Monthly Archives: September 2011

Hump Day: Family reunion doesn’t have to be attached to a funeral

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Last weekend, my cousin Allan visited New Brunswick from his home in Massachusetts. I hadn’t seen him in more than 35 years.

His father – my father’s brother – died in May after a long period of failing health. He was the oldest of the family. That leaves my father and another uncle as the only ones left. Still seems hard to believe that everyone is gone except for those two.

I still catch myself nearly asking relatives if they’ve talked to a certain uncle or aunt lately, only to catch myself when I realize that they’ve passed away. Let’s just say that if they had indeed heard from those who’ve passed on, I’d give them a strange look, to say the least. Then, I’d probably run.

Anyway, a few cousins dropped by my uncle and aunt’s house (where Allan was staying) to say “Hi!” Like me, they hadn’t seen him in several decades. All of a sudden, my uncle said something that really struck me.

“You know, it’s nice for everyone to get together and no one had to die!”

It was true. We all looked at each other and had a good laugh over it. I don’t know about your get-togethers, but my family reunions lately have become a synonym for “visiting hours at the funeral home.”

My uncle’s statement gave me an idea. Maybe it’s time for a family reunion. Yup, a good old fashioned family reunion. Why not, eh? My late grandfather’s brother’s descendants had a family reunion a couple of years ago. It was a great success. Better yet, no one had to read about it in the newspaper’s obituaries section. This one was planned ahead and when someone was invited, it wasn’t preceded by a teary telephone call that started with, “I’m calling with some bad news…”

I’m just getting used to answering telephone calls from a certain aunt that don’t end up being death announcements. Now, she just calls when she has problems with her computer or Facebook. I’m still programmed for bad news, though, whenever I see her telephone number show up on my caller ID. I pick up the telephone, wince and brace myself for the latest tragic news.

Thankfully, the latest call wasn’t that someone had died, it was that she couldn’t get her games to work on Facebook. She was scared that her sisters would beat her in the scores. I guess they’re quite a competitive bunch!

That’s OK, though. I’m more than happy to help and relieved that not every call is preceded with “I’m calling with some bad news.”

With that said, maybe it’s time to get a little family reunion planning underway before the next obituary-mandated get-together comes along. No one seems to be on the precipice of a long-term dirt-nap just yet, but you never know. Fate has a funny way of shuffling the deck of cards sometimes and dealing you the ace of spades.

Today, with social media, it’s so easy to organize these types of events. My 30th high school reunion is next year (I’m crying inside, trust me… 30 years!) and my 25th anniversary of graduating university was this year. I still find that hard to believe. The college crowd plans on getting together again next year, so 2012 could very well be christened the Year of the Reunion.

Four years ago, when the last reunions were held, it seems like Facebook was just taking off. Today, it’s a quasi-essential tool for staying in touch with friends and business contacts alike! I don’t mind admitting that I’d be completely lost without Facebook and can’t imagine life without it. I’ve reconnected with so many people that it just boggles the mind. And you know what? That’s a good thing!

It’s important to want to get together with old friends and far-away family from time to time. When my cousin Allan laughed, I saw a lot of his father in him. When another cousin laughs, I swear it could be my grandmother. The mannerisms and speech patterns of other cousins bring back fond memories of aunts and uncles who have long since passed away.

My aunt described where she and my uncle chose their gravesites. When they go, they’ll be in the same general vicinity as another uncle and aunt, as well as my grandparents. It will be like a family reunion all over again – except I hope they’ll forgive me if I don’t show up to that one for a few years yet.

My aunt told me that they’d first looked at two other plots but that they were too close to the road. My uncle said the snow plow would bury them under piles of snow and slush all winter. I laughed when he told me that. I told my aunt, “Well, at least you’re further away from the road so the traffic noise won’t bother you.”

The traffic noise would have to be pretty loud for dead people in the graveyard to lodge a formal complaint.

Then again, you can be pretty darn sure that the heavy equipment operators would turn down the volumes on their equipment if they saw a crowd of permanent graveyard tenants dig themselves out and wander over the complain about the racket.

That reminds me. When I send out the invitations to the family reunion, I’ll have to remember to include one requirement: No smoking… and no zombies!

Featured YouTube channel #11: Crosby’s Molasses Co. Ltd.

Established in 1879 in Yarmouth, N.S., Crosby’s Molasses Co. Ltd. relocated to Saint John, N.B., in 1897 and has been a successful New Brunswick-based business ever since, supplying generations of Canadians with — you guessed it — delicious molasses! In addition to a really nice website that’s chock full of recipes, Crosby’s recently delved into the world of social media by producing a very clever and refreshingly risqué YouTube video that’s funny, informative and very entertaining. Featuring the company’s oh-so-sweet-and-innocent (or is she?) Grandma Fancy character, their Grandma Fancy’s Sticky Buns recipe video is a professionally made treat to watch! This is a great thing to see from a local company — especially one that’s more than 130 years old!

I even know people who felt inspired to make the recipe after watching the video… and I’m happy to report that they thought Grandma Fancy’s Sticky Buns were delicious… just like Grandpa Fancy does!

The video was produced by M5, a marketing and communications company with offices in Moncton, St. John’s and Halifax.

It’s really great to see a New Brunswick company use humour in their YouTube campaign!

A few words of advice to Crosby’s: the YouTube channel isn’t branded (at least at the time this post was written) and the video looks like it has no keywords attached to it. It was nearly impossible to find in the YouTube search when using a variety of keywords other than the very specific “Grandma Fancy”. Even “Crosby’s Molasses” didn’t bring it up, which tells me that there are no keywords attached to the video. As well, the YouTube video has no description. At more than 1,500 views so far, that’s 1,500 missed opportunities to tell us more about Crosby’s. Just a friendly suggestion that the company’s YouTube channel could use some branding, care and nurturing. By doing that, Crosby’s will increase the effectiveness of the video’s marketing results rather than just using YouTube to host the video for embedding on the corporate website.

YouTube is the world’s third most popular website after Facebook and Google, according to Alexa. It’s more than just a host for videos! Embrace its power and use YouTube to drive more people to the company’s website!

Social Media Matters: Get celebrities to notice your tweets

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, Sept. 23, 2011
Metro section

Get celebrities to notice your tweets

One of the fun things about Twitter is that many celebrities or otherwise high-profile individuals will often reply to you directly. I’ve had the good fortune to have been answered by a few people, most recently as this weekend, when CNN anchor Don Lemon commented on a post I made regarding my favourite song by Sting.

CNN was running an interview with Sting over the weekend. Lemon tweeted about his favourite song and I replied with mine. He tweeted back saying that my choice was his second-favourite Sting song.

Twitter is great for stuff like that. I know a few others in the area who’ve had online discussions with celebrities, including Wil Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Stand by Me.

The best way to get noticed is to cleverly (not rudely) respond to something they’ve said or mention them nicely in a comment. Criticism is so rampant online that it often gets ignored. We all love compliments, though, so being nice and helpful are good ways to get a response.

The best time to get noticed? Immediately after they tweet something. If you catch them online right then, the chances are good. In Don Lemon’s case, I was watching CNN and knew he was on air. At the same time, I saw one of his tweets, so I knew he was engaged right at that moment. In my experience, that’s the best timing.

If you catch someone online right then, the chances of getting a response are pretty good. The main reason is likely because celebrities and high-profile individuals usually have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers. Having a tweet stand out and get their attention is a shot in the dark, but timing is everything when dealing with people with high follower numbers.

Adding people to groups without permission

Recently, I saw that someone created their own business group on Facebook and added hundreds upon hundreds of people to the group. The business in question also has a Facebook page, which is by far the more appropriate venue for promoting one’s business.

Businesses should stay away from creating Facebook groups to promote themselves. That’s what Facebook pages are for. One of Facebook users’ major pet peeves is being added to groups without their permission. This is one of the big faults of the current version of Facebook groups – people can be added without their permission. Sure, you can leave, but you have to proactively go in and remove yourself from the group. It’s inconvenient an it’s annoying.

If you run a business and you’re on Facebook, stay away from groups. Promote your Facebook page. You can’t force people to do business with you. When you add hundreds of your Facebook friends to your business-related group, you risk alienating potential clients and referrals.

Your Facebook friends know who you are and they know where you work. They know you have a Facebook page for your business. That is the best way to go. Let them come to you naturally and they will be happy to support you.

More highlights from Nielsen Social Media Report

Last week, I wrote about the most recent Nielsen Social Media Report for the third quarter of 2011. Here are a few other tidbits found in the report:

Active adult-age social networkers are: 45% more likely to go on a date; 75% more likely to spend heavily on music; 47% more likely to spend heavily on clothing, shoes and accessories; and one-third more likely to give their opinion on a television program. They also like to follow things they care about or have an interest in: 53% follow a brand online, while 32% follow a celebrity.

Overall, Facebook rules the world of social networking, however it isn’t champion in every country. In Brazil, Orkut is tops, while FC2 Blog was the most visited social media site in Japan in May.

Most popular YouTube videos

Each week, I usually provide a list of three YouTube channels for you to check out. This week, however, I thought I’d take a little break from that and update you all on the most-viewed videos of all time on YouTube as of Sept. 20.

10. Thigh massage video (248,766,698 views)

9. Justin Bieber – Never Say Never ft. Jaden Smith (258,912,782 views)

8. Justin Bieber – One Time (265,347,357 views)

7. Eminem – Not Afraid (275,987,197 views)

6. Charlie bit my finger – again! (374,141,544 views)

5. Eminem – Love The Way You Lie ft. Rihanna (382,960,630 views)

4. Jennifer Lopez – On The Floor ft. Pitbull (383,258,426 views)

3. Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) (The Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Song) (396,353,224 views)

2. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance (414,812,261 views)

1. Justin Bieber – Baby ft. Ludacris (625,078,063 views).

Soricimed’s Jack Stewart receives prestigious New Brunswick BioSciences Achievement Award

Jack Stewart, Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer of Soricimed Biopharma Inc., is this year’s recipient of the prestigious New Brunswick BioSciences Achievement Award. The presentation was made at the 2011 New Brunswick BioScience Celebration and Banquet held at Mount Allison University as part of National Biotechnology Week. Left to right: Doug Robertson, President and CEO, Tech South East; Paul Gunn, President and CEO, Soricimed Biopharma Inc.; Jack Stewart, Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer, Soricimed Biopharma Inc.; Hon. Michael Olscamp, MLA for Tantramar and Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries; John Argall, Executive Director, BioAtlantech. (Photo by Daniel St. Louis)


September 22, 2011
For immediate release

Soricimed Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer Jack Stewart receives prestigious New Brunswick BioSciences Achievement Award

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Professor Emeritus Jack Stewart, Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer of Soricimed Biopharma Inc., is this year’s recipient of the prestigious New Brunswick BioSciences Achievement Award. The presentation was made at the 2011 New Brunswick BioScience Celebration and Banquet held at Mount Allison University as part of National Biotechnology Week.

Launched in 2004, the New Brunswick BioSciences Achievement Award has celebrated outstanding contributions to the global scientific community and/or socio-economic improvements through bio-science. BioAtlantech leads this annual award in tandem with its partners.

The evaluation criteria also account for the candidate’s collegiality and leadership. A panel of judges from New Brunswick’s bio-science community evaluated half a dozen exceptional candidates for the 2011 Bio-Sciences Achievement Award before deciding on Stewart as the chosen recipient.

“Receiving this award is a great honour for me, personally,” Stewart said. “I would be remiss, however, if I did not also recognize my many colleagues at Soricimed and Mount Allison University for their partnership, collaboration and friendship over the years. Without it, this award would not have been possible.”

“I would like to sincerely thank BioAtlantech, its partners and the distinguished panel of judges for choosing me as the 2011 recipient of this award,” he said.

Soricimed President and CEO Paul Gunn was elated upon hearing of Stewart’s award. “On behalf of everyone at Soricimed, we are thrilled to see Jack receive this well-deserved recognition for his hard work over his long and illustrious career in research. We are convinced that the research he and his team are carrying out at Soricimed will save many lives in the years to come. He is certainly deserving of this recognition by his peers in the scientific community.”

Stewart was full professor in the biochemistry program at Mount Allison University until his early retirement in 2009. He has twice been the recipient of the institution’s Paul Paré Imasco Award for excellence in teaching and excellence in research and recently granted Professor Emeritus status.

The major focus of Stewart’s lab was metabolic adaptations in animals, and protein biochemistry and was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Early soricidin research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Stewart is the senior author on six patents and has published extensively with more than 30 peer-reviewed publications, dozens of presentations and lectures, presentations at academic conferences, and industry recognition awards.

About BioAtlantech

BioAtlantech, the lead sponsor of the 2011 Bio-Sciences Achievement Award, is the lead agency for New Brunswick’s bio-industries. Working with government and the private sector, the corporation:

• builds and enhances new and existing businesses in New Brunswick’s biosciences sectors
• supports technology transfer from public institutions to the private sector
• offers services in competitive technical intelligence and business plan development
• assists partners in company recruitment
• assists partners in policy development
• manages strategic projects
• co-ordinates networking opportunities for the sector.

About Soricimed

Soricimed Biopharma Inc. is a private drug development company created in 2005 by Professor Jack Stewart and Paul Gunn following the discovery and development of a proprietary peptide, soricidin. Soricidin is the basis for Soricimed Biopharma Inc.’s targeted cancer management program focused on an ovarian cancer therapeutic and a companion diagnostic.

Using focused innovative strategies in collaboration with major world-class cancer research institutions, Soricimed’s drugs have demonstrated a capability to reduce cancer cell viability and induce apoptosis (in vitro) and to reduce human tumour volume (in vivo) with no demonstrable serious side-effects.

Soricimed receives its funding from a variety of sources, including private investors, the Government of Canada and the Province of New Brunswick.


Media contact:

Paul Gunn
President and CEO
Soricimed Biopharma Inc.
(506) 872-2181

Hump Day: There’s more than one reason to enjoy the new season

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Fall arrives at 6:05 a.m. on Friday. This means that tomorrow is the last full day of the summer of 2011 – the summer that never was for most of you summer lovers. Seems like it rained most of the time, didn’t it?

Ah, well. Other areas experienced drought. We had the opposite. Neither is great to have. At least everything was nice and green in these parts. It was one of the few years that my lawn didn’t turn brown, at least. Usually, my poor lawn – at least the front one – was half deceased by the time autumn rolled around. This year, though, the abundant amount of rain ensured that it continued to look like a lush, green jungle right through to September. I was half expecting to see herds of zebras and gazelles migrating through it.

With the arrival of fall, though, come the cries of “Oh woe is me!” from the summer lovers, of which I am not. I understand the attraction, certainly. No need for heat. If you’re cold all the time, then summer is usually a reprieve from constantly shivering. It’s light outside until well into the evening, so we save on electricity bills, too and it gives friends and neighbours a chance to socialize more outside during the longer days.

And then there are vacations, of course!

A chance to spend time visiting faraway places in search of adventure or simply taking day trips in the local area to learn more about our own backyards.

The fall, though, certainly has its charms. If you’re in mourning for the heat and humidity of summer, here are some of the top reasons I propose that fall – my favourite season of the year – should be your favourite time of the year, too:

It’s the new television season! Sick of reruns?

Then this week is for you! Between the new and returning series, there’s enough to keep any television junkie satisfied! Sad to see all the summer reality series come to an end, such as Big Brother and Hell’s Kitchen?

There’s a new crop starting up this fall: The X Factor, Dancing with the Stars, and Survivor. Whatever your guilty pleasure is, the fall can mean a few good laughs, thrills and chills in front of the TV after a long day of hard work.

The nice weather. You always hear people say, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity!” If you have air conditioning at home, humidity is a non-issue, but the more humid it is, the more uncomfortable it is. In fact, I don’t know many people who really love the humidity.

It really bogs a person down, doesn’t it? I’m certainly one of those who doesn’t enjoy feeling like I’m underwater when I’m walking down the street!

The colours. Summer may have its lush green trees and bright flowers, but there’s nothing like the spectacular colours that fall brings. Take a drive through Albert County later this month and admire how Mother Nature took her orange, red and yellow paint brushes to all the trees. Even if you’re crying yourself to sleep because summer’s on its way out, you must admit that the fall foliage in these parts is something to behold!

It’s time for back to school. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, you just got some sanity back. Enjoy it. Run around the house naked. Take a nap. Sit in the middle of the kitchen and listen to the silence. No kids arguing. No “Mom!” or “Dad!” Just blessed silence… until about 3 p.m. when the mess-making tornadoes plow through the door.

The nights are cool and it’s easier to sleep. Some nice warm blankets make it that much cozier. There’s only so much a person can take off before they’re lying on top of the covers naked with huge fan blowing air all over them in order to try and cool off. Been there, done that. It ain’t pretty, folks. Turn away. And no, feeling your retinas sizzle and having smoke rise out of your irises aren’t good signs.

Halloween. I hate Halloween, but so many people enjoy it and it’s great for the kids. And it’s another reason to decorate if you’re into that stuff!

Thanksgiving! Ah, time for turkey and enjoying the bounty of the harvest!

Farmer’s markets. There’s no better time of the year to visit a farmer’s market than the fall. Everything’s fresh. Everything’s plentiful. The cool, crisp air of a Saturday morning at the farmer’s market can’t be beat!

“Return to normal” for consulting businesses. If you’re a consultant, like me, you’ve likely noticed that summertime is not exactly great for business. Sure, there are some things going on, but July and August are not exactly “feast” months in the consulting business. Come September, though, the calls start coming in again as clients return from vacation and projects get underway again.

Fresh pumpkins. Pumpkin pies. Pumpkin jam. Ah, nothing better!

Fresh squash. If you’re not a fan of squash, you’re missing out on something delicious. I didn’t start eating squash until later in life, but it’s one of my favourites now. So good when accompanied by ham or turkey!

A new beginning. Next to the “real” beginning to the year on January 1, Labour Day seems to be another time of the year when people start new diets, new projects, new jobs, new schools, new adventures. It’s a new season of hope!

Whatever your reason, enjoy this fall. I can smell the pumpkin pie now!