Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

White Ribbon Campaign Urges Vigilance in Saving Gun Registry

In book reviews, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Religion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 30, 2010 at 10:36 AM

TORONTO, Sept. 20 /CNW/ – There are two days until Parliament decides whether or not to terminate Bill C-391. If the gun registry comes to an end, Canadians will no longer be expected to register the 7 million firearms that exist in Canada, thereby depriving Canadians of a vital public safety, public health and violence prevention tool. The White Ribbon Campaign is optimistic that private members Bill C-391 will be struck down, given recent news that some members of parliament have found sufficient votes to do so. Nonetheless, while there is confidence that the votes are there, this is no time for complacency.

The White Ribbon Campaign would like to formally release the following statement, encouraging all Canadians to support saving the Gun Registry:

We are extremely pleased to hear that some members of parliament have managed through constructive debate, reasonable discourse and evaluation of policy data to secure the votes to defeat the private members Bill C-391. We also support the efforts to bring forward amendments to improve and address the real concerns of Canadian citizens on improving the gun registry. We encourage all MPs to continue to look at the facts, to listen to their constituents, and to evaluate the gun registry based on good public policy, not partisan politics. We must also ensure that all members are present for this vote.

In our work with women’s groups, survivors of violence, and police across the country, we consistently hear how this tool saves the lives of women and children. Having up-to-date and accurate knowledge of firearms in a home can enable life-saving decisions when it comes to interventions, restraining orders and custody arrangements. In addition, the gun registry can prevent guns from getting into the hands of potentially dangerous people.

Contrary to some of the public debate, the system is working and is effective. The RCMP evaluation, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and many others have made it abundantly clear that this tool is essential to their public safety work. The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians believes it is a vital public health tool. At a real cost of around $4 million per year, it is roughly the same expense as 2-3 major murder investigations or $0.10 to $0.15 cents per Canadian. We cannot use the inefficiencies of almost a decade ago as an excuse to eliminate this vital tool.

The debate around the gun registry is not an issue of rural values versus urban values. It is about public policy that reflects Canadian values, which includes the desire to protect lives, to support our police, to prevent harm, and to cherish traditional ways of living. The White Ribbon Campaign believes if we can rise above the rhetoric for a moment and evaluate the gun registry on this basis, we can continue to work to improve this essential tool.

– Todd Minerson, Executive Director, White Ribbon Campaign

About the White Ribbon Campaign:

The White Ribbon Campaign is the world’s largest effort of men and boys working to end violence against women. It started in Canada in 1991 as a response to the tragic murder of 14 women on December 6th, 1989 at École Polytechnique in Montréal. In addition to working on the prevention of violence against women across Canada, it also now supports White Ribbon activities in over 60 countries around the world. The White Ribbon is a symbol of a man’s pledge to never commit, to never condone, and to never remain silent about violence against women.

MSF launches on-line warehouse: an alternative way for Canadians to give this holiday season

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Religion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 30, 2010 at 2:00 AM

November 18, 2010 @ 03:00PM

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announces the launch of the MSF Warehouse at, a new website that allows Canadians to shop for relief items including supplies, medicines, and equipment that aid workers use in the field each day.

The MSF Warehouse offers concrete examples and actual costs of the resources that are needed by MSF teams to deliver medical care in close to 70 countries where people are at risk. By making a symbolic purchase through the site, visitors can support work that saves lives.

On the site, visitors can learn why an item like a megaphone is of vital importance during a mass vaccination campaign and how a piece of plastic sheeting can help a family displaced by a natural disaster. Visitors can also contribute towards the purchase of specialized kits containing all the necessary supplies that MSF teams need to respond to medical emergencies like the current cholera outbreak in Haiti. This interactive warehouse features videos, photos, and blogs from aid workers that provide first-hand accounts of the importance items play in MSF’s actions.

In places where men, women, and children are suffering around the world, MSF is performing surgery, offering frontline medical care, and practising preventative medicine. By purchasing any of the items on the MSF Warehouse as gifts for loved ones, Canadians can show to the world’s most vulnerable people in a tangible way that they care about them too.

MSF is an international medical humanitarian organization founded in 1971. MSF works in over 60 countries, providing independent medical relief to victims of war, disasters, and epidemics. In 1999 MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Voice-Interactive TRIVIO game hits iTunes Top-5 New & Noteworthy board for Free Games and Trivia

In Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Music, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, Technology, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 29, 2010 at 2:00 AM

Free TRIVIO Application Available on iTunes

November 18, 2010 @ 03:00PM

BURLINGTON, Ontario – Flurple2, a sensory robotics software company, unveiled Trivio™, a new trivia game application (app) that allows users to say their answers out loud. In its first week on the App Store, Trivio launched onto the Top 50 list in the USA. In Canada, Trivio climbed to the iTunes Top-5 New and Noteworthy board for Free Games & Trivia apps.

The television game show-style app, Trivio is the first trivia game to incorporate voice activation, speech recognition plus artificial intelligence (AI). Trivio works with all Apple products, including the iPad™, iPhone® 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, the original iPhone, and the iPod touch®.

Gaming is simple and fun — you tap the big red button on the screen and speak your answer. If you miss, your opponent gets a chance to answer the question. Points are scored for the fastest correct response. The more difficult the questions, the more points you get.

“With Trivio, it’s challenging to think fast — and speak the answer. Other quiz games are based on a simple multiple choice setup. Trivio is a quantum leap forward in mobile, interactive gaming”, states Pete Deschamps, Flurple2 CEO.

Flurple2 is pleased to announce that Trivio is powered by Sensory®, the leader in speech technologies for consumer products. “Trivio is a fun and challenging game that uses speech recognition technology in a very effective way to enhance the interactive gameplay beyond multiple choice or the hassle of typed in responses”, said Todd Mozer CEO Sensory.

Trivio can revolutionize family game night, allowing parents and kids to form “teams” to play against each other and “buzz in” when they think they have the right answer. The app uses Bluetooth for lightning fast multiplayer games, and has four levels of question difficulty, from ‘Easy’ to ‘Killer’.

Trivio uses Apple’s Accessibility features for the disabled – seeing-impaired players can have the questions read aloud to them. Deschamps sees the technology being used to help people, as well as for pure entertainment.

“Helping people help themselves is something I’ve never forgotten from my time in the local Burlington Rotary Club. Trivio can be used to assist stroke victims, and help people with disabilities learn how to talk again while having fun at the same time”, says Pete Deschamps.

Trivio’s robotics can be franchised and serve-up any company’s content and media, including trivia and educational content, licensing. “The educational and medical applications are endless”, states Pete Deschamps.

Currently Trivio is available on the App Store worldwide. In its first week on the free app iTunes market, Trivio ranked in the Top 200 Free Games/Trivia category in 37 countries around the globe. Trivio was deemed New & Noteworthy in 5 countries including Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Trivio on the App Store

Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod touch, and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iPad is a trademark of Apple Inc. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Sensory is a registered trademark of Sensory, Inc.
About Flurple2

Based in Burlington, Ontario, is a Canadian and American enterprise. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2010, Flurple2 excels at using “sensory robotics” to create unique and compelling educational games and apps for all mobile devices. Flurple2, Trivio, and all logos are trademarks of Flurple2 and Flurple Corporation, copyright © 2010, All rights reserved.

Voter Registration has begun for Southern Sudanese Populations living in Canada Register to Vote in the Southern Sudan Referendum

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Religion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 28, 2010 at 8:00 AM

November 15 – December 1, 2010, in Toronto, Ontario, and Calgary, Alberta

November 19, 2010 @ 02:00PM

Registration for Out of Country Voting (OCV) has begun in Canada for the Southern Sudan Referendum. Media Contact: Theodora Philos, International Organization for Migration

Voter registration for Southern Sudanese populations living in Canada has begun in Toronto, Ontario, and Calgary, Alberta. International observers, including representatives from the Carter Center and US Embassy, have been accredited and are observing the process. Gatdeet Wakou, the SSRC representative in Canada, is encouraging Southern Sudanese to register. He says “the time has come for eligible Sothern Sudanese voters in Canada to register in order to have the opportunity to vote in this historic referendum in January 2011. The SSRC encourages you to take an informed decision and exercise your democratic right. It is a noble duty to determine your future by yourself.”

What: The Southern Sudan Referendum, scheduled for January 9 – 15, 2011, will provide the people of Southern Sudan with the opportunity to confirm the unity of Sudan or vote for secession. To ensure all eligible voters have the opportunity to participate in this Referendum, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is assisting the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) in conducting registration and voting in eight countries including Canada to register eligible voters. Only Southern Sudanese people will be allowed to register and vote; to be eligible to vote in the January Referendum, Southern Sudanese peoples living in Canada must register in advance. A potential voter must have the voter registration card with him/her to vote in January.

When: Registration will take place from November 15 – December 1, 2010.

Where: Registration will take place in two locations in Canada: Toronto, Ontario (2103 Weston Road) and Calgary, Alberta (3505 – 52nd Street SE). These locations were identified using minimum population criteria established by the SSRC based on the best available data of the population density of Southern Sudanese in Canada. To register to vote, Southern Sudanese people must travel in person to one of these two locations. Registration Centres will be open from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM Monday through Saturday and 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM on Sundays. Voters are required to vote at the same location where they registered. In January 2011, only voters with a registration card will be eligible to vote.

*Note: Eligible voters have the option of registering and voting at any OCV centre, including centres in the United States (Phoenix, Arizona: 19640 N. 35th Avenue; Omaha, Nebraska 4320 Fort Street and Washington, DC (216 S. Peyton Street.) Similarly, Southern Sudanese living in the United States can register at Centres in Canada. A visa to enter the host country to register and vote may be required.

What qualifications are needed to register? To register, a person needs to be 18 or over at the time of registering, and fulfill the eligibility criteria issued by the SSRC, which are provided. To prove eligibility and identity, he/she must have a written certificate/document issued by a Sudanese authority (even if expired) or a document issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Canadian identity documents do NOT satisfy this requirement, however, if the eligible voter does not have an identity document, community “identifiers” from the Southern Sudan communities representing different indigenous groups will be at each of the Centers to provide an oral testimony confirming or denying their eligibility.
Additional information can be found here: or by calling: 1-888-898-4048

What is the Southern Sudanese Referendum Commission (SSRC)? According to Article 8 of the 2009 Referendum Act, the SSRC was established by the Presidency of the Republic immediately following the formulation of this Act. The Commission is located in Khartoum and has a Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau in Juba. The Commission comprises the Chairperson, a Deputy, and seven members appointed by the President of the Republic, with the consent of the First Vice-President, in accordance with the provisions of Article 58 (2) (c) of the Constitution and with the approval of the members of the National Legislature with a simple majority. It includes women and representatives of Civil Society Organizations. For further information on the SSRC, see

What is the International Organization for Migration (IOM)? IOM is a leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. The IOM has been asked by the SSRC to support it in conducting the OCV for Southern Sudanese in the eight countries selected. The OCV operations and the IOM’s involvement are specified in the 2009 Referendum Act. The IOM’s operational role does not involve covering transportation and accommodation costs for voters.

November 2010 Car Sales

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, cars, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 27, 2010 at 8:00 AM

OBS2010-11-A Window of Opportunity

By Dennis DesRosiers

My Observations for November … this month I discuss the Outlook for the Automotive Aftermarket or as some in the industry call it … the parts and service business or as car dealers call it … Fixed Operations. Whatever it is called it looks pretty good for selected players in the coming years.


Study Results Demonstrate Greater Potential of New Diabetes Therapy Beyond Glucose Control

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 26, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Diabetes Can Be Controlled With More Than Just Glucose – Photo Courtesy of

Meta-Analysis Presented at the CDA/CSEM Professional Conference and Annual Meetings Provides Insight into GLP-1 Therapy Advances

November 08, 2010 @ 07:00AM

Mississauga, ONTARIO – Recent research results demonstrate that a new treatment approach to diabetes, GLP-1 analogues, not only helps to lower blood glucose levels but has the added benefit of reducing body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.

“What we saw at the 26-week mark was that those patients with type 2 diabetes being treated with liraglutide, a GLP-1 analogue, achieved significant reductions in both BMI and waist circumference,” says Dr. Bernard Zinman, Director, Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes, Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto. “In this context, we continue to explore innovations in diabetes management.”

Findings of the study, The Human GLP-1 Analogue, Liraglutide, Improves BMI and Waist Circumference in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: Meta-analysis of Six Phase 3 Trials, was presented at The Canadian Diabetes Association/The Canadian Society for Endocrinology and Metabolism Professional Conference and Annual Meetings that took place in Edmonton from October 20 – 23, 2010.

Since its approval by Health Canada in May of this year, Victoza® (liraglutide) is establishing its place among treatments to effectively manage diabetes. As the first GLP-1 analogue in Canada, Victoza® offers the added benefit of delayed gastric emptying and enhanced satiety after meals.1 To date, more than 2,600 Canadians living with diabetes have received treatment with Victoza®

Victoza® is indicated for once-daily administration for the treatment of adults with type 2 diabetes to improve glycemic control in combination with 2

* Metformin, when diet and exercise plus a maximally tolerated dose of metformin do not achieve adequate glycemic control.
* Metformin and a sulfonylurea, when diet and exercise plus dual therapy with metformin and a sulfonylurea do not achieve adequate glycemic control.

In addition, Victoza® has a low risk of hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood glucose levels), since it only works when the body needs it.2 Victoza® should not be used to treat type 1 diabetes mellitus or diabetic ketoacidosis. Use of Victoza® in combination with insulin has not been studied and is therefore not recommended.2


1. Grossman, S. Differentiating Incretin Therapies Based on Structure, Activity, and Metabolism: Focus on Liraglutide. Pharmacotherapy. 2009;29(12):25S-32S.
2. VICTOZA® Canadian Product Monograph. 2010.

About Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.

Novo Nordisk is a healthcare company and a world leader in diabetes care and biopharmaceuticals. Novo Nordisk manufactures and markets pharmaceutical
products and services that make a significant difference to patients, the medical profession, and society. Novo Nordisk’s business is driven by the Triple Bottom Line: a commitment to economic success, environmental soundness, and social responsibility to employees and customers. For more information, visit

True Love or Marriage Fraud? – New Documentary Shines Light on Marital Immigration Fraud, its Victims and the Government that puts up with it

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 25, 2010 at 1:00 AM

Marital Immigration Fraud in New Documentary – Photo Courtesy of CNW

Image result for Marriage

November 08, 2010 @ 09:15AM

What’s the dirty little secret about spousal immigration sponsorships in Canada? Many Canadians are being duped into marriage, not for love, but for residency. The real kicker is, even if the fraud is discovered, the fraudsters are not deported from Canada — and the victims are financially responsible for them for three years! These are the startling facts introduced in True Love or Marriage Fraud? The Price of Heartache which airs Monday, November 15, 10pmET / 7&10pmPT on CBC News Network’s The Passionate Eye

Canada is, in fact, the easiest place among all developed countries in which to commit marriage fraud — and with few, if any, repercussions. Fraudsters who can’t get into Canada through regular channels are finding unsuspecting Canadians, to marry and then dump, and then sponsor their own family — even secret spouses and children— over to Canada afterward.

Lainie, of Ottawa, is seen wearing a wedding dress with a door strapped to her back, to symbolize she’s been used by her husband as a doorway into Canada. Her voice is tinged with anger and betrayal as she speaks to the judge in the real-life scenes from her husband’s removal hearing. Akra admits he has no intention of going back to Guinea despite being found inadmissible to Canada. The reality is it is near impossible to get a permanent resident out of the country. “The easiest way to become a permanent resident in this country is to get married. As soon as you step into the country you are granted permanent residency status. There’s no other country that grants this,” says Lainie.

Some cases are extreme. Abdollah’s wife secretly moved to Canada without telling him. Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency told Abdollah that it happens a lot in Canada. “They asked me to go and basically live my life.” Abdollah is financially responsible for his wife for three years of her life in Canada, no matter what.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says in the film that if the government removes the financial obligation of sponsors, he fears there will be more false marriages than now, only with Canadian taxpayer stuck with the bill.

