedies
:'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman' (1976-1977), 'Soap' (1977-1981) and 'Dream On' (1990-1996)

British;
"The Two Ronnies'" (1971-1987), "Are You Being Served?" (1972-1985), "Drop the Dead Donkey" (1990-1998)

Music and Variety:
"Wayne and Shuster" (unknown number of specials from early 1960's to late 1980's), "The Carol Burnett Show" (1967-1978), "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" (1968-1973)

Afternoon and Late Night Movie Classics;
comedy, drama, mystery, biography and other classics from the 1930's to more recent releases.

Current Series:
"Without A Trace" (2002-now), "Desperate Housewives" (2004-now), "Criminal Minds" (2005-now)

Reality Series:
"Survivor" (2000-now),"The Amazing Race" (2001-now)



It's a nice dream, Isn't it? But what is life without a little dream and fantasy?

dn

Monday, September 1, 2008

"dnsylTV" - Part 1

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the day after Labour Day. Not because it was the first day of school, but because that was the day that most of the TV stations started changing their programing. New seasons of old favourites and the start of new series. They also tended to change the after school lineup from 4:00 to 6:00. We got to see the old shows that were no longer on the air.

We now live in a 500+ channel universe, where there seems to be a station for every possible genre.

I think it's time for the next generation in viewing. The personal network! It's your very own network. You select all the shows that you would like to have on your very own network. Ted Turner did it. Oprah did it.

Now it's my turn!


Here is a break down of what to expect from "dnsylTV:"

Monday to Friday
6:00-9:00AM - cartoons and shows for kids of all ages
9:00-11:00AM - game and quiz shows
11:00-2:00PM - daytime dramas
2:00-4:00PM - afternoon movie
4:00-5:00PM - classic B&W sitcoms
5:00-6:00PM - cooking
6:00-7:00PM - kids of all ages
7:00-11:00PM - various theme nights of sitcoms, dramas, medical drama and other shows from the 1950's to today!
11:00-midnight - After Prime Time Comedies
midnight-2:00AM - midnight movie
2:00-6:00AM - encore of 7:00-11:00PM

Saturday
6:00AM-12:00PM - kids of all ages
12:00-5:00PM - sitcom Saturday afternoons!
5:00-6:00PM - "The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour"
6:00-7:30PM - Music and Variety
7:30-8:00PM - British comedies
8:00-midnight - Saturday night mystery and suspense
midnight-2:00AM - midnight movie
2:00-6:00AM - encore of Saturday night mystery and suspense

Sunday
6:00AM-12:00PM - kids of all ages
12:00PM-3:00PM - dramas of all kinds
3:00-5:00PM - Sunday afternoon movie
5:00-6:00PM - "The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour"
6:00-7:00PM - Music and Variety
7:00-10:00PM - current series
10:00PM-midnight - reality TV
midnight-2:00AM -midnight movie
2:00-5:00AM - encore of current shows
5:00-6:00AM - music and variety

You'll notice that I didn't include any news broadcasts. It's not that the news isn't important, it's just that their is already so much of it out there, that I figure that the average viewer will pick their own time and place to watch it.

The older shows had only 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes of commercials or were sponsored entirely by one product and had the "plugs" edited for rebroadcast in syndication. The current commercial content of 7 1/2 - 8 minutes of commercials and promos/30 minutes has also resulted in heavy handed editing of the old classics. In a perfect world I would have a commercial free station so that the older shows would not have to be edited down to fit in the commercials of today. Any extra time at the end of the half hour or hour block would be filled with animated shorts, classic variety clips and the commercials of the era.
SO, I suppose you'd like to know exactly what kinds of titles you can expect to see on "dnsylTV". right?

dn