The View from The Niagara Guide

General observations and musings on how we can make Niagara a better place.

Gout Gone Thanks to Lemons

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, April 16, 2015

I was chatting with Dennis O'Neill, the Business Growth Coach the other day, who told me how he'd spent a weekend prior. He was expecting company that weekend, and had planned to visit a number of wineries, take some winery tours and enjoy some fine Niagara vintages with his guest. A few days before his guest was to arrive, he had another, less welcome visitor show up.

Gout is a particularly unpleasant condition where deposits of uric acid collect in a joint - often in the foot. The crystals irritate the crystals in the joint and cause pain, inflammation and swelling. It's not fun, and in Dennis' case, it was not at all enjoyable because it looked like his weekend was going to be ruined.

Dennis knows a woman named Catherine Bradley, who he met through IdeaShare Niagara. If you haven't heard of her, she's a practitioner of Heilkunst. If you haven't heard of Heilkunst either, you're not alone. A completely unscientific poll of people I know demonstrated that the knowledge of Heilkunst in Niagara is virtually nil. That's okay though, because now you know about it and you know about Catherine. You might want to give her a call in the event something ails you.

Catherine had a chat with Dennis about his gout and suggested that he add something to his dietary regimen to help him quickly alkalize his body. That something was lemon juice. I've heard having lemon juice in warm water in the morning is a great way to start the day. I didn't hear that from Catherine. I think I heard it from Craig Bowman, who's a nutritionist I know, and who wrote an article about the acid/alkaline balance in the body. Anyway, Catherine suggested to Dennis that since he felt his gout was coming on quickly, he should fight back just as hard with lemon juice: one glass of lemon juice and water for every waking hour. So that's what Dennis did for the next three days.

The result? On the day his guest arrived, he went on a couple of Niagara winery tours and had a great time. Walking wasn't a problem that day and that evening, Dennis and his guest spent a few hours enjoying the fruits of their wanderings by enjoying the great weather and some fine Niagara wines on Dennis' back deck. The next morning when Dennis met his regular walking group, he said it was like he'd never had gout, and it was wonderful.

It's nice to hear stories like these. People in Niagara helping other people in Niagara. There are so many bad news stories out there. I don't particularly care to know about the latest drug bust or stabbing or traffic fatality. I know they happen, but that's not the kind of information I want to be filling my consciousness. If I'm going to have to expose myself to bad news, I also want to hear stories of hope, success and healing. Niagara's a wonderful place with great people. Those are the kind of Niagara stories I want to hear and plan to share.

Do you have some good news stories about great people in Niagara? Share them with me and I'll help share them online.

KNOW it ALL Niagara Grows Again!

Mark Kawabe - Monday, December 15, 2014

For the past many years, I have had the pleasure of working with "KNOW it ALL" Niagara founder Carrie Matthews.

Her marketing / networking company "KNOW it ALL" Niagara has grown again as new Linker Maria Desrochers from Tupperware has recently joined up.

If you're not familiar with Tupperware, they offer innovative products for design-centric preparation, storage and serving solutions for the kitchen and home. This helps save you time, money and space in the kitchen.

There's some pretty cool stuff going on. It's definitely NOT your grandparents' Tupperware any longer.

There's a new Tupperware Lady in town - please welcome Maria Desrochers! And thank you, Carrie, for sharing the news with Niagara.

Get the contact information for Maria by visiting the "KNOW it ALL" Niagara website.

It's Black Friday - Cue the Insanity

Mark Kawabe - Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Explodes!I admit it. I'm not a very good consumer.

Most of the time, I buy stuff I need. The rest of the time is buying stuff I want. I'd say I follow the 80/20 rule on that. Perhaps 90/10.

It's early morning and the media's already reporting on the "Black Friday" retail frenzy under way in North America.

I don't get it.

I mean, I understand people need stuff.

What I don't understand is why they think they need the things they buy on Black Friday.

From what I can tell, not a lot of people are running out and stocking up on essentials. It's the stuff we're told we need to buy. You know - the stuff that says "you've made it". I'll wager large screen televisions are going to be filling many shopping baskets today.

The money being spent today is "good for the economy". I believe the economy is important, but I also believe that a heavy focus on consumerism is unhealthy. I also believe we don't consider other important things like the environment or the emotional state of our population when we talk about the economy. From my perspective, everything is connected more deeply than we care to think about.

While I don't get the need for the shopping frenzies taking place all across the continent, I do see the need for many things that perhaps are going unnoticed today. There are still hungry people in our communities. People are still living in poverty, despite working full time (or more). Does the consumer frenzy notice or benefit the people in our society who need our help the most?

I don't know. What I do hope is that each person who is participating in the shopping maelstrom today takes a moment to reflect and be grateful for what they have. From that gratitude, I then hope they will take an action that benefits their community. Purchase something from a small business. Make a donation to a local charity. Buy some groceries for the food bank.

I guess I wouldn't mind Black Friday so much if it were more balanced. Go ahead and buy whatever you like, as long as you invest the same amount of money and energy into your community. I think that's what's missing from the conversation. Balance. A ton of money is invested into grooming us to be better consumers. No money is invested into grooming us to be better citizens.

Sadly, money talks, and it shows.

Niagara ergonomic supplies

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In my travels I meet some very interesting people who sell interesting things.

Today I met Terry Scott, President of Special Needs Computers in St. Catharines.

I was amazed at some of the cool ergonomic office technology available to help us office workers avoid the aches, pains and diseases we're susceptible to by sitting most of the day.

Watch the video about this chair, for example.

Pretty cool, eh?

Anyway, if you're interested in saving your back (or your hands, wrists, heart or brain), you might want to drop by and see Terry at Special Needs Computers. 50 Niagara St., St. Catharines.

Of course, we added a category to our business guide: Niagara Ergonomic / Assistive / Adaptive Technology Suppliers. If you know of another business that should be added here, please let us know about it. Thanks!

Why Bother If You Can't Do Gluten Free Right?

Mark Kawabe - Friday, November 14, 2014

This really bothers me. A gluten free menu that's not meant for the people who really need gluten free food.



Here's why, according to the company's website.

"Note: Despite all the care that we take in the preparation of our gluten-free menu dishes, we cannot guarantee the absence of cross-contamination while handling and cooking food." (From, Nov. 14, 2014)

When it comes to something as important as someone's health, why would you offer a gluten free menu in big print and then in small print admit that the food could in fact be dangerous to someone who needs a gluten free menu?

It doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps they're just being honest when other restaurants are not. Or, perhaps they're jumping on the gluten-free marketing bandwagon.

Regardless, I will not be including Cora's on our list of restaurants with gluten free options. To see our list of Niagara restaurants that do, click here.

Seeking Niagara Success Stories

Mark Kawabe - Monday, October 06, 2014

Mark Kawabe's looking for Niagara Success Stories!Hi! I'm Mark Kawabe from The Niagara Guide.

This coming Wednesday (October 8th), I'm speaking at the Fonthill Rotary Club's morning meeting. 

Part of my talk is about Niagara's success stories.

I have a bunch already, but I'm looking for more.

What kind of stories of success?

Any kind you're willing to share with me (and the world). No names (unless you want to use them). I'll be video recording this talk and it will probably wind up if you don't want your success story shared, you've been warned.

Please feel free to post in the comments of my blog post, or to share your story on whatever social media network you happen to encounter this blog post on.

I appreciate any Niagara success stories you can share, and I look forward to sharing the video of the talk with everyone!

Garrison Little Theatre General Meeting

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

An announcement from Garrison Little Theatre:

"Garrison Little Theatre's next general meeting is Tuesday, June 3 at 7 pm held at the Italo-Canadian Club, 1101 DiPietro Street, Fort Erie.

Come out and meet the 2014/15 executive and learn about some FUN, NEW things we have planned over the summer and the upcoming season.