“Marriage fraud victims are too heavily penalized for falling in love,” says director Julia Ivanova, a Russian-born immigrant in Canada.

Is it possible to see the truth before a sponsored spouse moves to Canada? The film takes the audience to the narrow streets of Medina in Marrakesh, Morocco, to witness the flourishing love stories of Roxanne and Abdel and of Stephanie and Abderrahim. Both women know the risks but they are clearly lovestruck and willing to take a leap of faith.

The federal government is currently consulting the public on the topic of marriage fraud also known as a marriage of convenience ( but there is no word yet when any solutions will be presented.

True Love or Marriage Fraud? The Price of Heartache was developed by Interfilm Productions, produced by Heartache Productions in association with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Knowledge Network, and with the support of Canada Media Fund, Rogers Cable Network Fund, the Canadian Film and Video Production Tax Credits, and Film Incentive BC.

About Interfilm Productions:
Interfilm Productions is a Vancouver based documentary production company that focuses on combining entertainment and intelligence in high definition. Documentaries to date include “From Russia, For Love” on adoption, “Fatherhood Dreams” on gay parenting, and “Love Translated” on dating tours to Eastern Europe.

Conan O’Brien Travels Great Lengths To Perfect His Entertainment Experience In Latest American Express® Campaign

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Radio Podcasts, Technology, travel, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 24, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Conan O’Brien Around the World – Photo Courtesy of CNW

Image result for conan o'brien

Spot Highlights American Express’ Ability to Provide Cardmembers With Unique and Memorable Entertainment Experiences

November 09, 2010 @ 02:30PM

NEW YORK – American Express launched its latest television spot which showcases the brand’s commitment to providing its Cardmembers with unique and memorable entertainment experiences.

Titled “Curtain,” the:60 spot features comedian and award-winning late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien, and marks the first time in nearly three years that American Express has partnered with an entertainment personality in one of its advertising campaigns.

“Curtain” takes viewers into the depths of India with Conan as he meticulously prepares for an upcoming performance. He is in pursuit of the world’s finest silk and transforms raw thread into a long panel of fabric that he then personally dyes a regal red. The spot then flashes-forward and reveals Conan admiring with great pride a stage curtain – obviously one that he took pain-staking measures to craft to meet his standards. The spot culminates with a reminder to viewers: “If you’re really serious about entertainment, every detail counts,” followed by a call-to-action to visit, where Cardmembers can take charge of their own entertainment experiences.

“Curtain” is the latest installment of the “Take Charge®” brand campaign and debuted on major broadcast outlets starting on November 8th, aligning with the launch of O’Brien’s new late-night TBS show “Conan.”

“Just like Conan O’Brien, American Express takes entertainment seriously and consistently delivers unique and relevant entertainment experiences – whether at a live event or streamed content for viewing at home,” said John Hayes, Chief Marketing Officer, American Express. “American Express offers so much more than secure payments and great service, we deliver a gateway to memorable entertainment experiences across film, music, sports, fashion, and theater alike.”

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights, and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on, and

Leave the Phone Alone

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 23, 2010 at 3:00 AM

Remembering the Victims of Cellphone Abuse – Photo Courtesy of

November 17 is National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims.
We need your assistance… TO HELP SAVE LIVES!

November 11, 2010 @ 09:45AM

Click on the following link: to download a promotional filler ad to use at your discretion and based on space availabilities in your newspaper columns beginning November 17, 2010.

As you know, there are growing concerns among the public and highway safety experts on the phenomenal increased usage of cell phones while driving. Thousands of young drivers are still using their cell phones behind the wheel in spite of the increased risk of injury to themselves and others and recent laws banning their use in some Canadian provinces.

Using a mobile communication device, even a hands-free device, is distracting, to say the least. Drivers, passengers, and pedestrians of all ages have been injured or killed by distracted or absent-minded cell phone users who lost control of their vehicles because they did not see danger ahead and did not react in time to stop!


* Over 90% of Canada’s licensed drivers are affected by distraction legislation in their home province or territory. It is illegal to use a hand-held phone to call or text.
* It doesn’t take very long to create the conditions for a crash. Another study found that in 80% of the crashes examined, the driver had looked away from the road in the 3-second period prior to the crash.
* A recent study found that drivers who text have a crash rate 23 times greater than when they are not texting
* Even when using a hands-free phone, drivers are less likely to be aware of the driving environment around them. This can lead to a slowed response to a critical event or worse – they may not detect it at all.

In order to further educate young motorists, the Canadian Global Road Safety Committee wants to alert them to the high risks of using their cell phones and texting while driving.

We need your help in bringing the message to your younger demographics reader audience and your general readership…

Inspired by the one Oprah Winfrey is promoting on her popular television talk show under the No Phone Zone banner, our Canadian campaign call to action is: “LEAVE THE PHONE ALONE!”


In your role as a responsible newspaper editor and/or community-conscious media operator, we want to enlist your assistance, beginning November 17 and for as long as you can, in putting forth the message that using a cell phone or other portable hand-held communication device while driving is socially unacceptable and puts people’s lives at risk:

* by using the LEAVE THE PHONE ALONE no-charge or promotional filler ad available at as a PSA when doing your page layout whenever you have empty column space;
* by asking one of your staffers to write a short article to create awareness among your readers about the risks of causing serious traffic collisions and putting their lives and other drivers’ and pedestrians’ lives at risk;
* by inviting your readers to TAKE THE PLEDGE on the “” website;
* by encouraging your readers to use their social media network of friends on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc. and to LEAVE THE PHONE ALONE to make our roads safer and save lives;
* by inviting your readers to change their habits and to LEAVE THE PHONE ALONE;
* by posting the LEAVE THE PHONE ALONE message at your newspaper drop-offs, on your newspaper website, and develop a local self-promotion if you so choose;
* and by considering using our campaign launch news release and following up with interviews, backgrounders, reader surveys, etc. about the risks of using cell phones while driving.


If you wish to help us in this endeavour, here are the instructions you can give your readers through your newspaper editorial content:

1. Go to
2. Click the “Take the pledge” button;
3. Fill out the form and, if desired, check the box to receive your free automobile window sticker;
4. Click “I Commit” to complete your pledge;
5. Get the word out to your family and friends via any combination or all of these : Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, email or personal blog;
6. If you wish, download, print or display your very own certificate as a testimonial to your personal commitment.

Each pledge received will automatically activate a national “live” pledge meter or counter on the website.



We are launching the campaign in Ottawa on November 17, NATIONAL DAY OF REMEMBRANCE FOR ROAD CRASH VICTIMS, at a local school where a student recently died in a traffic collision. A news release will be sent to you before this event. This news release will also be sent out to all university and college students’ unions, associations, campus radio stations and student newspapers across Canada.


We have developed a website where young drivers can become better acquainted with the perils associated with the use of cell phones while driving a motorized vehicle, and where they can take the pledge to LEAVE THE PHONE ALONE while driving.


As mentioned above, we have developed and produced an AUTOMOBILE WINDOW STICKER to remind the driver of the vehicle and other motorists to LEAVE THE PHONE ALONE when driving.


In return for a pledge, a certificate becomes available to all who solemnly promise to LEAVE THE PHONE ALONE when driving.


We have prepared a newspaper no-charge or promotional filler ad available at the following address: to be used as public service announcements (PSAs) in your pages.


We are appealing to your community spirit and sense of public service to follow-up on the campaign, if possible, through interviews with campaign officials and other concerned and informed parties, articles and editorials to help carry the message to our young driver target audience.

We trust you will be able to help us in this endeavour. We cannot achieve our goal without your precious cooperation. We remain available to answer all your questions and to provide you with additional information or material if you need it.

Thank you for your contribution in helping us SAVE LIVES!

MindShare Learning in Partnership with Tech4Learning Sign Province-Wide Ontario Software Licensing Deal

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, Technology, travel, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 22, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Mindshare Provides Educational Resources – Photo Courtesy of

– Pixie 2 Creativity Software to Help Ontario Students Build 21st Century Skills –

November 11, 2010 @ 05:45PM

Mississauga, Ontario – MindShare Learning, a leading provider of EdTech strategy consulting partnered with San Diego based Tech4Learning Inc., to win a bid to provide 21st Century skill based creativity software to all Ontario public elementary schools.

“With the Ontario Ministry of Education’s licensing of Tech4Learning’s Pixie 2 software, one of the Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee’s (OSAPAC’s) key licensing mandates were met. The committee sought to recommend software that would address graphics painting software needs for students in Grades JK-3. Pixie 2 is engaging, award-winning, educational software elementary students can use to further their exploration of the world around them. Pixie 2 combines a paint program with text options, clip art, voice recording, and standards-based curriculum activities, helping students build 21st-century skills as they develop podcasts, online storybooks, videos, and Flash animations,” said Mark Carbone, OSAPAC Committee Member & Chief Information Officer.

“The OSAPAC Committee is excited by the licensing of Pixie 2, which will perform well in Windows and Macintosh computing environments in our Ontario classrooms,” said Mark Carbone, OSAPAC Committee Member & Chief Information Officer for the Waterloo Region District School Board.

The Tech4Learning Pixie 2 software will begin shipping to Ontario school districts later this fall. Pixie 2 is available to Ontario teachers through their educational site Ontario Educational Software Service (O.E.S.S.) representative. The representative can be found by clicking on the Contact Search link at

“We are thrilled to see Pixie selected as a tool to help students across Ontario build 21st-century skills as they develop podcasts, online storybooks, videos, and Flash animations,” said David Wagner, CEO, Tech4Learning, Inc.

“With the Ontario Ministry of Education’s licensing of Tech4Learning’s Pixie 2 software, one of the Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee’s (OSAPAC’s) key licensing mandates were met.”

“The OSAPAC Committee is excited by the licensing of Pixie 2, which will perform well in Windows and Macintosh computing environments in our Ontario classrooms.”

Mark Carbone, OSAPAC Committee Member & Chief Information Officer for the Waterloo Region District School Board

The OSAPAC Committee (Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee) is composed of English and French Canadian representatives from across the province of Ontario who advise the Ministry of Education on the acquisition of provincial software licenses for publicly funded schools in Ontario, Canada.
About Tech4Learning, Inc,

Tech4Learning, Inc. is an innovative educational technology company that develops and markets original professional development programs and create products for K-12 education. Since the company was founded in 1999, we have focused on developing tools educators need to be successful with technology in their classrooms.

At Tech4Learning we believe in a vision of education where students are actively and creatively engaged in the learning process, and graduate prepared to use the skills and knowledge they have acquired.
About MindShare Learning

MindShare Learning, a division of Martellacci & Associates, Inc., is a privately held company based in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada. Its hallmark is providing EdTech strategy consulting to learning & technology providers in the K-12, HED, and corporate learning markets. MSL is also the proud publisher of the MindShare Learning Report—Canada’s Leading, Learning & Technology eMagazine. MSL’s partial client list includes Adobe (Macromedia), Blackboard Inc., Dell, Discovery Education, EPSON, GlobalScholar,, Microsoft Canada, Pearson Education, RM PLC UK, Softease Ltd. UK, netTrekker, IMSI (, CERC (Canadian Education Resources Council), SMART Technologies, Tech4Learning, NECTAR Foundation and ERDI Canada.

From Staging Mock Parliaments to Uncovering Aboriginal Artifacts… How Canada’s Top Teachers Took Their Students Back in Time and Captured National Attention

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Religion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 21, 2010 at 6:00 AM

Aboriginal Education Took Place in Ottawa – Photo Courtesy of

November 12, 2010 @ 08:45AM

Ottawa, Ontario – If put on the spot, most adults would probably be hard-pressed to name the pioneer who paved the way for women to vote in Canada or the general who led his troops in victory on the Plains of Abraham. Certainly, no one would expect elementary and secondary students to instantly name these important historical figures in Canada, except maybe some of Canada’s top teachers.

Eight remarkable educators from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec are receiving national attention for bringing `history to life` for their students. These passionate teachers encouraged their students to uncover historical Inuit artifacts, recreate Nellie McClung`s mock Parliament, and retrace the roots of democracy from ancient Athens.

For their innovative and interactive teaching concepts, Canada’s History has selected the following eight educators as the recipients of the 2010 Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History.

Adrian Charles French – Mount Douglas Secondary – Victoria, British Columbia
Daniel Conner – Rockridge Secondary School – West Vancouver, British Columbia
Darcie McDonald – St. Patrick’s Community School – Red Deer, Alberta
Amy Park – Heritage Heights School – DeWinton, Alberta
Diane Vautour – Loretto College – Toronto, Ontario
Lucie Labbé, Paule Labbé & Marcelle Thibodeau – École Monseigneur Fortier – St. Georges, Quebec

Detailed biographical information, photos, and audio-visual materials for each of the recipients are available at

The Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian history were established in 1996 by Canada’s National History Society to encourage innovation in history education. Every year, the awards recognize teachers from elementary and secondary schools who have inspired and challenged students to explore Canadian history in a unique, interactive atmosphere. Deborah Morrison, CEO and President of Canada’s History Society says, “These exceptional teachers have a way of `doing` history, rather than reading it.” Morrison adds, “They inspire their students to take a genuine interest in Canada’s past, and they help them develop a sense of place.”

On November 19, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will present the awards at Rideau Hall. Another highlight of the award festivities is the celebration dinner to be hosted at the Canadian Museum of Civilization by Canada’s History Society.

The eight recipients will be awarded $2,500 and a gold medal and their respective schools will also receive a cash gift of $1,000. The awards and memorable events are made possible through the generous support of the TD Bank Group.

“At TD we believe that it is creative and enthusiastic teachers who can truly make a difference in our classrooms,” says Alan Convery, National Manager Community Relations, TD Bank Group. “We applaud those teachers who continually seek new and innovative ways in bringing a proud Canadian history to life for their students.”

The awards events also bring together over 150 of Canada’s top historians, educators, writers and media producers of our history to participate in a National History Forum at Library and Archives Canada. The event will be broadcast live via the Internet at

In addition to the Governor General’s Awards, the Rideau Hall ceremony will also include presentations for several other Canadian history honours, including two prizes initiated by Canada’s History Society: Desmond Morton, recipient of the 2010 Pierre Berton Award, and the winners of the Kayak Kids Illustrated History Challenge which encourages Canadian students between the ages of 7 and 14 to create their own illustrated story based on any aspect of Canadian history and heritage they find of interest. This year’s recipients are Billy Parrell from Central Technical School in Toronto, Ontario and Chanelle Albert from École Jeunesse Active in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario.

This year’s ceremonies will also include the announcement and presentation of the 2010 Begbie Canadian History Contest which provides high school students with the opportunity to test their skills in history against those of other students from schools across Canada. This year’s recipients are Eden Nzeyimana from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia and Gregory Bailey from Gander, Newfoundland. Other awards to be presented include the Canadian Historical Association’s Sir John A. Macdonald Prize and the Historica-Dominion Institute’s Great Canadian Questions Essay Competition.

Media are invited to attend the 2010 Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History on Friday, November 19, 2010, at 10 Rideau Hall.

Detailed biographical information and photos of the recipients, as well as copies of the student stories and essays, are available at

About Canada’s History

Canada’s History is a Winnipeg-based national charitable organization dedicated to popularizing Canadian history. In addition to the Governor General’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History, the Society also publishes Canada’s History Magazine and Kayak, Canada’s History Magazine for Kids.

Black Hair

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Music, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, Technology, travel, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 20, 2010 at 3:00 AM

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Get a group of Black women together and the conversation usually turns to hair.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a Black woman’s hair story – talked about my own hair – seen people talking about hair in a movie – or read about hair in a book – well, I could buy a lot of hair.

I used to think I was the only one who changed my hair just about every week. But now I know that many other women have permed, straightened, coloured, cut, lengthened and shortened their hair as often as I have.

When I was a child, my first hobby was playing hairdresser to my Barbie dolls. I grew up in the seventies and eighties but I was not much different from Black children in the forties.

Back then, Black children chose White dolls over Black dolls in a landmark study that led to the desegregation of American schools.

It was not that I preferred creamy white skin over chocolate. It just came down to hair. I wanted straight, long, blonde, brunette or red hair – hair that blew in the wind – hair that I could toss over my shoulder.

And when wishing it didn’t make it appear on my head, I used a towel instead.

As I grew older, I spent many years in hair salons turning my head of curly hair dead straight – walking out of the salons with the wind blowing through my hair – and tossing it over my shoulder.

Who says wishes don’t come true – for a price.

Although straightening Black hair is known as perming, there was never anything permanent about it for me. There was a war happening on my head. If my hair represented a people, the curly strands were being ethnically cleansed by straight strands with the use of chemical warfare.

Yet despite the chemicals, I’ve always loved the atmosphere of a salon. In this predominantly white country, Black hair salons create a Black world. During the civil rights movement, North American barber shops and hair salons became town halls for discussions on race relations.

Even now, a hair salon in South Carolina is being used to educate people about AIDS.

Places for hair are no strangers to political activity.

And it is in a salon that I found peace with the politics happening in my own head. Hairdressers looking at my natural hair – and not opening up a jar of Bone Strait – made me rejoice in the hair God gave me.

Professor and author Gloria Wade-Gayles once said: “my hair would be a badge, a symbol of my pride, a statement of self-affirmation.”

Well, it has taken me a long time, but I finally agree.


In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Living, Media Writing, Writing (all kinds) on November 19, 2010 at 3:00 AM

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Roxanne raced furiously to the corner store. She forgot her biology books in the backroom where she had just started working a week ago.

She used her key to re-open the store. She checked the store’s clock. It was 10 p.m. The store had been closed for 30 minutes.

The backroom was unlocked and there was a light emerging from within. It worried Roxanne a little, obviously, someone was in there. She picked up a can of peaches for safety.

“Is anyone here?” Roxanne said.

A shuffling of feet was her reply. Roxanne poised for attack over the door of the backroom.

Roxanne almost dropped the can on her foot. The tallest, and the most handsome man she had ever seen stood in that doorway, so magnificent, he seemed to be a dream.

This man at the door must have been near 7 feet. The man’s dark brown hair curled tightly around his smoothly shaven face. Roxanne had to crank her neck and arch her 6-foot frame to see the man’s blue eyes. Roxanne felt dizzy and light-headed. She felt like fainting. She felt as though she were drowning.

“Who are you and what the hell are you doing here?” the man said.

Roxanne backed away feeling timid.

“I-I work here. I-I left m-my books in the b-backroom. I came back to get them.” Roxanne sniffled to keep from crying.

The expression on the man’s face didn’t change. His eyes bore sharp and deep into Roxanne’s.

“I’m Lance, the owner of this place.” Lance turned around and disappeared inside the backroom.

Roxanne followed him inside to search for her books. Just as she was coming in, she tripped on the floor chain that keeps the door open. The chain yanked away from the door and slammed shut.

Lance sprang to retrieve Roxanne from the floor.

“You could have locked us in here. Thank God that you must have a key to open the door. Now give it to me,” Lance said.

Roxanne checked her light blue T-shirt’s pocket where she remembered putting the key. It wasn’t there. She checked the pockets of her jeans. It wasn’t’ there. She dumped out her purse and fumbled through her belongings. It wasn’t there and couldn’t be any place else. Then Roxanne remembered that she changed shirts when she got home. The shirt that she wore all day at work had been soiled by maple syrup. She had forgotten to transfer the backroom key from the soiled shirt to the fresh one.

She didn’t’ like the idea of telling Lance that she didn’t have the key. He could already tell that she didn’t have it when she broke into tears.

Lance turned red. “Oh, no…we are locked in here. I don’t have a key.”

“We’re only in here until Monday,” Roxanne said.

“You stupid black spook. Remember that I wanted this place closed until Thursday. I planned to go to Mexico with my girlfriend. I don’t like my place open when I’m not around. We’re stuck in here for four days.”

Roxanne’s patience snapped. She threw the can of peaches at Lance.

Lance was shocked into silence. There was peace for almost 10 minutes.

“Give me a hairpin, chick. Perhaps I can poke the lock with it.” Lance said.

Roxanne gave him her hairpin. He tried to open the door for 20 minutes, but it was obvious that it would not work.

Lance let out a stream of curses.

“You realize that when you get out of here you will no longer have a job?”


Lance paced up and down. He looked around the backroom, investigated it for any way out. He knew his store too well, if there was any way to get out except the door, he would know.

“I had a great date lined up tonight and all up until Thursday. Sally’s the best-looking chick I’ve seen this year…”

Lance stopped to stare at Roxanne. She was a gorgeous girl, much better-looking than his Sally. He’d never seen a better-looking chick in his life. But, Lance always found a better-looking chick than the last, every week. Roxanne could be the new week’s best chick. He’d never had a n***** in his life.

Lance studied her long black hair, hugging her shoulders. It fell gently over her brown eyes in the shape of large almonds. Her nose was so small, it was a wonder she could breathe. Her mouth was rather wide but in a sensual way. Her colour was so similar to the brown leather in his BMW. Her large breast strained against the fabric of her blue T-shirt. Lance was proud of how easily he was aroused just by watching her.

“So chick, what’s your name?”

Roxanne looked up at him.

“What’s the point of my telling you? You’re firing me anyway. I really need this job you know.”

She was glad that her usual fiery attitude was coming back. Lance the giant no longer scared her.

“It’s Roxanne.”

Lance was stunned by her rudeness. Chicks were never rude with him.

“Don’t be cheeky with me a chick. I don’t’ take s*** from any spooky dim-witted female.”

He picked up Roxanne. She yelled and hit him in the face. Lance reeled backward, hit his head on the ceiling light then collapsed on the floor.

Roxanne watched Lance fall to the floor with fear. She was scared to see him lying motionless.

She got up and touched his shoulder. He remained still.

Lance sprang to his knees and fell on top of Roxanne. She fought like a boxer to free herself from Lance.

Lance became very aroused to see her fighting him. She was a sparkler. He began ripping her T-shirt to see her breasts.

It didn’t’ take much of his strength to rip her jeans. Roxanne fought until her fingers felt raw and her eyes were blurry.

He robbed her.

She sued. Eighty thousand dollars for her pain was her payback. A lifetime of building her esteem was her spider.

Elephant Woman

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, Sports, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 18, 2010 at 3:00 AM

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I was having a party for my 19th birthday, and the only present I wanted was Alistar Abego. I wanted him naked and his legs spread before me with a bow on what was soon to be my everlasting chocolate lollipop. But, it was going to take work, and that’s what I was prepared to do.

I had seen to it that every liking of his was met when I prepared for my party. I had heard from one of his friends that his favourite colour was green. But even though I hated that colour, I got stomach cramps from blowing up 70 green balloons and a paper cut stuffing invitations in 200 green envelopes. And as I ran around the house picking up fallen balloons, my feet were burning from the blisters I got after spending a day hunting for a store in Ottawa which had the right shade of green cushions to put on my bed. I had run up my VISA bill with the green blouse I was wearing, and the green bra and panties – just in case I got my present.

Alistar, who I met in French class, majored in political science, and I managed to get his schedule of classes by following him around for two weeks. I was a journalism major, I didn’t care about politics. For Alistar, I took a crash course by watching CNN and CBC Newsworld every day.

One day in class, I saw Alistar with a Globe and Mail peeking out of his knapsack, so I had been reading it every day for months.

It had been four months of almost getting frostbite from walking 30 minutes to school in short skirts on the three days a week I had French class. I spent months encouraging him to call me so we could practice French together, and my hand hurts from clenching the phone too hard every time it rang. Months of living for his compliments, so I could know how he preferred my hair.

Even though it was hard work, it was all worth it to me. My mother would love him. He wanted to be a lawyer, his parents owned three African bookstores in Toronto, Montreal, and New York, and the family is Anglican.

I waited for him to arrive at the door, greeting everyone politely. I didn’t know many of them very well. I had asked Alistar about who he would like to see at the party and made sure that every one of them got invitations. So my three bedroom townhouse, which I rented with four other girls, was filled with people flicking ashes to the floor, mashing cheese curls in the carpet with their feet, and turning the beige carpet purple with grape juice mixed with vodka. As I greeted the guests, some handed me gifts. I told myself that I wouldn’t open them until I opened Alistar.

The door rang again, I looked at my watch. It was him, I can sense it, I thought, flinging open the door with a smile.

“Happy Birthday!” my girlfriends screamed and threw their arms around me.

I tried to get out of the grip of tacky nail polish so they wouldn’t wrinkle my blouse. My friends, Sam and Laura, started wrestling with me in the doorway. They were trying to keep me still to lick my ear, beat on my bum, and tickle my armpits.

“Get off me,” I yelled, trying to struggle away from the feelings of delight and displeasure.

“Okay, okay,” Sam said. “The birthday girl has had enough.”

Sam and Laura backed away from me. I looked down to take a quick look at myself. My blouse was wrinkled, and I noticed something that looked like a ladder, tearing up my stockings.

“S***, look what you’ve done,” I said. “Alistar may be here any minute.”

I pointed my face to Laura.

“How’s my makeup?”


I started whimpering.

“Don’t worry ‘bout it,” Sam said, taking my arm. “We’ll fix you up nice and pretty for your man.”

They climbed the stairs to my bedroom.

“My man Alistar,” I said, opening the door. “I like the sound of that.”

I went to my closet and pulled out my iron, then turned to plug it in, and saw Laura and Sam laughing.

“What’s so funny?”

“You,” Laura said, holding up a green cushion.

“When will you stop?” Sam asked.

“When I wish on my candles tonight,” I said. “If my wish comes true, I’ll stop.”

“Why would you waste your wish on a man?”

I looked at Sam with surprise.

“It’s hardly a waste.”

“Well, if I was you, I’d wish for some brains. All this chasing after a man hasn’t done your schoolwork any good.”

“That’s right, Susan,” Laura said. “What are you going to do next year when we graduate and you don’t?”

“That won’t happen. I could be married by then anyway, and I don’t plan on needing a job.”

“Right, I don’t know how ya gonna plan a wedding. You have no friends,” Sam said. “Laura and I are the only ones foolish enough to still talk to you.”

“That’s not true. I have friends. And you both got a man so you can make fun of me all you want, but you don’t understand what it’s like.”

I left the room to go wash my face in the bathroom. I moved a Soap Opera Digest off the sink counter so it wouldn’t get wet; my place in it was still marked. Those girls are so insensitive, I thought. Laura had a man she had been dating for two years. Sam had more than one man, one in Toronto who she spent her summers with, one in New York who she visited once a month, and one in Ottawa, for a “distraction” during the school year. They didn’t know what it was like to be alone.

I woke up to whatever was on the radio, usually some song reminding me that I wasn’t the only woman who needed a man. Whitney Houston needed to dance with somebody who loved her, and Mariah Carey called her “Dream Lover” to be with her. I turned the music off and eventually stumbled into the kitchen, my short black hair reaching for the sky. The night’s drool dried to my face and the “feed me” voices of my stomach loud to my ears. Then I saw one, sometimes two guys, and my roommates, still wearing their boyfriend’s shirts. Sometimes one of the guys was making pancakes, but I had to eat cereal because I wasn’t the one sleeping with him.

After I had eaten, I looked in my closet and reached for a sweatshirt. But, when I thought of Alistar, I pulled out a blouse and a skirt and then decided to shower. I would spend hours getting myself ready for school. And when I would run outside and as the bus passed by, so would a car. Inside would be my roommate and her boyfriend, looking warm. Then, I would start the walk to school, because the buses never came when I wanted them to. The wind was fierce walking down the canal, it would race up my skirt, it was the only thing that did, I thought. I would worry about the wind destroying my efforts I made with my hair. But, the only thing that kept me walking was that I was going to see Alistar that day.

I got to school and I suffered through monotone voices and the creak of the wood chairs disturbing my sleep. Thinking of Alistar made me feel better. When otherwise I wouldn’t care if my lipstick smeared after eating, I ran to the washroom and reapplied the colour that Alistar mentioned he liked, because I just might bump into him that day.

On those special days that I did, the rush of seeing his broad shoulders and smile made me happy. And when I went home and my answering machine didn’t blink, it didn’t bother me so much. When the phone would ring, sometimes it would be a male voice, but I told them that I wasn’t interested, and unclenched the phone to get ready for Alistar’s call. My mother wanted the best for me and always said that sometimes things come handed to you on a silver platter, but you had to work to get the gold, and I only wanted the gold.

I knew that after nine years of marriage, my mother divorced my father. When my father wore a belt, you couldn’t see it because his belly hung so low. He used to walk around the house in ripped light blue boxing shorts, which were faded on the bum, worn out from endless years of rubbing against the cushion of his armchair, and wearing away as he occasionally got up to get a beer. They didn’t always get along.

I couldn’t wait to make love to someone again because all I ever had were a few f***s since I was 14 years old. I was the only born-again virgin I knew. My mother had told me many times that having sex before marriage was like putting on dirty underwear. She said no man wanted to put on a woman’s dirty underwear. If it was clean, you didn’t get the disease, it smelled fresh, and he would respect his wife. I visualized Alistar putting on my underwear and it made me laugh. I had a feeling though that my mother expected me to accept a man’s dirty underwear.

I knew there wasn’t anything wrong with me. I was not too short or
tall and had great legs and straight white teeth after two years of wearing braces. Hand-size breasts and tasty chocolate eyes. I had been rejected by handsome men, but they never had a problem with my looks. I didn’t know what it was, but my relationships never lasted long, a few months at the most.

After drying my face, I walked back into the room. On my bookshelf, a shiny Jackie Collins book beside the cracked spine of a Harold Robbins one caught my eye, and I thought I have to start reading that one next time I’m on the exercise bike.

“Girls,” I said, breaking up Sam and Laura’s conversation. “Make yourself useful. I’m going to have to start fresh now.”

I sat down at my vanity table and pulled out my tray of lipsticks in all different colours, bottles of foundation in different shades of brown which I had to mix all together to get my face to match my neck, and cases of eyeshadows.

Sam picked up a bottle of foundation beside me who was sucking in her cheeks, exposing her sharp bones. Sam brushed the liquid onto my small forehead with her fingers and then felt something strange.

“Susan, do you know there’s a bump on your head?”

I furrowed my brows and reached my fingers up to where Sam was pointing. I rubbed it, and realized that yes; there was definitely a bump on my forehead. How could that have happened? I kept rubbing it, with my plucked brows still hovered over my eyes, and then I groaned.

“What’s wrong, Susan?” Laura asked from her sprawl on the bed.

“I got the bump when I was in grade nine and fell down in the school’s gym area.”

“How did that happen?” Sam asked.

“I was wearing five-inch heels.”

“I don’t get it, Susan. Why would you be wearing heels in the gym area of your high school?”

“Well, Jordie had told me that he liked girls in heels.”

“Who’s Jordie?” Laura asked.

“He was the guy I wanted back then.”

I turned away from my vanity table, and told them the story, hoping that they would admire my quest for love.

In grade nine Jordie Franklin was the one I thought of to get through the day. I had been trying for years to get his attention. When I was in grade nine, he was in grade 13, and he had told me that I was too young for him. But I knew that Jordie liked me.

When I would go watch him play basketball with his friends, he would leave the court just to say hello to me. In the hallways of the school, when no one else was around, he would pull me under the staircase and ask me for kisses. I was sure all he needed was to see me wearing five-inch heels, with my long legs looking so sexy, and then he would give up basketball to be with me.

Jordie wasn’t on the basketball team, but he went to every game. At the game with all the other girls competing for his attention, I would appear, with a short and tight dress on and my long legs in heels to catch every eye. The only eyes I would look at would be his.

