Author Archives: Brigitte Pellerin

Brand new newspaper has life expectancy of fruit fly

Well, OK. Maybe a touch longer. But not much.

LONDON — The New Day, a daily newspaper launched by Trinity Mirror, will publish its last issue due to poor sales on Friday, after about nine weeks of existence.

“We have tried everything we could but sadly we just haven’t reached the sales figures we needed to make it work financially,” editor Alison Phillips wrote on Facebook.

She thanked the paper’s readers and its staff.

“To have not given this a go was to mean we were content to stand on the pavement and watch the decline of British national newspapers hurtle past us. But we weren’t. And we still aren’t,” she said.

The paper launched late February and was envisioned as a politically neutral paper aimed at “time-poor” readers. It initially sold for 25p (36 cents) a copy for the first two weeks, with the price going up to 50p.

Trinity Mirror aimed to sell 200,000 copies a day but that amount was reported to have fallen to 40,000, the BBC reported.

It takes guts to try something like this, and I give them points for it. But ultimately that model is busted (at least for the foreseeable future) and it is time to move to something different, more tailored to your needs and wants, and more sustainable. Like, say, this.

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Why I train, why I fight, why I tell you about it

There are days when I wonder why I tell you so much about what I do. I wonder if you’re sick of it or if you’re interested. I ask myself whether what I say has any relevance.

But then some days really neat things happen, like this Facebook friend (someone I don’t believe I ever met in person but who’s followed my writing for some time) who told me I’d inspired him to get back into martial arts after a longish break.

This couldn’t make me happier and more committed to writing about my adventures.

So, buckle up. 🙂

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Normal by Death (a novel), chapter one

It was dark now. The sun had gone to bed nearly an hour before, yet there she was, seething. I could almost hear the words she spoke to herself. “How dare they abandon me like that? What is the matter with these people?” She could not understand why they of all people would turn down the chance to spend a lovely September evening in her company.

They, of course, was only a bunch of lonely old folks. But this woman thought the world of herself and was convinced anyone ought to be thrilled to spend time in her august company. I didn’t normally enjoy killing people. It was just a job, it paid the bills, and in most cases I believed I was doing something good. But when it came to Amanda Toussignant, I was happy to make an exception. Ending her life brought me joy.

The other residents that evening did not want to stay outside with her. “We don’t want to go out on the patio outside,” they said. “It’s too chilly, we’ll catch our death!”

People can be so cute. Catching their death would have been a relief to most of them. Why were they so weirdly scared of it? Old folks will remain a mystery to me… and I mean that literally. I’ll never be an old person. I’ll be dead soon and I guess I should apologize for not being able to finish this story for you. Not in my usual corporeal form, at any rate. But that’s for later.

“I don’t know how people get to be such wimps,” Amanda said to no one in particular, a few hours before she, too, passed into the next world.

“Well, it is a touch chilly,” replied no one in particular, also known as her husband, Marcel. As always, he had stayed by her side during and after dinner to keep her company. And as usual he did try his best to be pleasant and entertaining. He was a patient and kind man, Marcel. But he might as well not have bothered; she never counted him since he followed her everywhere anyway.

Poor guy. I was as sorry to kill him as I wasn’t to squeeze the life out of his wife. He hadn’t had it easy, living with this thing, being good to her, always trying to make her happy.

He didn’t realize it, of course, but that was exactly what was wrong with him, as far as she was concerned. He was so predictable, comfortable… and boring. They’d been married 45 years now and he’d stopped making her heart race about 44.76 years ago. He was a decent man and a good provider, but while he looked pretty good on their wedding night she, well, it’s not like she didn’t like him anymore. She did. But he didn’t give her any thrills ever.

“Don’t be silly,” she snapped. “Of course it’s chilly. It’s September. But it’s nice out here, with the patio heater on. Why won’t they stay?”

“Would you like me to ask them to come out with us?” offered Marcel.

“Oh good grief no! Have you no dignity? I am certainly not going to go begging people for their cruddy company!”

Poor Marcel never knew when to shut up. “But I thought you wanted company…” His wife threw her hands up and sighed loud enough to be heard inside. “You never understand anything!”

Truth be told, she was starting to feel a touch cold. “It is chilly,” she thought. But there was no way she’d let her husband see her shiver. “Anyway,” she informed him, “I like being outside, even if nobody else likes it. I don’t want to go sit in the common room inside. It smells of piss. I’d rather stay here and play cards with you.”

He hadn’t thought of bringing the cards out, and now he felt stupid again. He’d been having that problem for approximately 44.76 years now.

“You know what the problem is with you, Marcel Toussignant?” she asked before proceeding to give him the answer. “It’s that you don’t know how to make people crave your company.” Crave your company. That was a good way to put it, she thought.

He didn’t react. He just sat there and took it. Experience had taught him this was the least awful among plenty of unpleasant options. He wasn’t as smart as she was, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew perfectly well she wasn’t happy with him. He just didn’t think there was anything he could do except try to make her feel better.

He was having mixed results at best.

She’d always wanted an exciting life. She wanted to travel, and go to museums, and have a yacht, and collect art, and have interesting artist friends, and go play blackjack at the casino in Monte Carlo, all that with a husband who swept her off her feet on a regular basis. She didn’t need James Bond. Well, you know – not quite. But why couldn’t her husband be more like Sean Connery? Such a man… But no. She never really quite got her wish. To put it gently.

Instead what she got was two children who made travelling an unbearable chore, a split level house in the suburbs that she spent years renovating so it would look like they do in the magazines, and nothing more exciting, vacation-wise, than a trip to Disney which caused her so much work planning and organizing that she barely had time to enjoy it. I guess she should have known this would be the life she’d have by marrying a man who had an MA in public administration and worked for the provincial government’s public health department updating databases and computer programs so the scientists could keep track of disease outbreaks and how many kids had meningitis and suchlike. In short, a man who earned an insufficient salary working in a field that didn’t interest her no matter how hard she tried.

Not that she did. Try, I mean. Bugs and illnesses, yeesh. She didn’t imagine herself discussing that with her fancy artist friends in their favourite Paris bistro. Even if she never did set foot in Paris.

In fact, when you stop to think about it, the only constant in Amanda Toussignant’s life was that she had always needed fresh new things in her life. And here she was, stuck at La Résidence des Érables in Chomedey where just about the most exciting thing was when they piled into the little minibus for their weekly trip to the Carrefour Laval shopping mall. They went every Tuesday so they could take advantage of the senior discounts at The Bay. Not that they bought much. She still loved shopping for shoes, mind you, even though she was only really comfortable in SoftMocs. She also liked perfume. Unfortunately, the residence did not let her wear perfume anymore. Too many people were allergic, they said.

They would be.

That was another thing wrong with spending her last years in an assisted-living facility. The other residents were so fragile. You couldn’t do anything anymore. No movie nights, only matinees, no drinking except for a glass of watered-down wine at dinner, no live shows, no theatre, no museums, nothing. Amanda fancied herself an accomplished, intelligent conversationalist. Cultivated, too. She read a lot. At least, she used to, before her cataracts became an issue. And to think the doctors couldn’t get that fixed faster. She was stuck on an eight-month waiting list for surgery, how perfectly aggravating. She missed reading. Marcel had offered to read her favourite novels out loud to her, but she found the sound of his voice too grating. It was getting raspy, and he kept having to clear his throat every third second. It made it impossible to pay attention to the story.

She sighed. It wasn’t easy living in this place where she was pretty much the only one who could converse on her level. Her husband always agreed with her points of view, which didn’t make for brilliant dialogues, and the other residents could only talk about their kids or their enemas. She wasn’t sure which was worse. And then there was Mrs. Latulippe, who had come out for a bit tonight, but she was so far gone the poor thing.

So there she was, Amanda Toussignant, age 72, of sound mind and diminished capacities, sitting in her single room, quietly seething. Husbands and wives were not permitted to share rooms in Quebec’s publicly-funded nursing homes; Marcel was three doors down the hall. The TV was on but she didn’t really care for it anymore. Those new reality shows were awful. Not like the old ones she used to follow. Now that was quality programming. But this stuff, it was too boorish, too loud, too shrill for her.

For his part Marcel was about as happy as one could be in a nursing home sick with diabetes and what he suspected might be mild emphysema even though the doctors had ruled it out. He was comfortably ensconced in bed clutching the little iPod his daughter had given him last Christmas. She’d taught him how to download old radio shows from the 1950s and he spent most nights falling asleep to the same voices he fell asleep to as a teenager. It made him happy. This night was no different than all the others at the residence. They’d had a decent meal of beef and mashed (he’d manage to sneak in some extra gravy despite his doctor’s orders that he be kept on a low-fat diet), and a pleasant enough time on the patio afterwards, like they always did when it wasn’t raining. It was 9:55 pm on a Thursday night and Marcel was smiling as he drifted off to sleep, unaware that his beloved was, thanks to me, being silently murdered down the hall.

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It happened today – the ebook

Faithful readers will be familiar with John’s daily “It Happened Today” feature, which is of course free to read on his website.

Now we have decided to publish it in ebook format, on a monthly basis, starting with June. The ebook is available for purchase on Kindle.

Subscribers to my website (or to John’s website) will get a free copy of each issue – it should be landing in your mailbox today. Backers of our documentaries are welcome to get a complimentary copy as well – please email me (bp – at- brigittepellerin – dot – com) and I’ll be happy to send you one.

If you’re not already a subscriber or backer, make a pledge today and get the “IHT” ebook free.

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If you enjoy my work, please consider supporting it with a monthly contribution. Visit this page for details.

Rewriting a story

We are reading classic fairytale stories these days as part of our homeschooling curriculum and today was “The Shadow”, a story I’d never heard of which we all thought made no sense and was generally depressing.

I offered to my kids the option of writing me a better version of that story instead of doing math problems, and The Eldest jumped on the opportunity. Above is how she started her assignment. I think we may have a budding writer on our hands.

(Yes, the light you see is Mama beaming with pride, typos and all.)

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Imagine: Free trade inside Canada

With beer, even!

This is indeed a big deal, and one that I am celebrating with a particularly strong chocolate chai (I don’t drink alcohol on weeknights anymore, sorry). For once a court has found that our old constitutional principles trump modern big-government regulations.

I say woohoo. And as John has written on his website, our next project to fix the Constitution (for which we are still fundraising – click here to learn more and chip in) will strengthen the protection against trade barriers anywhere. This is one country, and we ought to be able to trade freely within it.

It’s that simple.

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If you enjoy my work, please consider supporting it with a monthly contribution. Visit this page for details.

Free Magna Carta ebook – today only!

In honour of nothing in particular, we have decided to offer our Magna Carta book (Kindle edition only) for free today. This offer is valid on May 2 only. Simply follow this link to Amazon to take advantage of it.

Those of you who prefer the old-fashioned paper version, you can find it here at the regular price. (Canadian orders only. U.S. and international shoppers should head over to Amazon.com.)

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If you enjoy my work, please consider supporting it with a monthly contribution. Visit this page for details.

Early cottage season and – oh yes – kitty photo shoot!

We accidentally let our cat out while we were at the cottage last week and much gnashing of teeth ensued, but as it turns out Inga (that’s the name they gave her at the shelter) likes going out and she also likes coming back in time for dinner. So we let her roam more or less freely. Today I was out taking shots of the vegetation and them goldurn midges when she walked him behind me and struck a pose, waiting for the click of the camera. She’s a superstar that one, for sure.

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Ah, beautiful (useful) cannelle

Cinnamomum verum, from Koehler’s Medicinal-Plants (1887) – image from Wikipedia

We all know it’s good for us, but how much do we use it? Me, I’m trying to increase my cinnamon intake and that of my family.

