Thursday, January 28, 2010

When PC’s get sick – Part Two

So, last time I told you about the lead up to my PC recovery. I was ready for the actual system recovery by Wednesday, January 13, 2010. I called HP early in the afternoon and gave them the ticket number that I’d gotten the week before.

The recovery process itself was not that complicated. The process for me was not as easy. As the PC was resetting itself to factory and erasing everything that I had so carefully added and installed, my brain was in overdrive. What if this doesn’t work? What if the recovery fails and I have to replace my hard drive? What if the CD’s, DVD’s and external drive don’t work and I really do end up losing everything? You hear about PC crashes all the time, you just never think about them happening to you.

The recovery itself didn’t take that long – maybe an hour. After it was done I had to reset my personal settings in the control panel before I did anything else. Good job I made notes ahead of time!

I called my service provider to help me reconnect to the internet and reset my mailboxes in Windows Mail. They also helped me download a Norton Removal tool to remove the trial program that had come with my PC. (Note: If Norton (or other security systems AREN’T removed with the right tools, it can really mess up your new security system!) Then, we downloaded my new security suite and reinstalled it. Just those few minutes of being on line without security were enough to make me nervous even though I was on safe sites!

It was Wednesday evening by that time and I was tired, but there was too much to do to sleep. I checked for updates and installed about 80 that night. I also checked my mail and a couple of web sites I visit every day. So far - so good - but too soon to start adding my stuff again.

Thursday morning, I checked for more updates and realized that the service pack 2 STILL wasn’t installed! Oh great! The whole reason I had done the restore was because it wouldn’t install!

I called HP and explained what was going on. Another great tech helped me download the service pack 2 and install it. It took quite awhile to download 475mb and install but this time it actually worked!!!

The tech asked if there were any other problems I needed his help with. I told him that just before New Year’s; I had bought and installed Microsoft Home and Student 2007. I’d gotten a ridiculously good post-Christmas sale deal, but was frustrated that I had to uninstall it so quickly and therefore loose one of the three keys that came with it. I had tried to contact Microsoft to restore the key but kept getting error messages and told that I would have to pay for any assistance. The tech helped me to reinstall Office and get a replacement key!

How much do I LOVE HP!? I could never have done all this without them! They were with me through every step and patiently talking me through it and answering all my questions. Actually, the tech I had talked to in Mumbai had even called me back a couple of days later to see how the PC was working and to ask how I was going to do the recovery!

Late Thursday morning, I started transferring my files from the external drive back to the PC. The process was as simple as connecting the drive, opening “F drive” then dragging all of my files/folders back into “C drive”. I imported my contacts and emails back to Windows mail. I randomly checked various folders and types of files to see if everything was back – and it was!

I felt like I could finally breathe again!

I’ve lost track of how many hours I have spent on the phone with various techs over those couple of weeks! My guess is that is probably about six with HP alone, never mind the other wonderful people in tech departments I’ve called for assistance, advice and price quotes! Then there are all the hours that I spent preparing the PC for the recovery and reinstalling and customizing all my settings again!

Over the last week or so, I have slowly started reinstalling my freeware and some of my games. I’ve even managed to find a couple of new pieces of freeware to replace some of the ones I lost. I had saved my list of favourite web sites and was able to reset it, but had to re-enter all my passwords and/or customizations. That was yet another time my copious notes came in very handy! So far, I’ve only discovered one web site that I had neglected to note which email address and password I signed in with! Quite minor in the grand scheme of things.

My PC is running beautifully at the moment. Knock wood, it will for a long time to come.

This wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination! It isn’t an experience that I ever want to repeat, but I have learned a lot more about my PC and how it works in the process, I’ve even figured out a few more customizations to make it even easier for me to see what I am doing.

As one of my friends so aptly put it, “It’s a brand new year and a fresh new start!”


Sunday, January 24, 2010

When PC’s get sick – Part One

I got this PC in November 2008 and for the most part, it has been very good. I wasn’t thrilled about having to get Vista, but I’ve gotten more or less used to it in the last while. I’m pretty careful with my PC. I do weekly disk cleanup, weekly virus and spyware scans and defrag once a month. I scan everything that I download – even music files and programs from sites I trust. I do regular updates and try to keep things running smoothly.

