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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Birthday Donation 2014

As I've done for the past 4 years, I'm going to be making a birthday donation again this year.  For every birthday tweet or facebook post I receive - I will be donating a certain amount of money to charity. 
What is the charity this year you might ask?  Good question!!
I've done SimpLEE4Kids (bringing music to Children in Hospitals during the Christmas season), Pancreatic Cancer, ProstateCancer and last year was Candlelighters
This year I will be donating to the AlzheimerSociety of Canada for very personal reasons.
If you want to help me make this a really special birthday, all you have to do is tweet or facebook me a Happy Birthday on October 6th. 
You could also make a donation yourself to this society or any charity that means something to you on October 6th,  You can let me know (julie_auger@hotmail.com) and I’ll mention a total of donations made in a future post.
As a bonus this year - if I can get Majic 100 in Ottawa to play some Lee DeWyze between now and October 6th...and I hear it, I will be boosting the donation by $50.  I've attempted to have them play his music for 4 years so I'm not sure it will actually happen - but I hope it does!!
Thank you all in advance for helping make my Annual Birthday Donation a success.
Til next time!

Julie / @Flip_4`

Friday, September 12, 2014

Nascar - Championship "Chase / Playoffs / Elimination"!!

I've been watching NASCAR racing since February 2006.  Until the Daytona 500 that year, I pretty much refused to watch "a bunch of cars going around in circles".  Since that time, I grew to love the sport and all the Characters within it. 

What I don't love though is the new "Chase" or "Elimination" or "Playoffs" or whatever it is they want to call it this year. 

It used to be that the drivers would run 36 points races - accumulate points throughout the entire season and the team / driver who accumulated the most points at the end of the season would win the Championship.  Yes, sometimes you knew who the Champion was a few weeks before the end of the season because he would have built up a huge lead.

Maybe not always exciting, but it was a fair way to do things...in my opinion...and my fave driver won 4 Championships with that format.

Then, a few years ago they decided to change it to a "Chase format" where only the top 10 - 12 - 13 (Always seemed to be a different number) drivers raced for the Championship during the final 10 races of the season.  There were still 43 cars in the field for each race - but the driver who was the most consistent during those final 10 races would ultimately win the Championship.   This was a way to manufacture Excitement. 

It did work and the Championship race was always closer.  If you happened to have bad luck in a couple of races though, your chances might be up in smoke because instead of 36 races to make up the difference, you only had 10 races. 

I didn't like this format at first, but I grew to at least tolerate it.

Now, they've changed the format yet again, and I have to say I am not happy with it at all.  It WILL be more exciting and the final race of the season will be the most meaningful race of all thus making this a "must-see", but I'm still not a fan.

The Championship will work something like this:

16 drivers have qualified for the "Playoffs".  AFter 3 races, only the top 12 point getting teams of these 16 will move on the the next phase.  After another 3 races,  the top 8 teams move on.  Another 3 races later, only 4 teams are left.  That means that there are 4 teams racing for the Championship in the FINAL race of the season at Homestead Miami Speedway.  The team that finishes ahead of the other 3 teams during that race will be crowned Champion. 

The field for all those races will still always be 43 cars.  Which means the Champion can still finish the final race 36th as long as the other 3 teams are behind him.

Yes - excitement and nervousness for the fans and teams.  Yes, it will be entertaining and it will probably take until the last lap of the race before you're sure who will be the Champion, but I selfishly preferred the original way.

I do have to be honest though that the more of speak and think about this new format, I'm growing to tolerate if not like it.  My main problem is as a fan of certain drivers and having a full on "Maple Leafs type dislike" of other teams, seeing one of those teams win the championship at the end over my driver would drive me nuts. Even more nuts than watching the Sens lose in a 'best of 7' series against those dreaded Maple Leafs (as I've seen more times than I care to remember).

Oh well, I don't have a choice in the matter and no amount of disliking this new format is going to change it. 
I just want my driver or any of his teammates to win the Championship this year.  :)

My driver is Jeff Gordon and his teammates are Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kasey Kahne.  Any of them win and I'm a happy camper.  If either of the Busch brothers wins though...UGH!!!