Enjoy a coffee and bring a friend as new members are always welcome!"

Where to start . . .

Mark Kawabe - Friday, April 25, 2014

Niagara Music Instruction - electric guitar picturedThe past several months have seen much change with the structure of The Niagara Guide's websites. We've been steadily working on converting our legacy websites over to the new database and consolidating information onto domain and website. It's been a lot of work, but fun and we're looking to be on track to have this work completed by the end of May 2014.

That being said, there's much left to do. Every day we're adding new businesses and categories (who knew there was a mobile funeral planning specialist in Niagara?) and meeting new people. Of course, there's the ongoing marketing of our clients which never, ever stops.

So, that's where things are at. Oh - and we've updated one of my favourite categories: Music Instruction - with one of my favourite instructors, John Kott of Three Beagles Music. Rock on John!

Winter's here - here are three tips to help you drive safely

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Snowy day in NiagaraIt's a beautiful day out there - especially if you like snow.

I KNOW you're Canadian and therefore have evolved in such a way that you have a natural talent for driving in snow. That being said, there are going to be cars in ditches more than the average number of collisions today.  As a former driving instructor, I thought I'd share a few pieces of advice.


Yes, I know I'm preaching to the converted, but really, this does need to be said. I don't care how good your tires and your brakes are. The laws of physics dictate that your vehicle will have less traction in snow. That means it will take longer distances to stop and you will not have as precise control when you steer. It only gets worse when you are driving too fast for the conditions you're in.

Check Your Tires

Two things here:

  1. If you're going to stick with your all-season tires, make sure the tread is good and that they're properly inflated. There is a sticker on the inside driver's side of the vehicle that tells you what the proper tire inflation levels are for your vehicle.

  2. I strongly recommend winter tires. Traction's much improved with them compared to all-season tires. If you like to be able to control your vehicle, you should be a fan of winter tires. I know it's expensive to buy them, but a collision is more expensive than a set of tires and rims.

Make Sure You Can See

Visibility's rather essential when driving. If your wipers aren't cleaning snow properly, get new ones. They're much less expensive than your insurance deductible. Also, clean your windows on the inside. Dirty windows fog up more.

Speaking of fogging up, we've all seen drivers on the road in cars with completely fogged up windows. To clear those windows faster, turn on your air conditioner. The AC will help remove the moisture in the air that is condensing on the inside of your windows. Some cars have settings that turn on the AC automatically to help clear the windshield. If yours doesn't, this should help. If you don't have AC, make sure you're pumping in lots of fresh air and try to get your windows warm as quickly as possible to prevent condensation.

There are plenty more things you can do to help make your driving safer, but I think these are the big three. It all comes down to your attitude about driving. It's more beneficial to focus on safety and getting where you are going without stress.

I hope you have a safe day out there!

Making Niagara Better

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's easy to complain - about anything. It's harder to make things better in reality. But in reality, we don't recognize just how good we have things.

When the Rogers cellular network went down a while back, my son noted all the people commenting on Facebook about the situation. He called these "first world problems", and I think he's right. If you've lived somewhere else for any length of time, you probably recognize that while we have our challenges in our respective communities, our region and our nation, that overall things are pretty good.

Everyone wants things to be better than they are. I do as well. I also think our collective perceptions of how good or bad things are may not be accurate. There is much good happening in Niagara. Yes, there are challenges, but there is much good taking place. While we bemoan the challenges, we often fail to focus on the good.

There is much work to be done to make Niagara better. I think a good chunk of that work needs to be done in people's minds. Recognize how fortunate we are compared to others in other parts of the world, in other parts of our country, in other parts of our own community. More than that, recognize that we are here to evolve, to grow, to learn and experience. I think helping our neighbours is a good way to start helping our selves and if we all do that, Niagara will be a much richer place indeed.

Want to see a better Niagara? Look in the mirror and look at how you can improve. By changing yourself you can change the world.

It starts with you.


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