Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter View

Parts of Atlantic Canada and the north eastern USA have really been hammered by winter storms and record snowfalls this winter. Some areas of the USA are just starting to dig out from a storm that hit them a few days ago. For many, it was the third major storm in less than a month.

Kids are happy ‘cause many of them got a snow day on Friday. Most parents weren’t quite as thrilled with the day off, but the fresh snowfall can be enjoyable. Well at least until it has to be cleaned out of your driveway or sidewalk! Then it’s a chore and most would prefer being at work rather than cleaning up after one of Mother Nature’s flare ups.

Southern Manitoba has gotten about normal snowfall this year. For some reason though, Winnipeg hasn’t been getting the white dumpings that other nearby areas are. We seem to be just on the edge of the storms that have rolled through.

Now please understand, I’m not complaining here. I’m thrilled that the streets and sidewalks are reasonably accessible this winter. There were a few days about a month ago that weren’t much fun but that was about it – so far!

However, tomorrow is March 1 and you never know what March or even April will bring to this prairie burg! So far, the first few days of March are looking to be sunny and above normal temps. That may not be good – IF the old adage of March coming in like a lamb and going out like a lion is true! Many of us remember the blizzard of March 1966 that shut the city and much of the province down for several days. And, does anyone remember that wallop of a snowstorm in early April of 1997? You know, that was the one that lead to the flood of the century. Yup, late season storms can be a doozy!

Mother Nature can throw a mean punch when she chooses to. So far, the only thing she has really thrown at us is bone chilling temps. Now even those wouldn’t be so bad if it was a dry cold, but the humidity has been a bit up there so it makes it feel even colder. People who aren’t familiar with the cold think that cold is cold and they are right to a point. But, cold with humidity is as chilling as heat with humidity is stifling. It makes it hard to function in either extreme. I’ll still take the cold over the heat though! As my grandma always said; “You can always put more clothes on but there is only so much you can take off!”

I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about how cold it has been and I’ve done my share as well, but I’ll take cold temps over snowfall any day! I’ll also admit that I’ve been feeling the cold a lot more this winter, but I don’t blame Mother Nature for that. I blame an aging body, low metabolism and the need for new winter wear for the way the cold is affecting me!

Okay, it’s time to appease the most gracious Mother Nature and bow to her infinite wisdom and whims for what she thinks we need and or deserve weather wise. Knock on wood, cross the fingers, click your heels together three times and repeat after me “There’s no place like Winnipeg in winter! There’s no place like Winnipeg in winter! There’s no place like Winnipeg in winter!”

Phew! Now if we could just convince all those silly people who attempt to escape to warmer climates - even for a week – that doing that only antagonizes Mother Nature into prolonging the arrival of spring. She always likes to show the returning snowbirds a welcome home snowfall even though those of us who have stayed by choice or circumstance have already done our time!

Winter isn’t my favourite season but it can be beautiful . Unless of course, I have somewhere to be and the sidewalks and roads haven’t been plowed. Then, I am not a fan of winter at all!

Oops! I mean I like winter – I just don’t love it the way that some do. The winter sports enthusiasts are wanting more but what we have right now is just fine with me thank you very much.

Like I started to say, winter can be very beautiful even in the city. There is nothing quite like the pristine glistening of a fresh dusting of snow to make a picture perfect dreamland.

Here in Manitoba, we have had a few mornings this winter that were absolutely breath taking thanks to hoarfrost. Hoarfrost is formed when the dew freezes on an outdoor surface. It doesn’t happen a lot here in winter but when it does – it is time to grab the camera and capture Mother Nature and her winter artistry at its best!

That’s just what I did on January 11th and 19th this year. My view of the city on those particular mornings was absolutely gorgeous!


Sunday, February 21, 2010

What Did You Say?

Have you ever noticed how people tend to turn a phrase? Some are old phrases that stand the test of time. Phrases like; “A stitch in time saves nine” or “A penny saved is a penny earned” are still common amongst people of a certain age. The younger generations just shake their heads and wonder what the older ones are talking about. This has been going on for centuries. Of course, times and sayings change by region.

I grew up hearing a lot of these old adages and bits of wisdom. I too, shook my head at these old lines and thought they were rather odd, but time and age have changed my mind. There really is some good advice in some of those sayings! Depending on how it is said, it can also be rather witty!

