Hump Day: Replenishment of morals needed after House of Cards marathon

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

If you’re unfamiliar with Netflix, it’s an Internet service which allows you to watch a number of movies, documentaries and TV series for a set monthly fee. In the past few years, they’ve started producing their own series, too, ranging from dramas to sitcoms.

I’ve been a subscriber for quite some time but haven’t really used it much. All that changed over the Easter weekend, though. On the Thursday before Good Friday at 5 p.m., I closed the office and promised myself that I’d take four glorious days off. I’d even take Easter Monday off – a real treat! I was going to duct tape myself to the sofa and not move all weekend. I was tired. I was burnt out. I needed a break after a long stretch of very busy weeks.

That’s when I started watching House of ‍Cards. If you’re a fan, you’re probably saying out loud right now, ‘It’s so good!’ If you haven’t watched it, you’re probably saying to yourself, ‘I’ve heard it’s really good, but I haven’t watched it yet.’ It seems that everyone has heard of House of ‍Cards. If you have any interest in politics or business, it’s must-see TV. It is to politics what the old Dallas TV series was to oil.

So far, there have been three seasons of 13 episodes each for a total of 39 in all. Each episode lasts about one hour. There are no commercials on Netflix, so it would take pretty much all of a 40-hour work week to get through the series if you watched it instead of working. I would be quite happy if someone paid me to watch House of ‍Cards, actually. It would be a sweet job.

So that Thursday night, I watched my first full episode of House of ‍Cards. I’ve heard that it only takes one hit of smoking crack cocaine to become addicted. The same can be said of one episode of House of ‍Cards.

The series is about Frank Underwood, a longtime U.S. politician who – along with his wife Claire – machinates his way inside Washington and does anything necessary to get what he wants. He and Claire are ruthless. They will stop at nothing and are not above lying, cheating, betrayal and much worse to get themselves ahead. It’s a great show.

House of Cards (Frank Underwood)
The view from my sofa during a marathon House of Cards viewing binge.

Frank Underwood is despicable. He’s clearly evil and cares about no one. (His initials are even obscene.) The thing is, you find yourself rooting for him every time he does something terrible to someone. I found myself questioning my own morals and ethics with each passing episode because every time someone honest stood up to him, I’d find myself cheering, “Get ‘em, Frank! Make ‘em pay! Nice people are bad!”

Well, over two weekends, I binge-watched all 39 episodes. My eyes were blurry and I was sleep-deprived. The show’s a master class on how to manipulate people into getting them to do what you want. Sometimes they realize it. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s a win-win. Most of the time it’s not. You win. They lose. I won’t give you any spoilers if you haven’t watched it yet, but he’s not someone I’d cross.

I was glad when the series was finally over. There are no more episodes until next year. The binge watching really affected me. In fact, the other day, the cat was meowing for his food when I looked at him and simply whispered, “I will destroy you if you don’t shut up right now.” To which he replied with simply a head tilt and little, “Meow?”

That’s when I realize I’d watched way too much House of ‍Cards. Well, that and the time over the weekend I saw someone in line with too many items at the express checkout and told them that I’d appoint them to the Supreme Court if they’d simply move over to another cashier. When they refused, I whispered menacingly that I’d audit their taxes so far back that they’d have to dig up their dead grandmother and put her bones in jail for her not declaring one dollar of income back in 1955 when she sold a pair of handmade mittens to feed her starving children. Frank would have been proud.

House of ‍Cards is quite a leap for this tame Canadian who used to think that The Beachcombers was rough and tumble when Relic would steal a log from Nick Adonidas. Frank Underwood wouldn’t just steal the log, he’d chop up Nick for shark bait afterwards. I have one year to replenish my morals until House of ‍Cards is back. Wish me luck!

Hump Day: Let them eat cheesecake — if they dare

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

A few weeks ago, I had friends over for supper. By all accounts, the reviews were pretty good, if I do say so myself. After all, that’s what happens when you follow the recipe. Remember that word: ‘when.’

Over the Easter weekend, I decided to treat my family by making the dessert from that successful dinner party, a ‍lemon icebox cheesecake. The first one was so good, I just had to make it again. There was nothing but a few crumbs left at the end of supper the first time – and we were only four. The raves I got then were amazing, so I could only imagine that I’d be on the fast track to sainthood with raves coming from 14 people around the Easter feast table.

Hey, Pope Francis, stop wasting your time beatifying all those nice folks who feed starving children and cure deadly diseases! Start serving my cheesecake at mass instead of those tasteless communion hosts and you’ll have to expand churches instead of tearing them down! There’ll be lineups around the block. (I’m pretty sure my next column will deal with the joys of being excommunicated.)

