Monthly Archives: November 2015

Hump Day: ‘Tis the season to be weary… of infomercials!

HHump Day 2 croppedump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is a month away. Holiday music is permeating the airwaves. Decorations are popping up. After American Thanksgiving this week, even the television specials will start.

Despite the usually awful weather which late November brings, the one nice thing about this month is that those who are constantly sanctimoniously preaching that it’s too early for Christmas have given up. At some point, the arguments fall on deaf ears. After Remembrance Day, it’s a free-for-all.

For the first time in many years, I think I’m actually going to be helpful to those who buy me gifts – and I seem to be doing it in a very adult way. When I was a kid, I always thought it was so sad to see adults knowing what they’d be getting before they even opened their gifts. They’d act surprised and then laugh because everyone knew they picked it out themselves – and perhaps even bought it, with the giver just paying them back the money they spent.

Fast-forward a few years and that’s where I’m at today. Do I still think it’s sad? No, not at all. It’s just practical. I know what I want, so why leave it to chance? I have an aunt who buys something nice for me every year and she starts asking me what I want in September. She’s a shopper, so if you don’t tell her, she’ll buy something whether you like it or not, so you might as well give specifics.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people who are constantly making fun of those home shopping channels and ‍infomercials. But put me in front of one for five minutes and I’ve whipped out my credit card and am calling the toll-free number.

infomercialI’m a sucker for an ‍infomercial, so that’s why I rarely watch them. They could be selling the weirdest thing ever and I’ll end up declaring it to be a life-or-death situation and that I must own it immediately. ‘Yes, ma’am!’ I’ll scream through tears. ‘I’ll pay double to have the Acme Nuclear Warhead Oven here by tomorrow! I didn’t even know it existed 10 minutes ago, but now my life depends on it!’

Back to my aunt. Usually it’s a few months of torturous conversations about what I want for Christmas because I pretty much have everything I need. Thanks to a couple of migraines in the past few months, though, I’ve found myself awake and stretched out on the sofa very early in the morning. Now, usually, when I get one of those blasted headaches, I get up, pour myself a big cup of coffee and put one of those ‘heat’ neck warmers in the microwave.

After all that (and a bucketful of painkillers), I can relax for a few hours with my neck warmer and coffee and watch some television as I try to get rid of the headache. Thankfully, they don’t happen often, but it’s best to nip them in the bud right away. I have my little cure routine down pat now – and it usually works.

The problem with watching television in the middle of the night, though, is that it’s prime time for ‍info‍‍mercials. Like I said, ‍infomercials see me coming from a mile away – and God help me if it’s for some newfangled kitchen appliance – an oven that cooks with infrared rays or some other scientific term that sounds like something out of Star Trek. ‘Yes, I want to cook a turkey from frozen to perfection in 30 seconds. Just take my money.’

Thanks to those migraines and late-night ‍infomercials, I was able to tell my aunt what I wanted for Christmas. I’ve even already ordered them online. She’ll pay me back and wrap them for Christmas morning. (Remind me to squeal excitedly when I open them!) Rest assured that both of these appliances will change my life. In six months, I’ll be renting out my abs as cheese graters and living in a fully organized home thanks to all those healthy meals and all that time I’ll be saving.

Being a typical man, though, what will likely happen is that I’ll refuse to read the instruction manuals and mess everything up. Then, I’ll declare that these new miracle appliances don’t work and they’ll get relegated to a closet forever.

As my Christmas gift to myself this year, though, I’ll actually force myself to read the instructions to my gifts. Otherwise, just look for the nuclear mushroom cloud over my house on Boxing Day when I try to use them for the first time. Charred turkey, anyone?

Hump Day Replay: It’s not about the job; it’s about the passion brought to it

I was saddened today to hear that the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) is closing a number of offices across Canada, including their entire New Brunswick operations. My late father was a client of their foot-care services in 2010. Here’s a column I wrote about it afterwards.

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript

Many times, we make assumptions that the job someone has chosen in life was due to a decision made in desperation – or maybe someone had a gun to their head and forced them to do it.

I had an experience in the past week when I took my father to a seniors’ foot care clinic put on by the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON). These nurses have committed themselves to keeping the feet of older people healthy.

Now, I have to admit that the first thing that came to mind when we arrived was, “How can you do this all day?” I’m sure some of what they see is not pretty, but that is true of anyone in the health-care profession. Although I’m a fine specimen of a man, I’m sure they could even find a flaw somewhere on my body, too, if they looked hard enough after being initially blinded by the shine from my sizzling six pack of abs. OK, so maybe they’d have to shovel down a few feet to get to my abs and the glaring shine is actually coming from my pasty-white thighs. Everyone’s allowed a fantasy or two.

von-canadaThe nurse treating my father was great. The other nurse working with her didn’t have a client for the first part of our time there, so I got to talking to her. Come to find out she reads this column every week, which automatically gets her a free pass into heaven. (I have a deal with St. Peter, don’t ya know!)

At one point, I mentioned something along the vein that it must be difficult doing that type of work because some aspects of it may be unpleasant. Both nurses perked up right away. Heck no! They loved doing this and loved the challenge of taking care of a difficult situation and making people feel better. I guess you could think of them as foot renovators. They loved seeing their clients being able to walk better and be in less pain.

Well, I guess I was told! And rightfully so! I loved their answer. Although it may not be my cup of tea, you certainly want to think that the health-care provider who’s dealing with you is dedicated to making you better no matter what’s wrong with you.