I put it in my pancakes and waffles (and cookies) – the ones I bake from scratch. I also add some to the pancakes I make from the Bulk Barn organic pancake mix (because sometimes at the lake I don’t have everything to make breakfast from scratch, I use this mix along with cinnamon and some unsweetened apple sauce). I find the mix of apple and cinnamon adds depth and complexity to an otherwise bland pancake mix, and it somehow makes it sweeter without adding any sugar. Win-win.

I also use it along with freshly sliced ginger to make a recovery tea. Ginger and cinnamon are both renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties. I have no idea whether it’s true or not, but what I can tell you is that I train pretty hard for a few hours every day (unless I’m at the lake, where my workouts are different), and I have that recovery tea after every workout and so far (knock wood) I’ve avoided injury which, given that I’m 45, isn’t something to sneer at. My secret potion? Slice up about an inch and a half of ginger (I like mine strong, if you’re new at this start with less ginger), dump into an insulated travel mug along with one small (i.e. 2-3 inches) stick of cinnamon, add boiling water, close the lid, and that’s it. By the time you’re done with the workout, the mixture has steeped for a few hours and it’s still warm without being boiling and it tastes great. Sometimes I’ll add a few slices of turmeric root, too.

And just this morning I discovered that cinnamon is also pretty handy to mask the taste of a new chai I’m not particularly fond of. See, I’m into tea and drink a fair bit of chai because I like what all these spices to do my belly (I have finicky digestion). I have a few favourites (David’s Tea makes one, Chai & Mighty, that is by far the best). But I also try various mixes I find here and there, because variety is the spice of life. (Geddit?)

Anyway. All this chai-hopping is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair, and more often than not I buy a small bag of something I find OKish but not really all that good, and instead of throwing it out, I will simply add enough cinnamon to it that it takes over and voila, no waste.

And that will makes me – and my wallet – happy. Happy Sunday!

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To post or not to post, that is one big question

This one hits close to home. Should you, or should you not, post pictures (and videos) of your kids online? And when you prefer not, what do you do when others post pictures of your kids without your consent?

Personally, I prefer not to post too many pictures of mine. In fact, up until very recently, I didn’t even talk about my children in public very much. There are several reasons for that, including the fact that my kids have two parents who spend a fair bit of their time in the public eye (a bit less so for me now that I no longer do television, but still). Having parents that strangers recognize in the grocery store is something they’re used to. But I don’t know if they’re prepared to have strangers recognize them from online pictures. And since I don’t know, I prefer to play it safe and wait until they’re bigger.

There is also the issue of facial recognition software and digital tracking and who knows what all. This is the first generation to have their lives recorded and published digitally in real time. What will happen with all this data? I don’t know. But since it’s their future more than mine, I want them to have the option of not displaying everything if they choose to be more private than less. That’s why the pictures I post of my kids don’t show their faces. Yes, sometimes my kids ask me about it. They’ve even asked if I was ashamed of them. This led to a big giant group hug followed by a long discussion about the dangers of the internet (they’re extremely aware of its benefits, worry not).

Anyway, that’s me. Other people have other preferences, and that’s fine. I have friends who post pictures that are much more personal and intimate than I would be comfortable posting. But on the other hand, I enjoy being able to keep up with them and their broods online. It’s mighty convenient, and fun.

What I can’t stand, however, is people not respecting your preferences when it comes to your children. Everywhere we go, when the phones come out for pictures, I ask (politely) that my kids not be identified in group photos. And I police that. So far I’ve only had a few incidents that have been resolved with minimal damage, and for that I am grateful. I never ID other people’s kids in my pictures and I try to check with parents what their preferences are.

So there. Remember that what you post on Facebook and elsewhere will live online for a very long time. And what may look adorable and cute right now is liable to mortify your future teenagers. They mortify easy, but still; would you have liked to have googlable pictures of you in silly poses out there when you were 15?

Also? Despite what privacy boxes you check, remember this: once it’s online, it’s public. So post judiciously.

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If you enjoy my work, please consider supporting it with a monthly contribution. Visit this page for details.