The problem is, I’m cursed. Once I make a successful recipe, I have to mess it up the next time. Why was it successful in the first place? I followed the instructions to a ‘T’. Everything was measured carefully. I did not change even the tiniest of steps. I could have won a reality cooking show with that original cheesecake. The fact that I bragged about it so much to family members had them begging to taste it for themselves.

recipeHowever, they should have been there the first time, because the second time I create a dish it leads to inevitable self-sabotage and I ruin it. First I decided to add more ‍lemon cookies to the crust than originally called for. Then, I didn’t bother measuring the melted butter. By the time I cut into the cheesecake at my mother’s, I discovered that I’d created a new type of cement with my crust. Local municipalities take note: if you want my recipe to fill potholes, just let me know. You’ll never have calls from angry people who ruined a tire in a pothole again!

As I cut into the crust at the dining room table, I tried to remain calm as I cursed my penchant for experimenting with perfectly good recipes. By the time I started using a chainsaw, there was cheesecake flying everywhere as I determinedly tried to hack my way through the crust. When I started cutting the cheesecake, the table was surrounded by happy, healthy people. By the time I got the first piece out, there were cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and I had 13 skeletons staring at me since they’d all died 20 years ago from starvation.

Eventually, I managed to chisel out the first piece. After that, it was a tiny bit easier – but not much. By the time I was done, I was full of cheesecake and the springform pan was practically ruined by the harshness at which I had to extract the pieces. Oh, what a disaster.

I’ll never learn. I do this all the time. I’ll make a recipe and love it, then I’ll decide that the instructions I followed religiously the first time must be wrong. After all, it turned out perfectly, I must have messed up somehow. (Trust me, I know this makes no sense.) The second time around, I decide to get creative and end up ruining it. I should wait by the phone for Dr. Phil to call. He’d end up going, “Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! You should be put to sleep.” I wouldn’t blame him.

This means that if you’re ever invited to my home for dinner, insist that I make something I’ve never made before. This means I’ll follow a tried-and-true recipe and not get all ‘mad scientist’ on you and try to improve on something already perfectly good. Recipes exist for a reason – and while some are forgiving, others aren’t.

I won’t be insulted if you tell me that you have to stay home to wash your hair instead if I tell you I’m making a previously successful dish for a second time. We all know that I’ll end up getting all cocky and start adding extra pinches of ‘this’, teaspoons of ‘that’ and substituting herbs and spices that just don’t go together. Inevitably, you’ll have a terrible meal.

Now that you’ve been warned, if anyone wants a recipe for lemon-flavoured roof shingles or pothole asphalt, call me.

Encorp Atlantic awards five-year contract to Grand Falls company for provision of services related to NB Beverage Containers Program

Encorp Atlantic logo

(Q&A follows news release)

NEWS RELEASE

April 8, 2015
For immediate release

Encorp Atlantic awards five-year contract to Grand Falls company for provision of services related to New Brunswick Beverage Containers Program

MONCTON, N.B. – Encorp Atlantic Inc. announced today that it has awarded a contract valued at more than $9 million over five years to Gilbert M. Rioux & Fils Ltée of Grand Falls, New Brunswick, for the collection, transportation and partial processing of its non-alcoholic beverage containers.

“This agreement with Gilbert M. Rioux & Fils Ltée will allow us to implement further efficiencies into our recycling process which will return extra funds to the provincial government’s Environment Trust Fund,” said Pierre Landry, General Manager of Encorp Atlantic Inc. “This will be done mainly through a reduction in the number of sorts between types of non-alcoholic beverage containers and other cumulative efficiencies. This is very good news for redemption centre operators, the beverage containers program and for the provincial government.”

Encorp Atlantic Inc. was founded in 1992 as the non-alcoholic beverage distribution industry’s response to the Government of New Brunswick’s Beverage Containers Act, which saw a beverage container deposit/redemption program established in New Brunswick. Every year, Encorp Atlantic manages more than 160 million post-consumer non-alcoholic beverage containers in the province. Since 1992, more than 3.2 billion deposit-bearing non-alcoholic beverage containers have been kept out of provincial landfills, and more than $110 million has been provided to the Government of New Brunswick’s Environmental Trust Fund.

“In December 2014, Encorp issued requests for proposals for collection and transportation, processing, as well as materials management services and subsequently received a number of submissions,” Mr. Landry said. “Following receipt of a number of excellent responses, we reviewed each submission carefully and had them reviewed by an independent committee. After this due diligence was completed, we arrived at a decision on Gilbert M. Rioux & Fils Ltée. We are confident they are the right choice for our current requirements.”

Mr. Landry also thanked the previous contractor, Heberts Recycling Inc., of Miramichi. “The quality of service offered by Heberts has been outstanding over the years. This factor weighed heavily during our deliberations,” he said. “But in the end, we had to take costs, efficiency and the good of the overall system into consideration. We will continue working with Heberts until October, when the new contractor will take over full time after a period of transition. We hope to work with Heberts again in the future.”

When it was established 23 years ago in 1992, the New Brunswick Beverage Containers Program’s intention was to reduce litter and encourage industry to adopt corporate social responsibility/stewardship toward the waste created by the sale and lifecycle management of its post-consumer containers. Since then, Encorp and its industry shareholders have worked in close cooperation with provincial government officials to maximize efficiencies and revenue provided to government for distribution via the Environmental Trust Fund. The New Brunswick Beverage Containers Program is the Fund’s sole source of funding.