About a year ago, The Winnipeg Free Press published an article called “You Don’t Say”. It talked about the relevance of the old phrases and how they aren’t always complimentary but do paint a rather vivid picture if you stop and think about what was actually said.

It got me thinking about the phrases and more specifically about the ones that were used in my family and circle of friends. I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for months. I made notes, listed some of my favourite phrases and asked family for some of theirs. Then I got busy with other things and forgot about it till a few days ago. Out of sight – out of mind?

Like so many others we used the standards:
• not the sharpest knife in the drawer
• not playing with a full deck
• one sandwich short of a picnic
• a village missing it's idiot
• elevator doesn't go to the top floor
• don’t cry over spilled milk
• a fool and his money are soon parted.
• Ignorance is bliss

However, after talking to several family members and friends, I have also realized that every family tends to have their own favourites or versions of the classics. Some are ones that are only used within their circle.

Now, my family may not be as colourful as some of the sayings that you hear from other regions such as parts of Europe, the Canadian Maritimes, some parts of the southern United States or within some cultural groups. Some meanings aren’t well understood outside of a region or tend to get lost in translation but there are a few from my family and friends that make you sit up and take notice!

Let me also say here that I don’t know where any of these originated – we just like the way these sound. More often than not they have more than one meaning – one obvious and one that you may have to think about. They also paint a rather interesting picture if you stop and think about them.

So, here are some of our favourites:
“Time heals all wounds and wounds all heels.”
• “Two bats short of a belfry!”
• For someone who is a little slow on the uptake: “No bulb in the light house”
“Stick a fork in me I’m done.” – this can have several meanings.
“Like a fart in a wind storm.” – think about it!
“As useless as a tit on a hen!” (Oh, doesn’t that sound helpful?)
“Some fabric is so thin you could spit through it!”
• My grandmother always said this in regards to gossip; “Repeated stories tend to get embroidered.”
• An uncle said that some in our family drank “lighthouse tea”. When asked what that meant he said it was “blinking near water!”
• This one is also from the same uncle: “You buttered your bread now lay in it!”
• To someone who smelled nice: “You stink pretty.”
• One of my best friends favourite sayings is: “Suck it up buttercup!” In other words quit complaining and just do what needs to be done!
• In response to a loud belch: “That was well brought up. Why weren’t you?”
• In our family, when you say “Knock on wood.” You tap on your head or that of the person nearest you.
• I LOVE this bit of advice to a bride from an older, otherwise staid male family member – “Get a nightgown with fur on the bottom - it keeps your neck warm!”

Of all the sayings that are used in my family, there are three that I absolutely love and often use myself:
3) When someone is in a really crappy mood: “Who pissed in your porridge?” or “Who peed in your corn flakes?”
2) “I resemble that remark” I like this because it can be taken in so many different ways!

And the award for my favourite saying is: “Don't look at me in that tone of voice!” I absolutely love this phrase! It is the perfect line when people look at you in a certain way. You know exactly what they’d say and how they’d say it if they opened their mouth. It catches people off guard when they hear it. They will often rethink or even forget what it was they were thinking or going to say!

Ah, yes the power of the spoken word! We have to watch what and how we say things in so many aspects of life. Saying the wrong thing can get you in a heap of trouble and saying the right thing can really ease a situation. We can change things for better or worse with a simple phrase.

My own personal theory is this. "There is a little bit of a bitch or bastard in all of us. It is whether or not we choose to use that power for the good of other people!"

Hey, I saw that! Don’t look at me in that tone of voice!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Special Day!

This is a big day. Not because it is Valentine’s Day or the first day of the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese New Year – although those are important days in their own right if you celebrate them!

No, this is an important day for me, because two years ago today I uploaded my first post to blogger. This is also my 300th post! My how time flies!

As I mentioned in my first anniversary post, I have a couple of free hit counters on this site. I can’t identify individuals unless they tell me through other contact when they visited. The hit counters basically tell me the time of visit, OS, browser, entry/exit pages, country of origin and maybe a region or service provider.

I find it fascinating to see where the hits are coming from. I wish that I had had the foresight to keep a more detailed list from the start. I know I have had hits from every Canadian province and territory and pretty much every state in the U.S.A. I recently took a look at a list of all the countries of the world – over 200 are recognized. I tried to make a list of all the ones I recalled seeing in my stats. I was amazed and thrilled to see that well over 130 countries have been listed in my stats over the last couple of years! The only continent that I have not had a hit from is Antarctica!

It is also interesting to see what people are looking for! Again, I haven’t kept an exact list for each subject or post, but there are a few posts that are hit over and over again!

The most popular recipe has been Farmer’s Sausage Casserole – a delicious oven meal that is great on a winters’ night or when you want a simple but filling meal. Another kitchen related subject that gets a lot of hits is The Mixing Fork – a tool that EVERY kitchen should have!

My post on The Blizzard of 1986 has gotten a lot of hits since it went up in November 2008. It was a major blizzard that pretty much paralyzed the city of Winnipeg and parts of Manitoba for several days. Given the record snowfall in parts of North America in the last few weeks, this post is still getting a lot of hits!

The post I did last summer on Dating In The Dark was my take on a reality series that had strangers meeting in a darkened room to alleviate the rejection factor of first sight in the dating game. I live that every day in my real life as a visually impaired woman so why would I want to subject myself to something like that on a TV show?

By far the most popular posts have been Sylvester and Tweety, Thufferin' Thuccotash! and A "Tweet" Birthday. Anything to do with the loveable Warner Brother characters’ gets a big response – at least one hit/day and usually more - from ALL over the world!

In the two years of the blog, I have had over 3100 visitors and more than 4000 page views! There have been just over 3000 page views by 2350 visitors in the last year alone. That is amazing! Thank you so much!!

I am honoured that so many people have found their way to my little corner of the web and that some stop by on a regular basis to see what I have posted. My interests vary greatly and I can’t write about something if I haven’t lived it, tried it, like it, believe in it or have an opinion on it!

On a personal note, I think there are a couple of posts that really resonated for me this past year.

The first was My Parents Were Stoners, which was the story of the yard work my parents did and the first slideshow I made. I received a lot of wonderful comments and notes from friends and strangers for this. My mom doesn’t have a PC but I was able to show it to her when she was in the city last fall. She cried as she watched and recalled fond memories of her and dad doing all the work. I’m hoping to put together some more slideshows of old pics from the farm over the coming months.

The other post that was really close to my heart was Thanks George! I wrote about the impact that we unknowingly have on the people around us – the George Bailey factor.

It’s hard for me to believe that I have made 300 posts! The ideas come from so many sources. I can be listening to the radio, watching TV, reading the paper, surfing the web, opening emails, talking to people or just living my day to day life! My list of ideas for future blog posts continues to grow!

The biggest issue for me is finding the time and the energy to keep up the pace that I had set for myself. I made 200 posts in the first year and 100 this past year. However, I’ve come to realize that I need to make some changes – if only for the sake of what is left of my sanity! I love writing and find it a great way to think things out and to vent or share my thoughts. The problem for me is my limited vision and my horrific typing skills. Most of my posts are anywhere from 750 to 1100 words. An average post can take me over two hours to type and at least another hour to edit and upload the way I want it to publish.

That doesn’t even count the time I spend researching or thinking through what I want to say and how I want to say it! Depending on the subject, the research and thought process can take several hours over a few days or weeks. If I am writing or researching on the web, I have to take regular breaks to rest my eyes and that can be very frustrating when I am in that writer mode. The thought process beforehand can happen almost anywhere. I have thought out ideas while working out, showering, riding the bus, trying to fall asleep or when I’m awake in the middle of the night with insomnia or a hot flash!

All in all as much as I love the writing, I won’t be posting as often from here on out. I am going to try for once a week. Even so, I hope you will continue to stop by to see what is on my mind and if you see something you like, make a comment and feel free to invite your friends!

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Winter Sport

This Friday, February 12, 2010 the Winter Olympics open in Vancouver, British Columbia. Thousands of athletes from all over the world will compete over 16 days in a wide range of wintertime sporting events.

Odds are, if you grew up in any type of winter climate, you participated in some form of winter sport activity and may even have had dreams of taking part in the Olympic Games and standing on the podium excepting your gold medal. There really are a lot of winter activities to choose from. There is figure skating, speed skating, hockey, curling, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding and many more.

For the vast majority of us, those Olympic dreams are just that – dreams. It takes a lot of time, training and skill to make it beyond a fun way to get some exercise.

Living in a part of the world that experiences a rather lengthy winter climate – early November through late March or early April in these parts if we are lucky – means that you have to make some choices. You either hibernate and become a couch potato or you put on a few layers of clothing and get out into the elements.

Now I’ve never been much of an athlete. Oh let’s be honest here – I’ve never even been remotely close to being athletically inclined. When it comes to sports – I suck! My balance and coordination are severely lacking. It’s not just my lack of sight, although that does play a large role – it is more my overall ineptness when it comes to sports. As a kid, I did play some sports during phys. ed. class and on intramural teams during lunch hours, but I dreaded every moment of it. If by some miracle I actually did something that helped my team or didn’t come in last then no one was more shocked than me!

Curling was big in my hometown and also in my family. My parents curled every winter, both in leagues and in bonspiels. My maternal grandfather curled in a senior’s league and an aunt was on a senior ladies team that made it to the provincials. My siblings curled for awhile as well. I tried curling when I was in high school. Even then, I couldn’t see well enough to see the other end of the ice but I tried. I got down in the hack and got ready to throw the rock. As I lifted it off the ice, it slipped from my hand and I fell flat on my face. I didn’t do much better on my next attempt. The rock made it almost half way down the ice. Only my dignity was hurt, but I decided that curling wasn’t for me.

I tried cross country skiing in my early twenties. I borrowed my mom’s ski’s when she and dad were away south for a couple of weeks one winter. A friend did his best to teach me the basics, but let’s just say that it’s a really good job that video cameras weren’t too common in the 1970’s! I would have been a hit on Funniest Home Videos or YouTube! My skill with snow shoes was on about the same level as skiing! I felt like I was wearing giant clown shoes! With almost every step, I’d somehow manage to overlap my snowshoes and so kept tripping over myself. It wasn’t pretty but all that falling down and standing up was a good workout!

By far my biggest winter sports failure is skating. If I could choose one winter activity to be able to do just the basics with it would be skating. Many people see skating as the ultimate in being Canadian as skating leads to many winter activities.

It’s the one activity I really wish I could do. I’ve tried many times. When I was quite little, I got a pair of skates for Christmas one year. I don’t recall asking for them, but since we lived beside a creek and everyone else skated, I really wasn’t that surprised. Dad and my brothers would pile snow for a toboggan run and they cleared a patch of ice on the creek for skating. The whole family would have neighbours and friends over almost every weekend during the winter. I sat on a bench by the creek while mom helped me put on the skates and laced them up for me. Dad put an old kitchen chair in front of me so I could put my hands on it for balance and push it ahead of me. I spent most of the time using the chair to pull my butt up off the ice! There was no way I could get the hang of balancing on that narrow blade! My ankles just weren’t that strong. I tried several times that winter, but my feet and ankles hurt like crazy. I even managed to sprain my ankle a couple of times. I tried again in high school, but still couldn’t stand up by myself let alone move!

The last time I tried ice skating, I think I was about 20. There was a small outdoor rink that the students maintained at the post secondary school I was attending. A couple of the guys insisted that they could teach me how to skate. They grew up skating and played on the school hockey team. I had my doubts, but thought how bad could it be with a cute guy on each arm? We borrowed some skates and they took me out to the rink. They laced up my skates and helped me stand up. With one tall, strong guy on either arm, they attempted to glide me across the rink. Actually, I guess it was more that they were trying to hold me up as we stumbled across the ice. I even managed to take both of them down at one point! A third guy joined us to skate behind me with his hands on my back! They were all so sweet about trying to teach me. They insisted on taking me out a couple of more times, but even they eventually realized that I was not a skater. After that, I was pretty much content to watch from the sidelines and admire those who could stand on that narrow blade and glide with any degree of ease and gracefulness across the ice.

So, you see, it is not that I haven’t tried to be a winter sport person. I’ve tried several activities over the years. It’s just that this body wasn’t made for the sporting world. I know that to some, that may seem un-Canadian but, rest assured, I will be cheering on our Canadian athletes on from the relative safety of my couch!