On to the first race of the "Playoffs".  Let's get this thing started.

Gentlemen...uhhh...Drivers - Start Your Engines!!!

Julie / @Flip_4

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Darren Rumble - My first Fave Senators Player

Lately, for some unknown reason, I've been thinking a lot about the Ottawa Senators.

I think the fact that they've been in the news a great deal with player signings and Community Announcements (100 Million, wow!!) has contributed to this.

I was more specifically thinking back to the early days and my first ever favourite Ottawa Senators player.

It was October 1992 and the current incarnation of the Ottawa Senators were on the verge of beginning their first ever season in the National Hockey League.

I was 19 years old and there was no doubt that I had found a new team to root for.  The Montreal Canadians remained my very close second favourite team for a year or two after this, but it didn't take too long for them to fall off significantly.

The Senators were holding their first ever Skills Competition and Fan Meet and Greet on October 6th...my 19th birthday.  I worked for Canadian Tire at the time and they were event sponsors, so I was able to get free tickets.  I brought my dad or he brought me since he drove.

I was excited to be there and was looking forward to lots of fun.  To be absolutely honest, I don't remember too much...but I DO remember how I came to choose my first favourite Ottawa Senators player.

Individual team members were being introduced one by one.  Depending on the day I either hear them in Dean Brown's voice or Gord Wilson's voice.  I couldn't even tell you if they were the ones there, but that's how I hear it..

At one point #34 came out and he tripped and fell.   Dean or Gord said "Rumble Takes a Tumble".  There you have it, I'd found my fave player.  #34, Darren Rumble.

I didn't know what he looked like or if he was even a good player, but I didn't care.  He won me over when he fell.  We later went down in the bowels of the Ottawa Civic Centre for the Meet and Greet event and I got Darren's autograph.  Now, if you know me, you know exactly what I told him...nothing.

He was a defenseman with the Senators for two seasons and I was probably his biggest fan during that time.

I had the opportunity to meet him on Labour Day in September 1993.  I was volunteering at the Muscular Dystrophy telethon and as I was minding my own business, who walks in?  Yep, Darren Rumble.  He went and sat at the front of the phone banks to take some calls.  The person who was supervising was told by my friend that Darren was my fave player.  Well, this awesome supervisor went and got me a Senators pennant and took me over to Darren to meet him and get the pennant signed.

I went, I got the signature, I was introduced to him, I'm not sure if I really said anything as I don't remember that part.

About an hour later, as he was leaving, he stopped at my phone and told me "I hope to see you at a game this season Julie" and then he left.

Yep - the rest of the day, I was on cloud nine.  OMG...he hoped to see me at a game.  Wow!!!

At some point, I wrote him a letter (back when we still wrote letters), to thank him for being so great to a fan.  I wish I had a copy of that letter because all I remember is that it was a LONG one.   A Novel really.  I have absolutely no clue what I wrote in it...but there were lots of words there.

I never got an answer but...

Maybe 2-3 months later, my friend and I went to a Sens game.  As we almost always did with the 67's at the time, we stayed after the game for autographs.  I think I was probably waiting for some of the other team's players because they were NHL players, therefore very important ;)  For me, it was never about the autograph or the picture, I just wanted to see them up close.

Darren came up the stairs.  I debated whether or not to get him to sign my program and decided to bite the bullet and do it.

I approached him very quietly and shy.  He looked up, smiled and said "Hi Julie, nice to see you again".  What?!?!?  Did he actually remember my name months later??  Yep, he did.  Not only that, he proceeded to tell me that he really appreciated the letter that I sent.  Wow...how impressed do you think I was that day?

I later went out to wait for my ride and someone drives by and honks the horn.  I looked over...and there's Darren with his wife and he waves at me as he leaves.

Honestly, I just couldn't believe the entire episode.  Unreal.

I was a fan of his from day one until he left the Senators.  I followed his career as best I could after that.  He played mostly in the AHL with a few stints with the Flyers, Blues and Lightning. 

