Friday, November 30, 2007

RMR report on Zenn

This week Rick Mercer had a great report on the Canadian Zenn car. ZENN, the zero-emission, no-noise fully-featured electric vehicle:

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I was dismayed this morning to read about St. John’s store Downhome Shoppe and Gallery’s decision to ban Littleseal a children's book by a St. John's author Morgan Pumphrey because it has an anti-sealing message. Banning books is patriarchal, oppressive; it is the foundation of intolerance. It pains me to see people on the Rock take this backward approach. It remind me of how the Church handled The DaVinci Code - slagging it because it did not represent their version of historical events. Their loud protestations fueled the publicity machine; the controversy it created propelled the book into the stratosphere of billion dollar book sales. How many more people read the book because of the controversy? The best way the Christian churches could have handled it was to say “What a creative work of fiction! Well done!” and then used the book as a springboard to talk about their version of historical events as they see fit. If the intent was to stop Littleseal from reaching public hands, this move was the very definition of counter productive. Realistically how many people would have ever heard of this book, never mind buy it, before this hit the papers?

When asked about their decision the president of Downhome Inc., Grant Young, replied: "We're pro-sealing and this is an anti-sealing book. Maybe some people could call it censorship, but we call it standing by our beliefs..."

I call that pretty slippery.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rusty! What are you doing to Jerome?

The children of Friendly Giant Bob Homme have a problem with the CBC; specifically, they are angry recent treatment of puppets. As a result of an incident at this years Gemini awards the family is removing are moving Rusty and Jerome from their current home at the CBC museum. When I heard this on the radio, I have to admit that I thought it was a joke, I kept waiting for the punch line and when it didn’t come, it somehow made the whole damn thing even funnier.

It appears that the recent Gemini Awards included a skit showing Rusty, Jerome and other stars who require a hand up their ass to talk, living in a retirement home. But they were not living the quiet sedate life of your typical retirees, with lawn bowling, woodworking and knitting. No, these puppets are apparently indolent slobs who sit around all day, drinking, smoking and (the horror!) having sex!

It was the libidinous lifestyle the skit hinted at (never showed) that has Ms. Hommes knickers in a knot. While I understand how the puppets might be special to her and all she must realize it was a joke! A Lark. A gaff. A bit. Besides, none of the puppets actually did anything- Rusty never inhaled! Come on, who the hell watches the Gemini Awards anyway?

Is it just me, or does this reaction strike you as a tad extreme? The CBC reacted in a bit of an odd way too, but at least they had a little style. CBC employees were invited to say goodbye to Rusty and Jerome at a midafternoon ceremony at the Graham Spry Theatre where they aired old episodes of the show. Milk and cookies were served.

I guess they saved the hard stuff for after work.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Today's PSA

I was reading this morning about the CBC kicking off the Annual Turkey Drive for those who need a little help over the holidays. I am glad that the CBC does this, and that they, and their viewers try to make a difference this way every year. If you want to give you can do so at any of the College of the North Atlantic Locations, or at the following locations:

CBC St. John's Production Centre 95 University Ave (8:30am -4pm)
Corner Brook More for Less and Rod's New To You, 9 Herald Ave
Grand Falls Community Food Bank, 129 Lincoln Rd (489-2618 - pickup)
Gander Food Bank Lancaster Bldg (651-3663 - pickup)
Happy Valley/Goose Bay Food Bank Labrador Friendship Centre
Labrador City Carol-Wabush Co-op, Labrador Mall

Friday, November 23, 2007

Changes at Memorial University Med

It was a nice surprise today to read about Memorial's plans to increase the number of students in its medical school by 50 per cent over the next three years more » The aim is to have more doctors stay in the province, and while that goal is admirable I hope they are considering other changes to its entrance policies. It would be nice if MUN reexamined the requirements they (and all to many other med schools) have used to filter students into the program. MUN should recognize that a 95%-100% average student does not automatically translate into a good doctor. Of course we don't want any of the slackers just getting through with a 60% in their *ahem* Recreation degree (WTF?) but we need to recognize that sometimes the applicant with an 89% can be more suited than his/her higher average counterpart. The soft skills necessary to comfort a grieving family, to give test results with tact and empathy, to educate patients without being condescending and the ability to acknowledge that they might be wrong, are far more important than the ability to memorize: "the knee bone is connected to the thighbone..."(Ok, so it is a little more complicated then that). There is more to doctoring then knowing your Grey's Anatomy, and MUN should keep that in mind.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The 20 Worst Video Games of All Time.

I have played video games ever since Nintendo first came out, and I have enjoyed many of them. Some might actually say I had a problem. OK so there was one day back in the 90's when I went on a 48 hour Zelda binge- no food or water just me, Link, Zelda, Ganon, maps of Hyrule I created myself, and my Jaws slippers (for good luck). I defeated Ganon and beat the game in the first 24 hours fairly quickly- it is just that if you owned the Gold cartridge for Zelda back then, and you beat the game, AND you watched the credits for the game after in its entirety, the game reset itself, the map changed, Gannon moved his base of operations, the enemies got stronger and you started the adventure all over. That was my very first Gamer Easter Egg- and I have been hooked on finding them ever since. Good games entertained and challenged you, great games did that and surprised you, and bad games either pissed you off (they were expensive!) or made you cry laughing.

A friend sent this site to me earlier this week, and I can only now return to the page without danger of giving myself a hernia. The descriptions here are not for children and Custer's Revenge involves pixilated nudity. But if you were ever a gamer you will hurt yourself laughing at his reviews.

Now if any of you ever played these games and have any reviews of your own; or if you have a game that you think should be on here, but is not, tell me about it. Because that is sure to be good for a laugh.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Newfoundland Word of the Day


Know what it is? Go into any furniture store on the mainland and ask for one, go on, I double dog dare ya. You will get some looks, and quite possibly some interesting offers.

A humpty is a foot rest or ottoman. How exactly Newfoundlanders came up with the name humpty for this cushioned piece, I have no idea. And I am not sure I want to speculate.

Anyone know?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Parenting in willful ignorance

The news the past few days has really been tough to read. It has angered me in a way that makes me stomach sick. Lives devastated, lost, because we as a society pay lip service to the whole concept of protecting our kids. A society that is either afraid, or unwilling, or unable to care for its children. We put our own wants and desires ahead of what is best for the child.

Yesterday I opened the paper to Boys 8 and 9 charged with rape, bile crawled into the back of my throat. My first thought was that they must be abused kids themselves, because how else would they even know what it was that they were doing? But after thinking about it, that is not necessarily the case; I mean look at the TV they watch, the movies they see, the music they listen to, and the easy access to porn on the internet. Look at all the unsupervised time they have, the lack of accountability at home, and at school. It’s a wonder we don’t see more of this kind of behavior.

And then, when I opened the paper today to read about the 14 child who was able to purchase a car, ostensibly, without his parents knowing. And yesterday that boy walked away from a crash without a scratch- but he did manage to murder two of his friends when he rammed through a fence and flipped the car over multiple times. What? Excuse me? How, as a parent, can you miss that your kid owns a car? Where are they getting the money for one? What about insurance? How can you be that oblivious to what your child is doing?

Is what passes for parenting these days?

These families have learned the hard way the heavy price paid for being an absent parent. Sadly, they are mere statistics now. The potential those two dead boys had is gone. The lives of those who survived forever changed. While the reality of that makes me rage, it makes me physically ill to realize how easily, and how likely it is that this kind of thing will happen again.

So I think I will skip the paper tomorrow. And like too many parents out there living in willful ignorance, I will just stick my head in the sand and hope for the best.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Sometimes baking, though hard on the waistline, can be comforting. It comforts me because I associate the smell of freshly baked bread or the sweet smell of warm cookies with being at my grandparent's house. A house that raised ten children, and more grandchildren than I can name. It was a home that was always swarming with activity, endless teasing, the sounds of laughter, music, and the smell of Grandma's cooking.

There are a few freak shows here who have their Christmas lights on now, and this does two things to me: it makes me angry (it is the middle of November people! Gawd.) and it makes me lonely for home. We won't be able to get back to the Rock for the holidays this year and I find it very difficult to get through. So I have been a little bit blue the past few days. That might explain why I have been baking up a storm. But not just any recipe; I want to make my Grandma's Jam Jams. I have never known anyone besides Grammy to make it- and they were my favourite treat she baked. She knew it too- one Christmas, she sent myself and Don back to Ontario with a freshly baked load of Jam-Jams in one hand, and a Steak and Kidney Pie in the other.

This was how Grandma said "I love you". And I loved her right back.

I don't have the patience and flair that Pioneer Woman Cooks has, and I don't have the artistic and impressive dishes that Rock Recipes displays, but I do have a damn fine cookie recipe a la Clara M Browne. I hope I do it justice. Here is what you will need.

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar ( I used brown, but I am not sure if that is right or not- I will have to ask my Aunt Catherine and get back to you on that)

3 tblsp molasses

1 tsp baking soda

1 egg

1/2 cup margarine or shortening

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Next, measure out your margarine (it is a good idea to let it come to room temperature first) and sugar and dump it in a bowl. Then beat it like it owes you money.

Add molasses, vanilla, salt and soda stir it up so it blends well, and then add 2 cups of flour. Resume the beating. Then, take a break my friend. You have been working hard. This mixture needs to chill now anyway. So put your feet up, have a drink and let this batter cool for at least two hours. When your time is up, take it out of the fridge and prepare your counter top with a light layer of flour. Dump your batter onto the floured surface and flatten it with a rolling pin. Or a can of Mugs Root Beer and wax paper, if you don't have a rolling pin. Just roll it out...

Besides a rolling pin, I also lack cookie cutters. So I just use a glass. I don't have to show you a picture of that do I? Come on, the Mugs Root beer improvisation is embarrassing enough! Once you have cut out your little round circles of dough, line those babies up on a cookie sheet. Now pop 'em into the warm oven. Bake them for 8 to ten minutes- leaning closer to the 8. They might not appear done but unless you have a Holly Hobby Oven they will be done. While they are still warm, you want to add the jam. Now Grammy often used jam she made herself, but we can cheat. Use your favourite kind. Put a little on the bottom side of a cookie, and then top that ooey gooey goodness with another warm cookie, make a little sandwich out of it.

Now here comes the most important part- Share them with someone you love:

And that my friends is the magical Jam-Jam: a traditional Newfoundland cookie. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Free Hugs: Newfoundland

Free hugs is a real life controversial story of Juan Mann . His intention was to change the world one hug at a time. In a world where we live so insularly, IPods in our ears, Blackberries at our fingertips, and lawyers on speed dial: this idea was radical. It spread fast.

And was banned by authorities just as have to have insurance for that kind of thing. But a petition and moocho media later (Oprah) and suddenly the red tape disappeared.

Since this campaign started (2004) it has spread- and of course you know Newfoundlanders had to get in on the action. And here they are doing just that:

Have you hugged someone today?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

The best husband in the world

Since the only family we have in Ontario is my Uncle Bren and his brood Hubby and I haven’t been out much since The Boy was born. Bren and Sherri have three of their own, so they can hardly drop everything and come over and watch my son. But on Friday, that is exactly what they did.

Because my husband is the bestest husband in the world.

I pulled into the house Friday evening after picking my son up from daycare- and found myself pulling in behind Sherri’s van. Her kids hopped out, said hi, and walked on in to the house. The Boy and I followed- where we met my Husband at the door. A husband who was supposed to be at work. A husband who had bought me tickets to see the Police in concert (OMFG!), and who had arranged for Sherri to watch the Boy while we were out. A husband who was standing there with a goofy grin on his face while I wept like a baby.

The concert was outstanding. First rate. I have wanted to see these guys in concert since Synchronicity came out. The trio, has not toured for over 20 years, and yet those years apart seemed to fall away Friday night. They played together in an almost symbiotic fashion. Sting’s voice was clear, and hit every note, Summer’s guitar solo’s was epic, and Copeland simply blew everyone away with his drum set up. His incredible rendition of Wrapped Around Your Finger had Copeland standing, jumping and hitting chimes, cymbals; even a large gong behind him with finesse. The crowd was into it, singing along, answering Stings’s trademark “EEEEYOOOOHHHHH!" note for note, with heart and gusto.

It was an excellent evening. My ears are still ringing. If you have a chance to see The Police in your area, (They play Montreal's Bell Centre Monday, Nov. 12) take it. It is one of the best shows I have ever seen.

Thanks Buddy, you are the best.

Thursday, November 8, 2007, the Truthiness Encyclopedia!

Just a little sample of what can be found at: Wikiality

Newfoundland is a magical place to the east of Canada. It is full of cod fish, old men, leprechauns and eczema. Newfoundland did not exist before 1949. That is why it is called Newfoundland. Newfoundlanders wear green, white and pink flags all the time. They're probably Communists.

At one point, Newfoundland tried to join the
U.S., but many Newfoundlanders and Americans alike wanted none of that, so like the fat boy that dates the ugly girl in high school, Newfoundland joined Canada for a while. Everybody keeps forgetting that Newfoundland is single now, though - either that, or nobody wants to have to deal with the idea of it being in the dating pool (because it goes potty in the water), and so they still include it in all of the maps of Canada and call it a province and think that people in it say "b'y" a lot.

Odd dudes. Funny, but odd.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A time to remember

My Poppy served in World War II. He was a selfless man, proud, strong, honest and hard working. He left such a mark on me: gave me an image of the person I want to be. He died of cancer a few years back and I find it hard still to think about him as gone. Poppy never really talked about his time in the war, he found it too difficult. But he was the man behind the scenes at the memorial services, and at the parades, and he kept the cenotaphs in good condition throughout the year. It was important to him that people remembered, honoured, and were grateful for the sacrifices made by so many young men and women.

This time of year I think about him a lot, because he always had a difficult time around Remembrance Day. So I guess he was in the back of my mind guiding me to a story about Canada’s War Brides: over 45,000 British and European women who left behind everything that was familiar to them to start a new life in post-war Canada.

Canadian War Brides is trying to gather stories from these brave women. Their tales are incredibly romantic; their journeys are inspiring and sometimes tragic, yet they leave you with a greater understanding of this amazing group of Canadian women. Of course, this is a Newfoundland Blog, so I must highlight the story of Rosalind Elder. I should also thank her for teaching me a Newfoundlander's toast I had not heard before:

I bows towards you,
I nods accordant.....
I catches your eye and I smiles

**The Picture above is of Newfoundland War Brides from the St. John's "Rose and Thistle Club", Christmas 1950. Photo courtesy of Rosalind Elder. Ms. Elder also has a website, and has a book of her own called Maples and Thistles

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Should I call the CIA?

Ever since I put my son in Montessori School (Sept 4/07), he has been sick with one thing or another and so have myself and hubby; because my son is a generous little guy he shares it all with us.

So far he has been stricken with Roseola, an ear infection, a throat infection, pink eye, and now another ear infection and that pink eye is still lingering. Riding right along with him is my husband, who has had sinusitis, the flu, and now another bout of sinusitis. Then there is me, I have had a chest infection, a cold, and I am currently battling a throat infection. We are all on our third round of antibiotics.

Hubby takes the Go train to work every day, and for years now has been restricted in that tiny train car to get to work; it is always crawling with the germs, phlegm, and airborne cold missiles that only an enclosed space like a train can nurture and cultivate. And yet, he usually catches something that knocks him back once a year. I work with teens all day. They hand in their work on paper that is oozing with their pathogens, and I type on the computers that they hack and whoop and sneeze on all day, and I, like my husband, usually catch something only once a year. I rest, drink fluids, and the malady goes away.

That does not appear to be the way it is working this year. Nope. Not at all. We have had one thing after another for months now…MONTHS! And the damnedest thing is, it never goes away. It just hangs on, like those last five pounds you want to lose. And just when you think you are close to beating it, the damn thing morphs into something else.

I am really starting to wonder about what is going on there at Montessori. Is it really just a school? Or is it a front for something more sinister? I am starting to think it is black ops for some terror cell secretly manufacturing biological weapons of mass destruction. Maybe I should call somebody about this? God, my kid is only a year old, and already he has turned to the dark side.

Somebody pass me a Kleenex.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Jellybean Row

Awhile back, Geoff Meeker dropped a line to me about Jellybean row. I have to admit, it was the first I had heard of it. But one peek at their web page and I was hooked. I even have a little Christmas request list made.

What is a Jellybean Row you ask? Well, it is part souvenir, part collectible and a piece of original art. Modeled after the heritage homes of downtown St. John's, these colorful plaques are mounted and ready to hang on your wall. Better yet, my wall.

There is a really sweet Christmas series for sale as well... I am seriously considering picking up a set for my mom for the holidays. She is a Christmas nut. I love how the one above even has the stained glass window over the door. Anyhooo, it is a really neat idea folks. Check it out! Let me know how you like it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Newfie Screech- We have the Yanks to thank?

Back in the day, Jamaican rum was a popular part of a Newfoundlander’s diet, as we traded salt fish to the West Indies in exchange for rum (that would have been when we actually had fish to trade with anyone!). The original rum was barrel proof in strength so it did not exactly have a smooth finish. Eventually the government applied some controls that required it be packaged in clear glass and began selling the rum in unlabelled bottles. You could say that screech was the original no-name brand. It remained nameless until American soldiers came to the Island during World War II.

I have heard the story told many times, and I often wonder if there is either bit of truth to it. Apparently, a young serviceman, enjoying the lower drinking age, was having his first taste of the brew with some of the locals. They were not supposed to be drinking at the time, as the officer was on duty. But, it was cold, and a little nip might warm him. The Newfoundlander he was with, downed his shot in one gulp, so the American did the same. The officer’s blood-curdling scream attracted a lot of attention. An Sergeant who heard the sound from outside pounded his fist on the door and demanded to know, "What the hell was that ungodly screech?"

Answered the Newfoundlander: "Da Screech? T’is the rum, me son!"

And the name stuck.

A few years back there was an overhaul of the whole brand. Ironically, it was done in part to break into the US market. I hate the new look. Maybe it is because I don’t do well with change, maybe it is because the new look just doesn’t jibe with a name like “Screech”, or maybe it is just an uppity design which conveys little of the history behind the bottle.

What do you think? Which bottle style do you prefer? And have you ever sampled this sweet, yet raw dark amber gold? And for those of you who might scoof at the drink due to its name, I’ll have you know, this baby is the Gold Medal winner at the 2003 International Rum Fest!

Newfie Night-cap
• 1 ¼ ozs. Newfoundland Screech
• 1 – 2 Teaspoons Brown Sugar
• Coffee
• Whipped Cream