Friday, February 5, 2010

dn's Baked Pork Chops

I created this recipe a couple of months ago when I wanted to try something a little different with pork chops. This was one of those rare occasions when the first try turned out to be a real winner! I hope you enjoy this flavour combo as much as I do!

dn's Baked Pork Chops

2 boneless pork chops, about 115g/4 oz each (I used center loin cut)
1 small onion - about 1/2 cup chopped
1/3 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 medium apple
1 teaspoon crushed garlic (bottled type)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
3 Tablespoons white cooking wine
1/4 cup fat free sour cream

Spray an 8X8 inch pan with cooking spray. Cut the onion and the pepper and add to pan. Core the apple and chop into small pieces - do not remove the skin. Add chopped apple to the onion and pepper. Add the garlic, basil, oregano and thyme then stir till well mixed and seasonings coat the produce. Trim any excess fat from the chops and lay them in the center of the dish, pushing aside the other ingredients so the meat can lay on the bottom. Sprinkle the lemon pepper on top of the chops.

Bake uncovered in preheated 375F oven for about 20 minutes. Stir the veggies and apple mixture and turn the chops over at that time. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and set on a hot pad or rack on the counter. Pour the cooking wine slowly over the veggies and apple stirring to lift the pan drippings from the bottom and sides of the pan as you go. Make a bit of a well in the center and slowly stir the sour cream into the wine. Mix the veggie/apple mixture thoroughly with the wine and sour cream. Spoon a little of the liquid over the chops and return the dish to the oven for 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbling.

Serve over brown rice and have a tossed salad or a side of steamed green vegetable such as broccoli or green beans to go along with it.

Serves 2

- I start a brown rice casserole at the same time as the chops. Spray a 1 1/2 quart dish with cooking spray. Add 1 cup brown rice, 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a teaspoon of oil or margarine. Cover and bake for about 50 minutes at 375F Any leftover rice can be frozen in individual servings for later use.

- you could use a low sodium chicken broth rather than the cooking wine, however I really like the tang that is added to the sauce by using the wine.



Monday, February 1, 2010

The IPad? Seriously??

“It's so much more intimate than a laptop.”
- Steve Jobs said as he introduced the newest addition to the Apple product line - the IPad - on Wednesday January 27, 2010.

Intimate ain't the half of it Steve!!

It's debatable whether or not the male dominant execs at Apple even had an inkling as to the wealth of humour that would erupt with the announcement of the name of the new product.

After all, "I" is a standard part of the Apple branding and well, the word "pad" can mean any number of things. Steve Jobs and company obviously meant it to imply a reference to a tablet. However, gives a wide variety of uses for the word pad, including: a cushion; slang for a dwelling place or bed; anatomy/zoological; botanical; electrical, carpentry, shipbuilding etc. More than 20 are listed.

Surprisingly, neglected to mention one of the most common slang references for pad - the kind used by pretty much all of womankind during their monthly menstruation cycle. Granted, most of the advertising world has been trying to rename it more politely as a "feminine hygiene product" or a "Napkin" due to its absorbent nature. That creates a whole other problem - but that is another story!

I read in one article that the name "ISlate" was considered quite seriously but ultimately ruled out as it reminded them to much of "The Flintstones" When you think about it, "ISlate" really isn't that bad a name after all the Flintstones were a modern stone age family! Apple could have worked out a deal with Hanna-Barbera (owners of the Flintstones) that would have been a gold mine for both companies!

Alas, Steve Jobs, introduced the "IPad" on Wednesday and unleashed a bit of a feeding frenzy on "IPad" humour! I'm not convinced that Apple was unaware of the similarity in name and were counting on at least a bit of free advertising just by people talking about the product and the ridiculous choice of name.

They got us talking alright! And if you've read a paper, watched TV, opened email or surfed the net in the last few days, well you know that there are a lot of jokes out there. Not all are related to the feminine use but since I am a female that is wear my search took me.

Here is just a sampling of what I found.

Now, I've never been a fan of Madtv but this skit actually introduced the first IPad in 2007! How is it possible that no one at Apple made this connection? Or is this where they actually got the idea??

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The Wikipedia Entry for the iPad… Until Today, by Liz Colville

This article is about Apple's allegedly portable device iPad. For other uses, see iPad (disambiguation). For the handheld digital music device, see iPod. For the gadget that looks like something Jon King would flash during a CNN election broadcast, see iPad(2).

iPad was a prototype for a feminine hygiene product that purported to digitize a woman's menstruation cycle and store it on a password-protected Web server.[1] In the trademark application submitted by the inventor, Larry Bobson, the iPad was described as a "a light-weight, leak-proof device that, for the first time, will allow women to perform the acrobatics illustrated in television ads for tampons and sanitary napkins, rather than just aspire to them. No longer will women feel frustrated watching commercial actresses leap over fire hydrants, attempt gymnastics routines, and randomly flail their legs around to illustrate the point that their menstrual protection doesn't leak. With iPad, a woman's cycle continues as normal, it just doesn't happen down there."[2]

Bobson, who claims the iPad as his only invention, became embroiled in controversy over the device when early testers reported quitting their jobs, breaking up with their significant others and sending angry texts to friends in the days surrounding the "upload period."[3] Testers also reported finding Bobson creepy.[4] At an emotional press conference in 2001, Bobson responded to a growing chorus of skeptics, who were demanding more disclosure about the device, by saying he couldn't "be expected to invent something that would prevent women from being women."[5] Though the FDA was more than happy to approve the device without knowing anything about it except its name, which a spokesperson reportedly called "catchy,"[6] a Bush Administration official blocked the passage of the device in 2002, saying it was "1984-ish" and "sound[ed] a hell of a lot like pro-choice to me."[7]

Bobson retired in 2009 at the age of 27 when Apple Computer, Inc. bought the rights to the name iPad for an undisclosed six-figure sum.[8] See iPad(2).

Liz Colville is a history expert.

Liz Colville


From surfing the web:

“Apple iPad: Actually PULLS moisture away from you!”

“Attention Early Adopters! Hold out for Apple iPad 2.0 ... it comes with ‘wings’ ”

“Apple iPad: Sounds like a sanitary napkin, looks like Andre the Giant's iPhone. Just sayin' ...”

"Apple should have seen the iPad humor least 28 days ago."

"Does Jobs' iPad have a vaginal firewall? I think not."

"Will I have to get an iPap smear every year?"

"Uncomfortable cramping and bloating? There's an app for that."

"A friend tweeted that "all this talk about iPad is giving me iCramps," and I suggested iBuprofen."

"Microsoft's answer to the I-Pad is a Technical Automatic Material Peripheral Onboard Notebook. or TAMPON. Should be coming out soon."

"If Steve Jobs wants to get in my pants once a month, he's gonna need an app for that."

"Whatever. Wake me up when Steve Jobs announces the iPeen."


From Twitter:
LizB: iPad. was there a woman on this naming team? will there be different sizes? Mini iPad, maxi iPad?
elahater: Apple obviously needs some women on staff. Just so the words, "um are you sure about that, Steve?" could have been uttered.
Gelatobaby: And you can use the giant QWERTY keyboard to get your period on the #iPad !
herbadmother: Seriously, 'iPad?' There are too many of us for whom the phrase 'my pad just failed' evokes horror that should never be linked to technology
TimDillon: iPad sounds like a guy with a Boston accent trying to say iPod.
TwittsMcGee: I haven't heard this many period jokes since I was forced to watch The View last month.
kathycacace: Okay, just one more. The iPad: protecting your data from embarrassing incidents.
lady_justice: Did the prototype come with a belt?
Lymed: Does the Period Tracker app come free?
fauxfruit: If I order this, will my boyfriend and I have to worry if it comes late?
andBegorrah: If you and your friends all buy one, will they sync up?
vlvtjones: So will iffy Wifi coverage be called iSpotting?
babyruthless: Mac made an iPad. It's Mac's iPad. Say it with me. Mac's iPad. Seriously? No one said the name out loud?
morninggloria: Can I get a scented iPad for when my data feels not-so-fresh?
Cinnamoncanuck: @NellMood: Aunt Flo will be so happy!
LilSpitfire: Later in the year they will be releasing the companion tablet pen, the Ipon.

This Twitter post sums it all up better than I could:
Mary McCarthyite: Everyone, just try to Stay(free) calm and Poise(d). It's Always nice to see a new product on the market. I Depend on Apple to come up with great ideas. Maybe we're taking this out of Kotex.