For weeks, I had practised walking in the heels on my carpeted floor at home. When I stepped on the tiled floor in the school, I realized it was hard to walk on stilts on a slippery floor. Jordie never even got to see my legs in the heels, because I fell and hit my forehead against the floor before I got to him. What he did see was my face on the floor, and my short skirt exposing my torn white underwear, with blue flowers. On impact, the blood vessels had burst in my forehead and when I looked up; I could see the tip of my bump. It wasn’t until grade ten when I stopped hearing people call me “Elephant Woman.”

After a visit to the emergency ward, where I left with a cold bump covered by packed ice, the swelling went down in a week. But all the blood from my forehead rushed to my eyes, giving me dark purple half-moons under them. Another week passed and then to my dread, I had to go to school. And I had to wear sunglasses indoors to hide the dark purple half moons which were slowly fading.

“What did Jordie say when you went back to school,” Laura asked between giggles.


“Susan, you’re crazy,” Sam said.

“You guys don’t understand. You wouldn’t understand.”

“I’ve done some stupid things too,” Sam said. “But, times come when you know it isn’t worth it.”

I turned back to the mirror, picked up the foundation, and handed it to Sam.

“Are you going to help me get ready or what? Alistar might be here by now.”

I finished putting on my makeup, not thinking about the bump on my forehead, but concentrating on the mark on my chest. A black mark that was left over from six stitches was exposed along with my cleavage. I turned in such a way not wanting Sam or Laura to notice it. That one I got from chasing a boy named Frankie over a fence and getting caught in a loose wire on my way down. The mark was almost as old as I was, well before I even had breasts.

I got up from the table and showed off my face for my friends.

“How do I look girls?”

“Good,” Laura said.


I rushed to leave the room. I was thinking that Alistar must be there by now, and I regretted already not being the first one he saw at the party.

“Watch yourself down the stairs,” called out Sam walking slowly behind me.

“Yeah, and don’t get too close to any knives,” said Laura.

“Very funny, girls.”

Descending the stairs, I saw that the crowd of people at my house was larger. I passed by people spilling beer on my carpet and butting out cigarettes on my walls. But, I figured I would deal with them after I found Alistar.

I looked everywhere for him. Including leaving the party and going to his house. Like the perfect man of my dreams, he was nowhere to be found. But I did find him later at a school Christmas party for the French class, and we spent three years together.


In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, travel, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 17, 2010 at 3:00 AM

Image result for Black woman with dreadlocks

I took the few hours’ bus drive from Montreal up to Chicoutimi, a Québécois town, to learn French. Before I left I haggled with myself about what to do with my hair. Chicoutimi was not known for being a cosmopolitan place, and I had heard a lot more about it being the heart of separatist politics, than a hot spot for good black beauty shops. The last thing I was going to do was let some white hairdresser who had never even touched black hair before doing anything to my head. Wearing braids seemed to be the obvious choice, but I had worn them for years, and frankly, I was sick of the time it took to put them in, the time it took to take them out, and the scratching of my scalp in between.

My decision was clear as I sat on the Greyhound, walkman dressing my ears, bopping my head to Arrested Development’s “Natural.” There were two other black women in the group of Anglophones; I noticed them when I got off the bus. The first thing I did was check out their hair. One of them had a relaxer, looked freshly done. The other one was wearing a weave, quite badly done. They were friends and ended up rooming together. They were lucky; they could do each other’s hair if needed.

With a pat on my head of twists that looked like they had been done with hands full of thumbs, I met my roommate from Labrador and Québécois mere I would be spending three weeks with. Once we got to the Maison we would be staying at for a few weeks, the Quebecois mere showed us around and gave us the rules of the house. I was cool with all the rules, except for one: we weren’t allowed to wash our hair in the shower because it clogs the drain; we had to use a bucket and a basin in the basement.

I tried not to show the horror on my face as I wondered how I would be able to get my hair clean with a bucket and a basin. I needed running water coursing through my tresses, water shooting out of a showerhead massaging my scalp. And at the time, I really couldn’t care less about the world’s water shortage – my hair needed to be washed.

The next day was the start of the French classes at the Université du Quebec à Chicoutimi. We got a tour of the town and I saw what I expected to see, no black beauty shops in sight. I passed the days struggling with my hair, trying to make it look like it was done with five fingers instead of thick thumbs. I listened to Erykah Badu’s freestyle “Afro” skit for inspiration. Just as I was cursing myself for not sitting through the 10 hours of a braiding session so I could have three weeks of style, and just as I received my 50th queer look from a passerby to my head, I saw an angel.

I was in one of Chicoutimi’s malls, walking by a Le Chateau, and I saw a black woman sales clerk (the first one I had really seen from Chicoutimi) wearing beautiful and colourful extensions. I almost knocked over a sales rack racing up to her.

“I love your hair,” I said in accented French.

“Thank you,” she said in accented English.

“Where did you get it done?” There was such hope on my face as I looked at her, maybe the black beauty shop of my dreams did exist in Chicoutimi and I just didn’t know – a little place, just waiting for my business, a place that would give me the freedom to bite my nails again. I had stopped because I needed the length to scratch my dirty scalp. Week two and I was not about to brave the bucket and a basin in the basement.

“I got it done in Jonquière,” she said.

Jonquière! At first, I thought it was the name of a shop, but I found out that it was a town outside Chicoutimi. I asked the woman if there were any black beauty salons in town, and she answered what I already knew. I didn’t have the time to go all the way to Jonquière with the busy schedule I had with the French immersion course. She gave me the number for the hairdresser and I contemplated canceling a weekend of whitewater rafting so I could travel to Jonquière to get my hair done.

Sitting down and listening to Nina Simone sing “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” changed my mind. It reminded me of a fortune cookie I once got and that I keep posted on my bathroom wall, “the first and last love – self-love.” For too long in the relationship with my hair, I had made my hair the boss, but it was time to take charge of the relationship. Having fun was more important than getting some fancy hairstyle so I could impress other people. I started to realize how fortunate I was to even be able to go whitewater rafting with my relaxer-free hair, never having to worry about ruining the perm. On my bus ride up to rafting, I listened to “Natural” again.

The program at the university was intensive, and I had seen my psychiatrist at Concordia before I left. Now I was down to one milligram of Risperdal. I was feeling good. I was playing sports in the afternoon in French, but not being able to hit a ball with a bat. As I had done so many times in the past, I decided to decrease my medication down to half a milligram without consulting my doctor. I had another episode.

My Québécois mere and the other girl I was staying with went off for the weekend to visit some of her relatives. I was in the house basically alone, with one of the teachers from the school staying downstairs in the basement. I had a TV in my room and started watching MuchMusic. There was a video that came on that got me dancing. I was as high as a kite.

“If I could turn back the hands of time” were the words of the song. It got me thinking about everything I’d been through in my life and I decided that if I could turn back the hands of time, I would not change a thing.

I started wandering throughout the house. I opened the medicine cabinet of my Québécois mere, contemplating taking all the medication and committing suicide. I had a great paranoia that my Dad was hunting me down. That he had come to Chicoutimi and was in the house. I went downstairs to the basement where I thought he was hiding and found no one there. The teacher who lived down there left me a note in my Roberts-Collin French-English Dictionary that he was going to be out for the night. So I really was all by myself in the house.

The daughter of the Québécois mere lived next door, so I went over to her house, only having met her once. Her children were at home, and they liked me even in my maniac and depressed state. The daughter had to go grocery shopping, so I went with her. While I was in the grocery store, I thought about this show I saw on television once where old people were stealing the lives of the young people who worked in the grocery store. I thought that was happening to me. And I stuck by the daughter, pushing the cart, with her children in tow to stay away from the danger.

By the time we got back from the grocery store, I gave my mother a call from the daughter’s house where I screamed into the phone about why she married my father and put me through such an abusive childhood. I was hurting deep inside. And there was no medication to mask the pain.

The daughter called an ambulance and I went to the hospital in Chicoutimi where I roamed around in the emergency room trying to hide because I thought CBC journalists were after me to get the story of my breakdown. The head of the French program at Chicoutimi University came to the hospital and admitted me out and took me back to the school and tried to feed me good food. I had baked chicken.

They didn’t know what to do with me. The police came, which I felt safe with because I still thought my father was trying to hunt me down and kill me and didn’t feel safe in the Québécois mere’s house. The police took me to the police station while they tried to get in contact with my mother in Chicoutimi.

Once my Quebecois mere came back, I was admitted to the hospital where I was frightened and scared. My French wasn’t good enough to speak to the doctors who knew little English. They put a needle in my bum, which I thought they were trying to puncture my African bum flat like a white people. I finally went to sleep, because I hadn’t slept in days.

My roommates from Montreal got money from my dad to rent a van and come and pick me up in Chicoutimi. I was supposed to stay there for five weeks but only lasted three. I still got an ‘A’ in my French class and accreditation for taking the three-week course they also offered.

I finished off the summer deciding to move out from Diane and Alex’s place. I found a small apartment in Notre-Dame de Grace.

Three Quarters

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, cars, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Living, Media Writing, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 16, 2010 at 3:00 AM

Image result for Black woman with dreadlocks

I was taking the long bus ride home in the August heat, standing beside a white girl, and pushing her hair off my brown face.

With every bump and jolt of the bus, I was getting closer to the girl. Her rose-scented perfume invaded my nose and hurt my head. The bus was packed with bodies and odour. I peered through the window and saw people stomping the streets of Toronto. I watched the cars passing by and wished that I had taken my car to the conference. But I would have had to park it in the underground garage, and I hated doing that. The smell of it made me sick.

“Ouch,” I said.

The pain in my toe brought tears to my eyes. I looked down quickly to see the white girl trying to shuffle her cheap canvas shoes away from mine, which was imported from Spain.

“Watch where you put your clumsy feet,” I said.

“I’m so sorry, I’m very sorry,” she said.

I examined my shoes, checking for any scuffs. Finding none, I decided to get away from the girl. Lugging my briefcase, I moved to the back of the bus, searching for a seat.

As I moved, the bus stopped and emptied out. I had no problem finding a seat. I forgot to buy the Globe and Mail before I got on the bus, so I chose a seat which seemed the most interesting.

I sat down, facing a girl who was talking so loud to the man sitting beside her, I couldn’t help but overhear.

“I’m sick and tired of having your disgusting friends over at my house,” the girl said.

“They come over, they steal food from my fridge, they fart on my couch, they hog the TV, then they steal money from me – I’m f***ing sick of it Ray.”

I thought the man named Ray was going to hit the girl. Instead, he lit a cigarette, disregarding the no smoking sign at the front of the bus. He turned to the girl and slowly blew smoke into her face.

“Lay off me,” he said.

The girl’s face twisted in disgust. She turned away from the smoke, tossing her hair in Ray’s face and moved her eyes to look out the window behind me. I watched the blonde hair settle on her bare shoulders. The hair covered her tattoo of a red rose.

Her hair was frizzy and had dark roots. Her face was tanned but looked unattractive with the scowl on it. Even from where I sat, I saw the clumps of navy blue mascara on her lashes, and a thick navy blue line on her bottom eyelid. I looked at her eyes. I felt like I had seen those eyes before.

I looked at her long straight nose, full cheeks, and smallmouth. Then I looked back into her eyes. I was sure I knew this girl. My mind whipped through all the classes I’ve had and faces I’ve seen in the classroom. I thought of the faces in my U of T classes and at all the hip-house, reggae and dance parties I went to. I tried to remember all the people I had worked with at Simpson’s . . . at Druxy’s . . . at Toys R Us . . . I thought of all the friends I had in high school – but most of the people I remembered knowing were black. My eyes hovered over her dark roots and I thought I must know this girl from way back when I had no other choice but to associate with girls like her.

Startling me, the girl looked my way. I was caught and embarrassed, and I quickly looked away. I hid my eyes, not wanting her to recognise me before I figured out who she was.

Ray threw his cigarette butt to the ground and crushed it with a cowboy boot. The girl looked at him and he snorted.

“Whad you looking at?” he asked her.

She stuck her face in front of his.

“Don’t f***ing talk to me like that,” the girl said.

“Stay out of my face, Kim. You’re a crazy bitch,” Ray said back at her.

Kim . . . her name is Kim, I thought. My mind searched again, trying to make a match. I thought about my old, old, old neighbourhood, where most of my memories didn’t make me smile. I remembered hanging out in the laundry room on a rainy day and sitting alone by the broken swings at Cosburn playground. My world was black and white then, but I was the only black thing in it.

I had been at Cosburn Public School for one day when at lunchtime, I was called a “n*****” and shoved into the boys’ washroom. They locked me inside. I was scared to call for help. If a teacher came to rescue me, I was sure I would get in trouble for being in the boys’ washroom. I sat on the ground and cried.

I heard the door unlock. I jumped up and got ready to make my escape. The door opened and a girl was standing there, jiggling keys in her hand.

“You’re lucky I was able to steal these,” she said. “I gotta put them back now.”

She turned to leave. I followed her down the hall and into an empty classroom. She casually tossed the keys on the desk and walked out. She turned and looked at me.

“Thank you . . . thank you very much,” I said.

“You’re welcome,” she said, smiling. “Well, now we can be the best of friends.”

Twenty-three years later, I stared at her angry face, shouting at Ray, and I remembered. Now she was five inches shorter, with brown hair and those green eyes. Her face was softer then, almost sweet-looking, but her mouth was just as mean.

“Do what I say or you’ll have hell to pay,” Kim said.

“How much?”

“What?” Kim asked, giving me a dirty look.

“How much would I have to pay hell?” I asked her.

Kim scrunched up her nose and jumped off the washing machine.

“Shut up Susan, just do what I say.”

I remembered us in the laundry room of 51 Gamble Ave. building. It was the kind of building where no one smiled, and no one took deep breaths of the air because it always smelled like garbage. The six-floor dingy apartment building was where my mother, father, sister, brother and I lived on the third floor in a two bedroom apartment. Me and my “sole mate” Kim were playing in the laundry room like we always did on a rainy day. My short black hair was braided into little plats with green, yellow, red, blue, and purple barrettes to keep the ends together. I leaned against the dryers watching scrawny Kimmy pacing in front of the washing machines which were practically her height. She was holding an empty garbage bag. I loved watching her hair swing back and forth as she walked. She had so much that I didn’t have. She had friends at school, even though none of the other girls liked her. I felt lucky that she had chosen me to be her best friend. Without her, I would have no other playmate but my little sister. I was Kim’s shadow.

“Come on Susan, it’ll be easy. We can sell them and buy candy.”

I turned away from Kim and jumped on top of the dryer. I knew that Kim was too short to get to me.

“I don’t want to Kimmy, don’t make me.”

“Come on, Susan. Do it for me, I’m your soul mate.”

“Why don’t you do it?” I asked.

“Come on Suzie, I can’t do it. You’re naturally better at stealing, anyways.”

“What?” I said, not understanding what she meant.

“Just do it, Susan. I already told Bradley that I had clothes for him to sell. I’ll make him stop bugging you, Suzie, I promise, but you gotta do it.”

The idea of not being bugged anymore by Big Bradley was tempting me. He had been pushing me in dog shit, locking me in the boys’ washroom, and pulling my pants down at recess so everyone could see my underwear, for years.

“You promise?” I asked.

“I promise,” Kim said, drawing a cross on the right side of her chest in the air.

I jumped off the dryer, thinking that Kim’s promises meant nothing. I really had no other choice.

“I’ll guard the door,” said Kim, handing me the garbage bag, and running over to the door.

She opened it a little bit.

She turned around to see me hesitating by a dryer and looking at her.

“Do it now dummy, someone’s coming.”

I pried open the door of a dryer that wasn’t spinning anymore. I reached my tiny brown hands in and grabbed all the clothes I could hold. I stood up and kicked the dryer door closed with my foot then put the clothes in the black garbage bag.

Kim gestured for me to come to the door.

“Let’s get out of here,” Kim said.

I was startled by the bus driver yelling for quiet. He was stopped at a red light and was turned around in his seat, yelling down the aisle towards Kim and Ray, who were in the middle of arguing.

“F*** off and we’ll quiet down,” Kim yelled back.

The bus driver and several passengers turned around shaking their heads.

Ray and Kim were silent now. Ray sprawled out his arms and rested them on the top of the seats. His legs were open so wide that I couldn’t help but look at them. Seeing nothing of interest, I observed the filth covering him. His legs were long, skinny, and covered by grimy blue jeans. His long-sleeved shirt looked foul and was covered with his straggly hairs. His hair was as long as Kim’s and looked like it would be as blonde as hers when clean. His face was pale and clean shaven. I avoided looking at his eyes. I looked at Kim instead, amused at how she had changed. She looked like cheap, white trash, I thought.

I surveyed her plastic-looking white heels. A jean skirt was pasted to her thighs. She wore a pink halter top which squished her sagging breasts together. I tried to remember what had ever happened to our friendship.

I could remember my last lunchtime at Cosburn Public School. I walked past my screaming, fighting, laughing, classmates towards the fence which surrounded the school. No one talked to me, no one played with me at recess, and no one ate lunch with me. I looked around the playground for my “sole mate” Kim and found her talking to Bradley and a group of boys. Kim looked up and mouthed for me to wait for her. Bradley looked at me too, and then I saw him give Kim three quarters. Crossing the field, I went over to the broken swings and waited while eating my lunch.

I was finishing my salmon sandwich when I saw Kim running towards me.

“Guess what?”

“What?” I asked, wiping my mouth clean.

“Bradley says he wants to be your friend.”

I scrunched my paper lunch bag and stared at her. I couldn’t believe what I had heard. Bradley, wanted to be my friend? Bradley was the coolest boy in school. He was in the eighth grade, and a lot older than most of the other kids, even in his class. Why would he want to be my friend?

“I don’t believe you.”

“He does, he does,” Kim said. “He wants to talk to you. He’s happy that you stole those clothes for him – he wants to thank you.”

Kim could still see the disbelief on my face.

“He even wants to bring you to the Spot.”

I was amazed. I knew where the Spot was. Beside one of the other buildings on Gamble Ave., there was a long stairway which was entered from outside – when you reached the bottom the door leading to the underground parking lot of the building across the street. But no one used the outside entrance very often, so now the area was Bradley’s and his friend’s spot. People knew that lots of kids played there, so many of them avoided the stairway or coming through the door at the bottom. It was where the boys hung out and shot caps, or pelted eggs at people in passing cars – the street wasn’t too far from the stairway. No girls were allowed in the spot.

“Come on, Susan, please, please go. I promised Bradley you would. I don’t wanna look like a liar.”

“Are you coming too, Kimmy?”

Kim shook her head.

“I wanted to watch, but Bradley says he only wants you there.”


Kim turned around and looked at Bradley, standing with his friends, across the field. She turned back to look at me.

“Come on, Susan. Bradley wants to know now. I promised him you would. I kept my promise to you, Suzie. He won’t bother you again; he wants to be your friend.”

I watched Bradley smile at me across the field. I smiled back. I agreed to go.

After school, Kim ran with me to the Spot. Standing on grass, we reached the top of the stairs and looked down. We saw him sitting on a bottom step with a friend. They were smoking cigarettes and whispering to one another.

“Bradley, Susan’s here,” Kim hollered down to him.

He lifted his blonde head and looked up at us. Stamping the cigarette out with his running shoe, he pushed his friend up the steps, and he ran past us, saying hello to Kim. Then he waved us down.

Kim gave me a shove that pushed me onto the steps.

“Go now, Susan. Do everything he says and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Kim went skipping away. I could hear the sound of change jingling in her pocket.

I slowly reached the bottom and sat down on the last step. Bradley came and sat beside me. I avoided looking at his eyes. I looked on the ground and saw fired caps, and cigarette butts, and bottle caps. I could smell the underground garage. I kept my eyes on the door. My eyes were adjusting to the dim light. I could see him looking at me out of the corner of my eye.


He seemed to be waiting for me to turn my head, so I did. I saw that his eyes were grey.

“Did Kimmy tell you that I wanted to be your friend?” he asked, and I could smell the cigarette smoke on his breath.

“Yeah,” I said. “I didn’t believe her though.”

“Why not?”

“Well-I-. . . ” I felt confused. Didn’t he know how mean he had been to me? “You’re always bugging me and playing mean tricks on me.”

“That was before, but I like you now,” he said. “And I’m sorry for all that mean stuff I did before.”

I just hoped he meant it. I wanted to believe him.

“I think you’re cute,” he said, grinning at me.

I grinned so hard that my face hurt. No boy had ever told me I was cute before.

“Yeah,” he said smiling at me. “I think you’re the cutest girl in the school.”

Wow, I thought. He was being so nice to me. I didn’t know what to say.

He stood up and dropped to the floor on one knee.

“Will you be my girlfriend, Susan?”

I laughed at his silliness.

“Okay,” I said, like how that sounded.

I knew that Minnie Mouse was Mickey Mouse’s girlfriend. I knew that Daisy Duck was Donald Duck’s girlfriend. Bradley would treat me nice. I liked how it all sounded.

“Good,” he said, getting up and pulling me to my feet. “That means I have to kiss you.”

Before I could say anything, he pulled me towards his mouth. His lips felt cold and wet. I didn’t know what to do, so I tried to copy him. I could feel his tongue getting inside my mouth and I pulled away.

“Don’t . . . I don’t like that,” I said.

He let go of me.

“Okay, okay. We don’t have to kiss,” he sat down on the step. “Let’s talk.”

I wiped the wetness from my mouth and sat down beside him.

“You’ve seen a porno film before, right?” he asked me.

“No,” I thought for a moment. “What is it?”

He looked surprised.

“Well, it’s these films where all these girls that look like you, are doing it with people.”

“Doing it!” I said surprised, and giggling nervously. “Where did you watch that?”

“Well, my Dad has a whole bunch of them at home. I watch them all the time.”

He kept staring at my face and smiling. I smiled back.

“Do you wanna see something?”

“Okay,” I said.

He stood up. I heard the zipper before I saw his pants falling to the ground. He stepped out of his pants and was standing there in his underwear. I looked, fascinated, as he pulled his underwear down and then stepped out of them. He threw his clothes beside me on the step.

He seemed to be watching my face. I don’t know what he saw, but he seemed to like it.

“Wha’cha thinks?”

I was shocked. Just below the edge of his shirt, I saw it. It looked like an elephant trunk, except it had this little hat like the Smurfs wear at the end. His hat was a pale pink, a different colour from the trunk, which was just about the same colour of his pale legs. I couldn’t stop staring at it. I had never seen one of those before.

“Touch it?”

I rose up quickly and backed away.

“Touch it?”

“Yeah,” he said.

He moved towards me. “You’re my girlfriend. You’re suppos’ to touch it.”

“I really don’t want to,” I said, trying not to look at it anymore.

“You have to, Susan,” he said sharply. “Do you want to be my girlfriend?”

I nodded `yes’.

“Don’t you want to have as many friends as I have? Don’t you want me to never bug you again?”

I nodded yes.

“Touch it then, Susan.”

I slowly reached out my hand and touched it, and then drew my hand back quickly.

“You have to keep your hand there Susan, hold on to it.”


“Hold on to it like you would a popsicle stick. And sit down.”

I sat down. I reached out for it again, this time wrapping my hand around the trunk. I could hear him breathing so heavily. He sounded like he was sick.

“Are you okay?” I asked, looking up at him.

“Yes, yes,” he said, catching his breath. “Can you pet it Susan, pet it and you’ll see it grow.”

Grow? I asked myself. I pulled my hand away again.

“Susan, don’t do that,” he said angrily. He started to speak softer. “Just keep touching it. It feels good.”

I petted it, and I could hear him making sounds like an animal. I almost thought I was petting Kim’s cat. But this boy groaned, and the cat purred. I was feeling like this wasn’t right.

Bradley started moving his hips; he stretched his hands down and grabbed my shoulders. He was hurting me and I couldn’t move. I was scared.

“I think I have to go home now,” I said and stood up quickly.

I backed away. I hid the hand that touched him behind my back.

Bradley looked shocked. “You can’t, Susan.”

“I have to.”

I turned to run up the steps. Bradley grabbed my shirt and pulled me towards him. My back hit the door.

“You can’t go, Susan, I paid three quarters for you. You aren’t going anywhere.”

His eyes looked so mean. He moved towards me. He reached. I screamed as loud as I could.

My mouth was wide open, but no sound was coming out. I felt the tears on my face. I was crying. I looked around and saw a TTC ad, empty plastic seats, and Kim . . . trying to push Ray’s sleeping head off her shoulder.

My memory unsettled me, and I had to make sense of it. Three quarters . . . and the old man had chased him away. Three quarters . . . and I had begged my mother to never let me go back to Cosburn Public School again. Three quarters . . . and I went to a different school, made a few friends, and never saw Kim again.

I could still feel Bradley’s penis in my hands.

I glared at Kim, wondering how I could have forgotten.

“Do I know you?” Kim asked.

I hesitated, looking her up and down with disgust.

“Yes, you do.”

Kim looked shocked.

“I doubt it” Kim said.

“Yes,” I said, looking into her eyes. “Yes, you do . . . and you owe me three quarters.”


In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Religion, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 15, 2010 at 3:00 AM

Image result for Lizard

On the dirt, road children walk bare-footed and chickens are loose from their cages on the volcanic isle of St.Vincent. The silence was a distraction.

My mind was flitting about, like a flirtatious girl’s hair. I looked out from the porch and didn’t see pigeons, or streetlights, or concrete sidewalks. I realised how much I missed home.

A plane ticket to St. Vincent was a 14th birthday gift from my grandmother. I thought it would be pleasant to see her, but in fact, I looked forward to the few days left. I would not even look out the airplane window until I could see Toronto.

Granny lived in a small bungalow painted in peach, and inside it always smelled like codfish. Although it was always sunny outside, in Granny’s house it was dark. She had sheers and heavy green velour drapes on the windows that were usually drawn. When I asked her if she could let in a little light, Granny would draw the green drapes open and splashes of luminance came through the sheers… fuzzy.

I spent most of my days sitting in the living room trying to get a clear picture on the small Sears television set given to Granny by my mother. St.Vincent got their television shows mainly from Barbados, and there wasn’t much to watch. Since I had been in St.Vincent, I had watched the Agatha Christie movie “Evil Under the Sun” three times.

“Why don’t you go for a walk?” Granny asked.

The idea worried me. I had been there for a week and had never gone anywhere by myself. I kept having visions of a wild animal attacking. I had spent another day getting only as far out of the house as the porch. A walk would be good for my skinny legs. I just was not used to the heat in St.Vincent. Although Granny’s place was hot, it was still better than outside.

The nights were cooler, so I decided to visit Aunt Pansy and see if she was home. She lived just down the road and I hadn’t seen her since I’d been in St.Vincent. Granny had told me she was in the hospital for being “funny upstairs.”

I let Granny know I was taking a walk and hit the street, or brown dirt path.

The air was so hot and thick, its heat molested me. I followed the road, occasionally wiping the sweat from my eyes. I followed the bend in the road and passed in between two houses where I heard singing.

The tune wasn’t familiar, but it sounded like a calypso song. I walked towards the sound wondering who it could be singing so loudly. The voice sounded young and sweet, like a child’s.

There was a rickety brown fence that looked like it was put up with scrap pieces of wood to protect a backyard. The singing was coming from the other side. I didn’t want to climb the fence because it looked like it would fall down. I walked around it. On one side, I saw an opening. I started to walk to it, ducking my head to avoid the low hanging leaves of a tree. I made it to the hole in the fence.

“Jump up, jump up!” the woman sang jumping. “Ya got to shake to de beat, shake it, shake it . . .”

Every time she said shake it, the broom was tucked to her chest as her shoulders wiggled. With one hand she grasped the broom and shook it so hard the wood handle looked like rubber.

I decided to visit my aunt later. I began to crawl and felt something scurry down my back. I jumped up and shook, trying to whip off whatever it was on my spine.

Turning around and barrelling through the hole in the fence, I fell. The thing had now crawled underneath my dress. I rolled around on the grass, desperately grasping at my back, trying to catch the thing.

“Hole on,” I heard. I kept rolling, unable to keep still while the thing kept crawling.

“I tell you I can’t kill the thing if you don’t stop moving.”

I dug my fingers into the grass, keeping as still as I could.

“Hurry,” I said.

“Git on ya belly.”

I lied on my stomach, trying to keep my face away from the grass. Its smell offended me. I could feel the dirt in my nails.

I felt a foot hit my back in the spot where the crawling was, then felt nothing.

“Is it off?”


I sprang to my feet then watched the woman go after what was crawling on my back. I walked behind her, watching her stalking the little animal which was scurrying through the grass. Pansy held the broom in the air, towering over the animal, as I leaned over her shoulder, I could see it was a lizard. I shuddered.

The lizard came out of the grass and ran across the concrete towards Pansy’s back door. Pansy brought down her broom on top of the lizard. She hit it and I turned away, not wanting to see its destruction. I heard three other thumps, then silence.

“He’s dead,” Aunt Pansy said.

She bent down and picked something up.

“You want da tail?”

She dangled a little green piece of lizard flesh in my face. I took a step back quickly.


Pansy shook her head.

“The tail grows back you know? The lizard is lucky, he lose and get back.”

I looked at the squished lizard on Aunt Pansy’s concrete thinking there would be no tail growing back on this one, then I looked at my Aunt. Aunt Pansy eyed the tail, looked at me, and then brought the tail to her mouth. She licked it.

“I think this’ll be sweet in my soup.”

My stomach felt queasy. A funny taste was in my throat. It felt like bile.

“Ya look sick, chile. I tell ya joke, me a joke wit’cha.”

I looked at her and noticed she was wearing makeup. Underneath all of that was my Aunt Pansy. Her lashes looked long and fake, and so heavy I was surprised she could keep her eyes open as wide as they were. On her eyelids and under her painted black brows was a frosty purple. On her cheeks were two large circles of red which matched the shiny glossy colour on her lips. Her lips looked so wet. Her grey hair, streaked with black was twisted on her head.

I tried to smile weakly at her joke, still feeling sick and unable to let go of my stomach.

“I’ve got ease for ya belly,” she turned and walked to her back door. “Come.”

I hesitated.

Aunt Pansy walked to the back door and looked over her shoulder to see me still standing in the same place. She went through the door, disappearing inside, but left the door open.

Could it be true that she worshipped the devil? Granny said that’s why she was “funny upstairs.” I peered through her door and wanted to see inside. It was getting dark, the sky was red and purple. I couldn’t stay long anyway.

The first thing that hit me about the house was the smell. It was of shortbread cookies, my favourite. It was saner than codfish. The house was small, from where I stood at the door; I could see the whole place except for what was down the hallway, which to my guess would be a bathroom. The floors looked dusty and like they were made of a dirty brown wood. Her living room had a fancy sofa with the plastic still on. A small coffee table had picture frames all over it, some in gold, and some in silver. I could not see from the door the pictures in the frames. In the corner of the room was an artificial Christmas tree, kept standing by red metal poles, each gripped into the plastic trunk of the tree? It was decorated with silver apples and red bells which looked like they were made out of wrinkled paper. There were pale yellow lights on the tree, which were the only lights on in the room. On top of the tree was an angel with a black face. She was in the kitchen, beckoning me to come in.

There were two large black dolls across from the rocking chair. They looked like brother and sister. The boy doll had short curls and denim overalls and the girl doll had two curly ponytails stuck above her ears and a short-sleeved denim dress. Their large eyes looked alive and I had to look at them carefully to see that they were glass.

“Those are my babies,” she said. “Just seat dem on the sofa, dey want ta listen to the radio now anyways.”

I picked them up and moved past the Christmas tree to seat them on the sofa.

“They’re cute,” I said.


“What are their names?”

“Peas n’ Rice?”

I sat in the rocking chair and turned to look at the dolls.

“Peas n’ Rice?”

“Yeah, the girl is Rice, her favourite thing to eat.”

I moved my eyes away from the dolls and looked at the tree.

“It’s pretty, eh?” Pansy asked.

“Yes, it is.” Christmas all year round? I wondered.

“I like pretty things.”

I looked at her. Well, she was definitely eccentric, but so far I could see no signs of devil-worship.

“I was baking before, I made shortbread cookies. Once I have done these, dey’ll be in de oven and baked in no time, ya’ll have some.”

“No, that’s okay,” I said, not wanting to accept any food.

“They’ll make ya belly feel nice,” she said kneading the dough. “Ya too thin anyway, ya’ll have some Pansy cookies and feel nice. Ya Granny’s cooking can’t be good.”

Pansy stood up and then picked up a tray of star-shaped unbaked cookies.

“Dem cookies must be done by now. Hole on. Ya belly will feel sweet soon.”

She disappeared into the kitchen.

From where I sat at the dining room table, a large oak buffet covered the wall. Within its frame it had oak drawers on the bottom; I couldn’t see how many from where I sat because the table cut off my view. On the top were glass doors, where inside many crystal glasses and china plates, cups and saucers were showcased. I stood up to look closer. On the middle shelf was a crystal glass with a colourless picture taped to its front. The picture was of former Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. I thought I would have to ask Pansy about it.

I could see Pansy coming back from the kitchen with a tray of those cookies. She placed them on the table.

“Ya gonna want some milk to go wit da treats, right?”

I looked at the cookies, then at the picture on the glass.

“Sure,” I said without looking at her.

Pansy went into the kitchen.

I took my first bite of a cookie as Pansy placed a tall glass of milk in front of me. My teeth sank into the shortbread and chewed the morsels, trying to keep the taste on my tongue as long as possible. I didn’t even realise that Pansy had her large bottom hanging off the edge of the seat, watching me eat.

“Ya like dem?”

I nodded.

“Best I think I’ve ever had.”

Pansy smiled so wide, exposing that she had two bottom right side teeth missing.

“Have plenty, I make plenty.”

I looked up and noticed the picture in the case again.

“Pansy, why do you have a picture of Prime Minister Trudeau?” I asked pointing to it.

Pansy spun her head to look and then turned her head quickly back at me.

“My friend Annie sent me dat picture when she first went to Canada in 1966. Vincentians in Canada speak well of Trudeau and de Liberals. I keep it to remind me how good I got it.”

“What do you mean?”

“‘Fore he came minista, Canada didn’t let in lots of black people. Liberals like black people. Now, plenty of Vincentians left this place and went to Canada. Ya momma went dere ’cause Trudeau let her in, so did Natalie, so did Jensen,” she started kneading the dough again and I noticed that she was sniffling.

“I lost most of my loves to dat place.”

“You don’t like Canada, Auntie Pansy?”

“I hate it.”

“How could you say that, Auntie?” I was confused. “Have you even been to Canada?”

“Just once, that was in 1967 to visit Annie. I missed her. She lived in Montreal, in a pretty place. She even had a car after only one year. But de place was so cold. I still can’t get de chill out of me bones. It changed me for life, I’ve never been de same.”

“Anyways, I wish everybody was still here,” Pansy said. “Things were good when I could walk to any of my family’s house. When you needed comfort, all ya had to do was knock on a door, and somebody be dere to love ya.”

“But, my mother wants you to live with her, Auntie Pansy. She would be there for you. You don’t need to be alone here.”

Pansy stopped kneading the dough and just looked at me.

“But this is my place, Su-zann. I can’t breathe any other air or live in any other place but here. If I left I’d be as unhappy as everybody else. I don’t have a car here, but you ask ya momma if having a car makes her happy?”

I finished her cookie then looked at my watch. It was half past eight.

“I won’t have any time to eat all those cookies, Aunt Pansy, I should head back to Granny’s.”

Aunt Pansy went into the kitchen and came back with a bag. She filled the bag with the cookies.

“Su-zann, I have something to ask you.”

I nodded for her to continue.

“Do you think I’m crazy?” Aunt Pansy asked.

I didn’t know how to answer. What did crazy mean anyways? Granny told me that Aunt Pansy was like a rollercoaster, she went up and down and had been like that for as long as she could remember. Pansy probably kept the dolls because they reminded her of Natalie and Jensen, her children that were taken away from her when she got sick one time. I had never seen Aunt Pansy sick, but Granny told me it was quite a sight. Sometimes Pansy was so sick she wouldn’t get out of bed and wouldn’t talk and other times she was so sick you couldn’t keep her down and she wouldn’t stop talking. I had never seen those sides of Aunt Pansy, I just thought she was eccentric.

“I don’t think your crazy, Aunt Pansy.”

She smiled.



In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Music, Opinion, Religion, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 14, 2010 at 3:00 AM

Image result for black church

I held my Granny’s hand as we walked down the street to the church on the last Sunday. We were on a northbound Toronto street heading uphill to an eastbound avenue. The bakery behind us was masking the smell of garbage as we passed by the stuffed green and black bags balanced on the curb. Sweat spotted my temples. It was hot for an August morning before global warming. Ever since Granny had come from St.Vincent & the Grenadines, It was like she had brought the heat with her. I couldn’t remember a hotter summer. She was panting with every step. She never wanted to admit that the walk to the church was hard for her, so she complained about everything else instead.

“All this hardness does hurt me feet,” she said, pounding a foot on the concrete like I didn’t know that it was hard.

“Do you want to walk on the grass?”

“Da grass kills bugs,” she said pointing to the pesticide sign. “Me nah want me feet pun dat.”

I sighed. “Do you want me to carry you?”

“I too fat. You would die from me weight.”

Granny laughed softly at her comment. We were at the candy store on the top of the hill, where the long-leg man once lived. The man owned a store on the first floor of his house and he had one leg longer than the other. He said it was because he had “one foot in the grave.” My bike gang and I used to hang outside of his store and he would chase us away, telling us we were bad for business. I never really understood that because we were usually the only ones who ever came into the store. We thought for sure he was rich from the profit of selling Popeye cigarettes 20 cents more than anybody else. But, the store was empty now, so I bought my candy from across the street. The building was waiting for a new owner, and I just hoped whoever it was would treat the neighbourhood kids better.

This being Granny’s fourth Sunday in Toronto, it was only the fourth time I saw Granny wearing a dress where the colours were not faded. The lace-trimmed neckline was scooped low enough to see her gold cross pendant. This Sunday, Granny’s dress was in yellow and kept her bosom in place. She wore her shined white shoes which she worked to keep clean by sidestepping a few pothole puddles from last night’s rain. She had a white handbag to match, and in her other hand was her Holy Bible with its black cover and words in gold.

Granny’s hair was free from the green and gold scarf she usually wore and was pressed and curled up at the ends. The only everyday-thing that Granny wore on Sundays was her knee-highs, the same brown ones she wore every day, no matter how hot it was.

“Ya legs just can’t be naked, gal,” she told me as she insisted I wear stockings.

An hour after Granny arrived; she spent 10 minutes giving me and my mother the mangoes and pomegranates she had smuggled through customs. She also asked me about school, although I wasn’t even in school. Then she spent 50 minutes filling my mother in on all the gossip on every Vincentian my mother did and didn’t know. With her last word on whether or not my Auntie Pansy was going crazy because she kept her Christmas tree up all year. Granny congratulated my mother on divorcing my father and asked where the church was. I had stopped going to church years ago, but I went on holidays with my mother.

My mother sent Granny to our Easter and Christmas church, a Methodist one which we needed to take a “nasty bus” as Granny called it. Sunday was the only day my mother got to sleep more than four hours, so she forced me to go with Granny. Now I was stuck with this Sunday chore.

Granny hated the Methodist church, it made her fall asleep. She said there were too many white people and she couldn’t stand organ music that was played with more than one mistake. The Monday after that first Sunday, when the sun was burning at the top of the sky, she said she was going for a walk. She didn’t come back till the moon was up. But, she found a Black Baptist church which was walking distance from my mother’s house.

“We naw need to step on dat nasty bus, Susan,” she said.

She grinned, but her plate wasn’t in so I could see her tongue through the spaces in her teeth.

“The bus isn’t that bad, Granny,” I said.

“Too many white people.”

Granny just wasn’t used to white people like I was. Granny had been to every Caribbean country, to Brazil, Panama, and she had even been to Ghana, but this was her first time in a country north of the equator. My mother had lived in Canada for over 20 years, and even she still wasn’t used to white people. She always complained about them at work. About how they would ask her stupid questions about the food she brought for lunch, and about her hair.

Now Granny was here to help my mother complain about white people. Granny had been diagnosed with breast cancer before I even understood what it was. In June, her doctors removed a breast six days before her 75th birthday. My mother sent her a card with an airline ticket in it.

The Baptist church on Davenport was brown brick with three floors under a black roof. Like every Sunday, we saw a black woman standing outside the door. She only had one leg, her right one, and she had a crutch under her left arm. I occasionally sneaked some looks at her; I didn’t want her to think I was staring. She had a red scarf wrapped around her head, and tufts of kinky hair sticking out. As we approached I stared at her right ear. It was the only part of her skin which was white. On our first church Sunday I asked Granny why the woman’s ear was like that.

“That show how these white people here are just hole’ in her by de ear,” she said.

I laughed and asked my mother when we got home.

“Must be some kind of burn or something or frostbite. That kind of thing can take the colour right out of you,” my mother said.

The woman with the crutch had a blue furry coat on, and the fur was wearing away at her elbows. I wondered why she wasn’t fainting from the heat. Her face was dry. Her cheeks were plump and the skin looked grey and cracked. Her cheeks were so high on her face that her eyes seemed to squint as if they were trying to see over them. The coat hung to her waist and a white skirt blew around her leg from the breeze. It was sheer and I could see her red underwear and the stump of her left leg. Her foot was bare and her toes curled and bent against the concrete. On the ground by her foot were pink stains and a Popsicle stick. The ants were crawling onto her toes, but she didn’t seem to mind it.

“Honey, how ya feeling?” Granny asked the woman.

I pulled at Granny’s arm, hoping she would walk past the woman, ignoring her. Granny’s the first person who I had ever seen talking to a street person. The woman smiled at Granny without showing her teeth. She held out her hand to us, her eyes fixed on our shoes. Granny opened her purse and gave the woman $5.00. She had given the woman $10.00 last week.

“Sorry, I don’t have a lickle bit more today, sweetheart.”

The woman closed her hand around the five and kept staring at the ground.

The woman said nothing; she didn’t even look at Granny. I pressed Granny’s hand and pulled her through the church doors, relieved to get away from her.

“Granny you shouldn’t give people like that so much of your money,” I said once we were behind the church doors. “You just don’t know what they’ll do with it.”

Every other time I said that to Granny she just ignored me. That day she told me that she should take me back to St. Vincent with her. There was no way I would allow that to happen. I had been to St.Vincent before, and it was hot and boring, and even their big city called Kingstown was rural.

Granny and I found a pew near the front. She needed to get up close to see. The church was packed. Those Sundays were among the few times in my life when I saw so many black people all in the same place. I was in awe.

When the choir and band started, there was hardly enough room to dance in the pew. I didn’t mind so much going to this church because of the choir and the band. Every church song was uplifted with the pounding of a piano, a few saxophone solos and a drum beat. The choir would do `Four Tops’ moves to the music, raising their hands when they sang “up” and hugging themselves when they sang “Jesus loves me, this I know”. That band played the songs of God so well, every butt got out of its seat and wiggled to the beat. Granny shook her butt and her yellow dress just shimmied. She raised her arms up to her bosom and she clapped so hard the wind from her hands made the feather on her hat wave. Granny’s voice was so good; she should have been in the choir. When she sang, her top lip would curl, looking like it was trying to reach her nose, but it never did. Her lip curled like that when she smiled too. My lip curls like that too when I smile. I don’t really like to dance in public, but even I shook my shoulders and shuffled my feet a bit.

When the music stopped it was time for the preacher to speak. He waited for everybody to catch their breath. When he started, he spoke louder than the music, to keep people awake I figured. Occasionally Granny would scream “Amen” to things the preacher said or stand-up and yell “Yesuh.” Other older men and women would do this too. When the preacher read from the scriptures, Granny opened up her Holy Bible, extending it to me so we could follow along together. I pretended to follow, but I just stared at the page and yawned. Once my yawning started, it wouldn’t stop. Granny stared at the preacher like he was Moses walking on water. It was the look in her eyes that made me not tell her that I smelled liquor on the preacher’s breath when he kissed me on the cheek when I first met him.

After the service, Granny said goodbye to the preacher. Walking out of the church always seemed difficult for her, but this time was worse. She dragged her feet, still singing the church songs softly to herself. The walk back was faster going downhill. We crossed the street and came to the shortcut leading to the block of townhouses where I lived. Granny stopped walking.

“I don’t have me Bible.”

I looked at her, all over her. “Are you sure? Check your purse.”

“I know I don’t have me Bible,” she said without checking her purse. “I must have left it at de church.”

I didn’t want to go all the way back there, especially with how slow Granny walked. Also, I couldn’t wait to get home. I was breathing heat.

“Lawd, Richard done give me dat Bible. I can’t lose it.”

Richard was my grandfather who I had never even met. He died two years before I was born.

“Okay, Granny, just go home,” I said and turned around. “I’ll run back and get it for you.”

I was already running when I heard her thanking me. Once I reached the candy store, I was panting out so much hot air I stopped. I got to the church doors so quick it surprised me. I had never realized how close the church was without walking with Granny. I could hear singing inside and guessed it was the choir practicing. I didn’t want to disturb them so I tried to enter quietly.

I noticed then how big the room was without all those people in it. When I glanced on the small stage where the choir was, nobody was there. But in a front pew, I saw the back of the woman with the crutch.

“Jesus loves me, this I know . . . ” she sang.

One hand was grasped around the crutch, and the other was suspended in the air, the fingers wiggling double time to her singing.

“. . .cuz the Bible tells me so. . .”

She shook her hips, leaning on the crutch. She would occasionally stick out her bum and shake it.

I didn’t know what to do. I tried to look around to see if I saw the Bible anywhere near, but I knew I might have to come right behind the woman to get it. I thought about coming back, but I didn’t want Granny’s Bible to get stolen. Who would take a Bible in a church, I asked myself. I wasn’t sure, but I thought maybe somebody could.

I kept taking a few steps forward, then stopping, hoping the woman wouldn’t turn around. The closer I got to her, the more my stomach was knotting. I didn’t want to see her. I was halfway there, wondering whether I should just wait outside until I saw her leave. She stopped dancing and turned around.

I looked past her.

“I’m sorry,” I said, darting my eyes to her. “My Granny forgot something.”

I wanted to dash to find the Bible, get it and just run away. The woman shifted her weight on the crutch and bent forward. She was trying to pick up something from the seat in front of her. It was the Bible. It took a while for her to grasp the book without dropping it. She held it out to me.

I came close enough to smell the scent of the streets from her. I felt a sickness in my throat. I held my breath and grabbed the book from her. I darted my eyes to her, her eyes were squinty, but I knew she was staring at me.

Then she held out her hand.

I didn’t have a purse or any pockets. I didn’t have anything to give her.

“I’m sorry,” I said and I ran out of the church.

I didn’t care that the sweat stung my eyes as I ran home. I approached the house and saw Granny out on the veranda, sitting on a mahogany chair.

“Why you crying, gal,”

“I’m not,” I said wiping my face.

“Something did trouble ya.”

She wouldn’t let me go inside until I told her. I sat in a lawn chair with purple and green stripes. I had the Holy Bible in my hand. When I finished telling her, she took the Bible from me and held it in the air, shaking it.

“You should have given her de Bible,” she said.