I never did get a Rumble jersey, but I do have a Sens hat with his name on it and a game-used hockey stick that was given to me for my birthday.

I sometimes see a fan at Sens games wearing a #34 Rumble jersey.  I always smile when I see him as I reminisce about those two years.

These are definitely memories I'm not likely to ever forget. 

Til next time

Julie / @Flip_4

Monday, August 18, 2014

My love affair with books and a lost Kobo

I read...a lot.  I'm not exaggerating...I absolutely LOVE reading.

There was a time when I didn't want an e-reader.  I loved having actual books so much that e-readers felt like I was cheating on the books.  it just didn't seem right to me.  I certainly don't have a fear of technology so that's not the issue at all, I've just always loved  actual books.

Walking into Chapters or any other book store just puts me in my happy place.  So many books, so many stories, so many possibilities.  I've spent a pretty penny on books in my lifetime.

There's really nothing like reading a book.  Some people like the new car smell - I like the new book smell.  I love feeling the pages of the book, I like being able to SEE how far into the book I am.  It's satisfying to get to the end of the book and turn the last page.

I've read a ton ever since I was able to read.  I've always loved books and I couldn't even estimate how many books I've read in my life.  I used to borrow 10 books a week at the school library.  My grandparents also worked at the school so when everyone was gone, I'd sometimes stay in the library waiting for them and read.   I think I went through most of the books in that place.

I have a love affair with books.

A few years ago, my bestie bought me a Kobo e-reader.  I wasn't going to buy myself one but I was curious about them.

It took some getting used to - but I learned to love my e-reader.  The Kobo is...was amazing.    Don't get me wrong - I still love reading an actual physical book, but the Kobo is so convenient.  I had many books on it and it fit easily in my small purse.  I could bring it anywhere without it weighing me down.   

I would read 1 or two books on my e-reader, and then I would swich to actual books for a bit.  I'd go back and forth.  During the hockey season, it's easier to just have the e-reader with me to bring to hockey games (I get there early and spend some time reading). 

Unfortunately, this past weekend, it looks like I've lost my e-reader.  I couldn't find it when I arrived home from work.  I had read while at work so I naturally thought that's where my Kobo was...unfortunately, as I sit at work now, it's nowhere to be found.

This makes me sad and annoyed.  I was in the middle of reading a great book by Cynthia Wright and now I can't finish it.  How will I find out about the rest of the book??? ;)

You might say to go buy myself another one, but in my current financial situation, that's not a possibility.

I hope I'll be lucky enough to find it again - but after looking everywhere in the house and here, I'm not feeling too optimistic.

I do have a TON of books at home that I haven't yet read, so that's not the issue.  I'm just feeling al tiny bit lost without my e-reader.  Isn't it sad...just a little bit??

I've managed to read an entire book this weekend (V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton)  and I've started a french one my mom lent me.  The loss certainly wont' make me stop reading...not even close.  I just want my e-reader back!!!

Julie / @Flip_4

Monday, July 28, 2014

Volunteering!

Image: Kids Play Safe Facebook
I met Spencer and Lisa Warren through Twitter and Facebook a few years ago.  When I found out they organized several events over the course of the year for the "Plan-it-Safe" - Childhood Injury Prevention Program at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), I decided it would be a good use of my time to help them out. I've been lucky enough to help out at the last 5 events held.

Their events are:
1) An annual CHEO Family BBQ at a local park with many activities for chiildren.
2) An annual Golf Tournament / Dinner / Auction
3) An annual Children's Gala / Dinner / Auction.  What makes the Gala really special though is the fact that it is FOR children.  Kids get dressed up like princes and princesses for the night.  There is entertainment and great food and CANDY!!! ;)

Over the past 1.5 years, I've volunteered at 2 BBQs, 2 Golf Tournaments and 1 Gala.  I plan on helping out at the next Gala on February 21st too.

The reason I'm writing this post is to say just how fun it is to volunteer for these events.  I've had a great time at each one and plan on helping out as long as they'll have me.

My first experience was at the BBQ in 2013.  The number of children that come to this event is insane.  There are lineups for all the activities and the kids all seem to have a fantastic time.  I was posted at the "Fish pond" the first year.  There's really not much to this game, but is it ever popular.  There were no breaks from the moment the event starts until the end.  It's so fun to watch children of all ages come by and try to catch a fish so they can get a prize.  So many of the little ones fall in the pool and there are lots of smiles all around.

My second time at the BBQ (this summer), I was stationed at the Fish Pond again and it was even more popular if that's even possible.  The day goes by so quickly.  I saw many of the same children and some friends as well come by and support the event.  How can you not have fun when surrounded by happy children?

The second event I helped out with was the Golf Tournament.  I am usually there from the beginning (set up) to the end (putting everything away). The first year was insanely hot and there was a Tornado warning during the day as well as thunder storms, but that didn't dampen anyone's enthusiasm for the event.    Everyone came in from the storm dripping wet, but it was still a fantastic time.  Great food, great atmosphere, great fun all around. I was taking care of the silent auction items throughout the day so while the golfers were out, I was on my own.  Watching the storm watches on my phone and seeing the big dark clouds head our way, I was happy to be able to stay indoors.  Everyone was so generous despite probably being uncomfortable in their wet clothes.  Fun was had by all!!

This year was a little different...ok a LOT different.  I arrived to help set up and helped put things away at the end again, but everything in the middle was different.  The weather was PERFECT...at least for the volunteers out in the sun.  It was sunny, there was a nice breeze/wind at different times and it wasn't too hot.  It was perfect.  I was stationed at the "Beat the Pro" hole and got to see all the golfers throughout the day.  Everyone seemed to have a fantastic time.  The supper and auctions were also a great success.  So much generosity in this city.  I got home exhausted, but satisfied that I was able to help out.

The final event is the Children's Gala.  Now, there's a fun event to volunteer at and it's the only one in my end of the city!! ;)  I arrived early again to help set up (see a pattern here?) and was glad to stay late to help pick everything up too.

I was stationed at one of the silent auction tables (One of the Sports themed ones of course).  Other than foot pain from standing in one place all night, it was FANTASTIC!!.  As soon as the doors open and you start seeing the children file in all dressed up, it is AMAZING.  They are all so happy to be there.  There are a lot of activities in the two rooms reserved for the event.  There's also a CANDY BAR!!!  What do you think was the most popular area?  Yep, the Candy.  So many kids running around and having a blast.  It's so wonderful that they get to experience a real Gala just for them.   I'm not sure the parents are as ecstatic to have their children on a sugar high for the next few days - but it's all worth it :)


I have to say, volunteering is helping me too.  Other than the obvious fact that it makes me feel wonderful to be able to help out, it's also helped me come out of my shell a little bit.  I'm extremely shy and this is forcing me to maybe get over it a little.

If ever you're looking for something fun and great to do, volunteering a few hours of your time is extremely fulfilling.

I'm really looking forward to the February Gala - even though I will be missing a Senators Home Game (Possibly Chris Phillips' 1200th game :( )...but it's definitely worth it!! :)

'Til next time

Julie/@Flip_4

30 Day Ab Challenge temporarily derailed

For a little over a week now, I've suffered from almost daily headaches which were made worse when I was doing the Ab Challenge exercises.

Since I really don't like having intense headaches, I've decided to put off the completion of the Ab Challenge for a little while.  At least until I can do stuff like pick up a heavy bag without the shooting pain in my head...it has gotten much better over the past few days.

Rest assured, I will pick this Challenge back up soon.  I don't want to give up on it.  :)

'Til next time.

Julie / @Flip_4

Monday, July 14, 2014

Short update on the 30 Day Ab Challenge

We are 14 days in to the 30 Day Ab Challenge and I have to say, it's been very hard...harder than I thought it would be, but I've persevered through it.

I've actually had conversations, arguments even, with myself about getting up off the couch and getting the challenge over with for the day.  These arguments get pretty heated, but I've won them all...or have I??

I'm happy to say that I haven't yet missed a day and I plan on keeping it up.

Wish me luck!

'Til next time
Julie/@Flip_4