About three months ago, I tried to install the Vista service pack 2 but got an error message. That sometimes happens but an update doesn’t always install successfully on the first try so I wasn’t that concerned. I’d try again later. Well, time went on and it was offered to me again. It still didn’t install. I probably should have called HP then, but I was busy with Christmas baking by then and just didn’t have the time to sit on the phone to get help with the installation.

I actually forgot about it until New Years, when the update showed up again as an important and recommended installation. I tried again and it didn’t work. Damn. Time to call for help.

On Monday, January 4, 2010, I called HP about 7:00PM local time. I ended up speaking with a very nice tech in Mumbai India! I told him that I was legally blind and a poor typist. “No worries! I am here to help!” He tried downloading and installing the update manually and it wouldn’t work. He ran several diagnostic tests and eventually discovered that somehow something in my OS had corrupted and this was preventing service pack 2 form installing. The only real way around it was to do a system recovery.

In other words, remove ALL of my files and reset the PC to factory condition. He assured me that this was not necessarily anything I had done wrong – that this can happen to the most cautious users. He also informed me that the longer I went without installing the upgrades, the more at risk I became for a complete crash. I could either have HP talk me through it, or pay a company to do the entire backup and recovery for me – which I really couldn’t afford. Out of curiosity, I did call a couple of places for quotes and got $120 if I brought in the hard drive and all went well in recovery or $250 for a tech to come here and stay till it was all in working order! OUCH!!

Double damn! I was not a happy camper. I needed a little time to figure out how I was going to do all this myself. This was not going to be easy – or fun. Over the last 14 months, I had downloaded a lot of music, videos and pics. These could be backed up and reinstalled. So could most of my games and some freeware programs. I had also installed about 25 pieces of software from GOTD. The GOTD items were only available in full program for the day they were given away, so I did not have a key to reinstall once they were removed. Some of the software, I had barely used but other pieces were used frequently and I wasn’t sure where I could get suitable replacements in freeware.

I spent the next several days reorganizing my files. I sorted through folders to see what could be moved, renamed, uninstalled, backed up or deleted, I burnt CD’s and DVD’s of music, video and programs. It was time consuming, exhausting and annoying that I was in this situation but I was also glad that I had the opportunity to actually back everything up before a crash caused me to lose everything. I also made several notes on what I was saving, deleting and what my various settings were that made the PC easier for me to see.

I do have a backup drive and I use it at least once or twice a month, but it can’t save applications. I have a 2 gig flash drive for apps, but couldn’t get it to work so I burnt all the apps I could and hoped for the best.

By Tuesday, January 12, I was ready to do the final backup. I connected my backup drive and let it start scanning for new files to copy. After awhile it told me that there was not enough room to add new files! HUH? It was a 160 gig drive and I knew I only had about 50 gig of stuff to save after programs were uninstalled. I tried deleting files from the backup, but it kept shutting down, I called the tech service for the device and after several more attempts, the tech said it wasn’t going to work and that they would replace it. Unfortunately, that was going to take 7-10 business days. ARGH! He suggested that I buy an external hard drive anyways as they can save app files and also use a drag and drop system so I can more easily select what to save.

I phoned several stores and finally ended up going to a local electronics store and getting a 500 gig external drive on sale for $89.99. The sale actually ended Tuesday night, but the sales clerk hadn’t removed the sale price from the shelf by the time I got there Wednesday morning so I was given the sale price!

When I got home, I read the instructions and started to transfer stuff from my “C drive” to my “F drive”. As I was doing it, I realized that I hadn’t exported my email files/folders or my contacts list from Windows Mail. My other backup drive could have gotten those directly. A couple of quick clicks to export and I was on my way again.

The “drag and drop” process took only a few minutes. The actual transfer and backup took about an hour.

It was noon by this time and I was about as ready as I’d ever be. I’d call HP after lunch and start the recovery.

(to be continued January 28, 2010)


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Weedless Wednesday

Today, January 20, 2010 is Weedless Wednesday which is part of National Non-Smoking Week (January 17 - 23, 2010).

The third Wednesday of every January is designated as Weedless Wednesday. It is part of National Non-Smoking Week. NNSW was first established in 1977, by the Canadian Council For Tobacco Control (formerly the Canadian Council On Smoking and Health).