Crime Prevention Tips

In Business, cars, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Technology, travel, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 12, 2010 at 1:00 AM

Crime Prevention around the house and yard

You can’t be on guard 24 hours a day or be expected to stay up nights wondering if a criminal might be lurking around your property. There are things you can do to minimize your risk of becoming a crime victim. Among them:

• Make sure all doors, windows, and skylights to your house and garage are always closed and locked.
• Park your vehicle in a locked garage if possible.
• Keep your vehicle locked at all times.
• Use your exterior lighting. Regularly check to ensure all exterior lighting around your home is powered and operational.
• Install exterior lighting around the complete perimeter of your home if you don’t already have it.
• If you have a back alley or easement, be sure no unauthorized person can get into this area.
• Beware of landscaping that may provide cover or concealment for someone lurking around your home.
• Trim back trees and bushes on your property.
• Ask your neighbours to keep an eye on your home with the promise you’ll do the same for them. Concentrate on houses where people are away on vacation.
• Make sure there are no sources of flammable materials left out in the open, like rags, wood, gasoline cans, newspapers etc. Lock and chain barbeque propane tanks including spare tanks to prevent them from being stolen, used as a means to break a window or as a source of flammable material.
• Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
• Report any suspicious person(s) or events to the police.
• Do not delay in calling the police. Hesitate only long enough to ensure your safety. Then call immediately. The faster the police are able to respond, the better the chances the criminal(s) will be arrested.
• Sunday the 7th of November 2010 is daylight savings time and also time to change batteries in smoke alarms. Make sure smoke alarms are installed on every floor of your home and they are regularly checked and are operational.
• Talk to your family about a fire plan and how to get out if a blaze strikes your home. Remember to arrange a specific meeting place so everyone knows all the members of your household escaped from the home safely.

General Toronto Police Contact Information

9-1-1 Should be used for the following emergencies:
•Crime in progress – situations where the safety of people or property are at risk
•Medical emergency
416-808-2222 Should be used for non-emergency situations
416-222-TIPS – Crime Stoppers – Report anonymously to police any information regarding a crime (or online at Text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637)

Company’s Coming: Whip up Your Kitchen for the Holidays

In Beauty, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 11, 2010 at 2:00 AM

Paint colour is the easiest way to freshen up décor, says CIL Paints

Create Beautiful Kitchens – Photo Courtesy of Gail Bergman PR

November 2, 2010 – What’s the recipe for successful entertaining? For many, it’s a party that ends up in the kitchen. And, as today’s hosts and hostesses will agree, most get-togethers do. So, when decking the halls of your home this holiday season, consider decking the walls of your kitchen as well.

“Kitchens today are the central gathering place for families and friends,” says Alison Goldman, Marketing Communications Manager for leading Canadian paint brand CIL Paints. “As a result, when it comes to entertaining, fixing up the kitchen has become as much of a priority as decorating the family or living room.”

Haven’t got the appetite to undergo a kitchen renovation? No problem says Goldman, explaining that there’s only one key ingredient needed to freshen up the most widely-used room in the house – paint.

“Paint is the easiest and least expensive way to revive a room,” she says. “With the right colour choices, it’s amazing how space can easily be transformed from ordinary to extraordinary in a very short amount of time.”

Add colour to your holidays – and kitchen – this season with these painting tips from CIL:

· Bring on the cheer: Because wall space is limited, a kitchen is a perfect place to test a brighter colour scheme. Good choices for the kitchen include earthy oranges, sunny yellows and nature-infused greens, such as CIL’s Apricot Ice (48YR 50/372) orange, Lime Twist (89YY 78/269) yellow and Fairy Tale Green (10GG 33/404). To put a modern twist on a traditional kitchen, try pairing airy grey walls – using CIL’s Crystal Glimmer (70BB) – with brown or green cabinetry and gleaming chrome hardware. For a bolder, dynamic look, red cabinetry combined with dark grey walls will create a festive environment that lasts the whole year.

· Set the mood: Colour not only pleases the eye, but it can also affect how we behave. So when selecting paints for the kitchen, consider the psychology behind the colours you choose. For example, red stimulates appetite but also increases blood pressure and heart rate. Yellow increases metabolism but has also been shown to cause eye fatigue. Green is known for its healing qualities and grey enhances creativity. Blues and purples may be good colours to avoid, or at least limit, in a kitchen since they are believed to suppress appetites.

· T’is the season to add spice: If you’re aiming to zest things up for the holidays, look beyond your kitchen walls. A fresh coat of paint will do wonders to revive tired cabinets, backsplashes, and furniture. With the right faux finish, backsplashes can be made to look like stone or tile. Painting over-sized blocks of colour in varying sizes on a backsplash will deliver a more contemporary look while applying a glaze or colour wash to cabinets will give them an antique appearance. When painting kitchen cabinets, it’s best to remove the doors and paint them as they lay flat on a table or floor to deliver a smoother finish.

· Use specially-formulated paint: Not all paints are created equal. Since kitchens are high-traffic areas prone to fingerprint smudges, spills, and grease and mildew build-up, it’s wise to use a durable paint. Select a brand that is specially-formulated for the kitchen, such as one of CIL’s Kitchen & Bath paints, which are washable, mildew-resistant and help protect surfaces from dirt, stains, and moisture. To bring out the best of your kitchen wall colours, choose low sheen, high-quality paints that – thanks to advanced technology – are available in scrubbable eggshell or flat finishes. If budget is an issue, pick high gloss finishes in order to get enough washability.

· Get a head start: Surface preparation is key so always start with a good cleaning. If needed, kill mildew first with bleach and then rinse. Next, clean away any kitchen grease, rinse again and let dry. If repairs are needed, and the surface using grit 80 sandpaper only after cleaning. Use an acrylic-based compound to fill gaps, avoiding plaster or joint cement unless you have very large holes to fill. Do a quick sanding with grit 120 sandpaper after the repairs to smooth the wall. While 100 percent acrylic paint does not require a base coat in terms of adhesion, it’s wise to use one if you’re painting a lighter colour over a darker one. A base coat also ensures best results when painting one dark colour over another. No matter what paint brand you use, for example, without a base coat, red painted over blue may appear purple on the wall.

“With the right colours and paint products, the end result will certainly give your guests something to cheer about,” says Goldman, noting that the most important part of any painting project is to relax and enjoy the process.

For more ideas about painting your kitchen or to locate a CIL retailer near you, visit or call 1-800-DURABLE (387-2253).

Dreading the Cold and Dark Days of Winter?

In Beauty, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Disability, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 10, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Image result for light

Philips Offers a Natural Solution with Its Light Therapy Products

November 02, 2010 @ 03:30PM

Markham, Canada – As we enter November and the close of the fall season, we head into darker and colder mornings. Sunday, November 7 marks the last day of daylight savings and for some, it means the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). To ease the mornings and help beat the winter blues, Philips offers its Wake-up Light Plus and goLITE BLU light therapy products.

In a recent survey conducted on behalf of Philips by Angus Reid Public Opinion, 54 percent of Canadians polled understood light therapy, but have never tried it. Yet, it has been clinically proven that waking up with light improves your well-being.

Light therapy consists of exposure to daylight or lights such as fluorescent lamps or LEDs. The Wake-up Light Plus wakes the body up naturally by simulating sunrise. This light increases the level of energy hormones in the body, preparing it to wake-up.

“Philips has conducted extensive research into the relationship between light and well-being,” said Nadege Vergura, Senior Marketing Manager, Personal Care, Philips Electronics Ltd. “The Wake-up Light Plus and goLITE BLU are designed to help improve the wake-up process, boosting overall mood and energy.”

The goLITE BLU energy light is designed to help increase energy levels naturally, helping to beat the winter blues and fight off jet lag with just 15 to 45 minutes a day of usage.

New Wake-up Light Plus HF3485 features include:

* Simulation of sunrise and sunset for a more pleasant wake-up process
* Memory for three radio stations
* Two alarms
* Smart-snooze: tap anywhere
* Four natural sounds and FM radio, plus upload new wake-up sounds and music via USB
* Adjustable dawn duration
* Premium look and feel
* Available at London Drugs,, and CDR
* Wake-up Light prices range from $119.99 – $179.99

goLITE BLU 3332 features include:

* BLUEWAVE® technology – provides the exact spectrum of blue light our bodies melatonin levels respond to best
* Safe, easy on your eyes – free from any ultraviolet light risk to the eye; lower intensity plus four levels of brightness control
* Rechargeable battery and travel case – small, compact design and easily portable
* Long lasting blue LEDs – 50 years lifetime if used 30 minutes a day throughout the year
* Includes Alarm (light and sound) and Timer (60 minutes)
* Cordless with touchscreen
* Benefits often occur within a few days, with as little as 15 minutes of use a day
* goLITE BLU prices range from $149.99 – $199.99
* Available at Costco and

About the Survey
Methodology: From October 18 to October 19, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,035 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

“Philips has conducted extensive research into the relationship between light and well-being. The Wake-up Light Plus and goLITE BLU are designed to help improve the wake-up process, boosting overall mood and energy.”

Light Vehicle Sales – October 2010‏

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, cars, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 9, 2010 at 8:00 AM

By Dennis DesRosiers

Light Vehicle Sales – October 2010

SAAR – Monthly Canadian sales

Attached are light vehicle sales for the month of October and year to date. Sales in October were up only 1.4 percent and given the massive amount of incentives in the market this year compared to a year earlier it appears that the vehicle companies are not getting much bang for their buck. That being said October 2010 at 123.2 thousand units was the best October since 2002 ( 134.7K units) and the second best October on record. And this is reflected in the SAAR ( attached ) which came in at 1.61 million units. If you look at the six-month trailing average number you will see that each month it is creeping up slightly which is positive for the short-term outlook for vehicle sales in Canada.

The 1.4 percent increase for October brings YTD sales up by 6.6 percent to 1.329 million units and puts us on track for about a 1.56 million total this year an increase of at least 100K units about 2006. But again with the amount of incentive money in the market one would have expected better. Indeed I’m beginning to wonder whether to actually lower our forecast for next year. I don’t believe the OEMs who have huge money on the windshield of their vehicles can maintain this pace and I don’t have much faith that the general economy will improve enough to offset any reduction in incentive money. So I can build a case that sales could be actually lowered next year than this year. I’m not there yet and would like to see the final two months before formalizing our forecast but there isn’t a lot in these stats to be optimistic about sales for next year. They could and probably will increase but I suspect by relatively modest amounts. We are not out of this auto slump just yet.

Ford remains the number seller of vehicles in Canada in October and YTD and is pulling away from GM slightly as GM continues to see difficult sales month in and month out. GM’s sales in October were actually down 4.8 percent while Ford’s sales were up 8.1 percent. Chrysler is actually close to catching GM with sales up 5.0 percent in October. Indeed the Detroit three ( even with a poor month from GM ) continued to take share from the import nameplate brands. In April of this year the D-3 outperformed import brands as a group for the first time in over a decade and each month since April this has continued. Some of this performance was because of poor comparables from a year ago but after seven consecutive months, we are beginning to see something more fundamental develop. D-3 performance is rooted in the spectacular year that Ford is achieving, a turnaround at Chrysler especially with their light trucks, stabilization at GM and terrible years at both Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura.

Toyota’s sales in October were down by 23.2 percent and are now tracking down 12.8 percent on the year. Lexus sales were down 16.4 percent in October and are now down 7.0 percent YTD. With heavy incentive money Honda was able to increase sales in October by 20.7 percent but are still down on the year by 0.9 percent. Acura sales were down by 17.2 percent on the month and are now down by 3.4 percent on the year.

I also am closely following our friends from Europe and especially from Germany who universally is having great years led by Audi up 25.5 percent for the month and up an astonishing 33.3 percent on the year. Audi now outsells Lexus and is close to catching Acura in the Luxury brands.

VW was up 21.5 percent on the month and are up 12.0 percent in the month. They tell me they can sell every TDI they can get their hands on … yea Diesel ( I’ve always been a big fan of diesel products ).

And then there is the battle between our two luxury giants BMW and Mercedes Benz. On their core brands, Mercedes Benz is slightly outselling BMW. MB was up 6.7 percent in October while BMW was up 5.0 percent in October. This allowed MB to maintain their sales edge YTD over BMW selling 24,057 units at MB compared to 22,440 units for their southern countrymen. Both companies deserve a lot of credit. MB is near the top of its product cadence cycle and has resurrected itself as the number one selling luxury marque in Canada. It wasn’t that long ago that Mercedes had fallen to I believe the fifth position amongst Luxury brands. Meanwhile, BMW is holding it’s sales levels well considering it is at the bottom of its product cadence cycle. Indeed it is amazing that BMW has been able to maintain sales their current sales pace in a segment that is so much about the product and with the product that is relatively long in the tooth. And if you add Mini to BMW ( mini is having a good year) and if you add smart to MB (smart is having a terrible year ) then the combined BMW/Mini brands are outselling the combined Mercedes Benz/smart brands ( 24,057 to 22,440 units ).

And speaking of Europe one has to remember Volvo, Porsche, and the Tata brands … Jaguar and LandRover … Jaguar is tiny and is down on the year by 4.2 percent but Land Rover is up quite a bit to 2,130 units an increase of 35.9 percent. Porsche is also up nicely to 1,705 units ( up 17.6 percent ) on the year. And finally, Volvo is also up slightly … 3.2 percent.

All together European based brands are taking a lot of market share away from the Japanese brands in Canada. Eight of the ten Japanese brands are underperforming the market this year and some by a lot. Infiniti and Subaru are the two exceptions.

And I can’t forget our two Korean brands who chug along at a record pace. Hyundai sales in October were up 8.6 percent and Kia’s sales were up 24.6 percent.

With Ford and Chrysler doing so well it also results in a very strong market for light trucks ( Chrysler’s core best products and to degree Ford as well although Ford also has a strong passenger car line up). Light truck sales were up 13.6 percent in October and are now up 19.3 percent YTD. Passenger car sales were down by 10.5 percent on the month and are now down 5.3 percent on the year.

Till next month.


Learn Forever With Discover Plus

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Music, Radio Podcasts, Technology, travel, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 8, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Discover Plus Offers E-Learning Courses 24/7 – Photo Courtesy of Google Images

Image result for online learning

Discover Plus offers advanced e-learning services around the world. Based in India and now with offices in Canada and the United States, they deliver online one-on-one tutoring in math, science, English and other languages, social sciences and the humanities. With instructors who hold master’s and doctorate degrees, the education potential is for anyone who wants to learn.

“We started the services in October 2009,” says Sheron Sudhan, Co-Business Owner of Discover Plus. “We were up and running by December 2009 and we are looking to branch out to new students, so we keep our rates low for the classes.”

Using smart, sassy and user-friendly software – the learning experience with Discovery Plus is comfortable, easy and fun so you can focus on the most important task at hand – gaining more knowledge and gaining more power.

Discover Plus offers their e-learning services around the clock and around the world. To find out more about how you can take courses that will help you garner that coveted job position, enrich your life, improve your grades in school or cure your curiosity on subjects you have always wanted to know more about visit today!

Report Crimes

In Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, travel, Writing (all kinds) on November 8, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Information Alert

November 7 to 13, 2010 is Crime Prevention Week across Ontario. This special week reminds us that our police officers are continuously working to ensure the community has a safe tomorrow. This year’s theme is Connecting to kids today – preventing crime tomorrow.

You too, can make a difference by taking time to report crimes to the police. To contact police dial 911 for emergencies, 416-808-2222 for non-emergencies or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477, online at, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (2 7 4 6 3 7).

Toronto Police Services Online Polling

In Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 8, 2010 at 1:00 AM

Toronto Police Service
News Release

TPS offers opportunity for more community input with online polling

Saturday, October 2, 2010 – 10:25 AM
Corporate Planning

To expand the opportunities for community input, the Toronto Police Service has included online polling on its website.

Every three weeks, questions will be posted on various policing issues and the results published at the end of the period. Results from previous polls are also available. A new poll began on November 2nd, 2010, asking the following questions:

So far this year, have you received or been made aware of any information about crimes in your neighbourhood?

Did you know that the Toronto Police Service has neighbourhood crime maps and statistics on its website?

Did you know that the Toronto Police Service has an automated community notification system called TPSLinks?

Did you know that the Toronto Police Service has local Community Police Liaison Committees that invite community participation?

Did you know that the Toronto Police Service uses social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) to communicate with the community?

The TPS is encouraging the people of Toronto to visit the “Have Your Say” section on the TPS website and provide the Service with their opinions.