-30-

Media contact:

Pierre Landry
General Manager
Encorp Atlantic Inc.
506-389-7322
pierre@encorpatl.ca
www.encorpatl.ca

_______________________________

Q&A – ENCORP ATLANTIC’S RFP PROCESS
New five-year contract awarded to a New Brunswick company

1. Who is Encorp Atlantic?

Encorp Atlantic Inc. was founded in 1992 as the non-alcoholic beverage distribution industry’s response to the Government of New Brunswick’s Beverage Containers Act, which saw a beverage container deposit/redemption program established in New Brunswick. Every year, Encorp Atlantic manages more than 160 million post-consumer non-alcoholic beverage containers in the province. Since 1992, more than 3.2 billion deposit-bearing non-alcoholic beverage containers have been kept out of provincial landfills, and more than $110 million has been provided to the Government of New Brunswick’s Environmental Trust Fund (ETF).

2. Will there be jobs lost in New Brunswick?

The new five-year contract will represent no net-job losses to New Brunswick. In fact, in the first year or two, we may see a marginal increase in the number of jobs.

3. Will there be more money provided to the ETF?

With increased efficiencies and operational savings, this five-year contract will benefit the Environmental Trust Fund (ETF), which is the only benefactor of the Beverage Containers Program in New Brunswick.

When it was established in 1992, the New Brunswick Beverage Containers Program’s intention was to reduce litter and encourage industry to adopt corporate social responsibility/stewardship toward the waste created by the sale and lifecycle management of its post-consumer containers. Since then, Encorp and its industry shareholders have worked in close cooperation with provincial government officials to maximize efficiencies and revenue provided to government for distribution via the Environmental Trust Fund. The New Brunswick Beverage Containers Program is the Fund’s sole source of funding.

4. How are Redemption Centres impacted by a new service provider contract?

Among the benefits of this new agreement is a reduction in the amount of sorting required by Redemption Centres in New Brunswick. Also, Centres will not be required to remove caps on plastic containers as long as containers are free of any debris.

5. How is the public impacted?

More efficiency at redemption centres translates into faster service with fewer hassles for things such as removing caps on containers.

6. Is progress being made toward improving the overall system?

Current pilot research projects conducted by Encorp Atlantic in the Moncton and Fredericton areas will allow all stakeholders to assess and evaluate a better approach to redeeming post-consumer beverage containers in the future.

• Moncton – (re) centre
• Fredericton – Express Bag

7. Are greenhouse gas emissions a factor in our decision?

An efficient collection system can significantly reduce the number of trucks, and thus greenhouse gas emissions. The technology used by transportation companies is constantly evolving. For instance, current compaction technologies used in the North America recycling industry allow moving greater volumes with less effort and trucks on the road.

Encorp and their service providers have been on the forefront of this approach. Nevertheless, current compaction technology on the market would allow for even more volume efficiencies going forward.

8. Is going to RFP your usual process?

We represent more than 85 distributors of non-alcoholic beverages in New Brunswick. In the RFP process, we looked at various market factors and for the best value possible for all stakeholders. This is a business-to-business transaction and no contract is for life! This is not the first time that Encorp Atlantic has gone to market for service provider contracts. In fact, this is the second time in the last five years. We intend to continue this practice in order to maximize efficiencies – both operational and financial – and to ensure transparency.

The current RFP process commenced on December 1, 2014, with the publication of the following RFPs:

• Collection and transportation
• Processing
• Material market (PET/HDPE and other plastics)

The closing date for proposals was January 30, 2015.

We were seeking proposals for three-year and five-year terms and a reduced sort list. We received four proposals which amounted to multiple options (28 combinations).

9. What kind of notices were provided for in awarding of the RFP?

In order to allow for proper preparation, the RFP allowed for a late start date. All new contracts (2015-2020) will commence on October 5, 2015.

After all due diligence was completed, we arrived at a decision on Gilbert M. Rioux & Fils Ltée of Grand Falls, New Brunswick, for transportation and partial processing. We are confident they are the right choice for our current requirements.

We thanked the previous contractor, Heberts Recycling Inc., of Miramichi. The quality of service offered by Heberts has been outstanding over the years. But in the end, we had to take costs, efficiency and the good of the overall system into consideration. We will continue working with Heberts until October, when the new contractor will take over full time after a period of transition. We hope to work with Heberts again in the future.

Happy Easter 2015!

One of the many vintage postcards from my grandmother Rose Pineau's collection from the early 1900s.
One of the many vintage postcards from my grandmother Rose Pineau’s collection from the early 1900s. Click on the photo for a larger version.

Wishing you all a very peaceful and joyous Easter filled with the invigorating sense of spring renewal!

On another note, my cousin Kelley Mooney’s video of her spiritual lyrical adaptation of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah has hit TWO MILLION views on YouTube. Check it out here: