Friday, May 25, 2007

Spring has spr been put on hold

Local drug stores on the Avalon are reporting that they cannot keep sun screen on the shelves. Shoppers Drug Mart in the West End sold all three bottles so far this spring.

A new shipment of winter coats has arrived just in time for the rest of spring.

Tomorrow the forecast is 25°. But that's Fahrenheit.

One St. John's resident said that it so cold that you could freeze an egg on the sidewalk. Another was heard to say that "except for the relentless fog, combined with freezing air, wind, and drizzle, the weather is St. John's is probably the best in Canada."

St. John's: the Coldest city in North America.

Birdwatachers noticed that 1000's of Canada geese that had returned from the south, are now flying back south again.

Freak weather conditions last week brought temperatures of 20° C.

Tourists, come to St. John's, where there is no global warming.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Isn't it a Wonder

Our province is spectacular all along its 28,000 kilometres of coastline. That includes the coast of Labrador, major and minor islands. Especially on windy clear days, it stands out as one of natures wonders. If NL's coastline was not among the over half a million entries to the Seven Wonders of Canada contest, it is still one of the most beautiful natural features of the country.

For visitors who are not familiar with Newfoundland and Labrador, the picture above represents much of the provinces coastline, however, sandy beaches, cliffs, and gentle grassy slopes also adorn the island of Newfoundland and the Labrador coast. (that shot is Middle Cove, just outside St. John's and near the town of Torbay)

Here are some other places not often seen, but worth the look, and visit. More here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Possible 2007 Election Campaign Slogans

For the Progressive Conservative Party

Re-elect Williams Vote for Sequalization

Vote NBC - Nobody But Conservative

Vive le Terre-Neuve-et-Labradore Libre

We're 75% in the Polls, Just Do it!
For More of the Same Vote PC

Won't Get Fooled Again

Down with Harper
Vote Danny

For the Liberal Party

If By Some Flute a PC Scandal Happens We're Better than Nuttin'

Reid My Lips
No More Taxes

We'll Get Our 2 cents Worth in
Don't You Worry

We Don't Have Much to Offer, But What Are Ya Gonna Do

Come On, Give Us a Chance, Really

For Half-decent Opposition, Vote Liberal

We Won't Procrastinate on Signing Deals You Just Wait

Your Mother or Father Always Voted Liberal, You Know You Want To
For the New Democratic PartyFor Either PCs or Liberals

To the Left, To the Left

It's Time for Coupons

It's Time for Respect and Decorum
in the #%&@ House of Assembly

For Honesty in Government
Vote Lorraine Michael, otherwise Vote Us.

It's Time for Change... Cash, Cheques, Trinkets, Spending Allowances

Other suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Waste and Perception

Sensible ideas can sure take a long time to come to fruition. St. John's recycling appears to be in the right direction, starting with downtown and another neighbourhood, then spreading out later this year. Mount Pearl started it in 2005. Households could put their recyclables out in separate bags on garbage collection days. Lots of fuel for the recycling industry to grow. It's better late than never, but better earlier than later. Ideally, placing recycling bins in neighbourhoods, blocks, towns, communities, where people can even walk to drop of recyclables, is a big part of the wastage solution. Many currently drop of plastic bottles, aluminum cans, paper, cardboard to several drop of points in St. John's and Mount Pearl. However, it doesn't appear that most people do just yet. One problem is storage, these products take up lots of space. Another is the mindset of garbage disposal convenience, it's easier to simply trash it. This is list of some of Calgary's recycling depots.

Saving bottles, cans, and paper is a great way especially for kids to get some pocket money. If there is little room to save a lot, then those community or local bins should leave no excuse to waste this resource in the usual trash.

Society is saturated with conservation and environmental tips and it's not so unfashionable to save up the "garbage". Unfortunately, there is still much that is wasted by society in general, food, clothes, tin cans, other packaging, automobile parts, etc. Conserving, and hanging on to stuff was/is not fashionable because it still goes against the religiously consumer and tacit doctrine and expectation to purchase "new", and "improved" things, continuously. Part of the psyche may be that throwing used things out is equated with being well-off, i.e., not being so desperate to have to stretch the use of something, or hang on to items to earn a few ever so valuable dollars to get by. Some people do not necessarily think about wasting food, or whatever, as being wasteful, since they perceive not throwing things out as being cheap. Such a perception is helped when advertising is always promoting acquiring new things, and "not settling for less", to "Live richly" (CitiBank), "Making more possible" (ABN AMRO), or, "Just do it" (Nike - in other words, don't think for a second that the pair you bought four months ago is good enough, just buy these).

What will be a "good" problem is bins overflowing with bottles, or cans waiting to be picked up, rather than something like this.

As for food if it's not "recycled" at home, then some of it can be composted. It's not for everyone, and is a bit of extra effort, but maybe there needs to be more promotional nudging of the benefits of doing this. Seeing garbage bins overflowing each week and knowing that 80 - 90% or more can be recycled, reminds us that much more needs to be done. Opportunites to grow the recycling industry, clean up neighbourhoods, use home-made composting material, and simply cutting back on landfill, can be enhanced, if not, then what a waste.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mothers, Where Would We Be Without Cha?

Gift book ideas for moms

First Mother: The Autobiography of Eve (in English and Hieroglyphics, paperback, audio, and limited stone edition)

"Turn Off the Darn Light and Get to Bed": A Biography of Thomas Edison's Mom

How to Stop Worrying So Much, So Often, About Everything

Everything You Wanted to Know About Equalization, But Were Afraid to Ask

Famous Moms born on May 13

1943 Mary Wells, Detroit, (singer), "My Guy"
The Beatles called Wells their favorite American singer, and invited her to tour with them throughout England, which she accepted.

1937 Madeleine Albright, (first woman American Secretary of State) - Bill Clinton administration

1926 Beatrice Arthur, New York, (actress) - Maude, Dorothy-Golden Girls

A Few Quotes on Motherhood

Author Unknown:
All mothers are working mothers.

Chinese Proverb:
There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it.

Abraham Lincoln:
All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.

Barbara Kingsolver:
It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn't.
(quotes taken from here)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Greenspan's Strategy: Annoy the Witness into Submission

Edward Greenspan to Witness David Radler: "Was it easy for you to lie?"; "Did you stutter when you were lying?"; "Did you avert your eyes?"; "When you lie, do you appear to look the same way as when you are telling the truth?"; "Right now, you may be lying and we don't know it. True?"; "Was there a pause when you lied?" "Tell me, Mr. Radler, at what point prior to this interview did you decide that you would lie, or not be forthcoming, as you put it?"

We get it Edward, you're are trying to convey to the jury that Radler could just as well be lying now. Reporters present said even some of the jurors were starting to look irritated. Greenspan attempted to plant a foundation which may be part of an overall attack strategy, but he may not have scored any points Thursday. The "liar, liar, pants on fire" approach will be a running theme in the trial. The trial resumes on Monday and it will be interesting to see what other tricks Black's main lawyer has up his William Fioravanti sleeve. Greenspan could resume questioning like "Do you sit and cross your legs and with a suit and tie on, when you're lying?" or "Are you always bald when you lie?"

I am not aware of any lie detection tests having been done on Black or Radler, not that it is a case clincher, but it has been used in cases for evidence. Too bad this is not a case where DNA could give a clear verdict, that will rest with the jury. So which side can be most convincing is what will tip the balance of their decision. Many may like to see Black the giant fall, but it would be a sadder case if he was found guilty and years later, evidence appeared which cleared him. At the end of the day, it is what it is. It's sad to see any human being of any background have their weaknesses exhibited like this. But at least Black, if he were found guilty, did not have a tragic and abused childhood, as often many criminals have had. These cases are more tragic in that often there were never any good times in the criminals' past.

I hope that in Black's case it can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he is one or the other, guilty or innocent. He did seem like a nice guy, at least that's the impression I got from an email response to a letter to him regarding a National Post article he wrote in Jan., 2007. Well ok I would like to think it was actually from him, but it was probably an automated reply to his many readers. In any case, we don't correspond so often these days.

The drama continues this week. Hopefully in the end clear convincing justice will be served. In any case, good luck Conrad, and keep in touch from now on.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Newfoundlanders Receive Order of Canada

Congratulations to Sister Katherine Bellamy and Dr. Patrick O’Flaherty, of St. John's who were made Members of the Order of Canada.

Sister Bellamy is hailed as one of Newfoundland and Labrador's most influential music educators. She has established school based choirs and served for many years as the organist and choir director at the Basilica. Sister Bellamy is also recognized for her community work which includes founding a local food bank. (from VOCM)

Dr. Patrick O'Flaherty taught English at Memorial University and is the author of several books. Dr. O'Flaherty is a well known Newfoundlander. Many will know him from decades ago as one of the judges on Reach for the Top.

The appointments were originally announced by the Governor General's office on Feb. 20, 2007, but the awards were presented last week.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Another Inconvenient Truth from David Radler

Poor Conrad Black, whether he is found guilty or not, there has been so much time and energy put into revisiting past business dealings, and not enjoying life the way he was accustomed to. Then again, he could be living normally once more after this trial. How strange it must now seem to both Black and Radler, who were business partners for close to 40 years, and who had been super successful, to now hardly feel like looking at one another. How life can change, how past greed can haunt one's future, and how it has humiliated at least one high-flying corporate elite. Radler, the Scrooge-like and ethically bankrupt miser, said Monday he intends to "tell the truth." He has already admitted guilt, and repeated it yesterday in court, admitting to being a corporate thief.

Big answers remain to be heard. How truthful will Radler be, and how good will Black's defense be? It's certainly building to be a battle of titans all around. As the verbose Conrad Black himself might have put it, a guilty verdict would be a cacophonous, auricular, opprobrious, and pestiferous further fall from grace. Will the rich and word wealthy, accomplished Black be forever branded a thief? Or will the "truth" set him free? Is Black hoping that Radler will be seen as a liar? And, is wife Barbara Amiel becoming religious, by also invoking the Lord's prayer? Stay tuned since the script for this movie sequel is being written each day.

Related post, Black Hole.

The Next Time You Think the Weather is Bad Here

Then have a look at what the most recent tornado did to this Kansas town. It annihilated 95% of Greensburg. It's amazing anyone survived as some of the dead were found in rubble filled basements. We in Newfoundland and Labrador suffer through long and often brutal cold winters, and hopelessly dreary, lingering, cold, wet, windy springs, at least in St. John's (apart from that the weather couldn't be better). But we do not face the devastation suffered by states in tornado alley, or south-eastern seaboard states that get the brunt of hurricanes. Each time a big tornado or hurricane occurs it amounts to many $ billions worth in damages, not to mention the priceless lives that are taken. So far, there are 11 people confirmed dead in Greensburg. If you could put a town in a giant blender and set it to maximum, here is what it might look like. It looks like Hiroshima.

Like many I have complained about our weather, but when seeing and hearing about disasters like Greensburg, it helps put our place and weather in better perspective, and reminds me to appreciate this place. You can take any place in the world and find something positive and negative about it. We associate warmth with the southern U.S. People in the south may love non-winter like weather for much of the year, but they have to deal with nature's cruel force and destruction. It's like people living there have been gambling in a bizarre lotto - and the winners are the ones who lost everything but their lives. In fact it reminds me of a short story called The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. It's an inverted lottery in which the "winner" gets stoned to death, but year after year, the towns people gamble, knowing it could be anyone.

Unfortunately it is all too real and sad for the families of the eleven killed.

If anyone still thinks we have it bad, then have a look at this video footage of the damage in Kansas. With a risk of freezing rain and cool temperatures today I'll have no reason to complain.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Going Green, Blue , White ...

There is a small greenhouse near the main entrance bridge at Bowring Park which has over 700 butterflies, with many different types and colors. It is a peaceful, pleasant place for a visit. It's also a good photo opportunity. The butterflies are from Deer Lake's Insectarium. The display is held over by popular demand until May 13. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. Adults $5, students K-12 $3. To arrange a group tour, call 636-1848.

Harper's Government Bamboozling Canadians: David Suzuki

Our federal government's blatantly obvious strategy is to bamboozle Canadians into thinking it's on the ball when it comes to the environment by presenting plans that have one flashy element, which everyone remembers, and then essentially supporting the status quo in everything else.

These strong words from environmental expert Dr. David Suzuki appeared on his web site, and in Sunday's Telegram. Here's why the Harper "Green Plan" is deceptive. Suzuki explains, that by
focusing on emissions “intensity” rather than actual emissions reductions, we end up with a plan that is guaranteed to keep Canada at the back of the pack in the industrialized world. Let's take an example. Alberta's tar sands are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing intensity means a reduction in the amount of emissions per barrel of oil, and that's good. But if the total amount of oil extracted doubles or more, then any modest gains in efficiency are completely wiped out.

Gore called the Conservatives' environmental plan is a "complete and total fraud" that is "designed to mislead the Canadian people." He said he was surprised to see that
the Tory plan employs the concept of "intensity reduction," which he said is poll-tested phrase developed in Houston by the so-called think tanks financed by Exxon Mobil and some other large polluters.

By the way, a favorite writer of most Newfoundlanders, Margaret Wente, also seems to lean towards the conservative ideology. In a January, 2007 article, she talked about adaptation, scientists who take a broad middle ground, and the benefits of a warmer Canada. She must have been content to see the following headline.

Arctic sea ice melting faster than most scientists project: study

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Equalization Loophole

First of all if anyone can expand on this please do. I caught part of the conversation on VOCM this afternoon when Sue called in to tell Bill Rowe about how Quebec and Quebec companies work together to take advantage of equalization loopholes. Certain revenues which would normally go to Quebec government coffers gets transplanted to other provincial areas which the province has to pay for. For example, Quebec Hydro might put several $100 million into health care initiatives, or infrastructure, etc. So the idea is that a revenue like hydro does not get counted in the equalization formula, and thus, Quebec will have wisely used a technical loophole to get every cent it can out of equalization. Bill and Sue both asked why can't NL do the same. It sounds like there is much potential for our province to replicate what Quebec is doing to retain more of the equalization monies that we would/will eventually not qualify for.
Updated info: Apparantly Greg Byrne of NL-Outside the Box also phoned in to Bill's show earlier, and mentioned this idea he read about. Just wanted to acknowledge this.

Your Blog Not Rolling?

I've noticed that, as often seems to be the case, that many updated blog sites are not appearing as "NEW" on the NL Blog Roll. If that's your site, try pinging your site from this address:

Just type in the name of your site, then type in the http address, and click Ping.

I have done that in recent posts and it worked soon after.