Constable Wendy Drummond, Corporate Communications, for Carrol Whynot for Donald Bevers, Manager, Corporate Planning

Sico 2011-2012 Paint Colour Trends: Simple Pleasures Come to Life in New Colour Palette

In Beauty, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Home Decor, Living, Media Writing, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 7, 2010 at 2:00 AM

SICO Paints Continue to Outperform – Photo Courtesy of Gail Bergman PR

Longueuil, Quebec – November 1, 2010 – If you’re searching for the simple pleasures in life, surround yourself with heart-warming colours. They won’t be hard to find, as the year ahead in home decor will be all about using colours that celebrate the simplicity and beauty of everyday living, says leading Canadian paint brand Sico.

From timeless denim blues and earthy clay and wood tones to leafy greens, strawberry reds, sunny yellows and airy pastels, the 2011-2012 paint palette is dominated by warm, homey and comforting colours – a reflection of the public mood, says Dominique Pépin, Marketing Manager for Sico and a Chairholder of the international colour forecaster Color Marketing Group.

“In a society of endless choices where we ‘have it all,’ people are increasingly longing to return back to basics, to a simpler life, and this is being reflected in the colours they are choosing to surround themselves with,” says Pépin. “As a result, in the coming year, we’ll see a move away from the once-popular opulent dark tones towards colours that are charming, human and have more natural and nurturing qualities than in the past.”

It’s about finding pleasure in things close to our hearts, in all items handmade – like knitting a sweater, making bread, growing seeds or creating music – and in emotions tied to the home and lifestyle rather than state-of-the-art fashion, she explains. “Gone are the days when happiness was measured purely by material gain – people today want less of the complexity associated with the modern world and yearn for simple concepts and products that have meaning, imagination and emotion.”

According to research conducted by Sico’s international team of colour experts, the 2011-2012 palette will be divided into three themes, each reflecting this prevailing mood and attitude in society. “While each theme is different, at the same time they are similar in that they each demonstrate a longing to return to simpler times as well as an appreciation for the world around us,” Pépin explains, introducing the three groupings as Inviting, Authentic and Dazzling.

SICO Paints Can Be Used Around the Home – Photo Courtesy of Gail Bergman PR

Inviting: Emitting a homey and comforting feel, this theme represents the growing population that values the beauty, contentment, and simplicity of everyday life in a world where choices and possibilities are endless. Colours reminiscent of the familiar things that make us happy dominate this grouping – including clear skies, such as Sico’s Lunar Month (6009-21) blue, juicy fruits like Red Jujube (6051-65) strawberry and Violet Caprice (6013-53) mauve, and sunny fields such as White Lemon (6100-32) yellow – as do warm, nurturing shades of coral, moss green and lavenders. Back to basics as opposed to ultra-fashionable, the hues of this palette reflect a desire to return to a more relaxed, meaningful and informal style of living, and cherish the home as the place where we can truly be ourselves.

Authentic: This theme celebrates the timeless beauty of the natural world and delivers a sense of peace and contentment. In a society that is increasingly becoming more automated, this grouping of colours demonstrates a growing appreciation among the public for the earth, its materials, and creativity. Highlighted by timber, clay, earth and denim tones and enlivened by a dash of inspiring yellow, the authentic palette builds on the notion that “less is more,” and that the process and pride of creating something of quality is just as pleasurable as the end result. Popular Sico colours in this group include Seashore Pebble (6230-31) sand, Avocado Soufflé (6104-21) cream, Galley (6171-41) blue, Cloak (6232-83) brown and Apple Cider Vinegar (6097-32) yellow. Used on their own or easily paired together, these enduring shades are intended to deliver a relaxed, harmonious and pleasing feel to treasure in the home.

Dare to Be Creative with SICO Paints – Photo Courtesy of Gail Bergman PR

Dazzling: The most energetic expression of simplicity is featured in this fun and imaginative group of colours. Think clean pastels and zingy tints, such as Sico’s Red Candy (6051-52) hot pink, Lemon Tart (6098-42) brilliant yellow, Pastis (6121-42) lime green and Splashdown (6150-42) turquoise. Ideally applied on a backdrop of neutrals – as a colour block or accent wall – each of these colours exudes an air of freshness and vitality, verging on fantasy. Charming, fun and slightly childlike, this palette is refreshingly simple, yet brings back a sense of poetry and pleasure into our lives and a smile to our faces. Unexpected colour combinations – like lime green and cocoa accents on a yellow background or turquoise and bubblegum pink used to liven up neutral walls – will increasingly be in style.

According to Sico, colour zoning – or using punch colours to accent walls and map out areas – is another trend that will make a major comeback in the year ahead, helping to bring out the best of the 2011-2012 colours.

“Everything about next year’s colours is charming, soft and inviting,” Pépin says. “Delivering a breath of fresh air to the home, the new palette combines a lightness of spirit with a gentle informality in a way that brings meaning back into our lives.”

For more information about Sico’s colour trends for 2011-2012, or to view the new colour palette online, visit

The Politics of Black Hair Online Coursebook Available

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Music, Opinion, Radio Podcasts, Technology, travel, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 6, 2010 at 3:00 AM

The Politics of Black Hair Online Course Book

Buy The Politics of Black Hair Online Coursebook on Amazon Kindle today! Available in Spanish and English.

Queen Latifah to Host 2010 P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards

In Beauty, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Movie Reviews, Music, Opinion, Video Work, Writing (all kinds) on November 5, 2010 at 2:00 AM

Queen Latifah Will Host a P & G Event – Photo Courtesy of CNW


COVERGIRL spokesmodel and film, TV and music industry superstar to bring Hollywood glamour to the second-annual awards ceremony in Toronto.

October 25, 2010 @ 07:30AM

TORONTO, ON – P&G Beauty & Grooming is rolling out the red carpet for industry royalty as Queen Latifah hosts the second-annual P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards ceremony, taking place on Thursday, November 11, 2010. The Grammy Award® and Golden Globe Award® winning singer, actress, and COVERGIRL spokesmodel will hold court as P&G Beauty & Grooming honours the best of Canada’s beauty, grooming and fashion editorial content as well as top make-up artists, hair stylists, photographers, and models.

The P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards acknowledge excellence and promote talent in the Canadian beauty, grooming, and fashion industry. Specifically, the awards recognize the exceptional editorial work that brings beauty, grooming and fashion news to Canadian readers as well as top make-up artists, hair stylists, photographers, and models.

This year, over 220 submissions were received from Canada’s leading magazines, newspapers, websites, and blogs following a nationwide call for entries in July 2010. The 2010 Awards feature 13 categories, including a new category for Best Male Fashion Feature, acknowledging the growing interest in fashion content dedicated to men:

1. Best Magazine Cover
2. Best Beauty Editor of a Magazine
3. Best Beauty Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper
4. Best Fashion Editor of a Magazine
5. Best Fashion Feature of a Magazine or Newspaper
6. Best Fashion or Beauty Blog
7. Best Male Fashion Feature
8. Best Male Grooming Feature
9. Best Fashion or Beauty Website
10. Best New Face
11. Photographer of the Year
12. Hair Stylist of the Year
13. Make-up Artist of the Year

“Canadian talent deserves to be celebrated and we’re proud to shine this spotlight on the beauty and fashion industry in Canada with the P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards,” says Esther Benzie, Canadian Marketing Director, Beauty. “We’re also very excited that COVERGIRL spokesmodel, Queen Latifah, will host the event to honour the 2010 winners. Her style and it will make for a very entertaining evening.”

An independent panel of influential Canadians – including beauty and fashion industry insiders along with art and design experts – reviewed and evaluated all entries, determining the three finalists and winner for each category.

To maintain objectivity, P&G Beauty & Grooming was not involved in the deliberation and enlisted a professional moderator to facilitate the proceedings. The 2010 panel includes:

* Donna Braggins; Professor of Illustration, Sheridan College
* Michèle Boulanger-Buissières; Founder, Fondation de la Mode de Montréal
* Hughes Chandonnet; Freelance Copy Writer
* David Dixon; Fashion Designer
* Brian Gluckstein; Interior Designer, Gluckstein Design
* Yasmin Grothé; Editor-in-Chief, Salon Magazine
* Francois Guenet; Creative Director
* Hans Koechling; President, The Image Is
* Susan Langdon; Executive Director, Toronto Fashion Incubator
* Frederic Metz; Associate Professor, UQAM School of Design
* Dr. Kenneth Montague; Art Curator
* Robert Ott; Chair, School of Fashion, Ryerson University
* Carly Stojsic; Market Editor, WGSN
* Beth Thompson; Author

P&G Beauty & Grooming is committed to supporting the Canadian beauty and fashion industry. In addition to presenting the P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards, it is the exclusive beauty sponsor of Montreal Fashion Week and the Toronto International Film Festival.

For ongoing updates on the Awards, please follow the P&G Beauty & Grooming Awards on Facebook ( and Twitter ( and #pgawards).

Entry work samples will also be posted on the Awards entry site:
About P&G Beauty & Grooming

P&G Beauty & Grooming products help make beauty dreams real for women and help men look, feel and be their best every day. With 8 billion dollar brands and products available in nearly 130 countries, P&G’s beauty and grooming products delivered sales of over $27 billion in fiscal year 2009/10, making it one of the world’s largest beauty and grooming companies. P&G Beauty & Grooming offers trusted brands with leading technology to meet the full complement of beauty and grooming needs, including Pantene®, Olay®, Head & Shoulders®, Max Factor®, Cover Girl®, DDF®, Frederic Fekkai®, Wellaflex®, Rejoice®, Sebastian Professional®, Herbal Essences®, Koleston®, Clairol Professional®, Nice ’n Easy®, Venus®, Gillette®, SK-II®, Wella Professionals®, Braun® and a leading Prestige Fragrance division that spans from point of market entry consumers to high end luxury with global brands such as Hugo Boss®, Lacoste®, and Christina Aguilera®. Please visit for the latest news and in-depth information about P&G (NYSE: PG) and its brands.

Toronto Natural Hair and Beauty Show Swap Party

In Beauty, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion, Writing (all kinds) on November 3, 2010 at 2:00 AM

By Stephanie Joseph


just a reminder that I am holding a Swap Party this Saturday at Grace Hair Studio.

If you have not gotten a chance to R.S.V.P. please do it A.S.A.P., as space is limited.

Each person brings 3-5 items that they no longer want or need (must be in style).
Swappable items must be clean and in very good condition.
Items fall into 3 categories:

* NEW Clothes (with tags)
* NEARLY NEW Clothes (worn/used only once or twice)
* GENTLY USED Clothing (worn, but still in very good condition)
Gather all the perfectly good wardrobe items that you no longer wear or use, bring them to the party and swap with other attendees.

Please bring only the following items:
Hand Bags
Scarves/Pashmina shawls

Each item will be displayed so everyone has a chance to see what’s available. Everyone can take turns picking out the item they desire and try them on.

For accessories – please separate items into plastic baggies, this will help us greatly.

For Shoes & Handbags MUST be in style and either new or gently worn. Bring shoes in their box if you still have it.

You will receive “Swap” coupons for the items you bring, so the more you bring the more you get to swap.

Light refreshments will be served.

Cover charge $5.00

All left over clothing will be donated to a local women’s shelter.


Stephanie Joseph
Toronto Natural Hair & Beauty Show

Join my social network @

Radio Scripts Now Published

In Beauty, book reviews, Business, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Events, Health, Living, Media Writing, Music, Radio Podcasts, Technology, Writing (all kinds) on November 2, 2010 at 1:00 AM

Radio Scripts

Buy Radio Scripts on Amazon Kindle today!

Getting Skintimate about Psoriasis Reducing the Stigma and Offering Hope During Psoriasis Awareness Month

In Beauty, Contact Information, Creative Writing, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Environment, Health, Living, Media Writing, Opinion on November 1, 2010 at 7:00 AM

Reducing the Stigma and Offering Hope During Psoriasis Awareness Month

October 22, 2010 @ 08:00AM

Toronto, Ontario – Imagine yourself being kicked out of a fitness centre or a bridal boutique based on your appearance. Seem far-fetched? For the more than one million Canadian adults diagnosed with psoriasis, scenarios like these are a reality. The social stigma around this skin disease is often responsible for the social, emotional, professional and economic burden that people with psoriasis are left to confront daily.

In fact, according to a Canadian survey of 514 moderate to severe plaque psoriasis patients, a substantial proportion of respondents reported receiving medications for anxiety (25 percent), insomnia (20 percent) or depression (18 percent) and indicated that psoriasis played a significant role in the use of medications.1 The national survey also concluded that the burden of psoriasis in Canadians reporting moderate to severe disease extends to the workplace and is associated with limitations in occupational function and challenges to career prospects.2 Twenty-eight percent reported that their psoriasis had either prevented or caused “very much” or “a lot” of problems while at work or study, in the week prior to the survey.

Dr. Charles Lynde, dermatologist, helps to break down the stigma

Q: What is Psoriasis?
A: Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects approximately one million Canadians. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis, affecting approximately 80 percent of psoriasis patients. It usually results in painful, itchy, sore patches of thick, red or inflamed skin covered with silvery scales (known as plaques).3

Simply put, psoriasis is an over-active immune system which triggers skin cells to reproduce eight times faster than normal.

Q: When do people typically start to notice signs and symptoms of psoriasis on their body?
A: Although it is possible to develop psoriasis at any time, research shows that the signs and symptoms of psoriasis usually appear between 15 and 30 years of age. Seventy-five percent of people develop psoriasis before the age of 40.4

Q: What makes people susceptible to getting psoriasis?
A: Heredity plays a major role in predisposing people to psoriasis. The disease appears to be most prevalent among people of European descent and about a third of psoriasis patients have a family history of the disease.5

Q: Is psoriasis contagious?
A: Contrary to what many people think, psoriasis isn’t a contagious skin disease, regardless of the severity. In fact, it is misconceptions like this that contribute to the stigma around psoriasis and lead to a patient’s diminished quality of life.

Q: What treatments are available for people struggling to manage their psoriasis?
A: Biologics are an important advancement in the treatment of moderate to severe psoriasis and can be very effective for many people with psoriasis. The effectiveness of each biologic treatment may vary depending on each individual case and therefore, it is important that patients discuss treatment options and the benefits and risks of such medications with their dermatologist.6

Q: What can people who do not have a dermatologist do to find a reputable specialist in their area?
A: People can check with their family physician or their provincial College of Medicine website. There is also a Canadian website called which has a useful tool called ‘find a dermatologist.’ I encourage anyone looking for a dermatologist in their area with a specialty in psoriasis to check out this online tool.

Q: It is my understanding that very few people with psoriasis are aware of the newer, more targeted treatment options.
A: That’s right. In fact, according to a Canadian survey of 514 moderate to severe psoriasis patients, only 35 percent of the respondents knew about the existence of injectable medications and only 10 percent had ever been prescribed an injectable medication.7 My hope is that we can spread the word that there are treatment options and resources out there for the many Canadians with psoriasis struggling to achieve clearance and improved quality of life.

Q: Where can people, with or without psoriasis, go for more information?
A: I encourage people to visit to learn more about the skin disease, treatment options and to find a dermatologist in their area who has a specific interest in psoriasis.

1. Poulin, Y. et al. A Canadian survey evaluating the burden of co-morbidities in patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. Poster Presentation at Canadian Dermatologist Association Meeting (July 2009).

2. Papp, K. et al. Disease burden and productivity loss in a Canadian online survey population of individuals with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. Poster Presentation at the ISPOR annual meeting (2009), Canada.

3. National Psoriasis Foundation. About Psoriasis. Available at:

4. Skin Care Physicians. What is Psoriasis? Available at:

5. Canadian Skin Patient Alliance website:

6. National Psoriasis Foundation, Treatment. Available at:

7. Poulin, Y. et al. Canadian plaque psoriasis patients are unaware of their treatment options and are dissatisfied with their previous and current treatments. Poster Presentation at EADV(2008).

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