The goals of this organization are to:
- educate Canadians about the dangers of smoking
- to prevent people who do not smoke from beginning to smoke and becoming addicted to tobacco
- to help people quit smoking
- to promote the right of individuals to breathe air unpolluted by tobacco smoke
- to denormalize the tobacco industry, tobacco industry marketing practices and tobacco use
- to assist in the attainment of a smoke-free society in Canada

I have never been a smoker. I was never the least bit tempted to smoke. I grew up in a home with smokers, but was always nauseated by the smell. Not just while the tobacco was being used but the lingering after effects that stayed and permeated everything in the vicinity. My throat hurt, my eyes watered and my nose would get stuffed up - which made it hard to breathe.

My symptoms got worse as I grew older. As an adult, I learned through allergy tests that I was actually allergic to tobacco products. I really wasn't that surprised to learn of the allergy as I'd suspected it for years. By the time I did learn of it, many of my family had already quit smoking.

Whenever I could, I tried to avoid people who smoked or places where people had smoked. It wasn't always easy. Most people I knew were pretty respectful, but you can't control every situation. There have been countless times that I have had to leave when someone who reeks of tobacco is near.

Before it was illegal to smoke in public places here in Manitoba, I often had to leave restaurants. I remember one time that my mom and I had just gotten our lunch when a smoker lit up at the next table. I could barely breathe so I went out to the car while mom explained to the waitress and asked for our meal to go. We certainly weren't the first - or last - to complain at that establishment, but a few months later they did set up a non-smoking section. The problem was that you had to walk through the smoking section to get to the non-smoking section. The manager explained that he would have liked to do it differently but the non-smoker section was a larger section and in a different room with better ventilation. I just held my nose as I hurried through.

In more recent years, there have been more bans added to restrict the use of nicotine in public places. The bans include smoking in any enclosed public places such as restaurants, bars, clubs and malls. Many apartment blocks (including mine) have prohibited smoking in hallways or common areas. Stores are no longer permitted to display tobacco products, adds or sell to minors. Tobacco companies are not allowed to advertise over the airwaves or sponsor public events. Some areas also prohibit smoking in any vehicles where a minor is present.

All these bans do help, but it doesn't alleviate the after smell that surrounds the smoker and effects the health of us non-smokers. I have still had to leave elevators and buses when smokers are too near me. I've also had to stand downwind of smokers at bus stops. Even though smoking isn't allowed in common areas in my building, I can still smell it in areas near apartments with smokers or occasionally through the ventilation system.

If it were up to me, smoking would be illegal - PERIOD!

Not just because of my allergies, but because of the long lasting health effects to both smokers and non-smokers alike. The health care costs alone for smoking related illnesses is staggering. Just think of the good that all that money could be used for! Things like; irradiating poverty, hunger, AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer's just to name a few.

Regardless of what anyone tries to tell you, smoking is anything but attractive or cool. A friend once described kissing his smoker girlfriend as "like licking an ashtray!" My, how romantic! Smoking is severely addictive, will prematurely age you and send you to an early grave.

Most people make several attempts to quit before finally succeeding. My mom tried a few times, but finally quit when the price went up to 75 cents/package around 1970 or so! She just couldn't bear the thought of paying such an outrageous price! At least a couple of my friends tried at least 10 times over the years to kick the habit before succeeding. They are now avid non-smokers promoting the benefits of quitting and living a smoke free life.

Quitting is anything but easy. You have to be mentally ready and physically prepared to tackle the withdrawal symptoms.

There are numerous on line sites that can help you find the best way for you to tackle quitting. They can help you find local support and provide you with tips to get you through.

A few years ago, a couple of my friends were trying to quit and I wrote out a few suggestions for them.

- increased energy; healthier lungs and heart; reduced stains on fingers and teeth; lower risk of cancer; smoking possibly linked to Alzheimer's and Macular Degeneration (and others)
- non-smokers and especially those who quit are a positive roll model to children, family, friends, customers and clients who are trying to quit or are tempted to start.
- non-smokers have a far greater chance of living longer, healthier more productive lives.

- depriving the government of tobacco taxes!
- the money you save from not buying tobacco products can be used for any number of things, such as: kids education (or your own); pension/retirement plans; vacations; home improvements; etc.
- devise a financial penalty for smoking such as for every dollar you spend on tobacco, you must spend at least an additional dollar on a charitable donation (perhaps the cancer society or the lung association?). One friend told me that they knew someone who made a deal with their friends that for every dollar they spent on tobacco they would give a dollar to an organization that they were politically/morally opposed to!

Still tempted to smoke?
- visit or volunteer at a cancer care program or palliative care project and observe first hand the effects of smoking related cancers and emphysema. That could be you in a few short years.
- your second hand smoke could be killing someone you love.
- every time you smoke you are decreasing the length of your life and the amount of time you will have to watch your children and grandchildren grow.
- Smokers are directly responsible for the profits of Tobacco companies. Despite employment standard practices in some parts of the world, many tobacco workers such as the people who pick, are often poorly paid migrant workers. These people endure backbreaking work to support your habit. As human beings, they deserve better.

- learn to savour the flavour of your food by eating slowly and enjoying each morsel.
- finger foods are a great distraction to occupy the hand that held the cigarette.
- healthy snacks such as raw vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, nuts in the shell, unsalted nuts, trail mixes, unbuttered popcorn, baked pretzels, dry cereals such as cheerios or multi grain cereals.
- try eating snacks one piece at a time rather than by the handful.

- learn a musical instrument such as piano or guitar
- take up a hobby or craft. The things you make could be used as Christmas or Birthday gifts or donated to a charity for raffles or gifts for underprivileged.
- craft hobby suggestions include: knitting; crochet; needlepoint; wood working; carving; engraving; calligraphy; sculpting; painting; sketching; model building; glass etching; origami; and leather tooling just to name a few, Visit a local crafts store for ideas, inspiration and supplies!
- you could also learn Braille or sign language!

When you do quit, you will want to start a more healthy lifestyle and that should most definitely include physical activity. Something such as Thai Chi, Yoga or Pilates will help to relax both the mind and the body. Even taking a walk is a great way to relax and get some fresh clean air.

Quitting any habit is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but you have to be ready emotionally and physically to make the changes. If you aren't emotionally ready for change it is easy to backslide, but don't give up. Just pick yourself up and try again. You can and will succeed!

This is a pic of a ceiling mural in a smokers room that speaks volumes:

Good Luck!!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

"No thanks, None for me."

Let me begin by apologizing to anyone of eastern European descent and pretty much the population of Canada - especially the prairie provinces. This post is not meant to offend, hurt or belittle a much loved cuisine and comfort food of the masses. It is simply my opinion.

That being said, please, let me continue. I recently got into an on line discussion about perogies. Some loved them. Some could take them or leave them. A few only liked them prepared in certain ways with certain fillings and toppings. Others, well they weren't the least bit tempted to eat them or just plain didn't like them.

Me? Well, I have NEVER liked them in any way, shape or form. Yes, I realize that this may well be considered blasphemy - especially from a Southern Manitoba born gal living in Winnipeg, but I can't stand them!

I've never understood what the attraction is to a stuffed dumpling like concoction that is boiled and then lathered with melted butter, oil or creamy gravy.

So, "What are perogies?", the uninitiated may ask.

Basically, they are made with an unleavened dough that is thinly rolled out and cut into pieces, which are then filled with a variety of mixtures. They are then boiled or steamed and served with a drizzle of melted butter or oil. They are also often accompanied by bacon, farmers sausage, fried onions, sour cream or a cooked fruit such as apple sauce. Any left overs are usually fried and served with a cream gravy over top.

In Mennonite circles there is a similar version called Wareniki. Wareniki or "Varenyky are square- or crescent-shaped dumplings of unleavened dough, stuffed with sauerkraut, cheese, mashed potatoes, cabbage, meat, hard-boiled eggs (a Mennonite tradition) or a combination of these, or with a fruit filling. Varenyky are very popular in Ukraine. ... The name varenyk, in fact, simply means "boiled thing," from the adjective varenyy."

Hmmm, "Boiled thing"? Sounds pretty accurate to me!

I can't and won't speak for anyone else, but I have to wonder what the attraction is. What is so appealing about a starch laden, artery clogging, plate of a days worth of calories with next to no nutritional value?

Now I am no health food guru and I do have my own guilty pleasures, but some people thrive on these and have it on a very regular basis. They salivate at the mere thought of a plate of these doughy things. Everybody seems to have their own favourite version or recipe. Claims such as; "Well you'd like MY recipe" or "You should taste my grandma's version then you'd know why they are so good" are rampant.

Well that may be true for some, but I wouldn't bet the farm on me becoming a fan or even finding one version that doesn't make me have chest pains just looking at the plate.

I have tried several over the years, but it just doesn't do it for me. They can have some decent ingredients such as potato, cheddar cheese and onion but then they go and ruin it by wrapping it in dough and boiling it or steaming it. To me it just tastes like something that is undercooked. The fried versions just taste greasy on the outside, but still soggy inside. Frankly, it is a waste of good filling and the ingredients for the dough could be used in much more appetizing ways.

Here in Canada, you can find many restaurants that serve various varieties and even specialize in perogy making. You can also buy perogies frozen in any major grocery store.

Maybe it really is a cultural thing or something that you have to be raised on. We never had them when I was a kid, although my mom did sometimes make dumplings when she made a pot of stew. I never liked those either. I always had her take out a portion of the stew for me before she added the lumps of dough as little bits always seemed to find their way into the pot and that ruined the taste for me. Nothing like thinking you are biting into a piece of potato or onion only to have your taste buds heart broken and your tongue touch a piece of soggy dough.

In the 1970's there was a very popular item available in stores and through Television commercials called "Hunky Bill's Perogy Maker". It simplified the process for making perogies and claimed it could be used for countless other items as well.

Well, like I said, we didn't eat perogies or wareniki at home, but my mom bought one anyway. I think it was mostly because it was on sale for about half price at a variety store we often shopped at. We tried several recipes that required fillings wrapped in dough. It actually worked fairly well, but our favourite use for it was for mom's homemade pizza snacks.

Mom would make her basic bun dough and let it rise. Meanwhile she would cook up some lean ground beef and chopped bacon. She'd sauté in onions, mushrooms and peppers then pour in a can of pizza sauce, add some spices and let is simmer till it was really thick. When it was just about ready to be used for the filling, she'd stir in grated mozzarella cheese. Then she'd roll out the dough really thin and place it over the perogy maker. She'd put some filling on top of each section then put another layer of dough on top and press the pizza snacks out. She let them rise for awhile on the baking sheets then bake them.

OH, now those were good!!! We'd eat those like crazy! Mom always tried to keep a few dozen on hand in the freezer so she'd have something to serve for lunch, snacks, to unexpected company or as an hors d'oeuvre. They were a huge hit!

I guess that perogies, wareniki and dumplings are all acquired tastes. Sometimes we find foods that we just love and other times we just say;

"No thanks, None for me."


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January Food Blahs!

In my last post, I gave you a recipe for Mocha Muffins – a rather delicious taste to brighten your breakfast or a coffee break.

I don’t know about you, but I find January a tough month to cook, bake and even enjoy food. I think my taste buds get over stimulated in December. There is so much food that is specifically eaten around the holidays that is hard to enjoy the everyday fare that we consume the rest of the year. We have spent the previous month – or more – sampling appetizers, dips, salads, sauces, side dishes, main courses, countless desserts and other sweet treats. Oh and let’s not forget all those festive beverages!

After all that, it is no wonder our taste buds are feeling overwhelmed. They need a break to recover. The problem is that after all that stimulation, everything from our normal diet seems bland. To complicate matters is the fact that there is a lack of local fresh produce in our winter climate. Well, okay there is still fresh produce available but except for root vegetables and produce that stores well such as apples, the rest is all imported from thousands of miles away and we pay a hefty premium for those items.

That hefty premium isn’t always worth the money though as some southern climates also face extreme weather at this time of year and the quality of what is shipped just isn't the same. Add to that our pinched pocketbooks from holiday spending and our choices are rather limited.

I don’t tend to buy a lot of salad fixings this time of year. One of the grocery stores I usually go to, does have Romaine on sale this week for $.96 which is an incredibly good price for this time of year - even if it is small! I cringe at paying more than a dollar for Romaine or Leaf lettuce at the best of times. I occasionally see head lettuce on sale, but frankly all it has going for it is the crunch – not much nutritional value. I did buy Romaine to serve in a salad for a dinner in December and paid $1.49 – OUCH! Even the tomatoes on the vine are well over $2/lb at the moment. No, if I am having a salad this time of year, it is apt to be a cole slaw. Better yet just some raw veggies such as carrots, celery, red pepper and mushrooms with a light or fat free dip.