I guess I could have asked the same question of a proctologist… or urologist. I mean, really, how fun can it be poking around patients’ sick “downstairs parts” all day? The answer isn’t about having fun. It’s about a commitment to – and passion for – making people feel better and getting them healthy again.

The world needs proctologists – ones passionate about getting you better. You hope you never need one, but if you do, you’re sure glad they’re around even though it may not be what it’s all cracked up to be in your world.

There’s a popular TV show on the Discovery Channel called Dirty Jobs. Every week, host Mike Rowe takes on a “dirty job” that – one assumes – not a lot of people want to do. I’ve watched the show a few times and am always amazed at how dedicated these people are in doing their so-called “dirty jobs.”

To name a few, Rowe has done the following tasks: determining the sex of porcupines (answer: “very carefully) in an animal sanctuary, animal control officer dealing with wildlife (including skunks), cricket farmer, high-rise window washer, spider venom extractor, diaper cleaner, animal renderer, bologna maker, leech trapper and maggot farmer. Now, you have to admit that some of those jobs don’t sound like too much fun, but there are people out in the world who are passionate about them. And thank goodness for that!

After all, it’s not about what you do in your career. It’s about the passion you have for what you do!

There’s another show on the Discovery Channel called Deadliest Catch. The show follows Alaskan king crab fishermen in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia. It’s cold. It’s stormy. And it’s dangerous. I’ve eaten Alaskan king crab on a few occasions and have never thought twice about the efforts made in fishing them. After watching a couple of episodes of Deadliest Catch, rest assured that I’ll savour every morsel of crab I put in my mouth from now on.

The danger and life-threatening situations those fishermen go through are horrendous. They’re paid well, apparently, but quite frankly there isn’t enough money in the world for me to do what they do, but the passion that the ships’ captains have for their jobs shines through. They want good product. They want efficient ships. They want to keep their men safe.

There are people passionate about working with dying people in palliative care. There are people passionate about being funeral directors. There are people passionate about being police officers, firefighters and paramedics. None of these are easy jobs. You find yourself dealing with danger, death, grief and illness every day.

I’ve seen coffee shop workers who serve their clients with passion whether they’re only there to make some extra cash or whether it’s their chosen career. I’ve also seen people in the same industry serve clients with a sullen, dead attitude that makes me want to run the other way. It’s not the job itself. It’s the passion in the people for the job.

Whether you want to take a crack at being a proctologist, deal with the prickly attitude of a porcupine by determining its sex, or wake the dead by whistling a tune while digging graves, remember that people are counting on you. And there’s no shame in that!

Hump Day: Depressing world news tempts one to focus on life’s simple pleasures

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always followed the news much in the same way a soaring hawk keeps its eyes on a rabbit sitting in a field. I had to know what was going on. A news junkie – that’s me!

In the ‘olden days’ before social media, though, even if you wanted to immerse yourself in the news of what was going on in the world, you still had to wait until the newscast started or until a new edition of the newspaper came out. There were no 24-hour news channels. There was no Facebook or Twitter. Heck, there wasn’t even an Internet.

For a newsaholic, it was the best thing for me at the time. I only came to realize that fact later in life when 24-hour news came into being. I guess it’s kind of like enjoying booze a bit too much and then buying a house next door to a liquor store that never closes. Access is a bit too easy.

It came to a crossroads for me with the news of the Paris terrorist attacks last Friday. Since the Christmas channels started up on satellite radio earlier this month, I’ve been pretty much only listening to that for the past few weeks, so my constant exposure to news has been diminished somewhat. Being online most of the day for work, I’m usually up to date, but I hadn’t yet heard about Paris until I got home on Friday and my son told me what was going on.

It had been a very busy week. The mountain of unfiled paper on my desk was growing daily. My scratch-pad pages of to-do lists were everywhere. My cat Casey is battling kidney disease and barely eating due to nausea. It was Friday. I was tired. I was stressed out. And then I heard about Paris.

You know what? To my utter surprise, I pretty much just ignored it. I’m not saying it was the right thing to do, but I really wasn’t open to more negativity and stress. I just wasn’t. And I’m not going to apologize for it, either. My cup runneth over with bad news. I’m full. Can’t do it anymore!

Of course, it was impossible to completely isolate myself from the negativity. There were the innocent victims to think about – and who can’t feel just awful for them, their families and friends? And for the country, too. Paris – the City of Light – plunged into fear and darkness. It’s scary. It’s sad. It’s enraging – and entirely depressing.

For the most part, I stayed away from the Paris news coverage. I couldn’t handle it. I went to a concert. I listened to Christmas music. I watched sitcoms and comedy specials. I needed to laugh. There’s only so much a person can take before they snap. Well, I snapped like a fine cracker being broken in half.

Mystical Mandala Coloring BookRecently, I started dabbling in the new adult colouring book phenomenon. I ordered one online, bought myself a 48-pack of coloured pencils (haven’t had those since elementary school!) and decided to try it out. It’s all the rage, apparently – especially among women, from what I can tell. But hey, I’m not sexist. I’ve been known to knit a scarf or two – or 20. Surely, I can do a bit of colouring without being ordered to tear up my man card.

It’s relaxing and hypnotic. It puts you in a bit of a trance. While I know the horrible things going on in the world won’t go away, I also know I have to take care of my psyche. And sometimes, you just have turn up the Christmas tunes, sharpen some coloured pencils and start colouring like your sanity depends on it.

I’m not ignoring the world; I’m just learning how to deal with it. Sometimes, you have to take a vacation from reality in order to better cope with it later.