For me, January usually means a lot of oven meals. Turning on the oven to cook your dinner is also a great way to cut your heating costs. It is amazing how much a room can heat up while a delicious meal is cooking in the oven – not to mention how good it smells! That is assuming that I actually feel like cooking. I spent a LOT of time in the kitchen in November and December doing Christmas and Holiday baking and frankly I’m pretty tired of cooking around this time of year.

I generally enjoy cooking and baking. I like trying new recipes, but this time of year? Forget it! If it isn’t simple, fast and tasty without being fattening – odds are I won’t be trying it. I just can’t get enthused about being in the kitchen right now. I did try a couple of recipes in the last couple of weeks - recipes that had been on my “try” radar for quite a while. They were okay i guess, but just didn’t have that yum quality that I was hoping for. Mind you, they both tasted better warned up the next day so I’m not throwing them out, I’m just setting them aside until I have more patience and energy to play with them.

I went through my deep freeze a few days ago to do a post Christmas inventory. My supply of frozen meats and vegetables is doing well and my breakfast muffins are good through spring. Even my supply of baked goods for snacks and company isn’t too bad at the moment. I don’t really have to start baking till sometime in February.

It’s not that I won’t bake or cook in the next while; it’s just nice to know that I don’t HAVE to!

So at least for now, I’ll be relying on my old standbys. The meals and treats that I can make without a lot of effort or planning. The things that satisfy my taste buds without overwhelming them. The things that are easy to prepare and don’t cost a fortune. The comfort foods that make me feel good without the guilt of too many calories.

Of course there will be a few chocolate treats in there. After all, I am human!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Mocha Muffins

I came across this recipe years ago. I'm not a coffee fan by any stretch of the imagination, but this has a nice light flavour in combination with the chocolate for a not quite so rich taste. These are perfect for breakfast or a snack!

As with all my recipes, I have played with this one over time. The original used all white flour, had less chocolate chips and used full fat sour cream. I switched it to fat free sour cream and added apple sauce for extra moistness and flavour. The apple sauce can be plain unsweetened or a flavoured such as the types put out by Mott's.

Mocha Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar lightly packed
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 cup apple sauce (unsweetened)
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled (or 1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee
dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water then let cool)
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped almonds
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Mix dry ingredients together.
- Mix wet ingredients together.
- Combine the two and mix just till moistened.
- Stir in almonds and chips.
- Divide batter into 24 paper lined muffin cups.
- Bake 18 - 20 minutes at 375F.
- Cool on wire rack.
- Freezes well.



Sunday, January 3, 2010

Victor Borge

Borge Rosenbaum was born in Copenhagen, Denmark on January 3, 1909. His Jewish parents were musicians – his father (Bernhard) a violinist and his mother (Frederikke) a pianist. Borge began piano lessons at age two and it was quickly discovered that he was a prodigy. He gave his first recital at age eight and was awarded a full scholarship to the Royal Danish Academy of Music in 1918. His first major concert was in 1926 and he toured as a classical musician for a few years.

By the early 1930’s he had incorporated some humour into his act and even added anti-Nazi jokes. He was performing in Sweden when Denmark fell to the Nazi’s, but managed to escape to Finland with his wife Elsie Chilton. From there, they sailed to America on the last neutral ship to make it out. Borge made one trip back to Denmark during the occupation by disguising himself as a sailor, to visit his dying mother.

The pianist and comedian spoke no English but adapted his act for North American audiences by quickly learning the language while watching English movies. Borge Rosenbaum changed his name to Victor Borge and in 1941 he appeared on The Rudy Vallee Radio Show, but was soon hired by Bing Crosby for the Kraft Music Hall.

Borge’s talent as a pianist and his comedic skills gave quick rise to his popularity. He appeared with numerous performers – including Frank Sinatra – and in 1946 he hosted his own show on NBC radio. Many of his trademark routines were developed during this time. Bits such as playing the Chopin’s Minute Waltz instead of using an egg timer or introducing a piece then being distracted became well known parts of the act.

One of his most famous routines was the “Phonetic Punctuation”. He would choose an excerpt from a book and read it to the audience using specific sound effects to represent each part of the punctuation.

Another famous piece that Borge invented and mastered was “Inflationary Language”. He explained it by saying that as the cost of living went up, why did words not change as well? He used examples such as: "once upon a time" becomes "twice upon a time", "wonderful" becomes "twoderful", "forehead" becomes "fivehead", "tennis" becomes "elevennis", "I ate a tenderloin with my fork" becomes "I nined an elevenderloin with my five'k" and so on and so fifth.

His act also routinely included:
- involving the audience by asking about music likes. He would give an audience member a piece of sheet music then begin playing. Near the end he’d realize that he needed that piece of sheet music back to finish and had to retrieve it from the audience member.
- combining pieces of music or playing multiple interpretations of pieces such as “Happy Birthday”
- falling off his piano bench while playing a piece - he then pulled out a seatbelt from within the piano bench to strap himself in for safety.
- playing a piece and becoming confused by the sound. This was corrected when he turned the piece of music right side up and played correctly. He had literally been playing the music upside down.
- overreacting to a high note sung by an opera singer or asking a member of the orchestra (usually a violinist) to leave after playing a sour note. He then had the rest of the members move up one chair to cover for the missing performer.

Borge toured extensively throughout the world. He made regular appearances on Toast Of The Town and on Ed Sullivan. In 1953 he starred in his own one man show in New York City called “Comedy in Music”. It ran a record 849 shows. From the 1960’s on, he made many appearances on variety and television talk shows including: Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.

Borge made several appearances in movies and even authored/co-authored a few books. In the 1950’s he also raised and popularized “Rock Cornish Hens”. This accomplishment even led to an appearance on “What’s My Line” where he signed in with the profession of “Chicken Farmer”!

In later years, some of his children also toured with him as assistants in his on stage high jinks. Victor Borge had five children: two (Ronald and Janet) with his first wife Elsie Chilton and three (Sanna, Victor and Frederikke) with his second wife Sarabal Sanna Scraper whom he had married in 1953.

Victor Borge continued to perform right up to the end. He had just returned from performing in Denmark, when he died peacefully in his sleep in Greenwich, Connecticut at age 91 on December 23, 2000.

He has left us a lasting legacy of humour and music that continues to entertain audiences of all ages. A hall in the Scandinavia House in New York City is named in his honour, as is a square in Copenhagen. Borge had received Kennedy Centre honours in 1999 and a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 1993.

Borge was known by many nicknames including: The Clown Prince of Denmark, The Unmelancholy Dane, and The Great Dane. Some of his best one liners included:
- I love this piano... I get about 4 sonatas to a gallon of red wine on it...
- Very expensive these pianos... It's not mine! But they come in a six pack!
- I have been looking forward to this evening's performance ever since... 7:30... two weeks ago.
- I'd like to thank my parents for making this night possible. And my children for making it necessary.
- I normally don't do requests. Unless, of course, I have been asked to do so.
- I don't mind growing old. I'm just not used to it.
- Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
- Occasionally, a finger comes up to wipe a tear [of laughter] from the eye... and that's my reward... the rest goes to the government.
- I only know two pieces, one is 'Clair de Lune', the other one isn't.
- When you go home, please drive home extremely carefully. Extremely carefully. Because I walk in my sleep!
- I'm going to play it with both hands so that way I will get through with it a little faster.
- There will be no dancing during this number... unless you absolutely have to!
- My grandfather gave me this watch...a few minutes before he died...for 20 tax...
- One afternoon, when I was four years old, my father came home, and he found me in the living room in front of a roaring fire, which made him very angry. Because we didn't have a fireplace.
- Before we start, the Baldwin Piano Company has asked me to say that this is a Steinway piano [or vice versa].
- (Inspecting the piano) Hmmm… Steinway & Sons. Didn't even know he was married.
- It is important to always, always fasten your seat belt wherever you play.
- (Responding to a sneeze from the audience) Who exploded?
- Pardon me for sitting down while I play.

I was lucky enough to see him perform here in Winnipeg in the early 1990’s. I had always loved his comedic wit and timing and was thrilled to get front row seats to see this musical genius in action at the Centennial Concert Hall. He did not disappoint! Even though I was very familiar with most of his routines it was a night I will never forget - I laughed so hard that tears ran down my cheeks!